The Chinese Military and the Umami Hypothesis

In an article about China’s military, James Fallows says American forces are much stronger, partly because:

In modern times, American forces are continually in combat somewhere in the world. This has its drawbacks, but it means that U.S. leaders, tactics, and doctrine are constantly refined by the realities of warfare. In contrast, vanishingly few members of the People’s Liberation Army have any combat experience whatsoever.

He could have used the word readiness. One reason I believe my Umami Hypothesis — that we require a steady stream of bacteria in our diet to be healthy — is the underlying logic: That a steady stream of bacteria continuously activate the immune system, keeping it in working order. Without low-level activation, the immune system will (a) react too slowly, causing noticeable colds, and (b) overreact, which causes allergies and other immune system disorders, such as arthritis.

I wonder if the same logic applies in other situations — if a constant low-level threat improves performance. Is Chinese governance better because Chinese leadership feels threatened?

6 Replies to “The Chinese Military and the Umami Hypothesis”

  1. “One reason I believe my Umami Hypothesis — that we require a steady stream of bacteria in our diet to be healthy — is the underlying logic: That a steady stream of bacteria continuously activate the immune system, keeping it in working order.”

    I’ll never forget the last few words of my professor in the “History of Infectious Diseases” course I took at UC Davis:

    “OK guys, so the moral of this story?” He chuckles, “The next time you drop a sandwich on the ground, wait five minutes, then pick it up.”

    If you were to ask a few microbiologists, I’m pretty sure they’d agree with you.

  2. For an interesting take on why it’s important to keep your immune system on its toes by constant exposure to germs, see Why Dirt Is Good by Mary Ruebush, Ph.D. (Kaplan Publishing, 2009). Dr. Ruebush would agree wholeheartedly with the professor from UC Davis.

  3. I was feeling really, extremely depressed this week because I just moved to a new place. Then, I bought Straus butter at Berkeley Bowl, since I was there. I instantly felt really happy after I ate the butter!! That’s great because I have to work tomorrow morning. I bought it at Berkeley Bowl for about $7. I will continue it to see its effects.

  4. Something totally off subject. I went to see a movie a couple of months ago. When I walked in there was no one around to take my ticket so I just walked into the theater. After the movie was over I decided that I enjoyed it so much that since I still had my ticket I would leave the theater and come back and watch it again in fifteen minutes.

    When I returned and started watching the movie again it felt like I had seen the movie numerous times. After the movie was over and since then I can remember every single scene from the beginning of the movie to the end. I can’t do this with movies I have seen dozens of times. I only recently realized the amazing recall I have of this movie so I haven’t tried it again to see if it works with another movie or with anything else for that matter.

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