Bare Bones Biology 269 – “Emergence”

Just think how much of your brain is involved with maintaining the system that is you!! Your physiology, your instincts and your world view. And with all that, the way you do stay alive is through your emergent properties – your behaviors – that are generated by your physiology, instincts and world view. Your behaviors are your emergent properties. Your emergent properties keep you alive by interacting with your environment. You do not jump off high buildings. The function of a system is to maintain its own emergent characteristics.

The emergent property of us is female human. The emergent property of Bitsy is female Canis familiaris, and that describes the system that she must maintain by her behaviors, which is different from ours . Every kind of living system fits into a unique niche in the web of Life, according to its emergent properties.

The emergent properties of the corposystem are growth by domination for money.

The emergent property of the Biosystem is Life, which is maintained by balancing all of its millions of subsystems – all the different species, all the organs within the species, all of the cells that make up the organs within the species. All of those are different, naturally evolved systems. Even the corposystem. All of those things are evolved systems that must mesh together to maintain the Web of Life.

150814-WP-asc_9299RSs copyThe Biosystem perpetuates its emergent property (Life) by getting rid of subsystems that cause harm to Life. That is survival of the fittest; survival of the fittest is not primarily some kind of competition. The harmful subsystems are controlled by “limiting factors” that I have discussed in previous blogs. If the subsystems cannot be controlled, then they basically eliminate themselves as the natural result of their harmful emergent behaviors. It’s a feedback loop. Not a competition.


The Biosystem requires cooperative behaviors. The Biosystem requires that its subunits behave in ways that help to maintain Life.   Another feedback loop.

For a more social example, the corposystem rewards domination-by-power type of thinking and behavior, and punishes other types of thinking. If you spend a lot of time thinking about how you can get what you want by domination – it’s likely that you will behave appropriately toward the corposystem and you will be rewarded by the corposystem. If you won’t behave like a corposystem – most likely (in our relatively benign culture) the corposystem will find a way to not listen to your beliefs, opinions and world view.

You cannot do two mutually exclusive kinds of behavior AT THE SAME TIME. If you try to nourish the welfare of both the corposystem, that requires competition, and the Biosystem, that requires cooperation, you end up confused and quite possibly eliminated.

Here’s another way to say almost   the same thing:

           “There were two faults in the way the women’s movement began. First, women aping men in power will just lead us to be wicked and coarse. That will just    double the world’s trouble! The other mistake is to see the feminine as irrational, and therefore encourage everyone to cultivate the irrational in themselves.    Rationality is always better than irrationality. So I propose neo-feminism, which   is again holistic, unified, synthetic, and cooperative, but includes analytic and  reflective methods. It brings a feeling of wholeness. The analytic masculine period takes everything apart to see how they work; the feminine period puts them   back together again. It’s synthetic; an organic approach.”

White Fire by Malka Drucker. 2003. Page 107, quote of Dr. Beatrice Bruteau.

We cannot serve the conflicting needs of our various systems, all at the same time. We cannot serve our own best interests, and the needs of the family as a system, and the needs of the corposystem, and the needs of the Biosystem, all at the same time. To find our greatest personal power, we need to understand how systems relate to each other, and choose our behaviors with great wisdom*.

This is Bare Bones Biology, a production of and KEOS, 89.1 FM, in Bryan, TX.

A copy of the podcast can be downloaded at:…-269-emergence/


* The Dalai Lama has said that wisdom involves researching our problem until we find its root cause, and then fix the root cause.

Bare Bones Biology 268 – Systems

I capitalize Life to represent the emergent property of the Biosystem. And life is used represent individual living things.

 The green bits were edited out of the podcast because of time restraints.


How to say it, that’s the problem, and in five minutes or less, it’s difficult. So today I will need to strain my brain and yours, because I want to talk about systems – real natural systems. I will reference a “A Systems View of Life,” co-written by one of the speakers at a previous Bioneers, that I have not yet read, and a book entitled “Linked” that I have listened to about 5 times and benefited every time.


A naturally evolving/evolved system is a set of objects /nodes/things linked together in all or nearly all dimensions by processes or other manifestations of energy. The nodes and links of an  evolved system work together to generate a unitary emergent property (properties/characteristics/phenotypes) that is/are useful to the environment within which the  system evolved/evolves by natural selection.

