Let's expose the obvious miracles
Excerpted from *PRONOIA IS THE ANTIDOTE FOR PARANOIA*: LET'S EXPOSE THE OBVIOUS MIRACLES, Part 4
Noble Prize-winning economic historian Robert Fogel is a meticulous
scholar not given to hyperbole. But his work provides ample evidence that
in some ways, we're the luckiest humans of all.
His landmark book is *The Escape from Hunger and Premature Death,
1700–2100: Europe, America and the Third World.* Its clout is rooted in
his specialty, which is the painstaking quantitative analysis of the way
people have lived. Some of his data is drawn, for example, from the
medical records of soldiers who fought in the Civil War. Other information
originates in historical documents gathered from Norway, France, Britain,
the Netherlands, India, and Ghana.
According to Fogel, human biology has changed dramatically in the past
three centuries, and especially in the last 100 years. People in the
developed world live twice as long as they used to. They weigh more and
grow taller. They're far hardier and healthier and smarter. When sickness
comes, they're better at defeating it than their ancestors were, and
they're not as likely to contract diseases in the first place.
"We're just not falling apart like we used to," Fogel says. "Even our
internal organs are stronger and better formed." What has occurred is
"not only unique to humankind, but unique among the 7,000 or so
generations of human beings who have inhabited the earth."
(Sources: "The Human Equation," Lydialyle Gibson, tinyurl.com/2x3u7o,
and "So Big and Healthy Grandpa Wouldn't Even Know You," Gina Kolata,
The New York Times, tinyurl.com/rban6.)
We're talking about a revolution. In the mid-19th century, Americans of
all ages were much sicker than they are now. Child mortality was almost
25 percent, and of those kids lucky enough to survive into adolescence,
15 percent more expired before age 15. Chronic malnutrition was a
horrendous curse, compromising immune systems from birth.
During the Civil War, one-sixth of the teenagers who applied to serve in
the Union army were rejected because of chronic ailments like malaria,
tuberculosis, arthritis, cardiovascular problems, and hernias. As for the
older folks, the average ex_soldier in his 60s had at least six health
problems, four more than a sexagenarian is likely to have today.
What happened between then and now? First, we harnessed electricity,
made it universally available, and used it in a myriad ways to improve our
lot. All of the other boons I'm about to name -- improvements in our diet,
medicine, sanitation, and workload -- were organized around this fantastic,
unprophesied new resource . . . .
TO READ THE REST OF THIS ESSAY, go here:
READ PART 1 OF THE SERIES "Let's Expose the Obvious Miracles":
PART 2: http://bit.ly/ObviousMiracle2
PART 3: http://bit.ly/ObviousMiracle3
The above is written by Rob Brezney. I discovered his writing when I lived in San Francisco.
He has published a revised and expanded version of his book, *Pronoia Is
the Antidote for Paranoia* and it is available for sale on Amazon.
If you can't afford to buy the book, there are ways for you to read a lot
of it for free because he has put much of it online. Here are the links:
Over 45 pieces from the book:
Peruse 20% of the book on Google Books: