Bare Bones Biology 305 – Survival

As the processes of Life proceed through time, each in intimate relationship with its environments, change happens. Life changes over time. I think you already know this, but that is not the interesting part of the story. It is not the system itself (for example, the Human species as a system, or the power that we humans wield, or even our individual commitment) that generates the change over time inside some specified environment. Rather, the environment imposes change upon the system (for example us). And the result of this “dance among the systems” determines which systems survive. We do not need to fight for survival of our system — we only need to know what is required of us to enhance to coalition of all the naturally evolved systems – and do it.
160316-New Elm-asc_3538RSs
However, this is not usually what happens, because naturally evolved systems most often do not change course. They usually become more and more of whatever is their primary specialized attribute, until the system collapses, and some new baby system arises that fits itself neatly into a nurturing niche within Life.


This is because a naturally evolved system is set up to protect itself from change. Its prime directive is to perpetuate itself, and all the little bits and interacting pieces of the system do just that. For example, consider the corposystem as a model, because I have already used the giraffe so many times it becomes boring. The corposystem is set up, organized, naturally evolved to perpetuate itself by making money through growth and making growth through dominance. This is what all its bits and pieces (let’s say all the people trained in the American TV dominated educational system) are set up to do.


That’s different from giraffes, because it is the genome of the giraffe that is set up to grow a long neck to interact with an environment of treetop browsing. But we are not talking about genetics or giraffes, we are talking about naturally evolved systems, and the corposystem is a naturally evolved social system composed of people in their environment.


Because the function of any system is to use its parts to maintain itself, and because of the amazing success of behaviors – therefore it is in large part human behaviors that maintain the corposystem.   And what directs human behaviors? For the most part it is the human world view that directs human behaviors. Humans born, raised and trained within the corposystem educational system maintain the corposystem world view by their behaviors.


Now along comes a threat to the survival of the corposystem worldview of growth by domination for gain. What is the threat?


Overpopulation. Physics. Energy. Growth is impossible beyond the ability of our Bios to feed us. And we cannot change physics or energy. They are what they are.


Still, the function of a naturally evolved system is to maintain itself, and the only way it knows how to do this is to use its imprinted (evolved, educated, inherited) worldview.


So we try harder and harder to grow – and more violently to dominate – until we are destroying other naturally evolved parts of the Bios — and that changes the Bios from a cornucopia of biological wealth to a dessert of thirst and hunger.


And what will happen if you try to have this conversation with a citizen of the corposystem?


The function of a biologically evolved system is to maintain ITSELF.   That does not mean to survive. It means to be what it is at any cost, and when the environment in which it can flourish changes, as we have changed it, the cost is, indeed, our survival.


Because that is how evolution functions. That is the process by which naturally evolved systems interact with their internal systems and environmental systems to generate viable complexity.   By killing off the parts of the system that do not contribute to the viable complexity of the system.


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Bare Bones Biology 293 – Reinventing the Wheel

I am not a physicist. Far from it. I had to take calculus in order to be a good biologist, and I never did understand it until I was able to intuitively grasp what they were talking about, and even then I couldn’t actually DO it without going back to the book every time for the various mathematical expressions that I needed. Nevertheless, I got it mostly right, because, as Neil deGrasse Tyson is supposed to have said: The good thing about science is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it.” And I know his mentor, Carl Sagan, said something similar. And it is true, by definition.
Neil deGrasse Tyson
Facts are facts.

Of course.

That is why many of us lean toward science. Well understood facts are completely reliable, and we can’t say that for many other things on this earth – even some of us choose “science” as our God.

That is a big mistake. First, most people do not understand that technology is NOT basic science. Technology is very powerful, but it is merely a manifestation of man the toolmaker, not man the omniscient god. Humans are not God, and if you want evidence of that, just go for a walk in any city. If you want power, technology is a lot of fun. If you want a future, then it is better to take a path that leads toward fact-based wisdom that combines the benefits of good basic science with the learned experience of human mistakes.

