Talking with my son Elia last night (Elia is an anthropology major at Loyola), I brought up a conundrum that I’ve been playing with for a few years.  It has to do with the origin of language, metaphor and god.

I presuppose or assume that consciousness existed before humans evolved and probably always existed.  I don’t go so far as to define consciousness, though Gregory Bateson’s interpretation of Freud’s primary process has been a useful foundation for me.  According to that definition (extrapolating primary consciousness to god), god consciousness is not unlike that of an infant:  only one time, one place and no negatives such as “no.”  This consciousness is much like that experienced during dream.  In dream, you cannot imagine something without it becoming true.  You cannot be two places at once.  You cannot think of the future without being in the future.  You cannot read, because if the words acquire meaning, you travel to what the words describe.

So, I assume consciousness exists and always existed, existing up to, and including, the appearance of human beings.

I characterize human consciousness as split consciousness.  I hypothesize that when the right hemisphere began to reduce in size along with the corpus callosum brain bridge we acquired self-referential capabilities, were able to create pasts and futures, be two places at once and line up words in rows in ways that abstract worlds could be constructed.  Creating two differentiated cerebral hemispheres with diminished communication between the hemispheres promoted our experiencing ourselves as split.  Time was invented.  Language, formerly gesture, turned into speech and acquired legs.  Not unlike the Platonic myth, as speech makers we experience ourselves as isolated from a hidden half.

It fascinates me that we don’t just use speech to communicate with ourselves and our companions.  Speech provides us access to stories and metaphors, which we use to build deeply layered stories to explain the world.  We are split beings telling stories to ourselves.  We tell the stories and we listen to the stories inside our heads.  Human beings swim in a sea of stories that don’t even end when we go to sleep.  In dream, we become the story that is being told.

I’m presupposing that consciousness exists and perhaps always existed.  Let’s also presuppose that the nature of story or metaphor as it manifests itself in human beings offers a clue to the nature of consciousness.  Let us presume that consciousness without time is god, and that also consciousness with time has something to do with god.

Consider that split consciousness is a step toward god, coming to god from the opposite direction.

What would our experience be if instead of a split brain, experiencing the world as split in two, we were three brained or four brained?  What would it be like if we were a million brained, split into a million parts, experiencing a million tenses, available to a million nows?

I’m imagining being that million-brained creature, or perhaps twelve-billion-brained creature if we were every person on the planet times two, and I’m getting an inkling of how humans, as a split-brained speech user, have an opportunity to experience god in ways unavailable to other species on the planet.

There is a difference between the primary process ever present now and a split or fracture resulting in a multitude of nows.  Yet, they are feeling like different aspects of something that is the same.  It feels like as humans we have the potential to grasp both the ever present and every-present, humans being the flesh bridge between the two.

It also feels to me like the stories and metaphors manufactured by a single person, times six billion, create some kind of simulated matrix of possibility, a miniature universe of “what ifs”.  If one person, split, provides the leverage to estimate what god is–experiencing both the now and the every now–then society makes this even easier to understand.

When I have these discussions with Elia, it sometimes feels like I’m talking with myself.  I don’t think I mean this in the narcissistic sense, but sometimes there are two consciousnesses sitting at the table, and yet they are the same consciousness, and feeling this, I feel closer to my god.

Ten years ago, I was exploring the possible origin of human culture in tribal societies driven by rhythmic dance and music. Tribal societies are on rare occasions characterized by paternal anonymity, or children who are unaware of the identity of their biological father. Observing that human brain size began to diminish about 25,000 years ago, I hypothesized that this reflected an emerging patrifocal emphasis on speech instead of gesture and a movement away from a selection for big-brained males. If this was the case, I suspected that there might be remnants of the old matrifocal paradigm that still exist within contemporary society. In the neurological literature, I sought humans with unusually large brains, difficulty with language, but who were also ambidextrous or left-handed. I came to find that autistic individuals commonly display these features; in addition, I discovered that individuals with autism are often obsessed with pattern replication and have perfect pitch (Brenton, Devries, Barton, Minnich & Sokol, 2008).

It appeared that hidden beneath the just-so story was a theory, which, if brought to light, could help make useful predictions and illuminate unrecognized relationships. From the beginning, the theory drew information from three different disciplines: anthropology, evolutionary biology and neuropsychology; yet, because these three disciplines did not share a common language, it became my goal to show that they were indeed studying an identical process. Evolutionary biology’s heterochronic theory explored the long-term effects of changing maturation rates, while anthropological explorations of human social structure examined the repercussions that one or more generation’s mate choice has on society. Researchers in the field of neuropsychology largely neglected to acknowledge the evolutionary implications of their discoveries, which could elucidate the parallels between the environment’s influence on uterine hormone levels and the distribution of handedness across a society. It became clear to me that all three subdisciplines were describing the dynamic of sexual selection and how sexual selection’s influence on maturation rates impacts human evolution. There seemed limited opportunities for the practitioners of each discipline to feel moved by potential synergies with their academic neighbors. However, in order to further understand human evolution, there seems a need to speak the basic languages of these three subdisciplines.

This work seeks to transcend the academic language barrier by emphasizing common patterns and ideas shared by all three subdisciplines.

This introduction to the Theory of Waves begins with an overview of four hypothetical, yet fundamental, social structures (two matrifocal and two patrifocal) and outlines the hormonal constellation of the individuals who comprise those four basic prototypes. There exists an elegant dynamic that compels and maintains these four balances. This dynamic, as explained below, can be maintained or propelled at three different levels of two overlapping hormonal paradigms.

Below, I discuss the impact this dynamic has on understanding ethnic variation, disease and condition etiology. For example, I reframe female infanticide as a socially engineered form of sexual selection. The hormonal constellations that arise as a result of this selection process produce a low prevalence of female breast cancer in Asian societies.

Having investigated related theories, I offer several reasons why neuropsychological studies have produced such inconsistent results. This theory, the Theory of Waves, ends by making a number of predictions that concentrate on autism. These predictions provide an opportunity for members of the academic community to prove this story wrong. It has been by matching up anomalies across disciplines and by discovering melodies using the black keys on a piano that this theory has come together.

I believe that understanding neoteny (the prolongation of ancestor infant features into the adults of descendants) is integral to understanding the process of becoming human. Central to understanding neoteny is understanding early play behavior. Experiencing this theory as it has come together over the last ten years has felt like deep play, frequently crossing the line to the reverential. Let the following concepts play across your mind like music. Email me if this theory strikes a chord with your own experiences, or if it harmonizes with your own understanding.

In this model, or theory, which I’ve been calling the Theory of Waves, there are eight varieties of humans, four male and four female. These eight types of humans feature specific characteristics, or tendencies. Each type of human can be influenced by other types, and each is susceptible to specific features in the environment. Environmental influences can compel the progeny of these types of humans to transform into other types of humans. These environmental influences compel evolutionary currents, which can provoke a significant transformation within a single generation. More often, however, these transformations occur over the course of centuries or longer.

Similar to Watson and Crick’s double helix, a larger body is created from an assembly of component parts. In this case, societies are made up of eight types of human beings, each of whom represents one of the eight potential combinations derived from the hormonal extremes. The hormonal extremes form a structure that serves as a template for a majority of the individuals within a society. The majority of individuals within a society will exhibit some basic features associated with these hormonal extremes, yet they will exhibit these extremes to less of a degree than the eight prototype humans.

Imagine that the eight basic artist colors (purple, red, blue, yellow, orange, green, black and white) are all being blended in specific ways to paint the character of a society. Or, consider that instead of the two planets Mars and Venus, which represent the classic male/female dichotomy, there are eight planets—four female and four male—which together comprise a pantheon of eight gods and goddesses.

Female Constellations
High testosterone, high estrogen (F TE)
High testosterone, low estrogen (F Te)
Low testosterone, high estrogen (F tE)
Low testosterone, low estrogen (F te)

Male Constellations
High testosterone, high estrogen (M TE)
High testosterone, low estrogen (M Te)
Low testosterone, high estrogen (M tE)
Low testosterone, low estrogen (M te)

As in the double helix, there are natural complementary pairings. In this framework, opposite sexes are not only drawn to each other based on sexual attraction, but they are also drawn to each other based on the attraction to their complementary opposite hormonal counterparts.

Female te/Male TE
Female tE/Male Te
Female Te/Male tE
Female TE/Male te

The complementary counterparts naturally ally themselves into patrifocal and matrifocal social structures. There exist two variations within each.

F te/M TE Conventional Patrifocal
F tE/M Te Warrior Patrifocal
F Te/M tE Contemporary Matrifocal
F TE/M te Classic Matrifocal

Conventional Patrifocal: Domineering, caring and discriminating men who choose cooperative women.

Warrior Patrifocal: Domineering men who choose cooperative, caring and discriminating women.

Contemporary Matrifocal: Commanding women who choose creative, cooperative, caring and discriminating men.

Classic Matrifocal: Commanding, caring and discriminating women who choose creative and cooperative men.

These fundamental paradigms are flexile and have an ability to transform from one societal prototype into another over time. The human hormone thresholds can vary over time and can control the speed and direction of evolution. The thresholds can be influenced at three locations within two interlocking cycles, or feedback loops, as described below.

Mother’s testosterone level > progeny maturation rate > social structure proclivity > mother’s testosterone level.

Mother’s estrogen level > progeny ability to exercise aesthetic discrimination and caring behavior > social structure proclivity > mother’s estrogen level.

The environment can intervene at any of the three levels of these two loops by influencing both maturation rates and timing (via testosterone) or by influencing the intensity of mate selection criteria (via estrogen).

Level 1: A mother’s uterine hormonal levels are impacted by environmental influences, which in turn affect the child’s maturation and development. The hormonal levels of the mother influence the overall disposition of the social structure by predisposing certain tendencies of the progeny.
Level 2: The environment, through a variety of specific hormone-influencing prompts, impacts a person in society, thereby shifting social structure proclivities.
Level 3: Shifts in social structure influence mate selection criteria, which alter evolutionary trajectories.

Changes may occur at the level of the womb, individual ontogeny and/or at the level of society. The relationship among these three environmentally susceptible locations creates an interactive system, which directs evolutionary trajectory.

Central to this model are the environmental impact points, which compel the transformation of a society and our species. In a woman’s womb, testosterone levels decide her children’s testosterone levels (Geschwind & Galaburda, 1987) and their maturation rates and social structure proclivity. Females (F) with high testosterone (T) give birth to high-testosterone (T) females and low-testosterone (t) males. F T = F T or M t. The reverse is true for low-testosterone females. Low-testosterone females give birth to low-testosterone females and high-testosterone males. F t = F t or M T. This is how societal prototypes are created and maintained and how the complementary opposite foundation of this thesis emerges.

This may be feeling rather dense. Bear with me. I will define some terms.

“Neoteny” refers to the prolonging of infant features over many generations so that eventually they appear in the adults of the descendants. For example, chimpanzee-like progenitor features, such as having a large head relative to body size, small chin, large eyes, upward stature, curiosity and affection, are all characteristics that over time manifest in the physiology and psychology of adults. Acceleration reverses the evolutionary trajectory, whereby processes featured by ancestor adults condense or withdraw over time and appear earlier in development in the characteristics of children as well as in the infants of future descendants.

Heterochronic dynamics (Gould, 1977) of evolution (i.e., neoteny and acceleration) are embedded in social structure and lead to the very specific mating of neotenous males with accelerated females in matrifocal social structures and accelerated males marrying neotenous females in patrifocal social structures. There is a direct connection between womb conditions, maturation rate directions (neoteny and acceleration) and social structure.

The net result is that not only are males and females mating with their hormonal complementary opposites, but also that societies are evolving with males and females trending evolutionarily in opposite directions by continuing selection for opposite proclivities in opposite sexes. It is conceivable that in human beings there exists a dynamic that demands eventual flipping of social structures, perhaps over periods as long as hundreds of thousands of years or as short as 6,000 years (Gimbutas, 1991). This provides an opportunity for the sexes to realign. It is also possible that this “flipping” is constantly occurring within different lineages in a society, which are taking turns performing the role of the hormonal outliers, or eight prototype humans.

Whereas the influence of a mother’s testosterone levels on her progeny has been established (Geschwind & Galaburda, 1987), this model hypothesizes that the mother’s estrogen levels influence her children via an identical dynamic, which encourages and reinforces the sexually selected focus on partner choice and discrimination, as well as caring and care giving. In this case, the estrogen levels within a woman’s womb determine her children’s estrogen levels, their tendencies toward evaluation of nuance and their compulsion to care. A female (F) with high estrogen (E) gives birth to high-estrogen females and low-estrogen (e) males. F E = F E or M e. The reverse is true for low-estrogen females. F e = F e or M E. This is how estrogen-related societal prototypes are created and maintained. This dynamic also contributes to the complementary opposite foundation of this thesis.

Whether a male or female has high or low estrogen levels does not contribute to maturation rates. This makes it possible to have high or low-estrogen males and females in any social structure. Maturation rates inform heterochronic tendencies and social structure proclivities. Nevertheless, estrogen confers discrimination, an attention to detail that can exaggerate the proclivity of a social structure. In addition, estrogen focuses on the features of a child, attracting those with high estrogen toward individuals who exhibit childlike features. Assign high estrogen to a female with high testosterone and you achieve Classic Matrifocal social structure with commanding females prone to choosing cooperative males with neotenous, or child-like, characteristics. Assign high estrogen to a male and you get either a Scandinavian Contemporary Matrifocal paradigm (Eisler, 2007) with both sexes exhibiting neoteny in a matrifocal context, or you get an Asian Conventional Patrifocal paradigm with males who are focused on mating with females displaying highly neotenous features. When pairing high estrogen with high testosterone, you get an exaggerated intensity of sexual selection, not unlike Fisher’s runaway sexual selection (Fisher, 1930), which results in a powerful focus on neoteny. F TE = Matrifocal selection for neotenous males. M TE = Patrifocal selection for neotenous females.

