Author Topic: Are we meat eaters or vegetarians ?  (Read 25944 times)

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Offline SkinnyDevil

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Re: Are we meat eaters or vegetarians ?
« Reply #25 on: September 30, 2009, 09:07:14 pm »
Notice the causal links here. Our brains were expanding, so we had to eat meat. Not, we ate meat so our brains magically grew.

Non sequitur.

The cause is not linear, so wording it this way is incorrect. The phenomenon is cyclic & mutualistic. Whether we started eating meat BECAUSE our brains were growing or whether our brains were growing BECAUSE we started eating meat is something we can never know (though the latter is more likely, or at least more logically convenient by way of explanation because without it, one still has the hanging question of WHY brains started growing).

What we DO know is that once the first step was taken and brains were growing, they grew with the help of all that extra fat & protein...and that all that fat & protein helped those brains grow.

The effect was that the GI tract began to shrink.

But it would be hard to prove that GI tracts mysteriously began to shrink and so our bodies' response was to increase the size of the brain by some equally mysterious process.

Eating meat doesn't make brains magically grow, it allows more resources for brains (and other organs) to grow. But if there were exceptional demands on the brain in conjunction with extra nutritional resources, then...
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Re: Are we meat eaters or vegetarians ?
« Reply #26 on: September 30, 2009, 09:20:12 pm »


What we DO know is that once the first step was taken and brains were growing, they grew with the help of all that extra fat & protein...and that all that fat & protein helped those brains grow.

The effect was that the GI tract began to shrink.

But it would be hard to prove that GI tracts mysteriously began to shrink and so our bodies' response was to increase the size of the brain by some equally mysterious process.

Eating meat doesn't make brains magically grow, it allows more resources for brains (and other organs) to grow. But if there were exceptional demands on the brain in conjunction with extra nutritional resources, then...

Eating rawpaleo zero carb does result in less weight, and IIRC the gut shrinks as well in time, so we don't need to drag in evolution to make sense of this. The decrease in brain size since paleo time looks to be because the neolithic diet does not support the paleo-sized brains.

We differ from the apes, we don't know why, and evolution is moot.

Offline pfw

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Re: Are we meat eaters or vegetarians ?
« Reply #27 on: September 30, 2009, 09:34:25 pm »
Quote
Eating meat doesn't make brains magically grow, it allows more resources for brains (and other organs) to grow. But if there were exceptional demands on the brain in conjunction with extra nutritional resources, then..
This summarizes the argument made by the article pretty well. I'm not sure what your disagreement is... this sentence is exactly what you called a non sequitur at the top of your post. I'm also not sure why you point out that this leaves "why" unanswered; yes, it very explicitly leaves "why" unanswered because that's outside the scope of the argument.




Offline TylerDurden

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Re: Are we meat eaters or vegetarians ?
« Reply #28 on: October 01, 2009, 05:52:17 pm »
Like I said, Kleiber's Law is too controversial to be labelled a law. Here's a paper which criticises some aspects of Kleiber's Law:-

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18978222
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Offline SkinnyDevil

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Re: Are we meat eaters or vegetarians ?
« Reply #29 on: October 01, 2009, 08:20:14 pm »
Eating rawpaleo zero carb does result in less weight, and IIRC the gut shrinks as well in time, so we don't need to drag in evolution to make sense of this. The decrease in brain size since paleo time looks to be because the neolithic diet does not support the paleo-sized brains.

We differ from the apes, we don't know why, and evolution is moot.

The position is not that eating meat shrinks the GI tract of the individual, but that eating meat causes an evolutionary change in humans where the size of the GI cavity shrinks, along with the organs and the like.

An increase in brain size (or a decrease in gut size) is only evolutionary if it effects the species. Evolution, in the scientific sense, does not effect individuals. Thus, we ARE talking about evolution, not changes to an individual.

This summarizes the argument made by the article pretty well. I'm not sure what your disagreement is... this sentence is exactly what you called a non sequitur at the top of your post. I'm also not sure why you point out that this leaves "why" unanswered; yes, it very explicitly leaves "why" unanswered because that's outside the scope of the argument.

My apologies, then, for being less than clear.

