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Overview of Human Existence Series

Written by dade on . Posted in Books

This site showcases a series of books about the organizational realities of human existence, or the ‘societies’ humans have, have had, and could have in the future. This book series explains how the realities of human existence came to be as they are at this point in history; it explains other ways of organizing human existence, and shows how to change structures that make up our current modes of existence to other structures, if we should wish to do this.

 

Forensic History

 

The book first in the series is ‘Forensic History.’

History is undergoing a revolution.

Each day that passes, new technologies give us new information about the events that shaped the realities of human existence and put the human race where it is now. We are learning that much of what has been taught as ‘history’ for centuries is incorrect. In many cases, people in the past distorted the accounts of history they were telling and then taught these distorted accounts to children as facts. They embellished and altered their depictions of certain events so much that people who were actually there would almost certainly not recognize the events as the same ones they experienced. They left out, ignored, hid, and disguised many of the most critical events of human history—often banning any books or other disclosure of this information under threat of the harshest penalties imaginable—and then tried to make future generations believe that these events never took place.

Now, we can know the truth.

In the past few years, we have gained easy and ready access to immense quantities of historical records, first person descriptions, diaries, personal letters, official accounts, and other actual evidence of events. Due to new technologies, we now have access to the actual records of the events and first-person accounts that tell us what actually happened. People have scanned billions of such documents onto public archives of the internet. Although this information has existed ever since the documents were first created, people who wanted to access the information couldn’t get it, in part because they wouldn’t have any way to even know that these documents existed, and in part because they would not have been allowed to look at the documents even if they knew they existed and where they were.

Due to text recognition and automated translation software, people of all languages can get information that was first written in other languages, including obscure languages that are not spoken anymore. Supercomputers belonging to Google, Microsoft, Baidu and other global corporations work 24 hours a day to index and cross reference all of the text of all of these documents so that anyone who knows any relevant facts or any combination of words in the documents can find them within microseconds of entering their search terms. Once people find the information, they can follow links to scans of the originals and can verify their authenticity personally.

This is a new experience for the human race: Now, everyone can access information that, only a few years ago, would not have been available to anyone, no matter how well-connected they happened to be.

We are seeing a similar revolution in the sciences that can help us understand our past. Only very recently, people had to simply guess about the ages of artifacts discovered in historical sites. Historians had to make sure their estimates conformed to the standard beliefs they inherited from people in the past (like the belief that nothing in existence is more than 6,000 years old) or they would not have any hope of anyone accepting them. Through centuries of analysis, people put together depictions of history based on these beliefs. We had to accept their information: we had no way to tell they were wrong.

Now, science can tell us exactly how old most artifacts are. We can now see that the claims made by people in the past were so off point that it is hard to take anything they concluded from their analysis seriously.

Only very recently, historians claimed no one would ever know or could ever know the age of the Earth, the ages of the stars, the time that life came to exist on Earth, and the time that humans first appeared on the world. Now, scientists have tools that can provide totally objective information about all these things.

New machines like DNA sequencers are being used to verify claims that have been made by non-establishment historians for very long periods of time about the great antiquity of life on Earth and the human race, but which were never accepted by people in the mainstream and were forbidden to be taught to children in schools. We know now that the human race is far, far older than previous views. We can use DNA markers to trace habitation and migration patterns that took place in times that, until recently, were thought to have been long before ‘the beginning of time.’ By sequencing the DNA on bits of food residue left on ancient cooking implements, scientists can now tell us what people had for dinner more than 10,000 years ago; they can determine how these foods were grown (many of the plants did not grow in nature and must have been cultivated), and how many generations removed they are from plants that nature produces. New technologies are allowing us to reconstruct events that had important impacts on the development of important realities of existence that took place long, long before the former historians claimed that ‘history’ even began.

Forensic History deals with history from a new perspective.

The old perspective required that people make their stories about what happened in the past match the belief sets that people had inherited from past generations.

For the past 525 years, conquerors (the victors in wars, who are the ones who write history) have promulgated a belief about ongoing events called ‘manifest destiny:’ This principle holds that a higher power has a destiny in mind for the world and is manifesting this destiny by organizing the events that take place here on Earth to move us closer to this desired destiny each year that passes.

To make history conform to this belief set, historians must accept that every successful genocide event was a good thing, eliminating races that the higher power wanted to be gone, that every war fought in history was for a good cause and won by the races, cultures, and nationalities of people that the higher power wanted to dominate that part of the world. In other words, each war and destructive event that takes place is the best possible thing that could happen and we only move closer and closer to a perfect existence with each new experience.

Many of these belief sets were designed to rationalize or hide activities that can only be called atrocities (see sidebar for more information). Other beliefs sets—like the belief that the entire universe was created in 6 days and that female humans were made from the ribs of males—were entirely inconsistent with virtually unlimited quantities of objective and scientific evidence.

We now have objective information that can confirm how history really progressed and show that the distortions of these events were truly massive.

We need to know the real story: If we, the members of the human race, want to move toward a better future, we have to have some idea of past events that got us to this particular point in time. How can we expect to understand our options for the future if we refuse to be realistic and objective about the past? How can we hope to build a better world if we base our analysis of our current world on fairy tales?

To have a solid foundation, we need more information than just the stories of the victors of battles between nations. This is just a tiny piece of the whole picture of our past as a species.

We need to know how long humans have been on this planet so we can understand how much human history exists. We must understand how people organized their existence in the early period and what, exactly, has changed over time. We need to know when the entities called ‘nations’ first came to exist (they were not always here), and why they were created. We need to know how the origin of the belief that parts of planets within certain imaginary lines can belong absolutely and entirely to the entities we call ‘nations,’ as this belief is one of the main causes of the events that hold the greatest likelihood of destroying our race and world, wars. We need to know what we can change (if it came from people, people can change it) and what we cannot change, and go from there.

All of the versions of history that conform to standard belief sets I could find essenitally claim all the basic realities of our existence came to exist by magic: a being or beings with superpowers created the planet, the universe around it, all animals and plants, and then the human race. The superbeing(s) then created the entities we call ‘nations,’ granted rights to everything inside these nations to certain groups of people, and then (in versions of history accepted by the largest religions in the world) created wars and made the rule that ‘winners’ in wars would ‘own’ the land they conquered in the wars.

Saying ‘it’s all magic’ is another way of saying ‘I don’t know and I don’t want to go to any effort to think about it anymore.’ These explanations provide no objective information the human race can use to move toward a better future.

If we ever want to live any other way—or ‘organize our existence’ any other way—than we do now, we will need this information. We can’t get this information from the conventional versions of history (see sidebar for more information).

But we can get it from the evidence that the amazing new technologies that are only now making available, and other forensic evidence that is now at our disposal.

 

The term ‘forensic’ comes from the Latin forensis, meaning ‘in open court.’ Forensic evidence is defined as evidence that is considered to be unbiased as a result of analysis of possible kinds of evidence in courtrooms for thousands of years. Although standards are different in different jurisdictions, as a general rule, courts accept data from technical sciences that can give us statistical probabilities, they accept person accounts, official documents and records, and versions of past events reconstructed from physical evidence. Forensic History focuses on evidence that falls into these categories.

 

If we examine history from a forensic perspective, we can clearly see that the human era in history is far longer and richer than would be implied by the versions of history we were told in school. Humans have been on this Earth longer and done much more than the non-forensic histories claim.

This is good news: If we have done more than people in the past have accepted, this means that we are capable of more than people in the past have accepted. Perhaps some of the hopelessness we see around us is not justified. Perhaps humans have the capability to overcome the obstacles we now face and move to a new future after all. As you will see, an objective version of history gives us a great deal of hope for our future, by showing that we have accomplished a great deal in the past.

 

Possible Societies

 

The second book in the series, Possible Societies, deals with the options the human race has going forward.

If we know what we have done in the past we will have a very good start in understanding what we can do in the future. Although past events provide a great deal of help in understanding our capabilities, one one does not ONLY have to look to the past to see the incredible capabilities of the human race: Look at recently-developed technologies, including those that allow people to work together effectively as never before. Taking information about what we have done in the past together with new knowledge (including emerging sustainable technologies) we see that the possibilities ARE actually endless.

Our ancestors decided to organize their existence around certain principles. (Most important: the division of the planet into ‘nations’ which are claimed to have ‘sovereignty’ over parts of the world and have both the right and obligation to defend this claimed ‘sovereignty’ as if it were the most important reality of existence. Forensic History deals with the way these principles developed in detail.)

What if we—the descendents of the ones who created this system—want something else?

What other options exist?

What are the various different ways to organize the realities of existence for thinking beings with physical needs (a class humans fall into)? If there are many options, which of them are within the capabilities of the specific ‘thinking beings with physical needs’ we have here on Earth (humans)?

What is the true potentials of the human race?

To really understand this, we need to widen our perspective a little. Consider this:

At one time, people thought the Earth was the center of the universe and the only world of any kind there was. Only about 400 years ago, renegade scientists used telescopes to determine that we actually live in a ‘solar system’ and the Earth is not the only ‘world’ in this solar system, but one of many ‘planets,’ some of which were considerably larger than the Earth.

When people gain access to information that reveals a new worldview, eventually the worldview of society as a whole changes and we are able to build more on this foundation. Now that our worldview of history is changing in ways that are becoming more and more undeniable, the foundation for society IS shifting.

Worldviews have changed profoundly in the past, and it is NOT AT ALL beyond the realm of possibility for them to change in a profound way again moving foreword.

In the last few years, scientists have taken advantage of new technology to discover of thousands of additional ‘worlds’ or ‘exoplanets’ that are extremely far away from us. By analyzing the stars and the planets they support, they could determine that, if the rest of the universe was like the part close to us, there would have to be many trillions of other ‘worlds’ in the part of the universe we can see from Earth, and many billions of these other worlds would have to be in the same general category as Earth, and be capable of supporting life in the form it takes on this planet. Perhaps the same factors that led to humans existing on Earth caused beings with human-like characteristics to exist on other worlds.

How might these other intelligent beings have organized their existence? What kinds of ‘societies’ might they have? Do you think they ALL organize their existence exactly as we do here on Earth? Or might at least some of them have organized their existence differently? Do you think they ALL divide their worlds into entities similar to the entities we call ‘nations’ with imaginary lines called ‘borders’ and then build weapons with the capability of destroying the planet for the purpose of moving or preventing the movement of these imaginary lines? Do they ALL have massive military industrial complexes to support the war machines of any ‘nations’ or ‘nation-like’ entities they have? Do ALL of the planets with intelligent life organize their world in ways that make them want to increase the number of ‘jobs’ there are in production, and therefore increase the amount of work required to meet their needs? (The societies we live in are dependent on jobs to distribute wealth to the great majority of the people, so they need jobs and people in governments work hard to create jobs, to the point of subsidizing destruction, creating tensions that can drive up employment in the military industry, and even starting wars to ‘put people to work.’ Do you think that some intelligent beings might prefer to organize their existence so they have more good things to make life better for them, rather than actually destroying value when necessary to keep their people working?) Do you think they all divide the people of their world into ‘classes’ and give different classes different rights?

What if they don’t ALL organize the realities of their existence this way?

What if there is one group of intelligent beings somewhere in the universe that organizes its existence—or has organized its existence in the past—differently than humans organize their existence today?

If this is true, then we will know there are other ways for intelligent beings with physical needs (a class humans fall into) to organize their existence.

Once we know it is possible to organize our existence different ways, the next step is to figure out how many options there are. How many different ways can intelligent beings with physical needs organize the realities of their existence? In other words, how many different categories of ‘societies’ are possible?

The second book in the series, Possible Societies, deals with this issue.

It explains that there are two different things we can vary about the way we organize our existence:

 

1. We can change the way we interact with physical realities such as the world we live on

2. We can change the way we interact with each other.

 

These are the variables we can control. As you will see, there is a range with limits for both variables, so we can lay them out in a logical way that makes sense. Since we are organizing two variables, we can make use of a chart or map to lay out all of the different ways the human race can organize the important realities of its existence. We can then examine and compare the different options to each other, using mathematical tools that come from analysis of charted variables. If we have a chart, and we know where the societies that have existed in the past are in this chart, we can see exactly where in the range the human race has been throughout its history, and were we are now. We can also see how far we are from other options that have never existed but are possible, and how much work we would have to do to move to these other options, if we wanted to try them.

As you will see, the option that our ancestors chose is one of the most destructive ways to organize existence within the capabilities of thinking beings with physical needs. It works in ways that send massive amounts of wealth to people who contribute to the most harmful activity within the capability of intelligent beings, the organized orgies of mass murder and destruction called ‘war.’ It also works in ways that allow people to get extremely rich harming the world that we depend on to give us life. Possible Societies shows that not all possible societies thinking beings can form send wealth to people who do things that harm the world and people on it. You will see that a great many of the options have a great deal in common with the systems we were born into (in other words, they work more or less the same way and people familiar with the societies that now exist would be able to understand and function easily in these other systems) but they do not have the destructive characteristics that are an inherent part of the type of societies that now dominate the planet Earth.

