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Modern Humans Far More Robust Than Ancestors

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the porky-too dept.

359

joeljkp writes "The New York Times has an article up discussing how modern humans are 'So Big and Healthy Nowadays That Grandpa Wouldn't Even Know You.' Despite the hyperbole, the article makes several excellent points regarding the impact of antibiotics and modern medicine on humans in their youth. The 'baby boomers' of today have an overall level of health far higher than their parents did in middle age, and reason stands that their children will have even better health to look forward to." From the article: "The biggest surprise emerging from the new studies is that many chronic ailments like heart disease, lung disease and arthritis are occurring an average of 10 to 25 years later than they used to. There is also less disability among older people today, according to a federal study that directly measures it. And that is not just because medical treatments like cataract surgery keep people functioning. Human bodies are simply not breaking down the way they did before. Even the human mind seems improved. The average I.Q. has been increasing for decades, and at least one study found that a person's chances of having dementia in old age appeared to have fallen in recent years."

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359 comments

Increasing IQ's? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15806825)

Who would have thought it given the current events of the world?

Re:Increasing IQ's? (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 7 years ago | (#15806888)

Now run by people optimized for taking form based tests.

KFG

Re:Increasing IQ's? (4, Insightful)

BrainInAJar (584756) | more than 7 years ago | (#15807014)

What I find funny is the line "The average I.Q. has been increasing for decades", because if it has, someone dropped the ball...

The average IQ is 100, by definition if IQ. That's what the tests are normalized for.

Re:Increasing IQ's? (2, Insightful)

Xaositecte (897197) | more than 7 years ago | (#15807048)

The normalization is going further and further up the scale, so that someone who had a 100 IQ based on a test 20 years ago might only have a 95 or so IQ if they tested today.

Re:Increasing IQ's? (2, Interesting)

r00t (33219) | more than 7 years ago | (#15807165)

Are you sure they renormalize the test? This could have been set in stone in the 1960's, just like the specification for obesity.

Re:Increasing IQ's? (5, Informative)

kingkongrevenge (588009) | more than 7 years ago | (#15807246)

The increasing IQ trend is called the "Flynn effect." But Flynn himself thought people were just getting better at taking tests and various other biases were interfering. He suspected that intelligence was actually declining at a rate of about 1% per generation because the dumbest among us have more children.

http://users.fmg.uva.nl/jwicherts/wicherts2004.pdf [fmg.uva.nl]

This study concludes the Flynn effect is a matter of how you tweak the numbers. It's weak enough it's not really worth talking about. Other studies have shown IQs have been declining in the West since the mid to late 90s.

Re:Increasing IQ's? (1)

B3ryllium (571199) | more than 7 years ago | (#15807286)

Just because dumb people have children, doesn't necessarily mean that those children will be dumb ... ... just Irish.

*snicker*

Re:Increasing IQ's? (3, Informative)

brit74 (831798) | more than 7 years ago | (#15807247)

What I find funny is the line "The average I.Q. has been increasing for decades", because if it has, someone dropped the ball.. The average IQ is 100, by definition if IQ. That's what the tests are normalized for.
People who take tests normalized decades ago tend to score more than 100. The older the test is, the higher people tend to score.

Lookup the Flynn Effect for more information: "The Flynn effect is the continued year-on-year rise of IQ test scores, an effect seen in most parts of the world, although at greatly varying rates. It was named by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray in The Bell Curve after the New Zealand based political scientist James R. Flynn, its discoverer. The average rate of rise seems to be around three IQ points per decade...." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flynn_Effect [wikipedia.org]

Re:Increasing IQ's? (2, Funny)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 7 years ago | (#15806988)

Of course. IQ == Idiot Quotient.

Didn't you get the memo? If you can't fix it, feature it!

Well we are intelligently designed after all :) (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15806826)

Intelligent design at work :)

Re:Well we are intelligently designed after all :) (-1, Offtopic)

Cyriex (991906) | more than 7 years ago | (#15806944)

This explains alot on this matter www.cyriex.com/rag.htm

DON'T LOOK!!! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15806966)

Goddamnit you fucker!

Re:Well we are intelligently designed after all :) (0, Troll)

gormanly (134067) | more than 7 years ago | (#15807004)

Mod this sick fuck down!

Re:Well we are intelligently designed after all :) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15807084)

sarcasm [google.com]

Re:Well we are intelligently designed after all :) (1)

q-the-impaler (708563) | more than 7 years ago | (#15807216)

That's not sarcasm, it's old men holding each others cox! You want sarcasm? Watch Seinfeld.

Re:Well we are intelligently designed after all :) (1)

AirRaven (843900) | more than 7 years ago | (#15807071)

Parent is gay porn. I advise you don't look at it unless you're a fan of Lemonparty.

In which case, visit your local psychiatrist.

Re:Well we are intelligently designed after all :) (1)

Ergasiophobia (971409) | more than 7 years ago | (#15807082)

So what, you have a problem with being gay, or porn? If you have an issure with being gay I suggest you take your own advice, negetive feelings towards someone because they are "different" just make our world an even worse place.

Re:Well we are intelligently designed after all :) (1)

AirRaven (843900) | more than 7 years ago | (#15807086)

Apologies- I didn't think about the homophobic aspect.

