×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

How Beer Gave Us Civilization

samzenpus posted about a year ago | from the the-cause-and-solution-to-all-of-life's-problems dept.

Beer 325

Hugh Pickens writes "Jeffrey P. Khan writes in the NY Times about how recent anthropological research suggests that human's angst of anxiety and depression ultimately results from our transformation, over tens of thousands of years, from biologically shaped, almost herd-like prehistoric tribes, to rational and independent individuals in modern civilization. The catalyst for suppressing the rigid social codes that kept our clans safe and alive was fermented fruit or grain. 'Once the effects of these early brews were discovered, the value of beer must have become immediately apparent,' writes Khan. 'With the help of the new psychopharmacological brew, humans could quell the angst of defying those herd instincts. Conversations around the campfire, no doubt, took on a new dimension: the painfully shy, their angst suddenly quelled, could now speak their minds.' Examining potential beer-brewing tools in archaeological remains from the Natufian culture in the Eastern Mediterranean, the team concludes that 'brewing of beer was an important aspect of feasting and society in the Late Epipaleolithic' era. In time, humans became more expansive in their thinking, as well as more collaborative and creative. A night of modest tippling may have ushered in these feelings of freedom — though, the morning after, instincts to conform and submit would have kicked back in to restore the social order. Today, many people drink too much because they have more than average social anxiety or panic anxiety to quell — disorders that may result, in fact, from those primeval herd instincts kicking into overdrive. But beer's place in the development of civilization deserves at least a raising of the glass. As the ever rational Ben Franklin supposedly said, 'Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.'"

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

325 comments

Everything gave us civilization (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43198815)

Dogs, language, agriculture, evolution... the difficult part is saying what didn't give us civilization.

Re:Everything gave us civilization (2)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | about a year ago | (#43198843)

Agriculture may have given us civilization but beer gave us agriculture [spiegel.de].

Re:Everything gave us civilization (4, Insightful)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year ago | (#43198951)

Also, in the fertile crescent lands (Egypt especially), beer was one of the few (health-wise) safe means of hydrating yourself (I wouldn't want to touch the water of Nile, much less drink it [humanecologyreview.org]), and also an important source of nutrients other than starch. (Of course, "beer" probably meant something slightly different back then, don't imagine the pasteurized clear liquid we're in the habit of drinking nowadays.)

Re:Everything gave us civilization (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43199109)

that it was safe to drink was just a side effect of the boiling part of the brewing, if they had boiled water it would have been ok to drink too

Re:Everything gave us civilization (4, Insightful)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year ago | (#43199131)

That is true, but the alcohol content helped preserve the drinking safety, and the yeast contents was important on it own, nutrition-wise.

Re:Everything gave us civilization (2, Informative)

MightyMartian (840721) | about a year ago | (#43199029)

I doubt that claim as well. Beer was a byproduct of agriculture, not a causative agent.

Re:Everything gave us civilization (5, Interesting)

Immerman (2627577) | about a year ago | (#43199277)

Actually, considering that many animals show evidence of intentionally seeking out alcohol (overripe fruit, etc.), and some such as elephants actually make it themselves (pulping and burying fruit that they later dig up and consume), I'm willing to bet human alcohol production predates agriculture by a pretty big margin. Admittedly that was probably more stuff like wine, mead, and possibly kefir (fermented milk). Beer is after all a rather complicated and roundabout way of producing alcohol, and I wouldn't be surprised if it didn't get invented until there were a bunch of bored, thirsty folks sitting around one winter wishing they had more wine, and that fruit kept as well as all the worthless low-sugar grain they had stockpiled. Necessity is the mother of invention after all.

Re:Everything gave us civilization (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43198947)

Once, when I was a kid, when the Air Force base was still open, I had a friend that I helped move onto base. During the move-in party, we got his dog drunk on beer. It was quite possibly the funniest thing I have ever seen.

Re:Everything gave us civilization (4, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | about a year ago | (#43199025)

Agriculture gave us civilization. Agriculture allowed people to transition from fully nomadic or nearly fully nomadic lifestyles to settled ones. It allowed relatively small areas to be settled by sedentary populations and then gave the techniques to support the growth of those civilizations.

Why anyone would attribute booze or dogs, or imagine that somehow we were fucking cattle before we started to drink (and I'm sure humans started to drink a looong time before we ever settled down) is beyond me. I guess you've got to sell something to a newspaper, but there's little enough mystery as to why civilization arose, and certainly there are enough examples to show the same thing over and over again... Agriculture, agriculture, agriculture.

