the Culture Bomb

The Germ

In Jared Diamond’s Pulitzer prize winning book, “Guns Germs and Steel,” he describes how it came to be that Europe grew more rapidly advanced and set out to conquer the rest of the world.

Surprise surprise! It’s not because white people are smarter or better in any way. It’s simply because Europe is oriented East/West and therefore has a similar climate throughout. What does this mean? Well, it’s all about food production. If you domesticate a good hearty yielding plant and can do so all across the land mass you inhabit, then you can fill that land mass with people. If you section off a part of the population to be responsible for food production, then your society can stratify, that is, different groups of people can specialize in things like clothes-making, military, government, religion, carpentry, blacksmithing, etc.

Now, are you familiar with what happened when European evolved germs met Native American populations in the New World? The Natives were devastated. Furthermore, the Europeans did not get a backlash of American born diseases because the Natives didn’t have the same relationship with their domesticated mammal (the llama). A very similar thing occurred when Europeans landed at Cape Hope in South Africa.

South Africa is the same latitude from the equator as the nations of Europe that sent the explorers in the first place. And for the native group of South Africans, the Khoisan, these European germs literally wiped them off the map. Then an interesting twist of fate occurs as the colonials push further north. Everything was going all right until they hit the tropics (passing north of the Tropic of Capricorn). Now all of a sudden their crops won’t grow, their animals are dieing, and so are they. From catching malaria and living close to their water supply. Meanwhile, as they are dieing off, they witness Africans doing just fine herding their own cattle.

So how do societies erect this germ wall against invaders?

By living in close quarters with their domesticated livestock over generations, the livestock will spread germs and illnesses to the human population. Some die, that’s the downside, but for the most part people will live on and replicate the antibodies onto subsequent generations, thereby safeguarding that population from those particular germs.

Even before the Industrial Age, people have been cramming themselves into cities to work. Humans in such close quarters are a great way for viruses and diseases to spread. Nowadays everyone has hand sanitizer which largely just ends up killing the bacteria that would eat the virus germs, leaving such dangerous germs to evolve and become immune to our sanitized conditions.

The repercussions of living away from our food sources(domesticated animals and plants) is already wreaking havoc on our society. Allergies are in many cases a direct result of not being exposed to the particular germs and particles as a child so that the child could develop an immunity. Considering that breast feeding passes on all the mothers antibodies to the child, and so many mothers opt to use formula instead of their own breast milk, children literally devolve in level of immunity.

Ever wonder why these illnesses from China cause a ruckus? Because the Chinese largely still live close enough to their domesticated animals to evolve a virus that will devastate the U.S. population.

Every time this new germ makes it’s way to the States, we cry pandemic! Because we are getting left behind in germ adaptation. It’s a global community with ease of access now more than ever. Humans are the most adaptive high level organisms, but sheltering oneself from nature only serves to atrophy this capability.

Even if a plague wipes out a large part of the population, there are those that would live on and humankind would continue. So I guess the logical conclusion is to ask yourself if you want your familial line to live on, or just leave it to fate and superstition whether your genetics will be fit enough for natural selection.

Genetics are genetics. Understanding genetics, and realizing the potential is memetic.

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This entry was published on October 19, 2010 at 2:08 pm. It’s filed under Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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