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September 2020

Why (almost) everything born from civilization is irrelevant to thrive—a thought experiment

One of the core tenets of the Bowlby Conjecture is that we are essentially unchanged genetically and physiologically from our modern ancestors 50,000 years ago.

Anyone who says that something we’ve invented in the intervening 50,000 is essential for living a full life is necessarily implying that it was impossible for any of our ancestors—all the way back to the beginning—to live a full life. They had everything they needed, except this one thing that as luck would have it was only just invented.

But that flies in the fact of what we know about evolution. Evolution tells us that organisms are designed to be an optimal fit for their environment. It also makes no logical sense for evolution to create an organism who is imperfectly suited to the environment, and that imperfection must survive 3,000 generations before the need is satisfied throughhy good luck and ingenuity of some hypothetical force in the future.

I admit there are some things in modern civilization that make life easier and let us lead healthier lives (modern medicine being a notable area). But anything we deem a “necessity” that was not also a necessity 50,000 years ago is solving a problem that we created with our civilization.

So what does matter? By elimination, those things that were prevalent in our ancestors’ environment 50,000 years ago. Tribe; sunlight and nature; moving the body naturally during hunting and gathering; whole, natural, cooked foods; shared stories to strengthen social bonds; and deeply dark and deeply quiet nights for truly restful sleep. Any individual who has all of these things in their life has everything they need to thrive.