Optimal thought and optimal fitness through reason, logic, science, passion, and wisdom.
What a Good Education Would Produce
What a Good Education Would Produce

What a Good Education Would Produce

Dr. Terry Wahls shows us, in a very good article, some good reasoning, reasoning that comes only with independence and some mastery of induction, integration, logic, and objectivity. 

In “Response to Michael Pollan,” Dr. Terry Wahls writes:

[Michael Pollan] recently criticized the modern Paleo diet, and with this, I must take issue. I don’t think he has taken the time to understand the Paleo diet, which is quite common among those who are critical of Paleo eating. I would like, therefore, to take this opportunity to discuss his comments and explain why his criticisms are misplaced.

Many critics of Paleo-style diets miss this point. Modern Paleo diets are not meant to replicate ancient diets. They are meant to emulate ancient diets, and this is a critical difference—it is what takes the Paleo diet from the realm of theory into a practice in reality. The Paleo diet emulates as closely as possible in our contemporary world the foodstuffs and manner of eating practiced by our Paleolithic ancestors, and this in itself, apart from quibbling about how accurate it may or may not be, is a great improvement over what most people are doing now. Accuracy is not the point. Health is the point.

Finally, another common criticism is that people didn’t live very long in the Paleolithic era. This is also true, but shortened lifespans of our ancient ancestors had nothing to do with their diets. In the Paleolithic era, the mean age of death was somewhere in the mid-30s, but this is because there was a 38% to 45% mortality rate for those under the age of 15. Those who survived childhood actually did quite well. Gurven and Kaplan studied this question extensively and published their findings in 2007. The results might surprise you. Hunter-gathers historically (and now in the current hunter-gatherer societies that have not yet adopted western lifestyles) often lived past 60 years of age6. These people were and are physically and mentally fit without medication, and many thrive into their 70s and even 80s. The transition from hunter-gatherer societies was associated with loss of height, increased risk for degenerative arthritis of the spine, and tuberculosis. Fertility increased, leading to an increase in population, but it was a less healthy one7;8.

Those populations who converted to western diets continued to do worse as “progress” marched on. The next major transition came with the industrial revolution in 1850 with the wide availability of sugar, white flour, and a steady decline in breast feeding. This was associated with another decline in health and an increase in chronic diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, and obesity9. Now, as societies move from developing economies to developed economies, the early mortality due to infectious disease has been replaced by chronic diseases related to lifestyle, that is diabetes, obesity, and heart disease9. Sweetener consumption has risen from an average of less than 10 pounds of sugar per person per year in 1900 to over 100 pounds plus per person per year in 2000. In addition, modern populations have steadily grown in size. According to the Centers for Disease Control, in 2010, 69% of Americans were overweight or obese10.

Put more simply, the extension in the average age of life from the Paleolithic era to the current era has occurred because of the decrease in infectious causes of death, lower childhood mortality, and increased use of medical technology, not because we as a society are enjoying more vitality and vigor related to any sort of dietary improvement. Quite the contrary, in fact.

This is the kind of thinking, to whatever degree, we should all be capable of showing. Teaching and training us to be cognitively independent and to be masters of induction and integration are the fundamental things an education should achieve. That most people don’t even know what induction is shows how much modern education fails.

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