Ironically, annual celebrations are somewhat more agrarian than paleo. It became more important to mark off calendar dates in relation to the earth’s orbit in order to grow crops more effectively. Of course, that isn’t to say that seasons weren’t important in the paleolithic, just that keeping track of them was a matter of a different sort. Therefore, that this post marks the end of a calendar year is largely arbitrary.

What follows is a list of a few things ranging from totally not paleo to totally paleo that strike me as distractions from an “Is it paleo?” perspective. This list is by no means exhaustive, and I hope you’ll add your favorites in the comments below.

After a sometimes exhausting year trying to learn about the most important period of human development with way less data than we’d like, I think it’s time for a mini-salute to modernity.

“Then with my face covered in good factory mud, covered with metal scratches, useless sweat and celestial grime, amidst the complaint of staid fishermen and angry naturalists, we dictated our first will and testament to all the living men on earth.” – F.T. Marinetti, ‘The Futurist Manifesto’, 1909

Happy New Year!

10. Creationists Glasses/Sunglasses

ZZ Top is totally paleo by the distributive power of “beards are rad”, and they wouldn’t be the same without sunglasses. I’ll leave it to you to sort out that logic. Another cool thing about sunglasses: polarization. I’m a fan of polarization as a magical coating that cuts down on glare, and in the establishment of false dichotomies and other propaganda tools. If you were a hunter-gatherer who couldn’t see, you’d probably kill for a pair of vision correcting lenses. And don’t mess with Marcello Mastrioanni.


Exception: Implicit in one version of the cover of Guy Debord’s masterwork, ‘The Society of the Spectacle‘, wearing 3-D glasses makes you a mindless automaton that’s been recuperated by the spectacle. Oh, and colored contacts aren’t fair in assessing mate value.


9. Vegans Beer

Hey, don’t question me. It’s written on the sign, and thus, totally out of my hands.

Exception: None. I mean… I could probably make a case for Hefeweizen, what with it’s gluten-bomb wheat base rather than barley. I’d rather make a case against beer with fruit in it, but if I say anything bad about fruit, the president’s vegan personal trainer might get all preachy again.


8. Birth Control

It’s just that it used to be called infanticide and infant mortality. Unless you’re a pope or other form of deviant, we’re much better off with modernity.

Exception: Trojan Condoms’ slogan, “Feels like nothing’s there.” That’s what she said?


7. Coffee

I recently heard someone sincerely say that “coffee is paleo.” Until someone establishes the Homo sapiens “Out of Seattle” hypothesis, I’m going to have to go ahead and reject that coffee is historically or logically paleo. And… I don’t care that it’s not… not even a little.


Exception: Frappuccinos. And no, getting the coconut version doesn’t make it paleo either.


6. Bicycles!

A huge number of people don’t use bikes as a substitute for other forms of exercise, but as a substitute for lazy ass planes, trains, and automobiles. That’s right, Kevin! Having the same birthday as me isn’t going to make me forget your post asking if bikes are faileo. 🙂 Besides, there’s an entire blog dedicated to paleo cycling, so… game, set, and match.

Exception: None. Not even road bike weenies.


5. Computers {electricity, light bulbs, et cetera}

“You eat paleo, but you’re using a computer!?” Shut up. Seriously. Just. Shut. Up.

…the chimpanzees I work with are keen on computerized testing: the easiest way to get them to enter our testing facility is to show them the cart with the computer on top.” –Primates and Philosophers: How Morality Evolved

Exception: Macs clearly aren’t paleo because of the high fructose content of apples.


4. Running {and endurance training in general}

Sure, I hate the pain sometimes too, but… it would be a strange evolutionary coincidence that bipedalism is the most mechanically efficient method of distance running, and only humans do it, AND it wasn’t a huge part of our evolution – ostensibly because CrossFit was the hominin fitness program of choice throughout the Pleistocene.

Exception: Clunky running shoes and endurance “sports” based on internal combustion engines.


