The Evolving Now

September 9, 2009 | Leave a Comment

Category: Biology, Society

It may be possible that we are approaching a way of looking at social and biological evolution that provides us a synthesis perspective or integrated discipline.  Its name might be something like “Evolutionary Endocrinology.”  This new perspective might be characterized by an exploration of evolution in the present, not just over time.  This would integrate evolutionary developmental biology with social structure theory.  It might even provide a place for evolutionary psychologists by framing their contributions as the human dynamic evidenced by patrifocal social structure.  With the new paradigm we’d be encouraged to integrate the biological now with the arc of evolution over time.

Thomas Kuhn described and framed the evolution of science in his The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.  He started off by presupposing that there was structure to the way that science transformed over time.  To presuppose that something is possible it is necessary to recognize that the something exists.  I presuppose that everything is connected and awareness or consciousness is a feature of the system.  A benefit of this presupposition is that I look for connections in places where a reductionist model suggests they are unnecessary.

The questions are:  What useful outcomes does a presupposition offer and …

I’m still trying to grasp the concept that testosterone and estrogen and their associated hormones are together managing ontological, social and biological evolution by adjusting to changes in the environment by moderating the rate and timing of ontogeny.

We always knew that sex governed our lives.  There is now the possibility that we can understand how exactly this is done.

In both sexes, entering puberty is characterized by a surge in testosterone that, among other things, halts most synaptic growth.  If fat levels are not high enough, puberty is delayed.  Certain levels of estrogen are required for testosterone surges to occur.

Over ten years ago I hypothesized that a mother’s uterine testosterone levels would influence the likelihood of her child exhibiting autism.  I estimated that the rate of maturation would be determined by the amount of testosterone.  A mother with high testosterone would feature maturationally delayed sons and maturationally accelerated daughters, both vulnerable to autism.

This last season I’ve been applying the pattern of how estrogen controls the timing of testosterone surges at puberty to early childhood when testosterone surges prune the right hemispheres of most normal right-handed individuals.  Might estrogen levels in these infants, toddlers and children be determining …

Speed

September 7, 2009 | 2 Comments

Category: 10-Unconscious, Future, Society, Unconscious, Web

In physics there is the phenomenon where the closer a traveler comes to the speed of light, the more separate one’s “time” becomes from the traveler’s place of origin.  Einstein imagined time while riding a beam of light as if it were a train and concluded that time is relative.

In the physics of biology and social change, identity is a variable that, like time, can change.  What is necessary to be able to trace transformations in identity is a model of biological and social evolution that embraces consciousness or awareness as a default feature of the system.  This is quite different from our present predilection to presuppose that the underlying system does not exhibit consciousness or awareness.  Note the works of contemporary, respected evolutionary psychologists Dawkins, Dennett and Miller.  There is an assumption built upon an allegiance to natural selection being the only necessary process to drive evolution.  That assumption is that because god is not necessary for evolution, god does not need to exist.  All three are atheists.

Identity is changing.  And, like the rider on a light beam, we have a difficult task to evaluate the relativistic nature of our experience without access to an alternative landscape.  …

Aneurysm Update

September 4, 2009 | Leave a Comment

Category: Auto-Biography

I’m finding myself drifting in the direction of not having the operation to prevent the rupture of my cerebral aneurysm.  It’s been a week since meeting with the surgeons.  They told Marcia and me that a cranial intervention made the most sense.  The choice was between an arterial approach, operating from inside the aneurysm, strengthening its walls, or opening up my head and addressing the problem from the outside, where it is possible to see the tiny arteries (peripherals) that, if damaged, could cause a stroke.

They conducted a procedure (described here) about three weeks ago to gather information that would tell them the best route to go.  They discovered that if they were prevented from adjusting the aneurysm in the way that they wanted to during the cranial intervention, they could shut off my left carotid artery, relieving the pressure on the aneurysm.

The chance of rupture is about 2.5% in any given year.

So, this is not a matter that requires an immediate decision.  The aneurysm has no symptoms, though it could be related to headaches.  They’re not sure.  If I choose an operation, there is about an 8% chance of stroke.  The doctors recommend intervention.  I …

Just after the Iran election, Twitter emerged as news.  It seemed not only to be able to share information about what was happening in Iran with folks following events around the world, but Twitter was also encouraging the ability of protesters to congregate spontaneously and keep each other informed of developments in real time.

