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.

This is Bare Bones Biology a production of http://FactFictionFancy.Wordpress.com.  A copy of the podcast can be downloaded at:  http://traffic.libsyn.com/fff/Bare_Bones_Biology_293_-_Reinventing_the_Wheel.mp3

 

For Those of you Interested in Some Positive News About Economics

Anomalous economists to convene at Santa Fe Institute

 

Reprinted with permission of Santa Fe Institute Update (Follow SFI online at http://www.santafe.edu).
Last year, at Her Majesty’s Treasury in London, a global team of economists calling themselves Curriculum Openaccess Resources for Economics, or CORE, launched an ambitious, unconventional project.

 
This February, CORE will meet at Santa Fe Institute to discuss how to make sure their anomalous efforts have a lasting impact on how students learn economics – and the way they think about science.  “CORE is teaching economics as if the last 30 years had happened,” says SFI Professor Samuel Bowles, one of the group’s founders, referring both to the financial crisis of 2008, which took many economists by  surprise, and the growing acknowledgment among economists that not everyone is entirely selfish as traditional economic theory asserts.

 

CORE’s interactive ebook, The Economy, is not your usual Econ 101 fare. First, it emphasizes identifying and modeling empirical regularities rather than developing mathematical models from a set of abstract, often dubious assumptions about economic behavior. Second, it focuses on fundamental issues that are connected to economics but that other texts tend to ignore – issues like financial instability, wealth creation in capitalist societies, inequality, and environmental sustainability.

 

Students come to economics wanting to tackle those problems, and recent innovations in economics have a lot to say about them, wrote CORE director and University College London professor Wendy Carlin recently in the Financial Times.

 

As striking as the book’s content is the price. Competing textbooks sell for upwards of $200, but The Economy is free and available to anyone with an internetconnected device at http://www.core-econ.org

 

“Meeting at SFI is a natural for CORE,” says Bowles. “We are teaching first-year students to think about the economy as a complex, dynamical system and to beware of static metaphors and disciplinary parochialism.”  The question now, Bowles says, is how to ensure that CORE continues to grow and mobilize the diverse inputs from teachers, students, and other users. 

 
Others contributing to CORE are SFI External Professors Rajiv Sethi and Simon DeDeo. n

Bare Bones Biology 248 – Instinct and Learning

“One essential step in learning to more genuinely see each other is to bother to look. . . if they don’t make much of an impression on us … it is all too easy to look right through them.” – Sharon Salzberg., “A More Complete Attention”

Bare Bones Biology 248 – Instinct and Learning

When you raise a child, you try to give it the knowledge that it needs to lead a successful and rewarding life.

150308-WinterP-ASC_3821RLSs copyIn the first stage of life, humans and also other higher animals learn about the world. All organisms have instincts that are in our genetic code. Higher mammals, such as ourselves, grow bigger brains, and as we grow up, our brains are able to merge the instincts that come from our genetic makeup and the experiences of our early days, to grow a worldview that will guide our successful and rewarding lives if the world stays pretty much the same as what we experienced growing up.

Our instincts and our experiences become entwined into our worldview, and we keep adding to this awareness throughout our lives. It is our world view that makes it possible for us to survive in the world, and by the time we are about ten or twelve years old we have an image of reality that will or will not help us to lead successful and rewarding lives – depending on whether or not our worldview matches the world we end up in.

We are barely aware of our worldview. It just feels to us as though it were reality – just what is now and always will be. But it’s not reality; it was our reality when we were growing up. But meantime the human world changes.

There are so many humans on earth today, with so many different worldviews, that we are causing the world to change so fast that nobody’s feet are firmly planted in reality, and the young people who are raised so carefully and conscientiously by their parents must go out into a world that does not match the world they grew up in.

I think you know all this; you are aware of a myriad of “different opinions” held by the people all around you, arising from what they believe to be reality, and because our parents wanted peace among all the people, most of us were taught that “everyone has a right to his own opinion.”

150320-Canyon-ASC_3953RLSsLike most sound bites, that one is not true, because some opinions are harmful, but it is true that everyone in modern times does have a somewhat different worldview, basically because we all were brought up in different realities. And pity the children who were raised in a television world that never was real and never can be.