3. Carbs

If only to shut up critics of paleo that keep saying paleo is dead because 10 Homo sapiens and 3 Homo neanderthalensis fossils show signs of starch consumption. Paleo isn’t anti-carbs! Paleo is anti-carbs in the massive quantity easily and cheaply acquired at Krispy Kreme and everywhere else in grocery store culture.

Exception: Refined sugars and mega-concentrated extracts like agave syrup. Oh, and wheat and corn and rice and all other grains and… (but the latter isn’t a carb thing)


2. Socialism

Sorry comrades. As a bourgeois capitalist, I didn’t want to believe it either. But… the predominant political organization of hunter-gatherer bands seems to be socialist anarchism, libertarian socialism, social anarchism, anarcho-socialism, or some other flavor of social organization that rejects private property and emphasizes communitarian forms cooperation. Objectivism runs into problems (not least because Rand didn’t really believe in evolution… more on that in an upcoming post), and libertarianism relies on a blatantly agrarian conception of property rights.

Exceptions: Authoritarianism, Marxism, State-Socialism


1. Evolutionary Psychology

“Neck-down Darwinism” ain’t cool. If you’ve noticed the difference in personality between golden retrievers and cats, you already understand what evolutionary psychology looks like. Denying that it applies to humans is evolutionarily unjustifiable anthropocentrism. If you still reject it, I hereby sentence you to a lifetime of riding zebras (which I’m told is not unlike herding cats).

Exception: Evolved cognitive biases are real, but I don’t like them.



Your turn! Favorite non-paleo things? Non-paleo things you’re sick of hearing about? Whatcha got?

  1. Brian 14 years ago

    Great Post. This morning I had a cup of coffee, put on some polarized sunglasses, and road my fixie bike to the computer lab to read about evolutionary psychology – only later to have sex with a condom.

    But seriously, all these are essential paleo gear.

    Looking forward to your take on Ayn Rand and Objectivism.

    • Andrew 14 years ago

      Sounds like you’re off to a good start. Bonus points for accidentally swerving in front of a Starbucks and causing someone to spill their Frappuccino.

      I’ve been working on the Ayn Rand post for a while now. It doesn’t keep getting longer, I just keep tweaking my position every time I stumble across another angle. I expect it to be highly criticized no matter how it turns out. In other words, I’m looking forward to it too!

  2. Skyler Tanner 14 years ago

    This post demands more Star Wars references.

    • Andrew 14 years ago

      True, I wonder if Jabba the Hutt has a favorable Omega-3:Omega-6 ratio.

  3. Quinn W 14 years ago

    Great post! I stumbled on your blog awhile ago, and am really interested in your perspective. I look forward to more!

  4. Lindsay 14 years ago

    This is a good one. I get tired of all the CAPITALISM IS THE MOST PALEO ISM people. Take some anthropology and learn about stateless communitarianism. It happens, yo.

    • Andrew 14 years ago

      Absolutely. We can (and need to) have conversations about which form of social interaction is most appropriate – for a world of 6+ billion people with 0% unclaimed land – in terms of evolved human psychology. However, it's not enough to say "capitalism is the worst system except for all the rest", and is thus, paleo. That's an overindulgence in some sort of ex post facto naturalistic fallacy rationalization.

      The interesting questions occur at the intersections of our biological imperatives, their psychosocial abstractions, and modern culture. It seems that capitalism does capitalize on some evolutionary artifacts in positive ways, but saying that isn't good enough to call it solved. It also brings up questions of whether that's beneficial/ethical interest alignment or the hijacking of human instincts of the other to meet the [arguably] unnecessary evolutionary artifacts of "status seeking" of the individuals in power.

      • Chris 14 years ago

        My inexperience in evolutionary psychology is likely causing me to oversimplify things, but it seems that capitalism (at least how it is practiced today in the US) stresses the alpha male aspect of our psyche, rather than the communal. There's a lot of "you have to lose for me to win" going on.

