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How 4H Is Helping Big Ag Take Over Africa

crmarvin42 Re: SO (377 comments)

I don't doubt that Drinkypoo believes what he's saying. The Anti-GMO crowd has been spreading that particular FUD for several years now. I've seen it in political propaganda dressed up to look like documentaries on several occasions. Their books and websites are similarly full of such BS.

If you have no connection to the country or agriculture it is hard to recognize that the claims don't match reality. Especially if the stories fit your preconceptions. Cognitive bias and cognitive dissonance are both very real phenomenon that can catch otherwise intelligent and honest people.

I've known several people from India and I've gotten the impression from most of them that things are much better than they were. Glad to hear further confirmation.

about a month ago
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How 4H Is Helping Big Ag Take Over Africa

crmarvin42 Re: SO (377 comments)

Overall I agree with most of what you posted. The one line I'd like to challenge you a little on is this one:

And you really should not use carnivore manure

Plant's don't know whether the N, P, K, etc in fertilizer came from pigs, chickens, or cows. For manure from any species it is important to know the nutrient concentrations of the manure, the pre-existing loading of the soil, the requirements of the plant to be grown on the soil, the drainage properties of the soil, etc. Same goes for using synthetic fertilizers, BTW.

As I understand it, much of the problems in the Chesapeake Bay water shed came from incomplete understanding. Farmers were paying at least some attention to the N part of the equation, but were not paying any attention to the P part. Turns out that most manure has a much higher P to N ratio than plants need, so applying manure based on N only resulted in P overloading. Over the last couple of decades farmers have found ways to improve the P to N ratio and have limited application rates based on P as well, thus avoiding over loading. Even if it required an application of another fertilizer to get the N content of the soil right.

about a month ago
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How 4H Is Helping Big Ag Take Over Africa

crmarvin42 Re: SO (377 comments)

Rebuilding top soil is a matter of fertilizing. The green revolution does not, contrary to the baseless claims by drinkypoo, "Destroy" top soil. Fertilization is an integral part of both traditional and modern farming techniques.

Plants extract nutrients from soil as they grow. The faster and larger they grow, the more nutrients are extracted. Traditional farming techniques utilized manure and other waste products to restore fertility to the soil, but in an imprecise way. Modern fertilizing techniques involved testing the soil, identifying the deficient nutrients, and then applying exactly what is needed to ensure optimal fertility. Modern techniques still use manure, but they also use other sources of nutrients to ensure that nutrient supply is as close to optimal as possible.

Traditional fertilizing involves spreading manure and other nutrient dense products without considering the ratios of the various nutrients present in the soil and fertilizer relative to the needs of the crops. Manure from swine tends to have much higher ratio of Nitrogen to Phosphorus than is ideal for corn and soy. If you apply manure as your sole source of nutrients you are either over supplementing with one (contributing to run-off and water eutrophication) or shorting your plants and reducing yields. Traditional farming techniques are inefficient due to ignorance, not apathy, but they are still harmful.

about a month ago
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How 4H Is Helping Big Ag Take Over Africa

crmarvin42 Re: SO (377 comments)

People are starving right here, where these farming methods dominate overwhelmingly. There is more than enough food on the planet to feed everyone on it. Suggesting that we need to use destructive farming methods is foolish at best.

Yes, and much of that food is produced using modern farming practices. If the US were to revert to the traditional agricultural practices people view through the rose-tinted-glasses of affluence and satiety there would be MORE people starving both inside and outside of the US. We are a net exporter of grains, and those surpluses are possible because of those modern production techniques. There are many nations that are dependent upon US grain to feed a significant portion of their population. Cutting off US exports because we've decided to throw out the last 20 to 30 years of agricultural improvements would throw the world food supply into havoc. A drought in the Midwest US a couple of years ago was global news and affected food prices just about everywhere. What we grow in the US helps to feed the world.

about a month ago
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How 4H Is Helping Big Ag Take Over Africa

crmarvin42 Re: SO (377 comments)

People are starving in India because people have always been starving in India. There have always been people starving everywhere. The question is whether there are MORE people starving in India now than before green revolution.

