I see some fairly dramatic changes in the discussions on line. When the internet first emerged, a lot of the flow of information was purely trivial and focused on level one (the “me” level): “Join me at the corner of Main and Pine streets,” or wherever “me” was at the time. And of course other-bashing or bullying behaviors and vomits of gossip and inconsequential trivia.

Next, emerged the realization that the internet is the perfect place to “get mine” without dealing with the social conventions or even the facts of life, and the belief that “everyone has a right to his/her own world view.” A belief that could not exist in the real world where people like Hitler and Trump play out their anti-social agendas.

But now, as we begin to see that internet opinions have real life consequences, I see another shift. I hope it’s not too late.   I would really like to see us grow up, get it together and use the internet and all our other technologies to the benefit of ourselves and our future and all the Life of Earth, instead of using them to exert our power and gain our personal perks.

However, right now, I see primarily two attitudes and a lot of confusion. First attitude: The “me” curls up inside its own world view, so as not to deal with whatever else is out there that it doesn’t like. Or lashes out or complains because “there is nothing I can do,” The fact is there is always something one can do, we really are responsible for doing it if we really do want to make a better world, and we don’t find out what it is by curling up inside ourselves.

The second attitude is choosing to believe that the earth resources are infinite. That belief is not discussable, because it simply isn’t true.   There truly are true things, and one of our excuses is to infinitely discuss the undiscussible, rather than dealing with it.   Again, usually lash out or complain because we can’t make it different, rather than doing something different, ourselves, that might get us to a better place. This issue is fact-based, not discussable, so I will return to the first attitude.

The human world has developed at least two levels of organization more complex than it was when the Buddha (and Jesus, and Mohamed) walked the earth during the Axial age – not all at the same time, of course, but all during that vast time of changing human consciousness of ourselves. Now we are having another time of vast change, and if our genuine goal is to make the world better rather than worse for our presence, or even if we only want humankind to survive, then it is our obligation to use our wonderfully evolved mind, in addition to our innate instincts and our learned beliefs, to inform our behaviors.

If our genuine goal is to make the world better rather than worse, we cannot live and behave according to our basic human instincts and values without STUDYING the technologies that we have built and their relationship to the factual truth of the earth and of human biology, so that we can learn how the good these technologies do for us may actually cause great harm to OTHER PEOPLE and to Life itself, and so to us. We need to remember that our technologies, informed by our communal world view, is what CAUSED these problems in the first place, and more powerful technologies attached to the same world view will not make things better, but rather worse.

For example, a common misunderstanding of basic science is the belief that technology can create more resources. (For example that farming, can make more food available). It cannot. Farming is a technology, and technology does not create anything; technology USES the resources, in fact redirects resources to human use away from their natural use. The earth does not have infinite resources, whether it be photosynthesis or chemicals of various kinds or anything else. Technology can change things around, but it cannot make more than there is. When we try to change our reality, rather than trying to live within it, the result is vast suffering to other sentient beings and, as a result, to humans and to ourselves individually.

For example, we are causing mass extinctions of other species by effectively using their food to feed ourselves. Because the earth has reached its limits and we are technologically more powerful than these other species, we can tear up the places where they live and use the land to grow food for ourselves. So they die.

Who cares? This all sounds like a great idea to some people. Kill off the other, and we have it all to ourselves. These people are ignorant of the facts of Life. The fact is that it is the other species — the other organisms that we are killing off – they function together to create the resources in the first place by cycling and recycling the things we need to stay alive (including food). That is the cause of climate change, and that is why our human overgrowth is the basic problem we must deal with if we want to survive, and that is also why me-ism is not how we can help to make things better rather than worse for the whole world and especially for ourselves. However, because we are all enjoying this (unethical) system of killing off the other, we therefore pretend the resources are infinite and we blame other people for problems that actually are caused by the way we use our technolgies. Or don’t use them, in the case of birth control.

The root cause of our problem is overgrowth, and as long as Americans are more willing to enjoy the temporary fruits of our overgrowth, rather than take responsibility for: 1) studying the facts of life as they are on earth today; and 2) reducing technological and population growth — then my opinion is that we (humans, worldwide) won’t make it to 2050. The reason will be not that the environment crashes, the environment will simply change to a form that can support itself without us. What is most likely to happen if we do not take responsibility for our behaviors is what happens to all overpopulated species. They run out of food and start killing each other. Haven’t you noticed? We have already started, but that will not save us from our overgrowth. In fact – look more closely and we realize that it is a part of our overgrowth. It means we can make more babies and profit from that, and then kill off more of whom we don’t want and profit from that. At it’s core, this is no different from farming. Farming people is more profitable than farming vegetables.

So, that is something we don’t want to talk about.


What I find highly irresponsible is that we would rather look for our own personal sense of peace by pretending all this is not so — and who cares about the future when it will happen to someone else — rather than taking to ourselves the lesser pain of the recognition that our dream castles are not real (and yes, I do know that tearing down dream castles is very painful) so that we can give everything we can/have to the future of the Life of Earth by taking responsibility for the pain we have caused by our overgrowth.

We humans did it, mostly with good intentions, and it is irresponsible to say that we as individuals “can’t do anything.” Especially considering the current election. What we can do, every one of us, is to study and discuss with each other the reality, what really is, not what the number-crunchers tell us, because they are human too, and their biases are impressive and un-recognized, and if they crunch the wrong numbers, based on flawed assumptions, it is all of life that suffers – not just our dream castles, as beautiful as they may be – and are – I do not exclude myself.

We are not required to do impossible things, but anyone can work to understand BOTH the down side and the up side of whatever we are promoting – and there is always a down side.

As a traditional elder has said (Oren Lyons): “It is our responsibility to plan for the seventh generation yet to come.” The Dalai Lama says something similar, but with a longer timeline. They are right, and that is something that ANYONE CAN DO, together with others in his or her community, or just the family, or even all alone. But we must remember that flawed planning, based on trusting someone else’s world view or value system or bad numbers, will not get us where we want to go.

Why are we afraid of hurting other peoples’ feelings when at the same time we are taking the food out of their mouths without a qualm, by growing the economy and the population beyond the level that the earth resources can support?


Buddhism does not say, nor does any other religion, that everyone should be happy all the time, regardless of the pain and suffering that our “happiness” causes to other sentient beings.

What does everyone really want? I think, when we get to the end of that Bodhisatva path that we claim to be walking, the only thing that can make us genuinely satisfied is the knowledge that we lived out our responsibilities to friends, family, community, and to ourselves — not by our opinions — whatever they may be — but by our responsible actions/behaviors, whether or not some of those behaviors made other people “uncomfortable.” That is wise compassion, and that is our responsibility to ourselves, that is, our species.

I would bet the Buddha never said that everyone wants “happiness.” Who said that? The corposystem says that, so that it can claim to give it to us with its technologies.