To be a physicist, you need calculus, but you only need to be about 25 years old or so to begin; for wisdom, you need experience, your own and as many generations as possible behind you, on top of your knowledge of the facts of history and of basic science, and that of course is why powermongers, first most quietly and now most forcefully, are overwhelming our sources of information with fake facts. Well, actually, it’s not possible to fake a fact unless the listener is not paying attention, but we seem to have a great lot of people listening to the media with their emotions rather than with their minds, and so the powermongers are succeeding elegantly in this country. They don’t even have to work very hard to pull the wool over our eyes. It’s what we want, so we the people are doing it for them, but that is another story.

This story is about humans choosing between wisdom and power. We have chosen power, I think largely based on a false meme: “Survival of the Fittest” is NOT how Life functions to stay alive, and it would take a little effort – not much, but beginning with a questing mind – to understand how evolution really does work to generate and maintain living systems. I’m not talking about technological systems that powermongers use to elevate themselves. I’m talking about real, sustainable systems that maintain themselves and us by balancing the interacting systems of which they are composed

How, then, do humans find wisdom – the elusive antidote to power? First we acknowledge the real facts and discuss their implications for the entire Biosystem, ourselves included — the root, rock-bottom facts that generated Life on Earth, that guide how naturally evolved systems interact with each other to grow better systems. Those processes do not change. The systems change, of course, but not the processes.

151224-XMasEve-ASC_0886RSsOnce we have the knowledge, then our wisdom challenge is more complex. We must of course acknowledge our human instincts and emotions, but we must go beyond that level of understanding to figure out how to navigate our path among the facts of today and into a sustainable future. We are not ants, that make their decisions instinctually, based on response to chemicals in their environments (or if we are, it isn’t working well). The gift of wisdom, when we accept it, is our ability to factor the facts into a wisdom tradition that suits the environments.

The facts give us power to make war over whatever we choose, but wisdom gives us the power to use the facts to make a future for ourselves within Life on earth. We probably can’t do both as our resources dwindle; it’s too bad we have chosen war over sustainability.

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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 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.


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World Views – 150621


© 2015, Dr. M. Lynn Lamoreux


His Holiness The Dalai Lama has said*:

“If you want to get rid of painful effects, you have to get rid of their causes.” and            Wisdom is: “analyzing the facts and discerning the actual situation.”

I think that covers it well enough, and will use his definition in this chapter.




How Do Humans Grow a World View/Paradigm and Why do they Cling so Fiercely to It?


This is a working proposal composed of both facts and opinions. I won’t document the various facts from the scientific literature because my purpose is not to prove anything, but to consider two questions.


1) In this age our environment has changed drastically. A world view by definition is our effort to explain our environment, describing how the world works, so we can function in it. I believe all world views make sense within the environment in which we grew up. However, the environment for everyone has changed dramatically. Our individual environment, our social and political environment, and our biological reality have all changed since we were born, educated and imprinted.   So the question is, if your world view was logical, and then the environment changed, is it still logical?? Does it still make good sense today, or does it need a little fine tuning?


2) Why are you not discussing our common problem with other persons who have different world views? If you are discussing our common problem, scratch that question and discuss the below. And then carry on to Part One – The Law of Life.


This that you are reading is taken from my world view (basic science), and is a synthesis derived from my training in evolution, ecology and genetics and subsequent career in genetics, plus my various culture shocks, activism and general inquisitiveness.   Here, I am talking primarily about our unique human asset, the brain, in the sense that it drives our world views – which strongly influence our behaviors. It is primarily our behaviors that interact with the environment. The evolutionary (see part one, the Law of Life) function of the world view is to give us behaviors that will help us to survive in the environment that we are in right now.#


Our world views are complex and are caused by a combination of inheritance and environment. Our inheritance is what comes to us from our ancesters, packaged in our chromosomes. Environment is everything else that comes to us, everything that we experience in our lives that is not packaged in our chromosomes. At some times one may be more important than the other to crafting our current world views. The relationship between the two, the inheritance and the environment, is meant to adapt us to our lives.