I don't have access to data that goes that far back, but the FAOStat page for India puts the per capita food supply at 2459 kcal/person/da, which is 25% higher than the FDA RDA of 2000 kcal/day. It is also a little more than 200 kcal more than 1996.

Greater consumption by the wealthiest can of course result in an increase in the average, without changing things in a meaningful way for those at the bottom. Fortunately the FAOStat page also indicates that the prevalence of under nutrition went from 21% in 1999 to 18% in 2012. Again small changes, but definitely an improvement when you consider that India has 1/6th of the world population. That 3% point improvement in access to nutrition for India represents 0.5% of the GLOBAL population. Not too shabby.

AS to the population issue. I agree that population control could help, but I see improving production as far more likely than getting the global population to agree to reduced population growth. Data shows that the best way to slow population growth in a country is to increase the quality of life. There is a consistent negative correlation between quality of life in a nation and the reproduction rate from citizens (discounting immigration and immigrant families from developing nations).

GMO crops enable no-till farming. That is but one of the ways that they CONTRIBUTE to sustainable agriculture. If you'd ever planted a GMO crop you might know that.

about a month ago
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How 4H Is Helping Big Ag Take Over Africa

crmarvin42 Re: SO (377 comments)

Charcoal is acting as a fertilizer in this scenario. Of course fertilizing the field will bring benefits if the soil is nutrient deficient. That doesn't change the fact that a plant that is intrinsically resistant to a common pest will yield even more than one that is susceptible to the pest if both are fertilized appropriately.

There are so many things that are less than optimal in traditional subsistence farming that lots of different interventions can potentially increase yields. Just because one works, does not mean that another would not also improve yields. In fact, combining both changes would likely improve yields in a largely additive way. That is why farmers in developed countries are so much more productive. They take advantage of a lot of different improvements that work together.

about a month ago
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How 4H Is Helping Big Ag Take Over Africa

crmarvin42 Re: SO (377 comments)

Simply saying something, whether you honestly believe it or not, does not make it true.

World hunger is at the lowest it has ever been. https://www.wfp.org/stories/10... How exactly to interpret that to mean that the green revolution has led to starvation?

Producing foods by traditional means was a large part of the reason hunger was worse in the past than it is now. There were fewer people, more of them were directly involved in food production (both in real terms and as a percent of the population) and yet there was MORE hunger than today. The modern techniques were developed because the worked better, not out of some perverse desire to make people less food secure. Large agriculture takes feeding the world as a mission statement. Every conference I've ever attended is peppered with references to the disconnect between population projections (going up FAST) and available land projections (trending downward in developed countries, and stagnant in developing ones).

We need to produce twice as much food in 2050 as in 2010, yet we need to do it with LESS land and finite resources than we did in 2020. Going backward with regard to efficiency and yields is not a viable solution unless you are willing to let a lot of people starve needlessly.

about a month ago
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How 4H Is Helping Big Ag Take Over Africa

crmarvin42 Re: SO (377 comments)

Speak the truth and be modded a troll by a group of people who've probably never gone hungry for more that a few hours at a time their entire lives.

most farmers in Africa are subsistence farmers. It is a good year if they have enough for themselves and a little extra to sell. Free seeds that improve yields by 9-25% in developed countries, and an additional 14% points in developing countries is a chance to get ahead instead of just scraping by (planned to post a link to the article on the economist websites here I pulled those numbers, but can't paste for some reason on my phone).

it's easy to look down on GE seeds with a life time of full bellies in your past, your future, and your children's futures as far as you can see. Try going hungry despite spending all you can spare on food and then rail against seeds that have never made a single person sick and have fed billions.

about a month ago
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The Subtle Developer Exodus From the Mac App Store

crmarvin42 Re:Enough already (229 comments)

I suspect the saturation with low value apps and the restrictions are not unrelated. It sounds like the store is structured in such a way as to limit the number of possible business models that can be pursued profitably. Low value apps are easier to develop so there is less inherent risk with putting them into the Mac App Store than more complex apps that may run up against things like the sandboxing requirement. Success comes not from creating a single, polished and powerful application, but from developing a lot of small throw-away apps that make little money individually, but are profitable (more or less) in aggregate.