I work with Left/Progressive organizers across the country, talking with maybe six to ten out-of-state activists each week. In a week I’m in email communication with several dozen. In Illinois, far more.  Over the course of a three-month period, I cycle through communication with almost 600 organizers in 30 states, trying to touch base with each four times a year.  In addition, I consult with In These Times, a revered Left/Progressive print publication.  I mostly work with In These Times as a local expert on the Internet and social media.

So, I have a pretty broad view of ongoing American Left strategies and tactics to accomplish specific goals.  Regarding my area of expertise, the Internet, the independent Progressive movement is at the very beginning of becoming aware of the power of horizontal, online social networks.

Right now, Twitter, Facebook, MySpace and the others are enhancing communication …

Letting Go

September 2, 2009 | Leave a Comment

Category: Art, Society

I’ve noticed that when I start to write, sometimes there is more than one thing I want to write about.  Often, the two or more things are quite different, and it would seem that I would have to choose between them.  But what happens is that I feel compelled to find a way to tie the two things together, connect them, even when there is no obvious relationship.

It’s not like this is in my mind.  I start writing about one thing and end up writing about both things.  The music my fingers seek to play usually has two or more melodies.  It seems that a feature of my participating in this integration is my writing while letting go.

The structure of these essays is in some ways more important than the content.  The structure can evidence my seeking to guide myself and the reader toward an understanding that seemingly disparate principles or ideas are actually the same.

Great dancers often bridge genres and bring together, for example, contemporary and modern forms.  Physicists attempt to bring into single equations patterns evidencing themselves in seemingly separate ways.  Some politicians define themselves by their ability to bridge disparate social trends.  Often we …

Chills

September 1, 2009 | 1 Comment

Category: 10-Unconscious, Art, Play, Unconscious

I can’t exactly remember when the chills first started.  When I was in summer camp when five or six, I remember concentrating on placing my right hand over my left side to be able to say the Pledge of Allegiance.  I then felt chills, vibrations up my back, because I was feeling part of something I did not understand but I knew was good, something larger than myself.

Over time the chills or vibrations would come and go.  The feeling always accompanied the experience that I’d been moved.  From what I can tell, this is universal.

In 1980 and 1981, I went through a Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) trainers program to become a practitioner of NLP.  I was fascinated by the communications model.  Fifty-eight psychotherapists, psychoanalysts and psychologists, one businessman and I went through the training.  The focus was on addressing and achieving patients’ psychological goals.  There was a secondary emphasis concentrating on communicating directly with another person’s unconscious.

The work of Milton H. Erickson was integral to NLP insights.  Erickson was a hypnotherapist who developed a number of new techniques, wrote books describing those techniques and taught many therapists how to use hypnotherapy to advance patient goals.  Erickson died in …

Distribution of Authority

August 31, 2009 | Leave a Comment

Category: Society, Web

A pattern I’ve noticed among professionals I know is the tendency to share the benefits of one’s expertise by actually imparting knowledge on how to engage in that professional’s profession.  A psychotherapist has at her or his disposal a host of interventions to bridge the client to the client’s desired state.  The intervention often chosen is the one where the client is invited to view and feel about himself or herself in a similar fashion to the way the therapist views and feels about the client.  The client is invited to experience the world psychodynamically.  The practitioner guides the client to share the practitioner’s model as a strategy to achieve the desired change.

I’ve noticed this in several contexts.  Outstanding teachers often are not only communicating information, they are sharing how the information is communicated.  There is sometimes a tendency to teach by making the student a teacher.

Outstanding political organizers are not just engaging in the step-by-step process of achieving goals, they are at the same time training and guiding the activists that they are working with to emulate the organizer’s behavior.

Excellence in communication may not just be about nurturing an environment that supports the exchange of information …

Aneurysm Update

August 28, 2009 | Leave a Comment

Category: Auto-Biography

Well, the surgeons recommended cranial intervention.  Operating through arteries from the inside of the aneurysm risks damaging the tiny “peripheral” arteries that are inside the aneurysm.  They can see those arteries from the outside.  They can’t from the inside.  There is approximately a 10% chance of serious problems, mainly stroke.