The existence of Life on earth (and our sustainability within it) results from the cycle of interactions between our genes, that are packaged in our chromosomes, and very seldom change — and our environment that is not so packaged and changes continually.


However, it is neither our genotypes (the particular genes that we have inherited) or the environment (that keeps changing over time) that primarily drives LIFE on earth. Rather, the genotype interacts with the environment to grow a world view, which is a system – a system of thinking — and it is the system itself (in this case our behaviors that result from our world view, that could be thought of as the emergent property or the phenotype of our the system of our thinking) that determines our influence upon the future of LIFE on Earth. Following is a rough overview of how our genetics and our environment work together to build a mental system that drives our behaviors.


A – inherited behaviors are “hard wired” and I will call them instincts. Clearly we mammals do inherit (and therefore we can evolve) “hard-wired” characteristics such as the ability to take a first breath after birth, the ability to nurse, our most basic emotions (but not necessarily how we use them), various physical capabilities that are tied in with hormones, the nervous system other body systems — and the ability to learn.


B – I believe the instinctual, hard-wired, inherited makeup of humans includes a compulsion to make sense of the environment using what we call “logic,” that may have originated from the ability of humans and other animals to understand relationships between causes and effects relative to events in our environment. This is how we learn. It’s also how other animals learn, and would obviously be an advantage to survival. Therefore, evolution perpetuates and selects for our ability to use “logic.”


Making sense of the environment depends both on the ability to figure out cause-and-effect relationships, and on the environment into which we are born and raised. So, everyone who can do cause-and-effect reasoning has an inherent advantage in learning. However, everyone is raised in a slightly different environment (or a lot different, depending on many variables).


What makes sense depends upon whatever the environment is, but I believe world views – the creation of a world view – is as necessary to human life as the need to nurse. We do it; we don’t need to think about doing it; if our environment doesn’t make sense to us we are very uncomfortable, and so one of the main things humans do is to learn.


C – The first few years of development after birth, our brains are adding dramatically to our ability to function, mentally and physically, in the world. Learning would be defined as responding to the environment by organizing and adding neurons and/or neuronal connections.   I believe this stage of early learning is so interconnected with our instinctual “hard-wired” behaviors that by the end of adolescence each person has grown a world view that is so integrated that the original inherited brain cells are so fused and intertwined with the cells that developed from early learning, that the inheritance and the learning work together as one sub-system within our brain system.


The ability to integrate learning with our basic instinctual system is a great evolutionary advantage for groups of people who are living in a relatively unchanging environment. It permits every generation to learn more about the environment and teach what they know to the young generation so that the culture gains wisdom in the form facts, metaphors and social customs that adapt the whole culture to its environmental realities that do not change very much over the generations. In other words, their world view gains more and more specialized expertise about their real world.


D – We can and do change our world views later in life by more learning, and this kind of information stored in our brain seems to be more easily recognized as secondary, and therefore more easily changed than the early world view. The later learning stillmust make sense, however, within the mental foundation that already exists. People will go to great lengths to create and maintain a logical world view, whether or not it makes sense in a different environment. Change is possible; it may require a significant adjustment of the world view; it may require some physical “rewiring” of our brains. We can change learned behavior. We cannot change our genetically determined behavior (for example the human capacity for hatred or compassion seem to be hard-wired, but we can re-organize how we use our instinctual behaviors.


In a time of change or crisis, the ability to change or re-organize both the basic world view and the later learned information provides the same human brain with a different evolutionary advantage.   If we were unable to change our world views at times of crisis, then we would not be able to respond appropriately to the crisis.


However, we would rather not change, because change is painful, sometimes very painful, and it activates our stress reactions, which are also uncomfortable. So then we are forced into choices.