The particular way that testosterone and estrogen align with individuals within a society compels both social structure and particular physical features of individuals. These two hormones, which influence heterochronic trajectories, also influence personality features, disease and condition proclivities, societal characteristics and even such societal mysteries as female infanticide.

Another way to view this is by noting that at the extremes, a society displays the highest and lowest hormonal thresholds. These thresholds exist in those with bodies and minds most impacted by the battle between somatic function and behaviors, which are both required for survival. Those at the hormonal extremes are at the front lines of what a body can easily survive. When the environment changes, the extremes are put under more intense distress as the societal balanced polymorphism (the established balance of social structures within a society) is pushed in a specific direction. The majority of society, which exists in the center of this spectrum and which also has a heterozygote advantage (Annett, 2002), are compelled to drift left or right, matrifocal or patrifocal, over the course of several generations. Those at the margins are under the most intense duress.

Even in a society characterized by one of the four foundation social structures, one or more of the other social structures are integrally involved. Assimilated within a society are representative individuals, couples and subcultures, who act as social structure opposites to the established paradigm. In this way, these couples and subcultures also contribute to the balanced polymorphism. Though we in the West have been living in patrifocal social structures, matrifocal elements are integrated within the larger society and occupy the “left” end of the spectrum. American society displays a combination of all four social structures. Together, all four of these form a balance that is changing, particularly now.

There are a number of repercussions, or implications, of this basic model, and details are explored below. The etiologies for a number of physical and mental diseases and conditions are suggested by understanding the eight human prototypes as hormonal outliers that exist on a continuum within social structures and are held in balance so that they create a heterozygote advantage. Those whose hormonal constellations exist at the center are not burdened by hormonal extremes. The engine behind human evolution can be examined in detail so that one may offer a number of predictions. This work will concentrate on conditions characterized by maturational delay and acceleration, and it will focus particularly on autism. The reader will be able to infer by this example how the principles in this Theory of Waves can be applied to a number of diseases and conditions.

Neuroscientists will recognize at the core of this thesis a variation of the Geschwind and Galaburda (1987) hypothesis that connects hormones, handedness, lateralization and debilitations. Evolutionary developmental biologists familiar with nineteenth century principles of heterochrony (the study of the effects of changing maturation and development rates and timing) will find heterochronic processes (Gould, 1977) manifesting in neuropsychological studies of the endocrine system (specifically, testosterone and estrogen). These evolutionary biologists will also recognize how sexual hormones influence maturation rates and timing (Hall, Person & Muller, 2004). Anthropologists will be able to observe the impact of social structure—and the forms of sexual selection that drive social structure (such as female sexual selection and female infanticide)—on how societies transform and our species evolves. Studies of human social structures are integrally tied to both the evolutionary biological principle of heterochrony and neuropsychological processes driven by testosterone and estrogen.

For example, I’m hypothesizing that in highly patrifocal hierarchical Asian societies, originally organized in ways that demanded large-scale cooperation in order to manage irrigation works spanning for hundreds of miles, males need to be high in testosterone relative to females, while simultaneously being low testosterone relative to other males. This would be necessary in order to better facilitate cooperation within a highly combative hierarchical and patrifocal society requiring male/male collaboration. In this hypothesis, I shift down both estrogen and testosterone levels to accommodate lower testosterone levels for males in a patrifocal society with cooperative undertones. A relatively high-estrogen Asian male is suggested by the highly aesthetic and visually discriminating Asian culture. Relatively low female estrogen level is implied by ubiquitous female infanticide. To fit this model, Asian females would have to exhibit the lowest recorded female estrogen levels. This would mean the normally low Conventional Patrifocal female estrogen would have to be shifted lower in order to accommodate Asian male patrifocal cooperation. And, indeed, studies support anomalously low female Asian estrogen levels (Diamond, 1986).

Female infanticide may be integrated into an understanding of patrifocal social structure—particularly the Conventional Patrifocal social structure of hierarchical Asian social structures, which exhibit long-term stability. When the number of females in the procreation pool is reduced, far fewer males are able to have children. A heavy emphasis is placed on the ideal male, the non-ideal males procreating far less. The result is a continuing selection of highly patrifocal traits in the male population. Because of this, left spectrum and older genotype features that accompany matrifocal social structure do not easily emerge. This would include left-handedness, an attraction to innovation and spontaneous creativity. Instead, status, hierarchy and tradition would be highly valued, as is the case with traditional Asian culture. Female infanticide is a powerful sexual selection tool providing long-term stability to Conventional Patrifocal societies. Very low incidence of autism would also be expected, as I will explain shortly.

With individuals congregating around the eight hormonal paradigms, we’d expect that many diseases, disorders and conditions would be assigned to those located at the extremes, or outlying positions of the balanced polymorphism. For example, Asian females with very low estrogen should have low rates of breast cancer, while matrifocal societies with high estrogen should exhibit high rates of breast cancer. One would expect the same pattern with prostate cancer. We’d expect to see relatively few cases of prostate cancer in Asian patrifocal societies but high rates of prostate cancer in patrifocal societies that exhibit little cooperation. In Contemporary Matrifocal Scandinavia, one would expect very low rates of prostate cancer, yet relatively high rates of male breast cancer. Social structures compel hormonal tendencies, suggesting disease and condition etiology.

For conditions like autism, Asperger’s, stuttering and phonetic dyslexia, we’d expect to see the four matrifocal categories trending toward these conditions, with a possible emphasis on M te and F TE if Classic Matrifocal is how we primarily evolved (see below). Autism, Asperger’s, stuttering and phonetic dyslexia are often accompanied by male maturational delay, which is a marker of matrifocal societies. Matrifocal societies feature low-testosterone males and high-testosterone females.

There is the possibility that certain mental conditions will trend toward these same hormonal extremes. I would estimate that borderline personality disorder, narcissistic personality disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder, based upon their association with families exhibiting left-handers and maturational delay, will fit the same matrifocal profiles, again with a likely Classic Matrifocal emphasis.

Diseases and conditions may have multiple etiologies depending on the particular symptoms they are associated with. For example, Marian Annett and colleagues noted two types of dyslexia. She observed phonetic dyslexia trending toward the extreme left end of the balanced polymorphism and visual dyslexia trending toward the extreme right (Annett, Eglinton & Smythe, 1996).

Schizophrenia may display two radically different etiologies, which would appear in both patrifocal and matrifocal cultures. These two different etiologies would be based upon the hypothesis that hemispheric differentiation and corpus callosum size vary according to two extremes (Coger & Serafetinides, 1990). One etiology is reinforced by facility with language (Crow, 1995; Crow, Done & Sacker, 1996) and is accompanied by a surge in patrifocal social structures, while the other displays a familial and social structure identical to the familial and social structure of autism, characterized by matrifocal origins.

I am hypothesizing a five-step evolutionary continuum that begins with natural selection but then moves to sexual selection. In this continuum, animals focus on particular patterns when they choose a mate. Step three begins with crossing a bridge over to human sexual selection, where adept practitioners of novel pattern creation are selected as procreation partners by mates with sensitivity to these nuances (Miller, 2000). The fourth step is taken when novelty itself becomes desirable outside the partner selection process, and society is thus compelled to embrace in its productions countless nuances of the new. In the fifth stage, awareness of the creation process itself becomes a target experience.

1) natural selection
2) sexual selection (selecting for pattern when seeking a mate)
3) human sexual selection (selection for novel pattern when seeking a mate)
4) art and culture (selecting for novel pattern outside of mate selection)
5) awareness of the selection or creative process

Integrated into the sequence established above is the longer-term dynamic of humans, who evolved from random-handed non-speech users (Annett, 2002) with two equally large cerebral hemispheres and a wide corpus callosum (Witelson, 1991).

I hypothesize that step 3 of this sequence is compelled by long-term male maturational delay and reinforced by sexual selection in a matrifocal context, where child-like features attract more focus (Gould, 1977). Classic Matrifocal was likely our social structure at this stage (Knight, 1991). Stage 4 suggests a shift toward patrifocal social structure as well as a decrease in brain size (Wiercinski, 1979), culminating in the Warrior Patrifocal. This sequence suggests that Classic Matrifocal and Warrior Matrifocal preceded Contemporary Matrifocal as well as Conventional Patrifocal, with the possible emergence of Contemporary and Conventional in the last 5,000 years.

Deep societal change can occur quickly when there is a change in hormonal constellations. Sudden shifts can occur from matrifocal to patrifocal, or patrifocal to matrifocal. For example, if a matrifocal society is highly stressed over time by patrifocal incursions, the ideal male mate may shift from one displaying cooperative tendencies to a male who is quick to fight. Formerly highly valued aesthetic-oriented males may then find themselves outside the pool of highly valued potential mates. In mere generations, physiological, hormonal and neuropsychological transformations can occur.

Migrating populations exposed to changes in sunlight (Geschwind and Galburda, 1987) show radical fluctuations in social structure, which impacts evolution over time. Sunlight impacts the pineal gland, which directly influences the testosterone levels within the individuals of a population (Geschwind and Galburda, 1987). A variety of specific diseases and conditions acquired by the eight prototype hormonal outliers will emerge among these migrating peoples, including autism. In addition, changing diet can exaggerate hormonal changes.

A radical change in diet, such as an increase in high quality fats and nutrients, could raise a female’s estrogen and testosterone levels and lower a male’s testosterone levels (Ahluwalia, Jackson, Jones, Williams, Mamidanna & Rajguru, 1981). These changes in hormonal levels would compel a shift in social structure toward the direction of female choice. Females would then seek mates that were cooperators rather than warriors. Sudden dietary changes that drastically reduce access to high fat foods could compel a hormonal shift toward a patrifocal social structure. These hormonal shifts would be further accentuated if combative situations emerged. This is the variation of the Kuzawa (2007) thesis, which proposes that uterine environments can influence adult physiology. My Theory of Waves thesis suggests that the parent’s hormonal shifts can adjust a progeny’s hormonal constellations and shift a society’s hormonal spectrum in a particular direction, depending on environmental pressures. Such hormonal shifts thus result in modifications of social structure.

Eight environmental variables influence testosterone, including light (Geschwind & Galaburda, 1987), diet (Schmidt, Wijga, Von Zur Muhlen, Brabant & Wagner, 1997), body fat (Ross, Bernstein, Judd, Hanisch, Pike & Henderson, 1986; Glass, Swerdloff, Bray, Dahms & Atkinson, 1977), alcohol and drugs (Castilla-Garcia, Santolaria-Fernandez, Gonzalez-Reimers, Bastita-Lopez, Gonzalez-Garcia, Jorge-Hernandez & Hernandez-Nieto, 1987; Ahluwalia, Clark, Westney, Smith, James, & Rajguru, 1992), tobacco (MacMahon, Trichopoulos, Cole & Brown, 1982; Barrett-Connor & Khaw, 1987), touch, physical activity (MacConnie, Barkan, Lampman, Schork, & Beitins, 1986; Morville, Pesquies, Guezennec, Serrurier & Guignard, 1979) and stress (James, 1986). Estrogen has been far less studied, but diet has been repeatedly shown to dramatically influence estrogen levels (Ahluwalia, et al., 1981).

We can view evolution as both a dynamic and static process that is driven by social structure, environmental influences, maturation rate modifications and hormonal changes. The evolutionary developmental biological view, or the heterochronic perspective, offers a dynamic frame. Annett’s (2002) modern UK society is characterized by a balanced polymorphism, which exhibits an evenly balanced static spectrum view of left and right-handed individuals. On the far left side of this spectrum exist the extreme left-handed, as well as the random-handed, and on the far right side of this spectrum exist the extreme right-handed. Most people in a society exist somewhere in the middle. This spectrum of individuals is aligned along a gradated curve and offers a static snapshot of our society in the process of transition. The older anomalously dominant (both cerebral hemispheres close to the same size) matrifocal prototype is stationed at the left side and balances those with cerebral asymmetry designed for speech facility, the patrifocal prototype, on the right. Annett’s Right Shift Theory (Annett, 1985) argues that cerebral asymmetry with language proclivity offers a heterozygote advantage that allows the moderate right-handed to occupy the center of society. This Theory of Waves integrates social structure, maturation rates and a long-term evolutionary arc into Annett’s static snapshot in time.

Four major barriers prevent the easy appraisal of the natural hormonal levels that characterize the eight human prototypes.

Assays that fail to measure the variations of handedness with the degree of sensitivity established by Annett’s peg tests obstruct new insight and obscure potentially valuable observation. Annett’s work concluded that humans evolved as a random-handed species, which transitioned to right-handed when brains became lateralized for speech. Her peg tests measure degrees of right and random-handedness and are integral for establishing a locus related to social structure, disease/condition proclivity and maturation rate propensity. It is essential that different studies, particularly studies across cultures, compare apples to apples and use Annett’s protocols when measuring handedness.

It would be useful if Annett’s techniques were required to measure handedness around the world, quickly. Dietary changes within patrifocal societies may be skewing results dramatically. Aboriginal societies with a matrifocal foundation have almost completely disappeared. There are very few tools available to measure variations in societal balanced polymorphisms. Annett’s peg tests seem to measure the effects of testosterone and some indirect effects of estrogen fairly well.