This continues to be an astonishing adventure.  Dread and anxiety are, of course, part of the process.  What surprises me is the increased experience of being in the now as I pay far closer attention to the changing of the seasons, the spiritual in the everyday and my relationship with that part of myself with no personality, history or individual focus.  I am feeling humbled.

Ten years ago, when Marcia was having serious uterine pain, the doctors weren’t sure what it was, but they said cancer was a possibility.  There was about a two-week period of not knowing what was going on before the operation, which revealed that the symptoms were from endometriosis and were not life threatening.  During that two-week period, I felt far more dread than I have during my own life-threatening experience.  I was more upset than Marcia by what was happening.

Regarding the aneurysm, Marcia seems …

During work or life, I don’t generally write down ideas when something occurs to me to write about.  It’s so clear that my conscious self has so little influence on what I do that I just give in to what emerges.  I continue to be astonished at what comes out.

Just now, seeking to find one of those ideas that have been floating around in my mind for the last few days, I realize it is the shape of the idea that I am looking for.  I’m not trying to remember the words but the form.  If I can grasp its form, the words follow.

I’m one of these people that remember phone numbers by the way they look, feel and sound.  The keypad on the telephone has a shape when I punch the numbers.  I recall the pattern, the motion I make and the beeping melody.  The number sequence is the result of other sense interventions.

I go to the brain surgeon today.  He will tell Marcia and me which intervention he recommends for the cerebral aneurysm behind my left eye.  All interventions have risks, but supposedly fewer than 10% of the operations result in stroke.  I’m wondering how …

“The existence of mammary ridges on the embryo concording with ancient synapsids suggests that those ancient animals also had nutrient-supplying ridges on their bodies for which there is no paleontological evidence.  On the human embryo, the mammary ridges gradually coalesce and finally resolve into discrete nipples on day 58.  This event concords almost exactly with the lowermost Triassic, where the fossils of Cynognathus are found.  Discrete mammary glands and a fused secondary palate in the embryo coincide with a fused secondary palate in the fossil record.”  (Swan, Lawrence W. (1990) The concordance of ontogeny with phylogeny.  Bioscience 40: 380)

Because male humans differentiate from the foundation female at six weeks after conception, might this reflect an ancient emergence of testosterone after estrogen?  Might the Pre-Cambrian explosion have had something to do with there being no testosterone to call an end to the party?

“No one, least of all Williams and Kafatos, expect the eventual story to be so simple.  But it does seem likely that normal development is controlled by gradually decreasing concentration of a hormone acting primarily at high levels of the regulatory system.  This is also an ideal mechanism for the simple and rapid production of …

Backyard

August 25, 2009 | 2 Comments

Category: Auto-Biography

Marcia and I live in an old row house 12 blocks from Chicago.  The maple in our tiny backyard is massive, making it impossible to grow vegetables and fruits.  With the abundance of shade, Marcia attends to plants and flowers.  I miss growing pumpkins, strawberries and sunflowers.

We have six birdhouses, some with families.  The tiny sparrows emerged in late spring.  Looking out the back door one June morning, I saw a baby sparrow on a branch, a tiny bunny in the grass and two new squirrels beneath the bird feeder.  We keep the four bird feeders filled.  This draws lots of life besides the sparrows and finches.

Elia saw three raccoons on our steps at 3:00 a.m.  Two were tiny.  Possums wander through.  One May morning we were alerted to something unusual in the backyard when several squirrel alarms went off, a sort of clicking, squawking noise.  There was a coyote standing amongst the birdhouses.

The last place we lived, near Damen and Roscoe in Chicago, I dug up the backyard and turned it into a garden and tortoise run.  Five box turtles wandered amongst the strawberries, tomatoes and cucumbers through spring and summer.  I’d rarely see them, though …

Theory and Play

August 24, 2009 | 1 Comment

Category: Art, Biology, Myth/Story, Play, Unconscious

Evolutionary theory has been encouraged to grow in the direction of what society believes about itself.  When we in the West were committed to the mythology of the Judeo-Christian ethic, we concluded that life emerged as a direct result of transcendent intervention in a prescribed time period.  Darwin was heavily influenced by contemporary forces that included the belief that humans could observe patterns, draw conclusions and make predictions without the influence of a universal god.  Drawing upon Linnaeus, Paley, Malthus, Smith and Lyell, Darwin created a theory of evolution that seemed to integrate both a reverence for the subject and respect for enlightenment and intellectual independence.  In choosing among Darwin’s three theories, society embraced the theory of natural selection, which directly reflected a material, stratified, industrializing West.