If we understand the structural differences between these different options, we will know what exactly what we must change if we want to move from the societies that were already in place when the current generation of humans were born to some other kind of societies. The second book in the series provides this information.

 

GameChanger (A Practical Guide To Changing The Realties Of Existence Here On Earth)

 

What if we want change?

What if we understand that other modes of existence or ‘societies’ are possible; we understand how these other modes of existence work, and we want to begin a transition to something else?

How, exactly, would we proceed?

It is easy to get overwhelmed by the thought of trying to changing the world. There are so many horrible things going on around us. It is easy to get emotional, angry, to want to harm to others, to want to tear everything down and make the people who contribute to the problems pay. in fact, it is easy to get to the point where we start to feel hopeless to even think about it, and try to turn off our minds whenever any such thoughts come up.

This kind of mindset does not help solve problems of a technical nature. People who are highly emotional or prone to hopelessness are not very good at solving technical problems.

As we will see, if we can solve certain technical problems, we have a very clear and rather simple path to transitions to societies that can meet the needs of the human race for a very long time into the future. We can solve these technical problems much more effectively if we can create a mindset that allows us to have some emotional distance and considers solving the problems to be a challenge that we will want to succeed at (rather than pretend does not exist to keep our minds from having to contemplate the consequences of failure). GameChanger is designed to help create the necessary metal perspective: If we are afraid to think about the issue, we will never move foreword; if we are anxious to think about it—because we think of it as a challenging puzzle—and devote enough time to the effort, we easily have the ability to solve it.

The third book, GameChanger, explains a perspective that can help us understand effective, practical, non-traumatic ways to do this.

You could think of the realities of the societies we were born into as a kind of ‘game in progress.’ This ‘game’ involves having groups of people divide into teams called ‘nations’ and then using the wealth of each nation to try to defend that nation’s claim to total rights to the part of the world inside of certain imaginary lines, and, if possible, move those imaginary lines outward so that more of the game board is within the lines of that ‘nation.’ This game uses scoring chits that are little pieces of paper with numbers on them called ‘money.’ People who play the game well get a lot of these chits and people who organize for the primary activities of this game (wars) can get immense quantities of these chits together with control of resources that produce immense flows of additional scoring chits.

People can exchange these scoring chits for good things, including food and other necessities of life. People who were born to parents who didn’t already have a large number of these game chits to pass down to them have no way to get food and other necessities without getting some of these chits and the only way most people can get them is by playing the game. They have to play or die.

If we look at the world this way—as if it is a game—we can see that the idea of changing the way human existence works is a kind of game strategy. They way the game is now, it is clearly unwinnable: within a few centuries (and perhaps sooner) the realities of the game play will destroy the board and everything on it. But we don’t have to sit back and wait for this. One strategy that people use in games that appear to be unwinnable is to change the game to make it winnable.

This is not going to be easy. We are trying to figure out how to change the rules of a game while the game is in progress and while billions of people are being forced to play the game just to stay alive.

This is a very difficult puzzle to solve.

But it does have solutions.

GameChanger considers the idea of changing the practical realities of human existence given these constraints. You will already realize (from reading Forensic History) that we have considerable tools and capabilities to make this reality. You will also realize (from reading Possible Societies) that we don’t have to change everything, we just have to alter the specific realities that differ between the ‘societies we were born into’ and the ‘societies we wish to leave for future generations.’

Once we look at the options, we can examine the mathematical likelihood of succeeding in changing the game before we run out of time. As you will see, there are some strategies that give us an extremely high likelihood of changing the game before it is too late.

 

We really are capable of more than we have yet achieved.

We can do better.

We are the dominant species on this world. If we want to change the realities of our existence, no other species (at least none that we can detect with our senses or scientific instruments) can stop us. Our destiny is in our hands.

Darwin: Origin of Species

Written by dade on . Posted in Essential books about society

THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES
BY CHARLES DARWIN

INTRODUCTION

When on board H.M.S. ‘Beagle,’ as naturalist, I was much struck with certain facts in the distribution of the organic beings inhabiting South America, and in the geological relations of the present to the past inhabitants of that continent. These facts, as will be seen in the latter chapters of this volume, seemed to throw some light on the origin of species — that mystery of mysteries, as it has been called by one of our greatest philosophers. On my return home, it occurred to me, in 1837, that something might perhaps be made out on this question by patiently accumulating and reflecting on all sorts of facts which could possibly have any bearing on it. After five years’ work I allowed myself to speculate on the subject, and drew up some short notes; these I enlarged in 1844 into a sketch of the conclusions, which then seemed to me probable; from that period to the present day I have steadily pursued the same object. I hope that I may be excused for entering on these personal details, as I give them to show that I have not been hasty in coming to a decision.

My work is now (1859) nearly finished; but as it will take me many more years to complete it, and as my health is far from strong, I have been urged to publish this Abstract. I have more especially been induced to do this, as Mr. Wallace, who is now studying the natural history of the Malay archipelago, has arrived at almost exactly the same general conclusions that I have on the origin of species. In 1858 he sent me a memoir on this subject, with a request that I would forward it to Sir Charles Lyell, who sent it to the Linnean Society, and it is published in the third volume of the Journal of that Society. Sir C. Lyell and Dr. Hooker, who both knew of my work— the latter having read my sketch of 1844 — honoured me by thinking it advisable to publish, with Mr. Wallace’s excellent memoir, some brief extracts from my manuscripts.

This Abstract, which I now publish, must necessarily be imperfect. I cannot here give references and authorities for my several statements ; and I must trust to the reader reposing some confidence in my accuracy. No doubt errors will have crept in. though I hope I have always been cautious in trusting to good authorities alone. I can here give only the general conclusions at which I have arrived, with a few facts in illustration, but which, I hope, in most cases will suffice. No one can feel more sensible than I do of the necessity of hereafter publishing in detail all the facts, with references, on which my conclusions have been grounded; and I hope in a future work to do this. For I am well aware that scarcely a single point is discussed in this volume on which facts cannot be adduced, often apparently leading to conclusions directly opposite to those at which I have arrived. A fair result can be obtained only by fully stating and balancing the facts and arguments on both sides of each question; and this is here impossible.

I much regret that want of space prevents my having the satisfaction of acknowledging the generous assistance which I have received from very many naturalists, some of them personally unknown to me. I cannot, however, let this opportunity pass without expressing my deep obligations to Dr. Hooker, who, for the last fifteen years, has aided me in every possible way by his large stores of knowledge and his excellent judgment.

In considering the Origin of Species, it is quite conceivable that a naturalist, reflecting on the mutual affinities of organic beings, on their embryological relations, their geographical distribution, geological succession, and other such facts, might come to the conclusion that species have not been independently created, but had descended, like varieties, from other species. Nevertheless, such a conclusion, even if well founded, would be unsatisfactory, until it could be shown how the innumerable species inhabiting this world have been modified, so as to acquire that perfection of structure and co adaptation which justly excites our admiration. Naturalists continually refer to external conditions, such as climate, food, etc., as the only possible cause of variation. In one limited sense, as we shall hereafter see, this may be true; but it is preposterous to attribute to mere external conditions, the structure, for instance, of the woodpecker, with its feet, tail, beak, and tongue, so admirably adapted to catch insects under the bark of trees. In the case of the mistletoe, which draws its nourishment from certain trees, which has seeds that must be transported by certain birds, and which has flowers with separate sexes absolutely requiring the agency of certain insects to bring pollen from one flower to the other, it is equally preposterous to account for the structure of this parasite, with its relations to several distinct organic beings, by the effects of external conditions, or of habit, or of the volition of the plant itself.

It is, therefore, of the highest importance to gain a clear insight into the means of modification and co adaptation. At the commencement of my observations it seemed to me probable that a careful study of domesticated animals and of cultivated plants would offer the best chance of making out this obscure problem. Nor have I been disappointed ; in this and in all other perplexing cases I have invariably found that our knowledge, imperfect though it be, of variation under domestication, afforded the best and safest clue. I may venture to express my conviction of the high value of such studies, although they have been very commonly neglected by naturalists.

From these considerations, I shall devote the first chapter of this Abstract to Variation under Domestication. We shall thus see that a large amount of hereditary modification is at least possible; and, what is equally or more important, we shall see how great is the power of man in accumulating by his Selection successive slight variations. I will then pass on the variability of species in a state of nature; but I shall, unfortunately, be compelled to treat this subject far too briefly, as it can be treated properly only by giving long catalogues of facts. We shall, however, be enabled to discuss what circumstances are most favourable to variation. In the next chapter the Struggle for Existence amongst all organic beings throughout the world, which inevitably follows from the high geometrical ratio of their increase, will be considered. This is the doctrine of Malthus, applied to the whole animal and vegetable kingdoms. As many more individuals of each species are born than can possibly survive; and as, consequently, there is a frequently recurrent struggle for existence, it follows that any being, if it vary however slightly in any manner profitable to itself, under the complex and sometimes varying conditions of life, will have a better chance of surviving, and thus be naturally selected. From the strong principle of inheritance, any selected variety will tend to propagate its new and modified form.

This fundamental subject of Natural Selection will be treated at some length in the fourth chapter; and we shall then see how Natural Selection almost inevitably causes much Extinction of the less improved forms of life, and leads to what I have called Divergence of Character. In the next chapter I shall discuss the complex and little known laws of variation. In the five succeeding chapters, the most apparent and gravest difficulties in accepting the theory will be given : namely, first, the difficulties of transitions, or how a simple being or a simple organ can be changed and perfected into a highly developed being or into an elaborately constructed organ; secondly, the subject of Instinct, or the mental powers of animals ; thirdly. Hybridism, or the infertility of species and the fertility of varieties when intercrossed ; and fourthly, the imperfection of the Geological Record. In the next chapter I shall consider the geological succession of organic beings throughout time; in the twelfth and thirteenth, their geographical distribution throughout space ; in the fourteenth, their classification or mutual affinities, both when mature and in an embryonic condition. In the last chapter I shall give a brief recapitulation of the whole work, and a few concluding remarks.

No one ought to feel surprise at much remaining as yet unexplained in regard to the origin of species and varieties, if he make due allowance for our profound ignorance in regard to the mutual relations of the many beings which live around us. Who can explain why one species ranges widely and is very numerous, and why another allied species has a narrow range and is rare? Yet these relations are of the highest importance, for they determine the present welfare, and, as I believe, the future success and modification of every inhabitant of this world. Still less do we know of the mutual relations of the innumerable inhabitants of the world during the many past geological epochs in its history. Although much remains obscure, and will long remain obscure, I can entertain no doubt, after the most deliberate study and dispassionate judgment of which I am capable, that the view which most naturalists until recently entertained, and which I formerly entertained — namely, that each species has been independently created — is erroneous. I am fully convinced that species are not immutable ; but that those belonging to what are called the same genera are lineal descendants of some other and generally extinct species, in the same manner as the acknowledged varieties of any one species are the descendants of that species. Furthermore, I am convinced that Natural Selection has been the most important, but not the exclusive, means of modification.

CHAPTER I Variation under Domestication

Causes of variability — Effects of habit and the use or disuse of parts—Correlated variation — Inheritance — Character of domestic varieties — Difficulty of distinguishing between varieties and species — Origin of domestic varieties from one or more species — Domestic pigeons, their differences and origin — Principles of selection, anciently followed, their effects — Methodical and unconscious selection — Unknown origin of our domestic productions — Circumstances favourable to man’s power of selection

CAUSES OF VARIABILITY

WHEN we compare the individuals of the same variety or sub-variety of our older cultivated plants and animals, one of the first points which strikes us is, that they generally differ more from each other than do the individuals of any one species or variety in a state of nature. And if we reflect on the vast diversity of the plants and animals which have been cultivated, and which have varied during all ages under the most different climates and treatment, we are driven to conclude that this great variability is due to our domestic productions having been raised under conditions of life not so uniform as, and somewhat different from, those to which the parent species had been exposed under nature. There is, also, some probability in the view propounded by Andrew Knight, that this variability may be partly connected with excess of food. It seems clear that organic beings must be exposed during several generations to new conditions to cause any great amount of variation; and that, when the organisation has once begun to vary, it generally continues varying for many generations. No case is on record of a variable organism ceasing to vary under cultivation. Our oldest cultivated plants, such as wheat, still yield new varieties : our oldest domesticated animals are still capable of rapid improvement or modification.

