The Economist, 13 December 2003

More recently, (September 2008), the At Darwin's Table blog was established; it has this image as its header:

The image makes its point powerfully, but I'd questions some of the symbolism. I make these criticisms not against Darwin's Table, but, first, about the symbolism employed in our society generally. The use of a pig is one of many examples of humans separating themselves from other species - 'human exceptionalism'. Think of how we use the following to criticize people: 'you dog!', 'she's catty', 'he's a pig', 'something fishy', 'the old cow', 'you rat!', 'a snake in the grass', 'the silly goat/goose', 'you ass!', 'they're like sheep/vultures', 'loan sharks', 'breeding like rabbits', 'bird-brain', 'loan sharks', 'his behaviour was Neanderthal', 'circling like vultures', 'aping his behaviour' and so on. All of these treat other animals as being less than human and all our domestic animals have a common derogatory reference, demonstrating our culture's need to have a tradition of contempt for them. Further examples are 'inhuman', uncivilized' [3], 'it's a barbaric act', 'dumb animals' and the dismissal 'we can't all go back to living in caves!' In contrast, we use terms from myth and fantasy to describe admirable people: 'you're a star', 'she's an angel', 'military/sporting hero'. These examples illustrate a deep tradition in our culture which reinforces a non-Darwinian view of non-human species. [2] Less significantly, I make the following points:

More on At Darwin's Table here

Here is another version of the same idea, this one from Peter McAllister's 2009 book Manthropology:

Here we have the Neolithic specimen exemplifying the tallest and leanest - this seems to indicate that the artist has not read the book for which he was commissioned to produce a cover.


1. For more on human exceptionalism see this page on Homo sapiens' response to climate change.

2. For more about how our use of language determines our attitude to the natural world see this page on landscapes.

3. For a critique of civilization generally see this page and for an argument which rejects critiques of civilization see here, particularly the footnotes .

Evfit home    Go to food    Go to exercise    Go to body shape   

Page last up-dated on 18 October 2009