It's just that Lemonparty is particularly *bad* porn.

Re:Well we are intelligently designed after all :) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15807181)

You will never get married in my state, HOMO!!!

Re:Well we are intelligently designed after all :) (1)

teslar (706653) | more than 7 years ago | (#15806946)

Nah man, this has evolution written all over it ;)

Re:Well we are intelligently designed after all :) (1)

LiquidAvatar (772805) | more than 7 years ago | (#15807254)

Ignoring the joking tone with which that was written...

What I don't understand is why the religious right can't make the logical jump to this conclussion: "we are intelligently designed to evolve". Then, we could teach evolution without all the 'controversy' and noone would need to be offended...

Re:Well we are intelligently designed after all :) (1)

davidsyes (765062) | more than 7 years ago | (#15807008)

Yeh... slightly enlarged brains, a few more cells, and fewer but smaller teeth make us more "robust"...

okay.... Fortunately eye see that our eyes have not shrank to that of Guinea Pigs nor have we undergoing eye enlargement of the Chupacabra (of the movie) kind...

Re:Well we are intelligently designed after all :) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15807052)

Intelligent design at work

Yes, intelligently designed to murder each other in unprovoked wars.

Re:Well we are intelligently designed after all :) (2, Funny)

AhtirTano (638534) | more than 7 years ago | (#15807186)

It looks like our designer has improved our memory management and patched some vulnerabilities. Maybe the next release will include DRM to lock out multiple personalities from sharing a single body.

The New and Improved Human 1.8! Now faster, more secure, and more stable than ever before!

Eh, what's that sunny? (1)

Aadain2001 (684036) | more than 7 years ago | (#15806830)

Speak up! I can't hear you too well these days. My bones creak so loud I can't hear you!

Air Conditioning (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15806832)

Old timers didn't have air conditioning, so their muscle and bones became brittle in the heat

I doubt it. (4, Insightful)

Spazntwich (208070) | more than 7 years ago | (#15806833)

I think we may have peaked with the baby boomers. They got to ride the wave of new medical advances and didn't have the weight of fast food (har har) holding them back.

Our generations (current teenagers up to 30-somethings) have grown up with McDonalds and more, and with obesity on the rise with no end in sight, I think we'll begin to see another decline with our generation, with arthritis, diabetes, and heart disease all coming on earlier.

Re:I doubt it. (4, Insightful)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 7 years ago | (#15806884)

I don't think it's going to be as black and white as this. We're in the midst of an ever changing, ever expanding experiment. Certainly, there are populations that will become increasingly ill (those who survive on fast foods, cigarettes and whose exercise appears to encompass all of walking to their car).

There are, however, large groups of people that are doing quite the opposite (as described in TFA). We have a better chance to see exactly what keeps people going longer, better.

As a physician, these are fascinating studies, although I wonder just how good the "data" is from the 1800's. Skimming some of the abstracts from the original data, they use Nasty Statistical Thingys to impute and imply things which always makes me wonder (there's a reason I went into the Biological sciences as opposed to math and physics) how much their working the data to get thier conclusions, but they've stuck to some clever data points to prove the bulk of thier thesis (body mass index which just relies on weight and height).

Again, we have the potential for creating a much more fined grained dataset if we could ever come up with a consistent language for describing health and disease and come up with a near universal, lifelong, electronic record so that these sorts of issues can be teased out.

Already, quite a lot of this sort of data is coming from the Scandanavians who 1) have a much less diverse population than the US 2) have had more centralized, coherent and universal medical records than the US.

So toss the pizza and cigarettes, unplug the computer and take a hike.

Re:I doubt it. (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 7 years ago | (#15807024)

. . .how much their working the data to get thier conclusions . . .body mass index which just relies on weight and height

Thus making it one of the great statistical frauds, since it assumes statistical inferences before it's even used to make statistical inferences.

So toss the pizza and cigarettes, unplug the computer and take a hike.

And perhaps by doing so increase your BMI . . . because you're not already fat and lazy.

KFG

Re:I doubt it. (1)

Frequency Domain (601421) | more than 7 years ago | (#15807113)

So toss the pizza and cigarettes, unplug the computer and take a hike.
Lots of people tell me to take a hike, but from you it sounded friendly!

I believe that's called evolution. (2, Interesting)

TheNoxx (412624) | more than 7 years ago | (#15807188)

Can't muster the self-discipline to keep yourself in shape and poison-free in a society filled with healthy alternatives, free information about the risks you take, and a gym around every corner? Get your genes outta the pool, bub. :)

However, it should be noted that the evolution of the mind and the evolution of the body are at odds right now, much more so when you factor in both of the world wars which were just so luckily placed at the crux of vast technological revolutions. Just as brains were becoming as important to have as muscle in terms of succeeding in society, everyone with the traits of courage and physical prowess heads off to the slaughter. One should not understimate the impact of a massive war on the evolution of the species: Each of the millions upon millions of army-duty worthy men that died in those wars would've otherwise possibly taken up one of the female population and continued his bloodline. Instead, someone else, someone quite possibly smarter but not as physically endowed (those that piloted instead of fought on the ground, or worked as doctors, cryptographers, etc), took his spot. I'll always wonder how much this changed the direction of civilization... Without such an evolutionary boost to intellectual traits, would we have arrived at such a tolerant society so quickly? I say tolerant because in a remarkably short span of time, racial prejudice has been outlawed and homosexuality has been brought into the main light of society as an acceptable way of life. If I'd lived 50 or 70 years ago, I'd never have been able to predict society would move forward so quickly.