First, the Buddha did not speak or understand English as interpreted by the corposystem. And second, at least with regard to Tibet, there were two language translations between the original and the English.  The English translation, so far as I know was first made by Christian missionaries working from the Tibetan language that they understood only superficially. I would bet that what the Buddha really said was something like The Dalai Lama’s vision of “wise compassion.”

What we all want is achievable only through our own wise compassion, and wise compassion can be defined as doing what is best for the other; really best, not just convenient for right now but best unto the seventh generation, first by open minded deep study of the issues outside of one’s own belief system, combined with the understanding that there are NEVER fewer than three possible choices, and that we must study all the choices before we act upon them — and second by behaving in accord with the informed choices that we make.




Bare Bones Biology 184-repost – Power to Ponzi? Or to Us?

Rudy Sovinee   “Can you think of
any problem in any area of
human endeavor on any scale,
from microscopic to global,

whose long-term solution
is in any demonstrable way
aided, assisted, or advanced by
further increases in population,
locally, nationally, or globally?”

                  – Prof. Al Bartlet

Those are the words of Prof. Al Bartlett. Today I want to share with you some information Rudy sent. I’ll use Rudy’s words and my words and Dr. Bartlett’s words and our combined reference links. If you work through these references, you will have the fact-based information to understand why we worry about population now – TODAY– not for some future time when it will be too late. Additional, and much shorter descriptions of why the exponential function is so important to our welfare have been posted on YouTube by Chris Martensen and by Professor Suzuki and are linked on the blog (http://FactFictionFancy.Wordpress.com) and the web page (http://www.BareBonesBiology.com)

Crash Course, regarding Exponential Growth: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EXd66gP53fk
Power of Compounding (this is the good one)http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iIwyMif5EOg Growth versus Prosperity http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k1KsFDLZ3B4.
Prof. Suzuki’s description of exponential growth (another good one) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bsd1IT7ySfE.

The accompanying picture illustrates Dr. Bartlett’s description of our dilemma:

“There’s a very profound lesson in that cartoon. The lesson is that zero population growth is going to happen. Now, we can debate whether we like zero population growth or don’t like it, it’s going to happen. Whether we debate it or not, whether we like it or not, it’s absolutely certain. People could never live at that density on the dry land surface of the earth. Therefore, today’s high birth rates will drop; today’s low death rates will rise till they have exactly the same numerical value. That will certainly be in a time short compared to 780 years. So maybe you’re wondering then, what options are available if we wanted to address the problem.

“In the left hand column (of the accompanying picture), I’ve listed some of those things that we should encourage if we want to raise the rate of growth of population and in so doing, make the problem worse. Just look at the list. “Everything in the list is as sacred as motherhood. There’s immigration, medicine, public health, sanitation. These are all devoted to the humane goals of lowering the death rate and that’s very important to me, if it’s my death they’re lowering. But then I’ve got to realize that anything that just lowers the death rate makes the population problem worse.

“There’s peace, law and order; scientific agriculture has lowered the death rate due to famine—that just makes the population problem worse. It’s widely reported that the 55 mph speed limit saved thousands of lives—that just makes the population problem worse. Clean air makes it worse.

“Now, in this column are some of the things we should encourage if we want to lower the rate of growth of population and in so doing, help solve the population problem. Well, there’s abstention, contraception, abortion, small families, stop immigration, disease, war, murder, famine, accidents. Now, smoking clearly raises the death rate; well, that helps solve the problem.

“Remember our conclusion from the cartoon of one person per square meter; we concluded that zero population growth is going to happen. Let’s state that conclusion in other terms and say it’s obvious nature is going to choose from the right hand list and we don’t have to do anything—except be prepared to live with whatever nature chooses from that right hand list. Or we can exercise the one option that’s open to us, and that option is to choose first from the right hand list. We gotta find something here we can go out and campaign for. Anyone here for promoting disease? (audience laughter)

“We now have the capability of incredible war; would you like more murder, more famine, more accidents? Well, here we can see the human dilemma—everything we regard as good makes the population problem worse, everything we regard as bad helps solve the problem. There is a dilemma if ever there was one.

“The one remaining question is education: does it go in the left hand column or the right hand column? I’d have to say thus far in this country it’s been in the left hand column—it’s done very little to reduce ignorance of the problem.”

These are the choices we do have as a human community in response to overpopulation. The odd thing, if you look on the web, is that these are not the choices we humans have chosen to discuss. We are, instead, leaning toward magic. We aren’t even talking very much about available technologies that could limit births, but much more about technologies that increase the certainty of death and suffering of humans after they are born. These discussions are framed as being about human rights, but in fact, it is very clear that overpopulation DECREASES human rights in many ways that are very profitable for the short-term interests of the corposystem.

(http://www.populationmedia.org/2013/12/23/cable-and-broadcast-news-hide-the-economic-benefits-of-reproductive-health/ , http://www.npr.org/2013/12/17/248757580/even-an-85-mph-highway-cant-fix-austins-traffic-tangle , http://www.thenation.com/article/177614/coming-instant-planetary-emergency#).

Neil deGrasse Tyson


So what do we-the-people do when our leaders withhold information that is critically important to human values and to the welfare of our children? We investigate it for ourselves – and educate ourselves, and our neighbors — for survival with a reasonably comfortable, sustainable way of living.


The podcast of this blog can be accessed at:


Bare Bones Biology 312 – Hard Freeze in the Canyon

Hard freeze in the canyon, of course not unexpected because we spent the last two days fairly warm and that seems to be the cycle up here. Warm and overcast for a few days that the weatherman chooses to call sunny, then the sky actually does open to the sun (if available) and loses all the heat that we built up, along with the pollutants, if any, and then the next day, if you have plenty of warm clothing, is glorious.

The big cottonwood fell over the creek while I was gone, cracked into about three pieces, and now I am imagining a dam to go with the little meadow, but of course a dam without water can be a pitiful thing, and a woman without a horse is unlikely to be able to pull that tree around into position. But you never know, there is always Old Silver. It has four-wheel drive, but I would not want to get stuck down here (again) with no phone.

160508-Bloodroot_Pasque-asc_4129RLSVs copyI woke up in the middle of my sleep time surrounded by an odor that I first thought Bitsy had rolled in something, but I think it might have actually been our elk bedded down in our little meadow. I smelled an elk once before – or was it a bear? So dark nights with strange smells are scary and I jumped up with flashlight and bear spray and scrambled to the cabin where I wiped out my supply of electricity to make a cup of coffee (with snack, we do NOT do food in the travel trailer.) I do understand fear; and common sense. But I dashed out into the night anyhow, and we have bears in the night.

Next time I’ll try to wake up before I decide what to do about the situation. I think that is the key to success in any endeavor. Even non-situations such as smells.

