Author Topic: More 'cooking gave us big brains' bullshit  (Read 4392 times)

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Offline Alive

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More 'cooking gave us big brains' bullshit
« on: November 04, 2012, 04:54:50 am »
I endured more 'cooked food created big brains' bad science on radio NZ yesterday:

"Why do animals with huge bodies- even primates like gorillas- have far smaller brains than us humans? The key, suggests Professor Suzana Herculano-Houzel and her colleagues at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, is cooking. (7?45?)"
http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/thiswayup/audio/2537425/cooking-and-brain-size.asx

I emailed Suzana pointing out her research mistakes, and she quickly replied as a below (with my email in quotes). I am now trying to find TylerDurden's debunking post to use in my reply (sometimes RPDF can be quite hard to search!). Hopefully every little bit counts in pushing back against this cooked food propaganda!

Dear Mike,

thank you for our email.  I've been getting hate mail from rawfoodists who completely misinterpret our study, so I think it is very important to get some things straight before I answer your questions (below).

In the modern world, where raw foods (including fish and other meats) are readily available in unlimited quantities in grocery stores, it certainly takes much less than 9 hours per day to eat the calories that you need - although it STILL will require many hours of eating (specially if one doesn't cheat by eating nuts, which require roasting, or oils, which are extracted with heat). Eating raw meat requires huge effort and a lot of time (carpaccio is easier because skilled use of the knife does the same that cooking does: breaks down the tissue). Eating raw fish is certainly much easier, but remember that sushi rice is both cooked and packed with added sugar that only becomes available from industries!. When our species appeared, however, there were no plantations in the backyard with bananas readily available, and eating meat required killing animals or hanging out by the waterhole to compete for fish with carnivore predators :o))

Bottomline is, it is certainly possible to survive on an exclusively raw diet in our modern day, but it was most likely impossible to survive on an exclusively raw diet when our species appeared. Eating raw foods, though, yields much fewer calories per time - which is why it is one of the most efficient ways to... lose weight :o)

Here are my answers:


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The main problem with this is your research is presented as only considering a raw VEGAN diet, while it is obvious our ancestors ate a raw OMNIVOROUS diet which was very high in raw ANIMAL foods, which contain large amounts of high energy fats to power our large brains.

We did NOT consider or assume a vegan diet; our analysis is based on ACTUAL non-human primate diets, in the wild, and the estimated number of calories they get per hour from it.

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Can you please comment on these well known scientific facts:

1. Our ancestors increase in brain size began over 2 million years ago

2. Evidence of the widespread control of fire has only been found going back a hundred thousand years ago

Therefore how can #2 possibly cause #1?

Because #2 is wrong: look up the evidence reviewed in Richard Wrangham's wonderful book, Catching Fire.


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3. Analysis of fossilised humanoid fecal deposits shows that our ancestors have been living on a diet largely composed of raw animal foods for over 2 million years

Again, I suggest you read Wrangham's book... I think you'll like it.

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4. Comparing us against herbivore gorillas and saying we would have to eat for 8 hours a day if we ate raw food ignores the fact we would only need to eat for 15 minutes a day when consuming raw animal foods, due to the high energy content of fat
Oh, IF you have a grocery store nearby AND choose to, say, drink pure vegetable oil, you will get your 2500 kCal with a single cup of less than 300 ml. It will be gross, though - and will not give you the proteins, carbohydrates, and vitamins you need. See my first paragraph above.

And mind you, great apes can eat meat, and will eat meat - but only if there is nothing else available, probably because of how much effort it requires (you could also argue that they hate the taste... but you'd have to ask them ;P ).


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So since our ancestors were 'living off the fat of the land' and consuming a high energy / high fat diet of raw animal foods there is no need to increase the energy extraction from vegetables by cooking them.

Living off the fat of the land??? Who was doing that? What evidence are you based on? Gorillas and orangutans would love to know where all that fat is, because they still have to eat almost 8 hours a day...

