Thursday, July 2, 2015

Parasitic progress versus Complexity progress : Humans & Vitamin C

"Complex Guys Finish Last" -- Leo Durocher.

During the Error of Anthropocentric Progress (1875-1965), it was an unconscious and assumed given that ever greater biological complexity was a direct proxy for ever greater biological progress.

Call it the Heath Robinson or Rube Goldberg Law of Eugenics.

Because it basically ignored totally the equally common - and perhaps even more successful - biological progress towards becoming less complex, to becoming a taker not a maker in Republican-Conservative speak, a parasite dependant in part on sponging off others' hard work for your basic survival.

It is truly rare in the big big world of Life to find beings who can't make their own Vitamin C.

We virtually all need it to survive - lots of it - and daily.

For safety's sake we mostly make it ourselves, out of that even more basic-to-all-Life substance called glucose.

But a few creatures - finned fish, bats, some birds, ape like beings, guinea pigs do not.

They let a gene needed to make the stuff mutate away ---- because they already eat a Vitamin C heavy daily diet of fresh plants and animals rather than say just surviving on dried seeds like some birds.

And yes humans are on that list of vitamin C takers not makers.

Making that gene and the resulting gene product was all very fine but it consumed a daily chunk of food and effort perhaps better devoted to making our muscles and brains bigger.

That is why all parasites accept the loss of valuable genes - because they can get the substance it makes much easier by sponging off others.

Now lets go back to the 1930s, when human efforts to successfully make Vitamin C synthetically out of inorganic chemicals in big chemical factories was hailed as a signal triumph of progressively complex humanity.

No longer would we need to eat fresh fruit and vegetables every day just to survive.

But call artificial Vitamin C a very mixed triumph, a delayed triumph for picky two years olds against "Mommy" ----- rather than a triumph for fully grown up adult moms and dad.

Because just as Mom always said, eating fresh fruit and vegetables does indeed give us many, many other benefits beyond just serving as inert packages to transport Vitamin C into our stomachs..... 

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