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Ancestral Diets and Logical Fallacies
Episode 5219th June 2024 • Fork U with Dr. Terry Simpson • Terry Simpson
00:00:00 00:13:42

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Ancestral Diets and Logical Fallacies

There is an appeal to ancient history: the idea that ancient beings were either "designed"—as from a creator—or "evolved" to eat in a certain way. Both are logical fallacies, but both are meant to be the "ex-cathedra" in a debate.

You read these logical fallacies in communities that claim they understand this. Here are some comments you will get:

  • Our ancestors ate xyz (fill in the blank) and never had the modern chronic diseases
  • Our teeth have (canines/molars), so we were designed to eat only (meat/plants)
  • You won't see broccoli on the walls of caves
  • If we ate like our ancestors, we would be in great health.


Appealing arguments, but they are as flawed as they are simply incorrect.

What Do We Know About Early Humans?

Of the early human records, they are based on precious little data. Consider in the fossil record we have about our ancestors? And by the way, where do we start?

If we begin with homo sapiens, we have been around as a species somewhere between 70,000 to 250,000 years.

Often the "low-carb" community will conflate distant cousins of homo sapiens as direct ancestors. Most of them were not but were a branch on the tree of evolution that are only related to us.

Homo Erectus

Perhaps the best adapted was the homo erectus, which was around for two million years. It is doubtful that homo sapiens will make it that long, but we can hope.

Most fossil finds come from Australia and Asia - where they not only foraged but also established some organized hunting.

Fossil Records

There are about 6000 fossils of early man. That's it. Just 6,000. When we look for fossils of our particular, such as early homo sapiens, we have enough fossils that we might fill up a school bus.

How long did they live? It turns out we know.  Many died around the age of 35 years.   So why do we want to eat like they did?

At this point, someone in the audience will be bound to say - "They lived longer if you take into account infant mortality."

When we date a fossil and see when it died, we don't average the infant mortality of the time.

Recent Discoveries

Bones and teeth from seen people, and isolated teeth, were reported recently. These came from a cave in Morocco. As these teeth are from about 15,000 years ago. Hence, the diet was before the advent of agriculture.

Evidence points to plants being a major part of these hunter-gatherer's menu.  As plants can be stored by hunter-gatherers all year round to protect against seasonal prey shortages. Thus, there is a regular food supply.


The famous caveman diet- life wasn't so simple.

When people of the carnivore tribe try to convince you about their diet, they invoke the mighty hunter.

A better term was that our ancestors survived by being fishers, gatherers, and scavengers.




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