Re:I doubt it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15807259)

So toss the pizza and cigarettes, unplug the computer and take a hike

That would be a triathlon ... I'll stick to training for the pizza toss and computer unplugging biathlon for the 2008 Fall Games in Texas [webmd.com] .

Re:I doubt it. (5, Insightful)

kfg (145172) | more than 7 years ago | (#15806984)

. . .the weight of fast food (har har) holding them back.

Have you never heard the phrase "greasy spoon"?

As a baby boomer let me inform you that McDonald's started serving fried burgers because that's where the demand already was. In fact, their food is a damned sight less greasy than was typical in prior times. Many older people go so far as to bemoan the fact that they can't get a properly greasy burger anymore, only that McDonald's crap.

We used to use butter as a staple. The five gallon can of lard/Crisco could be found in nearly any home's pantry. Fat puddings were revered. Colonel Sanders did not invent fried chicken.

Don't believe everything you read in the papers. If you'd ever been interviewed by one you'd know they're full of shit.

KFG

Re:I doubt it. (4, Interesting)

samkass (174571) | more than 7 years ago | (#15807028)

Also: salt. Despite what you hear about salted fries and such, the average human eats VASTLY less salt today than they did 50 or 100 years ago, when salting meat was the primary means of preservation. Today virtually every house has great refrigeration, the foods have better preservatives, and people have an awareness of the dangers of salt on the cardiovascular system.

That being said, the water and soil pollution, horrible animal farming techniques, and a lack of any new antibiotics or other non-deathbed "wellness" medicine over the past 50 years probably argues in the grandparent-poster's favor.

Re:I doubt it. (3, Informative)

CptNerd (455084) | more than 7 years ago | (#15807061)

That being said, the water and soil pollution, horrible animal farming techniques, and a lack of any new antibiotics or other non-deathbed "wellness" medicine over the past 50 years probably argues in the grandparent-poster's favor.
Except for the fact that the air and water are cleaner than they were 50 years ago, and keep getting cleaner. Older, less "horrible" animal farming techniques required cooking meat nearly crunchy just to make sure you didn't get trichinosis and other diseases that more "humanely" treated animals always got.

Re:I doubt it. (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 7 years ago | (#15807179)

As a baby boomer let me inform you that McDonald's started serving fried burgers because that's where the demand already was.
I doubt there was ever a golden age where everybody ate healthy food all the time. But I think it's cheaper and more convenient now, so we just eat more often. (I can't believe Wendy's can sell a junior cheeseburger deluxe for $1, the industry is a marvel of efficiency). Perhaps the bigger factor is that people historically used their bodies a lot harder. That kept them thin, but they also wore out and had crippling injuries by the onset of middle age.

Re:I doubt it. (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 7 years ago | (#15807271)

. . .we just eat more often.

Aha!

Perhaps the bigger factor is that people historically used their bodies a lot harder.

Aha^2!

KFG

Average IQ increasing? (1, Informative)

xodiak (95699) | more than 7 years ago | (#15806834)

That's impossible. Average IQ by definition will always be 100.

Re:Average IQ increasing? (4, Informative)

stonecypher (118140) | more than 7 years ago | (#15806853)

Sort of. The average IQ scale is shifted on a consistent basis to keep the median at or near 100. That said, the definition of IQ isn't actually for the average 100; that would mean that we couldn't provide a measurement until the year (or month or whatever) had been tallied. The definition of IQ is relative to an offset.

That said, it's the IQ measurement that's changing; its actual norm value is in fact increasing, and has been for more than a century (basically, since it was formalized under the current system.) If we made a temperature system which was relative to the planetary norm, even though the measurement would have to be shifted downwards year to year to account for Intelligent Warming (sorry, I live in the Republican Religious States of America,) the temperature would indeed still be rising, even though the scale was being modified to keep it relative.

Just because the scale is renormalized doesn't mean what it's measuring isn't changing.

Re:Average IQ increasing? (1, Interesting)

mcmonkey (96054) | more than 7 years ago | (#15806979)

Just because the scale is renormalized doesn't mean what it's measuring isn't changing.

You're confusing the measurement and the thing being measured.

Using your temperature example, let's way we used a dynamic scale such that the average temperature was defined as 100 deg. As the cycles of solar output, ocean currents, green house gases ebbed and flowed, the average temperature WOULD NOT CHANGE. The average temperature would remain 100 deg as long as the definition was unchanged.

In case you haven't picked up on it yet, temperature, like I.Q., is a human construct. It is what we define it as. We define average I.Q. as 100. There may be some delay between changes in the populace and adjustments in the definition, but if some strange radiation turned us into a world of Einsteins, the average I.Q. would still be 100.

Now the intelligence or mental ability represented by that 100 would change, but don't mistake the measurement for that thing being measured.

