Monday, February 20, 2012

Makes Me Wonder...

I, like pretty much everyone else, also found Survival of the Sickest to be an entertaining and fresh read. Dr. Moalem is obviously a great writer and incredibly intelligent, but I feel like the message of the book (that certain traits we have accumulated today are due our earlier evolutionary adaptations for survival) is something we've all heard before. Despite that, I think Dr. Moalem's examples and writing style give us a new perspective and makes the topic of evolution more accessible to those who aren't really into science. Having grown up in a Catholic home I wasn't really exposed to evolution in the way that I have been since taking science classes, and have had many debates with family members over it, and I think this book is a good place to start for those who want to better explain evolution in terms that most people would understand.

Reading Survival of the Sickest makes me wonder about the ways in which society now will evolve in the future and what kinds of adaptations we'll develop. Since our diets have become vastly different because of the introduction of processed foods, we might be able to develop a better system to get rid of excess fat and sugar in our diets and our bodies will naturally eliminate the problem of obesity, diabetes and heart disease. Or, going back to Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers, we may create an adaptation to our hormonal responses to stress so we can all live happily and carefree even when our student loans are overdue and our jobs suck. Or in order to speed up becoming a happier and healthier society, somewhere down the line we might be able to use what we know about evolution and genetics to develop drugs that are specially catered to a specific genetic makeup in order to make them more effective for each individual. It's kind of comforting to think that our bodies can actually evolve to make us better overtime, and that nature possesses all the tools we need to cure every kind of disease. The problem is harnessing those tools in order to make them more effective sooner rather than later. 

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