January 15, 2010 | 4 Comments

Category: Art, Auto-Biography

One of the most challenging things about producing unique theory in an amateur context is the necessity of embracing the amateur milieu.  The academic and hobby environments are very different on several levels.  As an amateur, it is easy to believe that your audience is at least partly academics if what you are producing is the kind of product, unique evolutionary theory, for example, that an academic would produce.  That is a nonuseful perspective.

The academic and amateur environments operate on different premises and come with different appropriate behaviors.  I have relatives, friends and colleagues that are professors, so though I don’t speak from the experience of being an academic, this is not an unfamiliar world.

In academia, though the concept of the commons is integral to the idea of a learning community, knowledge sources are closely associated with individual contributions.  Struggles for recognition or for being a knowledge source are integral to institutional and discipline respect.  There are very specific conventions for how knowledge is shared and contributions are made, beginning with getting a degree in the area where you are seeking support for your ideas.  Criticism and analysis of contributions are part of the system, so it is required that positions be well defended.  Presentations are made in a context of attacking and defending ideas.  Over time, an academic builds a web of allies and supporters that is useful to achieving practitioner goals.

A result of the academic battle for recognition and respect is a hesitation to offer attention to those not participating in the slugfest.  It is hard enough achieving respect following the rules.  Forming alliances and offering recognition to folks operating outside the academic battleground are experienced as not useful to achieving goals.

My work makes it particularly difficult for academics to offer signs of their support.  It is interdisciplinary, grounded in anthropology, evolutionary biology, neuropsychology and, to some degree, endocrinology.  On several occasions I’ve received emails from academics interested in what I was working on where it crossed over into their area of expertise, but because they were unfamiliar with the concepts as they entered other disciplines, they could not estimate how reasonable my ideas were outside their own profession.  There is, of course, the fact that I have no degree in their area, I am not published in a peer-reviewed journal, I have no alliances with an academic institution and my work is not cited by papers published in peer-reviewed journals.

There is also an issue because I feel a defined understanding of consciousness is integral to understanding evolution.  I closely ally art, spirituality and science when I discuss evolutionary theory.  Many evolutionary theorists might say that’s fine, understanding your epistemological foundations can be useful when exploring something as fundamental as evolutionary theory, but these discussions are not the convention in contemporary journals.

What I continue to struggle with as I slowly integrate the many aspects of what I’m now calling “The Orchestral Theory of Evolution” is that as an amateur, it is necessary that I embrace the amateur milieu.  As an amateur, it is essential I have fun, communicate I am having fun and make that joy of sharing central to my communication.

Almost without exception, academics that I observe don’t behave like they’re having fun, particularly when they are seeking to lobby for their ideas or interpretations.  They sometimes do seem to be having fun while teaching.  When teaching, they are not engaged in the struggle to achieve respect.  When they are lobbying for acceptance of an idea or opinion, they wear battle demeanor.  Struggling for recognition, they are focused, concentrated, making sure they are aware of the ramification of all their utterances, paying close attention to the words and behaviors of their foes and allies.

That is exactly the space I need to avoid, but it is one I keep feeling drawn to.  I am in no battle.  I have no foes or allies.  As an amateur, engaged in hobby, swimming in ideas with no boundaries, I have no academic conventions to uphold, no institutional routines to distract me.

Writing the larger overview of my theory, a part of me feels drawn toward establishing my credentials as a person whose ideas should be taken seriously.  That means several things.  One of them is at the beginning of the work it is good to be describing on overview of the discipline, noting accepted theories, while referencing important past and current researchers and theorists.  My work covers half a dozen disciplines.  Writing an overview of half a dozen disciplines as an introduction feels overwhelming.  It feels like work.  Perhaps more importantly, I’m not familiar with the history, all the current theories and important past and present individuals in those disciplines.  In addition, academics won’t be reading what I write, at least not in a fashion where they are considering citation, and nonacademics would likely be bored by an essentially very long introduction.