Re:Everything gave us civilization (4, Interesting)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year ago | (#43199061)

That's a little bit too simplified. Truth is that there seems to have been a feedback loop between all of the following: grain agriculture, beer brewing, division of labour, social stratification, record keeping/taxation, and state-organized religion (time keeping/agrarian year planning). I guess one could draw a nice graph showing how every one of these supported all the remaining ones.

Re:Everything gave us civilization (5, Informative)

MightyMartian (840721) | about a year ago | (#43199085)

The first evidence of the growing of grain predates the first evidence of beer by a considerable length of time. We don't know all the answers, but we do know that the earliest grain crops were grown in northern Iraq and northern Iran, and that it appears that it started as a sort seasonal planting by semi-nomadic groups that would return to harvest the grain later. The innovation, whatever drove it, was to be able to learn sufficiently advanced techniques to increase yields so that you could stay by the crops; to defend them, to maintain them. That's the feedback right there.

Beer is something that comes along, by the looks of it, after we have pretty much all the basics of sedentary agricultural societies already in place.

Re:Everything gave us civilization (2)

HornWumpus (783565) | about a year ago | (#43199199)

Beer brewing leaves an archeological trace? All you need is a container.

Apes get drunk on naturally occurring alcohol. I'm sure early hunter gatherers did the same. I'd be surprised if they didn't learn how to let the fruits lay around to make alcohol when they wanted.

That said, beer came after fruit wines. Sugar vs. Starch, simpler process.

Re:Everything gave us civilization (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43199285)

Nope, you have to cook it, so beer leaves a container that's been used for boiling, which has soots on the outside. Further, as it's stored for a while, the pot (assuming one pot) also has a corresponding lid, that has been shaped to allow for outgassing. Since you probably don't leave it on the fire indefinitely, and you make a meaningful quantity of beer, it's large and has some way to get it off the fire while it's full, or some way to get the fire out from under it. All of the sudden, this isn't the normal stew pot, which was sized for a family. There are other traces too, including whatever they did with the grain solids. Not simple.

Re:Everything gave us civilization (5, Informative)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year ago | (#43199409)

Here's an example of an pre-dynastic Egyptian brewery [hierakonpolis-online.org]:

The vats, with a height of at least 65cm and a maximum diameter of 85cm, are estimated to have contained about 16 gallons (65 litres) each. The six vats together could thus hold approximately 100 gallons (390 litres). If used on a full time basis, this brewery could produce 300 gallons a week allowing 2 days for fermentation in the vat. Output could be as high as 300 gallons a day if the liquid was transferred to other vessels for fermentation. This is output clearly far in excess of domestic needs. Using the capacity of the standard beer jar of Dynastic times, the daily output of brewery of 300 gallons a day could provide a daily ration for 454 people if each received one jar, or half that number if they received two (the standard Dynastic ration).

This was a substantial operation by the day's standards.

Re:Everything gave us civilization (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | about a year ago | (#43199509)

You can ferment wine with nothing but a container. No boiling required.

I'm willing to bet you could make low efficiency beer with only malted grain. Most of the starch wouldn't ferment, but still some alcohol.

What you point to is clearly an advanced operation, I bet their are no signs of the first bakeries ether.

Re:Everything gave us civilization (4, Informative)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year ago | (#43199333)

Beer brewing leaves an archeological trace? All you need is a container.

On ancient Middle-Eastern archaeological sites, you find beer breweries and bread bakeries side by side. It's virtually as regular as the floor plan of post-11th century Benedictine monasteries in Europe.

Re:Everything gave us civilization (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | about a year ago | (#43199525)

They never made bread before that period? What signs where left of hunter gatherer grain processing? How would archeologists tell the difference between what they were doing with the grain?

Nobody addresses the fruit wine, much more likely path to first booze? Even monkeys get drunk when the fruit is dropping.

Re:Everything gave us civilization (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year ago | (#43199205)

You're certainly right, grain crops as such do predate all the things I've mentioned, but as far as I know, all the other developed quite synchronously later, together with organized irrigation works (which, by then, were basically large-scale state projects). The very first agricultural communities did not do any of this, but for that matter, they also suffered horribly, nutrition-wise. Paleopathology of the first agrarian communities draws a horrible picture of malnutrition (pollen analysis suggests the decrease of variety in consumed plants from hundreds to just 8-10 in space of two or three generations), skeletal deformations and other developmental problems. The beer would have helped them (at least partially) with the first one.