And then I stumbled back down to the trailer and slept until the sunshine hit the roof and Bitsy got restless, as she does when she can crawl out from under the covers and find a warm spot against the stucco of the cabin. I angled the depleted solar panels to the rising sun, set up the solar oven that only made it to luke-warm yesterday, and began the process of unfreezing our water supply and setting up for work.

160511-LittleBlueFlower-asc_4143RFs copyMy work, as I said last week, is actually my charitable duty, to stir up the conversation about the ROOT CAUSE of climate change. I believe humans can solve any problem, even global ones, if they will do three things. 1: Decide they want to save the place for their grandchildren; 2: Figure out the cause of the problem – the genuine factual biological cause and not just some bandwagon to jump on. We have already known the cause for a couple of centuries, it is human overpopulation; and 3: Discuss and devise an ethical cure to match the cause.

I do understand fear. I have been afraid of giving seminars all my life but I did it, and it seems to me we are destroying ourselves because we are afraid of honest discussion of reality with our fellow human beings, and this strikes me as unhumanly cowardly from a bunch of people who prefer to think of themselves as heroes riding to the rescue of everyone else. It seems to me, in the event, if a situation exists, the quickest way to get over the fear is to FIX THE SITUATION. Or at least try.

This is Bare Bones Biology, a production of FactFictionFancy.Wordpress.com

A copy of the podcast can be downloaded at:  http://traffic.libsyn.com/fff/Bare_Bones_Biology_312_-_Hard_Freeze.mp3


Bare Bones Biology 307 – Evolution

I treasure my culture-shock experiences, my efforts to understand “foreign” cultures, I cherish the wonderful people I met and the many new things they taught me that nourished and expanded my world view. I think of them every day.


It has been much more difficult to understand my own country, where the most important words and morés have changed their meanings – evolved of course along with the evolution of the corposystem, our new corporate political social system – so that they no longer make sense in context. “Science,” “energy,” most importantly “evolution” “honor,” “freedom,” “The American Way.”


When I became a (reluctant) activist I discovered that the word “biologist” also has lost its former meaning. It seems that half of everyone is a biologist now. Many biologists are not scientists, specializing perhaps in what we used to call natural history or nature study, survivalists included, studying nature in situ without the scientific method. This is good, useful, it honors a Higher Power. Some are working beyond the limits of fact-based reality. Most are doing technology (making or using tools) rather than science. This can be useful if guided by a viable world view that uses good science to align our behaviors with requirements for our survival.


So who am I, the corposystem asked, that I claim to be a biologist? OK, the name does not change the game or my expertise. I am a geneticist who uses the scientific method to study naturally evolved biological systems.

As an amateur activist, my efforts to contribute from my expertise were most commonly thwarted by the most common question: “But what should we DO?”  So I said what we must do. Simply, we must reduce our population before (or concurrently with, our other primary goals) or we cannot accomplish our other primary goals. We have known this for centuries.


And I began to ask my own questions, seeking understanding, and discovered that this, our brave new world is afraid of questions, as of discussion. “What should we do?” is not a request for information. It is a kiss-off “nice” way to dominate the discussion – to win. Winning is one of the imperatives within the corposystem world view.


Win what?

I began to study my own culture as a failing, naturally evolved system. I learned that our corposystem ethic seems largely to be based in the mostly false meme “survival of the fittest” (which I am told Darwin never said). I studied physics, communications and information theory, and people, and concluded along the way that evolution mostly is about systems that communicate with each other using their emergent properties, and that the emergent properties of our corposystem are: growth, domination (competition), for gain (mostly money). By using the power of technology to give us anything we want.


So the truth, the scientific fact, the answer to the question, is so simple at the level of the science and the Biosystem that we have known it all along. We can’t have everything we want, and now we must choose and we don’t want to. And yet the answer is so complicated at the level of our corposystem, that it is only now, fifteen years later, that I even understand the question. “What should we do?” stripped of the dominance intent, translates to: “What technology or tool can we use to solve our biological problem?”


The answer to that question is also simple. There is only one set of technologies that can solve this problem, and those birth control technologies have been available for all of my adult lifetime. We have everything we need to solve the problem, including impressive social tools that we are instead applying to the effort of growth for profit by domination.


Without our exponential growth rate and the out-of-balance relationship between available food supplies and the healthy Biosystem’s ability to provide, we would not be asking what can we do. We would be doing it.

Or at least discussing the real problem.


This is Bare Bones Biology, a production of FactFictionFancy.Wordpress.com

A copy of the podcast is available at:


Bare Bones Biology 260 – Two Conundrums

Last week blog featured Steven’s editorial, so you already know, he is seriously concerned about food, about our growing population, and about human welfare. And he is especially concerned about the balance among those three parameters. The relationships among food, population and human welfare are puzzling, confusing and mysterious, which is exactly the definition of a conundrum. Here are two conundrums for you to find the answers.


Here is the Steven’s question: “Most people can see that more food equals more people, like it does with all of nature.   Most people can also see the most obvious and most undeniable fact that no food equals no people. That one is a slam dunk. Is there anyone who would argue with the statement, “No food equals no people. Period. End of story. If so, let’s hear it. No.

“Now that leaves us with a remaining statement. “Less food equals less people.” Almost everyone I know says that claim cannot be admitted BECAUSE people will begin starving. Even those who see how less food equals less people dare not acknowledge such a thing because they believe to a certainty that people will starve. The question for me and for all of us is this. IF less food equal less people, will limiting INCREASE ONLY in ( NOT stopping) total food production CAUSE people to starve? Yea or Nay? THAT IS THE QUESTION. Comments from one and all are welcome.”


ASC_1642sThat’s the end of Steve’s conundrum. Now here is mine:


Consider the cow. She is a beautiful creature: peaceful, humane, friendly and she has an admirable social system. For just one example, cows usually have one baby every year. Cows in a herd will organize themselves every morning in such a way that one female stays behind in a safe place with all the babies, each belonging to a different mother, while all the mothers and fathers go out to eat. You can see this yourself in nearly any pasture as you drive through Texas. The next morning, someone else stays with all the babies. The eating cows watch for danger and will rush back to help if necessary. (I should tell you, in Texas, the word cows may refer only to females, or to males and females). The babies nurse their own mothers in the mornings and evenings and in the meantime they sleep or practice eating grass.


Now consider what will happen if we put a few cows of both sexes on one thousand acres of lush pastureland, fence them in, make sure there is plenty of water, kill off the predators, and go away for a few years. When we come back, there will be a lot more cows, right? Well, it depends how many years we are gone.


The normal cycle of overpopulation in all species including all mammals, which includes us – in rapid growth of population until the food is gone, then rapid die-off to below the carrying capacity of the environment. After which the population may or may not recover. (ref – overshoot)


First there are many babies, next there are very many cows and the fighting begins because crowding and competition upsets their social systems. When the population doubles that one last time, and all the grass is completely gone before the next following year, then most or all of the cows, bulls and calves die. Not only have they all starved this year, but also they have nearly destroyed the pastureland and the soil in their voracious need. It will be very slow coming back, if ever it can.


