Category: Science

Misconceptions about the First 190,000 years of Human History/Paleo Lifestyle

There are many people that base what they know of the first 190,000 years of human history on Hollywood movies about cavemen rather than any academic research. The reality is that anatomically modern humans lived a hunting and gathering lifestyle exclusively for almost 190,000 years. They did this, not because they were too stupid to invent agriculture or that they had no idea what animal husbandry was, they lived that lifestyle because it was easy. In fact it was so easy a “caveman could do it”.

Got your attention?

Hunters and gatherers did not invent agriculture because it was a better lifestyle. The fact is that agriculture is not optimal for human health and it certainly is not as easy as hunting and gathering. Agriculture has a host of health and social problems that come with it that are extremely negative and the majority of these problems have not been overcome until relatively recently. This begs a question…If farm living is so much harder why would anyone do it?  The answer is relatively simple, necessity. The first people who moved to the agricultural lifestyle did so because of ecological change, change in climate, and population pressures that occurred at the end of the last ice age.

There are myriad reasons why humans did not develop agriculture before or during the last ice-age, but for the most part the ready availability of prey animals and small population densities made agriculture less desirable. Around 12,000 years ago there was a perfect storm of change that forced humans to try something new. That something new was not inherently better than what had come before. The change in diet associated with agriculture probably led to thousands of early deaths and has led to centuries of gastrointestinal problems as human beings adapt to this new lifestyle.

But, but, but….you can’t possibly be suggesting we return to the lifestyle of hunting and gathering. No, that is not what I am saying. We could not return to that lifestyle even if the population wasn’t so large, or even if someone believed it was a good idea. The ecological factors that made it possible for people to subsist easily are no longer present. Vast herds of megafaunal prey animals no longer roam America and Europe and will not again in the near future. Secondly our technological society has finally begun to mature to a point where human beings are better off as agriculturalists than as hunters and gatherers.

This does not mean we can’t objectively look at the differences between the hunting and gathering lifestyle and the agricultural lifestyle so we can understand why humans chose each. There are several advantages to being a hunter and gatherer.

1) Medical- Medicine didn’t magically become better when people started living in villages in fact medical problems got much worse when we started living on top of each other. Diseases that were often avoided because of isolation suddenly became pandemic. To see this in action look at what happened in North America after Columbus. The Native Americans had arrived on this continent as hunters and gatherers in small isolated groups. The trip to North America acted as a natural bottle neck for disease. Very few diseases that infected humans were carried across. These band of hunters and gatherers were isolated from human disease vectors that had evolved in the old world. When these diseases were reintroduced they decimated the agricultural civilizations that had sprung up in North America. Without such killers as measles, chicken pox, even the common cold the population had never evolved resistance.

So, you have all those same injuries and illnesses that hunters and gatherers faced like hunger, broken limbs, etc plus more disease in agricultural society. This lasted until the early modern period and it was often exacerbated by a much larger population vying for fewer resources. Pray if you are ever dropped back in time before about 200 years ago. It is somewhere underpopulated.

2) Society- Contrary to pop culture the strongest person was not always “Boss Caveman”. I may need to remind you these hunter and gathering groups are simply extended or direct family groups consisting of father, mother, children, and grandchildren. Sometimes uncles,aunts  and their children as well. Thirty people is the normal size of these bands. They are not states they are not even really tribal. Bands and family groups. There are no rules, rulers, kings, or serfs and government hasn’t been invented yet. Just because movies tell you that UGH was beating his tribe into submission doesn’t mean that was the norm.
As for WAR?  What war? Can you call a fight between groups that max out at about 60 people a war? It is a conflict more akin to a family feud. Most Hunter and Gatherer groups, we have had the privilege to observe in the modern age don’t go to “War” they count coup of one kind or another. Sometimes they do kill somebody sometimes a people get hurt. That is the nature of being human. When compared to the horrors inflicted by agricultural societies?

I have had people call hunting and gathering societies communist utopias. They were not. They were neither Utopian nor were they communistic. In fact communism as we know it, in which individuals live communally for the welfare of the group, is an invention of agriculture. These hunting and gathering bands are the haven of  the original rugged individualist.

The major advantage to living in large groups for these early people was child rearing. Children survive with more regularity in a settled society. Score one for “It takes a village”.  As the population rises in these settled agricultural communities they soon exceed the normal number of people associated with hunting and gathering. You can support more people on less land with agriculture. Soon you have government and with government comes a type of power humans had never had over each other before. In a hunting and gathering society when the bands become too large and one group tried to dominate another they break apart and go their separate ways. This doesn’t happen for agriculturalists. They are tied to the land or they are dependent on specialized knowledge of others to survive. They can’t run away over the hill and survive without interference from the state.

Yes, we are better off today than 13,000 years ago but it took quite a bit of heartache to get here and we didn’t get here because agriculture was a better choice.

