Success is Hard: 7 Evolutionary Mismatches You Must Overcome

evolutionary mismatch - blakeThe other day I was at an alumni event from my university. It was really good, and I met some interesting, accomplished people.

–All of them twice my age or more.

There were maybe 80 people at the event, and I was the youngest one in attendance. I benefited greatly from this contrast.

Two other guys under 30 stood by themselves at a table all night, pounding back beers. What a waste of time.

What the hell are these (young) people thinking?

Where they see discomfort, I see opportunity.

Why is that?

I’ll tell you why: it’s because they’re being run by primitive fears and whimsical urges–and it leads them astray. Indefinitely.

Their instincts are mismatched for the modern world. . .

. . .AND THEY DON’T EVEN KNOW IT!

Biologists have a term for this: Evolutionary mismatches.

What is an evolutionary mismatch?

–It is when some (biological) trait or adaptation acquired by the human body has become problematic given the culture or environment of modern society.

How do you know if something is an evolutionary mismatch?

The easiest way to identify an evolutionary mismatch is by looking at how the ‘natural’ environment (that the trait corresponds to) has changed.

Evolutionary mismatches are generally caused by three things:

  1. Too much stimuli.
  2. Not enough stimuli.
  3. Or too new stimuli (which the brain/body hasn’t yet adapted to).

Note before reading on:

This is a 5500-word article that contains a lot of condensed information.

If there is just one thing you take away from this article, it should be this: Modern society is EXTREMELY different from the environment we are genetically adapted for, and ‘success’ is a highly UNNATURAL thing. . .

Advertising, popular culture, and mainstream media make it seem like success is easy–and that most people lead meaningful lives where they’re always smiling and are in great shape. Nothing could be further from reality.

The tragic truth is that most people’s lives suck–and that they’re doomed to be mediocre, unhealthy, and die prematurely.

If you want to be healthy, happy, and successful, you’re going to have to lead a very counter-intuitive and unconventional lifestyle, characterized by overcoming evolutionary mismatches. . .

–Not everyone can do it (but hopefully you can).


 

Nobel Prize winner and paleoanthropologist Daniel Lieberman writes in The Story of the Human Body that:

No organism is primarily adapted to be healthy, long-lived, happy, or to achieve many other goals for which people strive. . .

(Your body is just a vehicle for your ‘selfish’ 1 genes .)

Lieberman continues:

Many human adaptations did not necessarily evolve to promote physical or mental well-being.

(They just came to be because they boosted survival at that particular time in the evolution of the species.)

The Importance of Evolutionary Mismatches in Understanding the Modern World

Evolutionary theory is a good guide for understanding human behavior up until around 10,000 years ago. To fill in the remaining time gap you want to study history and psychology. Do you know why?

–It’s because history and psychology together explain how technology has influenced culture.

Where evolution ‘stopped’ moving, humans created culture and technology–which mimic the evolutionary process, only much faster, because they influence each other in a feedback loop-type fashion:

Culture influences technology, and technology drives culture. Culture and technology, in turn, have a massive impact on human biology (the brain and body).

Culture influences technology, and technology drives culture. Culture and technology, in turn, have a huge impact on human biology (the brain and body)
This creates evolutionary mismatches.

 

So, while human beings have not changed much—genetically—over the last 10,000 years, our culture has changed tremendously over the last 200 years, since the industrial revolution and the advent of information society.

Modern (information) society is one MASSIVE evolutionary mismatch:

. . .That is one reason why we have been seeing a “jobless recovery.” It’s also why unemployment is so concentrated among the relatively unskilled. If you want to get a job in the new and growing sectors of the economy, or the parts of the old economy that are re-gearing, it really helps to be skilled with information technology, but still those jobs aren’t that plentiful. At the same time that a lot of people are out of work, some of the cutting-edge companies can’t find and hire the people they need. We’re facing a fundamental skills mismatch, and the U.S. labor market is increasingly divided into a group that can keep up with technical work and a group that can’t.

–Tyler Cowen, The Great Stagnation.

Another mismatch problem is information overload . . .

With so many choices, how do you pick the best one?

