Dorsa Amir Profile picture
Mar 26 15 tweets 7 min read
I didn't want to dignify this with a response but this thread is toxic — filled with inaccuracies, stereotypes, & the dumbest takes possible. I think almost every single point is wrong, actually, & extremely harmful.

Anthony, if you had any sense, you would delete this. 1/
First of all, the trope that hunter-gatherers are "wild humans" is flawed, harmful, & condescending, and the idea that they have "full genetic expression" is literally so stupid I don't even know where to start. They're.. expressing more genes than us? 2/
That actually sounds to me like "we only use 10% of our brains". It's just nonsense. Genes are differentially expressed all the time, everywhere, and are constantly responding to input from the environment. This belies a massive misunderstanding of genetics. 3/
The Hadza don't eat plants? Just because you, Anthony, did not see this doesn't mean it doesn't happen. Here's data from @Berbesque (highlighted by @mnvrsngh) showing it's seasonal, and plants make up a tremendous amount of the diet. 4/
You refer to Westerners as "modern humans".. What does that make the Hadza? Also, seeing a handful of people walk for a few days is now enough to make prescriptive claims about fitness? Here's a better approach by @HermanPontzer
So you went on a tour & your guides didn't open up to you about their stressors? Must mean they're "extremely happy" all the time. Indigenous populations are often highly marginalized & precarious; stop caricaturing what you don't understand. 6/
What does "how to survive" mean? People invest in and develop skills that are pertinent to their environment. We have a different set of skills because we live in an environment that requires different skills. My job does not require me to build fires. 7/
"No snacking"? Again, just 100% wrong. Tons of evidence that foragers are frequently snacking while on hunts. Purposefully depriving yourself of calories in order to "feast" later is not a common occurrence. 8/
It's like you're trying to hit every single square in "Noble Savage Bingo". There is absolutely "trash" in nature, and being thrifty about meat because it's valuable & scarce does not mean there is "no waste in nature". 9/
Maybe you should have followed their "no snacking" rule lol. 10/
"They barely eat fiber [that afternoon]". Refer back to Tweet 4 to see how you're wrong, again. 11/
Additional reading:
(1) On foragers not working much & the "original affluent society":…
(2) On the "Ecologically Noble Savage":…
(3) On foragers as models in public health:…
(4) On the diversity & variety of hunter-gatherers' experiences:…
(5) On total daily expenditure & physical activity across human societies:…
(6) On ethical considerations when conducting & communicating about cross-cultural research:…
(7) On common myths about hunter-gatherers:…

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More from @DorsaAmir

Feb 1
When imagining the past, people tend to forget that a huge portion of the population was made up of children — playing, learning, getting into mischief, & sometimes even making art. Here are a few lovely & lively examples of children's art from the historical record 🧵 1/
First up are these (newly discovered!) tiny handprints, found in Tibet & dated to around 200,000 years ago. They seem to be intentionally made by at least two kids — probably between 7-12 years old — who found a layer of soft travertine & decided to leave their marks 🤚 2/
In the 1st century AD, a Roman child used a stylus to carve this little stick figure into a wall in Pompeii. More than half of children's graffiti in Pompeii can be found in public, suggesting kids had active lives outside of home & lots of access to public spaces. 3/
Read 8 tweets
Dec 18, 2021
Ever wonder how monkeys ended up in the Americas? Did they cross over land bridges like we did?

The answer is no. They did something even wilder: they floated across the Atlantic (!) millions of years ago. Yes, really.

Let’s talk about oceanic dispersal! (1/5)
So, how did the monkeys pull this off? Well, what happened is called a "rafting event": a piece of earth breaks off, with its flora & fauna intact, & essentially turns into a small floating island. In the Oligocene, the continents were closer, so the journey was shorter. (2/5)
As unlikely as it seems, according to genetic evidence, this type of event happened several times! Monkeys seem to have also rafted to the Caribbean (~11-15MYA), & the lemurs of Madagascar floated across the Mozambique Channel (~50-60MYA), among other rafting events. (3/5)
Read 5 tweets
Dec 17, 2021
We take for granted the fact that, whenever we want, we can see an unbelievably detailed image of ourselves in the mirror🪞 But consider that for the majority of human history, you were never able to actually, really see yourself. A thread on the humble, magical mirror. (1/9)
The first mirrors were likely pools of still water or vessels that held reflective liquid, but in the Neolithic, we start seeing evidence for physical mirrors, like this incredible obsidian mirror from Çatalhöyük in Turkey, dated to approximately 7500-6400 BC. (2/9)
In the Bronze & Iron Ages, we see the rise of mirrors made from materials like bronze, in addition to stone. These required regular polishing but still didn't afford a super clear reflection. This could explain the biblical reference to seeing "as in a mirror, darkly" (3/9)
Read 9 tweets
Sep 13, 2021
Humans have long needed a way to keep track of numbers as they count. In many cultures, finger counting is common. If you live in the United States or China, you probably count to five like this, but there are many different ways to achieve the same goal. (1/8) Image
Variations of five-finger counting exist all around the globe, and between languages, as well. The Pekai-Alue in Papua New Guinea are notable in that the folded, rather than the extended, fingers are the ones counted. (2/8) Image
What happens when you need to count past five? Well, then it gets more interesting. In the US and much of Eurasia, the counting continues onto the other hand, up to 10. If you need to go past that, you often just repeat the cycle from the beginning. (3/8) Image
Read 8 tweets
Jan 11, 2021
I’ve recently been reading through “The Butchering Art”, a terrific account of 19th century surgery & the introduction of germ theory & anesthesia to Victorian medicine. I highly recommend reading it yourself, but here are some interesting tidbits that caught my attention (1/10)
(2) First, as you can imagine, early surgery was absolutely awful & almost always a last resort. One thing I didn’t realize was that back then, the best surgeons were the *fastest* surgeons — for instance, Robert Liston could remove a leg in less than thirty seconds (!).
(3) Early surgery was limited to “peripheral” conditions, like lacerations & fractures. This is because entering the body in surgery was almost always fatal due to infection. This led to the distinction of physicians practicing “internal medicine”, a term that still persists.
Read 10 tweets
Oct 9, 2020
Culture can evolve rapidly, much faster than genes. Due to this, cultural changes can create new environments that in turn shape our genes. This is called “culture-gene coevolution” & there are some really cool examples of it in humans, especially when it comes to our diets. 1/
The classic example is “lactase persistence”. Most mammals can break down the sugar in milk — lactose — using an enzyme called lactase. But, in most species, this enzyme goes away around the time they stop nursing. Why is it that a third of adult humans can still digest milk? 2/
The answer is culture. In some "hot spots", people started herding animals. This opened up a new resource: animal milk. In at least 2 events, mutations that let people keep producing lactase were selected for. The variant in the Middle East is likely due to camel milk 🐫 3/
Read 6 tweets

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