The eight environmental variables noted above profoundly impact the hormone levels of males and females in a variety of contexts. To effectively measure the natural hormonal thresholds in ontogeny at any point, one must have an understanding of how that person’s hormonal levels are being influenced and altered by external variables. Adult hormone levels are dramatically impacted by a variety of factors. Existing studies show wild variation in results because these studies ignore influential variables. One study that measured testosterone levels neglected to take into consideration the time of day that levels were tested. In addition, the effects of stress cannot be underestimated. For example, measuring the testosterone levels of an autistic child in an institutional setting does little to provide an idea of that child’s base hormonal threshold, particularly if that child is on a standard institutional diet. Diet has been shown to have an effect on the symptoms of autism (Hjiej, Doyen, Couprie, Kaye & Contejean, 2008).

Some diseases and conditions appear at both ends of the left/right spectrum and occupy multiple poles of both matrifocal and patrifocal social structure. Annett approached dyslexia etiologies from a new perspective and established a protocol, which discovered that handedness congregated at both the extreme left and right ends of the spectrum. Diseases and conditions with more than one etiology often confound studies and frustrate attempts to discover patterns in social structure, handedness, hormonal constellations and ethnicity. It may seem that a disease such as schizophrenia, or a condition such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, does not always associate with a specific social structure or prototype predilection when more than one etiology is potentially in play.

Lastly, the season in which an individual is born affects the maturational delay and acceleration of that individual. Season of birth can thus help polarize a society’s social structure to either end of the spectrum. The effects of pineal-influenced testosterone levels may not merely be influencing those who live in migrating populations but also those who live in relative climatic extremes. When individuals within a society congregate at the hormonal extremes, vacating the balanced polymorphistic middle where those with the heterozygote advantage reside, it becomes nearly impossible to form conclusions about a society normally based on a seamless arc, or balance. In other words, climate and migration patterns influence the variables we’ve been noting.

These four conditions that inhibit high quality information regarding hormone levels—inconsistent handedness studies, untracked environmental variables, multiple pole disease/condition etiologies and season of birth effects—are primary reasons that the Geschwind/Galaburda hypothesis drew mixed support.

Norman Geschwind and his colleagues suggested that a number of diseases and conditions tend to align with specific handedness and cerebral lateralization tendencies. Geschwind believed that the random-handed (often left-handers) and the anomalously dominant, both of whom exhibit cerebral hemispheres near the same size, were evolutionary derivations. I agree with Annett (2002) that the random-handed and anomalously dominant are our evolutionary forebears, but I’ve added that these ancestral genotypes are matrifocal in origin.

Approaching Geschwind and Galaburda’s (1987) thesis with a heterochronic/social structure perspective gives one the ability to hypothesize the etiologies of a host of diseases and conditions as well as suggest a relationship between handedness, hormonal associations, social structure, lateralization, ethnicity and environmental variables.

These are some of the diseases and conditions noted in the literature (mostly from Geschwind and Galaburda, 1987) that offer correlations with some of the variables addressed in this model: alcoholism, Alzheimer’s disease, anxiety, asthma, ataxia telangiectasia, atopic syndrome, attention deficit disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, autism, benign intracranial hypertension, bi-polar disorder, borderline personality disorder, breast cancer, congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH), cluster headaches, celiac disease, conduct disorder, congenital heart disease, dementia, depression, diabetes, Down’s syndrome, dyslexia, dystrophia myotonica, endometriosis, epilepsy, gastrointestinal issues, harelip, heart disease, Huntington’s disease, immune disorders, hyperkinetic syndrome, Kartagener syndrome, Klinefelter syndrome, Klippel-Feil syndrome, lupus erythematosus, migraine headaches, mital valve prolapse, narcissistic personality disorder, obesity, obsessive compulsive disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, osteoporosis, ovarian cysts, Parkinson’s disease, phobias, pilonidal sinus, polycystic ovary syndrome, prostate cancer, schizophrenia, scoliosis, spina bifida, stuttering, temporal lobe epilepsy, thyroid disorders, torticollis, Tourette’s syndrome, Turner syndrome and twinning. Cross reference these variables with handedness, social structure, maturation rates, ethnicity, family of origin, cerebral dominance and hormonal levels. All of these conditions offer opportunities to observe the relationships of these conditions and diseases to the eight human prototypes.

The predictions below focus specifically on issues of relative maturation rates with an emphasis on autism and related conditions.

1) Autistic males, from families of left-handers, will have lower testosterone than the norm, and autistic females will have higher testosterone. The mothers will have high testosterone (Baron-Cohen, Lutchmaya & Knickmeyer, 2004) and quite possibly high estrogen. If we evolved primarily from high F TE, M te, then autistic males will have low estrogen, and autistic females will have high estrogen. (In any study of autism, those with familial male maturation delay tendencies, or families of left-handers, need to be evaluated separately from those possibly traumatized by an environmental effect.)

2) Larger penis and testicle size will be associated with autistic, ambidextrous males and the familial left-handed. Left-handed males and autistics will produce more sperm. (This is based on the large testicle matrifocal bonobo sexual egalitarian paradigm vs. the small testicles patrifocal gorilla harem paradigm.) If larger testicles and increased sperm production are associated with low-testosterone, promiscuous social-structure males, then the two variables will be related in the sense that higher-testosterone males will have smaller testicles or lower sperm production.

3) Autistic males will exhibit more neotenous characteristics, while autistic females should show less neoteny than their contemporaries.

4) The children of parents of widely different ethnicities, separated by tens of thousands of years from common ancestry, will reveal characteristics of their last common progenitor and increased incidence of autism and left-handedness. (Maturational delay progenitor feature emergences will be far more common in matrifocal social structure families.)

5) Neoteny has dental correlations, with smaller teeth being characteristic of the neotenous smaller jaw. Learning that teeth have grown smaller over millions of years, researchers will find that they have actually grown larger in males over the last few tens of thousands of years as patrifocal social structure has taken hold. Ontologically, the teeth of males from older mothers should be smaller than the teeth of males of first-born, young mothers. The reverse should be true for females. In a large family, the male’s teeth will erupt later and later, the female’s earlier and earlier.

6) Because a mother’s testosterone level rises with her age and because she has children across the whole arc of her reproductive years, we might observe a display of personality and physiological features in her children that would roughly reproduce human evolution over a span of eons. An older mother should more frequently have male children with maturational delay, female children with accelerated maturation and increased prevalence of autism in both sexes. Autistic children born to young mothers will more likely come with less frequency from families of left-handers, trauma being a likely cause.

7) Obese mothers (overweight women exhibit increased testosterone and estrogen levels), particularly those who are older, should show high incidence of autism in their children, particularly in migrating populations moving from equatorial regions to northern climates. Equatorial peoples transplanted to northern climates will display higher percentages of maturational-delayed male children, and maturational-accelerated females, including autistics, with the births congregating in certain seasons.

8) If the low-testosterone males and high-testosterone females are late born, and high-testosterone males and low-testosterone females are the oldest children in a family or the first born, then first-borns will mate with first-borns and late-borns will mate with late-borns a higher percentage of the time than would occur by chance.

9) Hypothesizing that social structure has political correlates, it would be likely that in a politically conservative family, if liberals were to emerge, it would be among the youngest sons and daughters. One would also expect a higher incidence of divorce or serial monogamy with youngest children (reflecting matrifocal values).

10) Conditions that display maturational delay, such as autism, Asperger’s and stuttering, will appear more often in males with longer limbs and smaller teeth than in others in their family of origin. This would suggest that the youngest males would also be the tallest. (Longer limbs and smaller teeth are neotenous features.)

11) Eating healthfully (the caveman diet) brings puberty later and provides a longer time for the brain to grow. Putting autistic children on such a late-puberty-enhancing diet may enhance their ability to connect. When puberty or progenesis in humans is dropped to a younger age by several years, it has neurological and cognitive repercussions. In addition to a possible increase in depression and bi-polar disorder, there is the potential for a general curtailment of the final stages of cognitive development.

12) Societal periods of innovation will be preceded by periods of romance, revealing changes in the selection criteria by which females pick their mates or by a widening of the selection criteria for the ideal male. Shifts toward increases in the variety of acceptable features in the procreation population will result in increases in cultural and technical variation. For example, if female infanticide is a tool used for patrifocal cultural stability, decreases in female infanticide over time within a culture will correlate with increases in societal and economic variation. These changes will result in matrifocal societal surges, increases in left-handedness and increases in autism.

13) If rhythm and dance were the aesthetics driving human evolution through rituals of sexual selection, then the sound and feeling of nonstop rhythm may be necessary to encourage the development of an autistic child. Rhythmic environmental triggers may be essential to the healthy growth of maturational-delayed children. By implication, comparing congenitally deaf left and right-handers may reveal an unusually high number of autistics in the left-handed group.

I am hypothesizing that evolution is driven by this hormonal ebbing and flowing, or waxing and waning. Mother’s testosterone levels > progeny maturation rate > social structure proclivity > evolutionary trajectory. Mother’s estrogen levels > progeny ability to exercise aesthetic discrimination and caring behavior > social structure proclivity > evolutionary trajectory. These two currents are inextricably intertwined, yet they follow established patterns, not unlike the double helix. Changes in hormone levels, influenced by the environment, impact ontogeny while we are in the womb, when we are children and after we’ve become grown-ups.

I call this the Theory of Waves to suggest the surge of features that travel ontogenetically back and forth from conception to adulthood and adulthood to conception over generations, with the direction of features often opposite between the sexes. Darwin proposed three different theories of evolution. This model in some ways integrates his three models (natural selection, sexual selection and Lamarckian selection, or pangenesis) and seeks to show patterns common to evolutionary biology (heterochronic theory), anthropology (social structure) and neuropsychology (sexual hormone endocrinology and Annett’s balanced polymorphism), all three of which describe ways that human beings may have evolved and may still be evolving.

Clearly, an adjustment (Matsuda, 1987) of Watson and Crick’s (1953) Central Dogma is occurring in several places in this thesis. Let me urge the reader to approach this work playfully while still rummaging for something useful in these conjectures. Most of all, perhaps, this thesis is suggesting that neoteny is central to being human. I believe that by playing with evolution we may discover who we are.

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The introduction to this piece was modified on 3/8/09

For more details regarding this theory, visit http://www.neoteny.org/?cat=28

For more details regarding this theory and autism, visit http://www.neoteny.org/?cat=29

Imagine social structure, matrifocal and patrifocal, as representing left and right or past and future in a distribution of humans inclined toward egalitarian or hierarchical organization, our matrifocal past leading to our patrifocal present.

Consider human males exhibiting neoteny or maturational delay contrasted to females showing acceleration or maturational acceleration as pairing together neotenous, cooperative males with maturational-accelerated, commanding females.  We would hypothesize this to be a matrifocal society.  Now, consider the reverse, with neotenous females mating with accelerated, dominating males in a patrifocal society.  Heterochrony is the evolutionary biological principle that explores the influence of neoteny and acceleration on the evolution of species.

Last, note in neuropsychological studies of handedness and cerebral dominance in humans that there is a seamless arc of handedness tendencies beginning at the left end with strong left-handers bridging over to the right side with strong right-handers.  Most people are toward the center, many being right-handed but displaying some left-handed aspects.

An overlapping of all three of these academic traditions suggests a single process manifesting in three seemingly different areas.  Anthropological social structure exploring matristic vs. patristic frames, evolutionary biological neoteny/acceleration studies following the influence of changing maturation rates on physiologies and neurologies over time and neuropsychological evaluations examining the relationships among cerebral lateralization and handedness, maturation speeds and hormonal influences.

All three pathways lead to a woman’s womb.  The alchemy of our evolution focuses on a moment in later pregnancy when a child’s maturation rate is set by the mother’s testosterone levels, and hypothetically the child’s compulsion to be selective is established by the mother’s estrogen level.  How cooperative/commanding and how discriminating a person grows up to be is decided by the mother’s hormonal levels, levels heavily influenced by environmental factors.

Our evolution is only about genes insofar as genes are programmed to be open-ended, taking into consideration environmental information before making major decisions.

Decisions such as social structure, personality structure, maturation speed, degrees of caring, aesthetics, cerebral lateralization, handedness, creativity, physical dexterity, abstract thinking proclivities, cooperative tendencies and referential consciousness are all informed by testosterone and estrogen levels in the womb.

Pretty much most of what makes us human is decided in the womb, based on parents’ hormonal tendencies and environmental information.

We are moving into a new era where a healthy environment is becoming understood as integral to societal health.  Forty years ago there was no environmental movement.  Twenty years from now the environment will be the primary focus of governmental institutions across the world.  In a single lifetime, everything has changed.

Integral to understanding these changes is understanding the ways that we are integrated into the environment as individuals and as a species.  In ancient Catal Huyuk in Asia Minor, the womb was worshipped as the goddess.  There was understanding of how humans were connected to the environment through a woman.  These insights are re-emerging.

What formerly seemed separate has become connected in the past, in our future and in the now.

“The diversity of human skills and the improbability that any one individual could be good at everything makes it reasonable to suggest that different genotypes, for different patterns of CD [cerebral dominance], are associated with various strengths and weaknesses that complement and balance one another in the population as a whole.” (Annett, Handedness and Brain Asymmetry, p. 186)

Thirty years ago in Guatemala, a student of Marian Annett, W. J. Demarest, evaluated Mayan and Ladino (mixed Spanish and Indian) children to see if their handedness distributions were similar to Annett’s UK studies.  Annett hypothesized that the way that the British are cerebrally organized would carry over to humans across the planet based upon the fairly consistent manifestations of left-handedness that are observed.

The conclusion of the Guatemalan study suggested that the Mayan children did not exhibit the same distribution of handedness, implying a different distribution of cerebral lateralization.  The Mayan children drifted further to the left, emphasizing that they might be less lateralized for language.  The thesis of this website would argue that the Mayans exhibit a more matrifocal social structure than Western societies, the left drift in handedness appraisals suggesting an older genotype.

In another study, indigenous Americans located in the Amazon rain forest were described as being more right-handed than the European norm.  The Yanomano of the Amazon are violently patrifocal with ratios as high as 140/100 male/female, with female infanticide being the convention.