Now the question is: What is to blame for all this suffering?

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

A copy of the podcast can be downloaded at:


“If you wnt to get rid of painful effects, you need to get rid of their causes.”

His Holiness The Dalai Lama



Bare Bones Biology 259 – Food and Population Growth

Guest editorial contributed by Steven Salmoney, Chapel Hill, NC.  Sentences in green have been edited out of the audio to fit the audio time frame. Thank you, Steven.


Recent scientific evidence (Hopfenberg R and Pimentel D. 2001. Human Population Numbers as a Function of Food Supply. EnvironDevSustain, 3, pp. 1-15) suggests that the governing dynamics of absolute global human population numbers is a remarkably straightforward and simple natural phenomenon. Despite all the misleading, intellectually dishonest and deceptively contrived ‘scientific research’ to the contrary, Homo sapiens can be seen as a species that is a part of and definitely not separate from the natural world we inhabit.


Experts in politics, economics and demography have willfully fostered and continue obdurately to countenance a perilous disconnect between ecological science and political economy. Their dogmatic adherence to misconceptions are broadcast everywhere and range from politically correct, so-called experts, to unscientific theories regarding fallacious ideas such as the automatic population stabilization around the midpoint of Century XXI and a benign demographic transition to a good life for the human community at large. These false assurances can no longer be accepted by responsible professionals in science. They are  directly contradicted by the best available evidence.


Texas060722_DSC0797F.sPerhaps politics, economics and demography are themselves disciplines that are fundamentally disconnected from science. They appear to have more in common with ideology than with science. To suggest, as many too many politicians, economists and demographers have been doing, that understanding the dynamics of human population numbers does not matter — or that the human population problem is not about numbers — or that human population dynamics has so dizzying an array of variables as not to be suitable for scientific investigation — is wrongheaded and dangerous. The skyrocketing growth of absolute global human population is recognizable and the cause of it  is knowable.


According to emerging scientific research, the size of the human population on Earth is a function of food availability. More food for human consumption equals more people; less food for human existence equals less people; and no food, no people. This is to say, the population dynamics of the human species is essentially common to, not different from, the population dynamics of all living things.


Global population growth of the human species is a rapidly cycling positive feedback loop in which food availability drives population growth and the recent, skyrocketing growth in absolute global human numbers gives rise to the ruinous misperception or mistaken impression that food production needs to be increased even more.


Data indicate that the world’s human population grows by approximately 2% per year. All segments of it grow by about two percent. Every year there are more people with brown eyes and more people with blue ones; more people who are tall as well as more short people. It also means that there are more people growing up well fed and more people growing up hungry. The hungry segment of the global population goes up just like the well-fed segment of the population. We may or may not be reducing hunger by increasing food production; however, we are most certainly producing more and more hungry people.


Please examine the probability that humans are producing too much, not too little food; it is the super-abundance of stupendous agribusiness harvests that are driving population numbers of the human species to overshoot, or explode beyond, the natural limitations imposed by a relatively small, evidently finite, noticeably frangible planet with the size, composition and ecology of Earth.


The spectacularly successful efforts of humankind to increase food production annually in order to feed a growing population, has resulted and continues to result in even greater human population numbers worldwide. If people are starving at a given moment of time, increasing food production and then distributing it cannot help them. Are these starving people supposed to be waiting for sowing, growing and reaping to be completed? Are they supposed to wait for surpluses to reach them? Without food they would die. In such circumstances, increasing food production for people who are starving is like tossing parachutes to people who have already fallen out of the airplane. The produced food arrives too late.

The idea that food production must be increased to meet the needs of growing human population is a prime example upside down thinking.

I think, this is Lynn, that it would be far more humane, and also less expensive, to make birth control available to all who want it so that we can prevent the massive starvation that we are creating and begin the process of helping the Earth to rebalance that she gave us — a system that provides our basic needs — earth, air, fire and water — to all its inhabitants.

Steve Salmony
Chapel Hill, NC

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

A copy of the podcast may be downloaded at:




Bare Bones Biology 257 – Getting From Here to There

Getting from Here to There is a new book by Robert Costanza and Ida Kubiszewski. I haven’t read it, but I like very much the first part of a review of this book by Gord Stewart in Solutions Journal, April 20, 2015.

“Business-as-usual is sure to deliver us a future that is both unsustainable and undesirable, with climate change arguably our most pressing problem. Had we begun to tackle it when first identified, incremental changes and modest actions along the way might have done it. With all the procrastinating, transformative change is now necessary.

“The same goes for other issues, from biodiversity loss and species extinction to air pollution and declining water quality. With the range and magnitude of environmental challenges we face, it’s easy to become discouraged.

“That’s why we need a focus and a plan. The focus is a clear vision of the kind of future we want. The plan is how to get there from here. This book offers both.”

150506-Witting-ASC_6705RLs copyAmen to that part.

But it’s nowhere near as complicated as he makes it sound, given that all – 100 percent all – of these problems could be solved if there were not too many people on earth to feed. And they cannot be solved so long as there are too many people for the earth to feed using the amount of food that the earth can produce.

Actually, that’s what the green revolution was about, giving us time to solve the population problem. You may have been told differently, but I was there and I remember. So long as we cannot feed the people – then – of course – hungry people want food and if they are hungry enough they are not concerning themselves about maintaining the health of our mother earth that produces all of our food.

If we could feed every mouth – then we could resolve the other problems. We can NOT feed every mouth by making more people than there is food. Food does NOT come from supermarkets. It comes from the earth. So whether or not that is our focus, we can’t do any of those other good things until we deal with the problem of overpopulation.

You must be able to see that we cannot possibly accomplish this when there are more people than there is food to feed them. And there is no place else to get food.

So what remains according to Mr. Stewart’s review? We need a plan. Yes indeed we need a plan. We need a plan that will reduce the overpopulation of humans on this earth, and because we waited way too long, we must plan at the same time to promote a healthy environment for the children; a plan to promote relevant education that will teach us how to not get into this fix again; we need a plan to end wars; we need a plan to promote compassion and to understand that unwise compassion can cause more harm than no compassion; we need a plan to revise our economics from the bottom up so that we can stop the growth for profit plan that simply makes things worse. And we need a few other things. We cannot have any of them unless we first reduce the population. That is simply a fact of life.

OK, I agree that I cannot do all those things, and neither can you, but I CAN tell you what will NOT work, and it will not work because all those problems are connected to each other at their root and stem. It will NOT work for me to try to prevent overpopulation while you work on all those other things. Because the tree of life has its roots in the soil of the earth, and overpopulation is the root and stem of the problem, and all those other aspirations are the branches. If the root dies, we will have NONE OF THEM. We ALL MUST contribute to reducing the population problem, fulfilling our obligation to the earth, BEFORE and at the same time that we work at whatever we love best. Nothing less will get us to where we must go if we are to rebuild a healthy human society.

