The Older Brother Goes Long…

Well, Fat Heads, Tom had a long trip back from the Low Carb Cruise and I’m sure is preparing a great report, so that means I get to stay in the chair for another day. Wheee!

Okay, by going long I’m not referring to this guest-blogging stint. And I don’t mean like a long run. I mean thinking about a long, long time. Like evolutionary time and how it works into some of my recent (and not so recent) reading material and my model of reality.

Studying different ideas on how we got here and what it means and how everything relates seems to occupy quit a bit of my daydreaming time these days. Things like nutrition and economics and how we developed as runners are all part of the same model. They fit together. They explain things in an internally consistent manner.

So I thought I’d share a few more books that have added to this model. The first I read a few years ago and it dealt directly with some evolutionary ideas. The other two don’t explore evolutionary models directly, but with some of the modern fallout of not considering these realities.

Here’s the first one:

News flash — it’s highly likely, in spite of it being politically perilous to say so, that men and women are different, and in ways that are and will remain significant.

Sorry to just spring that on you.

But instead of just anecdotally compiling differences, Barbara and Allan Pease traveled the world talking to researchers studying the brain and evolutionary biology to illuminate, sometimes hilariously, just how and why we got that way.

Again, in deference to the politically correct times we live in, several of their sources insisted on some level of anonymity to avoid the wrath of the elite and jeopardy to their funding.

For example, men and women have different visual processing. Men tend to see out distances and be more “tunnel-visioned” — required for hunting on the savannah; whereas women tend to have better peripheral vision, which is important to detecting threats to her offspring. They also tend to read expressions and body language better (i.e., “intuition”) for the same reason. On the humorous side, they give an example of a couple leaving a party where the woman is asking “oh my God, did you see the looks those two women were giving each other!?!” with the natural male response of “huh?”

Auditory processing is different, also, with men having more ability than women to detect the direction a sound is coming from, while women are more attenuated to voices and inflections.

They spend some time talking about sexuality and how it can be affected by the levels of testosterone and estrogen the fetus is subjected to in the womb. This seemed related to the whole epigenetics field that is getting more attention, where it’s not just a matter of what chromosome pairs you have, but also how other factors affect expression of those genes. So sexuality, affected by both in utero and environmental factors, becomes not just an either/or proposition, but more of a “spectrum,” as, for instance, Autism is now understood. Or in other words, maybe Monsanto and Big Soy created Caitlyn Jenner!

It was one of those books that you don’t necessarily think they’ve proved the point on everything they talk about, but they all made you think. Agree or not, the writing is very entertaining and at times outright hilarious.

I hadn’t thought directly about the book for a long time, but when I read the next two books — really more something of a matched set — they seemed to tie back to this idea of fundamental differences that we ignore at our own peril:

These are both by the same author – Dr. Leonard Sax. He actually wrote the Boys Adrift book first, then followed up with the “Girls on the Edge.” Sax doesn’t go way back into the evolutionary model of differences between boys and girls, but makes a strong case that they do indeed exist and the fact that progressive society insists on denying their existence are harming children of both sexes.

He talks about how the kindergarten experience that Tom and I had, and perhaps many of you, no longer exists. For us, that meant at age 5 we were spending half a day finger painting, gluing things together, having stories read, maybe working on some letter recognition, counting, and playing outside on the playground.

Today’s kindergarten is the equivalent of our old first or even second grade — all day long, heavily focused on reading and academics, without nearly the amount of physical activity, so another priority is “sitting still.”

The problem is, girls’ brains at age five are generally ready to begin reading. The reading capacity of a five year old boy’s brain is about the equivalent of a three year old girl’s. You couldn’t design a better model to frustrate young boys, convince them that they’re dumb, and to begin hating school. Oh, and not being able to sit still is now a medically treated condition. i.e., “ADHD.”

[One interesting piece of research Sax cites in one of the books was on the psychology school classic where you give a bunch of kids toys and the girls end up playing with mostly dolls and some trucks, where the boys play almost exclusively with the trucks. Then you debate on whether it’s some innate preference or environmental/social conditioning. You know which answer you’re supposed to get, right?

Researchers did the same experiment with monkeys. Guess what — the female monkeys played mostly with the dolls and some of the trucks, and the male monkeys played almost exclusively with the trucks. The theory is that it goes to the different visual processing between males and females in primates.]