A – We may cling to our imprinted paradigm, even though the relationship between that paradigm and the new reality is no longer logical.


B – On the contrary, we may endure the resulting culture shock and change our paradigm, building a new one that is logical within the new set of observable facts.


C – Sometimes (I’m thinking of abusive families for example) we may continue to lead our lives inside the paradigm of our birth family even if it is very painful, because we understand how to deal with it. And because it’s usually not possible for people to recognize or understand the logic that exists in the world outside of their own paradigm, and the more different it is the more scary it is to jump into something that we are not prepared to understand.   Our existing paradigm makes sense to us. We may prune it and touch it up, but total failure of an existing paradigm feels like insanity. We don’t want to go there. Maybe it is insanity.


I don’t know how those early connections were made in the brain between the genetic programming and the early learning, but this marvelously evolved reality – 1) the human ability to change when conditions change, or 2) increase in wisdom when conditions do not change — incorporating the two capacities in one developmental system seems to me one of the miracles of our human creation.


Implications –


We are now living within an environment that is changing very rapidly. To participate in this change wisely, and because our stress reactions are activated and our emotions in a turmoil, it is essential that we “analyze the facts and discern the actual situation.” In other words, address the problem with all the wisdom we can muster.


The natural biological response is indeed to generate diversity (as I said above, running off in all directions at the same time) but I think the wise approach in this case, because a great deal of diversity is already available in the human community of the whole, would be to give up fighting over which is right and what is wrong, and pretending that the “fittest” of us can win in the end (see part One), and instead benefit each other by sharing our world views in our effort to “discern the real cause of our pain so we can remove it.”


In other words, if we don’t start some basic discussions of the basic issues, instead of taking potshots at each other, none of our world views (and resulting behaviors) is likely to win in the end.


In sum, I think it’s important for us to understand that all world views are or were logical in the circumstances of their origin, and to understand that culture shock is one of those painful blessings with emphasis on blessing, and to understand that we always have choices. We can cling to the seeming security of what we already understand, or we can choose to become a part of change, for the benefit of the entire community, when that becomes necessary.


Simply changing our behaviors to something that seems right within your existing world view will make us each feel better about ourselves, but it probably will not solve the problems we are facing, because our existing paradigm (imprinted and trained in our earliest childhood) that caused the problems in the first place.


I believe paradigm change is the only hope for human kind in this age, and it is clearly happening, but extremely inefficiently. We could do more. We could consciously use our unique mental equipment to grow a world view that could save us. Whatever paradigm we each grew requires in-depth evaluation, analyzing the facts and discerning the actual situation, so that we together can respond wisely to the crisis.

Other options exist, actions that are not based in removing the cause of the problem, dreams and hopes, arguments and debates, winning and losing. But our winning or dreaming or hoping can NOT change the reality – neither factual reality nor historical reality.. Other than trial and error, there seems only one way to grow a useful paradigm change, and that is the far more sensible approanch, which is to do the work of analyzing the facts and discerning the causes of our problem.



(*Becoming Enlightened by His Holiness The Dalai Lama, translated, edited and read by Jeffrey Hopkins, PhD. 2009. Simon & Schuster.)






#Helpful Hint: Evolution is not (as it is perceived within the corposystem world view) “survival of the fittest.” Evolution is an incredibly intricate “Dance of Life (Dancing with the Sacred),” Thank God for Evolution.” An intricate balancing of interactions between and among the environment(s), the laws of nature, all the systems and subsystems and processes of our whole Biosystem, and our behaviors within the system. All is systems. Our world views are mental systems.


A system is a set of interacting processes and “objects” that function together sustainably. The function of a system, balanced in relation to its environment, is to sustain itself.


One human is a system made of systems. A marriage is a bigger system; a community is a system made of individuals; an ecosystem is all interactions that support life (ref 2 blogs re community) The above description of world views is only one example of how a system balances itself. Survival is the balance of the systems according to the Law of Life.