–Maybe you shouldn’t try to pick at all. Maybe, as Charlie Munger likes to say, you should just play the loser’s game and avoid big mistakes:

Instead of looking for success, make a list of how to fail . . . . Avoid these qualities and you will succeed. Tell me where I’m going to die, that is, so I don’t go there.

 

So, Let me tell you where you’re most likely to fail and die.

 

Who will strike the killing blow and finish you off?

—A villain? An alligator? A plane crash?

Guess again.

How about diabetes, obesity, inactivity, boredom, and prescription drugs?

Yes, unfortunately, that’s probably going to be the case for you—statistically speaking. The average person is likely to fall victim to. . .

Mismatch Diseases

Of these, Daniel Lieberman writes:

. . . . numerous cultural changes have altered interactions between our genes and our environments in ways that contribute to a wide range of health problems. These illnesses are mismatch diseases, defined as diseases that result from our Paleolithic bodies being poorly or inadequately adapted to certain modern behaviors and conditions.

He continues:

I don’t think it is possible to overemphasize just how important mismatch diseases are. You are most likely going to die from a mismatch disease. You are most likely to suffer from disabilities caused by mismatch diseases. Mismatch diseases contribute to the bulk of health-care spending throughout the world.

You don’t need to be a genius to understand the severity of the situation, but you need to have the foresight to identify different evolutionary mismatches and then structure your lifestyle to overcome them!

Prevention is always the best course of action.

Let’s take a look at seven of the worst evolutionary mismatches in modern society by contrasting how things:

  1. Used to be in the past.
  2. What the situation is like now.
  3. And what you can do to counteract this mismatch.

I think you’ll learn a lot from this.

The Top 7 Worst Evolutionary Mismatches (and their impact on modern society)

Probably every vice was once a virtue—i.e a quality making for the survival of the individual, family, and group.

Will Durant, Lessons of History

The 7 top evolutionary mismatches:

1: Overindulgence of Processed Foods and Sugar

2: Overstimulation from: Smart Phones, Social Media, Dating Apps, etc..

3: Conformity and Misinformation from Mainstream Media:

4: Passive and Sedentary Lifestyle from Automation and Technology

5: Chronic Stress and Broken Recovery Cycles

6: Lack of Loyalty and Strong, Intimate, Relationships

7: Homeostasis, Fewer External Motivators, and Self-deception

 

1: Overindulgence of Sugar and Processed Foods

a) Sugar

Past:

Hunter-gatherers supposedly consumed somewhere between 30 teaspoons to 6 pounds of sugar per year, depending on the environment.

Present:

Today people eat on average 22-32 teaspoons of sugar per day, adding up to 80,3-116,8 pounds a year. Much of this sugar comes from soft drinks.

b) Processed Foods

Past:

Pre-made or processed foods did not exist for hunter-gatherers. To make the food easier to eat, they had to bash it with clubs and cut it with stone knives.

Present:

Today, most food is processed in one way or another. This makes it easier to digest for the stomach, and we’re able to make room for more food. This makes overeating a lot easier than in the past.

Evolutionary Mismatch Implications:

Since most processed foods contain a bunch of additives—especially chemicals used for mimicking the taste of salt, sugar, and fat—we are prone to eat more of it than we need.

Result:

More people than ever are getting diabetes and cavities, becoming obese, and contracting nasty “21st century diseases” related to poor digestion and horrible ratios of essential fatty acids.

Some of these 21st century diseases include:

  • Brain fog.
  • Alzheimer’s and dementia.
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
  • Candida.
  • And hemorrhoids.

How to Counteract This Mismatch

First, make it a habit to look at labels before you buy food products.

Second, ditch all soft drinks.

Third, eat less processed foods and cook your own food more often.

To avoid processed foods, here’s an easy-to-remember rule of thumb: anything edible that has bright colors or comes in a plastic box is processed.

Avoid, minimize, or eliminate the following things from your diet:

  • Sugars, artificial sweeteners, and high fructose corn syrup.
  • Trans-fats and MSG (monosodium glutamate).
  • Artificial coloring agents and preservatives.