If we made a temperature system which was relative to the planetary norm, even though the measurement would have to be shifted downwards year to year to account for Intelligent Warming (sorry, I live in the Republican Religious States of America,) the temperature would indeed still be rising

You mean the energy in the atmosphere would be rising. The temperature would stay the same.

Re:Average IQ increasing? (1)

richg74 (650636) | more than 7 years ago | (#15807011)

The reported IQ number, which (as the parent correctly says) is scaled to keep the median to ~100, is also fitted to a normal distribution. So the reported numbers are approximately normally distributed with mean 100. I've seen a few sets of raw scores, however, and the ones I've seen are decidedly not normally distributed (they're skewed, long-tailed to the right).

But look on the bright side: we can be around to annoy our kids a lot longer.

Re:Average IQ increasing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15806874)

I don't know if you don't understand what the comment is saying or what, but what it's trying to say is that the average IQ today is higher than the average IQ 50 years ago. And don't say that it's always 100, because it's not. It's artificially maintained at 100 (re-adjusted over the years to ensure the average for that time period remains 100). So it's perfectly valid to say the average IQ has been increasing even though the score for the average IQ has always been around 100. Read up on IQ [wikipedia.org] and the Flynn Effect [wikipedia.org] .

In particular, from the latter link
IQ scores are re-normalized periodically, such that the average score is reset to 100.

Re:Average IQ increasing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15807088)

Average intelligence (but not, as we have established, average IQ scores, which are normalized) was increasing until this was posted to /.

reason (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15806835)

"and reason stands that their children will have even better health to look forward to"

Unless, of course, reason is to take peak oil [theoildrum.com] and global warming [bbc.co.uk] under advisement.

Re:reason (1)

Kohath (38547) | more than 7 years ago | (#15807228)

Unless, of course, reason is to take peak oil and global warming under advisement.

Are you sure you mean reason and not irrational fear?

How are those possible futures supposed to affect health anyway?

too bad this hasn't happened for the author (-1, Flamebait)

mcmonkey (96054) | more than 7 years ago | (#15806837)

The average I.Q. has been increasing for decades,

Uh...the average I.Q. is defined as 100. This hasn't increased in decades.

Re:too bad this hasn't happened for the author (1)

Sixtyten (991538) | more than 7 years ago | (#15806901)

Uh...the average I.Q. is defined as 100. This hasn't increased in decades.
At least, not in the U.S., it hasn't.

Yup (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15806843)

This doesn't really surprise me... have you ever seen some of the ruins of ancient roman building? The doorways are about 5' tall. We have been growing for a long time.

Re:Yup (1, Interesting)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 7 years ago | (#15806868)

Many ancient buildings have strikingly short doorways because it provided better insulation in the winter. The lesser height of the average man in antiquity is only part of it.

Are americans really getting taller? (1)

ex-geek (847495) | more than 7 years ago | (#15806932)

I've read articles that claimed the opposite: THE HEIGHT GAP - Why Europeans are getting taller and taller and Americans aren't. [newyorker.com]
And yes, they factored asian and mexican immigration out. Immigrants catch up to the "native" american standard over time. But the standard itself didn't change since the revolutionary war, according to the article.

Re:Yup (2, Informative)

argent (18001) | more than 7 years ago | (#15806933)

You sure that the smaller buildings were simply not more robust and able to survive the centuries?

The "shorter medieval man" myth turned out to be founded on the fact that it's easier to take in clothes than add material to them, so smaller outfits were more likely to be preserved. It's not a huge effect, but given enough time even a small effect adds up.

Re:Yup (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15807095)

Are you saying the armor I saw in Scotland is boy's armor? I severely doubt that. They had names of people associated with their armor there too.
We are taller than they were in the Middle ages.

Re:Yup (1)

El Torico (732160) | more than 7 years ago | (#15807226)

Clothes yes, but armor? I have seen a few collections of Medieval armor, and most suits of armor appear to be for men who were somewhat shorter than today's average height.

I checked the Metropolitan Museum's website and found three suits (all from the 16th Century) listed -

73 inches = 6 feet, 1 inch = 185.4 centimeters
69 1/2 inches = 5 feet, 9 1/2 inches = 176.5 centimeters
74 inches = 6 feet, 2 inches = 187.96 centimeters

My best estimate is to subtract about 1 inch for padding in the helmet and (sabatons) shoes. The average is 71.5 inches = 5 feet, 11 1/2 inches for the "towering knights" of the Renaissance. Interestingly, this is a bit taller than the modern average height.

Now, how this relates to the average height during the Medieval period is hard to pinpoint, but it is very likely that Renaissance Nobility were taller than Medieval Peasants.

Diabetes (3, Interesting)

Frankie70 (803801) | more than 7 years ago | (#15806854)

I think it's well documented that Diabetes (type 2 - NIDDM) is appearing
at a much younger age than before.

Re:Diabetes (1)

Sixtyten (991538) | more than 7 years ago | (#15806945)

I think it's well documented that Diabetes (type 2 - NIDDM) is appearing at a much younger age than before.
What a tragedy.