Bare Bones Biology 263F – The Problem Is

Right now it seems as though we (as humanity) are running panic stricken, in all directions at the same time without any sustainable paradigm to guide us, each person responding in knee-jerk fashion, mostly trying to “fix” our social collapse, each according to his own world view and without respect to getting rid of the cause of the affliction. This is why I have not enthusiastically focused my energy on any of these separating actions, though many will


150615-Flood-ASC_7400sI bless the culture shocks that saved me from myself. Wisdom is gained, according to the Dalai Lama (Becoming Enlightened) by “analyzing the facts and discerning the actual situation.” He should know – he’s had enough paradigm shifts in his life, and I’m quite sure we would agree that this kind of wisdom, based in factual reality and gained through deep study and empathic participation — combined with wise (altruistic) compassion — is essential to long-term, reasonably rewarding human lives.


Before that I actually believed that we had dealt with the problem in the 50’s and 60’s. I knew I had, and that’s another thing about one’s own paradigm. Unless we have an opportunity to experience the logic of another’s paradigm, we just naturally tend to believe that everyone else thinks like we do. They don’t. They don’t even want to. They like their own.


We need to begin rational fact-based discussion of issues and stop fighting irrational wars (debates).


I bless the culture shocks that saved me from myself. Wisdom is gained, according to the Dalai Lama (Becoming Enlightened) by “analyzing the facts and discerning the actual situation.” He should know – he’s had enough paradigm shifts in his life, and I’m quite sure we would agree that this kind of wisdom, based in factual reality and gained through deep study and empathic participation — combined with wise (altruistic) compassion — is essential to a long-term, reasonably rewarding human paradigm.


Is it possible, given the chaos we are now creating, that our response to our social and biological collapse is not so much about the actual cause of the problem as it is about the necessity of “getting together” in order to “analyze the facts and discern the actual situation” in an effort to grow some wisdom around the problem? Is it perhaps that our World Views are pushing us apart, preventing us from getting together even to discuss the real issues?


I think it’s important for us to understand that all world views are or were logical in the circumstances of their origin, and to understand that culture shock is one of those painful blessings with emphasis on blessing, and to understand that we always have choices. We can cling to the seeming security of what we already understand, or we can choose to become a part of change, for the benefit of the entire community.


150614-Cabin-ASC_7341RLSsThe natural biological response to stress is indeed to generate diversity, but I think the wise approach, in this case, would be to benefit all of us by sharing and evaluating the world views of all in our effort to understand why we don’t just admit to the real cause of our pain so we can remove it. And then proceed to develop a more sustainable world view of the whole. In other words, to discuss the issues among the disciplines.


There is always a starting point for discussion, because we all are looking at the same problem happening in the same Earth Biosystem. We are not experiencing a bunch of different problems. We are in fact, every one of us, experiencing one common experience, the death of our species.


I think that’s worth a little time spent in problem-solving with others of our kind.


I believe paradigm change is the only hope for human kind in this age, and it is clearly happening, but extremely inefficiently. We could do more. We could consciously use our unique mental equipment to grow a new world view that is aligned with our current factual reality, which is overproduction, overpopulation and overshoot.


My goal is to grow or create a new paradigm that will result in a sustainable, reasonably comfortable human presence on this earth. What is yours?


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


A copy of the podcast can be obtained at:


References Cited:

Collapse, by Jared Diamond. Penguin Books, 2011.

Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot by Tom Butler and William N. Ryerson. Goff Books, 2015.

Becoming Enlightened, by His Holiness The Dalai Lama and Jeffrey Hopkins,  Atria Books, 2009.



Thistle in Bloom

The moths, butterflies, flies and ants are eating and courting on the thistle blossoms. The hummingbirds got here too early. Last year we had hummingbirds eating and nesting in their embrace.

