James (reply deleted) asked me:
"Why would the doctors tell your relative what caused the gout. By doing so, they deprive themselves of a fee when the gout gets them going to see him again for help."
Welcome to the wonderful world of socialised medicine: free at the point of need and from each according to their means.
The reason incidentally is humans have an evolved level of Uric acid concntration that is very high, dissolved in the blood. The hypothesis is this slight acidity helps make the body more sterile and less prone to infection as well as helps protect against the damaging effects of all the oxygen we breathe. It is speculated that this is one of the mechanisms behind why humans live so long. I think it's Salmon - I'd need to go fetch my copy of Why Zebras don't get ulcers to be certain - but if you ever see a salmon age it's very rapid - they swim up stream, do their thing and then it's something like a week or a fortnight or maybe less and they are all dead or dying, and it's like this very rapid ageing, and necrosis takes over.
Most animals, if they aren't predated, live very short lives, some much longer than others; humans by far and away have remarkably extended lives. Children born to a couple in their late twenties, forgoing accident, and injury can expect to be taking their children to see the now aged grandparents 50, 60, 70 years later. We can last for up to a century and beyond. (My grandmother who died at Christmas was 96!)
And the argument being advanced in the book is that these features are naturally selected. Uric acidity is one, the function of fever is another, the healing ability of certain cells is one more. The secondary hypothesis is in understanding why we get get sick in the ways we do have evolutionary explanations. They argue Dr's aren't trained to think in this way, and neither is the public. A disease literally means 'something is wrong' and it wasn't until recently recognised that the systems were not perfect - a slight hang from the days of seeing god's design in everything.
The uric acid / longevity link by being selectively high means that crystals can form - this is gout.
Here's an article making much the same point:
The fever of infection is an evolved strategy to 'cook off' the bacteria but it's a trade off between being able to move around and think straight as well as fertile, and being tired, listless, full of aches and pains, and feeling dreadfully cold radiating away all that heat but immune to bacterial infestation - which is the trade off that's been struck.
Bad backs and digestion problem result from, they argue, bipedalism, our organs and spines are not evolved for being upright or sat in a awkward position at a desk 8 hours a day, but to hang suspended from our ribs laterally as they do in most other mammals.
It's instructive to realise that the stuffy sniffles, mucus, sore throat, headache and general feeling of "urrgh" that comes with a cold, isn't the virus making you feel that way, it's your body reacting to the presence of the virus. Pretty much everything there listed is your immune system going into action, for which the best thing to do is to lay still and not move much. And we feed ourselves paracetamol and decongestants in order to carry on - they address that one early on and say by all means relieve symptoms, that is what medicine is for.
I am being necessarily summary - but it's a very good book to read and it puts the lie to those ideas about what is natural and unnatural in a whole new (evolutionary) light.
On a separate but semi-related matter, recently in a class on criminal psychology, I keep being very highly critical of the psychological theories for not incorporating the biology.
Teacher said to me somewhat saracastically - holding up a text book, it's in the book do you thinkif it's rubbish it would be in the book?
No I said, it's not that the ideas are totally rubbish it is simply insufficient to explain the phenomena. afterwards I went and got the book she'd waved around and read the introduction.
It was a screed against biological determinism and social Darwinism. I was brought face to face with the humanist rejection of Darwin's ideas, becuase of a misapplication not because they are wrong.
I think the 'darwinisation' of the humanities, and to a lesser but no less urgent extent amongst doctors and surgeons is long over-due.
@dr. kellie: grandmothers would say "so and so" when what they meant was son of a bitch or any of many other epithets their husbands might use when they thought only another man was present to hear. It was a form of linguistic discrimination. Although profanity was rampant in our household, my grandmother, who lived with us, never uttered as much as a "damn" or "hell." She also never drank a drop, never drank coffee, and read her Booble every day. She died at 103. A Christer would say, "There you are: reading the Bible let her live a long life." Nope. She had good doctors.
Great book on the topic available on the Web in pdf form.
"Natural Law - don't put a rubber on your willy".
It's because it was the "big plan" God had for the folks...because we all know inbreeding is a great idea.
But seriously, homosexuality is just as natural as hetrosexuality. I don't know if anyone saw this documentary called "the bible tells me "(I suggest it!). It deals with four families that there is one figure in each one that is gay or lesbian. Well, let me warn you. You are going to swear a lot. And possibly throw your popcorn at the tv. But the cartoon in it was worth it's weight in gold...
Here's the cartoon(with some stuff before it..but keep watching)