Modern Men Are Wimps
Whatever happened to survival of the fittest? Our ancestors were much stronger, says the author of a new book on anthropology. PhysOrg reported on a book by Peter McAllister that says today’s males don’t measure up physically to their counterparts even a century ago, let alone those in the Roman empire and earlier.
“According to McAllister humans have lost 40 percent of the shafts of the long bones because they are no longer subjected to the kind of muscular loads that were normal before the industrial revolution,” the article said. “Even our elite athletes are not exposed to anywhere near the challenges and loads that were part of everyday life for pre-industrial people.” Cro-Magnon men were taller, more fit and had bigger brains than the average man of today. Neanderthal women could have easily whipped Schwarzenegger in an arm wrestle, he claims. Records show that even in recorded history men had better overall fitness on average.
Manthropology: The Science of the Inadequate Modern Male blames our inadequacies on our sedentary lifestyles. It’s a good thing we are not competing against ancient people in the Olympics. McAllister says Greek rowers in their trireme ships could outperform today’s world-class rowers. He wrote of “Roman soldiers who completed the equivalent of one and a half marathons a day, carrying equipment weighing half their body weight, and Australian Aborigines who could throw a spear over 10 meters further than the current javelin world record.” Even a century ago Rwandan men and Australian natives could have eclipsed modern track and field records. Today’s champions merely outcompete one another in a bad lot. “Even our elite athletes are not exposed to anywhere near the challenges and loads that were part of everyday life for pre-industrial people.”
McAllister claims modern weaknesses are reversible with the right kind of diet and exercise. The benefits can accrue to individuals as well as populations.
There are still ethnic groups today who show what humans are capable of. Remember the sherpas in the 06/17/2005 entry? (see also 10/31/2007, bullet 4). It’s understandably hard to live optimally with today’s hectic urban lifestyles that subject both men and women to mental stress in a sitting position (e.g., sitting in traffic hurrying to get somewhere, working at a computer all day). Each individual needs to assess their fitness level and improve as opportunity allows. We suggest vigorous walks in nature, up and down hills, carrying a load when possible. Whatever McAllister’s book shows (and it is undoubtedly oversimplified), it is not showing that evolutionary progress is occurring. Read the Old Testament and study ancient civilizations for amazing feats of strength and endurance. It’s startling to think of the extreme ancient monuments around the world that were built without petroleum and electromagnetic power.
Darwinian anthropology creates a mindset that we are evolving upward from the apes. That runs diametrically opposed to the Biblical worldview that says creation was perfect at the beginning, but was cursed and is running downhill. Old testament people lived for centuries. It is more credible to think that mutational load over millennia of exposure to cosmic rays and other mutagens is taking its toll. Scientific and engineering knowledge can accumulate to counter these trends, but that’s intelligent design, not evolution. We’d better take care of what we have left.