It is nearly impossible not to consume any of these—unless you’ve got some money to spend and can afford to be extra picky—but it shouldn’t stop you from trying.

To fix your (probably) horrible Omega-6:3 ratio you want to do these 3 things:

And here are some of the healthiest foods you want to eat:

  • Eggs.
  • Broccoli.
  • Spinach.
  • Oregano (contains 4x more antioxidants than blueberries).
  • Coconut oil (non-hydrogenated).

2: Overstimulation from: Smart Phones, Social Media, Dating Apps, and more…

Past:

The technology which enables overstimulation did not exist. Hunter-gatherers didn’t have instant gratification. Pleasure and play time had to be earned through hard work, cooperation, risk-taking, and exploration.

Present:

Do I really need to give you a rant on the present situation? I think not.

Evolutionary Mismatch Implications:

First, here are some of the negative first-order consequences for how this mismatch impacts the average person:

  • Concentration span decreases with age.
  • Stimulatory threshold increases–and boredom is always near. 
  • Ability to delay gratification is also going down.

—You probably already knew that.

But here’s something you might not know. . .

This mismatch is messing up the male-female gender dynamics.

 

Technology-induced overstimulation tilts the evolutionary scale, and women are—on average—gaining more power in the ”sexual game”.]

Technology-induced overstimulation tilts the gender scale of supply and demand by making men less masculine and making it easier for women to find suitors.  As a result, women are—on average—gaining more power in the ”sexual game”.

 

This is based on the following assumptions:

  1. Men typically derive social status based on their position in some hierarchy (as an indicator of power and money-making).
  2. Women typically derive social status based on how many guys that court them (as an indicator of their perceived attractiveness).
  3. “Mating” then happens based on the dynamics of supply and demand, and typically men must have equal or higher social status as women, in order to “win their heart”.

Historically, these dynamics have been somewhat at equilibrium. But in the last 30-some years, these underlying dynamics have become distorted in a number of ways. For example:

  • Modern society has few rites of passage, and therefore fails–systematically–in raising boys into adult, mature men.
  • Overstimulation from computers, phones, TV, video games, etc…drain men of their motivation to work hard and climb to the top.
  • Then there are a bunch of other factors to take into account. . .
  • Courtesy of dating apps, any woman who looks attractive 3 gets courted by at least 10x more guys than only 10 years ago.

In summary:

On average, the social status of women is going UP while the social status of men is going down.

There are more passive, demotivated, overweight, low-testosterone men around than probably ever before in history.

At the same time there are more ‘entitled’ women than ever before (who will not settle for these guys, because their social status is too low).

This does not bode well for the future of “mating”.

Result:

For the average guy, this is a double negative; for the top 1% of men, it’s irrelevant. Historically, the top men have always gotten 80 % or more of women, but now it’s getting even more skewed.

How to Counteract This Mismatch

While you can’t stop technology—or change that most people are addicted to the instant gratification brought on by Internet and social media—you can exercise discipline and regulate your own use.

3: Conformity and Misinformation from Mainstream Media

In the past the “world,” whether in its physical or intellectual terms, was much smaller, simpler, and more orderly. It inspired credibility. Today everything is so complex as to be incomprehensible.

―Saul Alinsky, Rules for Radicals.

Past:

Hunter-gatherers used to live in smaller groups of 10+ people, with an upper limit to the tribe’s cohesiveness of about 75-225 people 4.

The narrative of the tribe–passed down for generations via stories–was dogma. Everyone adjusted their thoughts, opinions and beliefs to fit the tribe’s narrative. The tribe leader was the authority.

Evolutionary thinkers like Richard Dawkins believe that the human brain (the neocortex, to be specific) developed the ability to simulate future scenarios so that we could predict the consequence of what we were going to say before we said it, to avoid upsetting the leader (and be clobbered for it).

This helped us FIT IN with the tribe better.

Great for survival back in the day. What about today?

Present:

We live in an overpopulated information society, where the average person is mismatched for things like:

  • Processing large amounts of (complex) information.
  • Rational and critical thinking.
  • Questioning authorities, finding flaws in dogmatic belief systems, or dealing with cognitive biases.

