Review: The Story of the Human Body


A number of years ago, with the original surge in interest in things like barefoot running and paleo diets a concept that occasionally got mentioned was that of “evolutionary medicine”. I had no idea what that was, but like any good academic I did what a good academic should do and went to that great repository of all knowledge and wisdom … Wikipedia ☺ and found this on it. I recall thinking at the time that it made a lot of sense and could explain a lot. The whole basis of evolutionary medicine is the concept of the mismatch between our genetic evolution and the current environment that we live in and this underpinning most of the disease processes that humanity is currently experiencing. It was an interesting hypothesis and I am far from being an expert in it, but it did make a lot of sense to me.

Recently Daniel Lieberman’s book on this topic was published: The Story of the Human Body: Evolution, Health and Disease, so I got myself a copy. All I can say really is that it was a damn good read and I highly recommend it. Lieberman distills a complex topic down to the understandable. While the book is not about “running” and is about health in general, the book does put into a wider context some of the arguments in running communities for things like the paelo diet and barefoot running which is why I wanted to read it.

On the downside, it was certainly too verbose and there is a lot of repetition. I am sure the story could have been easily as well told in less words. Obviously I paid of lot of attention to the section on barefoot running and it did suffer from a good dose of cherry picking – that is the picking of references to support statements being made when there are more references that do not support and refute the statement being made; but in the context of the rest of the book, this is a minuscule issue.

What this book is not, is evidence for things like the paleo diet and barefoot running (and everything else covered in the book). To take it as that is to use the naturalistic fallacy. There are still plenty of natural things that are bad for us.

Obviously the creationists and ID’s won’t like the book and the concept….

Buy the book:

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