Bare Bones Biology 090-Evolution

In the last two programs, I said that evolution is real and we affect it, so the best thing we can do is to learn how the biological system really functions to stay alive so that our efforts to be of help will do more good than harm.

Based on what I know about evolutionary ecology, our global and local human travails will become worse no matter what we do politically and economically. This is not a personal belief based in social science. It’s in the numbers, and my professional pronouncement is based in a lifetime of training and experience in genetics built on a base of training in ecological evolution. The human species is entering a biological bottleneck, and we might as well face the fact and deal with it.

Our troubles will become worse, because we can’t change what we humans have already done. We will experience the result of what we have done. What will happen after that depends on what we do now. What we humans can do right now in this moment of historic evolutionary change, is to decide the future of the human species and the whole earth ecosystem by our response to the bottleneck we are entering.

We have so much power on this earth that we can choose to help the ecosystem return to health and grow a good life for our descendants – or we can carry on as we have for centuries trying to eat the apple of the tree of life, like spoiled little children, by trying to force the ecosystem to obey our wishes. Or one could say, trying to create God in our image. I personally think that is blasphemous, and factually as a scientist, I know that approach will not succeed. But most of the people don’t seem to care, as long as they can be among the winners now, and at the same time believe they are the good guys. And so we carry on like the previous generations, destroying our own future. The irony is, so far as we know, we are the only species in history that knows we are destroying ourselves, and we are doing it anyhow.

Even more disturbing, most of the people who believe themselves to be scientists, even biological scientists, are training now within the corposystem value system to continue the very mind-set that caused our problem. In part, that mind set originated from and is still justified by a conveniently flawed and simplistic interpretation of evolution, often quoted as: “Survival of the fittest.” Folks, I keep saying, that’s not how evolution works.
(for example Evolution – BareBonesBiology-010 through -019 and several subsequent to the series. Bare Bones Biology 052 emergent properties)
But I’ll talk about that next time.

Further, the modern corporate mind-set is all about control that we do not have. For example, when I began my career, we all were studying a biological organism (the mouse) to try to understand the processes of life. Now, for the most part, my peers are not interested in the mouse and how it functions as a life form. They are interested in the molecules the mouse is composed of, and how we humans can control those molecules. This is mostly because that is the kind of work the corposystem funds – to make money by controlling things.

But we humans cannot make a mouse. We cannot blow the spark of life into those molecules outside of a test tube, and we need to remember that we also cannot blow the spark of life into the whole earth ecosystem. We will fail if we try to redesign the whole earth ecosystem to suit ourselves – either as biologists or as agro-business empires the likes of Monsanto, or as energy corporations that refuse to recognize that we are running out of oil and gas – or as the modern ecologist whose science has become so reductionist that he cannot see the life form that he is studying because he is more interested in how he can control some little part of it. Maybe we can control that part, but all the parts are connected, and as we don’t know how the parts function to make the whole of life, we need to let it function as it does. However that is.

Bare Bones Biology 090 – Evolution
KEOS FM 89.1, Bryan, Texas
Audio download available next week
here and at

Power Politics

This blog started out to discuss power — especially personal power and the many things I learned about personal power in my years of becoming a successful woman scientist.  I’m still talking about the power to accomplish long-term goals  !


Our book has been published and it is indeed a beautiful book, and that’s not even mentioning the important and well balanced content.  Or the number of disparate people who all had to do a great job together to accomplish the goal.

“The Colors of Mice”

But that is not what I want to say today.

What I want to say today is that nobody accomplishes any kind of significant goal without help, and if you aren’t bigger than everyone else on the playing field, then you must talk with everyone else on the playing field.  And only one person is bigger than everyone else on the playing field.

I would claim, and have often claimed, that “winners” never win anything long term.  Winners are the biggest jerks on the playing field because they only care about winning, not about the long-term goals that are good for all or most of the people.  The odd thing is that they also always believe they are aspiring to long-term positive goals.  I mean unless they are really just brutal dictators or something, and hardly anyone is that.  But the bottom line is that “winners” hurt so many people in the process of winning, and there are so many losers who know so much about the “Powers of the Weak” (they have read Janeway on the subject) that the losers go underground and talk to all the people and blossom out 20 years later to defeat the original winner.