Implications of this definition follow:


  1. 1. Every kind of system has unique characteristics (emergent properties) that were of value to the environment within which the system evolved. For example, you are a system that consists of subsystems, your emergent properties are Homo sapien. You are a subsystem of our current social system, the corposystem, that is a subsystem of the Biosystem. The defining emergent properties of the corposystem are growth by domination for profit. The corposystem is a subset of the Biosystem, whose defining emergent property is Life.


  1. Every kind of system is unique because its unique emergent properties permit the system to fill or define a new and useful niche within the environment of its origin. If there were no unique niche available that contributes to the welfare of the parent system, then there would not be that subsystem. For example, your kidneys evolved as a subsystem of you because they are necessary for your survival. Your brain also.
  1. In this modern world we need to use that brain – all of it — both the logical, critical faculties and the emotional, instinctual understandings — if we are to survive. That’s what it’s for.

For example, if we reject basic science in favor of humanities – or if we reject humanities in favor of basic science (which is NOT engineering), then we are not using all of our brain power in the effort to survive within the Biosystem.

  1. Each system interacts with its environment through its emergent characteristics.   The emergent characteristics of our corposystem as it has evolved, no longer align with or enhance the welfare of the Biosystem. This means the corposystem is in competition with the Biosystem. Competition is not the natural order of success. Competition leads to extinction of one or other of the partners. Success in the Biosystem requires balance among the parts (think again of your kidney).

Because the corposystem and the Biosystem are not aligned, and in fact are in competition, therefore they cannot both survive unless we decide to use our brain to force a change in the emergent properties (the behaviors) of the corposystem.

5 – The function of a system is to perpetuate itself. If it can’t do this, it will die. One implication of this reality is — if you have been raised within the corposystem — then you have been trained to behave in ways that benefit the corposystem, and our evolved human social system will induce or force you, in many and subtle ways, to behave in ways that promote growth by domination for money.

 For example, one of the ways the corposystem exerts this pressure is to start an argument over some issue of great importance, and then refuse to pemit us to discuss it because it is “controversial.” Especially if it is NOT controversial but factual, the corposystem is afraid of it. If we don’t discuss it, then we cannot align it with the needs of the Biosystem, and our behaviors will support the corposystem world view rather than sustain the Biosystem. It would be like the kidney competing with the rest of your body.

 Ocamora-ASC_8563RLSsTake climate change for example. There is no doubt about climate change. It’s a fact. The only doubt is what we will do about it. To defend itself from this fact (that would require the corposystem to shrink rather than grow), the corposystem first created a fake controversy. But facts always trump propaganda in the long run, and now the corposystem has been forced to take that issue seriously. So the new corposystem propaganda seems to be revolving around schemes intended to make money by promoting climate-change-related growth of businesses and charitable organizations.   The corposystem is based in growth. The growth of the corposystem destroys the Biosystem as we know it.

The Biosystem is changing in effort to maintain its viable balance, and as a result the productivity of the Biosystem is falling and will continue to fall, no matter what we do. Unless we can stop corposystem growth. That is how the Biosystem stays balanced. It is now out of balance and changing to a different climatic form. That’s how the Biosystem gets rid of problem subsystems.

My goal is to help grow a NEW human social SYSTEM to replace the corposystem. The emergent properties of the new system must be sustainability and resilience (at least). This can only be accomplished if we align our behaviors (not our emotions or our beliefs, but our behaviors) with the needs of the Biosystem.

And that is what basic science (not technology) is for. As for systems, our understanding of systems will not save us any more than our understanding of gravity or thermodynamics can save us, nor can technology within the corposystem, because technology serves the emergent characteristics of whatever system is using it.

Systems is just another fact of Life. It can help us align our behaviors – that’s what basic science (not technology) is for.

The corposystem will die in any case, because it is dedicated to overcome the Biosystem using domination and growth. The questions now are: 1) Will the corposystem damage our Biosystem to the extent humans cannot survive in it? And 2) Will we be able to step outside the corposystem world view and grow a new human social system that is sustainable?


This is Bare Bones Biology, a production of and KEOS radio, 89.1 FM in Bryan, Texas.