A new paradigm is emerging.  Instead of “survival of the fittest,” we see a drifting in the direction of “transcendence of the interconnected.”  Cooperative communities are becoming recognized as integral to understanding how individuals and collections of individuals evolve.  For many evolutionary theorists, the environment is now a variable that influences the kind of progeny that are produced.  We need not be products of random variation any longer.

Still unexplored as a variable …

Origin Myths

August 22, 2009 | Leave a Comment

Category: Myth/Story, Society

A common argument emerged among evolutionary theorists starting 150 years ago.  Passionate words were exchanged that focused on whether variation was random or not.  If variation was random, then Darwin’s theory of natural selection was the primary player as species evolved.  If variation was not random, then the environment or other variables were deciding what features of an individual natural selection influenced, features possibly preselected for an environment.

If natural selection was choosing among a preselected group of candidates, those forces that determined the candidates being selected could be construed as being more important than natural selection.

The argument for a preselected group of candidate features faded in the 1930s as Darwin’s theory of natural selection became the default frame of reference for a society seeing the world through the effects of capitalism and maintaining a belief on the social level that without government intervention, it was all about the strongest surviving.  With the resurgence of Social Darwinism and free markets beginning in the late 1970s, the wise men of sociobiology and evolutionary psychology, Neo-Darwinists, shared with us the certain knowledge that variation is random and natural selection is the foundation of all evolution.

Times are changing.

Thomas Kuhn, Stephen …

It seems too elegant to be true, but I’ve become enamored of the possibility.

Heterochronic theory, the study of the effects of rate and timing on maturation and development, takes the work of several late nineteenth century and early twentieth century theorists and packages that work into a sort of seamless whole. Stephen J. Gould in his Ontogeny and Phylogeny went far, codifying the various theorists’ predilections so that they made an overriding sense. I say “sort of” seamless whole because the actual endocrinological underpinnings of the dynamics were never explored.

Neoteny is the best known of the six heterochronic processes. Neoteny is the process whereby features of infants, embryos or the very young are, over the course of generations, prolonged to emerge in the adults of descendants. Acceleration is the opposite, whereby features of adult ancestors appear in the infants of descendants. For example, let’s say great great grandfather had a baritone voice, emerging at puberty. His son’s deeper voice may emerge just before puberty and his great grandson might have an unusually hoarse voice as a child. That would be an acceleration of a feature. These things normally take hundreds and thousands of generations, though they can be …

The Simple Complex

August 20, 2009 | Leave a Comment

Category: Art

There are spiritual paths for which an economy of language, myth and metaphor are highly valued.  Often a heavy emphasis is placed on practice and community.  A result is lives lived with attention or awareness, respect and often compassion.

I have this compulsion to take patterns evident in one discipline or community and then seeing if it carries forward to another, not so contiguous area.  Right now I’m wondering if you can have the equivalent of a wordless science, an academic discipline with an almost Zen-like attention to that which is best expressed without language.

This sounds like mathematics.  Perhaps it is.

Science and spirituality are feeling closely tied these days.  I have been tracing back human split consciousness to the primary process, nonsplit consciousness of the ancient aboriginal, then going back further to our hominid forebears, continuing back to great ape consciousness and finally beyond our great ape roots.

In the hospital yesterday I was paradoxically returned to an aboriginal sphere.  Groin arteries were healing, and my penis was observed by several nurses, doctors and practitioners while they were examining the wounds.  Of course, it didn’t matter.  My body had become the property of the community.  Tubes exited arteries …

Operation

August 19, 2009 | 2 Comments

Category: Auto-Biography

The carotid artery balloon angioplasty procedure occurred yesterday.  To get more detailed information on the cerebral aneurysm I have behind my left eyeball, they shut off my left carotid artery for 45 minutes while observing the repercussions.  What was required was snaking two long wires from my groin to my head.  One shut off that blood flow; the other snaked around through my brain to watch that effect from the aneurysm perspective.  The procedure required my being fully awake.