Evolutionary Mismatch Implications:

Most people are being used by their brains, instead of them using their brains.

People spend most of their mental energy conjuring up rationalizations that allow them to fit in with the narrative of the politically correct public opinion.

They use their neocortex mainly to avoid conflicts with “fellow tribe members“, instead of using it to do independent thinking, craft their own unique philosophical framework, and come up with cool new ideas.

Results:

“In Silicon Valley, I’ve pointed out, many of the successful entrepreneurs seem to be suffering from a mild form of Asperger’s—where it’s like, you’re missing the imitation-socialization gene. . . . And it happens to be a plus for innovation and creating great companies, but I think we always should turn this around as an incredible critique of our society, and we need to ask: what is it about our society where those of us who do not suffer from Asperger’s are at some massive disadvantage? Because we will be talked out of our interesting, original, creative ideas—before they’re even fully formed. ”

—Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal

1) “The digital village”

Conformity breeds mediocrity.

Conformity breeds mediocrity; be contrarian.

Modern society is a like a digital village, where most people share a similar ideology based on TV, Internet, and mainstream media. As a result, most people think in terms of the same stereotypes, and the average person is becoming increasingly uniform.

The bad news:

To fit in with the mainstream, things must be dumbed down to the lowest common denominator. It’s like a mental equivalent to the Greek myth about Procrustes, who smashed people’s limbs to fit them in his bed.

The good news:

When more and more people take in the same type of information, think in similar terms, and act in a herd-like manner—guess what this means for you?

It means that it pays more than ever to be a contrarian; someone who is different and goes against the status quo.

2) Outdated political system

Since most people are not well-adapted to dealing with complex information, thinking critically, and because of the media-induced digital village phenomenon. . .

. . .the ‘modern’ political system is brutally mismatched.

The democratic system we have in most of the (western) world was birthed during a time when social media, Internet, TV, and radio did NOT exist.

This is why politics has turned into a populist reality show.

How to Counteract This Mismatch

You need to train yourself into becoming a contrarian.

You want to become less reactive to ‘the tribe’— and less affected by the opinion of other people, especially those whose opinions don’t matter:

This is not a straightforward process. Nevertheless. . .

Here are some principles you can practice:

  1. Make initiative-taking a habit; always go first (when it makes sense).
  2. Make it a rule that when you enter a public environment or a meeting you will raise your hand or speak up within 15 minutes.
  3. Don’t ask for people’s opinions before doing stuff
  4. It is typically better to ask for forgiveness than for permission.

4: Passive and Sedentary Lifestyle from Automation and Technology

“Sometimes death only comes from a lack of energy.”

Napoleon

evolutionary mismatch

Past:

The average hunter-gatherer walked 9-15 kilometers ( 5-9 miles) per day, and probably much longer than that when hunting or scavenging for food.

Present:

The typical person walks less than half a kilometer (1/3 miles) per day. Most people run or exercise from time to time, but not frequently enough.

Evolutionary Mismatch Implications:

We don’t have to walk anywhere—we can drive. Actually, we don’t even have to drive, if we’re really hungry, we can just order takeout. And if we want something, we can have it shipped straight to our door!

We don’t have to do anything—we can watch  TV, YouTube, or browse the Internet for enjoyment. And if that bores us, we can play some cool video game. Yay, life as a passive spectator rocks!

Then we go to school or work, where we sit still for hours by a desk in a classroom or inside an office.

From 1800 and forward—after the Industrial Revolution—we’ve become increasingly physically inactive. This isn’t exactly shocking news, but the progression of inactivity should shock you. Daniel Lieberman writes that:

Tasks such as typing, sewing, or doing general work at a desk are only slightly more costly than just sitting still. In a typical day, a receptionist or bank clerk who spends an eight-hour day seated in front of a computer expends about 775 calories while doing her job, a worker at an automobile factory spends about 1,400 calories, and a really hardworking coal miner could spend a whopping 3,400 calories.