  5. Victoria 14 years ago

    Beer- Amen. I've started to limit my consumption, but there was no way I was saying no thanks to a gift of Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout- Merry Christmas indeed!

    As for computers- I think it is unfair that you single out Apples as a source of fructose. I'm fairly sure all computers are full of cookies these days… totally not paleo.

    • Andrew 14 years ago

      Exactly. I can't remember the last time I ordered a beer personally (with the exception of an occasional gluten free substitute), but turning down a beer someone else bought for me is a breach of social protocol. And… it's one of the social protocols I actually like so I'm not in any hurry to question its validity.

    • Andrew 14 years ago

      I totally got distracted before acknowledging that your cookie joke was spot on. Touché.

  6. Peter5280 14 years ago

    To my co-workers, toilets are paleo…yes, I'd loved to squat in your cubicle to do my business, but I need this job to buy my grass fed beef. And my mattress is not faileo, a proper bed of grasses and grain stalks is a little difficult to source in the city.

  7. Jamie 14 years ago

    Like it. Like it lots. I agree with everything except beer, but that is only because it turns me into a bloated and depressed mess. Although putting a bit of Tom in my tank (Ginger Tom Beer after a hot afternoon on the cranks makes everything in the world right again. It also turns you into the trickiest rider if you are on the mountain bike after a pitcher or three. Any form of anti-baby device gets my vote… If you want to save the planet, forget buying electric cars – just stop breeding (has the dual effect of saving the planet and screwing capitalism at the same time).

    Anyone who suggests coffee isn't paleo so it should be ditched is asking for a ruddy good punch in the chops in my book. Gone on, just bugger off will ya!

    I disagree with your exception regarding bicycles… road WEENIES aren't cool, but MAMIL's – fat Middle-Aged Men In Lycra are absolutely stone cold. LYCRA IS A PRIVILEGE, NOT A RIGHT PEOPLE! It is like looking at a snake that swallowed a frog in many cases.

    Runners are a bit Ginger Beer if you know what I mean… but I must admit I have taken to a bit of hike, sprint, jump, bash as my form of bipedal endurance work. Sacrilege I know, but I quite enjoy doing endurance stuff whilst not crushing my testicles into a skinny road saddle (though that is supposed to help with number 8 isn't it.

    Your photo of salty kumara chippies makes me drool… now if only we could get those deep fried in beef tallow again… Grok would have been totally down with that.

    I'm for any political and economic organisation that doesn't keep telling us in one breath that our economy is going down the toilet because we are spending too much and not saving enough, only to tell us in the next breath that our economy is going down the toilet because we are not spending enough and are hanging on to our money.

    You mentioned coloured contacts aren't fair in assessing mate value. Well, neither are 4 inches of makeup that only a sandblaster can remove, fence stain used as fake tan, skin-coloured stockings, fake nails, fake eyelashes, body-shaping underwear, and the most heinous of false-advertising crimes – the push-up bra. Guess what you are left with when you get that home and unwrap in all. That's right, a swamp-donkey. And there isn't enough Ginger Tom in the world to give you polarised beer goggles and make that right.

    Two things I would add to your list… my mp3 player… cos life needs a soundtrack (especially Prodigy's Diesel Power when ascending a hill), anything that provides me a speed fix… I rarely drive my car these days, but when I do I want speed (hey, some people snort coke for their dopamine hit… driving fast is how I roll), and my House M.D. DVD series… cos everyone needs a misanthrope that they can aspire to be when they grow up.

    • Andrew 14 years ago

      I've been trying to figure out how to respond to this all day. It always just amounts to me rereading that bit about unwrapping swamp-donkeys and laughing about the perfect tie-in back to Ginger Tom and polarized beer goggles.

      You've thwarted my response by one of the most perfectly crafted comments of all-time. Nicely done.

