The Healthy Savage Hypothesis Debunked

By Dov Michaeli

First published 4/13/11 on The Doctor Weighs In

This blog is about Health and Medicine, broadly defined. So forgive me if I start with something that looks irrelevant. It will paint the broader context in which our subject matter exists.

Since earliest times humans believed that somehow being a “savage”, meaning uncivilized, living closer to nature, equates with being purer, unspoiled by civilization’s meanness, hypocrisy, and a host of other ills. The very first written literary work that was a “best seller” in the ancient world was “The Epic of Gilgamesh”, in which Gilgamesh, a mythical Sumerian prince, goes on a voyage in search of eternal life. His friend and fellow traveler was Enkiddu, a wild but good person who lived with animals. This was 3500 years ago. The sentimental romanticism of wild and pure people has never disappeared ever since. During the 17th and 18th centuries this concept of “noble savage” enjoyed remarkable popularity in the form of novels, philosophical essays, and even political movements. Today’s back to nature, wholesome foods, anti GM crops, anti-science beliefs, all resonate with the noble savage idea.

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