There are certain themes that I return to, and the smoke detector principle is one of them. I wrote an Op-Ed piece for the Evolution and Medicine Review last year. An excerpt:
“Randolph Nesse coined the term smoke detector principle to explain why some people display an exaggerated response to threats, perceived and real, resulting in anxiety disorders and panic. He writes “False alarms are to be expected” because of uncertainty about the nature of a threat. That alarming noise behind you that triggers an involuntary intake of breath and a racing heart might simply be a harmless falling branch, or a charging grizzly bear. The overreaction to the falling branch evolved because hair-trigger reactions protect us from the far greater cost of being eaten alive.”
I applied the smoke detector principle to the Toll-like Receptor TLR4 that alerts the body to the threat of invasive bacterial infection.