Provocation: Parasitology. The above figure illustrates a concept, which has over recent decades become known as ‘’the hygiene hypothesis’’. In brief, the increasing prevalence of allergy, asthma and autoimmune diseases observed in the developed world (not observed in developing countries which harbor the majority of the global burden of worm diseases) is positively correlated with better sanitation, greater standards of hygiene practice, and systematic removal of the majority of the burden of worm parasites from these populations. Humans have coexisted with these parasitic organisms throughout evolutionary history. An entire arm of the immune system has evolved to deal directly with infection by these parasites. Not coincidentally, this same arm of the immune response is responsible for the development of allergic type diseases. The prevailing theory, for which there is considerable supporting evidence, is that in the absence of exposure to the parasites we have evolved to combat, the immune system -‐ a powerful and potentially malevolent force, does not ‘learn’ how and when to properly exert its influence and thus, can, under certain environmental and genetic predispositions, respond in a harmful manner, to non-‐dangerous stimuli (pollens, dust, fungal spores) or even, to the bodies own tissues. ART as a pARasiTe: Like parasites of the developed world, The Arts – considered a ‘drain on resources’ and a poor choice of study for those wanting to ‘get ahead in life’ -‐ are under threat of eradication in favor of ‘STEM’ subjects. Like parasites, artistic pursuits and creation have been inextricably intertwined with humans and the human condition since our species evolved. What removing our parasites has taught us is that you cannot know what will happen once you have eradicated an integral component of an ecosystem or community. You cannot always predict what problems will incur as a result. Thoughts: Are the ARTS a PARASITE? Is parasitism always bad? What scenarios might we envisage in the wake of their removal?
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