Sax has other areas where each sex is being led astray. For boys, in addition to the feminization of school, they are also constantly exposed via the popularity and ubiquity of video games to levels of depraved behavior (i.e., rape and murder of innocents are rewarded in the games) unheard of even in hard-core porn in my generation, and medication for ADHD as already mentioned.

For girls, they are now sexualized way before they have reached emotional maturity, subjected to a 24/7 cyberbubble that stunts the growth of a real identity, and obsessions — whether being thin, the “brain,” the athlete, etc.

As a common issue for both boys and girls, Sax hits a resounding bulls-eye with “Environmental Toxins.” Unfortunately, he hits the bulls-eye on the wrong target.

Or at least, hits a single target to the exclusion of much bigger, more sound targets. I think most Fat Heads will be naturally open to the idea that the things we’re putting into, on, and around our bodies is having continuing bad effects on our collective health. Not just in terms of the sundry diseases of civilization, but also in the realm of epigenetics. There’s soy and its estrogen-mimicking havoc, gluten, the ungodly amounts of sugar in the SAD, etc. Sax points out that girls are entering puberty months and even years earlier than just a couple of decades ago. Men’s sperm counts are lower, boys’ bone are more brittle, and research indicates that exposure to environmental estrogens makes females less female and males less male (again, see Ms. Jenner).

Sax seems to have a near singular focus as to the source of all these evils as — plastic bottles. As in BPA. He has the studies and information to support his point, but I couldn’t help but think, “really? How about picking up a copy of Wheat Belly or something?” Is America’s problem, and our children’s health really more endangered by a plastic bottle of soda than by the rest of the crap on the school lunch program menu? So I’m with him on the environmental toxin idea — that we are literally playing roulette with our ancient genetic code — but think he’s missing a large part of the picture.

Other than that one issue, I thought both books were good reads, along with some very good suggestions for interested parents and grandparents who want to raise kids into healthy, productive adults. That makes their value higher than adding a few more interesting ideas to inform my model of the universe. I already bought a copy of “Girls on the Edge” for our daughter as the granddaughters are 5 and 7.

Hmmm. Looks like I could have also meant the length of this post when I said going long.

Ah well, I really enjoyed getting to man The Big Chair again for awhile. Hope I gave you couple of things to think about or add to your summer reading list. If nothing else, you got another great recipe from The Oldest Son out of the deal!

Cheers,

The Older Brother

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25 thoughts on “The Older Brother Goes Long…

  1. Ulfric Douglas

    Plastic bottles does seem to be very important, but unfortunately the idiots producing good stuff still stick it into plastic bottles, so whatcha gonna do?
    I buy my unpasturised Jersey-cow full-fat milk in plastic bottles.
    In Russia you can take yer own churn to the milk …

    Reply
    1. The Older Brother

      Interesting. In Illinois, we’ve got to take our own bottles to get raw milk, too. Good to know where the Health Department gets its policy ideas!

      Cheers

      Reply
  2. Kathy in Texas

    Thanks for being the “place holder” for Tom. His is the only blog I visit every day, having drifted away from some of the others out of boredom. His blog is somewhat like a variety show – in a good way.

    And what about your own blog? I like your writing and surely you haven’t run out of material.

    Reply
  3. Ulfric Douglas

    Plastic bottles does seem to be very important, but unfortunately the idiots producing good stuff still stick it into plastic bottles, so whatcha gonna do?
    I buy my unpasturised Jersey-cow full-fat milk in plastic bottles.
    In Russia you can take yer own churn to the milk …

    Reply
    1. The Older Brother Post author

      Interesting. In Illinois, we’ve got to take our own bottles to get raw milk, too. Good to know where the Health Department gets its policy ideas!

      Cheers

      Reply
    1. The Older Brother Post author

      Exactly. I give Sax credit for getting that there are big things happening to our genome, but to lay them almost entirely on BPA (he does mention sugar/HFCS) seemed very odd. My guess is that he was exposed to the BPA argument, it fit with the rest of his ideas, and he’s never really been exposed to the paleo/ancestral/LCHF culture.

      Cheers

      Reply
  4. Kathy in Texas

    Thanks for being the “place holder” for Tom. His is the only blog I visit every day, having drifted away from some of the others out of boredom. His blog is somewhat like a variety show – in a good way.

    And what about your own blog? I like your writing and surely you haven’t run out of material.

    Reply
    1. The Older Brother Post author

      Thank you!

      No, there’s certainly no shortage of material. Quite the opposite. Each day’s news presents a fresh “target rich environment” for observers of ourccontinuing decline. I tend to get overloaded with the possibilities, for one thing. I also never set myself a twice a week deadline like Tom, and then I turn around and it’s been over a year.