Nobody knows everything about reality, and therefore everyone makes mistakes, and so people evolved to live in social groups, because a group of three people, for example, knows more about reality than one person alone. Each person of a group or a culture has a different skill-set and wisdom-set to offer the group, and the society is more or less successful according to how it takes advantage of the whole set, using that set to grow a successful and rewarding cultural worldview within the reality of Life of the time.

But no society understands all of the mind of God, or reality, or the Biosystem, because each of these entites is bigger than all our worldviews combined. That’s why societies make mistakes and fail in the same way that individuals do. And as an individual, when your social belief system – the worldview it has engrained into your brain so deeply that you believe it to be ultimate truth – when that turns out to be wrong – it feels like God died, and our first reaction is denial. Then we cling with all our might to our limited little window/view of God’s reality rather than deal directly and responsibly with what is happening. That seems to be just how it is – how human minds are made to operate.

Though if we think about it, we could probably do a little better.

A boddhisatva is a person who knows all this and nevertheless reaches out her hand to share in the world of the sinking ship.

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

A copy of this podcast is available at:

Bare Bones Biology 212 – Thinking From Both Ends

“Some people (cling) to angst as if it were a virtue. I let it go with relief. Optimism (is) a gift at birth. Bottles (are) half full, not half empty.” (Dick Francis, “To the Hilt”)

140624-snake-ASC_9468RSss copyIn fact, any bottle or glass that is half full is also half empty, and if, for example, you live out-of-doors in rattlesnake country, as I do, you would be wise to look first to the rattlesnake’s fangs, and then to its beauty. (This picture is not a rattlesnake. Upside? We are keeping it to eat mice. The mice are very cute. Downside? Hanta virus, and there was a very serious recent case of someone who did not KNOW about Hanta virus.)

Here’s a small example of withholding the half-empty information in order to influence decision making and sell stuff. Take a look at the hybrid sunflower seeds I bought last week in Santa Fe. Pretty picture on the front of the package. Writing on the back explains that these sunflowers are better than most, because they “do not drip pollen on your beautiful tabletop.” OK, that’s the good news. Now tell us the rest. No such luck. The package does not mention the downside. Everything has a downside.

I assume the downside of these hybrid sunflowers is that they cannot make viable seeds. At least that is a common result of hybridization. Like a mule, which is also a hybrid organism. Mules are very useful animals with special talents, but unfortunately they are sterile and so cannot make more mules. These seeds, I assume, are also sterile. That’s why they don’t make pollen and that’s also why they probably don’t make fertile seeds.

I’m not saying we should mope about in “angst” because we don’t know how to make wise decisions. But we do need to take responsibility for both ends of each problem. The good and bad, the yin and yang, the half-full and half-empty. Find ALL the information you need to make wise decisions, which is all the good and all the bad – fact check the information – discuss it with people who have genuine expertise and with people who will be affected by your decisions — and make a plan.

We cannot grow a healthy community when some people are not willing to look at the downside; other people are getting rich by withholding the information we need to make wise decisions; and everyone else is confused because they don’t see the connection between the upside and the downside. Or they choose to ignore the fact that everything has a downside. And that’s the kind of human interactions we are promoting today.

So what are we doing instead? We are fighting it out, which is the same as not deciding. When we choose to not research the downside and the upside, or in other ways avoid our responsibility to make wise decisions – we are deciding to not decide. Not making decisions is a choice; that’s why I say there are always more than two choices attached to any problem. When you choose to not choose wisely, you are in fact choosing to let someone else choose for you. You are choosing to be the victim of other people’s choices.

Here’s a really big and very important example.
First I’ll give a glass-half-full opinion:

“We should encourage growth of the human population because population growth maintains economic growth.”

Here is a half empty opinion:

“We should try to avoid human overpopulation because in the long run the economy will crash from not having enough resources to feed the growth AND because human over-growth kills off other parts of the Biosystem that create the resources.”

There are data to support both answers, but if you are fighting on the side of either answer by claiming the other is not true — rather than studying and discussing the problem from both ends – then we all are losing forever our precious opportunity to make wise choices now.