A copy of this podcast can be downloaded at:



The Systems View of Life, by Fritjof Capra and Peter Luigi Luisi, Cambridge University Press. 2014.

Linked by Albert-László Barabási. Perseus, Cambridge, MA, 2002

Bare Bones Biology 267 – Meditation in Purple and Gold

Our emerging world view system, generated at the women’s leadership retreat, is composed of twenty-plus women. On last Saturday, we separated (at least physically). The eldest (I like my new identity) and the amazingly fluent youngest drove together to Angel Fire, where we picked up Bitsy, who was in deep mourning and nearly broke what was left of my heart, and then we proceeded down the Canyon to Taos and the Snow Mansion, where we delivered the youngest with some considerable confusion. By the time that adventure climaxed, the sun was lowering toward the far side of the next mountain, but enough light remained for a couple of hours driving through the beautiful “Kingdom*” of LIFE over the mountain to home.

Our little Saturn eased past the town limits just as the “add water” image started flashing on the dashboard, and when at last we reached our doorstep we found there a celebratory bottle of home-made wine.

So that was nice.

The CWL did change my personal self-image system; it will take some time to see how that falls out. But I alreOcamora-ASC_8421RLSsady knew how to write my life goal, which is: “to help grow a sustainable, resilient new human social system (world view) within a healthy Biosystem.” But last week, I only mentioned the next step on that path, which is the completion and distribution of “Book 25.” It seemed more solid; more conceivable; easier to discuss a smaller goal. Both were re-affirmed. And I got to express my deepest sorrow that is the reason for my persistent dedication. That is, watching the young of the corposystem working so very hard in their efforts to save the Kingdom of LIFE, not realizing that what they are doing — not their intention – their actions are powered by the needs of the corposystem ethic, and the corposystem ethic is the root cause of all the major problems we all are trying to fix.

Growth by domination for money. That’s the corposystem world view (emergent characteristic) in a nutshell. It’s not what we meant to do, but it’s what it is. The Biosystem world view is LIFE. More about that next week.

So, we made it home before dark, parked the Saturn, poured the wine, thank you Diego, sat down at the computer, and collided head on with the corposystem world view, in the guise of a large and well respected nonprofit organization.

I have spent the past fifteen years, after I finally realized I can’t change anyone else without doing unethical behaviors, trying to define myself (the system that is me) so as to align my own world view and behaviors with the needs of the Biosystem. As opposed to the system in which most of us today were raised and trained, which is the corposystem.

I had offered to donate about a $1500 value of photography to this nonprofit, and last March they claimed to be enthusiastic, but today — well never mind, I only have five minutes here, but from long experience I know it when I see it. Back in the day we had a name for it — MCP, today some people refer to it as male dominance behavior, but in fact I have done quite a lot of personal research and changed my own label from MCP to CCP, representing corposystem domination, because it turns out females who are raised in the same system are most often just as bad (or worse if they are highly competent), given the chance, and it is really the corposystem ethic itself that is the cause of the problem(s) that we struggle to contain.


Growth by domination for money.

So – what can we do about this? Not much. What I did was remind myself that I should not be donating time or money or my skills to help support an organization that has values that are destroying my own commitment to LIFE, so I will stay home and work on Book 25.

And then I thought maybe – if we can understand the goals and the roadblocks – our emerging CWL system might turn out to be the difference between growth/domination /money and sustainability/resilience/compassion for LIFE.


Edited out the green parts for the podcast (time limit)

This is Bare Bones Biology, a production of and KEOS 89.1 FM in Bryan, Texas.

A copy of the podcast can be downloaded at:


“The Kingdom of the Father is spread upon the earth and men do not see it.” (The Gospel According to Thomas, verse 113). The Gospel according to Thomas was apparently suppressed about in the year 150 or 200 AD.


Bare Bones Biology 264 – Fairy Tales

First the system of science tried to teach me to write. In the system of science, one should write a first paragraph that summarizes the points you will make in the paper. This was a good exercise for me because I tend to naturally think the most important points should go at the end, after the evidence. But it seemed somehow that what was logical to me was not logical to them.

