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Biology knows best? Not so much

Paul Ingraham ARCHIVEDMicroblog posts are archived and rarely updated. In contrast, most long-form articles on PainScience.com are updated regularly over the years.

It’s a common misconception that natural is always healthy and “biology knows best.” But biology does not always know best! Evolution is a wondrous but surprisingly awkward process that leads to many compromises, tradeoffs and sacrifices, and absurd unintended consequences like an eyeball structure that is obviously second best, an unnecessary 4-metre detour for the recurrent pharyngeal nerve in giraffes, or completely non-functional inflammation caused by our immune systems mistaking exposed mitochondria for invaders. Friendly fire!

Biology is optimized for reproduction early in life, and that only partially aligns with our interests — and less so all the time, as the human lifespan gets longer. Suffering is a natural consequence … and sometimes it makes sense to interfere with it. For instance, by taming inflammation a bit with icing for pain control — which was the specific inspiration for this post.

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