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

A copy of this podcast can be downloaded at:

Bare Bones Biology 136 – Corposystem Community

Last week we overviewed the relationship between the corposystem and the whole earth ecosystem. The earth ecosystem is the unique unit of life that consists of the sum of all the other units of life on earth and the climate they generate. The ecosystem uses light energy to make food energy (Bare Bones Ecology Energy Handbook*). It then uses the food energy to do the work of staying alive – that is, it keeps all the earth organisms alive by making food for them. Then it recycles the products of life, that we think of as waste products; but the ecosystem puts the products together with more energy from the sun to make more life. The ecological miracle of life is that it is sustainable, as long as the products are recycled and there is light energy from the sun.

Earth Systems Final2 copyThe corposystem is the modern corpo-political culture. It uses the food energy from the ecosystem to feed the humans who do the work of making money. That work includes withholding from both the human community and the biological community any services that are not profitable. In other words the corposystem retains the money and also, for the most part does not recycle its products.

The problem the corposystem is now facing is that money (despite the clever misuse of the term by some authors) money is not energy. No matter how many clever games we use to make more of it – money cannot grow food energy to feed the humans who do the work of the corposystem. Only the process of photosynthesis can energize life on earth, and we can’t do photosynthesis. Even if we could, we would just unbalance a different node of the web of Life.

It is people working and living that drives the corposystem. It is the resources from the ecosystem (food energy and other resources) that feed the work of humans, and it is the work of humans that drives the corposystem cycle. Not money. Money is a product we play with.

This is good because it means, whenever we take a mind to, we humans can stop the insanity of competing with the ecosystem. We can change our culture to one that collaborates with the work of the ecosystem and so is more sustainable. Whenever we decide to, we can use the work of our hands, minds and bodies to support the cycles of life that actually do feed the welfare of the whole of Life itself. To do this, we need to understand how the corposystem generates a human culture of fear, anger, hatred, greed and dominance, in spite of our normal human need for the kind of a compassionate community that I have described in earlier blogs in this series (beginning with Bare Bones Biology 092).

HeroVictimVillain copyThe cycle of human roles that drives the work of the corposystem is shown within the corposystem cycle in the diagram on my blog. The culture diagram is my perception of our modern American culture: It can be a guide to ourselves, and a hope for the future if we can understand what we are doing to ourselves.

First let’s remember that a cycle is not me or you as individuals. A cycle is more like a set of job titles, or life-styles. I claim that our modern American corposystem culture limits us to three available over-all life styles: Victim life style: Villain life style: Good Guy-Hero life style. Some individuals choose to become very good at one or other of those life styles, but we aren’t specifically stuck. If you are raised with all the life skills of a Victim you can choose, and if you work very hard to figure out what keeps you in that life style, you can change to another lifestyle. But in our culture you will not be recognized, understood or rewarded if you try to choose any lifestyle that is too far apart from the available three. This is really difficult to explain, so I have placed a personal example on my blog directly below the transcript of this podcast. (https://factfictionfancy.wordpress.com/2012/12/11/a-heads-up/).

Lynn Lamoreux
Photos by Lynn

This blog is an expanded version of Bare Bones Biology radio program that will play
next week on KEOS Radio, 98.1 FM, Bryan, Texas. Bare Bones Biology is a completely
nonprofit project. The podcast can be downloaded at http://traffic.libsyn.com/fff/Bare_Bones_Biology_136_-_Corposystem_CommunityF.mp3

Recommended References:

Bare Bones Biology Ecology Energy Handbook
Go to the right side of the page under Chapters and download your free no strings PDF.
Bare Bones Biology 135 – https://factfictionfancy.wordpress.com/2012/12/05/
A Heads Up – https://factfictionfancy.wordpress.com/2012/12/11/a-heads-up/

Question for Discussion

Most people who read this blog are aware of the concept of Yin and Yang. For every earthly action or event, there is the possibility of both a “good” and a “bad” result. If we are really paying attention to the results of our actions, we can observe that this is true in our human experience. Why do you think this is true?

Try this for an Idea

Watch your actions for a whole day. You will be happy with some things you do and not happy with other things you do. Why is this? Is it because of peer pressure or because of some negative or positive responses of other people? Or is it because you have really considered the right or wrong of your actions? Ask yourself, why are they right and why are they wrong?

Definitions:
Whole Earth Ecosystem = All the species of organisms on earth and the environment that they generate to live in.
Corposystem = The modern American corpo-political system including its international entanglements.

