Survival of the Fittest?

So, if species grow and succeed on the basis of survival of the fittest, meaning they are doing something that is good for the ecosystem — then how come the ecosystem pitches them out later and they go extinct?

I think the answer to this is that species succeed on the basis of something they are doing that is “fitness” within the ecosystem. That is, it is useful or at least not harmful within the multiple variables of the whole system. And what the ecosystem needs to survive is “resilience” (that is, the ability to change when conditions change) and “sustainability” (that is the ability to stay in balance by adjusting it’s parts, which is almost but not quite the same as resilience). So if a species does not upset the balance — and it increases the resilience of the system — then it is a happy camper within the system.

So why would it then go extinct, I mean barring the occasional mega-volcano or meteorite? I think most species are good at something, better at something than other species. Humans, those who don’t think the problem through, tend to believe this is “fitness.” Being better. They think being better and better at some little thing, like winning, for example, is fitness, and in a way it is, because it allows the species to fill or create a new niche in the system. Up to a point where it can no longer maintain its balance, a system with more niches will be more resilient than a system with fewer niches.

Most species are therefore good at something that is different from the other species that live in the same space. As time goes by and generations follow generations, and selection pressures of the surroundings tend to continue or increase, I think most species develop whatever is their advantage until it passes a balance point and becomes extreme.

For an example, think of the giraffe. And then if conditions change or they continue to develop the same trait to absurdity, they can’t cope in the system any more. For example, if all the tall trees died as a result of global warming (or anything, tree diseases, whatever) the giraffe would have to compete with everyone else at ground level and would probably become extinct.

Humans, now, have developed their definining characteristics to an even greater absurdity than giraffes. Humans in the USA, young people that I talk to, they actually believe they can control their environment (ecosystem) with the power of their brain, either directly or through creating technologies.

The trouble with having a really good brain as a defining characteristic is that it can go crazy and do absurdly harmful things to its own environment that lead to its own extinction. This is not fitness; it will not survive.

But we do have that brain, and we could use it for something useful if we wanted to.

Evolution Doesn’t Work That Way

Many people today, from the military to the economist to the new age, are basing decisions about their behavior on evolution. Some of us don’t even know we are doing it, and most don’t really know what evolution is. If we are thinking that evolution is “survival of the fittest,” we are making a mistake. It doesn’t work that way. We can’t plan to change physical evolution anyhow, and we would be far better to base our social behaviors on human ethics so as to possibly impact social change, and our physical efforts on not unbalancing the ecosystem.

Physical evolution is the law of nature that involves the information content of life and is the process of change of the entire information content of the ecosystem over time. Or, a change of a part of the ecosystem over time.

We all understand that time does not go backward, nor does it stop. I don’t know why; physicists might know about that. I do know time stops for no living thing. We can’t change what has already happened, so it’s better not to make mistakes. If God created the ecosystem, then, that’s one of God’s laws.

So that takes care of time. We can not change what is already behind us. Furthermore, no matter what we are doing, evolution never stops. It does not happen in the future, or rather it will happen in the future, but it is what is happening in this very moment of time that affects what will happen in the next moment of time. The only thing that actually is changing is — now. So we should think about not making mistakes, and we should think about it now if we want to create a good future for our kind.

The information content of the ecosytem is usually thought of as the gene pool. You could quibble about this and say that there are other forms of information, but I’m talking about the primary source of information that exists at each moment in time in response to whatever conditions exist. That information is all the genes that exist in the gene pool at this moment in time.

So the ecosystem is the largest unit of life as we know it on earth. The information of life is the genes. The gene pool of life is all the genes in that life. The gene pool of a species is all the genes in all the organisms of that species. The gene pool of a population is all the genes in that population. You have only two genes of each kind, and so does everyone else, so your impact on the ecosystem is tinier than tiny. Even if you kill off all your enemies and even if you are more fit than superman, your impact on the gene pool is still tinier than tiny.

So forget the delusions of grandeur. Your individualistic self might make a huge impact in your community of choice, but whatever we believe we are doing won’t matter to the ecosystem if we throw it off balance. Like all living entities, the prime imperative of the ecosystem is to stay in balance so it can survive, and there is no point in any of our physical or spiritual “cures” for our problems if at the same time we continue to unbalance our living home.

“Survival of the fittest” is only an excuse for people like Hitler, and maybe Bernie Madoff. And other people who want to wish away their social and cultural responsibilities by discounting physical reality. Evolution doesn’t work that way.

It would be better to spend out time finding out how it really does work if we want to stop unbalancing our living home.

(Excerpt from “Outside the Circles,” in production)

That’s Not How it Works

Most people believe that they have an important role to play in their communities, and if they do it very well — and if everyone else does their job very well — then it will all add up to a positive result.

Everyone positively contributing will add up to a positive result.

It doesn’t work that way, because different people have different ideas of what is positive. I believe that fighting wars only makes more fighters to make more wars. Other people believe their children’s deaths in war are a great sacrifice that will bring peace. If I work harder and harder to stop them from going to war, and they work harder and harder to force other people to stop attacking us — that does not end up with a positive result. It also doesn’t end up with “survival of the fittest,” but I already discussed that a couple of days ago, so let’s stick with this idea.

If everyone devotes his/her life to promote whatever he/she believes to be right — we will not go anywhere for two reasons:

1. Nobody will be asking the right questions. Important problems are big, and individual efforts are not big. It takes many people with different skills to understand all sides of a big problem.

2. Whatever you are doing is inhibiting whatever I am doing and vice versa.

What is the better solution?