I kept wanting to talk about the incredible beauty of the mammalian pigmentary system – that is, the beauty of the system, not only the beauty of pigmentation, though truly pigmentation is beautiful, both in itself and in its relationship to the needs of living creatures. But the system, the intellectual beauty of the physical system and how it works to produce what is needed for Life. The elegance of the emergent reality that we can then look at the factual evidence and see how beautifully logical it is, though we would not have thought of it. I kept wanting to talk about that, and that’s not what one talks about in scientific papers. Scientific papers are mostly about figuring out what the facts are.

150611-Canyon-ASC_7325RLSsBut that was my problem as an active scientist. I’m a holistic thinker. The big picture – the emergent reality – is much more beautiful to me than reductionist facts. It was hard for me to remember that science is all about figuring out what those facts are. And, without the factual reality of the bits and pieces of our lives, we wouldn’t have our big, beautiful system of LIFE.

The corposystem also tried to teach me how to write, but they have a different method. In the corposystem (if one is to be successful), the writer is supposed to put a cutesy story in the first paragraph. I guess the idea is to “hook” the reader. Then, after you have caught your fish, you must be careful to avoid polysyllabic words or thoughts that might scare him off the hook.

You check your vocabulary against, I forget what grade level, 8th maybe, use words of two or fewer syllables, and use sound bites, or I guess they now call them memes?, so that the reader is inevitably drawn into believing that everyone who uses the same word – for example, evolution is a good word – is thinking about the same thing. Which is not true of course.   I am NOT thinking about survival of the fittest when I say “evolution” but you ARE thinking about it when you hear the word. This is only one little example of how the corposystem functions to maintain it’s own world view by preventing the introduction of new ideas.

And so, for the most part, writing for the corposystem is ALSO not about the system of Life, the intellectual beauty of the physical system and how it works to produce what is needed for Life itself to survive. Not about the elegant beauty of how nature really functions, but more about what the corposystem wants, which is mostly money and success regardless the cost.

150619-Cabin-ASC_7429RLSsThe result is fairy tales. Fairy tales are not necessarily bad, but they are the long way round. Trying to solve real world problems by using our human emotions only — without regard to the uniquely elegant power of the human intellect. Or trying to solve the problems using the human intellect only – without regard to the beautiful interactions of human emotions. These are the longest possible routes to a real solution. They also diss (disregard, disdain, disrespect ) the very emergent properties that made us fit to survive during the last couple of million years, more or less, from among all the other species out there that didn’t.

If we can’t handle all that – if we can’t cope with the complexity of our gifts – well, that is just one of those tragedies that arise in the evolution of systems of LIFE. But if we won’t even try because we are having too much fun pretending we are king of the hill – then, I think that’s a crime.


This is Bare Bones Biology, a production of and KEOS radio, 89.1 in Bryan, TX.


A copy of this podcast can be download at:

Bare Bones Biology 204 – Gary’s Question #3, Evolution and Emergent Properties

Our goal is to build a human system (society) that is sustainable and reasonably comfortable within a healthy Biosystem. (Bare Bones Biology 195, That is reason enough to learn everything we can about the Law of Life (that is, the Law of Evolution and the many interacting processes involved with Evolution) Bare Bones Biology 197,

140513-canyon-ASC_9026RLSs copyThis series of podcasts, beginning with Bare Bones Biology 194 is meant to provide the most basic overview of the Law of Life, one of the laws of nature, along with the laws of thermodynamics, gravity, etc., that operate to maintain Life on Earth. That means Life itself. It does not mean human Life. Humans could not survive without the other parts of the system of Life on Earth. The earth will still be alive 50 years from now, but it is not clear that humans will continue to be a part of the Biosphere. It is the Law of Evolution that supports the positive biological systems and disposes of those that have negative impact upon the viability of the Biosystem (Bare Bones Biology 194,

Both the Biosystem and the human corposystem are systems. Systems are self-perpetuating, so long as they maintain their positive interactions with their environments, and each system grows around a set of core properties that together have a unique survival value within the Biosystem.

