Peoples Geography — Reclaiming space

Creating people's geographies

The evolution will be televised (and maybe podcast, too)

Selves and Others | Tuesday 5 September 2006, by Mickey Z.

“Loyalty to a petrified opinion never yet broke a chain or freed a human soul.”
Mark Twain

Observation. There is perhaps no more valuable tool in the world of science. Ask Darwin. He did all right for himself observing finches, didn’t he? Or ask Marcel Proust. The writer everyone pretends to read said: “The true voyage of discovery lies not is seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.”

What I’ve recently observed with my very own “new eyes” is an expeditious evolution defying all previous postulations on how quickly a species can mutate, adapt, and evolve. In terms of daily habits, it’s obvious from even the most tertiary scrutiny that Homo sapiens have undergone a fair amount of evolution, since 1945 or so. Thus, it is in the spirit of open-minded observers-from Galileo to Stephen Colbert-that I some elementary observations:

•Humans, thanks to rapid-fire evolution, are no longer vulnerable to toxins. The mere act of perusing a typical American drink tap water (heavy metals and microbes), light up a cigarette (tar and nicotine), chat on a cell phone (electromagnetic radiation), chow down on a candy bar (sugar and chemicals) and an un-organic piece of fruit (pesticides and GMOs), wash it down with a glass of milk (animal protein, BGH, sub-therapeutic levels of antibiotics, and more pesticides), wipe her or his face with a napkin (chlorine and dyes), and then head off in a car (exhaust emissions) to the dentist for X-rays and a filling (radiation and mercury), is evidence enough for me. After all, would an entire nation so readily embrace such comportment as normal if it might hurt us?

•With the recent surge in cell phones, beepers, palm pilots, Blackberries, and the like, isn’t it safe to assume that human beings have evolved to become far more important now than they were 20 years ago?

•Look around you: There are televisions in your gym, in your doctor’s waiting room, in the Laundromat, airport, and every room of your house. Could it be that we simply need, on a physiological level, more stimulus than our ancestors did?

•Speaking of TVs, if you combine the omnipresence of the television set with the ever-growing popularity of the Internet and the widespread utilization of iPod-style stereos, is it not logical to postulate that the early twenty-first century model human needs far less face-to-face social contact than its primitive, more chatty predecessors?

•One more TV-related observation: Are televisions, automobiles, escalators, and elevators proof that the necessity for exercise and physical activity has gone the way of the dinosaur?

•Walk into your bathroom. Walk into anyone’s bathroom for that matter, and what do you see? A medicine chest, of course. Clearly, thanks to evolution, our immune systems have been relieved of the tedious chore of keeping us healthy. That task has been delegated to the wonders of modern science.

•Can you explain why human beings behave in such a manner as to increase global warming and the greenhouse effect, promote the destruction of the ozone layer and the rain forests, and allow pollution to overtake many urban areas? To me, it’s easy. Our superior bodies now require higher temperatures and less oxygen.

Now, if only some sectors of our species could simply evolve past the need for poverty, we’d really be in business.

Mickey Z. can be found on the Web at

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This entry was posted on 5 September, 2006 by in Civilisation, Culture, Health, Kerala, Weird Science.

Timely Reminders

"Those who crusade, not for God in themselves, but against the devil in others, never succeed in making the world better, but leave it either as it was, or sometimes perceptibly worse than what it was, before the crusade began. By thinking primarily of evil we tend, however excellent our intentions, to create occasions for evil to manifest itself."
-- Aldous Huxley

"The only war that matters is the war against the imagination. All others are subsumed by it."
-- Diane DiPrima, "Rant", from Pieces of a Song.

"It is difficult
to get the news from poems
yet men die miserably every day
for lack
of what is found there"
-- William Carlos Williams, "Asphodel, That Greeny Flower"