Non sequitur because your statement  was "Notice the causal links here. Our brains were expanding, so we had to eat meat. Not, we ate meat so our brains magically grew.", to which I respond two-fold:

1) WHY were our brains expanding? They don't just magically (to use your words) expand and so we magically figure out we need to eat meat.

2) WHY did our guts shrink? They don't just magically shrink and so our brains magically respond by growing.

There is no linear causality as you suggest. The effect is emergent from a variety of both linear & cyclic pressures.
« Last Edit: October 01, 2009, 08:27:07 pm by SkinnyDevil »
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Offline pfw

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Re: Are we meat eaters or vegetarians ?
« Reply #30 on: October 01, 2009, 10:03:16 pm »
"Why" is not relevant to the argument made in Eades' article. It does not attempt to explain why. It attempts to describe one theory of how it was we were able to develop larger brains, which it then uses to attack vegetarians. Again, we know we developed larger brains (for whatever reason - it's totally irrelevant to the argument and thus ignored). How did we do so? How were we able to support the larger energy requirements? Well, we ate meat, and in fact had to eat meat or else we are left unable to explain how early man survived with a growing brain and shrinking gut. Thus, vegetarian claims about early man's diet are wrong. That's it. That's the argument. There's nothing in there about why anything because that's not the intent.

This thread focused entirely on the "brains + eating meat" step of the argument, but managed to invert it. The claim, as I state in your quote, is not that eating meat causes larger brains. The claim is that it enables larger brains, and would have been necessary to support larger brains. You saw the word "causal" and assumed that I was claiming that larger brains caused meat eating, but this is not so. Read the sentence again. "Our brains were expanding, so we had to eat meat". The first clause is a condition we know to be true, and the second is a logical deduction from it. I think the tense is screwing you up, let me restate it more clearly:

"Our brains were expanding, so we had to be eating meat."

Better? Eating meat was necessary to support expanding brains at that time in our evolution.

Although, now that I think about, you could argue that brains growing would cause more meat eating, if only because those populations that ate less meat would be selected away. But that's indirect, and again, not really the point of the argument being made.

Offline SkinnyDevil

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Re: Are we meat eaters or vegetarians ?
« Reply #31 on: October 01, 2009, 11:14:55 pm »
Fair enough.
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Offline Raw Kyle

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Re: Are we meat eaters or vegetarians ?
« Reply #32 on: October 02, 2009, 07:05:42 am »
It's like Gary Taubes said, kids going through growing spurts don't grow because they eat a lot, they eat a lot because they're growing. Their hormones make them grow. So in kind, if a species had individuals who had hormones for larger brains, and those larger brains had to be fed more of certain nutrients, and they couldn't get them, they wouldn't survive. But if they could, then they would have all the advantages that larger brain could afford them.

Offline PaleoPhil

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Re: Are we meat eaters or vegetarians ?
« Reply #33 on: October 02, 2009, 10:15:43 am »
I like that Taubes analogy. Dr. Mark Hyman says that human brains contain about 60% omega 3 animal fats (we are animals, after all :) ), so it makes intuitive sense that unprocessed omega 3 animal fats would be a good source of nutrition for human brains. As Dr. Hyman put it, "become a fat head." :)

Wrangham's hypothesis that cooked starches are the real brain food makes less logical sense to me.
>"When some one eats an Epi paleo Rx template and follows the rules of circadian biology they get plenty of starches when they are available three out of the four seasons." -Jack Kruse, MD
>"I recommend 20 percent of calories from carbs, depending on the size of the person" -Ron Rosedale, MD (in other words, NOT zero carbs) http://preview.tinyurl.com/6ogtan
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Offline cherimoya_kid

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Re: Are we meat eaters or vegetarians ?
« Reply #34 on: October 02, 2009, 12:03:41 pm »

Wrangham's hypothesis...makes less logical sense to me.

You could put almost anything in the middle of that sentence, in the ellipse, and I would agree.  The man seems determined to be wrong, loudly, publicly, and in print, as much as one man can.  He's setting new standards for factual wrongness.  Guinness Book of World Records is going to have to start a new category to describe his wrongness.  He's setting records. 

Seriously, cooking makes bigger brains? 

WTF?  My degree is in flipping MUSIC, and even I see how that requires waaaay the heck more support than the fossil record and archaeological record show. 

I think it's obvious what "brain food" is, for humans.  Fat builds the brain, and carbs run the brain.  You need some of both.  Some people can get by with almost no carbs, but almost everyone needs some good-quality fats. 

