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The Oregon Commentator, Saving Civilization One Pitcher at a Time

George Will explains how drinking beer helped civilization survive waterborne diseases like dysentery:

“The search for unpolluted drinking water is as old as civilization itself. As soon as there were mass human settlements, waterborne diseases like dysentery became a crucial population bottleneck. For much of human history, the solution to this chronic public-health issue was not purifying the water supply. The solution was to drink alcohol.”

Often the most pure fluid available was alcohol — in beer and, later, wine — which has antibacterial properties. Sure, alcohol has its hazards, but as Johnson breezily observes, “Dying of cirrhosis of the liver in your forties was better than dying of dysentery in your twenties.” Besides, alcohol, although it is a poison, and an addictive one, became, especially in beer, a driver of a species-strengthening selection process.

I knew there was a good reason this monkey was on my  back all the time.

  1. Kai Davis says:

    While I was reading that article I couldn’t help thinking about beer pong and its potential status as ‘instrument of culling the human species’.

    I think the interesting part is the notion that (a) other elements in our lives are serving a similar ‘elimination of the weak’ and (b) from an economic perspective, the civilizations that are willing to take the larger risks are often ‘paid off’ in long run stronger genes.

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