It always happens.  Right now it’s taking the form of blame-placing.  We are having the biggest and most illogical blame-placing orgy in history (or at least it seems like it, I wasn’t here forever).  But it won’t do us any good.  I’ll tell you why tomorrow, but the bottom line is nobody ever won a long-term goal by blame-placing, either.  The only major result of that is to attribute to your enemy bigger powers than he actually has.

The bottom line is that the person with the most power to accomplish long-term goals is the one who is willing to talk to (preferably listen to) all the other people, and discuss the issues.  Everyone’s issues.

Ethics in the Blogosphere

090422_dsc0492ssAs you all know, I am taking a course in Political Blogging.  I’m not really into political; I think it’s too much about winners and losers, but I wanted to develop a blog and it’s easy enough to claim that all human behavior is political, so I did.  My goal was to get up a blog, and here it is.  I think the professor’s goal was to arrive at a good discussion of ethics in the media, and he also succeeded.

It is a question, isn’t it, about ethics.  It’s a fine thing for each of us to express an opinion that someone else actually can listen to, rather than to have a few media bigwigs control our communal flow of information.  But it might not be so good for the community that we bloggers, as a group, have no written-down code of ethics to guide us.  The media, especially the long-standing newspaper sources of information, mostly took pride in a code of ethics that prevented a secretive bias of the information.

So I was thinking about ethics and blogging and various scenarios, and I thought of the Huffington Post, that seems to be trying to make itself into a newspaper on line, and its recent creative foray into public information gathering about the TEA parties that were held all over the country on May 15 — and here are my questions:

1.  Was it ethical to send out the word to everyone online that they are welcome to attend whatever local TEA party that caught their interest, and then to contribute pictures and news reports by email to the Post?  Even if the contributors don’t know anything about news gathering or codes of ethics?

My answer is – Sure, why not?  The amateur reporters get to have a lot of fun, they get exposed to ideas that may or may not be different from their own, and they are doing something that couldn’t be done by a reporter.  The Post gets a real bonanza of pictures and stories they can use any way they want without paying anyone for the time and effort.  And the TEA parties get advertising.  It’s a win-win-win.

2.  Is it ethical to sort out these media to represent the bias of the publisher?

I say sure, why not, if the publisher acknowledges its bias from the get-go, but this is only a win-win, which is not as good as a win-win-win.

3.  Is it ethical to claim that you have posted all the photos and then selectively edit which photos that you post — or don’t post?

I say No.  Honesty (or as one of the speakers at my TEA party said) “honor!” is a bottom-line essential component of a media code of ethics, no matter your bias.

Furthermore, as it is obvious there are no either/or answers to these sorts of questions, I say we should evaluate them according to the “win-win-win” system.  I’m really tired of hearing from politicos that everything in the world is a “win-lose” emergency. Almost nothing in the world is a win-lose emergency, and I say anything less than win-win doesn’t fly. If we care about our community.

(And besides, my pictures were better.)


Someone told me yesterday about zero sum games.

“The zero-sum property (if one gains, another loses) means that any result of a zero-sum situation is Pareto optimal (generally, any game where all strategies are Pareto optimal is called a conflict game).  (Wikipedia)

Boy am I naive.  I guess that is what I was talking about winners and losers.  I didn’t even know anyone believed in zero sum games.  Maybe the big wheels at AIG did, but they found out, didn’t they, that it does not work in a human culture, because what comes around goes around.  Most of those old sayings ring true.  If it sounds too good to be true it is.  Winners and losers simply doesn’t work.  Too many losers.


The best things that I have ever enjoyed were not even win-win games.  They were win-win-win games.  If you can organize a win-win-win game you have something really to be proud of, but that’s not the reason to do it.  The real reason is it’s the best fun you will ever have. (This is not me in the picture — if only.)

But the very first step in finding win-win games is to stop playing winners and losers.