Wednesday, July 16, 2008

GNW XIV: Beer Central to Evolution

EXTRA! EXTRA! "Suffice it to say that the good news is really good: Beer is a health food."

A few weeks ago we had a post about how being sarcastic is a sign that I'm better than you. (Or to generalize, that the sarcastic person is more evolved than the person without the sarcastic personality.)

Today we bring you this news: Beer is essential for civilization. "The development of civilization depended on urbanization, which depended on beer." Says George F. Will of the washington post.

Basically it goes like this. Alcohol has some anti-biotic properties to it. When civilization started to urbanize a long time ago (that is, if you believe in evolution and not that God threw us on this planet the way we are today) water quickly grew polluted and spread disease. So people turned to the hooch. They drank, a lot. "Dying of cirrhosis of the liver in your forties was better than dying of dysentery in your twenties."
To avoid dangerous water, people had to drink large quantities of, say, beer. But to digest that beer, individuals needed a genetic advantage that not everyone had... This ability is controlled by certain genes on chromosome four in human DNA, genes not evenly distributed to everyone. Those who lacked this trait could not, as the saying goes, "hold their liquor." So, many died early and childless, either of alcohol's toxicity or from waterborne diseases. (wapo)

The story ends with a quote I have never heard before, and one I will never forget. Ben Franklin, everyone's favorite idiot with a key, said at one point, "Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy."
Amen, Ben, Amen. Happy Wednesday.

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