This is gonna be a fun one. Gonna approach in a pretty similar manner to Matthew. Full disclosure: I hold a BA in Physical Anthropology from university that houses some of the "rock-stars" of evolutionary psychology (a branch of physical anthropology).
Just the question as it stands,
really. Is anyone out there familiar
enough with this academic community to
know if the diet has taken on? And
when I say anthropologists I mean the
scientific kind (physical
anthropology, etc.), not the ones who
use Foucault to analyze video game
culture in Japan or whatever (cultural
My guess is that eating Paleo within the physical anthropology community is about the same as the general population.
And in fact, a popular anthro blogger, John Hawks, has taken issue with the Paleo diet.
“Somehow people never seem to mention
that the great "caveman" diet that
kept us so healthy in the Pleistocene
HAD EVERYONE DYING BEFORE 50! Instead
of French Women Don't Get Fat, we
could just as easily be buying Erectus
Women Didn't Get Fat, which would
almost certainly omit the likelihood
that THEY LIVED WITH CONSTANT HUNGER
AND FREQUENT STARVATION.”
Really? This is his argument?
Let me explain why it doesn't bother me the least bit that anthro profs have not jumped on the Paleo Diet. Because, most, but obv not all, are classic "experts" that know little about little.
Allow me to illustrate: In one of my anthro classes when a prof explained how he modeled hunter-gatherer hunting – he assumed that their prey would be randomly/evenly distributed across some landscape – and HG behavior would be predicated upon that and he then drew a number of conclusions about that. Namely, this mean X, Y and Z.
I remember cringing in class as it was painfully obvious he had never been hunting or stalking in his life as any hunter knows that animals like certain habitats more than others and there is even at times a temporal component to where they can be found. Not to mention seasonality, time of day, wind and water conditions etc etc Bottom line: thinking that prey is equally/randomly distributed across some landscape is madness and makes for a hideously bad underlying assumption about the behavior of HGs.
To be clear, the stereotypical redneck who hunts possums and squirrels with a .22 would know that, but an anthro prof at a pretty decent university who studies hunter-gatherers didn’t.....
That is why I don't care much for the opinion of the typical anthropologist.
If they don't we can ask why not.
Which takes us into territory we have
explored before, even if not
conclusively: skepticism about the
rate of genetic change with respect to
There should be cogent skepticism about this. But don't fret - it isn't coming from the academic anthro community.
(as in this paleohacks thread, or
this post, or at the end of the blog
entry from this guy, who dares to be
witty about our very own Melissa and
John); or perhaps lack of consensus
about the facts of paleolithic food
consumption within the anthropological
community (see this paleohacks thread
If there were "consensus" - we'd be in big trouble.
anthropologists of the scientific
variety are just lazy, like doctors
who smoke cigarettes.
But the main question is just an
empirical one. Anyone know if
anthropologists have been eating
paleo? Shouldn't we expect these
people above all to be following the
diet, and if they're not isn't that
Why would we? Anthropologists aren't hyper-rational robots - they are people just like you and me. I know plenty of intelligent people that see the benefits of eating Paleo but continue to eat wheat because they couldn't possibly imagine a life without pizza and pasta.
The reason anyone decides to eat Paleo is because a diversity of evidence exists to support the idea. Some is anecdote, some is theoretical, some is clinical, some is based on "studies". Much is completely unknown and unknowable.
One has to synthesize all this evidence (and lack of) and figure out for themselves if Paleo makes sense.
But I'll end on a high note. The folks behind the Ancestral Health Society are trying to change the way Paleo is being percieved in the academic world. More info here (and plenty of academics): http://ancestryfoundation.org/Presenters.html