  8. Author
    Sean Müller 14 years ago

    Thanks for the number two! Being an Anarchist, though more in the middle as a mutualist than socialist or capitalist, I’m glad you know the distinction between state socialism and anarcho-socialism. most non anarchists don’t. 😀

    • Andrew 14 years ago

      Yup. I'm way on the anarchy end of an anarchy-authoritarian continuum. The word "anarchy" is poisoned because people tend to think of a 'Road Warrior'-esque dystopian nightmare of chaos, so I tend not to use it much.

      I bring it up all the time, but check out Bob Altemeyer's work on authoritarianism if you haven't yet. One of his books is available for free [in digital form only] at

  9. Mike Fout 14 years ago

    Epic Post.

    Coffee and Guinness have always been on my "F Off" List. Worrying about whether something is Paleo or not isn't Paleo.

  10. Author
    @DailySuicide 14 years ago

    I pretty much approve this post. That makes it Paleo.

  11. Todd S. 14 years ago

    My bicycle riding (and soon to be bicycle building), left-libertarian-market-anarchist-agorist-mutualist-voluntaryist, getting more sick of Apple every day, coffee-guzzling, sweet-potato fry loving, eyeglass-wearing self approves of this message. I don't tolerate gluten well and anything over 2 beers makes me throw up (anything less just gives me painful acid reflux). I can down a fifth of JB no problem though.

  12. Emily 14 years ago

    Hmm. Seems like a good list. I'll add chocolate, black eyeliner, and cheap plastic beach toys bought at the end of the summer or passed down from older cousins. Works for sand, mud, or snow! Totally paleo.

  13. Author

    […] ideas that should be left behind with 2010. Andrew at recently posted a great list of paleo topics in this spirit, which of course inspired me to come up with a few of my […]

  14. Kurt G. Harris MD 14 years ago

    Color me mostly anarcho-capitalist for purely pragmatic reasons. But Jesus, "objectivists" and their made-up jargon give me a headache. Just like all cults that don't think they are a cult. Rand herself misunderstood the few real philosophers she misappropriated. Pleas publish that essay soon so I can link to it and irritate objectivists like I irritate the socialists and country club republicans.

    Nice work here. Blogging is more clever thinking and good writing than anything else. I'll add you to my blogroll.

    • Lindsay 14 years ago

      I loved this comment, and then I saw who posted it. Naturally.

      In the best possible way, Dr. Harris, you remind me of my father. Glorious irritable and irritating genius…or something like that.

  15. Kevin- PaleoPlaybook 14 years ago

    Seems pretty clear to me that people use the word "Paleo" however the hell they want now. Originally, Cordain used it to refer to food items that matched evolutionary precedence. (We ate meat, veggies, and fruits in the Paleolithic, so they are Paleo.) It's also useful in terms of movement, like we used to crawl, sprint, and climb in the Paleolithic so those things are Paleo. In this way, the word is useful in order to highlight evolutionary precedence.

    Now, the word itself has evolved into something obscure: "If it's good for you, it's Paleo." Or worse: "If it's fun, it's Paleo." I'm concerned that any further evolution of the term will render its meaning useless and serve only to fragment the philosophical discourse.

    In conclusion, beers and bikes are not Paleo. But they sure are fun. Especially together.

  16. Keath Cole 14 years ago

    The Paleo principle is a heurestic subsuming certain physical health guidelines for people living in a world of modern choices. The principle of individual rights is a principle about the kind of social milieu appropriate to the life of a rational being as such. The first isn't more fundamental than the second and therefore has no bearing on it. Socialism (or capitalism for that matter) isn't any more or less Paleo than a toenail clipper is.

    • Andrew 14 years ago

      This would be correct if the human mind didn’t adapt to its unique ecology over the course of evolution. However, the human mind did adapt to its unique ecology over the course of evolution – just like every other species’ brain has. A large component of that ecological pressure was a particular level of sociality within the milieu of immediate-return hunter-gatherer political economics. Human cognition and behavior remain biased by those pressures.