      Plus, almost everything I posted to my blog were “letters to the editor” submissions to my local paper, which, although not major market, was at least the paper of our state capitol. At one point, after many local management changes and moving the printing to Peoria, they changed their policy to a maximum of 350 words, which crimped my style somewhat, but I adjusted and would send an abridged version to the paper and leave more of the original on the blog. In fact, I thought the word limit generally forced me to write better for both venues. I also enjoyed reading and replying to comments on my published letters in their on-line version.

      Then, they changed their limit to 250 words and started requiring either a Facebook on LinkedIn account to access the comments. At that point I thought, well hell, why don’t you just have people “tweet” their damned opinions?! Plus, I may eventually have to break my vow to make it to the grave without creating a Facebook account, but I’m not doing it just so I can comment in a beat up rag that lists any sports score for a game that finishes after 9pm as “late.” I mean even the World Freaking Series! Apparently, the press operators in Peoria have a pretty early bedtime. And I don’t even like sports — it’s just kind of the best example of their “phone it in” level of commitment to journalism.

      So that just set me adrift for quite some time. I give it an occasional thought, and have probably ten posts I could write right now — they’re just rattling around in my head until I get irritated enough at something to let it start spilling out again without worrying about the local coverage.

      It’s funny, because just last week I introduced myself to someone and they asked “are you the Gerald Naughton that was in the letters to the editor?”

      Maybe once I get this Abe’s Amble thing into a habit, I’ll see if I can remember where I wrote down the password for my blog and fire up the old pen again.

      Thanks for the kind words.

      Cheers!

      Reply
  5. Linda

    Well Older Brother,

    I’ve enjoyed seeing you once again, too! I am also one who read’s Tom’s blog every day. Now, if you find that password… I’ll put you on my daily reading list, too!

    I especially enjoyed this last post of yours and intend to add those books to my reading list, which is getting long!

    Reply
  6. Linda

    Well Older Brother,

    I’ve enjoyed seeing you once again, too! I am also one who read’s Tom’s blog every day. Now, if you find that password… I’ll put you on my daily reading list, too!

    I especially enjoyed this last post of yours and intend to add those books to my reading list, which is getting long!

    Reply
    1. The Older Brother Post author

      Thanks. My reading list seems to outpace my ability to keep up, too.

      Sax’s books have a lot more detail in them than I could really cover when I was trying to focus on just the innate differences angle of his message. He’s been instrumental in a number of areas, and his books include case histories of patients he’s worked with (his primary vocation is a psychologist and family physician).

      Like much in the LCHF movement, when you compare what we now know with what the schools are doing, it’s just exactly wrong. I think anyone who has kids from 3 to 23 should read his books.

      Cheers

      Reply
  7. John C

    Hi OThe Older Brother,
    This was a refreashing article. Have you read any books or listern to by any of these people John Tylor Gatto, Warren Farrell or Christina Hoff Sommers?

    I think you would like John Tylor Gatto on the education problems in American and I think you would like what he saids about the lack of excise that students get in modern schools, the type of school lunches and education with the links of obesity in adults.

    When I watch Fat Head and Tom talked about people talking dieting adice from words of experts. Got to thinking it must have a lot to do with the way people are taught. A lot of people will put their lives, money, time and trust experts (Doctors, Politicians, Scientist and others) to know more than themselves and people who are not experts. A of them will not do any further reserch in these subjects which I think is a shame. If you ever study any history you may pick up two things that replete one that experts are not always right (example think of doctors in the 13th Century on medical) and that knowledge gets forgotten and needs to be continuous rediscovery (think Scurvy and vitamin C).

    Reply
    1. The Older Brother

      Well, it looks like my reading list will be expanding. Thanks for the suggestion.

      re: Experts — I think we’re seeing in our time two main things going on. First, the idea of an expert has under financial and political pressure, moved away from someone with knowledge, experience, and curiosity and towards “credentials.” Then value is placed on having a credential, not competence.

      This works out well for Big Education, professional unions and guilds, but not so much for the actual consumer. i.e. Steve Cooksey (the Diabetes Warrior) was harassed by the state of North Carolina for giving actual expert nutritional advice to diabetics without a credential, directly offending the credentialed Dieticians, whose Big Soda and Big Grain-driven nutritional protocol was state-sanctioned and horrible.