If we assume that South and Central American indigenous populations migrated from Asia at about the same time, and that varying handedness distributions across the Americas reflect social structure, then it would be interesting to consider that as social structures metamorphosized over time, those changes were accompanied by degrees of handedness.

If a society over the course of thousands of years moves back and forth, left and right across the cerebral dominance/handedness/social structure distribution, informed by a mother’s uterine testosterone and estrogen levels, do changes in the mother’s hormone levels delaying rates of maturation for males, accelerating them for females, sometimes result in a reverse effect?

For example, let’s make believe that the Mayans were Yanomano-like 3,000 years ago, engaging in female infanticide, warrior-like, combative to a T.  If a contemporary Mayan baby were compelled to evolutionarily drift backward by changes in a mother’s uterine testosterone levels, and the child drifted back 3,000 years to when male testosterone levels were high, not low, what would be the maturation rate and testosterone level of the children?

If we assume that we were matrifocal as we departed Africa 50,000-80,000 years ago, growing more patrifocal over the millennia, what of those that grew patrifocal, and then drifted back in a matrifocal direction?  In other postings, I’ve proposed that is exactly what is occurring now in the U.S., led by what is happening in Scandinavian countries.  Consider that in Scandinavia, possibly highly patrifocal in the relatively recent past, embryos now bathed in a high-testosterone uterine environment propelling them into the past might arrive instead in a patrifocal society.

Unless Scandinavian contemporary matrifocal society is already firmly established further past or back than the evidence of their relatively recent patrifocal frames.

That would suggest that the hypothetical Mayans with a Yanomano past are hormonally the ancestors or forebears of the Yanomano.

I guess I’ve answered my question, untied the knot.  The implication is that there are smaller waves within the larger waves of our evolution where past and future are extremely relative.  What would seem to be an innovation may be an ancient re-emergence.  What may seem like moving forward in time is moving back.

Contemporary piercings, tattoos, rhythmic music, far less marriage than in the recent past may all be profoundly non-innovative.  Many contemporary trends may be examples of our changing cerebral dominance, handedness, social structure proclivity and hormonal constellations as we drift backward in hormonal time.

A superb 25-year study in the UK by Marian Annett ending in the 1990s seemed to prove that in that part of the UK, left-handedness was not increasing over time. It’s been a difficult issue to parse out, what with left-handedness being repressed before WW II. When conventional wisdom declared that forcing children to switch hands would encourage stuttering, schools withdrew from demanding all children use the right hand. A result has been that though it looks like the number of left-handers has been increasing over the decades, it is obvious that institutions stopping the repression of left-handers has skewed the numbers.

A similar effect is seen in Asia. Society has strongly encouraged that the left hand not be used. The rates of left-handedness in many parts of Asia are 2% and lower. It’s difficult to determine the true handedness percentages.

The same effect comes into play with autism. Though it seems there have been dramatic rises in autism over the last twenty years, many believe we just have more refined evaluation protocols with more attention being placed upon those individuals exhibiting unconventional behaviors.

The thesis presented in this work makes several predictions regarding handedness and autism, two issues that I believe go hand in hand.

It has been noted that there have been increases in autism in Silicone Valley. I would also look for higher percentages of left-handedness among that population. This population of highly skilled, abstract thinkers engaged in innovation suggests the presence of left-spectrum, low-testosterone male, high-testosterone female prototypes of matrifocal society. This would be an enclave of the future.

Among the Somali of Minnesota, where autism is increasing, I’d also estimate increased percentages of left-handers. Where light influences a mother’s testosterone levels though pineal gland misinterpretation of the seasons (the pineal gland still thinking light is following equatorial, daily 30% fluctuations, maintaining ongoing high or low thresholds for several months instead of several hours), more left-handed children will emerge. Also, more strongly right-handed children will be produced as the center of the balanced polymorphism (the seamless gradations from strong left-handers to strong right-handers) disappears. This will result in increased prostate cancer (high-testosterone males) in this population after the children become adults. Many additional maladies characterized by hormonal markers will also be higher in this population.

I have hypothesized that in Scandinavia, the population exhibits neotenous characteristics in both sexes as a result of prolonging ontogeny to allow adults to derive vitamins from dairy in combination with lightening the skin to absorb vitamin D. When both sexes exhibit neoteny, we are hypothesizing that the males have relatively high estrogen resulting in a determined male-aesthetic focus, where they choose females with features of the very young. We see in Scandinavia, unlike in neotenous, patrifocal Asia, a powerful matrifocal tendency exhibited by a society focused on partnership societal values. I predict higher percentages of left-handers in Scandinavia.

In matrifocal West Africa, one would expect to discover higher percentages of left-handers, and this is the case. One would also predict this to be the case in Polynesia based upon egalitarian social structures. There are indigenous American populations with egalitarian societies. Is there increased left-handedness in those populations or has there been too much sharing of genetics between contiguous matrilineal and patrilineal societies?

Consider that the direction that Scandinavia has gone is a trajectory being followed by other Western industrialized societies. Let me suggest that this is happening on several levels. The 1990s Swedish intervention to temporarily nationalize banks in exchange for equity is the action that the UK engaged in early this past October, followed by the other EU nations, followed by the U.S. This reversed a U. S. direction taken two weeks before. Scandinavian nations exhibit an intuition for the healing power of the commons. These intuitions emerge from the biological imperatives of neotenous neurologies. The values of egalitarian, partnership society have their roots in high-testosterone women mating with low-testosterone, high-estrogen men.

Watch for increases in left-handedness in American, white, urban populations mirroring the pathway taken by the Scandinavians. Observe high-testosterone, low-estrogen women pairing off with low-testosterone, high-estrogen men. These would be slimmer peoples, like the Scandinavians, but not necessarily blond and blue eyed. These changes take more than a single generation.

Observe Jewish and Black Americans experiencing the same effects as the Somalis in Minnesota but not so extreme, revealing increased numbers of left-handedness as these two formerly nearly equatorial populations continue to experience hormonal polarization to the extremes of society’s balanced polymorphism. Again watch for the emergence of the Scandinavian hormonal prototype with slim couples, commanding women, cooperative men. Classic matrifocal pairings will also be in evidence, high-testosterone, high-estrogen women marrying low-testosterone, low-estrogen men. These women will often be lefties, but will be large, not tall.

Studies exploring these issues have not been consistent. With left-handedness only recently being relieved of sinister implications and autism evaluation procedures still not universal across the world, we’ve a ways to go before we’re comparing apples to apples. Still, these predictions are based on evolutionary biological principles manifesting in society today.

I’ve noted a couple times over the months that there is a five-step evolution continuum that begins with natural selection and then moves to step two where sexual selection focuses on a specific pattern when one (usually the female) chooses a mate.  Step three begins with human sexual selection, where adept practitioners of novel pattern creation (dance, song and later language) are selected as partners (usually by females with sensitivity to these subtle differences).  The fourth step is taken when novelty itself becomes desirable outside the partner-selection process, and society is compelled to embrace in its productions the infinite nuances of the new and less familiar.  In the fifth stage, awareness of evolution’s stages, attended by an awareness of the awareness that accompanies evolution, provides an identification with the five-stage creation continuum.

1)    natural selection
2)    sexual selection (selecting for pattern when seeking a mate)
3)    human sexual selection (selection for novel pattern when seeking a mate)
4)    art & culture (selecting for novel pattern outside of mate selection)
5)    awareness of the selection or creative process

It is a convention in our society to observe the effects of testosterone, concluding that it is the will of men that makes culture grand.  Economics, war and sports use one another as metaphors to describe their processes and accomplishments, speaking in the domination/competition/copulation lingo of the male hormone.

Consider that estrogen is at the root of what makes human beings unique.

In the five-step human evolution noted above, estrogen is the primary player.  Granted, in the heterochronic push and pull of neoteny and acceleration as they dance their way across the eons, testosterone informs maturation rates and evolutionary trajectories.  Yet, it is estrogen that compels discrimination.  It is estrogen that makes subtle evaluations.  It is estrogen that informs the judgments and forms the conclusions as to the nuanced natures and behaviors of a mate.

We are intensely sexual beings.  We have sexualized our environment by viewing our world through the filter of our cultures, cultures created by the forces of sexual selection.  Sexual selection is at the foundation of culture and art.  At the center of sexual selection is estrogen.

It began with female choice.  In countless species the female, exercising the demands of estrogen, chooses a mate based upon subtle variations on a theme.  In humans we are hypothesizing that men competed to achieve the opportunity to mate.  Estrogen, driving our evolution, picked males evidencing facility with dance and song.  Eventually, estrogen picked males evidencing facility with time.  The males that were able to line up sounds in ways that evoked a past and future, while bridging gesture into sound and then to speech, were picked by women to be harbingers of culture.

Estrogen molded testosterone to create.

Enormous numbers of studies have been conducted exploring the effects of testosterone on perception, functionality, skills, health and maturation.  Estrogen, not so much.  I am coming to the conclusion that the relationship between testosterone and estrogen, the relative thresholds within a person and between a mated pair, lies at the center of how we evolved, how our societies unfold and how healthy an individual is.  Our perception has been profoundly skewed by the blind spot that we have for the power of aesthetics and caring to inform not only evolution, but society.  Choice is what makes humans beings unique.  Estrogen is about choice.  (And, about caring.  Caring will be discussed in other essays.)

I suspect that evaluating individual male and female estrogen levels will reveal an enormous amount about the dynamic of aesthetics in society, particularly when observed in combination with testosterone thresholds.  We’ve tended to look at estrogen as the “caring” hormone, what attracts us to embrace and console.  Consider that we’ve been seeing only half the picture, feeling only a piece of the puzzle.  Combining caring and aesthetics and observing their relationship with sexuality and dominance, we may come to the conclusion that caring and aesthetics lie at the very foundation of culture.  Sexual Selection gone wild is who we are.

If testosterone is about changing rates in maturation informing species transformations over time, estrogen is about changing testosterone and observing/appreciating/caring for that journey of transformation.

Sexual selection and estrogen are what make us human.

Last night was a weird night.  I was not exactly sleeping.  My mind was deep into the pattern-trolling mode.  A part of me feels a certainty that estrogen and testosterone/estrogen constellations in mate selection (see “Estrogen Conjecture Inspired by Asian Neotenous Patrifocal Society”) lead to a deepened understanding of human evolution and the particular physiological/neuropsychological/hormonal/psychological features of the human ethnic spectrum.

At these preinspiration sessions I find myself operating with several presuppositions.  The presuppositions suggest that this process is far more artistic than scientific.  It’s more than an “as if” frame where I make a hypothesis and then follow where the existing data lead.  I’m assuming several things.  One, I assume that I can know the answer.  Two, I assume my unconscious already has the answer.  Three, I assume my unconscious is connected to the larger consciousness.  Four, I assume the solutions are available to me in a form I am schooled to assimilate and not a form beyond my education, such as genetics or higher mathematics.

That is a lot of presuppositions.  What this boils down to is that, feeling blessed, I can allow myself to experience, identify and communicate the patterns just beyond the barriers of the everyday.

Reeling around my mind last night are mated couples that I know and their evident testosterone/estrogen social structure constellations.  I’m now playing with the idea that there are transitional sexual selection constellations that are bridges to a future matrifocal/patrifocal synthesis.  For example, if TE female mates with te male (big T stands for high testosterone, little t low testosterone, big E high estrogen, little e low estrogen) in a matrifocal context, and te female mates with TE male in a patrifocal context, and a Scandinavian constellation represents an example of a synthesis of the two, then what possible transition pairings am I observing?  And, what examples of the Scandinavian synthesis do I observe in the American population?  And, for that matter, what is the Scandinavian testosterone/estrogen paradigm?

The Scandinavian constellation seems to be integral to understanding this paradigm.

The Asian paradigm has the female te mating with male TE with the hormonal thresholds all lowered to below the standard levels to engender an environment that nurtures patrifocal priorities, which include dominating males in a highly controlled hierarchical environment requiring large-scale cooperation and female infanticide.  It’s not clear to me if there is a connection between low estrogen levels, the dark hair and eyes and low incidence of left-handedness.  It feels like there might be.

With the Scandinavian constellation, male and female exhibiting matrifocal neoteny, presumably low t in both, resulting in the lanky, blond-hair and blue-eyed prototype, I’m hypothesizing low e in both, though I’m not exactly sure why.  It could be high E in both.  Or maybe one sex has high E and the other low e.  Or, what if the females are still high T?  But what if, as in the hypothetical Asian constellation where the whole hormonal threshold shifted down, in Scandinavia there has been a shift up?

In other words, you have females te and males te, but both at higher thresholds than is the norm.  But then the female in Asian and Scandinavian cultures would both be te, which seems unlikely.  So, let’s go back to Scandinavian female tE, male tE.  Perhaps there’s an embedded polymorphism with integrated populations of te/tE, tE/te, tE/tE and te/te matings with estrogen fluctuating all over the map.

In an Asian culture the shift down gets me a highly hierarchical patrifocal culture that compels cooperation and reinforces female infanticide.  What does a Scandinavian shift up accomplish?  It’s feeling hard to know this without understanding how exactly estrogen influences evolution.  We’ve observed the evolution-influencing testosterone dynamic.  The estrogen piece feels to me like a missing center.

Riane Eisler in her Real Wealth of Nations describes the Scandinavian countries as featuring many of the characteristics of a matristic, or partnership, society vs. the way a domination or patrifocal society operates.  She uses four categories to describe the differences among the paradigms, what I would describe as matrifocal and patrifocal social structures.