140712-moths-asc_0027RLSs copy140712-moths-asc_0018RLSs copy

In a stable, sustainable culture, one of the most amazing phenomena is the way that the thousands of life cycles mesh with each other, regulated in large part by the climate, so that the creatures are born when the food is available.

Bare Bones Biology 205 – Why?

Now at the end of a complicated series of blogs describing the Law of Life on Earth –Why do we care?

The whole blog series is a condensed outline, using mostly words that come from the mouth of a basic biological scientist, to explain how Life on earth functions to stay alive. But, I could just as well have paraphrased the same ideas using words from the Buddhist lexicon. In fact some of the ideas came to me from reading about Buddhist “science.” Or I could have used words from the old or new testament.

I don’t know very much about other religions, but if you want to read more widely, I recommend His Holiness the Dalai Lama, The Middle Way; Huston Smith, Why Religion Matters; Karen Armstrong, The Case for God; Paul and Anne Ehrlich, Betrayal of Science and Reason; and Bare Bones Ecology Energy Handbook free on my blog.

These are not new ideas. Humans have learned about greed and human ego, and their relationship to the higher Life forces, over and over and over, and just because Western science has given us more powerful ways to measure and define Life – that does not make our wisdom any better, or essentially different, from the wisdom that we have learned and relearned so many times in the history of human kind. We are, in fact, in many important ways more ignorant because of our dependence on the power of technology (I won’t call that science), and we are headed for the biggest fall in all of human history because we have built the biggest tower of greed and self aggrandizement in all of human history, and we have built it on the foundations of ignorance passing for wisdom.

So why do we care?

I asked the question of a few friends: “Why am I thinking about a LIFE FORM – an individual life form, with veins of running streams and lungs of ever-flowing air – that is composed of species rather than organs?”

Here is one answer: “My guess would be that it’s because you are in favor of survival of the ecosystems that we know and love (that include us, but I don’t think that’s your main point). And because the corposystem keeps doing the stupid thing, against survival. Surely you wonder what has happened to our human belief system that we do the suicidal thing. Guess that’s murder-suicide.”
Yes, that’s a good answer except for my main point. Do my lungs say to my body that survival of the lungs is more important than survival of the body? That survival of the body is not the main point? In fact, the welfare of humans IS MY MAIN POINT. My main point is that we are working for the welfare of humans ONLY or mostly. Can we possibly believe that survival of the body of Life, the whole of Life is not important? That survival of one of its species is the main point?

In fact, our ignorant effort to promote humans uber alles is causing enormous and unnecessary suffering of humans. (And BTW, the word ignorant does not mean stupid – it means uninformed or uneducated — and there is a solution to ignorance, which is to educate one’s self). The suffering of humans and all sentient beings IS MY MAIN POINT. If there were no humans I wouldn’t care about the ecosystem. As another friend has said: “The ecosystem can take care of itself.” And it can, and it does, using the Law of Life that we just finished discussing; and it will, and the suffering will be vast.

140518-SIMPLELIFE-ASC_9086RLSs copyAnd then she went out and picked several gallons of nettles. I went out and watched the moon set before me on this frosty morning as the sun rose at my back and the energy of Life flowed down the hill toward me. And the birds came to the melting water, and even the leaves, reached, ever so slightly, toward the light.
Why do I care?

Why keep on with this blog in the face of its obvious futility and the hostility — no that’s not the right word — the rock-solid disinterest of most family, friends and bystanders? First, because it keeps my mind off my own tiny ego-problems. We are killing the Earth that provides for us; we are destroying ourselves. We are spitting in the face of the Creator of Life. What can I do? I cannot “fix” other people. That’s not one of the available options, but that is not a reason to do nothing. As far as I know, and I have looked, I have three choices (we always have at least three). The first is to opt out and pretend it isn’t so, or even invent scenarios to “prove” it isn’t so; the second is to participate enthusiastically in whatever effort makes me feel good; the third is to study and carefully consider my own actions and behaviors, and not participate in any action that causes more harm than good to human-kind.