Re:Everything gave us civilization (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about a year ago | (#43199321)

Makes sense - beer is high technology when it comes to alcohol production. No reason to even consider grain unless you don't have a good source of sugar - like say you've settled down in one place and have mountains of grain, but not much fruit, honey, milk, etc. with which to make alcohol. Desperate men and all that...

Re:Everything gave us civilization (2)

mcgrew (92797) | about a year ago | (#43199359)

Why anyone would attribute booze or dogs, or imagine that somehow we were fucking cattle before we started to drink

Poor choice of words, I don't think bestiality has anything to do with it. But the fact is, we STILL follow the herd. We ARE Cattle.

When you said "dogs" was that an iPhone autocorrect and you meant "drugs"? Dogs were the first domestic animals and we've had them for over 100,000 years. Domestication of animals played a huge part in our becoming civilized.

You're right that we certainly were drinking before agriculture; fruit juice ferments naturally and there were certainly drunken cave men, and probably used other intoxicants as well (hemp, for example).

Re:Everything gave us civilization (1)

SpazmodeusG (1334705) | about a year ago | (#43199265)

Here's a simple way to rule out things that didn't give us civilization. Were there civilizations without those things?

If so that would indicate that item is not required for civilization. The Maui of New Zealand and other polynesians for example did not have dogs or beer but certainly met the requirements of a civilization. Dogs and beer are therefore not a requirement of civilization.

Re:Everything gave us civilization (2)

SpazmodeusG (1334705) | about a year ago | (#43199453)

Well i'm a fool. Looked it up and it turns out the Polynesians did have dogs (the Kuri). No beer though.

Re:Everything gave us civilization (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43199451)

And all that stuff is a product of civilization while also being a cause or stepping stone for another stage... even the evolution of other species is both influenced by and influencing human behaviour.

Anyone who keeps talking about singular causes for 'civilization' is a babbling idiot and should be ridiculed.

Homer said it best. (5, Funny)

Tristao (2562287) | about a year ago | (#43198821)

"To alcohol! The cause of--and solution to--all of life's problems." Homer (the one not from Greece).

It might be true but (5, Insightful)

peragrin (659227) | about a year ago | (#43198827)

The real reason beer was important was that it was clean water. brewing beer kills off most of the bad things in fresh water supplies.

Lower inhibitions isn't a factor until after we had started forming cities and groups of more than a couple hundred.

Re:It might be true but (1)

multiben (1916126) | about a year ago | (#43198887)

Interesting if true, but I'm sceptical. My understanding has always been that beer is a diuretic and not a good source of fluids as it will dehydrate you over the longer term.

Re:It might be true but (5, Interesting)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year ago | (#43198989)

Why do you think that beer and (watered) wine were so popular with ancient and medieval populations? In most places, you could basically only choose between being constantly tipsy, or getting killed by some nasty infection (it you were lucky you'd "only" get some progressively debilitating parasitic infection instead). It wasn't until the Roman period that people bothered to provide large masses of population with water that was actually safe to drink, and even then, the conditions in the Middle East never allowed for that with contemporary level of technology. (Romans at least had hills, clean mountain streams, and lots of building stone for aqueducts.)

Re:It might be true but (1)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | about a year ago | (#43199611)

It wasn't until the Roman period that people bothered to provide large masses of population with water that was actually safe to drink, and even then, the conditions in the Middle East never allowed for that with contemporary level of technology. (Romans at least had hills, clean mountain streams, and lots of building stone for aqueducts.)

You mean except for things like the Persian qanats: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qanat [wikipedia.org]

Re:It might be true but (5, Interesting)

MightyMartian (840721) | about a year ago | (#43199035)

The early beers and wines had pretty low alcohol levels, so the downside of alcohol consumption was likely pretty minimal. I agree that if they'd gone around drinking some of the wild high alcohol beers and wines out on the market now, hydration would have been a massive problem.

Re:It might be true but (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43199189)

Beer back then may have had a lower alcohol content then. The boiling of water is the first factor in killing harmful bacteria. Fruit was added after the mashing process (extracting of sugar from grain) to add the yeast needed for brewing. From what I understand, beer was the reason that ancient civilizations started to farm so they could harvest grain.