—In 260 work days, given 8-hour work days, a blue-collar factory worker burns 175,000 more calories than a white-collar worker, sitting in an office. This energy is equivalent to running 62 full marathons.

. . . But only 11 % of the U.S working force consists of blue-collar workers employed in factories (and that statistic probably holds true for most of the western world). Most people barely move at all!

Result:

When we don’t move enough, we don’t function properly. Our thinking gets stifled, we become depressed, and we get fat and unhealthy!

How to Counteract This Mismatch

All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking.

–Nietzsche

Man evolved to walk long distances, and scientists have linked physical movement to improved learning and increased neuroplasticity. By stimulating BDNF.

–Seems like Nietzsche had it right.

Do you work in an office, or from your computer?

You should do these 7 things:

  1. Get a chair which aids proper posture and sit with a straight back.
  2. If you have a laptop, you should buy an ergonomic laptop stand.
  3. Alternate between standing up and sitting down.
  4. You should get RIPPED ASAP!!!5
  5. You should flex your muscles intermittently while sitting.
  6. Get a step-counter to get feedback on how much you move each day (I use my phone for this).
  7. You should get in the habit of doing mobility stretches  ASAP. This will act as a preventive measure against poor posture and deformed hips. For more instructions. . .

. . . Watch this 2-minute demonstration of mobility stretching by my friend Mikael Syding.

Notice the straight posture of his back.

My posture needs improvement. Good thing I didn’t start 10 years from now.

 

5: Chronic Stress and Broken Recovery Cycles

“We forget just how painfully dim the world was before electricity.”

—Bill Bryson

Past:

Man lived under open skies or in tiny huts, with the rest of the tribe. People’s circadian rhythms (sleep cycles) followed the sunlight. With the exception of possible threats, there were few interruptions to impede proper relaxation.

Present:

We live in cities that are lit up during night-time and we work in offices illuminated by light bulbs and artificial lighting. Most of us are available 24/7 via email, our phones, and social media.

Evolutionary Mismatch Implications:

Hunter-gatherers didn’t ‘work’; they searched for food and then they relaxed.

‘Work’ and play were clearly segregated and distinguished between.

Today most people bring their work with them home, mentally. And most of us don’t have an “off-switch”. Stress builds up, creativity decreases, and burnouts occur.

Result:

Many people have trouble sleeping, de-stressing, and recovering properly.

They walk around with constantly elevated cortisol levels (the stress hormone). This gives them a weaker immune system and counteracts the process of allostasis (the state where the body adapts optimally to stress)

How to Counteract This Mismatch

John D. Rockefeller said that it’s remarkable how much we all could do if we simply avoid hustling, and we go along at an even pace and keep from attempting too much (at the same time). He was right, because. . .

Longevity and sustained motivation require that you cycle between periods of focused work and deep relaxation.

How can you do this?

Well, since no body (pun intended) is the same, there is no magic formula for how you should manage your energy levels.

But you can start practicing breathing techniques and meditation.

This will help you relax better and avoid stress from building up.

How to do meditation is beyond the scope of this article. Breathing techniques, on the other hand, is something you can learn immediately. Here are some quick pointers to get you started:

  • Most people breathe incorrectly/inefficiently.
  • ‘Correct’ breathing does not elevate your chest; instead, it expands your abdomen.
  • Start doing box breathing.

Navy SEAL Mark Divine recommends this breathing exercise in his book Way of the Seal. Here’s how it works.

  1. You inhale for 4 seconds.
  2. You hold your breath for 4 seconds.
  3. You exhale for 4 seconds.
  4. You wait for 4 seconds, before repeating step 1—inhalation.

–It’s super easy and it works. Do it in the morning and at night, before bed.

6: Lack of Loyalty and Strong, Intimate, Relationships

“The rebellious youth was no longer constrained by the surveillance of the village; he could hide his sins in the protective anonymity of the city crowd.”

—Will Durant, The Lessons of History

Past:

Hunter-gatherers cooperated in tight unison, often spending their entire lives with the same people, living in the same geographic location. Relationships with fellow tribe members were by far the most important thing in your life.

