Hugh Pickens writes "Jeffrey P. Khan writes in the NY Times about how recent anthropological research suggests that human's angst of anxiety and depression ultimately results from our transformation, over tens of thousands of years, from biologically shaped, almost herd-like prehistoric tribes, to rational and independent individuals in modern civilization. The catalyst for suppressing the rigid social codes that kept our clans safe and alive was fermented fruit or grain. 'Once the effects of these early brews were discovered, the value of beer must have become immediately apparent,' writes Khan. 'With the help of the new psychopharmacological brew, humans could quell the angst of defying those herd instincts. Conversations around the campfire, no doubt, took on a new dimension: the painfully shy, their angst suddenly quelled, could now speak their minds.' Examining potential beer-brewing tools in archaeological remains from the Natufian culture in the Eastern Mediterranean, the team concludes that 'brewing of beer was an important aspect of feasting and society in the Late Epipaleolithic' era. In time, humans became more expansive in their thinking, as well as more collaborative and creative. A night of modest tippling may have ushered in these feelings of freedom — though, the morning after, instincts to conform and submit would have kicked back in to restore the social order. Today, many people drink too much because they have more than average social anxiety or panic anxiety to quell — disorders that may result, in fact, from those primeval herd instincts kicking into overdrive. But beer's place in the development of civilization deserves at least a raising of the glass. As the ever rational Ben Franklin supposedly said, 'Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.'"
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