And now, if you'd excuse me, I'm off to McDonald's for a couple of Egg McMuffins. And maybe like six Big Macs afterward! :D

Hey (2, Insightful)

Mark_MF-WN (678030) | more than 7 years ago | (#15807266)

Hey, with modern advances in insulin pumps, prosthetic feet, and scooters, it'll be no big deal! I hope to start marketing a scooter that's basically designed as motorized wheelbarrow. It will be sold with a free prying bar and some barrow-lube to help people remove themselves from the scooter when they get to their couch.

Arthritis (2, Interesting)

zymano (581466) | more than 7 years ago | (#15806872)

We would have even less arthritis if people didn't buy into jogging as some health benefit. It just kills your joints.

Not all highschool coaches are dumb! (1)

istartedi (132515) | more than 7 years ago | (#15806997)

When I was a sophomore in HS, 1984, one of the coaches who taught phys. ed. told us why jogging was bad. I think jogging peaked in the 1970s. When I was in college, I joined the running club and kept at it until I realized my knees weren't cut out for long distance--but nobody in the running club intentionally jogged. We all strived for an efficient, smooth, long-distance pace. Oh, and shoes have become hi-tech marvels compared to what was worn just 30 years ago. I didn't stop exercising, I switched to hiking. On inclines, you get a different kind of workout, but it's no less intense than running if you push it, and it doesn't impact your joints.

The bottom line though, is that anybody who "jogs" today must have been thawed out of a deep-freeze or something. If you spend just a few minutes with even the most amateur runner, they will tell you jogging is bad.

Re:Arthritis (2, Informative)

elleomea (749084) | more than 7 years ago | (#15807003)

"We would have even less arthritis if people didn't buy into jogging as some health benefit. It just kills your joints."

Most common forms of arthritis are either caused by an immune system malfunction (causing the immune system to attack otherwise healthy joints) or by an infection. Jogging is a high impact exercise, and as such if you already suffer from arthritis it may accelerate the disintgration of the joints but it does not cause arthritis. The high impact nature of jogging is one of its main advantages in a person with healthy joints as it accelerates growth in the impact area.

Re:Arthritis (1)

CrackedButter (646746) | more than 7 years ago | (#15807219)

Nothing wrong with jogging as long as its done on a softer surface, Concrete is just simply a no no! I jog on sand and its the best surface to exercise on. The ground is soft and the instability causes your legs to work harder, failing that, just rollerblade which is faster, burns the same amount of calories and doesn't kill the joints.

The article and conclusion totally ignores.. (5, Interesting)

msauve (701917) | more than 7 years ago | (#15806877)

what I believe is likely the real reason.
Life was just plain a lot harder then.
It's as simple as that. We've moved from an agrarian society to an industrial one to a service economy. Life is easier. No more scythes or plowing with a horse. No more mining coal with pick axes. No subsistance farming or clearing new fields by hand (unless you want to, I suppose). People are more educated about what's healthy and what's not, no more mercury based patent medicines, or blood letting with leaches.
The article has it half right - modern medicine play a large part, but I believe the major effect is because it's able to recognize and address the true nature of ailments, not because it's making the human body more robust. That is, it's a remedial effect more than a prophylactic one.

Leeches (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15806964)

Actually, they're a tried and true medical treatment that's still used today. Specifically for warding off necrosis in damaged tissues. Mind you, it's not bloodletting, but still used.

Maggots too.

Quick article [scienceinafrica.co.za]

Re:The article and conclusion totally ignores.. (3, Informative)

modmans2ndcoming (929661) | more than 7 years ago | (#15807030)

actually leaches and maggots are great for medicine.. leaches are applied to keep gangrene from forming by keeping blood flowing and maggots accelerate the healing of wounds by eating the dead tissue.

Skeptical (2, Interesting)

Demona (7994) | more than 7 years ago | (#15806881)

Are there any credible reasons to believe that humans in general are growing physically stronger and more durable, rather than overreliance on technology (in particular, antibiotics) actually having the opposite effect?

Re:Skeptical (1)

iggymanz (596061) | more than 7 years ago | (#15806909)

compare average lifespan of european to that of a century ago, then two centuries ago, then three. Thus far the benefits to individual are outweighing the negative consequences of pollution, poiosons and even antibiotics. That may be changing as we speak, as super-resistant strains of bacteria have been found in hospitals (though it's worth noting those germs have been a problem for hospitals for over two hundred years.) Anyway, we actually know what to do to make things better now as far as poisoning ourselves and the world, question is will we do it?

Re:Skeptical (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15807094)

There is evidence that good early childhood nutrition has a big effect on this.

Current medicin, not wonderfully strong bodies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15806902)

Current medicin causes that people avoid illnesses devastating their bodies over the years and causing them die young. For example, I had both legs broken and pneumonia when being child and serious helicobacter pylori infection (don't know how to describe it in english, it caused 'wounds' in my 'digestion system' forcing me to take strong antibiotics), few teeth had to be cured etc. Thanks to today medicine I've cured it all virtually without any side effects.

Now imagine someone 200 years ago with the same problems. He (she) possibly would heal his legs, maybe cure pneumonia (propably with serious effects through his entire life), would surely lose his ill teeth and propably never recover from helicobacter.

It's not that we are somehow better. It's that current medicin allows us to get rid of serious problems early, before they devastate our bodies.