Brain food is species-dependent.  Large-brained creatures eat all kinds of diets.  Whale sharks are small-brained, but they eat the same food that large-brained blue whales do.  Giant centipedes have almost no brain, but they are definitely meat-eaters, and eat a similar diet to tarsiers, which have much  larger brains.  Brain food can be anything.  Some primates eat a lot of meat, relatively, some eat almost none, and instead eat mostly fruit.

Seriously, who is bribing Wrangham to say this crazy crap? LOL

I just don't get it. Why would our pre-human ancestors need cooked food to develop larger brains?  Their ancestors didn't need it.  I'm not saying there's no way it could have had an influence, I'm just saying that the proof is far, far, far from solid.  In a case like this, I'm going to have to say that it's an "innocent until proven guilty" situation, where humans are innocent of needing cooked food to develop large brains, until proven guilty.  In other words, given the general evolutionary tendency toward larger brains in vertebrate evolutionary lines, the burden of proof lies with Wrangham, not me.

Offline van

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Re: Are we meat eaters or vegetarians ?
« Reply #35 on: October 02, 2009, 12:21:50 pm »
I heard him on a radio talk show.  He's smarter than it appears.  He actually has live with native tribes in Africa before some of us were born.  His point is more about how cooking creates a social structure and how cooking/smoking can preserve meat such as an entire elephant way longer than not cooking/smoking.  Thus allowing less periods of hunger....    Haven't read his works but he is  'convincing' on radio, and I imagine in person.

Offline TylerDurden

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Re: Are we meat eaters or vegetarians ?
« Reply #36 on: October 02, 2009, 07:15:25 pm »
Wrangham's hypothesis that cooked starches are the real brain food makes less logical sense to me.

Actually, Wrangham isn't so keen on mentioning cooked tubers any more. This is because he was savaged by many Palaeoanthropologists because they pointed out how eating more cooked starches in the Neolithic coincided with a decrease in human brain-size. As a result, he now mostly focuses on the absurd claim that consumption of cooked foods in general led to bigger brain-size, with a slight emphasis on cooked meats as the main instigator.
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Re: Are we meat eaters or vegetarians ?
« Reply #37 on: October 02, 2009, 08:15:19 pm »
I heard him on a radio talk show.  He's smarter than it appears.  He actually has live with native tribes in Africa before some of us were born.  His point is more about how cooking creates a social structure and how cooking/smoking can preserve meat such as an entire elephant way longer than not cooking/smoking.  Thus allowing less periods of hunger....    Haven't read his works but he is  'convincing' on radio, and I imagine in person.

Successful hunting requires a social structure, and drying preserves meat better than cooking. Maybe he got rid of his virginity in Africa? Could that explain his nuttiness?

Offline cherimoya_kid

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Re: Are we meat eaters or vegetarians ?
« Reply #38 on: October 02, 2009, 10:06:58 pm »
Wrangham has come up with a hypothesis, and is looking for justifications.  That's all well and good if it's an area that you have studied for decades, but he is a primatologist.  That's like someone who designs passenger jets having a "brilliant" idea about sports car design, and then trying to run around convincing people that it's brilliant. 

Complex social behavior occurs in many species.  There's complex mating behavior in some bird species, complex pecking orders in other species, and the list goes on. 

Wrangham's theory just doesn't pass the test of "the simplest explanation is often the truest one".  In this case, boys and girls, the simplest explanation is that human brains got bigger for the same reason(s) that brains have gotten bigger in pretty much every other vertebrate lineage. 

Offline PaleoPhil

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Re: Are we meat eaters or vegetarians ?
« Reply #39 on: October 03, 2009, 02:36:34 am »
Actually, Wrangham isn't so keen on mentioning cooked tubers any more. This is because he was savaged by many Palaeoanthropologists because they pointed out how eating more cooked starches in the Neolithic coincided with a decrease in human brain-size. As a result, he now mostly focuses on the absurd claim that consumption of cooked foods in general led to bigger brain-size, with a slight emphasis on cooked meats as the main instigator.
Wow, that's quite a switch on his part. Quite surprising for him to point to meats as the main instigating food, given his near-vegetarianism (he doesn't eat mammals).