I choose not to participate in any campaign or action that causes more harm than good to human-kind, and I work to evaluate all campaigns and actions according to the reality of the Law of Life before deciding whether or not they will cause more harm than good to human-kind.

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

A podcast of this blog can be downloaded at:


The Dalai Lama. 2010. Toward a True Kinship of Faiths; how the world’s religions can come together. Doubleday.

Karen Armstrong. 2009. The Case for God. Alfred A. Knopf.

Huston Smith. 2001. Why Religion Matters; the fate of the human spirit in an age of disbelief. Harper One.

Paul R. Ehrlich and Anne H. Ehrlich. 1996. Betrayal of Science and Reason. Shearwater.

Bare Bones Ecology Energy Handbook. Right side of the page under Chapters. Free download.

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:

Bare Bones Biology 203 – Gary’s Question #3, Genetics

The process of evolution results in a change in the gene pool over time so that each species separately and the entire ecosystem, if it can respond to its environment, can stay alive. The ability to respond to the internal and external environment is the definition of being alive and of being a Life form, whether a cell, or an individual organism or a species or the entire Biosystem. That the Biosystem is a life form is not an opinion; it is a fact, or if you prefer, a definition.

140506-flowers-asc_8951SsIt’s also true that inheritable mutations are not altogether random, but we are not talking about mutations here, we are taling about evolution, and as I tried to explain previously in this series (Bare Bones Biology 201 – Genotypes, Phenotypes and Evolution), evolution works on the phenotype, not the primarily the genotype. The genotype is all the genes in one individual organism: the phenotype is the sum of the physical characteristics of an individual organism: Evolution is a change in the gene pool of a species (not an individual, that is impossible) over generations of time: the gene pool is all the genes in all the individuals of the species or of the ecosystem.

The process of natural selection, which is part of evolution, selects FOR survival and reproduction of phenotypes that function well in the environment. If and only if that genotype is heritable, then the entire gene pool may be change to favor one gene or, much more likely, a combination of genes, that are best suited to whatever environment is operating at any given time.

It makes no difference to evolution whether or not mutations occur, what those mutations may be and whether or not mutations are random. Evolution does not select genes; evolution selects phenotypes that function well within the Biosystem at any given time and place.

The function of the genes has primarily to do with the survival of the individual and of the species, and it is two-fold. First, the genes turn on and off during growth, development and survival in response to cues from the environment. These actions are studied by cell biologists, physiologists, developmental biologists. This level of activity is what you referred to as epigenetics – that is how genes know what is happening in and around your body so they can activate the appropriate responses. This is how we stay alive, day to day. It does not change the genes; in fact the basic function of the genes is to not change but to provide the information necessary for the organism to respond to environment, and the second function of the genes is to pass on all of that information to the next generation without changing the genes but reorganizing them, so that each individual has a slightly different phenotype. The variability of the phenotype is the connection between the genes and the process of evolution.

The most common kind of genomic variability is recombination of genes. Recombination ensures that every individual organism in a species is slightly different from every other organism in that species. Another way that variability is generated is by mutation.

140506-flowers-asc_8953SsGiven that every cell in the body has a full set of genes, and all these genes are copied billions of times, it is not surprising that mistakes (mutations) occasionally occur. It would be surprising if they did not. Some of the mutations can be passed on to the next generation. Therefore every organism does have a small percentage of mutations and every species carries a large number of mutations in its gene pool; should any of these ever become useful to the survival phenotype of the species – evolution will select for those mutations.

This whole story of nested processes is the language of Life, as it has been created. Unlike the languages of man the Language of Life is completely honest, and yet it is far, far more mysterious and empowering and glorious than the concept of personhood, which places God and his works subordinate to the narrow mind of man.

To download the podcast of this blog:

This is not yet the end of the story. I’ll talk about punctuated equilibrium next week.

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