Present:

In 1800, only 25 million people lived in cities (approximately 3% of the world population at the time). The corresponding number in 2010 was 3,3 billion people. About half of the world population are now city dwellers!

Evolutionary Mismatch Implications:

Man evolved to form strong, intimate, relationships with a few people. A typical city dweller sees more strangers every day than the average hunter-gatherer did in a lifetime!

–Naturally, this results in dissociation and alienation from other people.

Much of the “Internet hate” and “trolling” we see today can be traced to this evolutionary mismatch. The average person can’t handle anonymity, and will bully or insult others for temporary enjoyment and self-aggrandizement.

Sometimes this is fun to observe:

evolutionary mismatch internet trolling

But, for the most part, it is just tedious and obnoxious.

evolutionary mismatch tyrone trolls

Result:

Collective responsibility has decreased.

This is because it’s impossible to maintain close relationship ties after a group grows somewhere beyond 150 people. Unfortunately, most politicians and managers are not intelligent enough to understand this.

As the human population grows in number, and the ‘system’—the societal foundation—expands to facilitate the people, its structural integrity erodes, and it becomes less efficient at taking care of its people.

The tribal loyalty–which is the glue that holds societies together–is long gone. . .

. . .and has been replaced with community, religion, and the state; none of which are presently powerful enough to give meaning or dictate proper conduct for the unthinking masses.

This makes it easy for bad behavior to spread into depraved culture.

How to Counteract This Mismatch

–You can’t.

But here are four aspects of this mismatch to keep in mind:

  1. Happiness—for most people comes from having strong, tribe-like relationships with a few people and working together towards a shared purpose. This may be less true for highly introverted people.
  2. Anonymity—brings out the worst behavior in people. If you are writing something under anonymity, first ask yourself: “Is this something I would say to [Person’s] face?”
  3. Trolling—is something only primitive losers engage in.
  4. Responsibility—is something you should NOT shirk from (even if most other people do). Instead, ask for more of it. Build a reputation around being a reliable person.

7: Homeostasis, Fewer External Motivators, and Self-deception

Past:

As I wrote in a recent article:

It was easy for primitive man to be ‘motivated’, because he had lots of external forces pushing him to take action and decide. His biological instincts—his homeostasis–was, at that time, a reliable guide for survival.

Present:

We are seldom forced into situations that challenge us; where we have to be resourceful. . .

. . .or die.

Evolutionary Mismatch Implications:

Homeostasis is no longer a reliable guide for survival, success, or right action. If we listen to it, it’ll just tell us to relax, masturbate, or eat something tasty.

The human brain evolved to seek out and maintain the fundamental needs, but once they’re covered—as they are in modern society—we drift into complacency and dwell in homeostasis. . .

With fewer external motivators to force us into action, internal motivation and goal-oriented behavior becomes increasingly important.

You have to muster up the momentum to break out of homeostasis!

Result:

Despite all our modern-day comforts, we’re not getting any happier. As psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi wrote:

Consuming culture is never as rewarding as producing it.”

–Especially for men:

Traditionally, men’s identity and self-respect have been based on the ability to obtain energy from the environment for their own and their families’ use. Whether the satisfaction a man gets from doing a necessary job is partly genetically programmed, or is entirely learned from the culture, the fact is that more or less everywhere a man who is not a provider is to some extent a misfit.

How to Counteract This Mismatch

Here are two ways to stop dwelling in homeostasis:

1: Practice introspection and discipline to avoid self-deceit.

A significant portion of your thoughts, decisions, and actions are aimed at avoiding pain, minimizing effort, and sustaining your current neurobiochemical state. You then post-rationalize your actions and masquerade your low-level motives as being more sophisticated than they are.

This process of self-deceit is automatically created via homeostasis–and you will be tricked by it over and over, unless you develop the metacognitive ability to catch yourself in the act of this unconscious behavior.

2: Don’t mistake homeostasis for intuition

There is a popular notion that ‘intuition’ is the solution to all your problems, and that it will always guide you to success if you just have the courage to ‘follow your heart’. This might sell books and magazines, but it’s not true—because most people confuse intuition for homeostasis. 6

For example, if you eat a potato chip, and you feel like eating another one, should you ‘trust in your intuition’ to do so?

