JoNova

A science presenter, writer, speaker & former TV host; author of The Skeptic's Handbook (over 200,000 copies distributed & available in 15 languages).


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Bunions and broken bones: medieval shoes show price Homo Sapiens fashion victims willing to pay

Would you like bunions with that? | Photo: Mshirk

Believe it or not, Medieval shoes tell us something important about modern civilization. The hyper-gregarious Homo Sapiens might be able to walk on the moon, but ultimately a large proportion of the species just want to climb the social ladder. And the smarter, higher order sapiens might paradoxically be willing to pay the most stupid price.

In this case, being “progressive” in the 14th Century meant wearing pointy shoes that left 4 out of 10 people buried at the friary with bent and sometimes broken bones. Bunions make it harder to balance so they increase the risk of falls. The undeniable benefits of scoring social fashion points were apparently worth spending decades distorting foot bones. Before you dismiss this as a teenage girly thing, ponder that two thirds of the victims were men.

The social competition to have the pointiest shoes became so dangerous that in 1463 King Edward IV passed a law declaring toe-points had to be 2 inches or less within London.

Pointy shoes in a statue from 3,000 BC. | Camocon

The pointy shoe fashion bubble has struck all over the world: Japan, China, […]

On misanthropology

misanthropology (from Urban Dictionary): the scientific study of the origin, the behavior, and the physical, social, and cultural development of hatred in humans misanthropology-the opposite of optimistology.

Lost word, sighted on the Neologism thread at (Diggingintheclay) that inspired The Doomsians are Panixilated post.

For what it’s worth, I think misanthropology is often just a veneer, it’s not a real hatred at all, but just the semblance of it. It’s much more small minded. It’s not about “hating humans” so much as it is about impressing the chick (or boy) next door. A kind of competition to get to snob-land first: ‘I look down on humans more than you do.” (Which translates loosely as: I, the exalted one, speaks from a greater height, fellow misanthropist….)

It’s about status, eh. Like everything.

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