A partnership society has a structure that is equitable and horizontal vs. a dominator society that is rigidly hierarchical.  Relations in a partnership society are characterized by mutual respect with little fear, while in a domination system fear, abuse and violence are common.  In a partnership society, the genders are equal, with an emphasis on caring and caregiving, while in a domination society the male gender is ranked over females.  Last, the mythologies differ, with partnership society stories and beliefs emphasizing caring relationships, while domination-based societies idealize violence and control.  Eisler sees structure, relations, gender and beliefs as integral to understanding the differences between these two kinds of societies.

Eisler goes into some detail describing the ways that Scandinavian societies manifest features of a partnership society in a modern economy.  The social net is wide and firm, offering health care, employment security, education, child care, old age care, etc.  Caregivers are respected.  Corporations are encouraged to support and nurture.  The environment is revered.  A thesis of this neoteny.org blog is that we are a species featuring neoteny living at a time when society is transforming following a neotenous trajectory.  I would suggest that the direction we are going as a world culture can be seen in the laws and policies of Norway, Sweden and Finland.

Their physical features also seem to be a clue.

In previous entries, I’ve suggested we might be in the middle of a synthesis or integration between the two traditional, biologically informed social structures.  Observing the surge in conditions featuring maturational delay in males, maturational acceleration in females, I’ve wondered how these representatives of the older genotype will juxtapose with a highly hierarchical, Indo-European, dominator status quo.  Consider that Scandinavia may hold an answer.

The anthropologist Marvin Harris suggested that the blue-eyed, blond-haired Scandinavians may have come by those neotenous features in a quest for vitamin D and A.  They were prolonging the lactate-processing features of infants into adults, providing them an ability to derive more benefits from dairy in combination with lightening the skin to let in the benefits of sunlight, all of which hypothetically made healthier those able to make those adjustments over generations.  Perhaps other neotenous characteristics accompanied an ability to absorb vitamins in a northern climate, such as the features Scandinavian societies exhibit today.  In other words, their society manifests their biology.  Society recapitulates ontogeny.

What is particularly unique about these features of Scandinavians is that both males and females are featuring physical characteristics of neoteny.  Why certain features are exhibited and not others, I don’t understand.  For example, both sexes feature height.  Yet, there is not the flatter-faced neotenous aspect of Asian cultures.  It may just be that the allometry of height does not compel the classic flat face and smaller jaw associated with neoteny.  Still, both Scandinavian sexes seem to be exhibiting the gracile features we associate with the maturational delayed.

I’m not suggesting that in a thousand years the world’s populations will be filled with lanky, blond-haired, blue-eyed minions.  I am suggesting that we have an example of a society that has successfully neotenized, with its population exhibiting neotenous features in both sexes.  Evidently in Scandinavia the biological transformation took place very quickly.  Marvin Harris suggests in less than five thousand years.  What does this say about our prospects for creating egalitarian societies in the near future?  Do we consider encouraging the exhibition of physical neoteny in our societies to have a more peaceful world? Of course not.

Yet, perhaps this is happening already.  A society’s idealization of a perfect mate suggests the features selected for in a society.  A society’s idealization of a perfect mate suggests where a society is headed.  What do media tell us to look for in a spouse?  In the West, what does our idealized mate often look like?

Blond-haired, blue-eyed and tall.

Peace Island Conference

December 10, 2008 | Leave a Comment

Category: Activism

I attended the Peace Island Conference (PIC) that took place in St. Paul during the Republican National Convention.  Marcia, Laurel and I, as co-directors of the Peace, Justice and Environment Project, attend several conferences over the course of the year.  We are usually tabling, sometimes conducting workshops, occasionally speaking.

The usual format is speakers and workshops.  Workshops are usually constituency-based with topics designed to appeal to the folks attending the event.  Often there are eight or more workshops running concurrently, resulting in several with 2 or 3 people attending.  It is not uncommon that workshops are created to encourage a particular group or interest to attend the event.  Far more workshops are created than is reasonable to beef up the attendance numbers at a conference.  For example, 40 workshops can mean at least 40 more conference attendees conducting workshops.

At the Peace Island Conference, there were no workshops.  Instead there were breakouts.

The unique way (in my experience) that the PIC was designed was that a speaker’s section with four speakers was followed by breakout sessions with each speaker assigned a room.  In the speaker’s session, one person was assigned about 45 minutes to talk, followed by three additional speakers talking for about fifteen minutes.  One theme was carried through all presenters, sustainability, for example, which then got carried into the breakouts.  The breakouts were very well attended.  As many as 300 people might attend the main assemblies; then, they were broken up into four groups.  As many as 100 people might attend a breakout.

Thirty-one exhibitors surrounded the room where lunch was dispensed and breakout sessions were offered.  This format was fantastic for exhibitors.  Too often, exhibitors are placed in a room separate from proceedings, creating a negative experience for all those tabling activists and organizers seeking integration with the activity of the conference.  In addition, the exhibitor section was shut down during the main assemblies.  Thus, exhibitors were able to attend events.  By contrast, while tabling at the Netroots or YearlyKos conference in Chicago, we were isolated far from the conference events, compelled to stay with the booth during those events.

An outstanding assortment of presenters gathered in St. Paul because the demonstrations allowed the organizers of the conference an ability to create a powerful lineup from visiting luminaries.  Yet, attendance could have been larger.  The conference was poorly promoted outside the Twin Cities, not alluded to from the stage events of the demonstrations and there were no handouts that I observed distributed to the thousands of demonstrators gathered on September 1.  In one breakout of 100 people, one person was from Wisconsin.  Almost everyone else was from Minneapolis or St. Paul.

Conference organizers offered themselves the opportunity to artfully arrange themes and presenters in ways that complements and contrasts were allowed to play off each other.  Designing a conference that focused on peace, justice and sustainability issues, they placed sustainability early in the program, establishing a cooperative, positive vision of the future as a foundation for the event.

Until attending this conference, I was not aware of how flexible conference format was in allowing design to manifest in experience.  Talking to the organizers, I found that what emerged was the result of numerous discussions, not so much what the organizers had observed at other conferences.  I wonder what other unique conference formats are being used that I am not yet aware of?

These essays or blogs are an unconventional way to share evolutionary theory. This is not a peer-reviewed journal and I am not an academician. There are the less obvious reasons why this blog is unconventional. For example, I share some ideas before they are fully formed.

Many of the ideas expressed on this blog had their origins ten years ago. Click here to travel to a site that goes into those details. Those ideas have been fully cited (click here) though no peer-review process has presented them to a community that might absorb them. This blog offers me an opportunity to share those ideas in the context of contemporary events that might suggest their utility. The most obvious example is that the theory hypothesizes that autism has evolutionary origins and is a direct result of changes in our society’s transformation from patrifocal to matrifocal social structure. Almost thirty predictions come from the hypothesis. Click here for details.

Writing these blogs often led to insights. Since starting these entries last April 1, a number of ideas have occurred to me that bridge off of the original theses. Some of these ideas are appearing on this website without the benefit of time to let them steep or a withdrawal to explore the background literature that includes supporting and opposing positions.

So, in addition to sharing the original thesis, I’m experiencing new insights leading off into unexplored territory. At the same time, I’m often describing my personal experience while taking this journey.

Through the spring into the summer it became clearer how the dynamics of individual ontogeny inform the growth and transformation of societies. First, it became evident that the features of aboriginal societies, the “lower” classes and the street arts were manifesting themselves in society today in ways that were directly related to the dynamics of neoteny and the manifestation of ancestor-infant features in the adults of their descendants, or the humans of today. Society was recapitulating ontogeny.

Still, this is different from the Haeckelian (or even Hegelian) hypothesis of a hundred years ago. It wasn’t that a succession of societal stages reflected a succession of human stages or vice versa. One could observe a process by which specific features of earlier social ontogeny were manifesting later in contemporary times, driven by changes in social structure. With a shift to patrifocal social structure beginning maybe 50,000 to 25,000 years ago, gaining momentum 6,000 years ago, society moved toward hierarchical structures reflecting directly the new social structure, with its neurological/hormonal constellation of high testosterone males and low testosterone females. Now, with the shift back to an older matrifocal social structure and the neurological/hormonal constellation of low testosterone males and high testosterone females, that hierarchy is collapsing.

There was dynamism to social evolution unobserved by the inventors of recapitulation, a dynamism driven by the same process that drove human ontogenetic growth–relative levels of testosterone and social structure proclivity. Matrifocal features of aboriginal society emerging in the everyday were creating predictable results, including an increase of autism. Our brief supernova of consumer society is directly related to a resurgence of female choice. The exponential growth of the Internet is intimately connected with the return of matrifocal values of transparency, diversity and horizontal communication.

Understanding human evolution and how the individual informs that evolution, we understand the evolution of society.

With an understanding of how society transforms having become clearer to me over the last few months, I’ve shared the insights as they have emerged. These insights perhaps make far less sense to me now than they will in the future after I’ve had time to connect the insights to the work of other authors, find useful metaphors and relax into the concepts. Nevertheless, this blog has become an opportunity to share connections as they are made and to describe my experience as the connections form.

An insight that I shared about a month ago is continuing to percolate without benefit of reading to inform the understanding. I ordered two books yesterday to add to the stack of books I’m reading on other subjects. The books I ordered were on teleology.

Authors over the centuries, including Pierre Teilhard de Chardin in the 20th century, have noted that the trajectory of society seems to reveal overarching patterns best explained by the presence of a creative intelligence. Teleological interpretations of history and society conflict with reductionist biological hypotheses that make clear that no intelligence is required. Needless to say, itemizing the arguments serving both sides can’t be done in this daily blog format. Wikipedia offers a good summary. My point is this. Heterochronic theory, which includes neoteny when applied to societal evolution, creates overarching patterns that look a whole lot like the intervention of a creative intelligence. Large-scale patterns with direction are in evidence, just as in human evolution neoteny has produced a clear physiological/neurological trajectory over several million years. What we are observing is not some evident but unfathomable overarching pattern best explained by the intervention of a deity. What we are observing is evidence of a noted and accepted biological process, heterochrony, operating on the scale of societal evolution.

Teleology follows the same pathways as ontogeny.

Early stages of society can prolong or reveal themselves in later societal states just as infant states of earlier species of our primate lineage manifest in the features of contemporary adults. The reverse is also true. Society is influenced by the ontogenetic equivalent of condensation or the addition of features to an adult stage, features slowly embraced by younger and younger stages over time, recapitulation. Integral to understanding this dynamic is noting the impact of testosterone on the formation of individuals, social structure and societies. How this process unfolds can be observed by following the influence of testosterone on these multiple scales. The evidence of this process on a societal level is what we have called teleology.

Writing this entry, I wrestle with the patterns and the scales, letting one scale inform understandings in the next. The music of our unfoldings is embedded at all levels. Where we don’t see the connections, we infer deity intervention. Not necessary. Deity is everywhere at once working through processes which are understandable.

We don’t need god to make the universe understandable.

Experiencing god can be useful to come to that understanding.

Old Grief

November 24, 2008 | 1 Comment

Category: Auto-Biography

Three evenings I played with Elia on the floor of his bedroom.  He had recently turned five.  The marriage to his mother had slipped into the abyss a while back.  What was left was for me to leave.  Somehow I had to explain it to my son.  I was unable to tell his mother until I was gone.

Three evenings we played on his bedroom floor.  With “guys,” I acted out the two homes he would be having in the future.  I acted out with toys his Daddy moving to another nearby apartment.  My son seemed confused.  Devastation had been stalking me day and night.  Those three nights, I could see that darkness creeping into Elia’s eyes.

The morning after the third evening, I took Elia to kindergarten.  Climbing out of the car, I opened the back door and leaned in to unbuckle him from the seat.  I explained that I wouldn’t be home when he got home from school, but I would see him frequently.  As I said it, I saw in his eyes that his life had changed.  I could see that my lifelong distress was appearing in the psyche of my son.  My worst fears were being realized.  That which was most beautiful in my life was appearing broken.  I could feel that I was breaking Elia’s heart.

I carried him into his classroom.  I explained to his teacher, a friend of his mother, what was happening and to attend to him closely.  I hugged Elia.  I drove back to the apartment and told his mother I was leaving.

Until I was almost thirty, I could not even imagine having a son or daughter.  To voluntarily bring into the world a precious being and then abuse him with what followed seemed cruel and unloving.  My life felt characterized by unfathomable shame and terror.  No way did I want to expose a child to such pain.

But I loved this woman.  So I took a risk.

When Elia was born, I loved him, nurtured him and guarded him with a vigilance that was both neurotic and heroic.  I provided his mother all the support to protect him that was possible for a husband to provide.  I struggled to keep our arguments from his ears.  His personality featured joy, curiosity, courage and sensitivity.  He behaved like he was happy and secure.

And then I left.

My 24-year old son has the soul of an artist.  As a young adult, he too has unfathomable feelings.  But he seems less stalked than either of his parents.  He is tender with both his mom and dad.  Elia has an open heart.

My son has become my teacher and my guide.

There is a thought experiment I engage in on occasion. I imagine trying to suggest to two fundamentalists of two different religions, for example, a Christian and a Muslim, that what connects the two true believers has more weight than what divides them. In my thought experiment, I ask that each imagine two sets of parents, a Christian couple and a Muslim couple, and each couple has a child with no hearing and no sight. Each child is to be raised believing in his or her parents’ religion while only touch can be used to communicate the central tenets of their belief. I then ask how the two children, grown older, could differentiate the two beliefs. How would they know one religion from the other?

Remove the words from religion and truth remains.

I observe the American Left and Right for differences in behavior that would suggest deeper truths than the words that I hear them say.

“You have something to protect. We will help you protect what is important to you. In our community, we protect ourselves from outside threats.” This argument is what I hear the Right say. These words encourage people to experience what is valuable to them: family, money, self concepts. An underlying message is, “You shall be rewarded in proportion to what you have.” If the right had no words, there would be no action. Silently, in the dark, how would the Right communicate these principles? The Right needs to generate a time dissociation, either fear of the future or embrace of the past, for the communication to stick. With no sight or sound, future and past are difficult to grasp.

