We evolved alongside parasites that weaken us, and recently in human history we were able to get rid of those parasites. What would happen? Our bodies would overcompensate, just like the “floating arms” experiment.

  • If parasites weakened the immune system, then human bodies would adapt by making the immune system more aggressive. Removing the parasites would lead to human immune systems increasingly overreacting to things. There are some people who infect themselves with parasites to treat allergies and immune disorders.
  • If parasites increased our aggressiveness (as toxoplasma gondii is hypothesized to do), then humans would adapt by lowering aggressivness. Removing the parasites would lead to more the human race becoming more passive.
  • If parasites weakened our mental abilities, then humans would adapt by making extra-powerful brains. Removing the parasites would lead to more intelligent humans.

Is it possible that human brains are far more powerful than they need to be for survival in the wild because parasite evolution forced them to be that way?



Anonymous wrote at Sunday, January 30, 2011 at 3:11:00 AM PST

"Was mich nicht umbringt, macht mich stärker." Friedrich Nietzsche, Götzen-Dämmerung (1888)

Unknown wrote at Tuesday, February 1, 2011 at 7:27:00 AM PST

what if we think about people like the supreme parasite? We have evolved to survive against all the foes, against many parasites too, in the begining, we have been just amoebas, eating one to each other , we were fishes, then dynosaurs, then mammals, we ,ve been so many things and we have always had a common characteristic: survive and evolve, the thing that can,t kill us will make us stronger, can we apply it to our mind?, Yes!!, every mental exercise we do makes our brain stronger too, the only question i have is, what is a "mental parasyte" for you?

BrnLng wrote at Thursday, February 17, 2011 at 8:08:00 AM PST

@JB : body's being.

adam wrote at Tuesday, February 22, 2011 at 4:10:00 PM PST

In your assumptions you're missing out a core part of evolution: it doesn't find the "correct" solution, it just finds "a" solution.

So, in practice, the changes are more likely to be orthogonal to the actual problem. They will tend to be changes that fix the symptomatic issues, rather than the underlying ones.