I think one shortcoming of the Mac App Store from the software buyer perspective that most people miss is the effect it has had on OTHER application sites. I used to know of several different sites I could go to and search for applications from various developers, but they all died off. Now it's the Mac App Store or Google, but Google turns up lots of PC apps, FOSS apps of questionable quality, or apps listed on aggregators that make their money off of pretty horrendous amount of adds/page and frequently link to apps that no longer exist.

I prefer to buy directly from the developer when possible, but I need to FIND the developers app first and the Mac App Store is making that more difficult.

about 2 months ago
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Scientists Seen As Competent But Not Trusted By Americans

crmarvin42 Re:Fox News? (460 comments)

Large news publications like the esteemed New York Times routinely get science wrong in major, and detrimental ways.

For example they are hosting a symposium to talk about the future of modern agriculture, but didn't bother to invite anyone who is part of the current agricultural system. All of their speakers are people who are famous for taking a political stance on a scientific issue and using their bully pulpit to actively mis-inform the public. If the media were held accountable for promoting BS, then the NYTimes would be facing serious sanctions for this, but they are not.

about 3 months ago
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Scientists Seen As Competent But Not Trusted By Americans

crmarvin42 Re:Fox News? (460 comments)

No need to bring right or left into it. Yes the right is full of morons who don't believe in evolution for religious reasons or Man-made global warming due to motivated self interest, but the Left is full of morons who don't believe that Vaccines or GMO crops are safe for what, in the end, boil down to religious reasons (Naturalistic Logical Fallacy).

about 3 months ago
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Scientists Seen As Competent But Not Trusted By Americans

crmarvin42 Re:Americans are smart. (460 comments)

Title 21 of the US Code of federal regulations (21 CFR) lists all of the ingredients approved for use in the US food supply, whether for humans or animals. The US is a net exporter of corn and soy, and China is a net importer, so your example is not the best but I get your point.

More importantly, so does the FDA. They are currently working on the second draft of the proposed rules to cover verification that imported food products are produced to US standards as part of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). FSMA is the most extensive revision of US food and feed laws since the original 1938 Federal Food Drug and Cosmetics Act. One of the proposed regulations is to cover Foreign Supplier Verification, by which importers must certify (through inspections) that foreign companies are following the same rules as US based companies when producing their products for export to the US. Furthermore, the FDA plans to begin on-site inspections of foreign sites at a minimum of every 3 years. For those sites that are classified as a higher risk level, they will be inspecting every year, and only the first inspection is free. The FDA will bill the company for the cost of follow up inspections if problems are found and a re-inspection is deemed necessary.

Also, FSMA gives the FDA vast new enforcement powers. Currently, they can recommend a product recall, but the manufacturer ultimately decides. Once the act is in place, they will be able to sieze all product in the supplychain, issue recalls, and close down manufacturing sites on the suspicion of a problem. They don't need to have any hard evidence like testing data or sick people.

about 3 months ago
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Scientists Seen As Competent But Not Trusted By Americans

crmarvin42 Re:Fox News? (460 comments)

^^This is, in my not so humble opinion, one of the main reasons science and scientists are viewed with such skepticism.

How many newspapers and TV news programs gave Wakefield (and even worse, Jenny McCarthy) valuable opportunities to speak publically without challenge, even after it became clear that autism is not caused by vaccines? On the other hand, how many times have they, in the name of "Balance", allowed crackpots to act as foils to certified experts in an area?

How about the cult-worship status of TV stars like Dr. Oz or Dr. Phil who are billed as trustworthy experts despite their lack of qualifications in the area they spend most of their time talking about. Dr. Oz. is not a toxicologist, but that doesn't stop him (or his producers) from putting out BS on the risks of new pesticides about which none of them appear to know anything accurate.

