Vomited matter, the smell
of which, last night,
convinced me that there might be something after all to sociobiology
So far, I've never thrown up while others around me were doing the same.
But life's taken me a few times into
caring for someone else throwing up -- toilets, sinks, buckets, towels, garbage cans,
bedsheets -- many different times and places, with one common element: the stinging, acrid smell
of gastric acid, and the immediate ensuing attack of dizzying nausea. Nothing
else -- no smell or sight no matter how disgusting, atrocious, or frightening -- comes even close
to sheer nauseating power of the smell of gastric acid.
Last night tending to my friend, I thought about it for a little while.
Why this strong correlation? Everyone I've talked to has this reaction, and it doesn't
seem culturally determined or socially constructed -- it truly seems as if it's from
deeply embedded instinctual part of the human brain.
Picture this: a hungry clan of Homo erectus finds strange berries or meat from a
week-dead goat. The first one of them gorges, and then vomits. The others, smelling, throw up
involuntarily, expunging themselves of the poisonous food before they've managed to eat much.
Thus: the whole clan is healthier, and they're less likely to all be incapacitated at once
from food poisoning.
Vomiting is a prelingual and pre-conscious form of communication.
The bile-induced-nausea is an evolutionary advantage.
I'm not one to believe sociobiological explanations when they try to explain things like
homosexuality, male vs. female promiscuity, or generosity. These types of discussions
usually suffer from the naturalistic fallacy and encourage bad science and bad politics.
Like those theories, my explanation really adds nothing on its own: it's not a real explanation
because it isn't verifiable or falsifiable*. However, it does increase my suspicion
of unsubstantiated alternate theories (such as that found at vomit) and could be used
to guide the search for a true scientific explanation.
I mean, if anyone cares.
*vuo mentions the theory "is verifiable and falsifiable by using PET brain activity imaging. a reflex should be seen in the hypothalamus or near it." An excellent idea.