Thursday, July 16, 2009

Leave those monkeys alone

In his autobiographical series titled “Over Seventy”, P.G.Wodehouse referred to a study in which nicotine drops had been placed on a cat’s tongue. The cat’s blood pressure was measured before and after the drops were administered. Sure enough, it registered an increase, proving that smoking was detrimental to health.

Wodehouse protested: Are we to give up the pleasure of smoking merely because some dumb cat couldn’t hold on to its BP, he asked. He went on to advise the researcher to grow out of her addiction to the habit of placing nicotine drops on the tongue of every cat that crossed her path. If every morning she told herself, “Today, I will not place nicotine drop in a cat’s mouth”, soon she would get out of the habit, he counseled.

I have similar words of advice for a dumb researcher in Wisconsin, who experimented with diets of monkeys for twenty years ( via). One group was fed a restricted diet, while another was fed whatever it wanted to indulge in. Preliminary conclusions, published in Science two decades after the experiment began, “demonstrate that caloric restriction slows aging in a primate species,” the scientists leading the experiment wrote. While just 13 percent of the dieting group has died in ways judged due to old age, 37 percent of the feasting monkeys are already dead.

Naturally, the conclusion is that all of us must eat 30% less if we want to live longer.

Are we, evolved human beings that we are, expected to cut down on goodies and go on crash diets merely because some monkeys in Wisconsin died sooner when they ate normal diets? Actually, the real problem is that the researchers are perversely addicted to the habit of restricting the diets of monkeys. If every morning they tell themselves, “Today I will not cut any monkey’s diet by 30%”, I assure them that they’ll soon rid themselves of the habit. It just requires some will power.


ramesh said...


Shalini said...

OK. Can anyone tell Mayavati to tell herself not to make any more statutes of herself.:)

Raj said...

ramesh, haah to you too.

Shalini, if Mayavati tells herself every morning " today I will not build statues of myself", soon she will get out the habit.