1. Assume that each group has a good reason for what they believe. Find out what that reason is;

2. Recognize that every reason is valid but it is only part of the picture;

3. Add up all the REASONS for the actions until we ALL have a bigger picture of the real big problem and can together find a better way to solve it by understanding the root cause of the problem finding solutions that do not make the problem worse.Anne-PhotoJuneimg_0094LSs

This is the difference between working at the lower level of understanding and working at a higher level of understanding. Working at lower levels is divisive; working at higher levels is more powerful (as the corporations have demonstrated) but you must be very careful that what you are working to do is to address the problem — not to make it worse (as the corporations have also demonstrated.

If you want to know how evolution REALLY works, it does not primarily work at lower levels by picking out individual organisms and letting them survive. Evolution works at a higher level than the individual. Evolution selects entire populations that are able to deal effectively with the real problems of living in a balanced way within the living ecosystem.

Evolution is a population thing. Either the whole population survives or it doesn’t. Rather like an economic crash, an evolutionary crash decimates the entire population, even if the crash was caused by only a few individuals.

Our whole population of humans can not be “fit” in the evolutionary sense, unless we learn to understand the whole problem that we are trying to fix and then make our decisions according to the foundational cause of the whole problem. Instead of fighting among ourselves over the symptoms.

That would be real survival of the fittest. Evolution is not about survival of the fittest individuals. It is about a whole gene pool (that is all the people together) that can function positively. In that population, as we have human brains, our solution must be:

1. To listen to each other until we understand all sides of the issue(s) so that individuals can choose (or not) to spend their time HELPING without making things WORSE. So long as we don’t understand the whole problem, we don’t know if we really are doing more help or more harm;

2. To use the media for real education, that would be sharing the factual realities that make up the problem and stop training our children to be emotionally unfit for social interactions. Teach them how to listen, learn, and share different ideas.

Photo by Anne Preston

That’s Not How it Works

Evolution is the process of change of the entire information content of the ecosystem — over time.

We all understand time, and the important thing here is that time does not go backwards, nor does it stop. I do not know why. Ask a physicist if you want to talk about that. What I know is — it’s one of the laws of our living ecosystem. Time stops for no living thing. If God created the ecosystem, then it is one of God’s laws.

So that takes care of time. We can not change what is already behind us. Furthermore, evolution does not happen in the future, or rather it WILL happen in the future, but it is what is happening in this very moment of time that affects what will happen in the next moment of time. The only thing that actually is changing is NOW.

The information content of the ecosystem is usually thought of as the “gene pool.” You could quibble about this and say that there are other forms of information, but I am talking about the primary source of information in the ecosystem that changes in response to whatever conditions exist at each moment in time. That information is all the genes that exist in this moment of time.

The ecosystem is the largest unit of life as we know it on earth. The information of life is the genes. The gene pool of a population is all the genes in that population, the gene pool of a species is all the genes in all the organisms of that species; the gene pool of the ecosystem is all the genes in the ecosystem. You have only two genes of each kind. So does everyone else. So forget the delusions of grandeur. The impact of any one person on the gene pool of the ecosystem is tinier than tiny. Even if you kill off all your enemies and even if you are more fit than Superman, your impact on the gene pool is still unmeasurably small. Survival of the Fittest is an excuse for people like Hitler. It doesn’t work that way.

The third word in the definition is CHANGE. Change in the gene pool over time IS evolution. What causes this change? No person knows, and unless you are a person who can understand all the genes in all the organisms in the ecosystem, and all the ways in which they interact to allow the ecosystem to be alive — then there is no way for you to know scientifically what causes evolution, beyond what we have already said. There is a change in the gene pool. That is, a change in the information content of the living ecosystem.

Now it gets complicated, because the gene pool (through it’s organisms) changes in response to the ecosystem environment. That sounds like a cycle, doesn’t it, with the environment on one side and the gene pool on the other. The gene pool is necessary for the environment and the environment is necessary for the gene pool, and this is true. But it is not a cycle because of the element of time. If the gene pool changes in response to the environment — then the gene pool is changed, and it can not go back in time to what it was before. Therefore, in the next moment of time (or more likely the next generation of organisms) the relationship between the gene pool and the environment is different, because the gene pool is different. And that makes the environment different. And the environment influences the gene pool in the next following generation. So it’s not a cycle, like the carbon cycle, that happens over and over again in the same way. It’s more like a figure 8 with infinite potential to continue, if it does not destroy its own environment. Or its own gene pool.

So to this guy on wall street who is puffing out his chest and gloating that he is contributing to survival of the fittest because his company has grown 100?

THAT’S NOT THE WAY IT WORKS.

What that guy has done to us all is essentially the same as what Bernie Madoff did to his investors. Because the ecosystem does not honor Ponzi schemes, nor does it honor growth. The ecosystem survives on BALANCE.

Balance between the gene pool and the environment; balance in all the interactions between all the species in the gene pool of the ecosystem; balance of all the nutrients and other chemicals that cycle around so that we may have life; and balance between input and output. That economist who is going around claiming to be a boon to mankind — what he has done by growing 100% is to contribute to the UN-BALANCE of the ecosystem. He has taken out more resources than she can sustainably produce and destroyed species that are required for her balance, and even changed the weather for goodness sake, and he thinks he has done a good thing because he is a big fat macho “winner.”090624Dallas_dsc1997Ss

That guy who is richer and more important than any other person on wall street — measured according to the natural law that allows life to exist — is one of the most UNFIT people on earth. He and his friends have gone halfway to changing the ecosystem into a desert. He will be dead and gone; his legacy will be huger and thirst.

Because he chose to rally behind a silly slogan about survival of the fittest instead of finding out how it really does work.