As far as I am able to judge, after long attending to the subject, the conditions of life appear to act in two ways, — • directly on the whole organisation or on certain parts alone, and indirectly by affecting the reproductive system. With respect to the direct action, we must bear in mind that in every case, as Professor Weismann has lately insisted, and as I have incidentally shown in my work on ‘Variation under Domestication,’ there are two factors; namely, the nature of the organism, and the nature of the conditions. The former seems to be much the more important; for nearly similar variations sometimes arise under, as far as we can judge, dissimilar conditions; and, on the other hand, dissimilar variations arise under conditions which appear to be nearly uniform. The effects on the offspring are either definite or indefinite. They may be considered as definite when all or nearly all the offspring of individuals exposed to certain conditions during several generations are modified in the same manner. It is extremely difficult to come to any conclusion in regard to the extent of the changes which have been thus definitely induced. There can, however, be little doubt about many slight changes, — such as size from the amount of food, colour from the nature of the food, thickness of the skin and hair from climate, etc. Each of the endless variations which we see in the plumage of our fowls must have had some efficient cause; and if the same cause were to act uniformly}’^ during a long series of generations on many individuals, all probably would be modified in the same manner. Such facts as the complex and extraordinary out-growths which variably follow from the insertion of a minute drop of poison by a gall-producing insect, show us what singular modifications might result in the case of plants from a chemical change in the nature of the sap.

Indefinite variability is a much more common result of changed conditions than definite variability, and has probably played a more important part in the formation of our domestic races. We see indefinite variability in the endless slight peculiarities which distinguish the individuals of the same species, and which cannot be accounted for by inheritance from either parent or from some more remote ancestor. Even strongly-marked differences occasionally appear in the young of the same litter, and in seedlings from the same seed capsule. At long intervals of time, out of millions of individuals reared in the same country and fed on nearly the same food, deviations of structure so strongly pronounced as to deserve to be called monstrosities arise; but monstrosities cannot be separated by any distinct line from slighter variations. All such changes of structure, whether extremely slight or strongly marked, which appear amongst many individuals living together, may be considered as the indefinite effects of the conditions of life on each individual organism, in nearly the same manner as the chill affects different men in an indefinite manner, according to their state of body or constitution, causing coughs or colds, rheumatism, or inflammation of various organs.

With respect to what I have called the indirect action of changed conditions, namely, through the reproductive system of being affected, we may infer that variability is thus induced, partly from the fact of this system being extremely sensitive to any change in the conditions, and partly from the similarity, as Kolreuter and others have remarked, between the variability which follows from the crossing of distinct species, and that which may be observed with plants and animals when reared under new or unnatural conditions. Many facts clearly show how eminently susceptible the reproductive system is to very slight changes in the surrounding conditions. Nothing is more easy than to tame an animal, and few things more difficult than to get it to breed freely under confinement, even when the male and female unite. How many animals there are which will not breed, though kept in an almost free state in their native country ! This is generally, but erroneously, attributed to vitiated instincts. Many cultivated plants display the utmost vigour, and yet rarely or never seed ! In some few cases it has been discovered that a very trifling change, such as a little more or less water at some particular period of growth, will determine whether or not a plant will produce seeds. I cannot here give the details which I have collected and elsewhere published on this curious subject; but to show how singular the laws are which determine their reproduction of animals under confinement, I may mention that carnivorous animals, even from the tropics, breed in this country pretty freely under confinement, with the exception of the plant grades or bear family, which seldom produce young; whereas carnivorous birds, with the rarest exceptions, hardly ever lay fertile eggs. Many exotic plants have pollen utterly worthless, in the same condition as in the most sterile hybrids. When, on the one hand, we see domesticated animals and plants, though often weak and sickly, breeding freely under confinement; and when, on the other hand, we see individuals, though taken young from a state of nature perfectly tamed, long-lived and healthy (of which I could give numerous instances), yet, having their reproductive system so seriously affected by unperceived causes as to fail to act, we need not be surprised at this system, when it does act under confinement, acting irregularly, and producing offspring somewhat unlike their parents. I may add, that as some organisms breed freely under the most unnatural conditions (for instance, rabbits and ferrets kept in hutches), showing that their reproductive organs are not easily affected ; so will some animals and plants withstand domestication or cultivation, and vary very slightly — perhaps hardly more than in a state of nature.

Some naturalists have maintained that all variations are connected with the act of sexual reproduction; but this is certainly an error; for I have given in another work a long list of "sporting plants," as they are called by gardeners; — that is, of plants which have suddenly produced a single bud with a new and sometimes widely different character from that of the other buds on the same plant. These bud-variations, as they may be named, can be propagated by grafts, offsets, etc., and sometimes by seed. They occur rarely under nature, but are far from rare under culture. As a single bud out of the many thousands, produced year after year on the same tree under uniform conditions, has been known suddenly to assume a new character ; and as buds on distinct trees, growing under different conditions, have sometimes yielded nearly the same variety — for instance, buds on peach-trees producing nectarines, and buds on common roses producing moss-roses — we clearly see that the nature of the condition is of subordinate importance in comparison with the nature of the organism in determining each particular form of variation — perhaps of not more importance than the nature of the spark, by which a mass of combustible matter is ignited, has in determining the nature of the flames.

EFFECTS OF HABIT AND OF THE USE OR DISUSE OF PARTS; CORRELATED VARIATION; INHERITANCE

Changed habits produce an inherited effect, as in the period of the flowering of plants when transported from one climate to another. With animals the increased use or disuse of parts has had a more marked influence; thus I find in the domestic duck that the bones of the wing weigh less and the bones of the leg more, in proportion to the whole skeleton, than do the same bones in the wild duck; and this change may be safely attributed to the domestic duck flying much less, and walking more, than its wild parents. The great and inherited development of the udders in cows and goats in countries where they are habitually milked, in comparison with these organs in other countries, is probably another instance of the effects of use. Not one of our domestic animals can be named which has not in some country drooping ears ; and the view which has been suggested that the drooping is due to disuse of the muscles of the ear, from the animals being seldom much alarmed, seems probable.

Many laws regulate variation, some few of which can be dimly seen, and will hereafter be briefly discussed. I will here only allude to what may be called correlated variation. Important changes in the embryo or larva will probably entail changes in the mature animal. In monstrosities, the correlations between quite distinct parts are very curious; and many instances are given in Isidore Geoff roy St. Hilaire’s great work on this subject. Breeders believe that long limbs are almost always accompanied by an elongated head. Some instances of correlation are quite whimsical : thus cats which are entirely white and have blue eyes are generally deaf ; but it has been lately stated by Mr. Tait that this is confined to the males. Colour and constitutional peculiarities go together, of which many remarkable cases could be given amongst animals and plants. From facts collected by Heusinger, it appears that white sheep and pigs are injured by certain plants, whilst dark-coloured individuals escape : Professor Wyman has recently communicated to me a good illustration of this fact; on asking some farmers in Virginia how it was that all their pigs were black, they informed him that the pigs ate the paint-root (Lachnanthes), which colored their bones pink, and which caused the hoofs of all but the black varieties to drop off; and one of the "crackers" (i.e. Virginia squatters) added, "we select the black members of a litter for raising, as they alone have a good chance of living.” Hairless dogs have imperfect teeth ; long-haired and coarse-haired animals are apt to have, as is asserted, long or many horns ; pigeons with feathered feet have skin between their outer toes ; pigeons with short beaks have small feet, and those with long beaks large feet. Hence if man goes on selecting, and thus augmenting, any peculiarity, he will almost certainly modify unintentionally other parts of the structure, owing to the mysterious laws of correlation.

The results of the various, unknown, or but dimly understood laws of variation are infinitely complex and diversified. It is well worth while carefully to study the several treatises on some of our old cultivated plants, as on the hyacinth, potato, even the dahlia, etc. ; and it is really surprising to note the endless points of structure and constitution in which the varieties and sub-varieties differ slightly from each other. The whole organisation seems to have become plastic, and departs in a slight degree from that of the parental type.

Any variation which is not inherited is unimportant for us. But the number and diversity of inheritable deviations of structure, both those of slight and those of considerable physiological importance, are endless. Dr. Prosper Lucas’s treatise, in two large volumes, is the fullest and the best on this subject. No breeder doubts how strong is the tendency to inheritance; that like produces like is his fundamental belief: doubts have been thrown on this principle only by theoretical writers. When any deviation of structure often appears, and we see it in the father and child, we cannot tell whether it may not be due to the same cause having acted on both ; but when amongst individuals, apparently exposed to the same conditions, any very rare deviation, due to some extraordinary combination of circumstances, appears in the parent — say, once amongst several million individuals — and it reappears in the child, the mere doctrine of chances almost compels us to attribute its reappearance to inheritance. Every one must have heard of cases of albinism, prickly skin, hairy bodies, etc., appearing in several members of the same family. If strange and rare deviations of structure are really inherited, less strange and commoner deviations may be freely admitted to be inheritable. Perhaps the correct way of viewing the whole subject would be, to look at the inheritance of every character whatever as the rule, and non-inheritance as the anomaly.

The laws governing inheritance are for the most part unknown. No one can say why the same peculiarity in different individuals of the same species, or in different species, is sometimes inherited and sometimes not so; why the child often reverts in certain characters to its grandfather or grandmother or more remote ancestor; why a peculiarity is often transmitted from one sex to both sexes, or to one sex alone, more commonly but not exclusively to the like sex. It is a fact of some importance to us, that peculiarities appearing in the males of our domestic breeds are often transmitted, either exclusively or in a much greater degree, to the males alone. A much more important rule, which I think may be trusted, is that, at whatever period of life a peculiarity first appears, it tends to reappear in the offspring at a corresponding age, though sometimes earlier. In many cases this could not be otherwise ; thus the inherited peculiarities in the horns of cattle could appear only in the offspring when nearly mature ; peculiarities in the silkworm are known to appear at the corresponding caterpillar or cocoon stage. But hereditary diseases and some other facts make me believe that the rule has a wider extension, and that, when there is no apparent reason why a peculiarity should appear at any particular age, yet that it does tend to appear in the offspring at the same period at which it first appeared in the parent. I believe this rule to be of the highest importance in explaining the laws of embryology. These remarks are of course confined to the first appearance of the peculiarity, and not to the primary cause which may have acted on the ovules or on the male element; in nearly the same manner as the increased length of the horns in the offspring from a short-horned cow by a long-horned bull, though appearing late in life, is clearly due to the male element.

Having alluded to the subject of aversion, I may here refer to a statement often made by naturalists — namely, that our domestic varieties, when run wild, gradually but invariably revert in character to their aboriginal stocks. Hence it has been argued that no deductions can be drawn from domestic races to species in a state of nature. I have in vain endeavoured to discover on what decisive facts the above statement has so often and so boldly been made. There would be great difficulty in proving its truth : we may safely conclude that very many of the most strongly marked domestic varieties could not possibly live in a wild state. In many cases we do not know what the aboriginal stock M-as, and so could not tell whether or not nearly perfect reversion had ensued. It would be necessary, in order to prevent the effects of intercrossing, that only a single variety should have been turned loose in its new home. Nevertheless, as our varieties certainly do occasionally revert in some of their characters to ancestral forms, it seems to me not improbable that if we could succeed in naturalising, or were to cultivate, during many generations, the several races, for instance, of the cabbage, in very poor soil (in which case, however, some effect would have to be attributed to the definite action of the poor soil), that they would, to a large extent, or even wholly, revert to the wild aboriginal stock. Whether or not the experiment would succeed, is not of great importance for our line of argument; for by the experiment itself the conditions of life are changed. If it could be shown that our domestic varieties manifested a strong tendency to reversion, — that is, to lose their acquired characters, whilst kept under the same conditions, and whilst kept in a considerable body, so that free intercrossing might check, by blending together, any slight deviations in their structure, in such case, I grant that we could deduce nothing from domestic varieties in regard to species. But there is not a shadow of evidence in favour of this view : to assert that we could not breed our cartand race-horses, long and short-horned cattle, and poultry of various breeds, and esculent vegetables, for an unlimited number of generations, would be opposed to all experience.

Character Of Domestic Varieties; Difficulty Of Distinguishing Between Varieties And Species; Origin Of Domestic Varieties From One Or More Species

When we look to the hereditary varieties or races of our domestic animals and plants, and compare them with closely allied species, we generally perceive in each domestic race, as already remarked, less uniformity of character than in true species. Domestic races often have a somewhat monstrous character; by which I mean, that, although differing from each other, and from other species of the same genus, in several trifling respects, they often differ in an extreme degree in some one part, both when compared one with another, and more especially when compared with the species under nature to which they are nearest allied. With these exceptions (and with that of the perfect fertility of varieties when crossed, — a subject hereafter to be discussed), domestic races of the same species differ from each other in the same manner as do the closely allied species of the same genus in a state of nature, but the differences in most cases are less in degree. This must be admitted as true, for the domestic races of many animals and plants have been ranked by some competent judges as the descendants of aboriginally distinct species, and by other competent judges as mere varieties. If any well-marked distinction existed between a domestic race and a species, this source of doubt would not so perpetually recur. It has often been stated that domestic races do not differ from each other in characters of generic value. It can be shown that this statement is not correct; but naturalists differ much in determining what characters are of generic value; all such valuations being at present empirical. When it is explained how genera originate under nature, it will be seen that we have no right to expect often to find a generic amount of difference in our domesticated races.