“If you have more than is necessary, we require that you share. If you have little, we will provide. In our community, we make sure all have good quality of life.” Words from the Left are easy to express while soundless in the dark. These words are understandable with only actions available to make the concepts clear. Relationship is engaged. There is taking and giving, sharing. Left concepts are easily manifested in behavior in the here and now.

When Indo-European warriors on horses galloped into India and Europe, the established matriarchal societies were destroyed. The ancient Left, for example, the tribal aboriginals of Western Europe, found that communities of sharing were inappropriate responses to roving communities intimate with threat. In a world where these communities collide, often it is the Right with the more congruent, more useful message.

In our world, it is not patriarchs riding in on horses. These days, it is the young, and they are networking through new technologies: the web, social networking and cell phones. The new Left are those intimate with the rituals of sharing, sharing technologies and communities characterized by celebrations in the present. They are not clinging to the past or protecting the present against the future.

The Left has returned. It is the Left with the more congruent communication, the more useful message. It is the Left whose message makes sense soundless in the dark.

Teleological interpretations of societal transformation conflict with the reductionist zeitgeist that demands that consciousness not be considered as a variable when exploring biological or social evolution because consciousness cannot be measured. To suggest that history, as it bridges from the past into the future, follows a deliberate path is not a useful conjecture if we seek an understanding of structure and process rather than bowing to the intentions of an outside force.

If teleology has structure, is it still teleology?

Many nineteenth century theorists focused on a specific process as they sought to understand the dynamics of biological evolution and its connection to individual ontogeny. Ernst Haeckel was a champion of heterochronic theory or the study of changing rates and timing of maturation and/or development when species and individuals transform. Neoteny is one manifestation of one of these processes. In neoteny, the features of the young, even the embryonic, manifest later and later in the maturation of ancestors. For example, our chimp-like precursors retained features such as relatively big eyes, small chins, upright stature, curiosity and playfulness that evidenced later and later in the stages of descendants until today we human adults exhibit many of the characteristics of grown-up, chimp-like ancestors.

Neoteny is not teleology. A process that prolongs or extends the features of an infant into the characteristics of an adult does not imply the deliberate or intentional manifestation of specific qualities in a future time. Biologically, neoteny can be understood to be the result of specific selective processes (natural selection, sexual selection, Lamarckian selection) upon maturation rates, mediated by changes in a mother’s testosterone levels.

Even though neoteny is not teleology, it does a very good job of simulating a teleological interpretation of societal change when one observes the effects of neoteny on societal transformation. As we observe society over time, it looks like there is an inherent purpose or final cause, a specific direction that we are headed. What we are observing is the heterochronic process called neoteny, thought to be only a biological dynamic. Neoteny drives the evolution of society.

The ongoing manifestations of early ancestor stages of society in later descendant states look a lot like a teleological or spiritual interpretation of history. Just as in biology a trajectory can be estimated of how a species will transform with time, societal transformations can be predicted based upon the features of early stages of the individual and early stages of society.

Understanding neoteny, we can predict the future.

Intuiting the future is about exploring our beginnings. Studying the embryo, the infant and the child while exploring aboriginal tribal customs, structures, processes and priorities offers insight into what we are becoming.

Society is biology. They are not just connected. They are the same.

On the autism rights and neurodiversity blogs in July, fury erupted around the radio show host Michael Savage’s comments that autistic kids were brats.

Savage said that autism was a “fraud, a racket.” He went on to say, “I’ll tell you what autism is. In 99 percent of the cases, it’s a brat who hasn’t been told to cut the act out. That’s what autism is.”

The rage of autism advocates communicated quickly. Home Depot, Aflac, Sears, Budweiser, Direct Buy, Cisco and Radio Shack withdrew sponsorship before the end of the month. Radio stations dropped the show.

As an activist and organizer, I feel like what I observed was a social change miracle. Society likes to keep its anomalies and minorities invisible. Savage’s words have revealed the power of a group that will not hide.

Deep into this great transition from a capitalist, hierarchical, patrifocal society to the horizontal, aesthetic-based, partnership society, events occur that provide a window into the future. Neurodiversity is almost invisible at present. It is becoming a central focus of society very quickly. This last July was a coming out party.

Autism and Asperger’s rights represent the third wave of genetic justice. Civil rights, the first wave, established the language, strategy and tactics for creating social change. Women’s rights and gay rights manifested integral aspects of the social structure conflict between matrifocal and patrifocal frames of reference, championing the rights of all peoples. The neurodiversity movement heralds the hidden, central theme of changes underway, the ascendancy of an alternative neurophysiology characterized by male maturational delay and female maturational acceleration. The physical, neurological and behavioral features of autistic and Asperger’s children and adults are confounding to a society unaware that these individuals are the third wave of a massive social movement.

Evolutionary biological theory in the U.S. revolves around a belief that natural selection satisfactorily explains how evolution unfolds. Evolutionary developmental biology is relieving many academics of this failed frame of reference. Still, with scientists unable to make the connections between societal transformation and biological evolution, the evolutionary mechanisms responsible for the dramatic increases in neurological anomalies are little understood. Darwin proposed three dynamics as integral to transformation: natural selection, sexual selection and Lamarckian processes. It is sexual selection in the context of social structure and the influence of the environment (Lamarckian selection) on an embryo that are together responsible for a switch from patrifocal to matrifocal frames of reference and the re-emergence of ancient genotypes in the present day.

We’re not talking about regression or reversion. It seems that something wholly new is emerging. It is possible that we are observing the first stage of a synthesis of the two great paradigms.

The thesis is that there were ancient, dance-driven matrifocal societies with commanding women, cooperative men and consciousness only beginning to split. We communicated by gesture. Waking was not unlike dream. Myth and miracle felt personal. Rhythm and pattern were the central aesthetics. Children did not know their fathers.

The antithesis becomes ascendant with the Indo-Europeans. A patrifocal society characterized by split-brain speech makers demands that woman cooperate with males that pass down possessions to the sons. God was distant. The rhythm of society becomes the horse hoof as the warrior takes control of the agricultural economy, song and story.

In the midst of synthesis, it’s difficult to understand the implication of the re-emergence of an Asperger’s/autism neurology characterized by a tendency to know things whole while engaged in the rhythm of the part. Back in Africa, when language was only beginning to break our brains into two, we were more unconscious than conscious beings.

Indo-Europeanized, we became separate and split-brained, focused only on the part or on the goal, alienated and male dominated, destroying what seemed not useful, unable to easily see the repercussions of our actions or feel responsible to change our behavior if we did.

The synthesis is a neurology with an intuition for understanding the big picture with guidance by a brain that can achieve goals step by step, a brain that has differentiated and understands that wholes are made of parts. We are merging the unconscious experience of the whole with the conscious focus on the part.

Aesthetics + reductionism = self awareness. Nature + individuality = humanity. Ancient aboriginal + Indo-European = Neurosynthesis.

The neurodiversity movement is only now just acquiring its legs. It needs to convince society that autism and Asperger’s are not disorders, not just unique, but are the first steps toward neurological synthesis.

We’ve waited a long time for this synthesis. Savor every moment of these unique times. An age of miracles has returned.

Diet and Aesthetics

October 26, 2008 | Leave a Comment

Category: Future, Ontogeny, Society

The economy is swooning. Assets are transforming into fertilizer, being plowed into the fields as we prepare for the next stage of our social evolution. The seeds are planted. What we’ll be eating will be different from what’s come before.

The age for the onset of puberty has plummeted. Diet has dramatically cut off cerebral neurological development by accelerating pubertal onset by four years or more. Early puberty testosterone surges in males and females has halted synapse production, curtailing abstract thinking, inhibiting the human, natural ability to make connections, to understand, to appreciate, to experience revelation.

This process will change with the radical diet changes coming in the near future. High-fat, high-carb, high-protein diets will be replaced by diets that our planet can support. Pubertal timing will adjust and our children will reach puberty later. As a species, there will be radical repercussions.

The hidden will become available. The subtle will become easily accessible. The obvious will become uninteresting.

Watch closely the trajectory of pubertal timing. After diet has changed and we are back on track toward achieving puberty around 16–18, we can estimate when this epoch of transition will be settling down.

Our brains developed as a mammoth appreciation apparatus with massive numbers of synapses able to make aesthetic decisions when performing and observing performers during our song-and-dance driven, sexually selected evolution. Our brains are waiting for the right conditions to do what they do best, create and appreciate.

As we withdraw from the collapsing consumer economy, with puberty coming later, we’ll develop the aesthetic economy.

Dance, music and art will become the currency of the realm.

For over 120 years, theorists have been aware of heterochronic principles in evolution. Stephen J. Gould has almost single-handedly kept the flame alive. Gould is dead. Evolutionists specializing in this area are relatively rare. As the bonfire of Neo-Darwinism continues to die down, perhaps we’ll see renewed attention offered to these alternative views. Evolutionary developmental biology is opening doors in this direction.

Humans have evolved as a result of neoteny. Neoteny is one of several heterochronic processes. Neoteny is that process by which the features of infants appear over time in the adults of descendants. Physical, behavioral and neurological features “prolong” over generations, manifesting later and later in ontogeny until specific characteristics of embryos, babies and toddlers emerge as full-blown adult characteristics.

Books discussing neoteny in detail, such as Gould’s Ontogeny and Phylogeny, concentrate on the physical features that transform when impacted by neoteny. Wesley Montague explored some of the emotional repercussions of bridging the child to the adult. Specifically, Montague noted the profound effect of carrying creativity and curiosity into the adult of our species, with the resulting societal repercussions.

Two additional features of the very young have been somehow absent from discussions of the influence of neoteny on the human species. Perhaps this absence is because it is mostly males writing on the subject. Maybe it is because these two features are obfuscated by the way we humans view ourselves in contemporary society. Nevertheless, observing closely the behavior and experience of babies, extrapolating these observations to a tentative hypothesis of the behavior and experience of our chimp-like ancestors, we might conclude that contemporary humans and contemporary human society may have no small amount to do with the dynamic of heart-felt affection and dependency.

In other words, the affection experienced by the young for other humans in their life is an integral experience, usually ignored as a governing principle, yet it is an experience having massive impact upon our society. The young feel affection and they experience a compulsion to connect, what we call dependency. Being small is to experience a nonstop attraction to other humans, animals, things and situations while at the same time experiencing the constant buffeting that comes with exposure to the barriers that prevent a reciprocation of that attraction. Human babies and toddlers are extremely dependent relative to the young of other species. As this dependency paradigm manifests in the adult of our species, the relative importance of affection and connection will grow as adults acquire these aspects of the infant.

The massive, multiscale interconnection of contemporary society, with exponential increases in connection characterized by at first email, then the web, then texting and now social networking, are manifestations of infant dependency proclivities prolonging into older states of ontogeny, driving society into a whole.

We are in the midst of as profound an acceleration of our society and our species as can be imagined. Differentiating between societal and biological evolution in humans is no longer possible.

We can understand the neotenous engine behind our biological evolution and observe the manifestations of neoteny in society as earlier and earlier stages of an individual’s ontogeny emerge in adults. We observe biology’s transformations manifest in culture, almost before our eyes. We are left reeling.

We are also left feeling. Affection and dependency are in our societal future and our ontological past. Neoteny is not particularly discriminating in what infant features are carried forward to adulthood. Love is inevitable. So is vulnerability. The future could not be brighter.

PJEP Planting Seeds

October 14, 2008 | 2 Comments

Category: Activism, PJEP, Web

Laurel, Marcia and I continue to discuss the most effective way to build the PJEP 50-state network of networks.  There are about 15 of us working hard to research and facilitate the state networks as they go up.  At this point, almost 1,000 local organizations and chapters of national organizations are working through 33 states within 26 networks.  (There are several two-state networks and one three-state network.)

Visit PJEP.org to investigate the central site where state and local actions, calendar items and online campaigns (petitions, boycotts, eletters and fundraisers) are collected and collated so that grassroots activity across the country can be explored in detail.

Two logistical issues come up fairly frequently.  Programmer David fixes bugs and enhances features that already exist, or Dave creates new features.  David, Marcia, Laurel and I talk frequently about which of these three areas should be emphasized at any given time.  All three of us feel that for us to achieve our mission, it is vital to empower individuals and local organizations by providing them access to resources and connections to other individuals and organizations so that they are able to accomplish their social-change and political-change goals.  Decisions are made daily on whether bugs, upgrades or new features get attention.

The second logistical issue revolves around whether we place our attention more on new, existing state networks by maintaining frequent contact with new, local organization administrators, making sure they post their actions and use the websites to their best advantage vs. researching and setting up a new state, getting new administrators established and moving on.  Both nurturing established networks and creating new ones are essential to our goal.

Regarding nurturing vs. creating, each PJEP volunteer does what he or she prefers.  Most PJEP volunteers, men and women, are facilitating or helping states to network.  It’s mostly me setting up new states.

Florida and Pennsylvania were the first two networks to go up after Illinois and Minnesota, which are coalitions.  No other coalitions have gone up since Illinois and Minnesota.  (A coalition has a governing body or policy board and can usually endorse an issue, person or project.  A network has no governing body and no endorsement capability.)  When Florida and Pennsylvania went up, there was no person facilitating, no activist making sure everyone got his or her actions posted, no person taking responsibility for the sites being used.  The sites were rarely used.  Local administrators needed reminding, and they needed someone to post for them if they were overwhelmed.  We concluded that an ongoing presence by a responsive individual was important.  That’s the model we’ve developed.  Florida and Pennsylvania lay fallow for about six months until we figured this out.

