The Economist endorses Obama on the grounds that he has run his presidential campaign well, is a good speaker and has maintained an admirable message discipline. I agree – he makes a very good choice for the Chief Legislator of the United States.
This is Survivorship Bias week at The Examined Life.
Hunter-gatherers may have been so lithe and healthy because the weak were dead. The invention of agriculture and the advent of settled society merely swapped high mortality for high morbidity, allowing people some relief from chronic warfare so they could at least grind out an existence, rather than being ground out of existence altogether.
Notice a close parallel with the industrial revolution. When rural peasants swapped their hovels for the textile mills of Lancashire, did it feel like an improvement? The Dickensian view is that factories replaced a rural idyll with urban misery, poverty, pollution and illness. Factories were indeed miserable and the urban poor were overworked and underfed. But they had flocked to take the jobs in factories often to get away from the cold, muddy, starving rural hell of their birth.
(A tip: The Christmas special issue of the Economist is always worth reading. Lots of interesting stuff. )