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Aquatic Apes

By ThinkProgress

"Aquatic Apes"

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Someone calling himself “Scylla” decided to try waterboarding himself on an experimental basis to see if he thought it should qualify as torture:

I’ll put it this way. If I had the choice of being waterboarded by a third party or having my fingers smashed one at a time by a sledgehammer, I’d take the fingers, no question.

It’s horrible, terrible, inhuman torture. I can hardly imagine worse. I’d prefer permanent damage and disability to experiencing it again. I’d give up anything, say anything, do anything.

Seth Roberts read the account and made some musings about human evolution:

This shows something non-obvious: We are hard-wired to avoid drowning and like all good safety systems, the system kicks in well before damage occurs.

For such a system to evolve, humans must have spent a lot of time in water deep enough to drown in. We don’t now, of course. The sheer fact of Scylla’s post — the fact that waterboarding is torture isn’t obvious — shows this.

All this — Scylla’s initial ignorance, what he experienced and concluded — is consistent with the aquatic ape theory of human evolution and inconsistent with alternatives to that theory (e.g., the savannah theory), which assume no long aquatic phase. Belief that the aquatic ape theory was probably true was one reason I started omega-3 self-experimentation, which led to the discovery of very clear experimental effects.

Well, someone else read that post and used Google Reader’s new “share” function to flag it and then I read the post and though I already knew waterboarding was torture, I’d never heard of the Aquatic Ape hypothesis before so I’ve been looking into that (it seems that most scientists reject it for what sound to me like good reasons) … all in all an excellent way to waste some time while semi-watching the Giants play the Bills.

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