In attempting to estimate the amount of structural difference between allied domestic races, we are soon involved in doubt, from not knowing whether they are descended from one or several parent species. This point, if it could be cleared up, would be interesting; if, for instance, it could be shown that the greyhound, bloodhound, terrier, spaniel, and bulldog, which we all know propagate their kind truly, were the offspring of any single species, then such facts would have great weight in making us doubt about the immutability of the many closely allied natural species — for instance, of the many foxes — inhabiting different quarters of the world. I do not believe, as we shall presently see, that the whole amount of difference between the several breeds of the dog has been produced under domestication ; I believe that a small part of the difference is due to their being descended from distinct species. In the case of strongly marked races of some other domesticated species, there is presumptive or even strong evidence, that all are descended from a single wild stock.

It has often been assumed that man has chosen for domestication animals and plants having an extraordinary inherent tendency to vary, and likewise to withstand diverse climates. I do not dispute that these capacities have added largely to the value of most of our domesticated productions; but how could a savage possibly know, when he first tamed an animal, whether it would vary in succeeding generations, and whether it would endure other climates? Has the little variability of the ass and goose, or the small power of endurance of warmth by the reindeer, or of cold by the common camel, prevented their domestication? I cannot doubt that if other animals and plants, equal in number to our domesticated productions, and belonging to equally diverse classes and countries, were taken from a state of nature, and could be made to breed for an equal number of generations under domestication, they would on an average vary as largely as the parent species of our existing domesticated productions have varied.

In the case of most of our anciently domesticated animals and plants, it is not possible to come to any definite conclusion, whether they are descended from one or several wild species. The argument mainly relied on by those who believe in the multiple origin of our domestic animals is, that we find in the most ancient times, on the monuments of Egypt, and in the lake-habitations of Switzerland, much diversity in the breeds; and that some of these ancient breeds closely resemble, or are even identical with, those still existing. But this only throws far backwards the history of civilisation, and shows that animals were domesticated at a much earlier period than has hitherto been supposed. The lake-inhabitants of Switzerland cultivated several kinds of wheat and barley, the pea, the poppy for oil, and flax; and they possessed several domesticated animals. They also carried on commerce with other nations. All this clearly shows, as Heer has remarked, that they had at this early age progressed considerably in civilisation ; and this again implies a long continued previous period of less advanced civilisation, during which the domesticated animals, kept by different tribes in different districts, might have varied and given rise to distinct races. Since the discovery of flint tools in the superficial formations of many parts of the world, all geologists believe that barbarian man existed at an enormously remote period and we know that at the present day there is hardly a tribe so barbarous, as not to have domesticated at least the dog.

The origin of most of our domestic animals will probably for ever remain vague. But I may here state, that, looking to the domestic dogs of the whole world. I have, after a laborious collection of all known facts, come to the conclusion that several wild species of Canidc’c have been tamed, and that their blood, in some cases mingled together, flows in the veins of our domestic breeds. In regard to sheep and goats I can form no decided opinion. From facts communicated to me by Mr. Blyth, on the habits, voice, constitution, and structure of the humped Indian cattle, it is almost certain that they are descended from a different aborigmal stock from our European cattle and some competent judges believe that these latter have had two or three wild progenitors, — whether or not these deserve to be called species. This conclusion, as well as that of the specific distinction between the humped and common cattle, may, indeed, be looked upon as established by the admirable researches of Professor Riitimeyer. With respect to horses, from reasons which I cannot here give, I am doubtfully inclined to believe, in opposition to several authors, that all the races belong to the same species. Having kept nearly all the English breeds of the fowl alive, having bred and crossed them, and examined their skeletons, it appears to me almost certain that all are the descendants of the wild Indian fowl, Gallus bankiva; and this is the conclusion of Mr. Blyth, and of others who have studied this bird in India. In regard to ducks, and rabbits, some breeds of which differ much from each other, the evidence is clear that they are all descended from the common wild duck and rabbit.

The doctrine of the origin of our several domestic races from several aboriginal stocks, has been carried to an absurd extreme by some authors. They believe that every race which breeds true, let the distinctive characters be ever so slight, has had its wild prototype. At this rate there must have existed at least a score of species of wild cattle, as many sheep, and several goats, in Europe alone, and several even within Great Britain. One author believes that there formerly existed eleven wild species of sheep peculiar to Great Britain ! When we bear in mind that Britain has now not one peculiar mammal, and France but few distinct from those of Germany, and so with Hungary. Spain, etc., but that each of these kingdoms possesses several peculiar breeds of cattle, sheep, etc., we must admit that many domestic breeds must have originated in Europe; from whence otherwise could they have been derived? So it is in India. Even in the case of the breeds of the domestic dog throughout the world, which I admit are descended from several wild species, it cannot be doubted that there has been an immense amount of inherited variation ; for who will believe that animals closely resembling the Italian greyhound, the blood hound, the bull-dog, pug-dog, or Blenheim spaniel, etc. — so unlike all wild Canidae — ever existed in a state of nature? It has often been loosely said that all our races of dogs have been produced by the crossing of a few aboriginal species ; but by crossing we can only get forms in some degree intermediate between their parents ; and if we account for our several domestic races by this process, we must admit the former existence of the most extreme forms, as the Italian greyhound, bloodhound, bull-dog, etc., in the wild state, IMoreover, the possibility of making distinct races by crossing has been greatly exaggerated. many cases are on record, showing that a race may be modified by occasional crosses, if aided by the careful selection of the individuals which present the desired character ; but to obtain a race intermediate between two quite distinct races, would be very difficult. Sir J, Sebright expressly experimented with this object and failed. The offspring from the first cross between two pure breeds is tolerably and sometimes (as I have found with pigeons) quite uniform in character, and everything seems simple enough ; but when these mongrels are crossed one with another for several generations, hardly two of them are alike, and then the difficulty of the task becomes manifest.

Breeds Of The Domestic Pigeon, Their Differences And Origin

Believing that it is always best to study some special group, I have, after deliberation, taken up domestic pigeons. I have kept every breed which I could purchase or obtain, and have been most kindly favoured with skins from several quarters of the world, more especially by the Hon. W. Elliot from India, and by the Hon. C. Murray from Persia. Many treatises in different languages have been published on pigeons, and some of them are very important, as being of considerable antiquity. I have associated with several eminent fanciers, and have been permitted to join two of the London Pigeon Clubs. The diversity of the breeds is something astonishing. Compare the English carrier and the short-faced tumbler, and see the wonderful difference in their beaks entailing corresponding differences in their skulls. The carrier, more especially the male bird, is also remarkable from the wonderful development of the carunculated skin about the head ; and this is accompanied by greatly elongated eyelids, very large external orifices to the nostrils, and a wide gape of mouth. The short faced tumbler has a beak in outline almost like that of a finch; and the common tumbler has the singular inherited habit of flying at a great height in a compact flock, and tumbling in the air head over heels. The runt is a bird of great size, with long massive beak and large feet; some of the sub-breeds of runts have very long necks, others very long wings and tails, others singularly short tails. The barb is allied to the carrier, but, instead of a long beak, has a very short and broad one. The pouter has a much elongated body, wings, and legs ; and its enormously developed crop, which it glories in inflating, may well excite astonishment and even laughter. The turbit has a short and conical beak, with a line of reversed feathers down the breast; and it has the habit of continually expanding, slightly, the upper part of the oesophagus. The Jacobin has the feathers so much raised along the back of the neck that they form a hood; and it has, proportionally to its size, elongated wing and tail feathers. The trumpeter and laugher, as their names express, utter a very different coo from the other breeds. The fantail has thirty or even forty tail-feathers, instead of twelve or fourteen — the normal number in all the members of the great pigeon family : these feathers are kept expanded, and are carried so erect, that in good birds the head and tail touch: the oil-gland is quite aborted. Several other less distinct breeds might be specified.

In the skeletons of the several breeds, the development of the bones of the face in length and breadth and curvature differs enormously. The shape, as well as the breadth and length of the ramus of the lower jaw, varies in a highly remarkable manner. The caudal and sacral vertebrae vary in number; as does the number of the ribs, together with their relative breadth and the presence of processes. The size and shape of the apertures in the sternum are highly variable; so is the degree of divergence and relative size of the two arms of the furcula. The proportional width of the gape of mouth, the proportional length of the eyelids, of the orifice of the nostrils, of the tongue (not always in strict correlation with the length of beak), the size of the crop and of the upper part of the oesophagus; the development and abortion of the oil-gland; the number of the primary wing and caudal feathers; the relative length of the wing and tail to each other and to the body; the relative length of the leg and foot; the number of scutellae on the toes, the development of skin between the toes, are all points of structure which are variable. The period at which the perfect plumage is acquired varies, as does the state of the down with which the nestling birds are clothed when hatched. The shape and size of the eggs vary. The manner of flight, and in some breeds the voice and disposition, differs remarkably. Lastly, in certain breeds, the males and females have come to differ in a slight degree in each other.

Altogether at least a score of pigeons might be chosen, which, if shown to an ornithologist, and he were told that they were wild birds, would certainly be ranked by him as well-defined species. Moreover, I do not believe that any ornithologist would in this case place the English carrier, the short-faced tumbler, the runt, the barb, pouter, and fantail in the same genus; more especially as in each of these breeds several truly inherited sub-breeds, or species, as he would call them, could be shown him.

Great as are the differences between the breeds of the pigeon, I am fully convinced that the common opinion of naturalists is correct, namely, that all are descended from the rock-pigeon (Columbalivia), including under this term several geographical races or sub-species, which differ from each other in the most trifling respects. As several of the reasons which have led me to this belief are in some degree applicable)le in other cases, I will here briefly give them. If the several breeds are not varieties, and have not proceeded from the rock-pigeon, they must have descended from at least seven or eight aboriginal stocks ; for it is impossible to make the present domestic breeds by the crossing of any lesser number: how, for instance, could a pouter be produced by crossing two breeds unless one of the parent-stocks possessed the characteristic enormous crop ? The supposed aboriginal stocks must all have been rock-pigeons, that is, they did not breed or willingly perch on trees. But besides C. livia, with its geographical sub-species, only two or three Other species of rock-pigeons are known and these have not any of the characters of the domestic breeds. Hence the supposed aboriginal stocks must either still exist in the countries where they were originally domesticated, and yet be unknown to ornithologists; and this, considering their size, habits, and remarkable characters, seems improbable; or they must have become extinct in the wild state. But birds breeding on precipices, and good fliers, are unlikely to be exterminated ; and the common rock-pigeon, which has the same habits with the domestic breeds, has not been exterminated even on several of the smaller British islets, or on the shores of the Mediterranean. Hence the supposed extermination of so many species having similar habits with the rock-pigeon seems a very rash assumption. Moreover, the several above-named domesticated breeds have been transported to all parts of the world, and, therefore, some of them must have been carried back again into their native country; but not one has become wild or feral, though the dovecot-pigeon, which is the rock-pigeon in a very slightly altered state, has become feral in several places. Again, all recent experience shows that it is difficult to get wild animals to breed freely under domestication; yet on the hypothesis of the multiple origin of our pigeons, it must be assumed that at least seven or eight species were so thoroughly domesticated in ancient times by half-civilised man, as to be quite prolific under confinement.

