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Why Nature Is Trying To Kill Us Part III

Updated on September 30, 2008

I don’t want to play a numbers game. I am not interested in locking horns with the reflexive naysayers who make niggling other people to death part of their career advancement strategy. No matter what anyone says, just give me enough motivation, time and resources, and I can prove them wrong. I don’t care if they’re saying that the sky is blue. Anyone who has been cross-examined on the stand by a sharp lawyer will know that there is no such thing as a defendable fact. If someone tries hard enough, they can pick holes in anything, regardless of whether or not it is the absolute truth, you have sixteen eyewitnesses and the whole thing was captured on videotape.

So I’m not going to make the statement that 64% of the causes of modern death did not exist in prehistoric times. That would be just giving gratuitous fodder to the long line of vociferous critics who already started to line up outside my office door while my laser printer was still spitting out the first draft of this book.

Therefore I’m going to make this statement:

Of the causes of modern mortality, the number that were statistically insignificant in times prior to recorded civilization is...


There! OK? Are all the number crunchers happy? Good.

Robin Williams jokes that an earthquake is just the Earth saying “Get these condominiums off my back!” In a similar way, we can consider that these Civilization Diseases are the Earth’s antibodies. When the human body is attacked by a foreign entity, antibodies are released to fight it. Similarly we can consider that these Civilization Diseases are the antibodies of Mother Nature herself. We have irritated her and now it wants to get rid of us.

Nature despises civilization. The more civilization, the more it will kill us. It will keep coming up with more and more diseases that will be more and more lethal. It will laugh heartily at medicine’s efforts to defeat it and will just send more people to the grave.

It has compiled a body of laws. Absolute, inflexible, unchangeable. They are the laws of human life.

It is both judge and executioner. Whenever it recognizes that an individual has violated its inviolable rules, without consideration, without appeal, without mercy, it kills.

Thus this compilation of physiological rules forms a guideline for existence. And each of these laws becomes a moral imperative.

The absolute, inviolable, inflexible, unchangeable morals of living.

But it would be a mistake to assume that nature itself is capable only at striking at our physiology. She is far more cunning than that. It has the capability of not only weakening, sickening and killing our bodies, but it can also weaken, sicken and kill our society. It has the inclination to create havoc and destruction well beyond the limitations of human flesh and strike into our very security, safety and peace of mind.

It has been a couple of decades now that the message to stop smoking has been drilled from every available medium into our collective heads. The scientific evidence for the severe dangers to health provoked by any form of tobacco use is so overwhelming that to deny the link would be the purest form of delusion.

We don’t need to reiterate the litany of health problems caused by smoking cigarettes, cigars, pipes, and even chewing tobacco. Unless you’re an escaped prisoner of war who has been hiding in the jungles of Borneo since World War II, you are probably well aware of the disastrous impact that tobacco has had on human health.

After all this exposure to the anti-smoking message, we have all become accustomed to the list of physiological problems caused by smoking. However, it seems that physiology is not the only aspect of human health that is affected by tobacco use.

Babies whose mothers smoke during pregnancy are at a much higher risk of growing up to be criminals.

I don’t know about you, but I had to re-read that line a couple of times before it sunk in.

Let me get that straight. If your mom smoked cigarettes while you were in the womb, you are now more likely as an adult to become a felon?

At first, the link between your mother smoking and your felony record seems farfetched. The mental image that immediately comes to mind is a criminal pleading in front of the judge “Honest, yer Honor! I didn’t wanna pull all dem jobs! But my mommy smoked!”

Researchers from three universities based their findings on data for 4,169 males born in Copenhagen between September 1959 and December 1961 and studied the men's arrest histories at age 34. It seems that the number of cigarettes their mothers had smoked during the third trimester of pregnancy affected the men's arrests for non-violent and violent crimes as adults, even after factoring out other possible causes such as alcohol use, divorce, income and home environment.

“Our results support our hypothesis that maternal smoking during pregnancy is related to increased rates of crime in adult offspring,” the authors wrote, adding that the results “suggest an additional critical reason to support public health efforts aimed at improving maternal health behaviors during pregnancy.”

Delivery complication was one other risk factor found to be significant. The researchers found that more than a quarter of the men whose mothers had the highest levels of smoking and delivery complications were arrested for a violent crime as an adult.

The ramifications of such research are truly staggering. For the first time in medical history we seem to have some verification that a mother’s actions during pregnancy actually affect the behavior of the child! The relationship between the mother’s activities while pregnant and the health of the child have been well-recorded, thus the warnings against drinking, smoking, malnutrition, etc. for expectant women. But those warnings were all directed at preventing physiological defects in the fetus. This research takes pregnancy warnings to a whole new stage. The concept that maternal conduct actually dictates a behavior in the offspring as complex and elaborate as criminality is completely stunning.

We are not just dealing with a slight statistical aberration, some insignificant blip in the numbers that can be explained away through some mathematical leger de main. In the study, women who smoked a pack or more a day while pregnant ended up having children who three and a half decades later were more than twice as likely as to be felons. And delivery complications thrown into the mix created a situation where they were more than three times as likely to be felons.

So if your mom smoked and had a difficult delivery, you might as well start getting comfortable in orange jumpsuits while shuffling around in leg chains.

Continued in Part IV


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