I think it also relevant that academics have something to lose if the information they are putting their reputation on the line to share is proven false, poorly supported or just highly conjectural.  This prevents professionals from wasting time and resources pursuing false leads.  The amateur has not spent years achieving credentials that it would be very costly to lose.  Not unlike male and female procreation agendas, an amateur, like a male with an almost infinite amount of sperm, is encouraged to take risks because losses have fewer repercussions. A professional, like a female that can only give birth to a limited number of children, will protect the ideas that he or she is identified with because each idea supported requires a personal commitment and some reputation risk.

Establishing credentials as a hobbyist, I make clear that I am an authority when I make sense, tell the truth and share my passion.  Authenticity accompanies a passionate, articulate sharing.

As an amateur, I am blessed by having no discipline barriers to corral my thoughts.  As an amateur, I am not enmeshed in a network of relationships that would tell me who would be disappointed by a thought I share.  My successes won’t translate into a colleague or friend feeling that he or she has failed.  My failures don’t burden a colleague with an ally that has let him or her down.

What I need to remember is that I am writing to share the joy I experience.  Though there are academics with the strength and character to write from a position of joy and to continue to battle for their ideas, as an amateur, I am relieved of battle.  I need only experience the joy of participation.

Continuing to write an integration of my ideas, I can remember this.  I am not a professional.  I am not writing for professionals.  I am writing for those that may share my joy.


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4 Comments so far

  1. Tetsuya Sellers on January 17, 2010 9:17 pm

    Actually, the reason I found your site was through a rather long and somewhat exhaustive essay, written by a non-academic familiar with academia, like yourself (and I, funnily enough), but is also intellectually-minded (admitedly, also like myself) and is able to grasp the real from the ecculturated. He bassically provides an alternative explanation for feminist theory of patriarchy, and virtually coppies your essay on the origins of culture in Chap 8, Sec. 3 of A Thermodynamic Interpretation of History. The website in its entirety is here. You should read the intro to the essay for some inside hilarity.


    The author’s main point is that all the liberation movements, from the French Revolution to the feminist movement, were about incorporating more and more people in to the social supraorganism, and that the United States is the world’s best totalitarian state in this regard. Consumerism is the main mode of the totalitarian state to exhaust the earth. Also says that academia is mainly supportive of these social trends, such as when cultural feminists talk of “harmony” etc.

  2. Andrew on January 17, 2010 9:46 pm

    Hi Tetsuya,

    Indeed, a cute introduction at theophoretos. Regarding consumerism. I’m working on a video (that will post here sometime in March, probably) on the relationship between the consumer economy and human evolution. It’s about 7 minutes long.


  3. rogerharris on January 22, 2010 9:06 pm

    andrew i think at this stage you should be trying to present the ideas far more clearly. Its all too easy to fall into the trap of getting oversensitive when academics reject your ideas, and take on the lone individual stance.

    academics treat each other like crap as well. I have made the transition from amateur to professional now so can speak from experience here. You just take the good with the bad. A lot of these people are slightly autistic narcissists themselves, and it stems from high anxiety about doing the slightest thing wrong or to be seen to be even thinking about the slightest wrong thing.

    If there is something to these patterns, models, and they work and apply, then produce some graphics to explain how they work or this is opportunity lost. Also if you don’t release papers then how can anybody reference the work to expand it, Are you aware that there are many preprint archives, so you can put together papers, link them to a forum and invite review without having to go through the torture and expense of journal politics. preprints can be referenced by other scientists.

    You already have the graphic skills so why not transcribe the model…i.e. like the annet right shift diagram you used to use. Present the models in an easy way that anybody can just refer to quickly, i.e. a link with an easy explanation page. then these pages of text where you extrapolate will be easier to follow.

  4. Andrew on January 22, 2010 9:30 pm

    Thank you for your encouragement, Roger. The theory in book form will be available for free download off of this site in a couple months.

    I’ve experienced very little rejection of my work from academics. It’s just invisible. When responding, they mostly just don’t know what to do with it.

    About ten years ago a New Zealand professor published one of my papers in a professional newsletter. It appears here http://www.serpentfd.org/published.html. It has never been cited.

    Regarding illustrations and graphs, I just don’t see opportunities to put these principles into graph format. I’m working now on several videos that will post in Facebook in a month or so. Perhaps they will help make the theory clear.


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