Great News (3, Informative)

Moby Cock (771358) | more than 7 years ago | (#15806903)

No if we could only find a healthy environment for all these healthy people to life their long lives in...

I just hope I am kept alive long enough for.. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15806918)

I just hope I am kept alive long enough for the singularity to happen, hey Ray? [wikipedia.org]

Kurzweil is also an enthusiastic advocate of using technology to achieve immortality. He advocates using nanobots to maintain the human body, but given their present non-existence he adheres instead to a strict daily routine involving ingesting "250 supplements, eight to 10 glasses of alkaline water and 10 cups of green tea." [5]

But also with immortality would come a bunch of challenges, here is an excerpt from his 1999 book, The Age of Spirtiual Machines [wikipedia.org] :

The gambler had not expected to be here. But on reflection, he thought he had shown some kindness in his time. And this place was even more beautiful and satisfying than he had imagined. Everywhere there were magnificent crystal chandeliers, the finest handmade carpets, the most sumptuous foods, and, yes, the most beautiful women, who seemed intrigued with their new heaven mate. He tried his hand at roulette, and amazingly his number came up time after time. He tried the gaming tables, and his luck was nothing short of remarkable: He won game after game. Indeed his winnings were causing quite a stir, attracting much excitement from the attentive staff, and from the beautiful women.

This continued day after day, week after week, with the gambler winning every game, accumulating bigger and bigger earnings. Everything was going his way. He just kept on winning. And week after week, month after month, the gambler's streak of success remained unbreakable.

After a while, this started to get tedious. The gambler was getting restless; the winning was starting to lose its meaning. Yet nothing changed. He just kept on winning every game, until one day, the now anguished gambler turned to the angel who seemed to be in charge and said that he couldn't take it anymore. Heaven was not for him after all. He had figured he was destined for the "other place" nonetheless, and indeed that is where he wanted to be.

"But this is the other place," came the reply.

That is my recollection of an episode of The Twilight Zone that I saw as a young child. I don't recall the title, but I would call it "Be Careful What You Wish For. As this engaging series was wont to do, it illustrated one of the paradoxes of human nature: We like to solve problems, but we don't want them all solved, not too quickly, anyway. We are more attached to the problems than to the solutions.

Take death, for example. A great deal of our effort goes into avoiding it. We make extraordinary efforts to delay it, and indeed often consider its intrusion a tragic event. Yet we would find it hard to live without it. Death gives meaning to our lives. It gives importance and value to time. Time would become meaningless if there were too much of it. If death were indefinitely put off, the human psyche would end up, well, like the gambler in The Twilight Zone episode.

Let Us Not Forget (1)

Derosian (943622) | more than 7 years ago | (#15806924)

We are due for a deadly infectious disease that will wipe out a good portion of our civilization.

Cite, The Coming Plague, Hot Zone... And a couple other books I cannot remember currently.

Re:Let Us Not Forget (1)

Cheerio Boy (82178) | more than 7 years ago | (#15807151)

We are due for a deadly infectious disease that will wipe out a good portion of our civilization.

Sou you're saying we should delay launching the "B" Ark? ;-)

Re:Let Us Not Forget (1)

MrNaz (730548) | more than 7 years ago | (#15807198)

What, you mean like AIDS or cancer or something?

It's called evolution. (0, Troll)

scenestar (828656) | more than 7 years ago | (#15806927)

get used to it.

Re:It's called evolution. (3, Interesting)

Tezkah (771144) | more than 7 years ago | (#15806976)

It's called evolution. get used to it.

No, it's not called evolution, it's called technology. We, Homo Sapiens, evolved our brains 200,000 years ago, but didn't really start to use them until 50,000 years ago. Surely there is something more than biological since we're discussing this via a computer terminals connected to a worldwide network instead of banging rocks against treetrunks, especially if there was a 150,000 year gap in between where we did so, with the same biology. See this wikipedia article [wikipedia.org] .

Re:It's called evolution. (1)

NotBorg (829820) | more than 7 years ago | (#15807020)

Getting used to it doesn't necessarily bring us closer to understanding it which is the point of discussing it.

I wonder if the psychological implications of having to take care of our old and frail parents and grand parents some how has altered our way of living. "I never wanna die." "If I ever get that old just kill me." There seems to be a genuine fear of becoming useless or less than functional. Could this never give in attitude toward ageing be part of it?

This is interesting because by taking care of our old we live longer?

No (2, Interesting)

Gorimek (61128) | more than 7 years ago | (#15807033)

We have essentially the same genes as 3 generations ago. Evolutionary change takes much, much longer than that,

We just live in a much better environment these days. Had our ancestors gotten to live like we, they would have been just as healthy.

To the "100 is always the avg LOL!!1" crowd (5, Informative)

thebigo195 (949864) | more than 7 years ago | (#15806939)

It's entirely possible that the overall average is an all-time constant 100 but that people being tested in recent years have consistently beaten the historical average.

So Let's Raise the Retirement Age (1)

schwit1 (797399) | more than 7 years ago | (#15806942)

If the evidence says that we are going to live healthier longer into old age then let's raise the retirement age for collecting social security benefits. The current system is a ponzi scheme that needs some serious help to keep it afloat. Raising the retirement age would appear to a logical start.

