Stupid is as stupid does.
I realize that anything in the New York Times’ Sunday Styles section is like shooting fish in a barrel. But sometimes you need to test fire the guns. And on a closer read, it would appear that the New York Times ran this solely to agititate the masses, that’s how dumb an idea this is.
The writer has dug up a small clique of imbeciles who believe they should be eating like our Paleolithic ancestors – gorging on raw meat every 36 hours and eschewing anything involving acutal preparation.
Here’s why this really irks me. They’re just dumb hipsters in their 20’s, so it goes without saying that they’re dumb. And everyone’s allowed to be dumb somewhere. It’s human, and it happens. But the worship of ignorance is something else entirely.
As soon as someone puts a stupid idea on a pedestal and organizes their life around stupidity, it’s time to step in. Take the topic sentence that summarizes the caveman ‘lifestyle’:
Mr. Durant, 26, who works in online advertising, is part of a small New York subculture whose members seek good health through a selective return to the habits of their Paleolithic ancestors.
This isn’t a diet involving the basic principles of science, or with any concept of organic chemistry. This is a glib ethos, lifted from Fight Club with some fifth grade social studies theory as justification. Just like people who believe Obama isn’t a citizen or that vaccines cause autism, this is pseudo-science for suckers.
Perhaps my favorite quote of the piece comes early on:
“I didn’t want to do some faddish diet that my sister would do,” Mr. Durant said.
No, obviously not. You want a faddish diet that’s entirely your own.
I understand the need to find something that’s uniquely your own. It’s basic human need to want to be unique somehow. But these people aren’t worshipping the past, they’re worshipping their mental image of the past. Like fundamentalist Christians who pick and choose which sections of the Bible to follow with literal devotion, these ‘cavemen’ are chasing after a romanticized version of early man.
Mr. Le Corre, 38, who once made soap for a living, promotes what he calls “mouvement naturel” at exercise retreats in West Virginia and elsewhere. His workouts include scooting around the underbrush on all fours, leaping between boulders, playing catch with stones, and other activities at which he believes early man excelled. These are the “primal, essential skills that I believe everyone should have,” he said in an interview.
A guy who once made soap for a living? My bullshit sensors hit a red alert with that. This Tyler Durden wannabe sounds like a fictitious loon, and I really hope someone at Men’s Health magazine or the NYT Styles section fact-checked this nitwit. Everything attributed to Mr. Le Corre sounds like something cut out of the shooting draft of Fight Club.
The rest of the article outlines the standard ‘I’m more extreme than you’ ego competitions that is the organizing principle of any fringe group. Hardships force people together, and voluntary hardships bind them tighter. Rational thinking is the first thing to go in any cult-like mentality. Once irrationality becomes the norm, the vast imaginative powers of the human brain can find connections to complete almost any pattern. The devil was the first person to reason by analogy, and all the caveman comparisons in the world come right out of that playbook.
It also plays into the queasy subtext of Avatar – that technology is distrustful, that only the primal experience of living without it has validity. The fear of science and modernity is troubling on almost every level. As the great quote from Inherit The Wind says “fanaticism and ignorance is forever busy, and needs feeding. And soon, your Honor, with banners flying and with drums beating we’ll be marching backward, BACKWARD, through the glorious ages of that Sixteenth Century when bigots burned the man who dared bring enlightenment and intelligence to the human mind!” Freedom of thought is terrific, but the worship of ignorance is a cancer that needs to be fought wherever it tries to take root.
This caveman diet is a great soundbite. It’s a blurb for the evening news, and a book cover in search of 150 pages of convincing noise to help it stand upright on the shelves. It’s also like Ed Hardy t-shirts – a great way to instantly identify nimrods for easy mockery.