I think they call it a procedure, not a surgery, because there is no attempted intervention.

I was awake the whole time in order to answer questions so that the doctors could make sure the procedure was not causing a stroke.  There were two anesthesiologists.  Their job was to keep me aware enough to answer those questions.  I was told about halfway through the procedure that I would not remember any of it.

Right now it is the following morning.  I remember all of it, clearly.  I’m waiting to be told I can go home from the hospital.

From the time they began until they finished was almost three hours.

At the very beginning, literally while I was being wheeled into …

Hegel and Lyell and others made philosophical and physical science contributions that led to the idea that such a thing as progress could exist.  With Darwin, progress was not a variable; contingency was king.  Species evolved according to the dictates of what was required to procreate.  Marx believed society was evolving toward a specific end in a particular way.  Pierre Teilhard de Chardin believed the particular end was profoundly positive.  Others have run with variations on that theme.  At this time we have Social Darwinists, what we now call free market proponents, suggesting that economic survival of the fittest and societal progress are both true.  The wealthy have to be allowed to do what they want to make it possible for society to advance.  This is the entrepreneurial imperative.

In the West, we have been seeking to integrate these two seemingly incompatible beliefs:  evolution has no goal and society is evolving toward something specific that is good.  It would not be the first time that humans believed two opposite things to be true if it seemed there was a benefit in doing so.

What if both things could be true?  What if understanding how both contingency and progress could both …

“We do have data from Japan that are highly suggestive.  Here, for many centuries, fair skins have been under parental control and, other things being equal, parents seek attractive brides for their sons.  As elsewhere, members of the upper classes tend to be the luckiest.  This might be expected to lead to selection as the generations have gone by.  Research which I conducted a few years ago (Hulse 1967) indicated that this has taken place, for upper-class high school students have the fairest skins and those of the lower class the darkest, while middle-class students are intermediate in pigmentation.  Furthermore, data from Greece (Friedl 1962) indicate that girls who are considered good-looking marry earlier than, and need not be supplied with as large a dowry as, their less-attractive sisters.  Throughout southern Europe, the upper classes contain a disproportionate number of blondes and near-blondes.  Sexual preferences, though they may be based on social snobbery rather than aesthetic interest, are capable of shifting allele frequencies in human population.”  (Hulse, F. S. (1978) Group selection and sexual selection in human evolution.  In Evolutionary Models and Studies in Human Diversity (Hague) Meier, R., Otten, C. M., Abdel-Hameed, F. (eds.), Moulton Publisher, Paris, p. 33.)…

Biology, Society and Self

August 15, 2009 | 1 Comment

Category: Unconscious

As society transforms, nations integrate and hierarchy becomes less efficient than barrierless transparency, our idea of how evolution operates will evolve.  Darwin’s theory of natural selection will feel strangely lacking as an explanatory paradigm.  Complementing theories will take center stage.  The process has begun with the emergence of evolutionary developmental biology.  It includes an understanding that genetics and the environment work together to impact how individuals develop.  It also has an understanding that genes are programmed to interpret and integrate environmental cues when guiding growth.

We will become savvy to the understanding that how humans treat humans within society determines how we believe that evolution operates.  Capitalism enhanced by horizontal communications technology will encourage evolutionary biological pluralism.

Still, there is something awry, something missing.  There is little talk of single theories that integrate biology and society within a single evolutionary paradigm.  How would you even begin to do so?

In these strange times that we live in, the political Left, those heralds of societal horizontal innovation, has Darwin’s theory of natural selection as the default metaphor for how humans treat humans as its most basic metaphor.  Only the far Left, the anarchists, have some intuition for evolutionary alternatives when they …

Darwin’s theory of natural selection has been explored in the context of what authors, ideas, and social forces suggested and guided Darwin to come up with the specific principles of his theory.  At the other end of the influence equation, many books have been written focusing on how that theory influenced other writers, contemporary society and the generations that followed.

Darwin’s other two theories have been offered little of this kind of attention.  His theory of sexual selection, having become influential over the last 40 years, has not compelled the kind of cottage industry of influence divination characteristic of Darwin’s first theory.  Perhaps it is because the female plays such an important role.  Darwin’s theory of pangenesis, the theory where he outlines how the effects of the environment may influence evolution in a single generation, has been ignored.