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Personally I have found a huge increase in energy and mental alertness by consuming raw animal foods - such as fatty meat and offal - with less food intake.

Good for you. Whatever makes you happy AND keeps you healthy. Eating meat is certainly a good way to eat less, because proteins are more satisfying for the brain mechanisms that control food intake. In our modern world, all kinds of food are so readily available that we can afford the luxury of choosing what we want to eat, and even of deciding what NOT to eat - meat, cooked foods, milk, you pick. Since grocery stores weren't around, our ancestors didn't have that luxury, and had to eat what they had - and it is in that context that we argue that cooking could introduce the change required to dramatically increase the energy content of each meal, and allow our ancestors to circumvent the limitation imposed on their brain size by a raw diet.

I hope I addressed all your questions...

Best regards,
Suzana
« Last Edit: November 04, 2012, 05:04:01 am by alivE »

Offline raw-al

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Re: More 'cooking gave us big brains' bullshit
« Reply #1 on: November 04, 2012, 07:34:05 am »
Judging by her answers I doubt she read anything you said. Probably only one or two generations out of the trees... LOL

Nuts need roasting to eat.... Huh? What planet is she from?

Sushi is the only way to eat raw ??? Sushi has sugar???? You have to have a knife to eat raw??? What is carpaccio?

"but it was most likely impossible to survive on an exclusively raw diet when our species appeared." That is why Macdonalds was invented. So Neanderthals could have a balanced diet and not eat 9 hours a day???

She is a nut.
Cheers
Al

Offline TylerDurden

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Re: More 'cooking gave us big brains' bullshit
« Reply #2 on: November 04, 2012, 07:50:08 am »
She sounds like a fanatic and also a bit stupid. Here are my 2 anti-Wrangham et al articles:-

http://www.rawpaleodiet.com/when-did-humans-begin-to-cook/

http://www.rawpaleodiet.com/anti-raw-bias-on-beyondvegcom-website-debunked/

There was another article on non-Wrangham-related theories to cooking, but it seems to have become temporarily unavailable. I'll have to spend more time resurrecting it. Trouble is that the Net teaches us to have a short attention-span, and, despite some utterings, no one else here has really done much re writing further articles.

At any rate, her absurdity is in suggesting that it takes many hours to prepare and digest meats. She ignores the fact that modern hunter-gatherers also have to spend hours in hunting and cooking meats, and that, logically, humans eating a raw-meat diet would need to spend LESS time eating and preparing raw meats, as they don't have to waste hours on cooking/ preparing and they don't need to chew as they can just as easily bolt the raw meats down like dogs do. Heck, I and many other rawists just chew a piece of meat once or twice and then bolt it down. The only reason I use a knife is that I don't want blood all over me. Come to think of it, I often don't even use a knife and just tear chunks of raw meat with my teeth and bolt them down, but I just don't like doing that in company of other humans, for obvious cultural reasons re modern hysteria versus raw meat-eating.

She is also comparing great apes to modern humans despite plenty of scientific evidence that humans, unlike apes, are far better adapted to eating animal foods.

Hmm, I must eventually buy Wrangham's new book and debunk it thoroughly as well.
"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 TylerDurden

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Re: More 'cooking gave us big brains' bullshit
« Reply #3 on: November 04, 2012, 08:40:20 am »
To avoid legitimate accusations I would welcome any criticism so as to improve my anti-wrangham etc. points. I should add that some of my contributions on rawpaleodiet.com were not all my own re wordage 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.
" Ron Paul.

Offline cherimoya_kid

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Re: More 'cooking gave us big brains' bullshit
« Reply #4 on: November 04, 2012, 11:48:48 am »
I'd insult this woman, but she simply doesn't have a basic grasp of logic, so it would be like insulting a mentally-ill person.  What good would it do?

