Imagine that you’re part of a primitive society and someone in your tribe sees lightning for the first time. They witness a line of light cutting through the night sky, and several seconds later they hear a loud crash. They tell the rest of the tribe what they saw: “From the Heavens appeared a long line of jagged illumination perpendicular to the Earth, and several moments later was a startling sound.” But then let’s say that the tribe observes lightning and thunder many more times. Before long, everyone in the tribe would know the pattern: “When the jagged lines of light appear, afterwards comes a loud crash.” This marks a transition from talking about particular bolts of lightning and particular rumbles of thunder to making overall generalizations about the categories lightning and thunder.
When deciding what to eat, aesthetics should hold no less important of a place than nutrition, even for the utilitarian. The artistic presentation of food not only provides the connoisseur with an outlet for pleasure, but also provides the dryly practical individual with valuable information. The presentation paints on the outside an aesthetic which reveals to the cultured mind what exists within the internal substance.
We have programmed into us a system where consuming certain substances changes our neurological settings in one way or another. People take for granted the fact that you can take an anti-depressant to improve your mood, but there’s no reason an organism must be built that way. Why can you swallow a pill and have it change your emotions? If all your digestive system does is take plant parts and animal flesh, and break them down into building blocks for the body and usable energy, then why can you put a small object containing certain chemicals in your stomach, and have it change your mental parameters? Why do mind-altering drugs work? Clearly there’s something more involved going on in your digestive system.
Biologically close to our hunter-gatherer ancestors, modern humans nevertheless work as a team to operate technological societies of millions upon millions of people. As the requirements of civilized life differ sharply from what it was like to hunt animals and gather plants in an ancient tribe, it was mostly up to cultural evolution to take human psychology and adapt it to civilization. While humans are biologically wired to find it intolerably boring to sit alone at a desk entering data into spreadsheets all day, the spontaneous order of society has evolved a solution. With enough coffee, sugar, and ADHD medication, it’s possible to hold down such a job. Civilization-era foods, stimulants, and psychoactive drugs help people fit into modern life.
If I told you that we already know how to prevent or even cure cancer, autism, and many of the other diseases and disorders that plague civilization, you’d be forgiven for assuming that I must be deluded. Surely I know nothing of the greatness of science. I’ve been led astray by the cranks, quacks, and charlatans on the Internet peddling nonsense. With many billions of dollars allocated to cutting-edge medical research, and many of the best minds in the world working tirelessly on the problems, it’s absurd to suggest that a loosely organized group of amateurs on the Internet have come up with cures where so many professionals have fallen flat on their face. My convictions must be more akin to religious faith than rational science.