Saturday, March 10, 2007

More Egnor Fallout

Lots of fallout from Egnor's comments on the illusionary lack of evolutionary biology to be found in medicine. Panda's Thumb and ERV have more to say. And that Afarensis fellow, damn him, once again has his thumb on the anthropology literature to an extent that would make a graduate student feel chagrined. He points out all those wonderful doctors who are combining research in medicine and human evolution! (How could I have forgotten? I'm feeling particularly absent-minded, since I also just realized I have an upcoming lecture in my Anthropology class on identification of hypervitaminosis A in an East African Homo erectus skeleton by Alan Walker (who was a professor of anatomy and cell biology at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine)).

I happened to think of one more: anyone remember publication of the Paleolithic Prescription by Boyd et al. in the late 1980s? The authors are medical doctors who specifically used knowledge of human evolution to understand why our current diets are so mal-adaptive and the cause of a significant number of ailments. The following entry in Wikipedia sums it up best:

Those who advocate that contemporary humans should regularly consume a Paleolithic diet base their advocacy on the premise that natural selection had 2 million or more years to genetically adapt the metabolism and physiology of the various human species to such a diet, and that in the 10,000 years since the invention of agriculture and its consequent major change in the human diet, natural selection has had too little time to make the optimal genetic adaptations to the new diet. According to those advocates, physiological and metabolic maladaptations result from those suboptimal genetic adaptations, which in turn contribute to many of the so-called diseases of civilization.

Boy, it sure looks like evolutionary biology has no implications for the practice of modern medicine does it? To not understand the relationship between human evolution and medicine is to, as a commenter (a medical doctor, no less!) on my previous Egnor post put it, "...have your head up a very dark and presumably tight place".

If I were Egnor, I'd consider a new line of work...

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