Six of the most basic requirements for Evolution to function positively are described in Bare Bones Biology 198 ( and Bare Bones Biology 199 (http://Fact/ They are:
1-Reproduction; 2-Death; 3-Inheritance of traits; 4-variability of traits; 5-transmission of traits to the following generation; 6-Interconnectedness of processes and “things,” or
objects. (Objects are organisms, cells, tissues — all the objects that are generated at all the levels of organization of Life and are maintained by the processes of the Life system). (Bare Bones Biology 199, Bones Biology 200,

140513-canyon-ASC_9028RLSs copyThere could be no Life without interconnectedness because there would be no way for the living objects to change in response to their environment. There could be no systems without interconnectedness because the function of a system is to maintain itself in the face of its changing environment. If the system cannot maintain itself as the environment changes, then it fails (dies), as our corposystem is now failing. It is the Law of Evolution that imposes the necessary balance between the need of a system to respond to its environment and the system’s necessary tendency to avoid change. (Bare Bones Biology 196m )

Response to environment in lower systems (individual cells or individual organisms) happens using physiology. This is the first function of the information encoded in the genes, or DNA ( ,Bare Bones Biology 201). Many or most genes that are doing this first function, regulate processes that generate a living thing thing or object, such as yourself, or a tree, or a cell, or a kidney, by responding to the environment
embryologically or physiologically.

Response to environment in the higher life forms (species; ecosystems; the Biosystem) happens using Evolution. The nature of Life (the living objects at all the levels of organization ( results from balancing the needs of all the interacting systems as they respond to their internal and external environments (Bare Bones Biology 200, http://Fact/ The function of Evolution is to maintain this balance.

Depending upon all the above factors, and more, the evolution of life forms responds to the environment in multiple ways, from very slow, step by step evolution to remarkably rapid jumps known as biological saltation or punctuated equilibrium (ref Wikipedia). This part of evolution is possible because of inheritance of traits that can be passed on to the next generation, and it is the second function of DNA — to make exact copies of itself (all the genes) to be passed on to the next generation in the sex cells and by fertillization (ref Wikipedia). The genes then use their first function in the new gamete by activating the processes that create new living “things” (cells, organisms, tissues, etc.). Evolution does not act directly upon the genes; Evolution acts upon the variable characteristics (phenotypes) of the things (organisms, tissues, cells, etc) that are created by the genes.

A small amount of genetic and phenotypic variation results from individual gene changes, or mutations. More results from many, many genetically controlled processes that work together. For example to make a jaw bone, or a tooth, tissues that interact with each other, requires many genes interacting with each other and with the embryonic environment in which the jaw is made. Variability of inheritable traits is necessary for Evolution, and the genes encode the traits. Therefore genetic variability is an important pre-requisite for phenotypic variability, and there are many processes that generate genetic variability, from meiosis of the sex cells in individuals to the maintenance of subtle genetic errors in the gene pools of species. We discussed these in (Bare Bones Biology 201 – Bones Biology 202 Bones Biology 203 –

In all the millions and millions and billions of recombination and mutation events of genes, very rarely, some call it a singularity event, a unique COMBINATION OF genes—that encodes a unique combination of processes—comes together to generate, suddenly (on a geological time scale), an emergent property – a new functional sustem that sustains a new emergent property that provides a new and different way to survive: eating, flying, swimming, growing, a new way that can populate a whole new niche in the environment. This is a big jump in evolution; certainly it happens, probably it is what we refer to as punctuated equilibrium or saltation — and then it is followed by adaptive radiation.

However, unless you intend to live to be a million years old or so I would not wait around for a singularity event to save us from our own hubris (Bare Bones Biology 195, So I would suggest – instead of playing human mind games — that you join in the reality-based effort to sustain a Biosystem humans can live in — by using your talents to dig as deeply as you can into understanding and teaching the real Facts of Life and helping to discover how we can learn to submit to them by living sustainably. Rather than try to negate the Facts of Life based on your personal opinions. If you were to succeed – then what? No life.

On the other hand, if we could learn to conform ourselves to reality, we could conceivably build a new human social system with a different set of core properties – combined to form a new emergent understanding of Life — that are sustainable and provide reasonably comfortable life style for humans on a viable, living earth.

Win or lose, that is the most important effort that any human person could make.

This is Bare Bones Biology, a production of FactFictionFancy and KEOS FM radio, 89.1, Bryan, Texas.

The podcast of this episode is available at:

Definition – Can You Improve It?