The media needs to be held accountable for spreading bullshit for the sake of increased circulation/clicks. They aren't because of freedom of the press, and I am not opposed to freedoms of the press. As Spider-man would say "with great power comes great responsibility", but the press seems to be allowed to exercise enormous power without being held responsible for the harm they do.

about 3 months ago
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The Evolution of Diet

crmarvin42 Re:Be careful with those assumptions. (281 comments)

You were the one claiming that we had eliminated natural selection, I was using a little thing called sarcasm to emphasize the inconsistency between the claim and the existence of mortality due to reasons other than old age. If you can't parse sarcasm when it is pointed out to you in advance then you probably shouldn't be wasting your or anyone else's time by posting.

about 4 months ago
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The Evolution of Diet

crmarvin42 Re:Be careful with those assumptions. (281 comments)

In the US we formulate animal diets based in kcal/lb (industry) or kcal/kg (academia). In Europe they are more likely to use MJ/kg.

I've never understood why the human nutrition folks have created such unnecessary confusion. I've been told the goal was to make things simpler and easier for the layperson to understand, but the success of that is dubious at best.

about 4 months ago
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The Evolution of Diet

crmarvin42 Re:Be careful with those assumptions. (281 comments)

Natural selection means some get left behind. Humans work very hard to avoid that.

And you believe that none are? When did the death rate for those under 80 reach zero? I some how managed to miss the announcement! [/sarcasm]

Of course humans work to avoid that. That doesn't make them 100% successful at it. Plenty of people die before or without reproducing, and those people were "selected" against whether as a result of disease, war, bad luck, lack of desire to have children, or their own stupidity. We are not as heavily culled by "natural" events as we might be, or once were, but that only means that we've increased our genetic diversity.

Some of those genes have demonstrable down sides, but it is common in evolutionary studies to see a widening of the gene pool when selection pressure is reduced. This is a natural part of evolution as the species begins to differentiate to take advantage of different ecological niches. Furthermore, there are most definitely internal selective pressures at play as well.

Western countries have become nuclei of successful people, with hot bed (like silicon valley) acting as concentrators of certain phenotypes (the stereotypical borderline and high functioning autistics that are the engine of computing progress). That those traits may have been an evolutionary disadvantage in pre-computing days does not change their current value today, or their current effect on those individuals chances of reproducing.

Diabetes, cancers, gastric disorders (Celiac, e.g.), endometriosis, fibromyalgia, and any number of other increasingly common disorders would contradict that

1. Diabetes is no longer fatal, and many who have the more mild form could control it without insulin if they just ate a healthier diet.
2. Cancer has always existed for those who live long enough
3. gastric disorders, if not fatal or don't reduce ones chances of reproduction, are not inherently relevant to survival even without modern medicine
4. endometriosis, has also always existed. it can be seen in non-domesticated species
5. fibromyalgia is vague pain. Again, pain by itself is not fatal and does not reduce ones odds of reproducing even in the absence of modern medicine. Especially if it frequently does not occur until one is past their prime reproductive years.
6. poor eyesight has not been a selection pressure in centuries, even before the development of optics or the widespread availability of corrective lenses. Again, especially in those cases where it does not appear until after the person has passed their prime reproductive years. Most people who wear glasses at younger ages do so to correct relatively minor defects in their vision.
7. IVF has risen in prevalence in part due to changes in human culture. Many women who might have been able to conceive naturally in their teens and 20's need IVF in their 30's and 40's because of non-genetic problems, and therefore are irrelevant to the discussion of selective pressures.

Whether that's a gene that results in sickle cell or juvenile diabetes or whatever, that's what I mean by a "bad gene".

Being heterozygous for sickle cell is a BENEFIT if you live in a malaria rich region of the world, so to categorically state that it is "Bad" is myopic. This is exactly the point I've been trying to drive home. The value of a phenotype is situation dependent, and just because it confers no benefit in one situation does not mean it could not under different circumstances. The sickle cell trait spread as widely as it did in African populations in spite of the problems being homozygous for the trait can cause because the heterozygotes were better adapted to frequent exposure to malaria.