No matter what happy fairy tales the corposystem feeds us.

This is Bare Bones Biology, a production of FactFictionFancy and KEOS radio, 89.1 FM, in Bryan, Texas. A copy of the podcast can be downloaded at:

Knowledge and Wisdom


© 2015, Dr. M. Lynn Lamoreux
A Work in Progress: If you have a question or comment, or if you find something that needs to be referenced or defined or linked, and is not so indicated, please let me know.

I hope the colors come through onto the FFF page. (oh, yuck, they didn’t, ask me for a pdf if you want to see it as envisioned. If you wait until tomorrow it will have pictures.
Words in green, to be defined. In red, provide reference, In blue, provide link

150516-BrazosWaterfall-asc_6407RLSs copyFingers and toes stiff with cold, I sit in a cabin in a canyon, trying to squeeze enough energy out of my little solar system to operate a computer. Outside, cedar and pine softly sigh as the canyon breathes gently in the energy of the sunrise that finally bestows its welcome heat and light upon my desk. I watch as bubble after bubble forms at the bottom of a glass of cold water that is sitting in the sunlight.

The sun shines everywhere . . . (even) to the ravines and valleys of the mountains and streams.*

I step outside to warm myself.

Any person who believes that she has the right answers, doesn’t.
No person is God, and whatever it is that gives me these insights first thing in the morning when I wake up – that also is not God. Neither is any human knowledge or insight, because the human brain is not physically big enough to encompass the whole reality of God. Unless possibly God is using this vehicle of the Biosystem to implement Its vision/mission.

Because of our ignorance relative to the mind of God, it is critically important for humans to acknowledge the wisdom of age. Wise elders know they are not Gods (consider the Dalai Lama). Wise elders understand human limitations among the powers that generate our environments. And some wise elders can teach us to ask wise questions. Actually, everyone can contribute to the human process of generating wisdom, both individual and communal wisdom, because dumb questions are almost always as helpful in this process as are wise ones. That’s a good thing, because extremely few human young are wise.

In India, I understand, the custom is or was (Joseph Campbell) for sages to answer or ask questions for discussion and consideration. In the North American Onandaga (Oren Lyons) it is or was the custom for the wise women to select the chiefs (who could be removed for cause) and the chiefs to discuss tribal concerns in terms of what is best for the whole community unto the seventh generation. (I have heard that the Dalai Lama considers 700 generations as part of our communal obligations.)

In the corposystem, whoever is more powerful decides all the answers, usually before the questions have been raised. The corposystem will cite “Evolution,” which it defines as “survival of the fittest,” as its authority to behave in this fashion. However, the corposystem fails to define “fitness” in its claim to authority, and in any case, survival of the fittest is NOT how the “Law of Life” functions to maintain the Biosystem, though the corposystem has unfortunately trained us (both the “good guys” and the “bad guys” – that means you, whoever you are in our western culture) to believe that survival of the “fittest” is how the world works.

It’s not. It may be how the corposystem functions; it is not how the world works, or even the universe for you who prefer to study physics rather than the more complex and, therefore more confusing and interesting,world of Biology.

Unfortunately, in our culture, because we do understand the corposystem quite well, we believe in survival of the fittest as re-interpreted by the corposystem, and we use that meme to define evolution, which is not the same thing. At least not unless we can define fitness, and that would require us to study the Law of Life.

But we don’t study the real Law of Life because we believe we already know.

This unexamined assumption seems to be so engrained in the world view of both the “good guys” and the “bad guys” that I believe it to be the fatal flaw of our corposystem culture. For more information, I recommend “Powers of the Weak” relative to human power, and I recommend my chapter on the Law of Life, relative to Biosystem power.

1 – In short, if we decide to sustain ourselves within the only home that we have, we require a different paradigm, and the new paradigm must conform our human power to the Law of Life. Or, if we can’t do that, then we must define fitness in a way that conforms to the welfare of the Biosystem and to the human wisdom that is available.

# # #

Wisdom fact-checks everything it knows – even its own insights. In my generation we tried to embed that bit of wisdom into the rule of law of the corposystem (Precautionary Principle) but the corposystem refused to ask the right questions because the answers to these questions would interfere with profits, and the defined primary purpose of every corporation and even the UN is to behave in ways that generate the power of money.

2- The second task of our new paradigm, therefore, must be to define our new human paradigm around a more sustainable human quality than money. Perhaps wisdom?

# # #

Wisdom seems to be a creation of the human mind, and the human mind is just another system (all of LIFE is built around nested systems) that functions as do all systems by generating links, in this case among bits of biochemically encoded information, including knowledge, inborn (inherited) instincts and the world view that is given to us by our environment.

The human mind grows, during our lifetimes, more wise (if conditions permit it) using different ideas, understandings and facts that are in the conscious mind, and in our instincts and memories as well, making a web of cross-connections, as is true in any naturally evolved system (Law of Life: Levels of Organization, Systems). When questions are asked or the when some problem is confronted, the ideas, understandings and facts make cross-connections that generate a whole Worldview that is greater than and different from all the inputs added together. All world views are rational within the environment many world views are not wise, perhaps if the environment changes or our education is flawed relative to the current environment. Because no two environmental experiences are the same, therefore no two world views are identical, and, as Joseph Campbell has said, (get accurate quote, the mind can run on to flights of fancy)

I believe this self-sustaining mental system is the probable source of mysticism, religion, and the answers to questions asked, and the insights that I get in the morning after a night of dreaming. In other words, I believe these various kinds of “aha” experiences are very likely emergent properties of our brain system. Therefore our wisdom or lack of wisdom, especially in humans, is dependent on our education, and is very firmly attached to our rational world view, because without a rational world view we cannot sustain our “self.”

However, we are human, not the Biosystem, and we cannot impose our human emergent insights upon the system of LIFE, because LIFE is bigger, stronger and has a lot more systemic interactions than we have, and it doesn’t care what we think (as other humans actually do, regardless of what they may say). The Biosystem ignores our desires and opinions; it only follows its own Rule of LIFE.

In other words, whenever we believe ourselves to be omniscient or omnipotent, we are not being wise or realistic. Wisdom is not big-headed, it is not power unless it is put to use within an appropriate environment. Wisdom is well- informed, and does relate itself to our (changing) environment, but it is not useful to the community unless we-the-community agree TOGETHER to use it.

Individual wisdom is an emergent quality or characteristic of one individual, but communal wisdom can emerge at a higher level if the individuals involved remain connected by useful discussion or questions or education. Communal wisdom links the qualities that are available within the whole community by the asking and answering of questions (and their discussion) until the entire community becomes wise at a higher level (or not), and perhaps that is the definition of “fitness” – an emergent property of the community as a whole that is necessary for our survival within the Biosystem.