Re:It might be true but (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | about a year ago | (#43199397)

I would argue bread is a bigger factor of cultivation, but beer is a close runner up

Re:It might be true but (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43199223)

It's true that no known pathogens can exist in beer and that's one of the reasons it's historically been safer than many local water supplies, boiling the water killed any existing pathogens while the hops and subsequent alcohol prevented contamination during storage. However, beer that was consumed daily in medieval Europe (say) had a much lower alcohol content and thus wasn't as much a diuretic as is full strength beer today.

Re:It might be true but (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | about a year ago | (#43199393)

beer "back then" had extremely low alcohol content, thats why they could drink it morning noon and night without catching more than a slight buzz

Re:It might be true but (1)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | about a year ago | (#43198961)

Ever tried to drink nothing but beer for a week? I know a guy that did, by the end of it his teeth were loose, gums bleeding, regular blackouts, sallow skin, he was a mess. If the alcohol is strong enough to kill germs, it won't do you any good, plus as another poster pointed out it is a diuretic, you'll be thirstier by the end than when you started. So I'm going to go ahead and call bullshit on that particular theory.

And from a quick glance at the story, this theory doesn't seem that far behind it.

Re:It might be true but (4, Informative)

dargaud (518470) | about a year ago | (#43198993)

Well, beer in the old days wasn't as strong as know, so yes you could leave mostly drinking only beer. Check out 'small beer [wikipedia.org]'. Workers had two gallons or so of the stuff to drink daily!

Re:It might be true but (1)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | about a year ago | (#43199593)

The only citation in that article is a recipe to make the stuff. Not to mention that our early ancestors would have needed industrial brewing facilities to produce the amount of beer they would have needed to survive, even if that were possible.

Re:It might be true but (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43199125)

if one week of drinking only beer gave anything more that a headache his must have been pretty sick to begin with

Re:It might be true but (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43199173)

Ever tried to drink nothing but beer for a week? I know a guy that did, by the end of it his teeth were loose, gums bleeding, regular blackouts, sallow skin, he was a mess.

It took him a whole week!?

Re:It might be true but (1)

jlowery (47102) | about a year ago | (#43199027)

I don't know that beer will kill microbes... read this [thecrimson.com].

Re:It might be true but (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about a year ago | (#43199139)

It isn't the alcohol in the beer that kills germs, it's the brewing process itself. If your tappers (or mugs) are dirty you'll get sick.

Vikings (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about a year ago | (#43199373)

> Lower inhibitions isn't a factor until after we had started forming cities and groups of more than a couple hundred

I don't know about that, aren't the Vikings supposed to have had a rule of thumb that you should never implement any major plan until you've discussed it while drunk? Of course that's another agricultural society, even if they weren't big on cities and the like.

Re:It might be true but (1)

Guppy (12314) | about a year ago | (#43199497)

The real reason beer was important was that it was clean water. brewing beer kills off most of the bad things in fresh water supplies.

During the construction of America's Transcontinental Railroad, a similar phenomenon was noted with regards to tea. The Chinese workers would prepare large containers of tea in the morning, then drink it lukewarm throughout the day, as their main source of hydration. And while tea leaf extracts have some antimicrobial properties, it was primarily the boiling process which sanitized the water, reducing the outbreaks of dysentery that were common among other workers.

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/general-article/tcrr-cprr/ [pbs.org]

Good grief... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43198841)

Yet another Hugh Pickens blogvertisment. Seems he's now "channeling" Roland Piquepaille...

Re:Good grief... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43198861)

Yet another Hugh Pickens blogvertisment. Seems he's now "channeling" Roland Piquepaille...

what's the kickback for slashdot y'a think?

Re:Good grief... (1)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | about a year ago | (#43198901)

Probably a few kegs of beer.

Re:Good grief... (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about a year ago | (#43198931)

Probably a few kegs of beer.

I would assume that's one of the standard kickbacks on the Slashdot Rate Card... You get a little more if you toss in some "cube toys" and maybe a Nurf weapon or two...

Safer than water too (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43198845)

That and any grog with sufficient alcohol content allowed populations to grow because it was safer than water in many areas. Better to get a little tipsy than to get dysentery.

Re:Safer than water too (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43198903)

Grog gave us pirates, which gave us the One True Religion (TM) which stopped global warming, for a while.

