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« A Sapient Political Economic System | Main | Happy Autumnal Equinox »

September 06, 2014


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Steve Heigham

Hi it seems to me a missing part in the argument is that as a species we have managed to free ourselves from natural selection pressures through technological innovation to a great extent, so the evolved rules or coordination systems that might usually be expected to appear will not.

Aboc Zed


This post is discussed on the list I read.

Here is the question from one of the others on the list.


Great paper by Mobus. Thank you Steve. Can anyone help me with this? Mobus says:

“.. we have ample examples in nature where systems have reached a level of complexity and declines in energy flow that should have led to collapse, and yet they did not. Rather the system managed to completely reorganize .. Biological evolution provides many examples of this process of reorganization. ..”

What are some examples of this?

Is he talking about recovery after mass extinctions? Or avoiding mass extinctions, or ecosystems recovering from overshoot by some species? What would the examples be?

Thank you.


George Mobus

@Steve H.,

...managed to free ourselves from natural selection pressures through technological innovation to a great extent...

Steve, this is a common conception that turns out not to be the case. It is true we have freed ourselves from the kinds of pressures that might have been active before we developed weapons, etc. but that doesn't mean we have completely eliminated all selection pressures. In fact we may be under more and more diverse pressures mostly of our own making.

Humans have been continuing to evolve all along. The often used example is the evolution of lactose tolerance into adulthood gained by peoples who drank the milk of dairy animals. There are numerous other documented examples of more recent evolutionary changes as a result of selection pressures.

Today the pressures we are creating are primarily social and even results of our technologies. For example due to so many electronic-induced distractions there are pressures on teenagers to have shorter attention spans. If this were to persist and an inability to switch tasks rapidly led to differential reproductive success (faster switchers produced more offspring) then evolution might proceed by the Baldwin effect to produce a race of people who were really twitchy! Of course that won't come to fruition because the culture that would drive such an effect will implode before enough time could elapse. Too bad. Might make for a very comical lot!

@Aboc Z.

The primary examples are the great cooperative socialization events in life history, such as the symbiogenesis that led to eukaryotic cells. The symbionts found that through cooperation they could continue to function. Synergy allowed for great efficiencies to emerge. Of course then biological (Darwinian) mechanisms took over and the new symbiont-multiplex evolved into multiple forms. Similarly, when cells entered into symbiotic relations. Either single cell types stopped separating after cell division or different cell types found working together benefited both (e.g. lichens) from the synergies made possible by cooperation. The energies needed to sustain individuated species were reduced or changed.

At the level of organizations in society consider the typical consolidation and reorganization that occurs when a company, for example, finds its market share declining. If it is nimble and acts quickly it can reduce its work force and continue operations. Similarly, when two companies merge to gain synergy they can (at least they hope) reduce their separate resource requirements and realize savings of effort to accomplish the same job.

Whenever you see an example of a successful restructuring or synergistic symbiosis you are seeing a system reorganize in response to external forces. Of course, more often systems fail to do this and succumb to destruction.



Please look at what this points out. Did you hear of something like this?

George Mobus


Yes. It is called the panspermia theory. It has a major flaw logically, however. Even if life did not emerge on Earth, it had to start somewhere at some time.

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