looking through my things i came across an old scientific american, may 2001. in the article, it states that darwin had his finches and newton had his apple, but ewald had a case of diarrhea:
AMHERST, MASS. Newton had a falling apple. Darwin mused on finches. Paul W. Ewald's inspiration was diarrhea. "I wish I had something more romantic," says the Amherst College evolutionary biologist. It gets uglier: Ewald, then a graduate student studying bird behavior, was camped near a Kansas garbage dump. As he waged a three-day battle against his sea of troubles, he contemplated the interactions between a host himself, in this case and a pathogen. "There's some organism in there," Ewald remembers thinking during that 1977 experience, "and this diarrhea might be my way of getting rid of the organism or it might be the organism's way of manipulating my body" to maximize its chances of passage to the next victim by, for example, contaminating the water supply. "If it's a manipulation and you treat it, you're avoiding damage," he notes. "But if it's a defense and you treat it, you sabotage the host."
well, you get the idea. anthropomorhising an infectious agent is a bit over the top, but it does give a construct into which these kinds of mechanisms can be viewed. one thing is for sure, living things adapt. so much of what we are(physically) is not us. we know now that there are pathogens that are nano-sized. how many of them there may be is unfathomable. there effects on larger organisms can only be theorized.
"Not genes but germs cause most chronic diseases. So argues respected evolutionary biologist Paul W. Ewald in his new book, Plague Time: How Stealth Infections Cause Cancers, Heart Disease, and Other Deadly Ailments,"(Free Press, 282 pp, $25.00).
The Amherst professor is attempting to drag the medical establishment into the Darwinian age. Although it's trendy today to blame most major long-term diseases on inheriting bad genes, Ewald contends that today's "Human Genome Mania" often violates the fundamental principle of biology, Darwin's Theory of Natural Selection. Darwin argued that families with harmful hereditary traits will die out over time. They would be replaced by lineages whose hereditary constitution better enables them to survive and reproduce.
Although Ewald is attempting to revolutionize the practice of medicine, he has made sure that lay readers will find his book interesting and intelligible. He believes that patients are often more open-minded than their doctors."
read the rest of this article at the link. look particularly at the types of disease mechanisms. i would imagine we are looking at the tip of the iceberg regarding all of human health. i know the answer is simple and right under our noses - both the problem and the solution.