Society and evolutionary theory are evolving.  A new social milieu is emerging.  Darwin’s theory of natural selection has been examined for how it was influenced and for what it has influenced.  Consider what evolutionary theory may next emerge in this new barrierless, horizontal, transparent and diverse world.

Hierarchy is becoming less effective at controlling resources.  The “might is right” age-old leverage paradigm …

Engineering and Design

August 13, 2009 | 1 Comment

Category: Art, Biology, Society

How evolution operates or unfolds has something to do with whether a person believes life has been engineered or designed.  An engineer seeks ways to make things work that will involve the least number of parts, the lowest cost and the greatest efficiency.  Efficiency is often defined as low maintenance and long life.

When an artist creates, the process is often characterized by a seeking to establish novel patterns using alternative or unique processes.  Efficiency is less important than what has not been done before.  There is a desire to break barriers and to apply principles established in one area to a new area unfamiliar with those principles.  The creative process is often characterized by suggesting connections where connections are not obvious.  There is often a deep desire to perceive and express universality.

The evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins subscribes to Occam’s razor, proclaiming that the simplest solutions are those that will naturally emerge.  Systems will reduce themselves to the easiest ways to accomplish goals within the confines of their environment, and those are the ones that will most likely survive.  Wikipedia notes that Occam’s razor reflects a “hypothesis that introduces the fewest assumptions and postulates the fewest entities.”  Less is …

Getting My Toes Wet in Twitter

August 12, 2009 | 1 Comment

Category: Web

Once a month I attend a group of about 25 social media and web 2.0 aficionados specializing in the use of online tech tools for nonprofits.  At Net Tuesday some are programmers, many are staff members in nonprofit organizations, there is the occasional entrepreneur, a web application company employee and consultants.

I got on Twitter the beginning of this year, largely as a result of how often discussions turned to that application.  I finally started using it this May.

My connection to technology is, I believe, unique.  I am a technophobe by many definitions.  I experience anxiety when having to interpret and use hardware like a cell phone or a recording device, such as a VCR or DVD.  So, I don’t explore.  On my cell phones I’ve never learned to do anything but dial a number.  I don’t know how to text or retrieve a phone number.  Until the last couple years I just left my phone off unless I was making an outgoing call.  I can’t get the VCR working without my wife’s assistance.

Perhaps my greatest technological letdown was buying my first computer, a Mac, around 1992, in no small part to be able to log onto the …

On weekends over the last two months, I’ve been writing down the story of a series of dreams I had that began 17 years ago and lasted almost a year.  The dreams were referring to events I’d forgotten that happened to me when I was very small.  It wasn’t until the last dreams in that series that it was revealed that there had been something hidden.

Making clear what the dreams unearthed has been requiring my describing the main characters of my childhood and events in my adult life leading up to the dreams.  The writing has involved my being honest with myself and candid about the behavior of close relatives.  I’ve also discovered that there are only so many synonyms for terror, the emotion that seems a theme throughout the piece.

Sixteen years ago, after the primary dream revelations, I sat down with friends and family to describe what had likely happened.  A particularly odd second set of revelations proceeded to emerge.  Somehow, over the course of my adult life, I’d picked as close friends people that had been sexually abused as children, friends that never shared with me those experiences.  Upon my telling them what happened to me, …

The Sapir Whorf hypothesis has been savaged by academics for decades.  After studying Hopi language structures, Benjamin Whorf suggested that language may deeply inform the kind of world that we can perceive.  He believed that language informs perception and world view.

In the United States, we wrestle with a deeply destructive cognitive paradigm characterized by an allegiance to a cult of individuality.  We seem to be in the midst of a reframing of this compulsion.  Whereas until recently we encouraged selfishness for selfishness’s sake, because society seemed to profit from this kind of creativity and greed, now there seems to be a growing reverence for those that seek achievement that serves the common good.  We still revere the individual.  The context is changing.

At the opposite end of this cognitive arc are those that may not be particularly aware of themselves as individuals with priorities separate from the community.  Individuals define themselves in a context of what the community demands or requires.  These people may seem to behave selfishly, but conceptually most of what they may be aware of is others’ needs.  The individual is only significant in regard to his or her contribution to the community.

The American philosopher …