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Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Not only in biology

I gather there has been some recent support for the hypothesis that too clean an environment is bad for children's development. If kids don't have bacteria and dirt to exercise their growing immune systems, those systems don't, in effect, learn what they're supposed to be doing, and instead go apeshit about the wrong stimuli. Result, the ongoing increase in allergies and asthma.

Is it too cute to draw a parallel between this problem and the effect of our overall societal obsession with safety? If people don't grow up in an environment with a certain baseline level of risk, if they don't learn how to handle some risk as a matter of course, what may be the permanent distortions in their social and political development, and what sort of society will they produce?...

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