Saying that hunting and gathering is a better lifestyle choice than agriculture until the modern period is not Marxism projected backwards, if anything it is individualism projected backwards. Neither is it a “Noble Savage” fallacy. There is plenty of evidence that life was not always easy no matter which lifestyle you lived. Humans evolved to live a particular lifestyle. We lived in that lifestyle for tens of thousands of years and it was not lack of intelligence or imagination that kept us there it was simply easy…we all get in a rut sometimes.

 Some popular misconceptions about paleolithic man. 

1) Paleolithic Humans were prey for carnivores such as the cave lion, or the short faced bear. and lived in constant fear of their surroundings..false.
Human’s have been apex predators since before becoming anatomically modern. Large carnivores may have been able to kill the occasional human but archaeological remains suggest early humans hunted other carnivores much more often than they hunted humans.

2) Paleolithic Humans lived exclusively in caves…false. Caves were certainly utilized, but humans are very adaptable and probably lived in many different types of structures made from local materials.

3) Paleolithic humans were always dirty, hungry, and disease ridden…false. We dealt with disease above. As for being dirty we can’t really tell from the archaeological record, but we can surmise based on hunters and gatherers that have been studied. Bathing is a fact of life in most of these societies and cleanliness is often ritualized. As for hunger it really depends Archaeological evidence shows that many groups of hunters and gatherers went through periods of boom and bust from year to year, others are more constant in their nutritional intake. It almost always depends on the area in which the people lived and the abundance of food. Looking at skeletal remains of hunters and gatherers verses agriculturalists, hunters and gatherers are often in much better physical shape probably as a result of better diet (Hunters and gatherers actually work much less than agriculturalists so it isn’t from physical labor).

For more reading:

Mashall Sahlins’ study The Original Affluent Society goes into detail how hunter and gatherer societies functioned,;jsessionid=C9F7CA5045C73D36D8813F2E5237FAB0.f02t04?deniedAccessCustomisedMessage&userIsAuthenticated=false

And if you want to see a writer go a bit too far with the Noble Savage idea:

Nuke it from Orbit- Part Two of We Must Nuke Mars Now Before It Is Too Late

The year is 1987 and a 17-year-old has an epiphany. That 17-year-old was me and I was a Junior in high school. While I was obsessed with sex like all other teen males, I was also obsessed with science fiction. Heinlein, in particular, was my favorite and still is all these years later. This infatuation with Heinlein made me a little more militant and a lot less liberal than my fellow students. Don’t get me wrong all teens are liberals to some extent and in my own way, I wanted to save the environment. My plan was to seed Mars with Earth life and recreate the garden Earth. Of course, I was naive and full of progressive claptrap fed to me by teachers, but I still had a germ of an idea that I would not let go.  How to terraform Mars in my lifetime? I decided to learn why Mars is not habitable now rather than learn how people wanted to terraform it.

I suffer or am blessed with Aspergers depending on how you see it. That means I often see problems reversed from the way other people see them. So I came at this problem, like so many, backward and it quickly gave me a solution. This was years before the internet and I realize now that others had thought of this before me, but I had come up with this idea on my own. My idea was to NUKE the hell out of Mars. I wanted to do something Robert Heinlein had taught me….I wanted to use  “naked force” to solve a problem.

“Violence, naked force, has settled more issues in history than has any
other factor, and the contrary opinion is wishful thinking at its worst.
Nations and peoples who forget this basic truth have always paid for it
with their lives and freedoms.” Robert Anson Heinlein

I didn’t want to nuke it randomly. I wanted to apply pressure through the use of Nukes at strategic points on the planet’s surface. To create on the planet the optimum conditions to produce a runaway greenhouse effect. A grid of Nuclear explosions over the North and South poles of Mars during the Martian summer would accomplish the goal. These explosions would melt the Carbon Dioxide trapped in the poles and the carbon ash fallout would blanket the remaining ice raising the albedo of the poles. The water ice that wasn’t instantly unfrozen would unfreeze in the warmer temperatures of a world with a much denser CO2 atmosphere. Simple and elegant, it would be the most effective use of “Naked Force” in the history of man.

Not many years later I would be on the internet and I got in touch with several physicists and NASA personnel always pushing my idea, which I had learned by then was not unique. I always got the same answer. Doing something like this would bring out the anti-nuke nuts in droves and even if it was a good idea it would never happen. Well, folks, time is running out. If conservatives win this Presidential election and are able to maintain control of the House and take the Senate this will be the last chance to poke the environmentalists in the eye and make a new home for ourselves. It won’t render Mars habitable but it will take it a long long way down the path.

We must nuke Mars now, time is running out!!!!!

We Must Nuke Mars Now Before It Is Too Late

Every other site on the net is discussing the Curiosity rover touchdown last night. I am as excited as the next person and we did a story on it last week. There is little for me to say that hasn’t been said better on a hundred different web sites and TV channels.  The massive coverage is great. I never thought we as a nation would get excited about space again. When the progressives slashed NASA to the bone four years ago I was sure we were done. Now that the rover is on the surface and people are excited again I want to look beyond just these robotic ventures to mankind’s destiny on Mars.

