It goes without saying that one aspect of the Paleolithic was that not only were there no central governments, but likely no “traditional” hierarchical structures amongst hunter-gatherer tribes. The first meat, fat, plant eating anarchists.
I skim or read a lot of stuff out there every day. Sadly however, so much of it is merely regurgitating the same old paleo dogmas. Moreover, they have attained dogmatic status because they’ve been repeated over and over, and they get repeated over and over because there’s some authority behind them, and who doesn’t like to speak with authority?
Fortunately, every now and then, I see something that has to be shared. In this case, Keth Norris’ post: Paleo: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly… and the Misinformed. Keith has always liked to begin his posts with a quote that prefigures what he’s writing about in some way, and this is no exception.
“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” – Aristotle
So I knew I had to read on. It reminded me of my heavy Internet debating back in the mid-90s. One guy in one of the USENET forums I frequented was David Friedman (yea, son of Milton). He was a ferociously skilled debater (yea, he’s an anarchist, too) and used to say, paraphrasing: “when you write out your argument, always have in mind the very best argument against it you can think of.” I’d add that doing so is a good way to make your argument the least wrong you can make it.
So consider that the anarchy of ideas is and ought to be a very core feature of evolving (getting less wrong all the time) paleo thought. It’s this ethic in play, underlying all of the great debates like safe starches, carbohydrate agnosticism, potatoes, ketogenic diets, and so on. Perhaps legumes will be next. This isn’t to say that slippery-slope fearing pushback isn’t understandable (“what’s next, paleo Hot Pockets?”). But, so long as people are making clear and critical distinctions there’s no compelling reason to have undue fear of so-called slippery slopes, in my view.
Here’s the paragraph that compelled me to share my thoughts with you.
I’ll be so blunt as to put it this way: I don’t think the full scope of paleo is for everyone, because I don’t believe that everyone is capable of operating with knowledge and reason as their sole platform. Shifting sands make some folks uncomfortable; some have to operate under conditions of rules and rigid order. In other words, some will never move beyond the dog paddle to the more complex strokes. Fall in the drink and they’ll be able to save themselves alright, but they’ll never be a swimmer in the true sense of the term. And that’s fine; I get that—and paleo can accommodate. I can package a version of this diet to anyone, making their lives much better in the process.
Yep, even a ketogenic one, I suppose.
…If you’ve not seen it before, about 18-minutes, my AHS12 talk: Paleo Epistemology and Sociology. The theme is Quality of Knowledge, i.e., upon what is it based? Juxtaposed, for Paleoman, it was based on what was observed in his environment, by means of his sense organs and their integration in his rational mind. But in the Neolithic, “knowledge” is often based on various tyrannies promoted by various authorities, regurgitated out as memes for general consumption.
Don’t be that guy.