An argument of great weight, and applicable in several other cases, is, that the above-specified breeds, though agreeing generally with the wild rock-pigeon in constitution, habits, voice, colouring, and in most parts of their structure, yet are certainly highly abnormal in other parts ; we may look in vain through the whole great family of Columbidje for a beak like that of the English carrier, or that of the short-faced tumbler, or barb ; for reversed feathers like those of the Jacobin ; for a crop like that of the pouter; for tail-feathers like those of the fantail. Hence it must be assumed not only that half civilised man succeeded in thoroughly domesticating several species, but that he intentionally or by chance picked out extraordinarily abnormal species ; and further, that these very species have since all become extinct or unknown. So many strange contingencies are improbable in the highest degree. Some facts in regard to the colouring of pigeons well deserve consideration. The rock-pigeon is of a slaty-blue, with white loins;’ but the Indian sub-species, C. intermedia of Strickland, has this part bluish. The tail has a terminal dark bar, with the outer feathers externally edged at the base with white. The wings have two black bars. Some semi-domestic breeds, and some truly wild breeds, have, besides the two black bars, the wings chequered with black. These several marks do not occur together in any other species of the whole family. Now, in every one of the domestic breeds, taking thoroughly well-bred birds, all the above marks, even to the white edging of the outer tail-feathers, sometimes concur perfectly developed. Moreover, when birds belonging to two or more distinct breeds are crossed, none of which are blue or have any of the above-specified marks, the mongrel offspring are very apt suddenly to acquire these characters. To — give one instance out of several which I have observed : — I 1 crossed some white fantails, which breed very true, with some \ black barbs — and it so happens that blue varieties of barbs are so rare that I never heard of an instance in England; and the mongrels were black, brown, and mottled. I also crossed a barb with a spot, which is a white bird with a red tail and red spot on the forehead, and which notoriously breeds very true ; the mongrels were dusky and mottled. I then crossed one of the mongrel barb-fantails with a mongrel barb-spot, and they produced a bird of as beautiful a blue colour, with the white loins, double black wing-bar, and barred and white/ edged tail-feathers, as any wild rock-pigeon ! We can understand these facts, on the well-known principle of reversion to ancestral characters, if all the domestic breeds are descended from the rock-pigeon. But if we deny this, we must make one of the two following highly improbable suppositions. Either, first, that all the several imagined aboriginal stocks were coloured and marked like the rock-pigeon, although no other existing species is thus coloured and marked, so that in each separate breed there might be a tendency to revert to the very same colours and markings. Or, secondly, that each breed, even the purest, has within a dozen, or at most within a score, of generations, been crossed by the rock -pigeon; I say within a dozen or twenty generations, for no instance is known of crossed descendants reverting to an ancestor of foreign blood, removed by a greater number of generations. In a breed which has been crossed only once, the tendency to revert to any character derived from such a cross will naturally become less and less, as in each succeeding generation there will be less of the foreign blood; but when there has been no cross, and there is a tendency in the breed to revert to a character which was lost during some former generation, this tendency, for all that we can see to the contrary, may be transmitted undiminished for an indefinite number of generations. These two distinct cases of reversion are often confounded together by those who have written on inheritance.

Lastly, the hybrids or mongrels from between all the breeds of the pigeon are perfectly fertile, as I can state from my own observations, purposely made, on the most distinct breeds. Now, hardly any cases have been ascertained with certainty of hybrids from two quite distinct species of animals being perfectly fertile. Some authors believe that long-continued domestication eliminates this strong tendency to sterility in species. From the history of the dog, and of some other domestic animals, this conclusion is probably quite correct, if applied to species closely related to each other. But to extend it so far as to suppose that species, aboriginally as distinct as carriers, tumblers, pouters, and fantails now are, should yield offspring perfectly fertile inter se, would be rash in the extreme.

From these several reasons, namely, — the improbability of man having formerly made seven or eight supposed species of pigeons to breed freely under domestication; — these supposed species being quite unknown in a wild state, and their not having become anywhere feral; — these species presenting certain very abnormal characters, as compared with all other Columbidse, though so like the rock-pigeon in most respects ; — the occasional re-appearance of the blue colour and various black marks in all the breeds, both when kept pure and when crossed; — and lastly, the mongrel offspring being perfectly fertile ; — from these several reasons, taken together, we may safely conclude that all our domestic breeds are descended from the rock -pigeon or Columba livia with its geographical sub-species.

In favour of this view, I may add, firstly, that the wild C. livia has been found capable of domestication in Europe and in India ; and that it agrees in habits and in a great number of points of structure with all the domestic breeds. Secondly, that, although an English carrier or a short-faced tumbler differs immensely in certain characters from the rock-pigeon, yet that, by comparing the several sub-breeds of these two races, more especially those brought from distant countries, we can make, between them and the rock-pigeon, an almost perfect series; so we can in some other cases, but not with all the breeds. Thirdly, those characters which are mainly distinctive of each breed are in each eminently variable, for instance the wattle and length of beak of the carrier, the shortness of that of the tumbler, and the number of tailfeathers in the fantail ; and the explanation of this fact will be obvious when we treat of Selection. Fourthly, pigeons have been watched and tended with the utmost care, and loved by many people. They have been domesticated for thousands of years in several quarters of the world ; the earliest known record of pigeons is in the fifth Egyptian dynasty, about 3000 B.C., as was pointed out to me by Professor Lepsius ; but Mr. Birch informs me that pigeons are given in a bill of fare in the previous dynasty. In the time of the Romans, as we hear from Pliny, immense prices were given for pigeons; "nay, they are come to this pass, that they can reckon up their pedigree and race." Pigeons were much valued by Akber Khan in India, about the year 1600; never less than 20,000 pigeons were taken with the court. "The monarchs of Iran and Turan sent him some very rare birds;" and, continues the courtly historian, "His Majesty by crossing the breeds, which method was never practised before, has improved them astonishingly." About this same period the Dutch were as eager about pigeons as were the old Romans. The paramount importance of these considerations in explaining the immense amount of variation which pigeons have undergone, will likewise be obvious when we treat of Selection. We shall then, also, see how it is that the several breeds so often have a somewhat monstrous character. It is also a most favourable circumstance for the production of distinct breeds, that male and female pigeons can be easily mated for life ; and thus different breeds can be kept together in the same aviary.

I have discussed the probable origin of domestic pigeons at some, yet quite insufficient, length ; because when I first kept pigeons and watched the several kinds, well knowing how truly they breed, I felt fully as much difficulty in believing that since they had been domesticated they had all proceeded from a common parent, as any naturalist could in coming to a similar conclusion in regard to the many species of finches, or other groups of birds, in nature. One circumstance has struck me much ; namely, that nearly all the breeders of the various domestic animals and the cultivators of plants, with whom I have conversed, or whose treatises I have read, are firmly convinced that the several breeds to which each has attended, are descended from so many aboriginally distinct species. Ask, as I have asked, a celebrated raiser of Hereford cattle, whether his cattle might not have descended from Longhorns, or both from a common parent-stock, and he will laugh you to scorn. I have never met a pigeon, or poultry, or duck, or rabbit fancier, who was not fully convinced that each main breed was descended from a distinct species. Van Mons, in his treatise on pears and apples, shows how utterly he disbelieves that the several sorts, for instance a Ribstonpippin or Codlin-apple, could ever have proceeded from the seeds of the same tree. Innumerable other examples could be given. The explanation, I think, is simple : from long continued study they are strongly impressed with the differences between the several races ; and though they well know that each race varies slightly, for they win their prizes by selecting such slight differences, yet they ignore all general arguments, and refuse to sum up in their minds slight differences accumulated during many successive generations. May not those naturalists who, knowing far less of the laws of inheritance than does the breeder, and knowing no more than he does of the intermediate links in the long lines of descent, yet admit that many of our domestic races are descended from the same parents — may they not learn a lesson of caution, when they deride the idea of species in a state of nature being lineal descendants of other species?

Principles Of Selection Anciently Followed, And Their Effects

Let us now briefly consider the steps by which domestic races have been produced, either from one or from several allied species. Some effect may be attributed to the direct and definite action of the external conditions of life, and some to habit; but he would be a bold man who would account by such agencies for the differences between a dray and racehorse, a greyhound and bloodhound, a carrier and tumbler pigeon. One of the most remarkable features in our domesticated races is that we see in them adaptation, not indeed to the animal’s or plant’s own good, but to man’s use or fancy. Some variations useful to him have probably arisen suddenly, or by one step ; many botanists, for instance, believe that the fuller’s teasel, with its hooks, which cannot be rivalled by any mechanical contrivance, is only a variety of the wild Dipsacus; and this amount of change may have suddenly arisen in a seedling. So it has probably been with the turnspit dog; and this is known to have been the case with the ancon sheep. But when we compare the dray-horse and race-horse, the dromedary and camel, the various breeds of sheep fitted either for cultivated land or mountain pasture, with the wool of one breed good for one purpose, and that of another breed for another purpose ; when we compare the many breeds of dogs, each good for man in different ways ; when we compare the game-cock, so pertinacious in battle, with other breeds so little quarrelsome, with "everlasting layers" which never desire to sit, and with the bantam so small and elegant; when we compare the host of agricultural, culinary, orchard, and flower-garden races of plants, most useful to man at different seasons and for different purposes, or so beautiful in his eyes, we must, I think, look further than to mere variability. We cannot suppose that all the breeds were suddenly produced as perfect and as useful as we now see them ; indeed, in many cases, we know that this has not been their history. The key is man’s power of accumulative selection : nature gives successive variations ; man adds them up in certain directions useful to him. In this sense he may be said to have made for himself useful breeds.

The great power of this principle of selection is not hypothetical. It is certain that several of our eminent breeders have, even within a single lifetime, modified to a large extent their breeds of cattle and sheep. In order fully to realise what they have done, it is almost necessary to read several of the many treatises devoted to this subject, and to inspect the animals. Breeders habitually speak of an animal’s organisation as something plastic, which they can model almost as they please. If I had space I could quote numerous passages to this effect from highly competent authorities. Youatt, who was probably better acquainted with the works of agriculturists than almost any other individual, and who was himself a very good judge of animals, speaks of the principle o£ selection as "that which enables the agriculturist, not only to modify the character of his flock, but to change it altogether. It is the magician’s wand, by means of which he may summon into life whatever form and mould he pleases." Lord Somerville, speaking of what breeders have done for sheep, says : — "It would seem as if they had chalked out upon a wall a form perfect in itself, and then had given it existence." In Saxony the importance of the principle of selection in regard to merino sheep is so fully recognised, that men follow it as a trade ; the sheep are placed on a table and are studied, like a picture by a connoisseur ; this is done three times at intervals of months, and the sheep are each time marked and classed, so that the very best may ultimately be selected for breeding.

What English breeders have actually effected is proved by the enormous prices given for animals with a good pedigree ; and these have been exported to almost every quarter of the world. The improvement is by no means generally due to crossing different breeds ; all the best breeders are strongly opposed to this practice, except sometimes amongst closely allied sub-breeds. And when a cross has been made, the closest selection is far more indispensable even than in ordinary cases. If selection consisted merely in separating some very distinct variety, and breeding from it. the principle would be so obvious as hardly to be worth notice ; but its importance consists in the great effect produced by the accumulation in one direction, during successive generations, of differences absolutely inappreciable by an uneducated eye — differences which I for one have vainly attempted to appreciate. Not one man in a thousand has accuracy of eye and judgment sufficient to become an eminent breeder. If gifted with these qualities, and he studies his subject for years, and devotes his lifetime to it with indomitable perseverance, he will succeed, and may make great improvements ; if he wants any of these qualities, he will assuredly fail. Few would readily believe in the natural capacity and years of practice requisite to become even a skilful pigeon-fancier.

The same principles are followed by horticulturists; but the variations are here often more abrupt. No one supposes ‘that our choicest productions have been produced by a single variation from the aboriginal stock. We have proofs that this has not been so in several cases in which exact records have been kept; thus, to give a very trifling instance, the steadily increasing size of the common gooseberry may be quoted. We see an astonishing improvement in many florists’ flowers, when the flowers of the present day are compared with drawings made only twenty or thirty years ago. When a race of plants is once pretty well established, the seed-raisers do not pick out the best plants, but merely go .over their seed-beds, and pull up the "rogues," as they call the plants that deviate from the proper standard. With animals this kind of selection is, in fact, likewise followed; for hardly any one is so careless as to breed from his worst animals.

In regard to plants, there is another means of observing the accumulated effects of selection — namely, by comparing the diversity of flowers in the different varieties of the same species in the flower-garden ; the diversity of leaves, pods, or tubers, or whatever part is valued, in the kitchen-garden, in comparison with the flowers of the same varieties ; and the diversity of fruit of the same species in the orchard, in comparison with the leaves and flowers of the same set of varieties. See how different the leaves of the cabbage are, and how extremely alike the flowers ; how unlike the flowers of the heartsease are, and how alike the leaves; how much the fruit of the different kinds of gooseberries differ in size, colour, shape, and hairiness, and yet the flowers present very slight differences. It is not that the varieties which differ largely in some one point do not differ at all in other points; this is hardly ever, — I speak after careful observation, — perhaps never, the case. The law of correlated variation, the importance of which should never be overlooked, will ensure some differences ; but, as a general rule, it cannot be doubted that the continued selection of slight variations, either in the leaves, the flowers, or the fruit, will produce races differing from each other chiefly in these characters.