There are several programs working to place men on Mars and some mean for humans to stay on the planet as colonists. I think the Mars One project is getting a little ahead of itself.  I do however applaud the ambition of Mars One project to have permanent settlements on Mars by 2023, but there is some initial groundwork we need to do first, and it can be accomplished by 2023.

I am talking about terraforming Mars, and no it does not take hundreds of years to make Mars a much more habitable place than it is now. What it takes is the will to make it happen and the will to buck the environmentalist wackos that have stymied the space program over the years. The left is quick to tell you how much more scientifically literate they are compared to anyone on the right. They will tell anyone who will listen that conservatives, libertarians, and even objectivists could care less about science and science education. It is all a lie. The progressive left is the biggest obstacle to scientific advancement that has ever faced this country. The left destroyed the promising nuclear rocket program of the 1960s. That program was developing rocket engines that could have taken us across the solar system in weeks instead of years. The left has all but gutted NASA in favor of Muslim outreach (see link HERE) and mothballed our space program as well as the next generation of shuttles in favor of a corrupt welfare system which wastes more money on fraudulent payouts in one week than NASA has budgeted for an entire year.

The left is no friend of science and on top of that, the progressive left is at heart controlled by the environmental movement. An environmental movement enamored by a fascination with Luddite solutions to all problems. In fact if these people such as Steve Chu who is Obama’s Secretary of Energy and has expressed the opinion that this nation needs to pay more for energy (so we quit driving and we eliminate suburban areas), and Cass Sunstein who was Obama’s regulatory Czar (who wrote a book about how rocks and trees should be given the right to sue landowners for damages) get their way there is no way on Earth and especially Mars that we will advance any further technologically. In fact, these are the people that will force environmental regulations on anyone who thinks they can utilize the Martian environment. We as a society need to act now and act decisively to make Mars ready for habitation before the progressive lawmakers make that all but impossible.

How do we accomplish this feat? How do we terraform Mars in a manner that is quick and efficient and can be accomplished with current technology? I suggest we Nuke the Red Planet till it glows.

Post to be continued……..(and you thought I would just tell you why we should nuke Mars. Think about it until I post the second half of the article)

Orexin-A    The End of Sleep

Orexin-A The End of Sleep

What would you do if you had over one third of your life to live again. That is what a black book DARPA program is attempting by replicating the effects of Orexin-A. Orexin-A is a neuropeptide that is produced in the brain to excite neurons into action. Without Orexin-A humans and other animals would become narcoleptic and fall to sleep without warning. An abundance of Orexin-A prevents sleep even rendering the subjects who have taken it wide awake and feeling like they have had hours of restful sleep.  DARPA is studying this substance to create a drug which will provide them super soldiers that never need to sleep. Now that is fine for DARPA, but imagine the non-military applications of a drug like this.

According to the sources I have read Orexin-A is not addictive and has no negative side effects. It does however render a sleepy subject wide awake and gives him increased libido, cognitive function, and increases muscle activity. This stuff is basically mega coffee with a little Viagra mixed in. It may not be physically addictive but I can guarantee people are going to abuse the hell out of this. I certainly would use it. Imagine no more jet lag, no more sleep breaks when driving across country, not to mention making a night job bearable. For some of you this could mean no more sleep breaks while playing video games. Imagine 72 hour marathon gaming sessions without any sleep related fatigue. This is the stuff of real science fiction. Where do I sign up to get a bottle?

I have just been informed that this is the type of drug that is always in development just before a zombie outbreak. So if you use it beware of zombie inducing side effects.

This Weekend We Once Again Return to Mars

This Weekend We Once Again Return to Mars

No, this is not an article about the new Total Recall movie.

The next generation of NASA rovers will be landing on Mars this Sunday. I have always been a supporter of NASA. One of the reasons I have supported NASA is that it is the only government program that has consistently made more money than had been invested into it. This was accomplished through the licensing of technology developed over the years by NASA scientists.  As a consequence of this success it has been perpetually underfunded and the money and ideas derived from NASA projects have been wasted in other areas rather than invested back into the program. Of course the current administration has cut back NASA more than any previous administration and so today America can not even lift an Astronaut into space for the first time in 50 years.

Luckily this rover project was funded and the money spent before the current presidential officeholder came into power or it too would have been mothballed in favor of the new NASA mission…Muslim outreach.

In honor of NASA and their success please take a minute to consider life in this country without the pittance that has been spent on the space program. Here are five everyday items that we owe to NASA.

1. The computer you are reading this on is a direct result of technology developed for the Apollo program.

2. Modern Home insulation. How much money in heating and cooling has NASA saved you over the years? I bet it is more money than you paid in taxes that went to fund NASA.

3. GPS – did you use yours today?

4. Satellite communication- Almost every communication device we use goes through a satellite network. Without NASA the technology to launch and maintain those satellites would never have been developed.

5. Fly by Wire systems- When you see commercial airliners fly over head the intricate flight paths and flight systems are direct descendants of the same systems used in the Apollo program. Think about that the next time you fly.

NASA is one of the few programs where I feel my tax money is used wisely.

If you want to read a more technical report of technology that has been developed as a result of just the Space Shuttle program please read this article.