Bare Bones Biology 133B – World Community

Last week I described, in a very general way, how I imagine the human brain processes information. The primary take-away message is that our brains are not universal. We are one species out of billions that are required to operate the functions of the living earth — just as any one cell of our brain is only one out of billions that are required to operate our amazing human brain. Secondly, there are levels of function of the human brain that we do not control – they control us. They control the basic functions of our bodies, and the basic nature of our emotions.

However, we also have higher levels of function in our brains that can adapt to our environment in a conscious way. One of these qualities is how we are learning all the time. Another is our intellect, that we can use to evaluate ourselves and our surroundings. If we try, we can figure out the difference between our perceptions — that is what our reality feels like according to our world view – and what the world really is according to facts that we study in physics, chemistry and biology. For example, we can measure the speed of light using tools designed by our intellect, but according to our perceptions, we would not know about the speed of light. We wouldn’t know that light is energy. We wouldn’t understand energy and would not have learned how to control fire, for example, during the millennia of our origins.

In all those millenia, the problems we faced had to do with how to interact with an overwhelming environment. For example, I was very touched by the last story in the most recent National Geographic. It is the story of an interaction between today and a primitive tribal culture. I won’t tell you the end of the story, but for me it was a heart-wrenching illustration of the choices we must make if we are to survive within the requirements of our environment. (National Geographic, February, 2012, Cave People of Papua, New Guinea.)

Today, we no long live sheltered in the broad green arms of our ecological home. I think that’s one reason why we experience the levels of discomfort, dis-ease and discontent that we do in our culture, but that’s not something we can deal with now. We have already destroyed that long-distant Garden of Eden. We can’t go back and change the mistakes of yesterday. You younger folk don’t realize that yet probably, but it can be demonstrated using, that intellect of ours, that the earth has modified herself to our needs about as much as she can. Our choice now is whether to push the environment even more. If we do, it’s likely to change so much that it can no longer support our needs for air, water, shelter, earth and human companionship.

We can do this, I know our brain is capable of understanding the problems that we face, and we can join together communally to deal with them. However, we cannot face these challenges using only our inborn instincts. If we are to succeed, it will require our intellect in two ways. First, we must educate ourselves about the ecosystem, how it functions and what it needs from us in order to sustain itself; second we must use our intellect to grow a new culture, based in what we know about basic instincts, and on what previous cultures have taught us, and incorporating our scientific knowledge and changing our attitude toward technology.

We now must decide together whether we, as a culture of the world, want to continue using technology to dominate and to make money – or if we will choose to, find a better way, based on a better goal-set than winner/loser. We do know there are better and more satisfying ways for humans to live, and the first thing we need to understand — we are not God. We do not understand the infinite meaning of life, nor can we control it. Our need to control, our ego, our desire to grow life in our image, whether the image be evil or even if it is a good image – that is the source and cause of our man-made disasters.

Lynn Lamoreux
Photo by Lynn, Lucky B Bison

This blog is an expanded version of Bare Bones Biology radio program that will play next week on KEOS Radio, 98.1 FM, Bryan, Texas. Bare Bones Biology is a completely nonprofit project. The podcast can be downloaded at http://traffic.libsyn.com/fff/Bare_Bones_Biology_133_-_World_Community.mp3

Recommended Action/Question for Discussion: Identify the source, and the path from source to table, of each item of food that is part of your Thanksgiving meal. In countries without a day of Thanksgiving (or with one), give thanks for your food at every meal and remember that it comes from the living earth. What, I wonder, is the difference between our living earth, and your God? Or mine?

Recommended References
https://factfictionfancy.wordpress.com/2012/11/14/

Bare Bones Biology Ecology Handbook, free, no strings – https://factfictionfancy.wordpress.com/
On the right side of the page click on the link under “Chapters” to download the PDF.

National Geographic, February, 2012, Cave People of Papua, New Guinea, by Mark Jenkins, Photos by Amy Toensing.

Bare Bones Biology 124 – Education

Last week I said: “We begin by taking the responsibility to educate ourselves about all the many sides of the population issue.”

I said this because one of the favorite corposystem power ploys is to distract us from our goal and occupy us with fake debates that do not interfere with corposystem desire to do whatever it wants to do. This is just another version of the old “divide and conquer” ploy. People who are fighting with each other cannot solve problems, for at least two reasons. One reason is that the solution to any problem is many sided.