...the simplest explanation is that human brains got bigger for the same reason(s) that brains have gotten bigger in pretty much every other vertebrate lineage.  
Which is?
>"When some one eats an Epi paleo Rx template and follows the rules of circadian biology they get plenty of starches when they are available three out of the four seasons." -Jack Kruse, MD
>"I recommend 20 percent of calories from carbs, depending on the size of the person" -Ron Rosedale, MD (in other words, NOT zero carbs) http://preview.tinyurl.com/6ogtan
>Finding a diet you can tolerate is not the same as fixing what's wrong. -Tim Steele
Beware of problems from chronic Very Low Carb

Offline cherimoya_kid

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Re: Are we meat eaters or vegetarians ?
« Reply #40 on: October 03, 2009, 03:04:21 am »

Which is?

I don't know.  I am willing to wager a guess that it has nothing to do with cooking. 

Offline TylerDurden

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Re: Are we meat eaters or vegetarians ?
« Reply #41 on: October 03, 2009, 05:23:21 pm »
1 thing we shouldn't forget is that human brains have increased cortical thickening. For example, if our frontal lobes increased in thickness/number of neural connections during the Neolithic that might compensate or even exceed the intelligence of our Palaeolithic ancestors, even after taking into account the 8% decrease in brain-size.

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Offline PaleoPhil

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Re: Are we meat eaters or vegetarians ?
« Reply #42 on: October 03, 2009, 10:17:54 pm »
If you feel that way then why are you eating a raw PALEO diet? Wouldn't a raw NEOLITHIC diet promote superior brain functioning?
>"When some one eats an Epi paleo Rx template and follows the rules of circadian biology they get plenty of starches when they are available three out of the four seasons." -Jack Kruse, MD
>"I recommend 20 percent of calories from carbs, depending on the size of the person" -Ron Rosedale, MD (in other words, NOT zero carbs) http://preview.tinyurl.com/6ogtan
>Finding a diet you can tolerate is not the same as fixing what's wrong. -Tim Steele
Beware of problems from chronic Very Low Carb

Offline TylerDurden

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Re: Are we meat eaters or vegetarians ?
« Reply #43 on: October 04, 2009, 04:23:16 am »
If you feel that way then why are you eating a raw PALEO diet? Wouldn't a raw NEOLITHIC diet promote superior brain functioning?

 
If you feel that way then why are you eating a raw PALEO diet? Wouldn't a raw NEOLITHIC diet promote superior brain functioning?
You're missing the point. I was trying to suggest that there might be wholly different, non-dietary reason for why our brains grew larger. 1 thing's for sure, if brain-size really were the main or only criteria, then one would reasonably  expect the Eskimos, who reportedly have the largest skulls on the planet, to be outperforming every other group at University etc.
"During the last campaign I knew what was happening. You know, they mocked me for my foreign policy and they laughed at my monetary policy. No more. No more.
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Re: Are we meat eaters or vegetarians ?
« Reply #44 on: October 04, 2009, 05:38:52 am »
You're missing the point. I was trying to suggest that there might be wholly different, non-dietary reason for why our brains grew larger. 1 thing's for sure, if brain-size really were the main or only criteria, then one would reasonably  expect the Eskimos, who reportedly have the largest skulls on the planet, to be outperforming every other group at University etc.

Elsewhere in this forum the point has been made that paleoman ate brains (the right fat); they contain enough of the nutrients needed to grow and maintain large competent brains.
Simple enough that I like it, and it might even be true.

The Inuit are going through culture shock (depression, high suicide rate); if they survive it they will out-perform all others. Other aboriginals have not survived well.

Offline PaleoPhil

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Re: Are we meat eaters or vegetarians ?
« Reply #45 on: October 04, 2009, 09:37:21 am »
True, William, right now most of the Inuit are not eating too well, but an even bigger factor in their not dominating the world's universities is that there are so few of them and they live in the Arctic, for crying out loud. Expecting the Eskimos to outperform every other group at the world's top universities would be a little like saying, "Londoners can't be too smart, they know very little about whaling or sledding and they don't dominate Bone Puzzle (Inukat) competitions." Heck, there are way more Londoners than Eskimos, so even that comparison is unfair to the Eskimos.
>"When some one eats an Epi paleo Rx template and follows the rules of circadian biology they get plenty of starches when they are available three out of the four seasons." -Jack Kruse, MD
>"I recommend 20 percent of calories from carbs, depending on the size of the person" -Ron Rosedale, MD (in other words, NOT zero carbs) http://preview.tinyurl.com/6ogtan
>Finding a diet you can tolerate is not the same as fixing what's wrong. -Tim Steele
Beware of problems from chronic Very Low Carb