The corposystem, to the contrary, imagines itself to be fit because it was temporarily strong within the environment in which resources were plentiful. When the environment changes, if our wisdom is not up to the task, then we become no longer fit. This is now happening.

3- Thus the third characteristic that must be considered in building our new paradigm is a broad one – education in all its forms – and it must be guided by both the Law of Life, which IS our higher power, and those human instincts upon which we want to base our new human social paradigm, to replace the unsustainable themes of the corposystem, power, growth and money.

# # #

We-the-system only can work with what’s already in our system or available in the environment, so it’s very important that our wisdom must be fact-checked and/or tested by experience, preferably the experiences of many individuals over long periods of time (history), and/or by the scientific method (which is basically the same thing, codified). And it is also true that human wisdom cannot be omniscient because, for the most simple reason, we don’t have enough neural connections, even as communities, to understand all the connections of all the universe. Much less described the links. And certainly not to know the future, except in terms of the past and present.

How does this relate to the Law of Life (that is, to the natural processes that generate time and change)?
My first answer would be to recognize how those processes work as it has been shown by our fact-base, which is provided by science and history. That is, to apply factual/experiential questions to the basic root processes of nature that we cannot change, that created humans in the first place. To do that, I must have in my head an understanding of those processes. Then at that point I ask the questions, I ask them via science and history and of LIFE and whatever else is knowable and relevant.

4- Our fourth task must be to develop a reliable fact base list-for-discussion of things we cannot do even though we can imagine them. Our fact base will change a bit as the environment changes, but at this time the number one criterion must be to avoid further overpopulation of humans because overpopulation is likely destroy any chance we have of building a sustainable new paradigm.

# # #

What happens during overpopulation events? Because there is no doubt we are experiencing an overpopulation event, and no rational person who understands simple math can deny that is a fact. I answer this question as it has been observed and recorded by science and history. Very briefly, among other things, the social network/system/interactions break down. This is happening to us now.

For many decades I have asked the question: why are we knowingly colluding in our own destruction, in the face of all the scientific knowledge and the history and wisdom that all proclaim clearly that we are using our technologieal power to destroy ourselves, at a time when we have already available the technological power to save ourselves?

I can answer in many ways, but it’s important to say that our overpopulation would not have happened in a stable society that had maintained respect for science and for its own wisdom, and of course that answer brings us to question education. But education, also part of the social system, also breaks down in overpopulation events.

And then I think about human youth. Especially human youth in overpopulation events. They lack both wisdom and history (especially in our culture that is intentionally erasing these things). They believe themselves to be right (or wrong) by the criteria of their own immature world view, without accessing other wisdoms, and so they set about to “fix” things all over again in the same ways that didn’t work the last time we tried. This is probably an evolved advantage to the species, because wisdom can be very set-in-stone and relate to a historic environmental reality. When the environment moves toward change, then new ideas are imported into the system by the young. But, as in all things natural, sustainability lies in maintaining the balance, and as a culture in this paradigm we are not even trying to do that. The young are simply doing more and harder what is required by the old corposystem paradigm that is based in power and money obtained through growth. That paradigm is what caused our current difficulties, so I say (over and over and over —) — it won’t work. But there are so many young that the elders cannot be heard above the fray.

With overpopulation comes a vast breakdown in (among other things) the balance (without balance within the Law of Life, remember there is no hope for sustainability) between wisdom and the “right/wrong” worldviews of youth. Another thing that happens with overpopulation is a breakdown in the balance of power to make things happen, because in spite of the corposystem denial, true power lies more in numbers and in behaviors than in money (or wisdom).

Therefore, rather than the elder explaining why this way doesn’t work, and how we have tried it this way so many times through the millennia and eons, and what we can determine of the expected results using computers and good data and science and the precautionary principle – in spite of all this, the cycle merely repeats and repeats, because the youth can’t hear. They are determined to learn by their own experience, and human experiences include a component of instinct that is biochemically encoded in the body and therefore does not change in response to elder wisdom.

Even progress (if any) is not either/or, good/bad. It’s a cycle in time, which is to say, spiral, and it depends NOT upon what we do to change anything now, but primarily on how our behaviors change the environment in which the next generation grows its own world view.

And that is how overpopulation leads to cultural breakdown. NO MATTER WHAT YOU TRY SO HARD TO DO TO STOP IT. The balance is lost (in the human situation) between wisdom and the forces of of change.

# # #

1504021-Bitsy_-ASC_6481RSsWhile I was writing the above, Bitsy worked out the main part of the trail the packrats use to get into the cabin. Bitsy and I sent them packing last year, and the wise adults remembered that experience. But, as always, this year’s youth are taking the risks, exploring new territories and increasing the population in the cabin, even in the face of the inevitable outcome. Bitsy is now outside following the trail the other way. Pack rats are not as smart as humans, but they are very fast, so she may not get them.

Humans can think about the trap we have fallen into, and think about the difference between a planned, co-existence within the Biosystem, and our accelerating corposystem battle against the Biosystem, that results in massive suffering, if only we are wise enough to make that choice. If we do choose, that will be evolutionary history; but it cannot be done by working within the corposystem paradigm. Quite a few groups are trying, but it’s too late. It won’t work fast enough to prevent incredible overpopulation and massive acceleration of the violence required to maintain the corposystem growth paradigm. We humans have run out of eons in which to make up our minds whether we would rather have a struggle for fame, fortune and human power, or a reasonably comfortable and peaceful new social paradigm that is sustainable unto the seventh generation. Or the seven hundredth.

If we want to IMPLEMENT a new paradigm, the necessary first step is to reduce our population to a level that is sustainable, and proceed now to do this in a compassionate way before the war arm of the corposystem ratchets up to a level of conflict that we cannot survive. Because saving all human cells is impossible in any case, and if it were possible it would ONLY INCREASE OUR COMMUNAL LEVEL OF SUFFERING.

If we continue to refuse the option of reducing our numbers, then the Law of Life will do it for us – already is. We will find the BIOSYSTEM solution a good deal more painful than asking well defined questions, based in science and history and the wisdom traditions, discussing the answers, and working together as only humans can to transform our intelligence into action. These are our strengths – right now we are riding our weaknesses into oblivion. But all the wisdom and intelligence and technology in the world is only play-time in the absence of behaviors that impact the Law of Life. As far as the Law is concerned, not deciding is the same as deciding to not.

# # #

1504021-Bitsy_-ASC_6470RLSsAnd while we were having fun thinking, the migrating hummingbirds have come back to the canyon today, and some kind of flycatcher bird is building its nest in the gable of our cabin. The sunpower charged up both my laptops, and now the sun is setting, the cold air flowing up the other side of the canyon, and I pull on a couple of layers of sweaters. And Bitsy ALMOST caught her prey — right before my eyes!!! Not a packrat. It’s a squirrel, living under the house, a ground squirrel, probably the same one I saved from drowning in the water tank last year. And it reminded me pack rats can carry Chagas disease; Peromyscus mice, Hanta virus; ground squirrels, the black plague.

