Re: Wired

From: Thomas Buckner (
Date: Tue Nov 23 2004 - 16:32:40 MST

--- Damien Broderick <>
> Is our profound revulsion against
> smelling, touching or eating
> (ugh) feces something that emerges in a
> genetically programmed
> developmental arc, or is it instilled
> culturally? And so on.
Dunno about feces, but everyone knows how the
smell of vomit induces nausea, a reflex which
evolved because of food-sharing among primate
packs (i.e. if one monkey ate tainted food,
likely the others had too, so survival value lay
in everyone purging the suspect meal).
I also recall 'zones of aversion' among cattle
and other grazers, which leave a ring of uneaten
grass around a cowflop (the zone of aversion
being the distance between the dung and grass
deemed edible).
I have had certain experiences while working
among mentally impaired persons which suggest to
me that the revulsion to eating feces can break
down, although it is so culturally universal that
it may well be hardwired.
I do not know whether this has been tested, and I
feel sorry for any scientist trying to swing
grant money for it. Senator Proxmire would rise
from the grave to mock that study.

Tom Buckner

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