I came across a discussion post in the NY Times Online Opinion Pages called “Do We Want to be Supersize Humans?” The discussion, about the relationship of our bodies to economic and health factors, is mainly superficial and not exactly informative, but I guess what can you expect from a newspaper blog. However, the book the debate is responding to looks like an interesting read: The Changing Body: Health, Nutrition, and Human Development in the Western World since 1700 by Roderick Floud, Robert W. Fogel (Nobel Prize recipient for economics), Bernard Harris, and Sok Chul Hong. The book is forthcoming from Cambridge University Press.

I have read articles that talk about human stature as an indicator of economic status – during/after times of poverty, the human tends to shrink, and I am curious about this forthcoming book’s stance on this issue. Considering the book is limiting itself to the Western World, much of the world is excluded. I am wary that the claims in the book that are specific to that part of the world will be extended to the rest of the world’s population. However, it is also interesting to think about China and India’s relationship to this study with their growing economies and prosperity.

As one of the NY Times discussion pages “We Won’t Become Giants” addresses, are we growing infinitely bigger?

Evolution may have pushed humans toward greater risk for type 1 diabetes

Evolution may have pushed humans toward greater risk for type 1 diabetes.

This article makes the case that humans may actually be evolving towards some autoimmune diseases including type 1 diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Supposedly there is a connection between RA and tuberculosis. It’s interesting to think that some of these autoimmune diseases that cause so much pain and are potentially fatal, may in fact be (somewhat) necessary violence. Is the body reconfiguring itself to prevent firm distinctions between self and other? What can this mean for the rhetoric of the autoimmune condition? Is the ability to recognize self not always needed?