It may be objected that the principle of selection has been reduced to methodical practice for scarcely more than three quarters of a century ; it has certainly been more attended to of late years, and many treatises have been published on the subject; and the result has been, in a corresponding degree, rapid and important. But it is very far from true that the principle is a modern discovery. I could give several references to works of high antiquity, in which the full importance of the principle is acknowledged. In rude and barbarous periods of English history choice animals were often imported, and laws were passed to prevent their exportation: the destruction of horses under a certain size was ordered, and this may be compared to the "roguing" of plants by nurserymen. The principle of selection I find distinctly given in an ancient Chinese encyclopaedia. Explicit rules are laid down by some of the Roman classical writers. From passages in Genesis, it is clear that the colour of domesticated animals was at that early period attended to. Savages now sometimes cross their dogs with wild canine animals, to improve the breed, and they formerly did so, as is attested by passages in Pliny. The savages in South Africa match their draught cattle by colour, as do some of the Esquimaux their teams of dogs. Livingstone states that good domestic breeds are highly valued by the Negroes in the interior of Africa who have not associated with Europeans. Some of these facts do not show actual selection, but they show that the breeding of domestic animals was carefully attended to in ancient times, and is now attended to by the lowest savages. It would, indeed, have been a strange fact, had attention not been paid to breeding, for the inheritance of good and bad qualities is so obvious.

UNCONSCIOUS SELECTION

At the present time, eminent breeders try by methodical selection, with a distinct object in view, to make a new strain or sub-breed, superior to anything of the kind in the country. But, for our purpose, a form of Selection, which may be called Unconscious, and which results from every one trying to possess and breed from the best individual animals, is more important. Thus, a man who intends keeping pointers naturally tries to get as good dogs as he can, and afterwards breeds from his own best dogs, but he has no wish or expectation of permanently altering the breed. Nevertheless we may infer that this process, continued during centuries, would improve and modify any breed, in the same way as Bakewell, Collins, etc., by this very same process, only carried on more methodically, did greatly modify, even during their lifetimes, the forms and qualities of their cattle. Slow and insensible changes of this kind can never be recognised unless actual measurements or careful drawings of the breeds in question have been made long ago, which may serve for comparison. In some cases, however, unchanged, or but little changed individuals of the same breed exist in less civilised districts, where the breed has been less improved. There is reason to believe that King Charles’ spaniel has been unconsciously modified to a large extent since the time of that monarch. Some highly competent authorities are convinced that the setter is directly derived from the spaniel, and has probably been slowly altered from it. It is known that the English pointer has been greatly changed within the last century, and in this case the change has, it is believed, been chiefly effected by crosses with the foxhound : but what concerns us is. that the change has been effected unconsciously and gradually, and yet so effectually, that, though the old Spanish pointer certainly came from Spain, Mr. Borrow has not seen, as I am informed by him, any native dog in Spain like our pointer. By a simple process of selection, and by careful training, English racehorses have come to surpass in fleetness and size the parent Arabs, so that the latter, by the regulations for the Goodwood Races, are favoured in the weights which they carry. Lord Spencer and others have shown how the cattle of England have increased in weight and in early maturity, compared with the stock formerly kept in this country. By comparing the accounts given in various old treatises of the former and present state of carrier and tumbler pigeons in Britain, India, and Persia, we can trace the stages through which they have insensibly passed, and come to differ so greatly from the rock-pigeon.

Youatt gives an excellent illustration of the effects of a course of selection, which may be considered as unconscious, in so far that the breeders could never have expected, or even wished, to produce the result which ensued — namely, the production of two distinct strains. The two flocks of Leicester sheep kept by Mr. Buckley and Mr. Burgess, as Mr. Youatt remarks, "have been purely bred from the original stock of Mr. Bakewell for upwards of fifty years. There is not a suspicion existing in the mind of any one at all acquainted with the subject, that the owner of either of them has deviated in any one instance from the pure blood of Mr. Bakewell’s flock, and yet the difference between the sheep possessed by these two gentlemen is so great that they have the appearance of being quite deterrent varieties."

If there exist savages so barbarous as never to think of the inherited character of the offspring of their domestic animals, yet any one animal particularly useful to them, for any special purpose, would be carefully preserved during famines and other accidents, to which savages are so liable, and such choice animals would thus generally leave more offspring than the inferior ones ; so that in this case there would be a kind of unconscious selection going on. We see the value set on animals even by the barbarians of Tierra del Fuego, by their killing and devouring their old women, in times of dearth, as of less value than their dogs.

In plants the same gradual process of improvement, through the occasional preservation of the best individuals. Whether or not sufficiently distinct to be ranked at their first appearance as distinct varieties, and whether or not two or more species or races have become blended together by crossing, may plainly be recognised in the increased size and beauty which we now see in the varieties of the heartsease, rose, pelargonium, dahlia, and other plants, when compared with the older varieties or with their parent-stocks. No one would ever expect to get a first-rate heartsease or dahlia from the seed of a wild plant. No one would expect to raise a first-rate melting pear from the seed of the wild pear, though he might succeed from a poor seedling growing wild, if it had come from a garden-stock. The pear though cultivated in classical times, appears, from Pliny’s description, to have been a fruit of very inferior quality. I have seen great surprise expressed in horticultural works at the wonderful skill of gardeners, in having produced such splendid results from such poor materials; but the art has been simple, and, as far as the final result is concerned, has been followed almost unconsciously. It has consisted in always cultivating the best known variety, sowing its seeds, and, when a slightly better variety chanced to appear, selecting it, and so onwards. But the gardeners of the classical period, who cultivated the best pears which they could procure, never thought what splendid fruit we should eat; though we owe our excellent fruit in some small degree to their having naturally chosen and preserved the best varieties they could anywhere find.

A large amount of change, thus slowly and unconsciously accumulated, explains, as I believe, the well-known fact, that in a number of cases we cannot recognise, and therefore do not know, the wild parent-stocks of the plants which have been longest cultivated in our flower and kitchen gardens. If it has taken centuries or thousands of years to improve or modify most of our plants up to their present standard of usefulness to man, we can understand how it is that neither Australia, the Cape of Good Hope, nor any other region inhabited by quite uncivilised man, has afforded us a single plant worth culture. It is not that these countries, so rich in species, do not by a strange chance possess the aboriginal stocks of any useful plants, but that the native plants have not been improved by continued selection up to a standard of perfection comparable with that acquired by the plants in countries anciently civilised.

In regard to the domestic animals kept by uncivilised man, it should not be overlooked that they almost always have to struggle for their own food, at least during certain seasons. And in two countries very differently circumstanced, individuals of the same species, having slightly different constitutions or structure, would often succeed better in the one country than in the other; and thus by a process of "natural selection," as will hereafter be more fully explained, two sub breeds might be formed. This, perhaps, partly explains why the varieties kept by savages, as has been remarked by some authors, have more of the character of true species than the varieties kept in civilised countries.

On the view here given of the important part which selection by man has played, it becomes at once obvious, how it is that our domestic races show adaptation in their structure or in their habits to man’s wants or fancies. We can, I think, further understand the frequently abnormal character of our domestic races, and likewise their differences being so great in external characters, and relatively so slight in internal parts or organs. Man can hardly select, or only with much difficulty, any deviation of structure excepting such as is externally visible ; and indeed he rarely cares for what is internal. He can never act by selection, excepting on variations which are first given to him in some slight degree by nature. No man would ever try to make a fantail till he saw a pigeon with a tail developed in some slight degree in an unusual manner, or a pouter till he saw a pigeon with a crop of somewhat unusual size ; and the more abnormal or unusual any character was when it first appeared, the more likely it would be to catch his attention. But to use such an expression as trying to make a fantail, is, I have no doubt, in most cases, utterly incorrect. The man who first selected a pigeon with a slightly larger tail, never dreamed what the descendants of that pigeon would become through long-continued, partly unconscious and partly methodical, selection. Perhaps the parent-bird of all fantails had only fourteen tail-feathers somewhat expanded, like the present Java fantail, or like individuals of other and distinct breeds, in which as many as seventeen tail-feathers have been counted. Perhaps the first pouter-pigeon did not inflate its crop much more than the turbit now does the upper part of its oesophagus, — a habit which is disregarded by all fanciers, as it is not one of the points of the breed.

Nor let it be thought that some great deviation of structure would be necessary to catch the fancier’s eye: he perceives extremely small differences, and it is in human nature to fancy any novelty, however slight, in one’s own possession. Nor must the value which would formerly have been set on any slight differences in the individuals of the same species, be judged of by the value which is now set on them, after several breeds have fairly been established. It is known that with pigeons many slight variations now occasionally appear, but these are rejected as faults or deviations from the standard of perfection in each breed. The common goose has not given rise to any marked varieties ; hence the Toulouse and the common breed, which differ only in colour, that most fleeting of characters, have lately been exhibited as distinct at our poultry-shows.

These views appear to explain what has sometimes been noticed — namely, that we know hardly anything about the origin or history of any of our domestic breeds. But, in fact, a breed, like a dialect of a language, can hardly be said to have a distinct origin. A man preserves and breeds from an individual with some slight deviation of structure, or takes more care than usual in matching his best animals, and thus improves them, and the improved animals slowly spread in the immediate neighbourhood. But they will as yet hardly have a distinct name, and from being only slightly valued, their history will have been disregarded. When further improved by the same slow and gradual process, they will spread more widely, and will be recognised as something distinct and valuable, and will then probably first receive a provincial name. In semi-civilised countries, with little free communication, the spreading of a new sub-breed would be a slow process. As soon as the points of value are once acknowledged, the principle, as I have called it, of unconscious selection will always tend, — perhaps more at one period than at another, as the breed rises or falls in fashion, — perhaps more in one district than in another, according to the state of civilisation of the inhabitants, — slowly to add to the characteristic features of the breed, whatever they may be. But the chance will be infinitely small of any record having been preserved of such slow, varying, and insensible changes.

Circumstances Favourable To Man’s Power Of Selection

I will now say a few words on the circumstances, favourable, or the reverse, to man’s power of selection. A high degree of variability is obviously favourable, as freely giving the materials for selection to work on; not that mere individual differences are not amply sufficient, with extreme care, to allow of the accumulation of a large amount of modification in almost any desired direction. But as variations manifestly useful or pleasing to man appear only occasionally, the chance of their appearance will be much increased by a large number of individuals being kept. Hence, number is of the highest importance for success. On this principle Marshall formerly remarked, with respect to the sheep of parts of Yorkshire, "as they generally belong to poor people, and are mostly in small lots, they never can be improved." On the other hand, nurserymen, from keeping large stocks of the same plant, are generally far more successful than amateurs in raising new and valuable varieties. A large number of individuals of an animal or plant can be reared only where the conditions for its propagation are favourable. When the individuals are scanty, all will be allowed to breed, whatever their quality may be, and this will effectually prevent selection. But probably the most important element is that the animal or plant should be so highly valued by man, that the closest attention is paid to even the slightest deviations in its qualities or structure. Unless such attention be paid nothing can be effected. I have seen it gravely remarked, that it was most fortunate that the strawberry began to vary just when gardeners began to attend to this plant. No doubt the strawberry had always varied since it was cultivated, but the slight varieties had been neglected. As soon, however, as gardeners picked out individual plants with slightly larger, earlier, or better fruit, and raised seedlings from them, and again picked out the best seedlings and bred from them, then (with some aid by crossing distinct species) those many admirable varieties of the strawberry were raised which have appeared during the last half-century.

With animals, facility in preventing crosses is an important element in the formation of new races, — at least, in a country which is already stocked with other races. In this respect enclosure of the land plays a part. Wandering savages or the inhabitants of open plains rarely possess more than one breed of the same species. Pigeons can be mated for life, and this is a great convenience to the fancier, for thus many races may be improved and kept true, though mingled in the same aviary ; and this circumstance must have largely favoured the formation of new breeds. Pigeons, I may add, can be propagated in great numbers and at a very quick rate, and inferior birds may be freely rejected, as when killed they serve for food. On the other hand, cats, from their nocturnal rambling habits, cannot be easily matched, and, although so much valued by women and children, we rarely see a distinct breed long kept up ; such breeds as we do sometimes see are almost always imported from some other country. Although I do not doubt that some domestic animals vary less than others, yet the rarity or absence of distinct breeds of the cat, the donkey, peacock, goose, &c., may be attributed in main part to selection not having been brought into play : in cats, from the difficulty in pairing them ; in donkeys, from only a few being kept by poor people, and little attention paid to their breeding; for recently in certain parts of Spain and of the United States this animal has been surprisingly modified and improved by careful selection ; in peacocks, from not being very easily reared and a large stock not kept; in geese, from being valuable only for two purposes, food and feathers, and more especially from no pleasure having been felt in the display of distinct breeds ; but the goose, under the conditions to which it is exposed when domesticated, seems to have a singularly inflexible organisation, though it has varied to a slight extent, as I have elsewhere described.

