Evolving at Harvard University. The 2013 scientific book,

Evolving Between
Health & Disease

Introduction

Paleoanthropologists, Daniel E. Lieberman, is
Professor of Biological Sciences at Harvard University. The 2013 scientific
book, The Story of the Human Body:
Evolution, Health, and Disease explores the physical changes and the human
body has undergone to be in its current condition. From Professor Lieberman’s
book, the human body will be analyzed on anatomical and cognitive developmental
changes via evolution to combat and live with disease.  Professor Lieberman’s book has received a lot
of attention and positive feedback. He has performed public speaking
engagements for Microsoft and also has a TED talk presentation where he
discusses the concepts he has learned via his research. Much of in the field
research takes place on the continent of Africa, but his real-world comparisons
are to Western civilization being that he himself is an American.

The human body has self-correcting abilities that
equip the species to battle against harmful toxins and bacteria. Nonetheless,
germs and bacteria evolve just like human beings do because they too are living
and can be detrimental and penetrate these safeguards. The goal of any living
thing is to survive. Reproduction plays the largest role in this survival
because an organism with a finite lifespan must reproduce to ensure its own
survival via its offspring for the vitality of the species. From the same point
of reference, bacteria or more specifically a parasite is not that different.
If a vaccine is introduced to eliminate a virus, the virus will duplicate and
even genetically evolve so that it is not completely eradicated by the vaccine.
This a survival mechanism and human beings practice and possess the same
instinct, just by a different name and means of operation.

Science in Action
Instance 1

Lieberman’s study is a direct link to science in
action, ironically, because he fixated on health and evolution. Professor
Lieberman focuses on the actions of current human beings versus the ancestors that
preceded homo sapiens. For health and evolution to occur progressively, humans
must be active and in motion. The common features of the human body that are
taken for granted affect how our offspring will evolve. Modern humans today
have such large heads because of the food people eat and how they eat them. According
to Lieberman, chewing solid food is crucial to the developmental of the
jawline, because the bigger and stronger the jawline, the more room for all the
necessary teeth to grow like the third molar, commonly referred to as the
wisdom tooth. It would be wise eat seems to have children at a young age eating
foods that they can chew rather than a mother masticating it for her child
because of a lack of teeth. (Lieberman, 2013). 
This information that has just be provided can be applied to other
fields such as dentistry, which should be a bi annual occurrence of people’s
year and visiting their dentist.

When examining the physicality of human beings like
being bipedal, meaning walking upright on two legs and the largeness of the
human head, the changes in evolution cannot be missed. In proportion to the
size of the human body, the human is about 5 sizes too large as stated by
Professor Lieberman. This was necessary for the growth of the brain and
consequently the growth of thought and mental capacity. The sophisticated
humans that speak languages and invent ever-changing technology are still
subject to some Biological laws. As learned throughout the course, adaptation
to environment is a benefactor of evolution. Humans are constantly their own
environment with technology and innovation, thus forcing the species to
continue to evolve even more rapidly.

Science in Action Instance 2

Technology and the human body are a collective of
innovations. Simple things such as clothing and footwear are technology for the
human body. The scientific design of an insulated fleece coat assists the body
with staying warm in the winter. Shoes are another specialized technology for
feet. Naturally, the majority if human beings are not born with flat feet.  However, the normal action of wearing shoes
from infancy, even when babies can’t walk, all the way through adolescence,
adulthood, and old age can be detrimental to the foot’s development of an arch.
Many people in America and other first world countries have flat feet and
require specialized footwear that has arch support and they must regularly
visit a podiatrist. This technology is definitely helpful and necessary, but it
is tertiary prevention, when people should be focused on primary prevention. Professor
Lieberman is an advocate for bare foot running. 
Not shoes shaped and designed to emulate a bare foot, but literally bare
feet. Currently with the injuries people develop from running, it creates the
stigma that human beings are not made to run or simply are not good at it. However,
the shoes worn, and the lack of proper running techniques is what causes these
otherwise made up injuries. When running, a runner is supposed to run on the
balls of their feet, which is the mid-sole area on the bottom of the foot atop
the start of an arch in a foot. There are many appropriate running shoes that
when combined with proper running on the balls of the feet, without the heel of
the foot hitting the ground, will result in a pleasant running experience.