Instinct is not an option, knowledge is useful; wisdom is a choice.

(*Paraphrase from Lotus Sutra. I think there is something like this in the New Testament and the original Bible. And the Lotus Sutra sounds to this basic biologist a lot like the concept of emergent properties.)

Bare Bones Biology 251D – Easter Sermon

I have friends, now looking back I think the real reason they befriended me was do-gooderism. That is, their idealism, or activism, around the subject of bigotry. To prove that they were not bigots, they labeled me as homosexual and then congratulated themselves for not rejecting me on that account.

It did not occur to them to make sure their label was factually true, or consider the consequences to me if it were not true; and it did not occur to me that I had been labeled. My life and my goal were, single-pointedly, to be a good scientist. At which I succeeded. But it took about 20 more years for me to figure out that I had been labeled, because it simply never occurred to me. It never was part of my reality, but only someone else’s fairy tale.

Too bad I didn’t know it at the time. It’s not easy to find your way out of a virtual closet, especially when it was an anti-bigotry campaign that locked you in there in the first place. I could have used all those years to do some actual good, rather than have the good sucked out of me to make someone else feel good – all in the name of “tolerance.”

The “Greatest Generation” did indeed aspire to tolerance as a virtue, and the succeeding generations of Americans have progressively refined this same dogooderism under different names. “Compassion,” then “love,” and now it seems that we are in the throes of “passion.” All the while refining and reinforcing our dogooderism, our self-congratulation, our hubris, while losing the root human virtues those words are meant to represent and reinforce, and while replacing any concept of reality with a fairy tale that cannot exist in the real Biosystem, but only inside a viable human culture.

150315-tree-ASC_5595RLSs copyAnd the fact is that our human culture is no longer viable, and it never was more than a small temporary branch off the factual reality of the tree of Life that can sustain itself only by means of an intricate balance of cause and effect. Or, to put it in a different way, what goes around comes around, we do pay for our sins. Or our children pay. That’s why we call them sins.

Human hubris, or pride without regard for or understanding of the reality of the checks and balances of Life itself, does not make things better – it makes things worse, and the harder we try and the more powerful we become in our numbers and in our technology – the more worse things become.

We are still trying to achieve an old dream that simply did not and does not work. It’s time to face the failure, talk about it, discuss alternatives, and try something different.

And yet this new generation is passionately resistant to discussion. They are more frantic, yet further removed from the reality of our situation, and yet more determined to do good by using failed human “solutions” to global factualities that they don’t understand and don’t want to understand. What they are doing is not different from what we were doing – only in their numbers they are more powerful.

Thus, as our human culture fragments in the face of the societal and ecological effects of overpopulation; as we try harder and harder to get what we want using methods that actually destroy what we want; as we passionately try to save everything in sight according to our own heroic vision; by that very act we are destroying everything in sight, even as the inevitable consequences of our actions become plain for the most passionate deniers to see.

That is the sin of pride reverencing ignorance. The odd determination of humans to believe our own labels without regard to reality; to prove that “we” are better, more powerful than “they,” without bothering to find out, factually, what “they” are.

We aren’t.

It’s only a pretty fairy tale. A small shadow on our root reality of Life itself that exists, not through human tolerance or compassion or love or passion, but through an intricate balance of cause and effect that we could understand if we were to reverence the reality of Life, of the Biosystem, of The Creation, of the Creator, not as we are determined to believe that It is — but to drop our own dreams of glory, no matter what they are, good or bad, and study the Creation and the Creator passionately, discuss It, conform to It, as it really is, a balance of good and bad. Not attached to our personal dream, but without and beyond.

Only when we can do that will any of us be truly working for the common good, and if we can’t do that it would be better that we complete our suicide mission as quickly as possible and let the reality of Life on Earth, the works of God, survive.

But that would require real hard work: study of and tolerance of factual reality, what we know and what we don’t know, striving for worldly wisdom. Genuinely working for the benefit of all sentient beings on Earth. Not only us.

I don’t think we have the cajones. We love our own fairy tales too passionately.

Prove me wrong.

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

An edited podcast of this blog can be downloaded at:

The P Word

Well Look at This


Conservation Magazine, after years and years of dancing around the May pole has used the P word.

I don’t believe it, especially, the idea that television can give women power, without regard to what is ON the television, but a step in the right direction is a step.

Below is what I have been lately thinking about.

Dr. Susan Clayton
The Psychology of Biodiversity Conservation:
Connecting People to the Natural World
A seminar I recently attended

Front. Ecol. Environ. 11(7):377-382
Front. Ecol. Environ. 11(7):355-361

This is not a summary of what Dr. Clayton said in the seminar, that you can get by reading her excellent papers, so much as it is a description of how her seminar settled in my mind and gave me a new idea about how to approach our common problem. Which I would term more as connecting people to the self-evident reality that we are living in an over-stressed Biosystem.

In my opinion, they already know that; they primarily want to pretend it isn’t so.

Dr. Clayton said – Identity: Our identity is a sum of our experiences
Early experiences
A label embraced by ourselves
A label imposed by others
A framework that incorporates values and worldview.

Me: I recognized our old friends, levels of organization, upon which the Biosystem and all systems are based and which arise out of evolution (as it really is, not as we have been taught).

I find it interesting in that Dr. Clayton’s system of identities recognizes the biological levels of organization that represent the systems of which we are a part, including ourselves as individuals; ourselves in our communities; ourselves in relationship with the corposystem values — of which ourselves and our communities are integral parts — and ourselves in relation to the Biosystem itself, that is the whole of Life.

This reminds me that each system – every system and subsystem that has naturally evolved – has emergent properties that arise as the “phenotypes” that maintain the specific system as a unitary whole. I always think of limbs in animals as my example. However, human social systems also have emergent characteristics. For my example below I will use the corposystem. A very interesting system, and because of my primary interest in ecological evolution, I have watched how it has evolved during this critical late phase of its existence.

The corposystem has a number of obvious emergent characteristics, but I will use for my example a dominant one – growth. This may be a property of all biological systems, but that is a different subject. My question is – why does the system have a property that is not shared by the worldview (identity, values) of many or most of the individuals that make it up? Of course, this is an old question: what are emergent properties? Important, because emergent properties (phenotypes) – and the environment – direct evolution.

And basically evolution is what Dr. Clayton hopes to influence, though she didn’t use that word, and she is not alone.

We all are threatened primarily by our own overpopulation, that arises from the corposystem requirement for growth and the fact that an evolved system’s primary function is to perpetuate itself (that is, to perpetuate it’s own emergent value system, which is growth in this example). But the personal values of most individuals who make up the system, I would reckon, do not focus on growth. Thus, in my opinion, what Dr. Clayton is working to change/understand is not the actual cause of the emergent phenotype, or at least not the proximate cause. (ref. The Shift)

So I think it very likely that we cannot change the growth ethic (which is very likely to be the cause of our demise) by changing the value systems (identities) of ourselves individually. Or at least that is the question that arose in my mind during the seminar. I think the growth ethic of the corposystem is primarily a top-down phenomenon that is maintained as an emergent property generated by the whole of the system, not as an additive bottom-up creation.