Re:Safer than water too (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | about a year ago | (#43198927)

Well the problem is that areas will large civilizations invariably had horrible dysentery filled water.
Beer was the only way to have civilization

Beer doesn't make you more creative (3, Insightful)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about a year ago | (#43198871)

But it certainly makes you think you are!

And handsomer, too!

Re:Beer doesn't make you more creative (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about a year ago | (#43199175)

Yeah? Then why were so many great writers drinkers? Although I've found that pot oils creativity more... if you can remember your idea by the time you find a pencil.

Part of Nobots (not finished, it's in my journal) was written in a bar. Of course, it has to be cleaned up a bit when I get sober.

I don't feel handsomer when I'm drinking, but the women certainly look better.

Re:Beer doesn't make you more creative (4, Funny)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about a year ago | (#43199295)

Then why were so many great writers drinkers?

Because all writers are great drinkers.

Jared Diamond covered this in his book about what a civilization needs to succeed, titled:

"Guns, Germans and Beer"

You lost me at... (4, Interesting)

Kwyj1b0 (2757125) | about a year ago | (#43198879)

" ... to rational and independent individuals in modern civilization"

I'm not sure where the author is really coming from, but he seems to claim that modern individuals are (a) less herd-like, and (b) innovation was helped by drinking

The only reason we are less herd-like (and we still are very herd like in our thinking - just look at how certain topics are still taboo) is that our survival doesn't directly depend on acceptance by those around us. Sure, I might not have a job if I'm a douche-bag, but chances are I can still find a way to survive. On the other hand, getting kicked out of a prehistoric tribe meant you would pretty much have to hunt alone (assuming you ran away from the tribe before they butchered you), and you wouldn't survive for long.

Also, the reaction to alcohol varies by culture. You have this idea that people lose inhibition when they drink, but in some cultures they become more harmonious (less likely to cause trouble or act out - see here [sirc.org]).

I'd say that the leaps and bounds in infrastructure and tech have allowed us to lead more solitary lives, which also means we have less inclination to conform. Now, if you can claim that a lot of innovation/changes was created under the influence (Windows 8 design? ;) ), that would be cool (I'm not an alcoholic, I'm just creative).

Re:You lost me at... (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about a year ago | (#43199247)

I'm not sure where the author is really coming from, but he seems to claim that modern individuals are (a) less herd-like

You're right, the herding instinct is so strong most don't even notice it. Take a drive down the interstate with your cruise set at 5 mph below the speed limit sometime and you'll see how strong the herding instinct is. No traffic for miles, then a herd comes up behind you and follow you for a while, one guy will pass you and everyone else will follow him. The solitary car is rare.

Politicians understand the herding instinct.

Or look at iFans at a product launch, or a Star Trek convention, or any high school. The fact that we are perhaps the most highly social species on the planet is what led to modern society; "shoulders of giants" and all.

Now, if you can claim that a lot of innovation/changes was created under the influence (Windows 8 design? ;)

Not sure of that was alcohol, they had to be on crack for that clusterfuck.

Re:You lost me at... (1)

nightcats (1114677) | about a year ago | (#43199401)

The really important next question here must be: what will happen to us in the 24th c. when Synthehol takes over? OK, note to non-Trekkies: that's the alcohol that doesn't get you drunk or hung over but (supposedly) tastes a lot like wine/beer/whiskey anyway. Consumed on board various incarnations of the Enterprise.

Perfect St Patrick's day story! (5, Insightful)

mcgrew (92797) | about a year ago | (#43198889)

TFS says "Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy." That goes along with an old Irish saying: "God invented alcohol to keep the Irish from conquering the world."

Here in America (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43198893)

It gave us gridiron football (or rather, made it popular after it was invented on sober Ivy League college campuses) and made large state universities nearly self-supporting. Also fueled the rise of cable TV, and college spring break.

There are probably comparable phenomena in most other countries, at least in Christiandom.

Uh - no (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43198915)

Kind of a ridiculous argument since there were human civilizations that didn't use alcohol.

Re:Uh - no (1)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | about a year ago | (#43199005)

Name one.

Re:Uh - no (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43199127)

Name one.

that would be the Muslims.

Re:Uh - no (0)

HornWumpus (783565) | about a year ago | (#43199213)

Not civilized and also a new development. They used alcohol until their child molesting false prophet showed up.