Still, every time I set up a new state, there is less time I spend with the administrations of established states.  We have far fewer facilitators than we have states to facilitate.  One of my jobs is to maintain some kind of contact with those administrations in states we don’t have a facilitator for.  That’s almost 250 administrations.  I’m in phone contact with those folks every 2.5–3 months, far less than the once-a-month contacts most administrations receive.  I place a priority on setting up new states, which takes up most of my time.

It is my estimation that a year from now, when all 50 states are up and crises emerge that demand immediate response, states that are relatively fallow without a facilitator will be able to be engaged because a communications infrastructure with a resource delivery system will already exist.  I am hopeful that facilitators will emerge in such a situation.

For two years, we’ve been plowing fields and planting seeds.  Some fields are plowed but have few seeds planted as we wait for a farmer to come along.  Not too far into the future, the shit will hit the fan.  More than one kind of crisis is on the way.  When shit starts flying and landing in our prepared fields, that fertilizer will be the boost we need.  At that point, we’ll introduce a facilitator to an environment ready for growth.

The societal habits, trends and self-destructive behaviors that lead to crisis often get no attention until a crisis occurs.  Heinous situations go unmarked until they hit the news.  Crises are the fertilizer of the activist.  An activist can turn a crisis into a change advantage by leveraging what is being revealed by the media onto the desks of elected officials.

When the shit hits the fan, it is time to start planting seeds.

Male control of the female body is a hallmark of a patrifocal society, the Right Wing and hierarchical societies. It is no mistake that the contemporary Republican Party has its roots in the anti-abortion movement. Traditionally, in a patrifocal society such as China or the Yanomamo of South America, society seeks the death of girl infants. If a child is killed while still in the womb, there is no guarantee the male will survive.

In a highly patrifocal society, it is vital that the pool of potential wives be repressed. With few child-bearing females, only the males considered most ideal as husbands will be chosen by the fathers or families of the available woman. In a warrior society, or a very competitive, highly hierarchical society, the males that fail to perform will go mateless. Aggressive, competitive males will procreate and bring higher testosterone warriors into society.

The abortion battle is not over whether killing babies is moral. The abortion battle determines the social structure of society. If females can kill an unborn infant, then future mate selection also reverts to female choice. Females can choose to abort and they can choose their husband according to criteria that support her personal point of view.

Female infanticide is practiced widely in China and India. Targeted female abortion has become a problem with the new technologies. Until the last century there is evidence to suggest that Europeans widely practiced female infanticide. I know of no studies in the United States that track the percentages of males and females born to Right Wing and Left Wing families. With the availability of sex-determining technologies in the first trimester, there is a good chance that even today in the United States it could be observed that social conservative Republicans give birth to more males than members of the Green Party. Every generation that lacks Right Wing control over a woman’s ability to bear children is another generation in which the Right Wing observes the dissolution of male dominance of the society at large. The more females that can choose a mate, the more nonideal males (from a patrifocal male point of view) become fathers.

Among those fathers now easily finding mates are those maturational delayed, noncombative pattern manipulators and creative types. “Wimps”, “nerds” and sensitive males are marrying in greater numbers than in the past. They are giving birth to maturational delayed sons and maturational accelerated daughters, thus introducing to society greater numbers of the autistic (characterized by extreme male maturational delay) than have ever appeared before. Not only has an increase in abortions contributed to a plummeting in crime, abortion has resulted in an increase in autistics as women choose males that would have less problem with her having an abortion. These are nonpatrifocal, relatively female-centric males.

In just the way that Darwin observed humans breeding pigeons, pruning features not desired in an evolutionary thread, humans prune themselves by killing embryos and babies in order to guide society in the direction of matrifocal or patrifocal points of view. There may be few differences between Republicans and Democrats in foreign policy (or domestic policy, in many cases) but there are major differences when it comes to death. How life is trimmed, when the young are killed, has everything to do with how aggressive the future society will be. As long as Democrats struggle to preserve abortion, providing choice for woman whenever possible, the future will be far less aggressive than the past.

(Click here to review now female foeticide effects these issues.)

What exactly is the neotenization of society that began to become clear to me that night in the convertible next to Marcia riding Highway 75 through northern Georgia? There are human hubs perched within the social networking universe that connect to enough other human hubs that an idea can accelerate though them into the Internet night like a sports car at 5:00 a.m. In just that way, there are idea hubs that connect to and influence enough contiguous influential disciplines that understanding them illuminates the intellectual world like a sunrise at 5:01.

Neoteny is a biological principle that notes that changes in the rate and timing of maturation of individuals over time, generation to generation, influencing the evolutionary trajectory of a species when the characteristics of infants or features of early ontogeny are prolonged to appear later in ontogeny or in the adults of descendants. Draw the features of babies into older and older stages over time and you are neotenizing that ancestral chain. Pubertal timing is also an issue. For example, in humans, if you change the diet of children and encourage puberty to come later, you will often have adults with brains with more synapses and longer legs. The testosterone surges of puberty cut off brain growth.

Neoteny is central to biological evolution and integral to understanding human beings. Necessary to understanding the repercussions of this process is realizing that the moment when an individual’s maturation rate is determined, during a day six weeks before birth and based upon the mother’s testosterone level, is also the moment that decides that individual’s position in the way that society is structured based upon matrifocal or patrifocal social structures. High testosterone males mate with low testosterone females, and high testosterone females mate with low testosterone males. Understanding evolution without understanding social structure and its relationship to hormone levels and how hormone levels are determined is like trying to understand the joy of night driving with the top down by sitting in a parking lot eating cheeseburgers.

Biological evolution unfolds by working its way through that moment six weeks before birth, pushing and pulling individuals back and forth between hormonal extremes over generations, back and forth through social structures, back and forth through robust and gracile physical manifestations of maturational delay and acceleration patterns. In the same way, the evolutionary principle of neoteny also influences societal transformations, compelling society to evolve through a succession of stages propelled by the prolongation of earlier stages of societal ontogeny into older stages over time.

There is evidence to suggest we were highly matrifocal up to and past our leaving Africa. The diminution of brain size around 25,000 years ago suggests that a transition to a patrifocal orientation was underway. Patriarchy galloped out of Southern Russia 6,500 years ago and quickly converted old Europe, India and China. Right now, we are in the midst of a synthesis of matrifocal and patrifocal paradigms. From this position, we can observe surges of neoteny moving up through cultures as the neotenous characteristics of earlier stages of our societal ontogeny stream into and through contemporary society.

There are the physical features of our chimpanzee-like progenitors that have prolonged into the adult human of today, such as large brain, small jaw, big eyes, walking on hind legs, location of foramen magnum, etc., and there are the nonphysical features, such as propensity to play, creativity, alertness to that which is different, curiosity, etc. Note the most ancient cultures existing today, the young people in society, the poorest in society, the least empowered, the ethnic minorities, the political Left (representing the disempowered) and the artists. Features of these groups have been slowly, over thousands of years, been prolonging their way into societies controlled by ruling elites. This slow process over the last three hundred years has accelerated to the point that right now it’s become a convertible ambulance tearing through traffic, driven by ancient healers, carrying herbs and antibiotics in the trunk.

Aboriginals bring land-based spiritual integrity and an intuitive familiarity with the natural balance between independence and interdependence. Neoteny is characterized by close proximity to creative sources. Aboriginal cultures offer an understanding of this frame.

The young bring a form of deep curiosity and confidence that what they imagine can become true. The young are fearless. The young crave fun. Curiosity is a prime feature of neoteny, and imagination is most powerful when acculturation has not been fully engaged.

The poor and the most disempowered bring a dependency on the culture at large, and although at first glimpse this dependency seems like a deficit, from neoteny’s perspective, dependence provides a compulsion to be connected. This compulsion is mingled with intense creativity as the powerless generate art to express their relationship with the connection/disconnection polarity. As a result, they generate music, song, dance, fashion and unique athletic productions that speak for society as a whole.

Ethnic minorities often draw sustenance and inspiration from their former and present experience of poverty and a relatively close proximity to aboriginal or tribal institutions. These wellsprings of inspiration are characteristic of the sources of neoteny: creativity, sense-based spiritual revelation, deep respect for the physical and reverence for rhythm.

The political Left articulates the frustrations and the goals of neoteny’s children, helping to make it possible that the present-time orientation of the aboriginal, the young, the poor and the ethnic minorities be charted into a future that integrates their orientations, strengths and needs.

The artist or creator, along with the child, is neoteny’s mascot. To empower the creative is to bridge the essence of the child into society. Political empowerment is creative empowerment. Political repression is creative repression. To create is a political statement.

The nascent creativity characteristic of all these groups is now bursting into visibility, supercharged by the appearance of the web.

Observing it, encouraging it, we are part of it. We have a ways to go. First, let’s get the gasoline out of that convertible and find a way to fly through the night, leaving no carbon trail behind. All this creativity is converging just in time to solve the problem of how society will evolve fast and far enough to see the dawn.

Idea Tracking

September 30, 2008 | 1 Comment

Category: Activism, Auto-Biography, Future, Society, Web

Lee Goodman has a talent for being present when my life takes a radical shift.  In high school, as we became close friends, Lee introduced me to the hippie protest movement.  In 2002, Lee brought me back into the protest movement when he invited me to a peace march in Northbrook.

Four days after returning from the United States Social Forum, Lee and I were in my living room discussing the commercial possibilities of an application my firm was developing when that underground aquifer of inspiration offered me a taste and then complete emersion of an idea.  Yet, it was more than an idea.  If felt like I was looking into a window of how the future would unfold.  Directly connected to the revelation in the convertible with Marcia earlier in the week, the idea was about interconnection, the neotenization of society, with an outline of specific features of the next step in the transformation of our species.  It hit me as Lee stood to leave to head back home.  I rose, my tongue between silence and stuttering as I watched him depart.  Later in the week, I called Lee to share the vision.

Integrated into the online campaigns being developed for the Actions Options Tool (AOT) was the ability for a user, through his or her social networking page, to note the user’s participation in an eletter, fundraiser, boycott or petition.  In addition to being able observe his or her own participation in a fundraiser, for example, and the amount of money contributed, the user could also observe how many people he or she brought into the fundraiser and the cumulative total for his or her contributions and the friends’ contributions.  When this idea came to me in December of ’06, I was not aware it was already being used by some donor software.  The unique addition to this process was our developing the AOT to make it possible for any user to observe multiple degrees of separation, indirect influence on friends of friends, friends of friends of friends, etc., providing the ability for the user to experience his or her vast indirect interconnection with the larger community.  The AOT seeks to provide an experience of empowerment by making the world transparent in a way that enhances our ability to intuit our connection to that world.  By providing a lineage chart displaying these cascading relationships, the AOT provided an instant snapshot of how we affect our community, and at the same time one sees how large that community is.

Standing there watching Lee depart, I realized that an individual using the AOT did not have to be limited to participation in an online campaign created by one of the participating organizations in the network.  The software could be designed to accommodate individual users creating their own campaign, their own idea, their own bit of gossip and then passing it on to friends and watching it disperse.  When an idea is created and sent on to a friend, that friend clicks on a link that carries him or her back to his or her AOT social networking page, where he or she can continue the chain by continuing to disperse the idea.

Any user can generate his or her own lineage tree of indirect influence based on any idea, file, resource, video, bit of news or revelation.

Programmer Dave Larson and I began working out the details and following the implications.  With a central database offering an environment for these lineage trees to grow, users could revel in the speed, breadth (how many other users were participating in their idea or campaign), depth (how many degrees of separation were engaged) and geographic span (tracking zip codes).  The programming could be designed to create reports at any user request that would offer an ability to run comparisons over time of various campaigns, thus allowing an ability to weigh the strength of different ideas.

Human hubs would emerge.  Those people at the center of idea dispersals, either as creators or prime disseminators, would become clear.  Those folks with the largest number of influential relationships would be rewarded by appearing on pages dedicated to revealing the ideas or campaigns with the most powerful metrics (depth, breadth, speed and span).

David and I concluded that this task would have to be done in a noncommercial environment.  We discussed how best to invest not only users with an experience of empowerment, but developers, so that the concept could grow organically.  We’d need to make it open-source.  We’d need a test environment where developers could experiment with new features.  And it strikes me now as I write this blog that we need an evaluative protocol that allows those ideas most respected by the developers to be then integrated into the application.

An alternative world would emerge, inspired by social networking, which would allow individuals to be creative, share what they created and then watch the creation’s dispersal through society in real time.  Observers could conduct searches of any subject and jump aboard the threads streaming through this alternative universe, making contributions, adding to and modifying them.

We will be able to watch the birth and evolution of ideas.  We will be able to run reports looking for patterns in the breadth, depth, speed, span, distribution and human hubs.  We will be able to seek, find, and understand the environments most likely to encourage ideas that lead to deep, lasting, positive social change.

The foundation programming architecture is completed.  We need volunteer programmers to make this network grow.  Readers, if you think this idea has potential, pass it on and have programmers contact me through this blog.

I’m not sure what it is about Lee that brings this idea generation out in me.  Like the mysterious elf in mythic stories when the youngest son needs assistance, Lee appears.  It’s possible that in this virtual tracker of gossip and concepts, idea-inspirers like Lee will be noticed, tagged and then deeply respected for their contributions to our community.

An Integration

September 29, 2008 | 2 Comments

Category: Activism, Auto-Biography, Web

Early in July of last year, Marcia and I were driving back from the United States Social Forum (USSF) in a rented convertible, top down, at night.  Stars out, wind whizzing by, Marcia sitting beside me, an integration hit me as if in a desert landscape it started pouring and isolated lakes were linked by river flows.  Connections between different sections of my life were made.