Even if you accept the 250K-YA timeline for cooking, our brains were getting bigger for millions of years before that.  Primates have been steadily gaining bigger brains for several million years, and our specific lineage was getting bigger brains long before this.

For that matter, the protein in raw meat is far more absorbable than in cooked meat.  I am 5'8" tall weigh around 140 lbs, but I look much thinner, because I have an incredibly low body fat percentage.  The reason I have so much muscle, and so little fat, is because I eat a lot of raw fish and shellfish.  The protein is extremely absorbable, and gets turned to muscle very easily.

Offline Dorothy

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Re: More 'cooking gave us big brains' bullshit
« Reply #5 on: November 04, 2012, 10:06:15 pm »
Why does this person think it is easier to find and cook enough vegetable matter to gain calories than kill something standing in front of you at the watering hole or scavenging other carnivores kills, scooping up some bugs, picking up eggs etc.? That kind of food is so much more dense. Supermarkets are what make finding produce easier - not meat.

This stuff about the supermarket makes no logical sense. I'm so confused!

This person obviously has NEVER tried to live off of just foraging for greens and berries in the wild - cooked or not cooked. It would take all day non-stop searching and eating to get enough calories. It's only if our guts fermented tough greens leaves to get the protein from the bacteria - like gorillas' do - that greens could possibly give us enough calories and protein. .

Does she really think we have the same intestinal tracts as gorillas?  I hate it when a "scientist" makes such ridiculous extrapolations.

I've talked to lots of raw vegans who have tried to live off of foraging and failed. You'd expel all the energy you get by trying to find the next meal - whether you cooked it or not. That's why raw vegans eat constantly - like her gorillas do, but a human can't eat those leaves and twigs off the trees - so would have a much harder time finding the kinds of greens and fruits and nuts we would be able to eat with our GI tracts and that's why there has never been a vegan hunter gatherer society. Besides, our brains necessitate more fat than cooking those fruits and veggies would give us - and this thing about nuts and seeds - huh? We can't eat them raw? We need to process them to get the fat we need for our brains? Huh? Hunter gatherers didn't have oil presses! Does she have any idea how hard it is to get most seeds out their shells!? It is her supermarket and modern machinery that has made nuts and seeds and oils available - not meat! 

Does she think that cooking got us more protein and fat? That also makes no sense. You still have to kill that animal next to you at the watering hole before cooking it or harder still find the produce and seeds.

We are NOT gorillas! Why does she think we used to be? What makes her think that we ever had that kind of GI tract?

Is she trying to say that we used to eat leaves like gorillas all day and that cooking magically made us able to kill animals or that it magically made us able to find more fruits and vegetables and seeds?

I think you are right Tyler and Cheri - she makes no sense, there is no logic. I don't know if that means she is stupid. It is clear thought that she has an agenda through which she sees things and ignores everything that obviously contradicts it.

I think more likely she like most people have assumed that we can't eat meat raw so it was cooking that opened up this resource to us and now will not admit that mistake. If it is as simple as that, then just invite her here and she will learn how that premise is totally off base.

She seems like someone that doesn't understand anything more than what she can find in a restaurant or in supermaket and doesn't even know about sashimi so doesn't even understand sushi. I bet she has never gardened, fished, never experienced cuisines of varying nations and has never eaten an insect like gorillas do.

She is basing her "scientific" studies on her own extremely narrow experience. She needs to broaden her experience. Tell her to come here!



Offline svrn

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Re: More 'cooking gave us big brains' bullshit
« Reply #6 on: November 20, 2012, 01:01:30 am »
wow...what an idiot. hearing what people like this have to say makes my head spin. She thinks that because she is a professor and you are not that her thoughts are automatically valid no matter how retarded they really are.
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Offline Ioanna

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Re: More 'cooking gave us big brains' bullshit
« Reply #7 on: November 20, 2012, 03:31:31 pm »
she not only took time to write to you out of all her hate mail, but she took care to include several emoticons... how professional  :o

 

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