      What’s more, human emotions are also evolved heuristics to confer survival and reproductive benefits within the ecological context of the EEA. Thus, metrics based on happiness, love, jealousy, hate, et cetera – the very emotions by which we assess morality (and ethics in turn) – thrive or suffer to varying degrees within the confines of the sociocultural structures imposed upon individuals.

  17. daiaravi 13 years ago

    and computers? and internet?

    enjoy your humor in the posts – just cannot get very excited about slammin' (or approving) all our modern objects that don't [significantly] impact our nutrition/diet. i'm not heading back to the cave and bearskins any time soon, but i am watching every bit of goodies that i stuff down my gullet –

    i like to think that the spiritual/universal component of my consciousness will readily accommodate (in fact begs for) the multitude of new stim that modern life provided – but the body is hanging in the distant past, achin' for the fatty kidneys and livers of the last downed prey–

    living with the enigmas i guess–

    Discoveries for a Full Life

    • Andrew 13 years ago

      if we're on the same page with the whole evolution bit, which it sounds like we are, how is the part of our bodies between our ears exempt from hanging in the past?

      • daiaravi 13 years ago

        hhhmmm, the meat between the ears is, of course, biologically strung-up to the past, but i'm of the mind (no pun) that although the brain cheese is bio, the activities in the brain are not so evolutionarily-bogged down in the past (perhaps as we are all interconnected in the ether? kinda esoteric i know) .

        i'm not claiming any "science" for this – i just think that our bodies are clearly in need of paleo attention while our thinking seems to thrive (creative person thinking…) on some pretty non-paleo stimulus. I mean – i don't sit around all day thinking about how cold my feet are (gosh shall i invent shoes?) or were are the bits of meaat left over from lat night. (then again, maybe i do…..) Our mental/thought process evolution can be pretty impressive (not Faux News and such) and moves well beyond the past that our body physiology is clearly shackled to (not the ones living on light 😉 )- ie eating modern foods is detrimental but absorbing progressive modern ideas and thinking is more often a positive–

        • Andrew 13 years ago

          To my mind, "conditions" such as ADHD and depression are ultimately caused by an evolutionary mismatch between our paleo brains and modern civilization (most notably, population and pop. density). In this way, I think it seems very analogous to paleo in terms of (some) modern foods being detrimental. Would you disagree?

          On your point about a "spiritual/universal" component: I'm having a hard time reconciling that with an evolved brain in the context you've framed. An evolved brain that could sense such things would either have to be adaptive, or a bizarre accident of genetic drift. Aside from "repent unto the lord or I'll kill you", I'm not aware of any particular adaptive advantage to such beliefs.

  18. daiaravi 13 years ago

    I do agree regarding the the paleo brain/modern world mismatch – and would take it a lot further to include the unconscious yet "intentional" individual and even mass actions of sicknesses and epidemics, phenomenon like the India farmer suicides in response to monsanto-induced crop failures, and perhaps even extending to the self-sacrifice in revolutions and uprisings. mother nature will prevail in all things biological and, as the bitch she is, she'll have her way with us no matter. How we convolute her intention with our little bit of free will and so-called intelligence will not substantially alter the outcome.

    It's the hard-edge of reason and logic – and the absolutism of viewing everything as a biological adaptation that, for me, resides less-than-comfy next to what seems to be, for lack of any better or less inflammatory terms, a spirit or soul – i can only speak from my personal sense that there exists in this paleo body and brain, something utterly un-related to the biology. I cannot put it into a suitable or accepted context as i will not accept religious ya-ya or cynical dogmatic reason either. If something of this yet-undefinable un-proven and of course argumentative "spirit" was not a component in our evolution yet not connected to it – then i find it hard to figure why we are, for example, on these computers, chatting through all these "big bunch of tubes" – we didn't need to go there in order to spear the next meal or spawn the next offspring.

    mmmm – coffee….(he sips again)

  19. Kristjan 13 years ago

    Very good post 🙂

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