Tell a child with leukemia or diabetes that his "trait" is actually beneficial in some way. Tell someone who is badly nearsighted and can't see anything without glasses that his trait is beneficial in some way. Tell the child who is born with a cleft palate that you aren't going to do cosmetic surgery because his trait is actually beneficial.

In the current environment, no none of these are beneficial. However, that does not mean they could not be under the right conditions or when paired with other genes in a different individual. Also, cleft palate is not always genetic in origin. Far more of those who develop a cleft palate have no genetic predisposition and they could have developed the phenotype due to environmental reasons (maternal nutrition, physical trauma, exposure to a chemical that interferes with midfacial development. Furthermore, evolution is not about the individual, but the species. Using the Sickle Cell example again, homozygotes with the sickle cell allele generally die, but their heterozygote siblings survive much better than those who are homozygous for the non-sickle cell allele.

Let the Down Syndrome kids use their beneficial trait to make good lives on their own.

You have obviously never heard of the neurodiversity movement. I've worked with special needs kids and there are some with down syndrome that are quite capable of surviving on their own. More capable than many non-down-syndrome individuals I know.

when you remove natural selection from the process of evolution, evolution no longer works

It is exceedingly arrogant to believe that humans are somehow exempt to selective pressures. As long as reproduction rates are not evenly distributed across the entire human population (ie 2 children per couple, and all children live to have 2 children themselves infinitely), then there will be evolution as some genes become more or less prominent in the overall population. To believe otherwise is to seriously misunderstand the underlying mechanisms of evolution.

No, I really don't care, because that's so far in the past that it was before existing civilizations and thus before current efforts to defeat natural selection that it is completely irrelevant to this discussion.

No it is not irrelevant. It is an example of the loss of an ability that on it's face would be a negative (like the ability to digest lactose or gluten), yet turned out to be irrelevant to the survival of the species. You seem to operate under the false assumption that any loss in evolutionary "fitness" for past selective pressures is an unequivocal negative for our evolution as a species. However, the fossil record of all species is littered with examples of lost traits that were essential during one era, but unimportant to survival later on.

about 4 months ago
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The Evolution of Diet

crmarvin42 Re:Be careful with those assumptions. (281 comments)

Very true. Registered Dietician (RD) is a protected title like MD, or PhD. No such protection exists for "Nutritionist" and as a result anyone can describe themselves as such. In animal nutrition someone calling themselves a nutritionist generally has a PhD in the field of nutrition from an accredited university (as I have), but that is because a nutritionist is hired by the feed industry and a PhD is required to do the job.

For human nutrition, because it is so open to anyone who can write a good book and can look surprisingly healthful for their book jacket photo, the requirements are much lower. Instead of formulating nutrition plans (left to the RD's) human nutritionists are generally the charismatic front (wo)men who the brand is built around, and who's job it is to spout BS on the talk show circuit and in infomercials.

about 4 months ago
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The Evolution of Diet

crmarvin42 Re:Be careful with those assumptions. (281 comments)

By active gene manipulation through selective breeding.

True, and that is why we've made so much progress in such a short period of time with pigs. However, to assume that natural selection cannot accomplish in 4000 years, what we've done through selective breeding in ~40 years is odd to me. In humans there isn't some intelligence applying the selection, but that does not mean that selection is not taking place. The difference is that the environment, consisting in part of the food that can be cultivated in that environment, is applying the selection pressure. Most humans can utilize lactose well into adulthood because we evolved the ability to do so because the offspring of humans who could were more likely to survive and breed. The ability to digest lactose as an adult is not as advantageous as it once was, and in the absence of that selective pressure the trait is becoming less universal. Both the historical spread of lactose tolerance and the current rise of lactose intolerance are examples of evolution in action.