Dr. Clayton: “We want to find a way to make an impact in the face of these problems.”
And she discusses experiments that relate to changing identities (worldviews, value systems).

Me: My observation is that most people want to be important within the system – not make an impact on the system (there is a difference, expressed by behaviors but not by language), and that desire is the main driver of the system. Even or especially extreme activists; what they primarily want (if they can’t have both) is recognition within the system — not whatever change they are advocating. I think that is the human driver of our corposystem emergent characteristics.

But the corposystem, of course is NOT HUMAN, and therefore cannot be evaluated using human psychology. Therefore, at the level of the system, neither psychology nor human values is relevant.

It is not at all clear to me that we can change the corposystem by understanding the psychology of humans. I think it’s more likely that the corposystem will find a way to use this information to reinforce its own emergent property (growth). That is, of course, why it supports academic research and keeps the results of that research out of the hands of “us” as individuals.

The human behaviors that Dr. Clayton studies are relevant at the human level. It is valid and useful research. And her experiments seem to rather strongly suggest that our self image and values as individuals are mostly informed by our social environment. So, the social environment would be what the corposystem uses to maintain itself, and what we potentially might use to change the (ex.) growth ethic of the corposystem.

I have been experiencing a strong dose of social influence lately, living for one month in the black community of Bryan, another in the privileged part of Chama NM, back and forth each month, and then all summer alone with the Biosystem. And then when I am brave enough to go back into my former world as one of the first women faculty in the College of Science at Texas A&M, sitting in a seminar, I sense my life and my past to be so different from that of current women students that they cannot imagine who I am. Nor I them. Who we are and what we worry about depends very strongly upon our cultural environment. Much more so than we realize if we stay put somewhere. And we can’t avoid that fact.

What I envision is that the pathway between human self-image and change in the biosystem is mediated via the corposystem reward and punishment methods of maintaining itself. Simply because that’s how systems evolve. Systems evolve by building and testing variations on whatever made them successful in the first place. They become better and better at what they are good at. (As example, the giraffe.) Reward and punishment arises out of this mandate, and humans follow the reward. Not the other way around. I believe it makes very little difference to individual humans what is rewarded and what is punished, so long as they have a chance to be recognized as important within the system.

The result, in my observation, is that “we” will do whatever is necessary to NOT rock the boat — because we do not want “things” to change from those upon which our identity (what I call our worldview) is based. Those “things” values/beliefs are imposed by the system. The function of a system is to reinforce itself, and changing our identities may not be an option until the system crashes. I think Dr. Clayton’s takeaway message points to this reality; but I think the causes and effects are reversed. In other words, we are not at the center of the story; we are not in control of the mechanism, and cannot ever be so long as we believe that we are. We are teaching our women to think like European men, rather than teaching our men to think like Asian women, with respect to systems over which we do not have direct physical control.

The result in my example is that we are all afraid to talk about or study or even think about overgrowth, overpopulation – not because we are physically afraid, but because the corposystem will (1) reward us for doing something else, and (2) it will punish us if we keep trying to point out a truth that is harmful to the corposystem as it evolved. While American individuals and communities espouse our right to our own beliefs, the corposystem enforces our “vow of silence” on the subject of growth, and it is a vow that runs from academia to the highest office in the land and down to the lowest of the low. Even though it is the one subject that must be discussed if we are to survive, we are afraid to open our mouths.

Another system belief that we have currently taken to our hearts is that human systems are more powerful than natural systems, https://youtu.be/ejzBB8SnW20, a false believe shared by most highly educated people. But I will stick with growth for my example.

Dr. Clayton discussed ways in which “nature” can be linked with our identity and some very interesting experiments around that question.
Political identity
Social identity

Me: I came away with an impression that our social identity is so powerfully connected with our environment (“peer pressure”) that the effect is close to irresistable. Thus, what we say we want, and we believe that we want — are not connected with what we actually do want.

When I talked with Dr. Clayton after the seminar, I was a bit surprised (and pleased) to find that she is very concerned about overpopulation. And yet the word was not mentioned. And when I mention it in academia, the reaction is essentially the same as when I mention it anywhere else. We can’t talk about that. Usually with no reason given.

My bottom-line take-away for myself and my own activism is as follows:

1. The corposystem tells us that we must not talk about overpopulation. Mostly it tells us this by telling us how we MUST talk about issues, in a way that excludes real discussion of solutions and instead mandates “aintitawful” ranting and/or sound bites or euphemisms in our public utterances. I have chosen not to participate in these “acceptable” displacement activities, basically because I believe in not “feeding” the growth of the corposystem (as described much better by the attached https://leavingbabylon.wordpress.com/2015/03/06/pulling-the-plug-part-2/).

And yes, the punishments exist. First, you can’t get published if you fail to conform to the norms defined by the corposystem, which as far as I know are not based on anything except how to get published. (Research papers excepted, as they are. originally at least. based in the scientific method. However, we do not see the word overpopulation in scientific or political discussions of the causes of our wars, starvation, extinctions, climate change, and it is the most obvious thing in the world that these social phenotypes would not be necessary if human populations did not exceed the carrying capacity of the earth. And that we cannot resolve them so long as our populations do exceed the carrying capacity of the earth.)

2. “Peer pressure” or “social identity” seems to be the strongest direct influence over human behaviors, and the emergent “value” of the corposystem itself (growth in our example) is an indirect, but stronger influence on our identity-based behaviors. The result is that individuals don’t, won’t or can’t act out their own personal value systems.

Of course my efforts have been strongly negated by this astonishing “conspiracy of silence.” The sky is falling on our species, but we are not permitted to talk about it, and if we can’t talk about population, then we can’t talk about what conditions the Biosystem must have for its healthy sustenance.

My takeaway conclusion from this seminar is in fact very useful to my activism. Obviously, I cannot change an emergent property of the system of which I am a part, but possibly I could influence the social values of the subunits (us).

I already know that ranting and raving about things that other people don’t understand is of no particular use in getting them to understand; I also know that they aren’t interested in understanding (they would rather be important within the corposystem, or just carry on the lives they expected to have), so logic and evidence won’t do the job.

What I learned from the seminar is to fit peer pressure into this schema; to simply act and speak and converse, on a regular basis, as though EVERYONE DOES TALK ABOUT IT and refer casually, as though it were common knowledge, to whatever references I choose to mention. I will no longer be afraid to talk about “it” because “they” are afraid to talk about it. Instead I will pretend that discussion of overpopulation is commonplace, normal, non-threatening in all contexts, and anyone who is not discussing overpopulation must be a member of the out-group.