—No, you should not. Because it’s not your ‘intuition’; it’s homeostasis—and it’s manipulating your hormones to make you want to eat more, so that your body can maintain its current neurobiochemical state.

This begs the question, “what is intuition and what is not homeostasis?”.

 

5 Ways to practice breaking out of homeostasis:

  1. Do a 2-Day Fast.
  2. Go 5 more minutes. Make it a rule that when you feel like quitting, you will do one more rep (in the gym) or continue working for 5 more minutes.
  3. Pull an all-nighter. It’s not the healthiest thing to do, but it forces you out of your normal rhythm.
  4. Run without contacts. This feels extremely uncomfortable at first, but it makes you more confident and improves situational awareness.
  5. Take cold showers. Once you start doing it you will not want to go back.

evolutionary mismatch homeostasis


Kudos for making it to the bottom. Now we’re gonna do some repetition.

Evolutionary Mismatches 101: Quick Recap

Why do evolutionary mismatches exist?

Because our genes can’t keep up with culture and technology.

As the historian Will Durant said, every vice was once a virtue; the appendix was probably useful to cavemen, but it’s a pain in the ass for us.

Why are evolutionary mismatches important to know about?

Because. . .

Evolutionary mismatches are like handicaps; they are the obstacles you have to overcome if you want to be in control of yourself, do big things, and live the good life.

Everyone starts out with these genetic handicaps, but the best people work at themselves–however long it takes–to transcend these primitive whims (to the extent it is possible).

How do you identify an evolutionary mismatch?

You contrast past to present. You look at the environment to see if it has changed in any of these ways:

  • Too much stimuli.
  • Chronic Stress and Broken Recovery Cycles
  • Lack of Loyalty and Strong, Intimate, Relationships
  • Homeostasis, Fewer External Motivators, and Self-deception

What should you do against evolutionary mismatches?

Sometimes, nothing: many evolutionary mismatches—like office work, city life, and computer use—on average do us more good than bad. Just beware of excess!

–A sedentary lifestyle mixed with cheeseburgers and chronic stress will land you a mismatch disease.

What are some immediate & actionable takeaways?

  • You should break out of homeostasis–MOVE MORE; THINK MORE, and DO MORE–and be very skeptic towards your instinctive, genetic responses (unless they’re helping you).
  • You should fix your digestion, your omega-3 levels, your testosterone levels, and other health-related problems you may have incurred from the unhealthy, overly processed, modern diet. (Start by doing a blood test to diagnose your problems
  • You should watch less television and stop following the mainstream media. Take control over your inputs for information and stimulation. Become a contrarian—and benefit from going against the status quo set by the masses of unthinking conformists.
Read More:

All about Homeostasis

Read the book.

 

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  1. whose only motive is that you procreate, so that they do not get wiped out of the gene pool.  Happiness, longevity, or what we today call ‘success’ is not part of that agenda.

  2. Notable examples include: vegetable oils and meat from animals in CAFOs.

  3. or who can skillfully take selfies from deceptive angles–or use Photoshop–to appear attractive.

  4.   150 is used as a benchmark. (Dunbar’s number)

  5. When you have lots of muscle and low body-fat, you burn more energy while having less hormonal hunger. This makes it easy to stay in shape, even when you’re older and have less time for exercise.

  6. Most people really cannot tell their gut feeling from homeostasis. They are out of touch with their intuition from eating too much shitty food, not exercising their metacognition, sitting still all day long, and not acting on ideas and inspiration often enough to have it reinforced as an instinctive (intuitive) response.

Comments

  1. Ludvig,

    There is so much of wisdom in this ‘mismatch’ compilation. Makes me feel guilty of having too much sugar everyday :-(

    Thanks for this reminder !

  2. Awesome article here.

    A note on food. Our DNA changes just about 1% each 10,000 years so we are not programmed for this world that is quickly killing us. Our present world is not set up to sustain us in a healthy way, because we’re bombarded by these advertisements daily, the amount of processed foods and sugar are unavoidable, and it takes extraordinary willpower to overcome these influences.

