Evolution Has Made Us Worse, Claims Anthropologist

Illustration for article titled Evolution Has Made Us Worse, Claims Anthropologist

Modern man is slower, weaker and just generally worse off than his ancestors, according to Australian athropologist Peter McAllister, whose book Manthropology: The Science of The Inadequate Modern Male argues that evolution has really let us down.

If Manthropology's theory can be believed, humanity is in pretty bad shape when compared with what's come before. As the opening of the book says,

If you're reading this then you - or the male you have bought it for - are the worst man in history. No ifs, no buts — the worst man, period...As a class we are in fact the sorriest cohort of masculine Homo sapiens to ever walk the planet.

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Comparing the best of today's physical achievements with calculations on what past humans have been capable of, the book sets out the argument that everything used to be so much better in the olden days. According to McAllister, everything can be blamed on the industrial revolution:

We are so inactive these days and have been since the industrial revolution really kicked into gear. These people were much more robust than we were. We don't see that because we convert to what things were like about 30 years ago. There's been such a stark improvement in times, technique has improved out of sight, times and heights have all improved vastly since then but if you go back further it's a different story... The human body is very plastic and it responds to stress. We have lost 40 percent of the shafts of our long bones because we have much less of a muscular load placed upon them these days. We are simply not exposed to the same loads or challenges that people were in the ancient past and even in the recent past so our bodies haven't developed. Even the level of training that we do, our elite athletes, doesn't come close to replicating that.

While that may be true, it's worth pointing out that modern man may have been weakened by the industrial revolution, but that said industrial revolution has also enabled us to make machines to do all the hard work for us. And, as one very lazy modern man, I have to admit that that's perfectly fine with me.

Modern man 'a wimp', says anthropologist [Independent.co.uk]

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DISCUSSION

The "you - or the male you have bought it for - are the worst man in history" bit suggests that the author assumes only men would be interested in reading his book, which raises interesting questions about whether he has certain biases that might impact his work. Adding the prefix "man" to random terms always results in incredible tackiness and leaves a bad taste in my mouth every time I say the resulting horror of a word. It's generally interesting to ask why he's focusing on men exclusively, when women also had to do more physically-intensive work in the past. And the overall theme seems to be another tired reiteration of "things were much better a million years ago when REAL MEN were out hunting dinosaurs, while their wives Wilma and Betty stayed home to clean the cave with a baby-mammoth-powered vacuum cleaner."

Meh, says I. Something tells me his anthropology — sorry, Manthropology — is likely to have a less-than-rock-solid foundation.