Some authors have maintained that the amount of variation in our domestic productions is soon reached, and can never afterwards be exceeded. It would be somewhat rash to assert that the limit has been attained in any one case ; for almost all our animals and plants have been greatly improved in many ways within a recent period ; and this implies variation. It would be equally rash to assert that characters now increased to their usual limit, could not, after remaining fixed for many centuries, again vary under new conditions of life. No doubt, as Mr. Wallace has remarked with much truth, a limit will be at last reached. For instance, there must be a limit to the fleetness of any terrestrial animal, as this will be determined by the friction to be overcome, the weight of body to be carried, and the power of contraction in the muscular fibres. But what concerns us is that the domestic varieties of the same species differ from each other in almost every character, which man has attended to and selected, more than do the distinct species of the same genera. Isidore Geoffroy St. Hilaire has proved this in regard to size, and so it is with colour and probably with the length of hair. With respect to fleetness, which depends on many bodily characters, Eclipse was far fleeter, and a dray-horse is incomparably stronger than any two natural species belonging to the same genus. So with plants, the seeds of the different varieties of the bean or maize probably differ more in size, than do the seeds of the distinct species in any one genus in the same two families. The same remark holds good in regard to the fruit of the several varieties of the plum, and still more strongly with the melon, as well as in many other analogous cases.

To sum up on the origin of our domestic races of animals and plants. Changed conditions of life are of the highest importance in causing variability, both by acting directly on the organisation, and indirectly by affecting the reproductive system. It is not probable that variability is an inherent and necessary contingent, under all circumstances. The greater or less force of inheritance and reversion determine whether variations shall endure. Variability is governed by many unknown laws, of which correlated growth is probably the most important. Something, but how much we do not know, may be attributed to the definite action of the conditions of life. Some, perhaps a great, effect may be attributed to the increased use or disuse of parts. The final result is thus rendered infinitely complex. In some cases the intercrossing of aboriginally distinct species appears to have played an important part in the origin of our breeds. When several breeds have once been formed in any country, their occasional intercrossing, with the aid of selection, has, no doubt, largely aided in the formation of new sub-breeds ; but the importance of crossing has been much exaggerated, both in regard to animals and to those plants which are propagated by seed. With plants which are temporarily propagated by cuttings, buds, &c., the importance of crossing is immense ; for the cultivator may here disregard the extreme variability both of hybrids and of mongrels, and the sterility of hybrids; but plants not propagated by seed are of little importance to us, for their endurance is only temporary. Over all these causes of Change, the accumulative action of Selection, whether applied methodically and quickly, or unconsciously and slowly but more efficiently, seems to have been the predominant Power.

CHAPTER II

Variation Under Nature

Variability — Individual differences — Doubtful species — Wide ranging, much diffused, and common species, vary most — Species of the larger genera in each country vary more frequently than the species of the smaller genera — Many of the species of the larger genera resemble varieties in being very closely, but unequally, related to each other, and in having restricted ranges.

BEFORE applying the principles arrived at in the last chapter to organic beings in a state of nature, we must briefly discuss whether these latter are subject to any variation. To treat this subject properly, a long catalogue of dry facts ought to be given ; but these I shall reserve for a future work. Nor shall I here discuss the various definitions which have been given of the term species. No one definition has satisfied all naturalists; yet every naturalist knows vaguely what he means when he speaks of a species. Generally the term includes the unknown element of a distinct act of creation. The term "variety" is almost equally difficult to define ; but here community of descent is almost universally implied, though it can rarely be proved. We have also what are called monstrosities ; but they graduate into varieties. By a monstrosity I presume is meant some considerable deviation of structure, generally injurious, or not useful to the species. Some authors use the term "variation" in a technical sense, as implying a modification directly due to the physical conditions of life; and "variations" in this sense are supposed not to be inherited; but who can say that the dwarfed condition of shells in the brackish waters of the Baltic, or dwarfed plants on Alpine summits, or the thicker fur of an animal from far northwards, would not in some cases be inherited for at least a few generations ? and in this case I presume that the form would be called a variety. It may be doubted whether sudden and considerable deviations of structure such as we occasionally see in our domestic productions, more especially with plants, are ever permanently propagated in a state of nature. Almost every part of every organic being is so beautifully related to its complex conditions of life that it seems as improbable that any part should have been suddenly produced perfect, as that a complex machine should have been invented by man in a perfect state. Under domestication monstrosities sometimes occur which resemble normal structures in widely different animals. Thus pigs have occasionally been born with a sort of proboscis, and if any wild species of the same genus had naturally possessed a proboscis, it might have been argued that this had appeared as a monstrosity ; but I have as yet failed to find, after diligent search, cases of monstrosities resembling normal structures in nearly allied forms, and these alone bear on the question. If monstrous forms of this kind ever do appear in a state of nature and are capable of reproduction (which is not always the case), as they occur rarely and singly, their preservation would depend on unusually favourable circumstances. They would, also, during the first and succeeding generations cross with the ordinary form, and thus their abnormal character would almost inevitably be lost. But I shall have to return in a future chapter to the preservation and perpetuation of single or occasional variations.

INDIVIDUAL DIFFERENCES

The many slight differences which appear in the offspring from the same parents, or which it may be presumed have thus arisen, from being observed in the individuals of the same species inhabiting the same confined locality, may be called individual differences. No one supposes that all the individuals of the same species are cast in the same actual mould. These individual differences are of the highest importance for us, for they are often inherited, as must be familiar to every one ; and they thus afford materials for natural selection to act on and accumulate, in the same manner as man accumulates in any given direction individual differences in his domesticated productions. These individual differences generally affect what naturalists consider unimportant parts ; but I could show by a long catalogue of facts, that parts which must be called important, whether viewed under a physiological or classificatory point of view, sometimes vary in the individuals of the same species. I am convinced that the most experienced naturalist would be surprised at the number of the cases of variability, even in important parts of structure, which he could collect on good authority, as I have collected, during a course of years. It should be remembered that systematists are far from being pleased at finding variability in important characters, and that there are not many men who will laboriously examine internal and important organs, and compare them in many specimens of the same species. It would never have been expected that the branching of the main nerves close to the great central ganglion of an insect would have been variable in the same species ; it might have been thought that changes of this nature could have been effected only by slow degrees; yet Sir J. Lubbock has shown a degree of variability in these main nerves in Coccus, which may almost be compared to the irregular branching of the stem of a tree. This philosophical naturalist, I may add, has also shown that the muscles in the larvae of certain insects are far from uniform. Authors sometimes argue in a circle when they state that important organs never vary; for these same authors practically rank those parts as important (as some few naturalists have honestly confessed) which do not vary; and, under this point of view, no instance will ever be found of an important part varying; but under any other point of view many instances assuredly can be given.

There is one point connected with individual differences, which is extremely perplexing : I refer to those genera which have been called "protean" or "polymorphic," in which the species present an inordinate amount of variation. With respect to many of these forms, hardly two naturalists agree whether to rank them as species or as varieties. We may instance Rubus, Rosa, and Hieracium amongst plants, several genera of insects and of Brachiopod shells. In most polymorphic genera some of the species have fixed and definite characters. Genera which are polymorphic in one country seem to be, with a few exceptions, polymorphic in other countries, and likewise, judging from Brachiopod shells, at former periods of time. These facts are very perplexing, for they seem to show that this kind of variability is independent of the conditions of life. I am inclined to suspect that we see, at least in some of these polymorphic genera, variations which are of no service or disservice to the species, and which consequently have not been seized on and rendered definite by natural selection, as hereafter to be explained.

Individuals of the same species often present, as is known to every one, great differences of structure, independently of variation, as in the two sexes of various animals, in the two or three castes of sterile female or workers amongst insects, and in the immature and larval states of many of the lower animals.

There are, also, cases of dimorphism and trimorphism, both with animals and plants. Thus, Mr. Wallace, who has lately called attention to the subject, has shown that the females of certain species of butterflies, in the Malayan archipelago, regularly appear under two or even three conspicuously distinct forms, not connected by intermediate varieties. Fritz Miiller has described analogous but more extraordinary cases with the males of certain Brazilian Crustaceans: thus, the male of a Tanais regularly occurs under two distinct forms; one of these has strong and differently shaped pincers, and the other has antennae much more abundantly furnished with smelling-hairs. Although in most of these cases, the two or three forms, both with animals and plants, are not now connected by intermediate gradations, it is probable that they were once thus connected. Mr. Wallace, for instance, describes a certain butterfly which presents in the same island a great range of varieties connected by intermediate links, and the extreme links of the chain closely resemble the two forms of an allied dimorphic species inhabiting another part of the Malay archipelago. Thus also with ants, the several worker-castes are generally quite distinct; but in some cases, as we shall hereafter see, the castes are connected together by finely graduated varieties. So it is, as I have myself observed, with some dimorphic plants. It certainly at first appears a highly remarkable fact that the same female butterfly should have the power of producing at the same time three distinct female forms and a male ; and that an hermaphrodite plant should produce from the same seed-capsule three distinct hermaphrodite forms, bearing three different kinds of females and three or even six different kinds of males. Nevertheless these cases are only exaggerations of the common fact that the female produces offspring of two sexes which sometimes differ from each other in a wonderful manner.

DOUBTFUL SPECIES

The forms which possess in some considerable degree the character of species, but which are so closely similar to other forms, or are so closely linked to them by intermediate gradations, that naturalists do not like to rank them as distinct species, are in several respects the most important for us. We have every reason to believe that many of these doubtful and closely allied forms have permanently retained their characters for a long time ; for as long, as far as we know, as have good and true species. Practically, when a naturalist can unite by means of intermediate links any two forms, he treats the one as a variety of the other; ranking the most common, but sometimes the one first described, as the species, and the other as the variety. But cases of great difficulty, which I will not here enumerate, sometimes arise in deciding whether or not to rank one form as a variety of another, even when they are closely connected by intermediate links; nor will the commonly-assumed hybrid nature of the intermediate forms always remove the difficulty. In very many cases, however, one form is ranked as a variety of another, not because the intermediate links have actually been found, but because analogy leads the observer to suppose either that they do now somewhere exist, or may formerly have existed; and here a wide door for the entry of doubt and conjecture is opened.

Hence, in determining whether a form should be ranked as a species or a variety, the opinion of naturalists having sound judgment and wide experience seems the only guide to follow. We must, however, in many cases, decide by a majority of naturalists, for few well-marked and well-known varieties can be named which have not been ranked as species by at least some competent judges.

That varieties of this doubtful nature are far from uncommon cannot be disputed. Compare the several floras of Great Britain, of France, or of the United States, drawn up by different botanists, and see what a surprising number of forms have been ranked by one botanist as good species, and by another as mere varieties. Mr. H. C. Watson, to whom I lie under deep obligation for assistance of all kinds, has marked for me 182 British plants, which are generally considered as varieties, but which have all been ranked by botanists as species; and in making this list he has omitted many trifling varieties, but which nevertheless have been ranked by some botanists as species, and he has entirely omitted several highly polymorphic genera. Under genera, including the most polymorphic forms, Mr. Babington gives 251 species, whereas Mr. Bentham gives only 112, — a difference of 139 doubtful forms ! Amongst animals which unite for each birth, and which are highly locomotive, doubtful forms, ranked by one zoologist as a species and by another as a variety, can rarely be found within the same country, but are common in separated areas. How many of the birds and insects in North America and Europe, which differ very slightly from each other, have been ranked by one eminent naturalist as undoubted species, and by another as varieties, or, as they are often called, geographical races ! Mr. Wallace, in several valuable papers on the various animals, especially on the Lepidoptera, inhabiting the islands of the great Malayan archipelago, shows that they may be classed under four heads, namely, as variable forms, as local forms, as geographical races or sub-species, and as true representative species. The first or variable forms vary much within the limits of the same island. The local forms are moderately constant and distinct in each separate island; but when all from the several islands are compared together, the differences are seen to be so slight and graduated, that it is impossible to define or describe them, though at the same time the extreme forms are sufficiently distinct. The geographical races or sub-species are local forms completely fixed and isolated; but as they do not differ from each other by strongly marked and important characters, "there is no possible test but individual opinion to determine which of them shall be considered as species and which as varieties." Lastly, representative species fill the same place in the natural economy of each island as do the local forms and subspecies; but as they are distinguished from each other by a greater amount of difference than that between the local forms and sub-species, they are almost universally ranked by naturalists as true species. Nevertheless, no certain criterion can possibly be given by which variable forms, local forms, sub-species, and representative species can be recognised.