    But willpower alone will not do it for our strength of refraining from it. A different lifestyle must ensue, including organic foods, cooking for ourselves, avoiding restaurants, and not putting ourselves in the way of this harmful intake.

    It’s easy to think short-term when popping those oreos in your face, but if you take the position of 10, 20, 30 years down the road and its effects, you might change your mind!

    • Very true. I wonder where the 1% per 10,000 years figure comes from? It’s a safe bet that the pace of genetic change is much more rapid than it was 20,000 years ago, because the environment is changing much more rapidly than it was then. However, genetic evolution is still far slower than cultural evolution, and it may now be working backwards. In the First World, at least, it’s the least intelligent and productive people who have the most children, and we work hard to perpetuate genetic defects.

      • Yeah I suppose it could be slower than 1% every 10k years, but by reading Dawkins & Darwin it would seem that we are pretty similar to our ancestors of just 10-20k years ago.

        Even around those times there were less than 10 million people on the earth so yes, we’ve expanded at an enormously rapid rate. Even between most humans today, there are only about a .5% difference in genetic makeup!

        Here’s one good source of this:
        “About 7% of human genes fit the profile of a recent adaptation, with most changes happening from 40,000 years ago to the present.”

        http://discovermagazine.com/2009/mar/09-they-dont-make-homo-sapiens-like-they-used-to

    • I agree with your point but I take exception to “just 1%”. That’s a HUGE difference. That is the difference between a chimpanzee and a human.

      If superman was real, the difference between his genes and ours would be possibly be 1%

      And its more like 5.3 million years for that 1% not 10,000.

      BROSCIENCE!

  3. Definition of an epic post, bookmarked this into my list of fav blog posts ever to read again sometime. You have a knack for breaking down deep and oftentimes complex stuff my friend.

  4. Another brilliant article from a brilliant mind.

    Thanks for sharing Ludvig.

    Keep it up.

    Matt Kohn

  5. Reddit sent me here and I’m happy for it.

  6. Brilliant post! I fully agree with you reg the discipline when it comes to the use of social media. In this day and age, I notice that everyone is just living in that social media space and a lot of time has slipped by without them even realising it. Anyway, a lot of what you’re saying here definitely get me thinking… Thanks for your insights.

  7. Crazy good article and loving the new header. Nice contrast to the green. Look forward to reading your future stuff about contrarians or whatever it will be (don’t say, let it be a surprise).

  8. Another fantastic post Ludvig. Another point I would add to mismatches is social welfare. How can a man be motivated to improve his economic situation when he is guaranteed a cheque every month like a caged lion is guaranteed a piece of meat every day.
    In the modern world there is just a continuous growth of safety nets for every slight ill which affects man today. Our greatest challenge today is to avoid drowning in the sea of instant-gratification

    • 100 %
      During the Crusades you’d get sold as a slave for that. Hehe.

      Obviously you can’t extrapolate/assume the world will stay the same forever, but you have to look at history and see how stuff has changed. Like the Jakob Walter article, most people can’t imagine that……

    • Joseph, unless you’ve experienced depravity, you’ll not understand that most men will never raise their economic status, cheque or not. The same people queuing for government welfare are the ones who rush to the bargain bucket, complain they have to pay too much tax & say that “migrants” are taking their jobs. It’s all relative.

  9. An article that changed my life – for the best

  10. Bravo Ludvig!

    Arguably the best article on SGM to date.

    I am also reading “The Lessons of History”. It is a fantastic book. Part of my 52 books in 52 weeks challenge :)

    Very much enjoyed this!

  11. Clearly contact [LENSES]. After reading Pete’s comment I too decided to give it a try, and it was pretty scary actually.

  12. What do you mean by “run without contacts”?

    • Like the comment below says: Lenses.

      If you have perfect vision, try buying contacts with a major vision error. Like -3 or -5. Then try going for a run. It will be a mental challenge, but you’ll feel strong afterwards.

  13. This is one of the greatest articles I have read.

    //Oscar.

  14. Btw, what is the idea behind that first image?

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