Offline TylerDurden

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Re: Are we meat eaters or vegetarians ?
« Reply #46 on: October 04, 2009, 04:57:29 pm »
The Inuit do not necessarily live in the back of beyond any more. I mean it's not like the Stefansson era. Now the Inuit have their own country(Nunavik?) so can hardly be considered primitive.
"During the last campaign I knew what was happening. You know, they mocked me for my foreign policy and they laughed at my monetary policy. No more. No more.
" Ron Paul.

Offline PaleoPhil

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Re: Are we meat eaters or vegetarians ?
« Reply #47 on: October 05, 2009, 04:49:27 am »
Regardless, it's extremely unfair to compare them to the university cities of the world, especially given their puny population numbers. The sheer odds you ever even meeting an Inuit college student in London are enormous and most of them aren't even eating their fully traditional diet any more, as has been pointed out more than once in this thread and others. I find your expectation that Eskimos should outperform every university in modern Western academic matters unconvincing to the point of absurdity and below your normal standards of argument. You seem to be really reaching with this one.
« Last Edit: October 05, 2009, 04:57:50 am by PaleoPhil »
>"When some one eats an Epi paleo Rx template and follows the rules of circadian biology they get plenty of starches when they are available three out of the four seasons." -Jack Kruse, MD
>"I recommend 20 percent of calories from carbs, depending on the size of the person" -Ron Rosedale, MD (in other words, NOT zero carbs) http://preview.tinyurl.com/6ogtan
>Finding a diet you can tolerate is not the same as fixing what's wrong. -Tim Steele
Beware of problems from chronic Very Low Carb

Offline TylerDurden

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Re: Are we meat eaters or vegetarians ?
« Reply #48 on: October 05, 2009, 07:10:34 pm »
Regardless, it's extremely unfair to compare them to the university cities of the world, especially given their puny population numbers. The sheer odds you ever even meeting an Inuit college student in London are enormous and most of them aren't even eating their fully traditional diet any more, as has been pointed out more than once in this thread and others. I find your expectation that Eskimos should outperform every university in modern Western academic matters unconvincing to the point of absurdity and below your normal standards of argument. You seem to be really reaching with this one.

On the contrary, you are the one who is reaching. I would certainly expect Inuit to feature prominently in Canadian universities(and the high-meat eating Nenets of Siberia among other similiar groups). These current peoples no longer live in a silly idealised Noble Savage environment of the 19th century, with Inuit on traditional diets for example commonly resorting to modern weapons such as rifles to hunt their usual prey.

At any rate, it's difficult to argue that brain-size is a relevant issue when one of the main features of enhanced overall human intelligence in the first place involves a larger frontal lobe and enhanced cortical thickening(as opposed to just big brains which feature in other animals). To give you an example, what if the larger brain of the Inuit meant a  larger frontal lobe, but with fewer neural connections than other groups? That would balance out.

 Plus, given the decided lack of Inuit high-level academics/Nobel prize winners indicates pretty strongly that in the very remote likelihood that they were more intelligent than other humans, that the difference would be so negligibly small as to clearly not give them a competitive advantage. In other words, having significantly enhanced greater intelligence means more opportunities created for you and a competitive advantage, regardless of whether you're an Inuit tribesman or a son of a not too bright working-class family with the only prospect of a career in the coal-mines(I'm thinking of, in the latter case, a man who became a prolific successful British writer despite having initially no prospects whatsoever, simply by having a significantly enhanced IQ compared to others in his immediate social background).
"During the last campaign I knew what was happening. You know, they mocked me for my foreign policy and they laughed at my monetary policy. No more. No more.
" Ron Paul.

Offline Quinroxanne

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Re: Are we meat eaters or vegetarians ?
« Reply #49 on: October 29, 2009, 08:27:13 pm »
I am not totally a vegetarian yet. But I stooped eating meat and other meat based products though sometimes I eat fish and egg.

 

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