31 Oct 2014

Evolutionary biologist Marlene Zuk on fantasy of Paleo

From Nine To Noon, 9:26 am on 31 October 2014

Are our bodies and brains truly at odds with modern life? Many diets and self-help books are predicated on the notion that our behaviour and bodies evolved under a certain set of circumstances, from which we deviate to our peril. Implicit in that idea is the assumption that humans in a modern society aren't evolving any more, that we have somehow freed ourselves from evolution, or at the very least, that evolution always requires so long to act that we can't expect to have adapted to our current circumstances. Dr. Marlene Zuk says popular theories about how our ancestors lived and why we should emulate them are often based on speculation, not scientific evidence, and they reflect a basic misunderstanding about how evolution works. She says there was never a time when everything about us - our bodies, our minds, and our behaviour - was perfectly in synch with the environment. Dr. Zuk is a Professor of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior at the University of Minnesota. She is the author of the book Paleofantasy: What Evolution Really Tells Us About Sex, Diet, and How We Live. Dr. Zuk is visiting New Zealand for a series of Allan Wilson Centre lectures.