      The counterpoint to this trend is one Tom has talked about frequently – the amazing leveraging that the internet has given the “Wisdom of the Crowds” phenomenon.

      We’ll see how it plays out…

      Cheers

      Reply
      1. John C

        No problem I love suggesting good media. I have done very similar thing with Wheat Belly and Fat Head to my friends and family. I think good work should be promoted even if it goes aginst tide of public opinion (which as we know changes over time).

        Reply
  8. John C

    Hi OThe Older Brother,
    This was a refreashing article. Have you read any books or listern to by any of these people John Tylor Gatto, Warren Farrell or Christina Hoff Sommers?

    I think you would like John Tylor Gatto on the education problems in American and I think you would like what he saids about the lack of excise that students get in modern schools, the type of school lunches and education with the links of obesity in adults.

    When I watch Fat Head and Tom talked about people talking dieting adice from words of experts. Got to thinking it must have a lot to do with the way people are taught. A lot of people will put their lives, money, time and trust experts (Doctors, Politicians, Scientist and others) to know more than themselves and people who are not experts. A of them will not do any further reserch in these subjects which I think is a shame. If you ever study any history you may pick up two things that replete one that experts are not always right (example think of doctors in the 13th Century on medical) and that knowledge gets forgotten and needs to be continuous rediscovery (think Scurvy and vitamin C).

    Reply
    1. The Older Brother Post author

      Well, it looks like my reading list will be expanding. Thanks for the suggestion.

      re: Experts — I think we’re seeing in our time two main things going on. First, the idea of an expert has under financial and political pressure, moved away from someone with knowledge, experience, and curiosity and towards “credentials.” Then value is placed on having a credential, not competence.

      This works out well for Big Education, professional unions and guilds, but not so much for the actual consumer. i.e. Steve Cooksey (the Diabetes Warrior) was harassed by the state of North Carolina for giving actual expert nutritional advice to diabetics without a credential, directly offending the credentialed Dieticians, whose Big Soda and Big Grain-driven nutritional protocol was state-sanctioned and horrible.

      The counterpoint to this trend is one Tom has talked about frequently – the amazing leveraging that the internet has given the “Wisdom of the Crowds” phenomenon.

      We’ll see how it plays out…

      Cheers

      Reply
      1. John C

        No problem I love suggesting good media. I have done very similar thing with Wheat Belly and Fat Head to my friends and family. I think good work should be promoted even if it goes aginst tide of public opinion (which as we know changes over time).

        Reply
  9. Josh

    The older brother really seems to have nailed it in regards to some of the problems that boys face in school. As a retired school teacher I know perfectly well that the schools are feminized to an extent that is almost unbelievable. ‘Male’ traits are discourage by normal classroom procedures (harming both boys and the girls who have those ‘male’ traits). The norm is sit down for 50 minutes, be quite and do as told. (How many adults have problems with that norm in their work place? I know I did and I was considered a ‘good’ boy in school.)

    This is not the teacher’s fault or even the local principals. All must know bow down to the demigod known as No Student Left Behind, and heaven help the teacher or principal whose students do not make the grade. No Student Left Behind has morphed into what educators feared at the beginning – No Teacher/School Left Unpunished.

    And, of course, our kids suffer the most from this reverted system of ‘helping’ education.

    OK, off topic.

    Yes, better lunches would help. But, again the pressure for the normal school lunch comes from the DOA which is doing it to help the farming industry, not to feed kids nutritious lunches. Enouff said.

    Reply
  10. Josh

    The older brother really seems to have nailed it in regards to some of the problems that boys face in school. As a retired school teacher I know perfectly well that the schools are feminized to an extent that is almost unbelievable. ‘Male’ traits are discourage by normal classroom procedures (harming both boys and the girls who have those ‘male’ traits). The norm is sit down for 50 minutes, be quite and do as told. (How many adults have problems with that norm in their work place? I know I did and I was considered a ‘good’ boy in school.)

    This is not the teacher’s fault or even the local principals. All must know bow down to the demigod known as No Student Left Behind, and heaven help the teacher or principal whose students do not make the grade. No Student Left Behind has morphed into what educators feared at the beginning – No Teacher/School Left Unpunished.

    And, of course, our kids suffer the most from this reverted system of ‘helping’ education.

    OK, off topic.

    Yes, better lunches would help. But, again the pressure for the normal school lunch comes from the DOA which is doing it to help the farming industry, not to feed kids nutritious lunches. Enouff said.

    Reply

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