Wrangham’s hypothesis is more robust and subtle than this essay can do justice to, but I will survey some of the findings, implications, and controversy. Raw food has various nutritional properties that are superior to cooked food, such as vitamins, but because cooked food provides more digestible calories for humans than raw food, it represented an evolutionary advantage. Meat, starches, and seeds are far more digestible when cooked, and are much easier to chew. Today, chimps in will not eat raw seeds of trees, but when a fire passes through the savanna, they search the ground below the trees and eat their cooked seeds.
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Mesoamerica’s Domestication Revolution was one of the two certainly pristine ones known, and the one around today’s Peru may have been another. The other two of the human journey arose there, and they followed the same general patterns as Sumer and China in that they began peacefully with no classes and, as they grew into states, men came to dominate, elites appeared with monumental architecture devoted to them, potentates had harems and divine sanction, and there were other features that seemingly evidenced universal human traits and/or reactions to similar conditions. The development of religion in what became Mesoamerica’s pristine civilization, the , has been documented by archeologists who traced a seven-thousand-year progression from hunter-gatherers to egalitarian early agriculturists to an elite-dominated society to a pristine state. It was similar to how Mesopotamian civilization developed, including the (today’s rock stars have been likened to the new shamans, as their concerts revive pre-civilized gatherings and rituals). Controversial aspects of Mesoamerican societies have included human sacrifice and cannibalism. They definitely happened, and human sacrifice was practiced on a pretty grand scale at times. The question of Western Hemispheric cannibalism has touched on the lack of domestic animals, so it may have had nutritional aspects, or what is called culinary cannibalism. But most seeming cannibalism is of the cultural cannibalism variety, in which eating flesh has symbolic meaning, whether it is eating somebody to keep their spirit in the family/tribe or to gain spiritual dominance over a fallen foe. Cannibalism was a common charge made against peoples that Europe conquered, but was usually a sensational allegation to remove their humanity and justify their bloody treatment by Europe. Columbus made his from whole cloth.
Intergroup Contact Theory: Past, Present, and Future
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Scientific practice is ideally a process of theory and experimentation that can lead to new theories. There are three general aspects of today's scientific process, and it , which used to formulate his theory of evolution. First, facts are adduced. Facts are phenomena that everybody can agree on, ideally produced under controlled experimental conditions that can be reproduced by other experimenters. Hypotheses are then proposed to account for the facts by using inductive (also called ) logic. The hypotheses are usually concerned with how the universe works, whether it is star formation or evolution. If a hypothesis survives the fact-gathering process – often by predicting facts that later experiments verify – then the hypothesis may graduate to the status of a theory. Scientific theories ideally can be , which means that they can be proven erroneous. The principle of hypothesis and falsification is primarily what distinguishes science from other modes of inquiry.