Our species evolved to perpetuate itself in a very different environment from the one we find ourselves in now. We are clearly far better off as individuals: lives are a good deal less nasty, brutish, and short than was the case for our distant ancestors. Technological progress has conquered a sizable slice of the death and disease of childhood and early adult life, to a degree varying by the wealth of any given region of the world. The worst half of infectious disease is controlled, but chronic age-related diseases remain poorly managed, and the incidence of these diseases rises inexorably as people live longer due to continued incremental improvements in medicine – but also as people become sedentary and overweight, the evolved human response to technologies of transport and abundant calories.
We might ask to what degree this situation can be considered a mismatch between environment and evolved adaptation. Is widespread age-related disease a problem that emerges with technology and its consequences because that technology has arrived over a short time frame, and thus previously evolved characteristics and biochemical mechanisms are square pegs faced with a suddenly round hole? We might think of our need for exercise
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