Re:Uh - no (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43199535)

Name one.

These cookies looked like they came from the 7-Eleven. We should be able to do better than this, right, ladies?

- Mitt Romney

Fa6orz (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43198923)

RECRUIT,MENT, BUT Become lik3 they with THOUSANDS of = 36400 FreeBSD

That's right....blame the beer for civilization... (1)

Bob_Who (926234) | about a year ago | (#43198949)

Step One “We admitted that we were powerless over our alcohol, that our lives had become unmanageable”. I'll drink to that....

Advanced? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43198971)

I am not certain that humanity has advanced at all from tribes that hunted and gathered and resembled monkeys more than modern humans. Our ancestors did not threaten the planet or the extinction of humanity. It takes "modern, rational minds" to be that wretched.
                    When people learned how to distill high proof alcohol it was called the greatest gift to humanity since God sent us Christ. I certainly do not see it that way at all. I consider any form of intoxication to be depraved with the single exception of the dieing or seriously injured being in need of emergency pain relief. Toleration of alcohol or drugs is not liberated it is simply wrong.

Errant twaddle (5, Informative)

Stirling Newberry (848268) | about a year ago | (#43198973)

Domestication of grains starts 2000 years, at latest, from the earliest brewing of beer. The "beer hypothesis" also lacks skeletal evidence, and also genomic evidence. More interesting is the rapid spread of later lactose tolerance, which has an extremely high selective index. Also contradicting the reductive understanding of the role of beer is the lack of pottery containers for it in many early cultures, or lack of evidence for brewing in places such as China, even though rice and grain cultivation were quite early there.

So summary: beer is late, it is missing from many cultures, and the genomics would support a much higher selection for digesting of it –as they do with milk –if a small area invented brewing and this was the core civilizing agent.

further, linguistic convergence argues for language being close to 100,000 years old, and cultural progressions, that is "fashion" are as much as 70,000 years old. The understanding of band organization - that is groups smaller than tribes that do not produce a surplus, and there fore have little to no "state" apparatus or long term castes - is not the placid realm before angst. The Australian aboriginal mythology is filled with a sense of angst as their climate changed, and they are band organized.

There are many better hypotheses for the role of intoxication in human history. Far more likely beer takes off as soon as agriculture becomes intertwined with water, because over the long term the water becomes fouled. It also has an important role when economic castes in settlements start to become forces in themselves. It may have been used as part of combat, as the only medication they had.

This doesn't even pass a simple date match of events to create a timeline.

Re:Errant twaddle (2)

slimjim8094 (941042) | about a year ago | (#43199157)

the genomics would support a much higher selection for digesting of it –as they do with milk –if a small area invented brewing and this was the core civilizing agent.

Uh, as I understand it, northern Europeans in fact do have a much higher alcohol tolerance than people of Asian and Native American descent. The metabolism of alcohol is highly variable with ethnicity.

Re:Errant twaddle (2)

Stirling Newberry (848268) | about a year ago | (#43199241)

That is, where there is large consumption of milk as a staple, the genes for lactose tolerance are selected for heavily. The same would be true of alcohol: there would be adaptations that correspond to civilized areas. For reasons of my current research, and can state categorically that we don't see a good overlap between early domestication of grain, and alcohol digestion, this would include maltose tolerance, alcohol tolerence, adaptations of insulin response, and so on. Lactose selectivity is extremely high, if beer were the water of early cities, we'd expect similar levels of selection for the same reason.

The "birth of consciousness" error isn't new: several authors have labelled some particular recent reductive change as being "what makes us modern humans." So far, we have not found any good genomic evidence for this. It may be there, we've missed big things before, but this one makes undergraduate levels of blunder and is being pushed out with out even a basic filter.

Beer is SEO friendly, what can I say.

Re:Errant twaddle (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | about a year ago | (#43199435)

I dont know about that, I used to work with a bunch of blue collar South Koreans, I can drink pretty good, but these guys would match me with their beers topped off with vodka ... sometimes more than 25% vodka in a pint.

Ben Franklin didn't say that (3, Informative)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about a year ago | (#43199009)

For the record, here, in a letter addressed to André Morellet in 1779, is what Benjamin Franklin actually did say:

Behold the rain which descends from heaven upon our vineyards, there it enters the roots of the vines, to be changed into wine, a constant proof that God loves us, and loves to see us happy.