SS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15807085)

If you want to get technical and you are concerned about your "money" you have to admit the system is setup to use poof created fiat money, printed out of thin air. Keep repeating that until you really "get it", to where you honestly understand the full ramifications of it. It's the biggest scam ever. On a small scale they would arrest you for fraud. On a large scale it has created a controller monied class who runs your life. You like being a serf? If you don't, keep looking upstream to where the real problemns are, not at folks worked all their lives to try and get back a pittance. You can't "opt out" of it, it's not their fault, and for a lot of people it is all that stands between them and street level poverty. You go tell someone who has already worked 5 decades and watched their jobs evaporate overseas to go "pull themselves up by the bootstraps and get another job". Let me tell ya something, when you get older..you get *tired*. It doesn't matter if you can walk marginally better than someone 200 years ago at such and such an age, oursociety does not have anything much better than what we have now, from the combo of Fed counterfeit money, the much worse wall street casino scam, and the second worlding of the US. If you haven't noticed, there's been a war against the older middle class for 2.5 decades now. They will come for YOU next.

    You want to make sure your labor actually builds for the future, start working *now* to get an honest accountable monetary system in place, one that cuts the fatcat non worker central bankers and their politician whores out at the top levels and rewards the productive people. Fixating on social security is at best 1% of the future problems you will face. Inflation by the Fed, knocking down your worth, and promising your future labor (and your kids and grandkids, etc), to keep them crooks rolling in luxury and power to ultra obscene levels are a MUCH larger set of problems for you younger folks than some social security age.

Smack those smarmy bastards (4, Funny)

Asmor (775910) | more than 7 years ago | (#15806948)

Does anyone else feel a strong urge to smack those smarmy bastards who are so convinced that drugs and chemicals and such are making us weaker?

"Ooh, but the cavemen didn't have glut--"

"Fuck the cavemen. They were chased by saber-toothed tigers and lucky to live to the age of 20."

I say pump me full of drugs, corporate America!

Re:Smack those smarmy bastards (1)

Ergasiophobia (971409) | more than 7 years ago | (#15807176)

It all depends. People who's body doesn't properly produce a certain drug or chemical, Diabetics for instance, is only made stronger. However in some cases, such as antidepressants, the body becomes dependent on the drug. Life or death dependence on something is a weakness.
And, in some cases, such as antibiotics, too much only makes the enemy stronger.

So, yes, in some cases, drugs and chemicals make us weaker.

Re:Smack those smarmy bastards (1)

5937 (986421) | more than 7 years ago | (#15807272)

You mean being pumped full of drugs and chemicals protects against chasing saber-toothed tigers? :)

Increasing IQ? (3, Funny)

ArielMT (757715) | more than 7 years ago | (#15806951)

The average I.Q. has been increasing for decades

And it took less than one decade for the average IQ to drop below that of a rock.

Hello, tech support? The cupholder on my PC is broken. ... Yes, the cupholder. ... Yes, it does... Or did... It broke just after I opened and ran that Microsoft virus patch you sent me in email, although it ended up in my junk folder for some reason. ... Whaddayumean what? I had to disable the virus scanner because it said your patch was a virus.

*Sigh*

Re:Increasing IQ? (2, Informative)

chudnall (514856) | more than 7 years ago | (#15807076)

The average I.Q. has been increasing for decades


Actually, it has stayed the same. By definition, the average I.Q. is always 100.

Shovelfuls of crap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15806956)

reason stands that their children will have even better health to look forward to
Are [theshavedreport.com] you [banderasnews.com] sure [cbsnews.com] ?

we will live 1000 years with life regeneration. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15806963)

These types of articles goes to show how nothing has changed, we are at the practical maximum of human life extension using tech of the last couple centuries. We need to change that, we need to really kick our leaders in the butt to do something(bush & co. for instance don't like the concept of advanced nano/biotech allowing us to live longer).

We are pretty well at the limit (max life span) of what our genes allows us to live.
With the decoding of the human gene project, we can now identify those member of our society that have the right combinations of genes that allow them to live to 100, 120 years smoking, drinking eating whatever they want and not suffering an early death like most the rest of us.

Once we can understand how these peoples genes allow this, we will eventually be able to modify everybody else to do the same. The real advances eventually, using nanotech devices, will be to go inside the body and repair the ravages of aging in our cells and reverse this process to make people permanently young (say 20 to 25 years old physically) and people would get these treatments every 10 or so years). Advanced nano and biotech will enable people to boost their intelligence and physical capabilities, (interface to the net and send each other thoughts), this technology could make things like downloading other peoples skills (like in the matrix) possible. Nanotech cosmetic surgery will enable people not to be locked into their looks they inherited, or if they got bored with their modified looks, they could revert to the looks they were born with.

The thing is, we have to demand that our politicians stop wasting billions and 1000's of billions on useless wars and, instead, spend some money on nano/biotech to cure all our ills and make us younger. Do you want to be the last generation to know what is was like to have no choice but get old and die.

