Leisure, Lifestyle & Wellness
Intelligence is anti-evolutionary; good news for some of us (The Funny Side)
The reader who sent me the report, Sunita Chau, admitted that the only biological entity on the island of Nishinoshima so far was bird poop
 
A new island appeared off the coast of Japan - and scientists are watching it to see evolution at work.
 
So I was told. I was a bit dubious. Doesn't evolution take a while? The reader who sent me the report, Sunita Chau, admitted that the only biological entity on the island of Nishinoshima so far was bird poop.
 
I suppose one can imagine bird poop evolving into extremely primitive live forms such as bacteria, single-celled micro-organisms, and Fox News viewers, for example. She said she reckoned that nationalist politicians in some countries probably shared 99 percent of their DNA with bird poop. I think she was joking, but either way, no offence is intended to any bird poop which might be reading this.
 
A Wikipedia check showed that organic communities develop fast. Scientists observing Surtsey, an island which appeared suddenly in the sea near Iceland in 1963, noticed that by 1964 it had insects, by 1965 a plant, and by 1998 a slug. In evolutionary terms, a slug is a long way from being a human, but in terms of intelligence, is perhaps not that far from nationalist politicians, supermodels and the like.
 
To do my due diligence, I phoned a scientist, who castigated me for making the common assumption that human intelligence was the pinnacle of evolution. Intelligence is an anti-evolutionary trait, he said, quoting numerous studies. Stupidity improves efficiency (Journal of Management Studies), boosts productivity (University of Texas), and increases happiness (University of Edinburgh).
 
That makes sense, if you think about it. The most powerful people in human society are rock stars, builders, footballers, supermodels, stockbrokers et al, folk whose intelligence levels are too often roughly level with that of an average novelist's colonic microfloral bacteria.
 
In contrast, people who actually have big brains are writing novels or teaching math and not earning enough money to rub two coins together to keep warm, let alone marry and spread their DNA.
 
If humans are not evolution's zenith, what is? One colleague nominated sharks. They do nothing at all except eat, sleep, reproduce and occasionally star in movies. (My dream schedule.)
 
A second said it was domestic dogs: "We feed them and clean up their poop in return for nothing but love and affection." A third said cat-owners feed and clean up the poop of cats "in return for nothing but disdain and aloofness". Cats win.
 
Retreating to my inbox, I found a reader had sent a web link to a news report about a woman who accidentally shot herself when trying to take a "selfie" while holding a gun to her head. It was followed by a report about officials in India asking pet-owners to paint their dogs blue to differentiate them from wild dogs. A web-search led me to a New Scientist report that several studies showed that human intelligence was falling rather than rising.
 
All this could be good news for the long-term survival of the human race. So let's all do our bit. Avoid the natural temptation to overthink things. Create balance by drastically underthinking every decision you make.
 
Step one is to stop worrying about what's evolving on Nishinoshima and learn from cats. Feed me. Love me. In return, I promise disdain and aloofness.

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Suffering from 'Piku' syndrome? Don't sit on it

Although there are several ayurvedic medicines and home remedies that claim to ease bowel movements, constipation is a painful reality one has to live with - sometimes for years

 

If you ask about the one thing that Amitabh Bachchan-starrer and now a Rs.100-crore-club member 'Piku' has done to the Indian masses, apart from entertaining them, is bringing into the public domain a topic that is taboo in social conversations but that almost everyone experiences or has been a chronic sufferer: constipation.
 
The "Motion Se Hi Emotion" tagline has become such a talking point and has touched an empathetic chord in people that the unpretentious, low-budget film, that also has Deepika Padukone and Irrfan is stellar roles, has not only become a runaway hit but has brought out the 'bowel problem' of people out in the open.
 
Although there are several ayurvedic medicines and home remedies that claim to ease bowel movements, constipation is a painful reality one has to live with - sometimes for years.
 
According to Deepak Lahoti, senior consultant (gastroenterology) at Max Super Speciality Hospital in New Delhi, the Indian squat position is the best to beat the morning blues (which, in fact, actor Irrfan Khan suggests to Big B in 'Piku' too). "It is more effective than the western chair position to maintain a healthier bowel movement, especially if you raise your knees towards your chest," Lahoti told IANS.
 
Yogesh Batra, director and senior consultant (gastroenterology) at BLK Super Specialty Hospital in the capital, agrees.
 
"The squat position is definitely more physiological for passing stools. It has been used by Indians for ages," Batra said.
 
The reason behind this is simple.
 
The acute angle present between the rectum and the anal canal gets straightened and there is external pressure applied over the anterior abdominal wall for the smooth release of the stool.
 
One disadvantage is that it is difficult for old people with knee problems to sit for long.
 
"An option is to convert the western commode to semi-squat position by keeping a stool under the feet," Batra said.
 
In fact, a new book titled "Charming Bowels" by Giulia Enders, who is studying in Germany for her medical doctorate in microbiology, has buttressed the claim that humans should be squatting, not sitting, on a toilet bowl.
 
This is because the closure mechanism of the gut is not designed to "open the hatch completely" when we are sitting down or standing up: it is like a kinked hose.
 
Squatting is far more natural and puts less pressure on our bottoms.
 
"Nearly 1.2 billion people around the world who squat have almost no incidence of diverticulosis and fewer problems with piles. We in the west, on the other hand, we squeeze our gut tissue until it comes out of our bottoms," she writes.
 
Another tool in your armory to tackle constipation is to change your diet.
 
"Oats and high-fibre diet helps in tackling mild-to-moderate constipation. However, in case of severe constipation, you need to seek expert advice," said Manish Kak, consultant gastroenterology at Ghaziabad's Columbia Asia Hospital.
 
A fibre-rich diet is important.
 
"The reason for this is that fibre increases the bulk of the stool and thus facilitates its passage through the intestinal passage," Batra added.
 
Fibre does not get absorbed and travels easily triggering reflexes which make it easier for a person to pass motion.
 
Other than this, drinking two to three litres of water every day, maintaining an exercise regime with yoga or jogging or a walk in the morning helps. Alcohol, stress and fried foods need to be avoided.
 
"Try home remedies like Isabgol husk, black currants, mint, bael (wood apple) powder or juice. These are free of side effects of using laxatives," Batra says.
 
The key to defeat constipation is to maintain a healthy lifestyle. "Sitting for long hours and not moving - in office or at home - can result in constipation," Lahoti noted.
 
Some experts suggested that acupressure over the perineal area (the genital area between the vulva and anus in a woman and between the scrotum and anus in a man) can theoretically trigger a defecation reflex and passage of stool.
 
Doctors however do not recommend this since it is not backed by sufficient studies.
 
Finally, do not be obsessed with constipation as whatever is inside will eventually come out.
 
"If you ease yourself, you will be relieved faster. Do remember that in the western world (among predominantly meat eaters), people may not pass stool up to a week without any discomfort," Batra points out.
 
So, set aside unhurried and regular time for defecation and always respond to a defecatory urge.
 
Increase fluid intake and avoid stress for that elusive, but relieving, "Piku" moment daily.
 

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