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Prof. Discusses Dysevolution

Human bodies not evolved to function optimally, anthropology prof says

Daniel Lieberman discusses, “Human Evolution 150 Years After Darwin” and the “dysevolution” of man to a filled Geological Hall last night.
Daniel Lieberman discusses, “Human Evolution 150 Years After Darwin” and the “dysevolution” of man to a filled Geological Hall last night.
By Sami M. Khan, Contributing Writer

Many of the traits that humans have accumulated over their evolutionary history clash with their modern environments, according to Professor of Anthropology Daniel E. Lieberman ’86, who gave a speech at the Geological Lecture Hall last night.

Audience members lined up along the hall’s back wall as Lieberman took the stage and began his lecture, “Survival of the Swiftest, Smartest or Fattest? Human Evolution 150 Years After Darwin.”

“What happened in human evolution? Are humans now evolving? What will happen in human evolution?” Lieberman asked his captive audience.

“Our bodies are not entirely designed for the world that we live in, and we run into a lot of problems. They run from the minor discomfort of fallen arches and having to wear glasses to really serious problems like diabetes and obesity,” he said.

He noted that humans tend to address the symptoms of their physiological problems as opposed to their root causes, a phenomenon that he discouraged.

“Our society has taken the small approach to thinking about these problems. We engage in what I’m calling ‘dysevolution,’” said Lieberman.

He suggested that society combat obesity by creating a more pro-exercise culture and expanding health education as opposed to adopting symptom-based approaches such as liposuction.

“In order to actually start something, the first step is to talk about it, to dream it. If you can’t dream it, you can’t do it,” John F. Ruggiero, a member of the audience, said of Lieberman’s suggestions.

Lieberman also discouraged the consumption of corn-fed beef on campus because cows are not evolutionarily designed to eat corn. Cows fall ill when they do eat corn on a regular basis.

“I didn’t know that they put the cows through all that semi-torture to obtain it,” said audience member David J. Cordeiro.

The professor also presented a number of discoveries that he said would have pleased, surprised, and perhaps even disturbed Darwin. He gave as an example the genetic evidence which indicates that humans and chimpanzees are more related than are apes and chimpanzees.

Lieberman also said he is considering writing a book on dysevolution.

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