Re:Ben Franklin didn't say that (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43199207)

OK, but Jean Shepard (Christmas Story amd countless articles in Car and Driver in the 70's) got it right. "Beer is the mother of us all".
Yes, yes it is!

hrmf... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43199147)

The summary reads like Ayn Rand level libertarian propaganda masking as anthropological research.

I can't stand beer. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43199149)

To me beer tastes like piss. Not that I drink piss, but if I were to drink piss I'd imagine it'd taste a lot like beer.

Oh damn. I forgot this is slashdot. Let me rephrase that:
Actually, to me beer tastes like piss. Not that I actually drink piss, but if I were to actually drink piss, I'd actually imagine it'd actually taste a lot like beer.

Re:I can't stand beer. (2)

Everett Gibson (2848649) | about a year ago | (#43199209)

well you've probably only tried the big corporate swill water beers like bud or miller lite. There are so many good tasty craft beers out there it's impossible to list them all. I'm sure theres a brew out there you'd like.

Re:I can't stand beer. (2)

KiloByte (825081) | about a year ago | (#43199233)

There's beer other than Bud Light. (Ok, ok, to even call that beer requires heavily bribing consumer protection inspectors.) Actual beer doesn't taste like piss.

Re:I can't stand beer. (2)

Osgeld (1900440) | about a year ago | (#43199467)

I call it beer, but then I KNOW theres two worlds of beer

One is a fine crafted beverage meant for enjoyment, maybe with a nice dinner and company of good friends during a peaceful evening.
The other is mass produced piss that has to be consumed ice cold so you cant taste it, and drank in bulk for the sole reason of getting shit faced.

I have room in my life for both.

Re:I can't stand beer. (0)

HornWumpus (783565) | about a year ago | (#43199249)

When you get older, if you are very lucky, a lady might let you lick her where she pees. You'll have to work on the whole obnoxious asshole thing.

It's salty, beer is not.

Cows (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43199179)

I do controls engine for a major beer company... And I tell u farmers love buying the waste yeast and grain cuz their cows love it. I should we be careful lest we become cows for the cows

"more than average social anxiety"?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43199185)

Today, many people drink too much because they have more than average social anxiety or panic anxiety to quell [...]

Yes for a very small minority. Horseshit for most everybody else, addiction is simply the only tool they've learned to use in their very very average lives.

Mayans (1)

Everett Gibson (2848649) | about a year ago | (#43199203)

I know that the Mayans brewed beer and if you made a bad batch they would drown you in it. The egyptian beer from what I've read was roughly around 3% ABV or so. I was on G+ and saw this article and what do you know I'm drinking a beer right now. Cheers!! Happy St Patricks Day slashdot!!

Not just beer, of course. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43199263)

Natural means of breaking the social rigidity of herd behaviour and the bounds of primate conciousness: cannabis, psylocibin mushrooms, ergot, etc. Google Terence McKenna's "stoned ape" hypothesis.

A solution in search of a problem. (1)

pubwvj (1045960) | about a year ago | (#43199465)

This doesn't make sense. There are a lot of people and even cultures that do not do beer or other alcohol. This article really sounds like a solution in search of a problem.

Yeah, but civilization gave us (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43199485)

scotch. I think that's the better part of the deal. Beer and wine suck, scotch and cognac is where it's at.

April Fool's a month early. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43199557)

This is the dumbest thing I've read in a while. It's either a joke, or the product of some addict's apologist bullpucky who enjoys getting drunk and would like to believe that he's serving some noble purpose in doing so. Lame. If you want to drink, have the courage to drink without pretending it's something other than what it is.

Anyway, making beer requires civilization beyond caveman clans sitting around campfires.

It requires agriculture. You know, fermenting harvested grains in vats which take tools and stuff to make? You don't get to agriculture and tools until you already have functional civilization in place.

it also kept us alive (1)

stenvar (2789879) | about a year ago | (#43199597)

Fermented beverages are important because they tend to kill off food-borne and water-borne pathogens, pathogens that would frequently just kill you.

Not thinking about what used to be in your food and water because you get drunk is just a pleasant side effect.

Ridiculous (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43199605)

Choosing beer over say, marijuana or magic mushrooms as the catalyst required for civilization to spring sounds like pathetic marketing garbage to me.
The fact that a large percentage of humans do not tolerate alcohol consumption very well at all suggests this theory sprang from the mind of Duffman.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...