Its like Young people nowadays having no idea that 25 years ago, there was no PC's, cell phones, email, Internet, search engines available to the general public, if you wanted to looks something up, you had to go to a library or phone a librarian, or subscribe to a magazine, all of which took days or weeks to accomplish. 25 years from now, people will be popping nano pills, downloading "how to genetically program in 24 seconds" and generally staring at you old farts, while trying not to listen to stories of how it was so primitive and how they have it all so easy.

I for one.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15806965)

I, for one, welcome our new Ourselves overlords

Especially... (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 7 years ago | (#15806986)

Modern Humans Far More Robust Than Ancestors...

...especially about the middle.

The average IQ is higher..... (0, Flamebait)

modmans2ndcoming (929661) | more than 7 years ago | (#15806995)

Well... maybe, but not in the US.

Kids these days are morons (1)

0racle (667029) | more than 7 years ago | (#15807029)

Completely retarded, and they stay that way as they get older. Increasing IQ my ass.

You're too kind! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15807038)

Modern Humans Far More Robust Than Ancestors

Why thank you, that's so sweet of you to say...

Hey wait a minute, did you just call me fat?!

Meanwhile... (1)

eno2001 (527078) | more than 7 years ago | (#15807054)

...many new illnesses are striking these healthy new people but they're being made to think it's normal. Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, inexplicable depression, various systemic yeast infections resulting in a wide array of symptoms... All on the rise. But that's OK because now there's the "purple pill", or Zoloft, or even Viagra. There are a whole host of things the older generations did right and those things are being forgotten. Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater. (Or is that the old person instead of baby?) All of today's medicines are unsustainable. The moment that this civilzation fails, all these new "super humans" will be shit out of luck. Be very careful about patting yourself on the back for being a new super human. You're in a very fragile place.

Re:Meanwhile... (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 7 years ago | (#15807100)

...many new illnesses are striking these healthy new people but they're being made to think it's normal. Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, inexplicable depression, various systemic yeast infections resulting in a wide array of symptoms What makes you think those diseases are "new"? Yes, we've defined them more carefully - it's not the "flux" anymore. Yes, we have some better treatments (the purple pill, etc.). But read the history of medicine - these problems have been around a long time.

As for the "systemic yeast infections" - aside from the rare care of candidial sepsis in AIDS patients, can you show any evidence that these "diseases" actually exist as something that can pass the test of Koch's postulates rather than some mythic explanation as to Why People Sometimes Don't Feel Good?

All over the world or just the US? (2, Interesting)

erroneus (253617) | more than 7 years ago | (#15807064)

From what I've read so far the information is relative to the US only. There is other information about European areas as well, but I wonder what there is to know about Asia and areas that are significantly less developed?

I have noted in the past that I seem to be a lot more healthy than just about everyone else I know. My health increases further as I avoid certain foods such as milk, bread and pasta.... things with excessive processing and preservatives. But those things didn't exist in the same form "back in the day." So I think there has to be more to it.

I have to assume part of what I experience is linked to the community in which I live, but still... if I am not an anomoly, then there's even more improvement that can occur.

You most certainly are not (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15807109)

if I am not an anomoly

You cannot be an anomoly, because there is no such thing.

You may possibly be an anomaly.

Bogus research (2)

etresoft (698962) | more than 7 years ago | (#15807122)

I will wrap up TFA...

Americans and Europeans of today, who have health insurance, are bigger, fatter, and healthier than people who were too poor pay their way out of conscription during the Civil War.

Boo War!

Hooray Health Insurance!

* unless, of course (2, Insightful)

ztucker (938031) | more than 7 years ago | (#15807125)

they work for Wal-Mart. Then they have neither the insurance to cover nor the income to afford the drugs and treatments mentioned.

article paints incomplete picture (3, Insightful)

kingkongrevenge (588009) | more than 7 years ago | (#15807200)

The article talks only about how health has improved over the last few hundred years. This is almost entirely due to nutrition and sanitation. The article fails to mentions the much more interesting point that we are probably still less healthy than our ancestors of 2000 years ago. Hunter-gatherers are on average taller than Americans today, and there has never been a documented hunter-gatherer cancer death. Read accounts of the original Spanish explorers in the Carribean and Florida. They saw how much taller and healthier the hunter-gatherer tribes were.

http://www.agron.iastate.edu/courses/agron342/diam ondmistake.html [iastate.edu]
http://www.paleodiet.com/lindeberg/ [paleodiet.com]

The ideal human diet is high in meat and animal fat. For the last several hundred years "civilized" humans have been highly reliant on grains and short on quality fats and proteins, which has been disasterous for human health. Only in the last hundred years has meat and fat consumption risen to reasonably healthy levels in wealthy countries. The effects of increased meat and fat intake was clearly documented in post-war UK and Japan, where deliberate efforts to raise egg and dairy consumption had dramatic effects on heart disease and general health.

This is news? (0, Offtopic)

5937 (986421) | more than 7 years ago | (#15807250)

If i have an animal which is sick in childhood, for example does not get enough of mothers milk, it usually stays the little one.

And the civil-war time is not exactly a healthy one. Child-work, people fleeing europe for economic reasons, cruel working conditions (early factories are no fun) etc. Sounds like a lot babies without "enough milk".

Which is why the germans supported a bit "socialism" (unions, schools etc) at Bismarcs time. Labor should be as cheap as possible, yes, but then you get bad soldiers..
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