USSF was a powerful, positive, difficult experience.  Over the period of its several days, we made numerous presentations from our booth and conducted a workshop.  We talked about the Actions Options Tool (AOT) web application and the network of networks using the AOT for free that was quickly growing across the country.  I thought we were about three months away from being ready to introduce the unique new features we were presenting at the conference, such as SNAPAP (see previous entry).

A number of organizations and individuals expressed interest in either the programming or the statewide networks going up that were using the programming.  We met and talked with national organizations, international organizations and local activists.  It was exciting, interesting and exhausting.  It had been a long time since I’d felt that immersed.

Ten years ago, I was deeply absorbed in the details of an alternative theory of human evolution that had grown out of my studies of the origin of dragon mythologies.  See humanevolution.net for details.  It had all started as an illustrated book of dragons I was writing and designing.  I got distracted.  Deeply distracted.  For almost two years, I consumed evolutionary theory, exploring evolutionary biology and then following trails into the connected disciplines primatology, anthropology, neuropsychology and language development.  Previous passions that had included communications theory, psychology, hypnotherapy, comparative religion and studies of spiritual experience linked up with my studies of evolutionary biology.  I was experiencing an integration of several disciplines with an accompanying cascade of insights.

During this intellectual bender, my twenty-year career running a sales firm came to its conclusion.  It had been a decade since I’d put much energy into it, and I was coasting on its ability to provide me many hours to peruse other interests.  I needed a new profession.  With both a design and sales background, I started a business that required both those skills, website design.  My tech skills were terrible.  I muddled through a couple years until I could afford to hire people that knew tech.

I did some writing on the relationship between autism and evolution.  I got a paper published in an obscure New Zealand psychohistory newsletter by an academic excited by my work. I drifted away from my intellectual inclinations.

I was devoting most of my time to getting a new business going.  I let my evolutionary studies languish.

Then, the Iraq war.

As the war grew longer, my involvement with the local anti-war movement grew to involvement with justice and environmental issues.  Marcia joined me as we focused on action design and execution.  Marcia and I were sharing the same passion.  A vast new variety of friends entered into our lives.  My curiosity began to seek an understanding of the dynamics of social change.  Then, my vocation merged with my avocation as I guided my firm to develop a web application that could encourage social change.

My wife and I were experiencing an attraction to the same devotion.  My business and my interests had converged.  Driving back from Atlanta, I was cruising through a Georgia nighttime living a life characterized by an unusual amount of integration. And then, the integration descended another level as if an isolated aquifer had burbled up and linked with the lakes and rivers where I lived.

What emerged was the realization that principles of evolutionary biology, specifically heterochrony and its evidence in humans as neoteny, were principles fully engaged in social transformation.  This connection was uncharted territory.  Having realized almost ten years before that autism was the manifestation of evolutionary biological principles, I realized in the convertible that night that the principles of societal evolution operated according to the same dynamics as biological evolution.  Specifically, during the process of working out how a web application could encourage social change, I had been unconsciously working out practical applications of the biological theory I’d developed the decade before.  This connection had not been clear to me until that night, sitting next to my wife, after a weekend of making human connections with activists from the world seeking ways to encourage transformation.

Then, four days later, I felt the future.

News Worthless

September 23, 2008 | Leave a Comment

Category: Activism, Society

As an activist, I experience a kind of love/hate relationship with the news.  I am both attracted and repulsed by what appears through the various avenues of information distribution.

The news drives protesters into the street.  Protests draw cameras.  What cameras see affect public opinion.  Public opinion can change an elected official’s vote.

I am attracted to the news because it offers organizers leverage to frame debates and compel the population to get involved.  Modern organizing is partially about lists and relationships.  Email lists provide access to many people at one time.  Social networking–real time and online–drives friends and colleagues to respond to a single event at once.  A news story can be the beginning of a chain of powerful connections over time that, when strung together, create a movement of people creating change.

A news story is not just about the response it causes and the change that it can help bring about.  The story is also about the relationships created between activists that will form the foundation for future action around future items in the news.

An organizer watches and listens closely to the news, observing the response of media and allies to the news, intuiting what will move activists and local residents to action.  I know activists that engage almost exclusively in this media surveillance, doing little else.  Their contribution is essential.  It is consuming.  There are people with a talent for this monitoring.  I’m not one of them.

Watching and listening to the news, I become caught up in the parallel world of nonstop horror accompanied by voyeuristic complicity.  Viewers are encouraged to feel helpless in a number of different ways, guided to not respond to what they see on screen.  I feel angry at what the editors have chosen to reveal to me about the world.  I feel appalled at the conclusions that the professional opinion holders suggest to us are a reasonable response.  I feel distressed by the underlying assumptions or presuppositions that encourage us to feel helpless.  I feel disgusted by how little attention is given to underlying causes, suggesting that having an effect is outside our power to make a change.

I watch the commercials.  Watching commercials is like observing a list of human biological compulsions accompanied by recipes for how to motivate people to change.  People are being called to action, to spend their money.  It’s the only place on radio and TV where people are being asked to do something.

I respect the activists that can tolerate frequent exposure to what the media create.  I’d be a better organizer if I could pay close attention to what’s happening in the news.  For now, I’ll continue to listen to my friends.

Healthy Business

September 21, 2008 | Leave a Comment

Category: Auto-Biography, Society

Starting in 1980, I began building a sales firm specializing in greeting cards, calendars and gifts.  It was one of those accidents of profession.  Seeking to make a living as an illustrator, I was working part-time as a vegetarian cook, as an assistant to a teacher working with autistic youth and as a child day care worker.  I’d published a selection of my illustrated maps of consciousness as greeting cards and placed them in 20 shops around Chicago the first month I carried them around.  Other small greeting card companies asked me to carry their lines with mine when making presentations.  With time, I was paying my bills by selling the works of other illustrators, in the form of greeting cards.

I have no gift of gab or compulsion to talk to strangers.  My success in sales was predicated almost entirely on persistence.  I don’t easily give up.

By 1990, most of my income was based on the sales of The Far Side page-a-day calendar to national chains located in Illinois, such as Walgreens, OSCO, Sears and Montgomery Ward.  One product in one of my lines was allowing me to pursue interesting creative projects.  In the 1990s, my wife and I created a puppet manufacturing company.  I started a comic strip and panel syndicate representing 12 alternative cartoonists, including my own work.  In Chicago and Ann Arbor, I published Comics Arts Chicago and Comic Arts Ann Arbor, exhibiting the works of alternative comic artists from across the country.

It worried me no small amount that such a large part of my income was based on a single source, The Far Side page-a-day calendar.  When Montgomery Wards went chapter 11, there were several hundred thousand dollars of calendars on their shipping dock that were never distributed to their locations.  That commission was debited from future checks.  Success led to more and more precarious a position as larger and larger portions of my income came from a single product sold to so few stores.

It lasted almost ten years longer than I thought it would.  When, after nineteen years, I found myself looking for a new profession, I determined not to be so vulnerable again.

Almost ten years now I’ve developed websites.  I look for small, local clients that can use the services that I offer long-term.  There are seven communities on the North Shore of Chicago and almost 1,800 retail outlets.  More than 1,000 are independent businesses, locally owned.  Every year I walk into the door of each of those thousand businesses, providing information on what I do.  I am persistent.  I am considerate.  I offer my experiences, seeking to provide owners guidance that is in their best interest.

In my last profession, I sold fewer than a dozen items to mostly four chains.  Though the companies I represented listed tens of thousands of products, and my reps and I served several hundred stores, it was not a healthy business.  There were too few connections.  The community I served was too small.  Chains are notoriously fickle, and they lie.  I don’t even want to get into that.

In my present profession, I seek as large an interconnected webbing as is easy to maintain with as many small, local customers as I can find.  Income has been stable the last four years, and the business is healthy.  I experience far less anxiety than in my last profession about whether future orders will be there.  I feel part of a community.

In the deregulated, unregulated, nonaccountability environment created by Democrats and Republicans alike, there has been lip service paid to the advantages of competition while protecting the wealthy and their corporations through legislation from the competing demands of health care, unions, consumers, day care, safety, etc.  Instead of creating healthy interconnections serving society at the many levels that a corporation influences in its environment, corporations have sought the dollar and nothing else.  They are vulnerable.  It doesn’t seem clear to them that connections are a sign of health.

When the American business milieu gets the growing paradigm that it’s not about survival of the fittest and destroying the competition, but about integration into the environment and serving in as many ways as is useful, then health in business and health in society will be the same.

I use an image to explain the relationship between different activists’ intervention philosophies. The image is the teeter-totter. On both the left and right, political activists engage tactics that are part of strategies for change. They seek to move the center, the status quo, the conventions of society located in the present, in the direction of the past or the future. The Right seeks that we withdraw to behaviors society threatens to abandon. The Left works to seek to achieve changes that have not yet been engaged.

At present, with the Right in America having so successfully brought things backward eighty years or more, what with the dramatic increase of stratification and corporate control, it seems like the Left is seeking to go backward to the 1970s when there was some obvious forward movement. Right backward. Left forward. However far back the Right succeeds in pushing back conventions, the Left keeps seeking to place its weight on the teeter-totter in a way that changes the center of gravity, forcing the center to move in the Left’s direction, forward in time.

This competition is a might confusing because our societal convention has time marching from left to right as we read from left to right. With this metaphor, imagine the Right Wing on the left side of the teeter-totter and the Left Wing on the right. With this switch in orientation, time flows in the direction of our political nomenclature.

Arguments over strategy and tactics, where on the teeter-totter we should push, has a lot to do with resource control, age, demographics, proximity to power, talents and friends. For the young radical with few resources, the best place to push down is on those locations on the board farthest from the center. When all you have is your person, few connections to the center and no resources that can be threatened, leverage that weight to the farthest point possible. There is where a young person will have the most effect.

Contrast that radical with an older activist who has connections to politicians, connections that provide occasional conversations with a representative and the opportunity to be present at events where elected officials can be approached. For that activist, pushing down near the center, nearer the fulcrum, seems intuitive. These activists seek to leverage their access to power to engage in conversation, which is an opportunity unavailable to youth. The older activist could move farther out from the center, where their weight could have more of an effect, but then they could lose their connection to elected officials and the potential influence that connection affords.

Where activists choose to put their weight has to do with where they feel comfortable on this moving platform, their personality, their access to wealth and their access to free time. Each seeks a place that provides leverage with the variables that accompany his or her station in life. Clearly, if every moderate/progressive moved toward their leverage-left extreme, the center would lean quickly in the direction of where the weight is.

That is not what is happening today. Instead, a vast number of people are inching their way in the Left’s direction, moving the center in the direction of change. There is an understanding that the corporate elite so successfully threw their weight to the extreme edge of the right side of the teeter-totter that the gilded age arrived with no announcement or suggestion that things had changed. Controlling media has that benefit. It’s now slowly becoming clear to the status quo that the war, the redistribution of wealth and the de-democratization of society are closely related.

Forces greasing the teeter-totter platform compelling this slide in the direction of change are the web and communications technology. We are witnessing society on a subtle yet pervasive slide in a left direction as individuals experience themselves empowered by the transparent, communication-enhancing, diversity-inducing features of the web. Weight makes a difference when exerting change. So does friction. By making it effortless to slide to the left, technology is encouraging change.

The greased board is inclining in the left direction.

The steeper the incline, the faster the center will slide.

Wind

September 14, 2008 | Leave a Comment

Category: Ouroboros, Unconscious

Watching the wind stir leaves and branches as it flows around and through the trees, I often wonder what conclusions we could come to if we could not feel the wind.  It would be clear that something was influencing the movement.  We might conclude that all the leaves and limbs somehow know to respond together, motivated by an identical impulse.  Because branches have no muscles, we would posit that a force was in play that we could not see or feel.

It is impolitic among academics to suggest that evolution evidences an awareness that connects and encourages the existence and behaviors of species across the planet.  We still suffer the repercussions of an interventionist deity that demands that society conform to his alpha male point of view.  We’re throwing out the messiah baby with the Abrahamic bathwater, not having stopped to notice the baby is a girl.  We’re committing female deity infanticide.  All to make absolutely sure that myth and science don’t mix.  Reasonable.  Beside the point.  There are the Eastern myth-less studies of awareness.

Imagine that awareness informs biological, societal and personal evolution.  The paradox I come back to is how is it that evolution unfolds in a manner that suggests chance or happenstance while at the same time we experience evidence of awareness?  This paradox is a biological variation of the individual within society facing the conundrum of free will vs. fate.  Biological chance vs. awareness.  Individual free will vs. fate.  Two riddles that demand that a choice be made.  How can both be true?

In science, an anomaly is the clue and, with time, the doorway to the next paradigm.  A paradox, such as free will vs. fate, is the societal version of an anomaly.  Paradox provides a clue to where a synthesis or alternative paradigm is hidden.  Wind would be a mystery to us, except we feel its touch.  Without a sense of touch, we’d have no clue.  Clearly, grounded sensibilities can offer anomaly or paradox resolution.

An answer can be a sense or perception.  An answer does not have to be in words.

Indeed, the ancestor of all senses is touch/feel.  As in everything else, there is a sequence in an evolution of the senses that may inform an understanding of where we want to go.  Another Ouroboros is emerging as we turn to the first sense, the sense of touch, to suggest a guide to simultaneous experience, associative understanding and a bridge to an awareness that transcends paradoxes.

Feeling has no imagination.  Touch is not two places at once.  This first sense completes the cycle to the sixth sense.  Feeling and awareness meet up in the ever-present now.

To understand the wind, we must be able to feel.  To solve the riddle of conflicting chance and awareness, we can be aware.  Free will and fate are both a fiction.  They both rely upon the future.  In the present, the future fades.  In the present is our body.

Home, in our bodies, the contradictions disappear.  Feel the winds of change.  They lead us home.