What we HAVE been able to do by avoiding eugenics with humans while applying modern medicine is to make less robust humans

No, humans are not less robust, at least in an evolutionary sense, because evolution is all about survival in the environment as it is at the moment. It is not about some theoretical ideal or past conditions that no longer apply. It is inconvenient that one my sons is lactose intolerant, sure, but he lives in a time and place where the ability to digest lactose does not affect his long term prospects of reproduction appreciably. Similarly, it would have been nice for early sailors to be able to synthesize vitamin C on their own, but they couldn't and that led to a lot of brave men suffering and sometimes dying of scurvy before they realized that eating citrus fruits or extracts can prevent it (even before medicine realized what it was about citrus that prevented scurvy). Humans have always used our intelligence to think our way out of apparent maladaptions to our environment. The net effect has been to show that our greater intelligence is a more valuable adaptation that big teeth, claws, and a vitamin C synthetic pathway in the liver.

...has kept people with bad genes alive...[emphasis mine]

There are no "bad" genes. There are traits which are not well adapted to a particular environment or situation, but that does not make them bad per se. Sickle cell being the poster child for an apparent disorder this actually advantageous under certain conditions. Same goes for white skin, and advantage that evolved and spread in colder northern europe, but is a hindrance to whites living in regions with plenty of UV exposure throughout the year because it increases your risk of developing cancer. All traits are trade offs and to assume any trait is inherently "Bad" is to fall into the same faulty reasoning that led to eugenics in the first place.

What you are seeing is the survival of detrimental mutations or maladaptations, not natural selection against them.

Evolution is not directional. There is not De-Evolution as a counter to Evolution. There may be a future environmental condition where the current maladaptation are favorable. Evolution is the accumulation of genetic changes over time, its not the accumulation of abilities like in an RPG. Shortly after humans evolved tricolor vision we started loosing the ability to detect most pheromones. It is believed that this loss of a previously essential ability occurred because the evolutionary role for which pheromones had evolved (to signal sexual receptiveness among other things) could also be met by increased color sensitivity (consider the baboons with the red asses everyone likes to laugh at, or the ones with the blue, red and white skin on their faces), thus making the loss of one specific ability unimportant in the large flow of genetic changes.

My original subject line still holds be careful with those assumptions

about 4 months ago
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The Evolution of Diet

crmarvin42 Re:Be careful with those assumptions. (281 comments)

Researchers have been studying human evolution by tracking changes in our DNA and using advanced modeling techniques to gauge the rate of our evolution, including projecting various changes backward in time. That's how we know that Neanderthals and modern humans bred with each other. We've found the Neanderthal genes in the modern human population. Most genes contribute to more than one trait, so even small changes in our DNA can lead to large changes in our phenotype. To assume that somehow those changes have magically skipped over affecting any of the numerous genes involved in ingestion, digestion, and metabolizing our food is asinine.

Our ability to support the energy sink that is the human brains is dependent upon our ability to get enough nutrients, and more importantly energy, to support its development and high maintenance requirements as an adult. That it self is evidence of our diet and bodies evolving together. Also, the reduction in the size of our jaws, leading to chronic problems with impacted 3rd molars, is another instance where we have evolved as a result of our diet. The larger jaws of earlier hominids are not necessary because we cook our food. That cooking makes the nutrients more available, meaning we need to eat less. It also makes the food softer, meaning we don't need massive jaws to constantly grind seeds and roots and raw meat.

There is plenty of other evidence that our bodies have evolved in large part BECAUSE of changes in what we eat and how we prepare it. The problem is that fad dieters have never been very big on reading peer-reviewed literature. They prefer to read the book-of-the-month endorsed by some celebrity or health guru.

about 4 months ago
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The Evolution of Diet

crmarvin42 Be careful with those assumptions. (281 comments)

The idea that we have not had time to evolve to farmed food is just stupid. We've managed to completely revamp the modern pig phenotype from a slow growing lard producing machine, with back fat measuring as much as 9-12 inches to a pig where the standard backfat thickness is measured in millimeters in less than half a century. Humans have been farming for roughly 100 times longer than that.

We've seen human populations with distinct difference in their ability to handle different components of foodstuffs (lactose, gluten, fat, etc). Explain to me how that ISN'T evidence of evolution! The whole "paleo" fad is based on two false assumptions. 1) that we are no longer evolving, and 2) that evolution is directed at some idealized collection phenotypes.

about 4 months ago

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