Thursday, June 24, 2010

Sociobiology

Yeah, I know. It's a pretty heavy title compared to the usual meanderings here. But I've been reading Human Instinct, a book that discusses evolutionary reasons for quirky behaviors and physical traits of humans. And then my nephew visited this last weekend, and I got to witness a common human behavior that most people are probably familiar with- childrens' absolute hatred of green vegetables*.

In my limited experience, this phenomenon would seem to reduce the survivability of the species, in that youngsters' stubborn refusal to eat vegetables will enrage the resident Alpha Male:
"Eat that broccoli. Eat it. DON'T MAKE THAT FACE AT ME! EAT IT. DON'T TRY AND HIDE IT UNDER THE NAPKIN. GODDAMMIT ISHMAEL IT IS ONE BROCCOLI SPEAR AND I SWEAR TO GOD YOU WILL SIT AT THIS TABLE FOREVER IF YOU DON'T EAT IT."
But if there is any basis in the young's distaste for vegetables, my best guess is that in the wild, there are too many poisonous plants that would kill children. So there could be a survival advantage to avoiding vegetables until the child is old enough to have learned which ones are edible. Anyone got any better ideas?


* I know that this is not universal. As a child, I ate pretty much anything: animal, vegetable, or mineral. Ask my Mom about the historical battle: Three Year-Old Karl vs. The Fat Blue Grub Worm. Damn right I ate it.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

A lot of kids actually do eat vegetables...I think it depends on the kid and how hungry they are. If Ishmael was starved for a week, you could test this theory adequately.

Karl said...

I'm sure that kids will choose vegetables over starvation. But when they are not starving, some kind of instinctual aversion kicks in. Or maybe it's just that the kids I have encountered in my life are spoiled brats.