131208-ice-ASC_7643RLSsI think of wisdom as fundamentally the ability to understand the relationship between one’s cultural knowledge and one’s cultural and physical environment. I started using the term “wisdom cloud” to refer to the accumulated wisdom of our human cultural environment, and I am assuming the function of our cultural environment is to provide an environment in which people mature knowing how to behave in ways that will benefit the welfare of the community. I use the term “wisdom systems” to refer to subsets of belief that have been formalized. It’s not the best term one could use because it implies that all wisdom systems are wise. This is not so. The wise system is that which results in the greatest overall benefit to Life, if well used, because it most accurately reflects fundamental biological reality, or now that we also must deal with scientific information, does not deny the reality of measurable facts.

131214-Clubhouse-ASC_7673YLSs copy 2If I were to state this from the viewpoint of an omnipotent creator I would say that Creator set in motion the laws of nature (which are super-human and which humans can neither fully understand nor change) to select for or grow a system that functions according to the greatest good for all sentient beings, which ultimately is the greatest good for the one Life of Earth.

The Creation is a miracle that we should celebrate and protect. This year I plan to celebrate that miracle at a midnight musical service, and I wish you the same or similar experience.

Bare Bones Biology 100 – Climate Change, The End

On a Thursday I went to two local meetings, one right after the other. The first was a seminar — a group of people who are concerned about the health of the whole ecosystem that we live in. Second, I went to a political meeting. All the people I met at both meetings are concerned for the welfare of our whole community. But their views of what is a community are so different that, if they were talking together, they probably would not recognize our common motivation.

I despaired of explaining this gap until I once again realized that we are talking about levels of organization. BBB-051 and BBB-052. By my system, individual is level one. Level two is the population level, our local community of humans or all humans as a species. Level three is the entire worldwide ecosystem, which is a super-organism that consists of all the species on earth and the environment we all create to live in.

People who work at the population level need to understand as much as they can about the social sciences, because that’s how we humans manipulate other people, for good or for ill. That’s all about hopes and dreams and kindness and cruelty and good and evil and empathy and compassion, as defined by our common human values. This is different from individual, level one welfare, and the difference is the cause of most of our political battles. That’s because, instead of trying to understand the differences in a way that will generate a living space for individual welfare within the communal welfare, in our culture of today we are choosing to fight over those conflicts of interest. For example. My neighbor’s oil well is giving me nosebleeds, shortness of breath, and I think maybe affecting my memory, which at my age is a concern. Good for him, bad for me, a simple individual level-one difference, he is bigger than I am so I will move. However, a more
difficult problem is the effect that his oil well has on the rate of asthma, alzheimers and obesity and other problems of the people of the whole community. That’s level one welfare, conflicting with the welfare at level two. At that point, we need a serious human discussion or we will likely end up with a serious human fight. That’s the kind of thing that good politics should be addressing. The welfare of the individual within the population of humans. There is always a conflict of interest. That’s what the social sciences are about.

The ecosystem is the level that includes all of life on earth. Everything alive is part of the whole earth ecosystem and requires a healthy ecosystem to stay alive, because the ecosystem literally makes the air, water and rich soil, and it makes these things by balancing extremely complex cycles of energy and climate and organic molecules. That’s not a matter of opinion. Without the ecosystem, there is no population to worry about, and that’s what the folks at the seminar mean when they are concerned about the common welfare.

We need the so-called “hard sciences” to understand what the ecosystem requires to stay healthy. Because the ecosystem does not function according to human values or emotions, the social sciences will not help us understand what the ecosystem requires. That’s why we need biology and ecology. And facts. And our unique human brain that can understand the difference between ecological facts and human emotions and desires. And our unique human language that can share knowledge and information over space and time.

There are measurable facts in this world. Our opinions are fun and they make us feel important, but they do not change facts. Science does not change facts. Nothing changes facts; that’s why we call them facts. Thermodynamic relationships are real, and all of life is based on them. The law of cause and effect is real. It is a fact that what we do today will influence the level of human suffering in the ecosystem of the future. The world keeps changing; that’s a fact, and we need to deal with it.

Bare Bones Biology 100 – Climate Change, The End
KEOS FM 89.1, Bryan, Texas
Audio download available later this week
here and at

Recommended References: Levels of Organization Emergent Properties
Bare Bones Biology Energy Handbook is available on my blog for free download
Beyond Religion: Ethics for a Whole World, by H.H. The Dalai Lama