It is the normal day to day activities that people
complete out of second nature that disrupt first nature, which is to get up and
move around the ways hunters and gatherers have done in order to evolve to this
current state. As learned in Biology 1030, some properties of life are growth
and development. Response to the environment and evolutionary adaptation are
some properties that caused dietary changes that in turn affect the health of
human beings. The trait that sets human beings apart from other mammals is the
ability to perspire in extreme heat and thus cool down the body while physical
activity does not have to cease (Lieberman, 2013.) This and another biological
construct of metabolism, the breaking down of energy allow everything miniscule
action to be completed without a hitch. Even when people are sitting down
listening to a public speaker, to keep the brain functioning, 20% of metabolism
is constantly being used (Lieberman, 2013.) The rate remains the same even if
that person were asleep during the presentation.

Science in Action Instance 3

Culturally, in America people are afforded the
opportunity to do things the easy way. For example, instead of people having to
walk or even ride a bike, they can travel by car, bus, and plane. Everyone
driving an individual car is definitely cultural because in some European and
Asian countries, the primary transportation is a bicycle. These minor things
are why over time, so many people are handicapped by disease and illness. According
to Lieberman, exercising and leading a healthy life is not a “magic bullet” for
not succumbing to disease (Lieberman, 2013). 
However, in the absence of these activities, the risks for contracting
these diseases greatly increases (Lieberman, 2013). The term Professor
Lieberman uses are mismatch diseases. A mismatch disease is a “disease that is
more common or severe because the body is inadequately adapted to novel
environmental conditions.”

In a sense, these luxuries weaken the body, the body
tries to conserve space. At all costs, even though fat cells definitely will
accumulate. That is because of evolving from an almost exclusive fruit-based
diet (Lieberman, 2013). For example, when it comes to muscle mass, 40% will go
away if it is not used so muscular people appear to shrink later in life
(Lieberman, 2013).  So, when people
choose to live their lives in opposition of how human tissue and muscle are
designed to operate, deterioration will occur. People will argue that humans
are not inclined to have high endurance to run for extended periods of times
because they simply do not do it regularly and therefore cannot fathom the
possibility. This is another example of how not using something will cause it
to fade away. Every time people take an elevator rather than walk the steps,
from an evolutionary and health perspective, they are placing themselves at a
disadvantage.

Conclusion

Ethically, the only responsibility that befalls on Professor
Daniel Lieberman would be to educate human beings. Lieberman is infatuated with
the human body and how the species has survived through the centuries. Disease
would be the most significant ethical factor because the knowledge that he
acquires from his research could be the. Lieberman is a college professor and
is responsible for educating the future doctors and surgeons that will benefit
themselves and the people they serve in their professions, therefore it is a
duty to share his findings with other professionals and the public.
Historically, the research that Lieberman had to reference to form and support his
hypotheses had many unethical practices such as the studying of eye growth and
stitching animals’ eyes shut to learn about the eyeball in centuries past.

Finally, Professor’s Lieberman’s expert opinion on the
current state of diseases spreading rapidly amongst the population ranging from
cancer, coronary heart disease, and type 2 diabetes is that they all are
avoidable. The reason humans are not avoiding them is because of the term he
uses, “dysevolution.” Meaning humans are only focused post diagnose prevention
as opposed to taking preemptive measures. As biology is concerned, human
reproduction via offspring is susceptible to how long the offspring can live to
ensure they have offspring and the cycle continues (Lieberman, 2013). The
modern human has accomplished that, at the same time, humans have managed to
extend the length of time people are sick. Instead of someone falling ill for a
couple of weeks and then dying, now people can live with cancer and go through
so much pain and agony on the way to their death bed (Lieberman, 2013). On the
other hand, when a healthy person lives into old age, should they fall ill,
they will die rather quickly and painlessly in comparison. The evolution of the
mind and the ability to acquire so much knowledge has not taught human beings
much in the basic instinct of survival. Instead people with such great
education trying to figure out how to eliminate the disease, the better task
would be how to prevent people from getting the disease. That is why
immunizations are advocating so heavily in the medical world and healthcare
field.  No one has to fight something
that isn’t there.

 

 

 

References

Lieberman, D. (2013). The Story of the Human Body:
Evolution, Health, and Disease. Pantheon
Books: New York. Print.