Debates are two-sided sound bites and fun games, if we think life is nothing more than a game of winners and losers (that is not, by the way, how evolution functions (Bare Bones Biology 088 to 091) but debates do not resolve problems. Instead they prevent people from even evaluating and discussing problems — even problems that threaten their own futures — which is the second reason that debates don’t solve problems.

So what are the many sides of this overpopulation problem? I could begin by making a huge list of human opinions about overpopulation, but, human opinions cannot change the natural laws that permit our biosystem to survive. God the creator made the biosystem to function the way it does function, and that IS how nature works. Life feeds death and death feeds life.

God’s very breath is the breath of life and lifein the biosystem, whether we like it or not, and I think that’s why we don’t like it. We want what we want for ourselves – we want to use the earth for our own selves, and we don’t really care how many other species we kill off, and we don’t want to hear about it.

The trouble is, those species ARE the biosystem. They are what God breathed into the biosystem to make our air, water, fire (energy) and earth. That is how life on earth, the biosystem, functions to stay alive. God is Life – or God created Life.

That’s why I mention levels of organizationlevels of function of the biosystem) every chance I get. Individual level, population level, and all of life, the biosystem. If we are to make wise decisions, we must consider how the other levels affect us. If we could once realize that ONLY solving human problems is NOT the solution to human problems we would be far better off. Because humans cannot HAVE everything they want without causing irreparable damage to the biosystem. And anything that damages the biosystem is harmful to human individuals and human populations and even to the corposystem.

Every person on earth, except the most isolated, the sociopathic, or the super-spoiled, knows that we must have a balance between the wants and needs of individual humans and the requirements for community welfare. Individual humans cannot have everything they want if whatever they want causes harm to the community. Society is a constant readjustment between individuals, families and populations, in which nobody ever gets everything they want. We could paraphrase Mitt Romney’s recent “joke.” Obama wants to help the biosystem; I want to help you.

This is ignorance generating ignorance, because right now the biosystem is (check the facts, please) maxed out of earth, air, energy and water that we need to stay alive. Therefore, nobody can help anyone unless we all help the biosystem. The best way to learn how the biosystem stays alive and healthy is to read widely, and discuss the issues, and then check the facts. I’m talking about everyone – especially those who believe they already understand the biosystem. Most of us don’t. And then come back to the political arena and help to change our own behavior.

Debates do not solve problems; they only result in everyone trying to prove they are better than everyone else.

They aren’t.

And while we are playing ego games, the bottom line is we cannot continue to live in the biosystem unless we also reduce the numbers of people who are draining away the breath of life from the biosystem.

LynnLamoreux@Yahoo.com

This blog is an expanded version of Bare Bones Biology radio program that is playing this week on KEOS Radio, 98.1 FM, Bryan, Texas. The podcast can be downloaded later this week at http://www.BareBonesBiology.com

Recommended References

Bare Bones Biology Energy Handbook Download
https://factfictionfancy.files.wordpress.com/2010/06/pages_std-portrait-barebonesecology100627-finalfinalprinter.pdf

(First blog in this series) https://factfictionfancy.wordpress.com/2012/09/01
(Second blog in this series) https://factfictionfancy.wordpress.com/2012/09/09/

Population
Bare Bones Biology 020, https://factfictionfancy.wordpress.com/2010/09/05
Bare Bones Biology 021, https://factfictionfancy.wordpress.com/2010/09/11
Bare Bones Biology 022, https://factfictionfancy.wordpress.com/2010/09/19

Power Ploys
https://factfictionfancy.wordpress.com/2011/07/29/bare-bones-biology 066, corposystem-power/
https://factfictionfancy.wordpress.com/2011/09/13/3677bbb072/

Evolution
Bare Bones Biology 009 to 019 and 088 to 091

Life
https://factfictionfancy.wordpress.com/2010/07/03/bare-bones-bio…cript-011-life/
https://factfictionfancy.wordpress.com/2011/06/04/bare-bones-bio…58-–-happiness

Levels of Organization
https://factfictionfancy.wordpress.com/2011/05/22/bare-bones-bio…d-population-i
https://factfictionfancy.wordpress.com/2011/06/11/bare-bones-bio…-population-ii/