Friday, August 15, 2008

Beery Civics

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Blogger John said...

Western Civilization would not have been possible without alcohol. The only way you can have a dense population is if you can find way of making your water safe to drink. Europeans managed this through beer and wine. This is proven through evolution. In most of the non-European world, only about half of the population is born with the enzymes to digest alcohol. In Europe the proportion is 90 percent. Those without the enzymes rarely made it to adulthood and have been slowly bred out of the population.

In Asia, civilization was possible because they developed hot beverages and had lots of spices with antiseptic properties. There, evolution favored those who like spicy food. When Muslim civilization gave up wine drinking, they adopted tea as a replacement.

The Egyptians loved their beer, as did the Sumerians. The Greeks, of course, created wine snobbery.
But the point of the King's College lecturer is not so much that alcohol was necessary as much that it was the principal cause.
In proof of the hypothesis one might hope to find some attempt at brewing which predates agriculture.
When I consider there has to be a formidable set of tools created. You have to have grain better than wild grass. You have to master a fair bit of chemistry to convert the grain into something we have a chance of digesting; and you have to invent a rather extensive tool set from clay pots to hammers, sickles (da, comrade!) and, oh just a minor point, fire control as well as making.
Phew. I'm tired just thinking about it.

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