On the left hand side add natural food, like apples, vegetables, animals. On the right hand side, add books, texts, letters.

Physical vs. Mental Nutrition: An Evolutionary Perspective

tl;dr: In the following introduction, we compare our skills to evaluate nutrition to our (lack of) capabilities to handle information.


Evolution has trained us well to see, smell and taste food. We always knew what was good for us. Evolution enabled us to intuitively distinguish what’s nourishing and what’s not. If something looked unappetizing, we threw it away. If it looked tempting, we considered it. If it smelled delicious, we took a bite, and if it tasted good, we gulped it down. In our savanna days, this process was an almost infallible safeguard for our health.

In modern times, of course, that system has been eroded. They feed us nicely packaged crap with tons of sugar, products that appeal to our senses but are harmful (to say the least) to our health. To be fair, we still have a choice in the supermarket, but that choice is based on a more recent tool: reason.

Generally, unless someone tries to deceive us, this system of sensory evaluation combined with reasoning works reasonably well. However, the challenges become significantly steeper when we shift from physical nutrition to mental nutrition – the realm of abstract information.


TellDear is not about physical nutrition, though. It is about abstract information. The kind we mean when we talk about the digital age, information technology, information pollution. Something we might call modern information. The stuff you find in non-fiction books, newspapers, podcasts, speeches, lectures and so on. However, our evolutionary arsenal, despite being astoundingly capable of handling certain types of information, falls short in dealing with this. We have, for instance, some abilities to detect lies. Until the liar improves his lying skills and surpasses us and we believe his or her lies again, that is.

If something is wrong, we may have a gut feeling. Or our heart may pull us towards towards certain people or ideas. We also have the capacity to plan, whether it’s an attack strategy against a mammoth, planting crops for the season, or orchestrating the conquest of the Romain Empire with using elephants. These capabilities, however, don’t seamlessly extend to the abstract, dense, and multi-faceted realm of Modern Information.

We almost completely lack the ability to discern quality, structure, intent, content, relevance, density, and other indicators by looking at an artifact that contains information. Media artifacts have no surface. They have no color, shape, or smell. The author or editor tries to mimic this by giving the work a title, a cover, a teaser, and some other markers. To a certain extent, this works. But the idea we have of the content is often so wrong because there is no natural mechanism (other than the good will of the author) to match the outside and the inside of a piece so that the title, cover and teaser match the text. As we can see on YouTube, clickbait and buzzwords entice us to click on the videos that YouTube’s algorithm, which is stronger than we are, has chosen for our benefit. We all know such nonsense as the following:

  • “I Tried Yoga for 30 Days and You Won’t Believe What Happened!”
  • “Eating Only Fruits for a Week – Here’s What Happened to My Body!”
  • “Living Without Technology for a Month – The Results Will Shock You!”
  • “I Traveled the World for a Year, Here’s How It Changed My Life!”
  • “Watching This Video Will Make You Reconsider Everything You Know About Reality!”
  • “I Meditated for 2 Hours Every Day for a Month – This Is What Happened!”
  • “I Gave Up Sugar for 30 Days and This Is What I Learned!”
  • “Practicing Gratitude for a Year, You Won’t Believe How My Life Transformed!”
  • “I Read a Book a Day for a Year – The Results Are Astonishing!”
  • “Living on $1 a Day in New York City – My Unbelievable Journey!”

How nice it would be if these results were automatically hidden (one of the features TellDear will have). Unfortunately, even YouTubers with ambition and quality content are using this these days – just look at what Russell Brand is doing. Obviously it works, so more people click and watch.


In the face of such manipulation, our task as consumers of modern information isn’t merely about consumption; it’s about discernment. We must develop new skills to navigate this landscape. Cultivating intellectual discernment, learning to judge the value of information by its substance rather than its packaging, becomes paramount. This process necessitates effort, critical thinking, and an open mind, tools that go beyond our evolutionary arsenal.

Being informed in this Information Age isn’t just about the act of consuming information; it’s about consciously selecting, scrutinizing, and synthesizing the information we encounter. We must learn to resist the superficially appealing and seek out intellectually nourishing content. In this complex landscape, our mental health, intellectual growth, and societal progression depend on this ability to discern, select, and assimilate information.

From the savanna to the supermarket, and now to the sea of information, our survival and growth have always been about making the right choices. The context may have changed, but the underlying principle remains. To thrive, we must adapt and evolve, not in a biological sense but in an intellectual one.

And just as our ancestors used sticks and stones as tools to support their daily business of finding food, we need the appropriate tools to support our daily business of making sense of the world of information.

That is why we are introducing TellDear.

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