Many years ago, when comparing, and seeing others compare, the birds from the closely neighbouring islands of the Galapagos archipelago, one with another, and with those from the American mainland, I was much struck how entirely vague and arbitrary is the distinction between species and varieties. On the islets of the little Madeira group there are many insects which are characterised as varieties in Mr. Wollaston’s admirable work, but which would certainly be ranked as distinct species by many entomologists. Even Ireland has a few animals, now generally regarded as varieties, but which have been ranked as species by some zoologists. Several experienced ornithologists consider our British red grouse as only a strongly-marked race of Norwegian species, whereas the greater number rank it as an undoubted species peculiar to Great Britain. A wide distance between the homes of two doubtful forms leads many naturalists to rank them as distinct species ; but what distance, it has been well asked, will suffice; if that between America and Europe is ample, will that between Europe and the Azores, or Madeira, or the Canaries, or between the several islets of these small archipelagos, be sufficient?

Mr. B. D. Walsh, a distinguished entomologist of the United States, has described what he calls Phytophagic varieties and Phytophagic species. Most vegetable-feeding insects live on one kind of plant or on one group of plants; some feed indiscriminately on many kinds, but do not in consequence vary. In several cases, however, insects found living on different plants, have been observed by Mr. Walsh to present in their larval or mature state, or in both states, slight, though constant differences in colour, size, or in the nature of their secretions. In some instances the males alone, in other instances both males and females, have been observed thus to differ in a slight degree. When the differences are rather more strongly marked, and when both sexes and all ages are affected, the forms are ranked by all entomologists as good species. But no observer can determine for another, even if he can do so for himself, which of these Phytophagic forms ought to be called species and which varieties. Mr. Walsh ranks the forms which it may be supposed would freely intercross, as varieties ; and those which appear to have lost this power, as species. As the differences depend on the insects having long fed on distinct plants, it cannot be expected that intermediate links connecting the several forms should now be found. The naturalist thus loses his best guide in determining whether to rank doubtful forms as varieties or species. This likewise necessarily occurs with closely allied organisms, which inhabit distinct continents or islands. When, on the other hand, an animal or plant ranges over the same continent, or inhabits many islands in the same archipelago, and presents different forms in the different areas, there is always a good chance that intermediate forms will be discovered which will link together the extreme states ; and these are then degraded to the rank of varieties.

Some few naturalists maintain that animals never present varieties; but then these same naturalists rank the slightest difference as of specific value ; and when the same identical form is met with in two distinct countries, or in two geological formations, they believe that two distinct species are hidden under the same dress. The term species thus comes to be a mere useless abstraction, implying and assuming a separate act of creation. It is certain that many forms, considered by highly-competent judges to be varieties, resemble species so completely in character, that they have been thus ranked by other highly-competent judges. But to discuss whether they ought to be called species or varieties, before any definition of these terms has been generally accepted, is vainly to beat the air.

Many of the cases of strongly-marked varieties or doubtful species well deserve consideration ; for several interesting lines of argument, from geographical distribution, analogical variation, hybridism, &c., have been brought to bear in the attempt to determine their rank ; but space does not here permit me to discuss them. Close investigation, in many cases, will no doubt bring naturalists to agree how to rank doubtful forms. Yet it must be confessed that it is in the best known countries that we find the greatest number of them. I have been struck with the fact, that if any animal or plant in a state of nature be highly useful to man, or from any cause closely attracts his attention, varieties of it will almost universally be found recorded. These varieties, moreover, will often be ranked by some authors as species. Look at the common oak, how closely it has been studied; yet a German author makes more than a dozen species out of forms, which are almost universally considered by other botanists to be varieties ; and in this country the highest botanical authorities and practical men can be quoted to show that the sessile and pedunculated oaks are either good and distinct species or mere varieties.

I may here allude to a remarkable memoir lately published by A. de CandoUe, on the oaks of the whole world. No one ever had more ample materials for the discrimination of the species, or could have worked on them with more zeal and sagacity. He first gives in detail all the many points of structure which vary in the several species, and estimates numerically the relative frequency of the variations. He specifies above a dozen characters which may be found varying even on the same branch, sometimes according to age or development, sometimes without any assignable reason. Such characters are not of course of specific value, but they are, as Asa Gray has remarked in commenting on this memoir, such as generally enter into specific definitions. De Candolle then goes on to say that he gives the rank of species to the forms that differ by characters never varying on the same tree, and never found connected by intermediate states. After this discussion, the result of so much labour, he emphatically remarks: "They are mistaken, who repeat that the greater part of our species are clearly limited, and that the doubtful species are in a feeble minority. This seemed to be true, so long as a genus was imperfectly known, and its species were founded upon a few specimens, that is to say, were provisional. Just as we come to know them better, intermediate forms flow in, and doubts as to specific limits augment." He also adds that it is the best known species which present the greatest number of spontaneous varieties and sub-varieties. The Quercus robur has twenty-eight varieties, all of which, excepting six, are clustered round three sub-species, namely, Q. pedunculata sessiliflora, and pubescens. The forms which connect these three sub-species are comparatively rare; and, as Asa Gray again remarks, if these connecting forms which are now rare, were to become wholly extinct, the three subspecies would hold exactly the same relation to each other, as do the four or five provisionally admitted species which closely surround the typical Quercus robur. Finally. De Candolle admits that out of the 300 species, which will be enumerated in his Prodromus as belonging to the oak family, at least two-thirds are provisional species, that is, are not known strictly to fulfil the definition above given of a true species. It should be added that De Candolle no longer believes that species are immutable creations, but concludes that the derivative theory is the most natural one, "and the most accordant with the known facts in palaeontology, geographical botany and zoology, of anatomical structure and classification."

When a young naturalist commences the study of a group of organisms quite unknown to him, he is at first much perplexed in determining what differences to consider as specific, and what as varietal; for he knows nothing of the amount and kind of variation to which the group is subject; and this shows, at least, how very generally there is some variation. But if he confine his attention to one class within one country, he will soon make up his mind how to rank most of the doubtful forms. His general tendency will be to make many species, for he will become impressed, just like the pigeon or poultry fancier before alluded to, with the amount of difference in the forms which he is continually studying; and he has little general knowledge of analogical variation in other groups and in other countries, by which to correct his first impressions. As he extends the range of his observations, he will meet with more cases of difficulty ; for he will encounter a greater number of closely-allied forms. But if his observations be widely extended, he will in the end generally be able to make up his own mind; but he will succeed in this at the expense of admitting much variation, — and the truth of this admission will often be disputed by other naturalists. When he comes to study allied forms brought from countries not now continuous, in which case he cannot hope to find intermediate links, he will be compelled to trust almost entirely to analogy, and his difficulties will rise to a climax.

Certainly no clear line of demarcation has as yet been drawn between species and sub-species — that is, the forms which in the opinion of some naturalists come very near to, but do not quite arrive at, the rank of species: or, again, between sub-species and well-marked varieties, or between lesser varieties and individual differences. These differences blend into each other by an insensible series ; and a series impresses the mind with the idea of an actual passage.

Hence I look at individual differences, though of small interest to the systematist, as of the highest importance for us, as being the first steps towards such slight varieties as are barely thought worth recording in works on natural history. And I look at varieties which are in any degree more distinct and permanent, as steps towards more strongly marked and permanent varieties; and at the latter, as leading to sub-species, and then to species. The passage from one stage of difference to another may, in many cases, be the simple result of the nature of the organism and of the different physical conditions to which it has long been exposed ; but with respect to the more important and adaptive characters, the passage from one stage of difference to another, may be safely attributed to the cumulative action of natural selection, hereafter to be explained, and to the effects of the increased use or disuse of parts. A well-marked variety may therefore be called an incipient species ; but whether this belief is justifiable must be judged by the weight of the various facts and considerations to be given throughout this work.

It need not be supposed that all varieties or incipient species attain the rank of species. They may become extinct, or they may endure as varieties for very long periods, as has been shown to be the case by Mr. Wollaston with the varieties of certain fossil land-shells in Madeira, and with plants by Gaston de Saporta. If a variety were to flourish so as to exceed in numbers the parent species, it would then rank as the species, and the species as the variety ; or it might come to supplant and exterminate the parent species; or both might co-exist, and both rank as independent species. But we shall hereafter return to this subject.

From these remarks it will be seen that I look at the term species as one arbitrarily given, for the sake of convenience, to a set of individuals closely resembling each other, and that it does not essentially differ from the term variety, which is given to less distinct and more fluctuating forms. The term variety, again, in comparison with mere individual differences, is also applied arbitrarily, for convenience’ sake.

WIDE-RANGING, MUCH DIFFUSED, AND COMMON SPECIES VARY MOST

Guided by theoretical considerations, I thought that some interesting results might be obtained in regard to the nature and relations of the species which vary most, by tabulating all the varieties in several well-worked floras. At first this seemed a simple task ; but Mr. H. C. Watson, to whom I am much indebted for valuable advice and assistance on this subject, soon convinced me that there were many difficulties, as did subsequently Dr. Hooker, even in stronger terms. I shall reserve for a future work the discussion of these difficulties, and the tables of the proportional numbers of the varying species. Dr. Hooker permits me to add that after having carefully read my manuscript, and examined the tables, he thinks that the following statements are fairly well established. The whole subject, however, treated as it necessarily here is with much brevity, is rather perplexing, and allusions cannot be avoided to the "struggle for existence," "divergence of character," and other questions, hereafter to be discussed.

Alphonse de Candolle and others have shown that plants which have very wide ranges generally present varieties ; and this might have been expected, as they are exposed to diverse physical conditions, and as they come into competition (which, as we shall hereafter see, is an equally or more important circumstance) with different sets of organic beings. But my tables further show that, in any limited country, the species which are the most common, that is abound most in individuals, and the species which are most widely diffused within their own country (and this is a different consideration from wide range, and to a certain extent from commonness), oftenest give rise to varieties sufficiently well marked to have been recorded in botanical works. Hence it is the most flourishing, or, as they may be called, the dominant species, — those which range widely, are the most diffused in their own country, and are the most numerous in individuals, — which oftenest produce well-marked varieties, or, as I consider them, incipient species. And this, perhaps, might have been anticipated; for, as varieties, in order to become in any degree permanent, necessarily have to struggle with the other inhabitants of the country, the species which are already dominant will be the most likely to yield offspring, which, though in some slight degree modified, still inherit those advantages that enabled their parents to become dominant over their compatriots. In these remarks on predominance, it should be understood that reference is made only to the forms which come into competition with each other, and more especially to the members of the same genus or class having nearly similar habits of life. With respect to the number of individuals or commonness of species, the comparison of course relates only to the members of the same group. One of the higher plants may be said to be dominant if it be more numerous in individuals and more widely diffused than the other plants of the same country, which live under nearly the same conditions. A plant of this kind is not the less dominant because some conferva inhabiting the water or some parasitic fungus is infinitely more numerous in individuals, and more widely diffused. But if the conferva or parasitic fungus exceeds its allies in the above respects, it will then be dominant within its own class.

SPECIES OF THE LARGER GENERA IN EACH COUNTRY VARY MORE FREQUENTLY THAN THE SPECIES OF THE SMALLER GENERA

If the plants inhabiting a country, as described in any Flora, be divided into two equal masses, all those in the larger genera (i.e., those including many species) being placed on one side, and all those in the smaller genera on the other side, the former will be found to include a somewhat larger number of the very common and much diffused or dominant species. This might have been anticipated; for the mere fact of many species of the same genus inhabiting any country, shows that there is something in the organic or inorganic conditions of that country favourable to the genus; and, consequently, we might have expected to have found in the larger genera, or those including many species, a larger proportional number of dominant species. But so many causes tend to obscure this result, that I am surprised that my tables show even a small majority on the side of the larger genera. I will here allude to only two causes of obscurity. Fresh-water and salt-loving plants generally have very wide ranges and are much diffused, but this seems to be connected with the nature of the stations inhabited by them, and has little or no relation to the size of the genera to which the species belong. Again, plants low in the scale of organisation are generally much more widely diffused than plants higher in the scale ; and here again there is no close relation to the size of the genera. The cause of lowly organised plants ranging widely will be discussed in our chapter on Geographical Distribution.

From looking at species as only strongly-marked and well defined varieties, I was led to anticipate that the species of the larger genera in each country would oftener present varieties, than the species of the smaller genera ; for wherever many closely related species (i.e., species of the same genus) have been formed, many varieties or incipient species ought, as a general rule, to be now forming. Where many large trees grow, we expect to find saplings. Where many species of a genus have been formed through variation, circumstances have been favourable for variation; and hence we might expect that the circumstances would generally be still favourable to variation. On the other hand, if we look at each species as a special act of creation, there is no apparent reason why more varieties should occur in a group having many species, than in one having few.

To test the truth of this anticipation I have arranged the plants of twelve countries, and the coleopterous insects of two districts, into two nearly equal masses, the species of the larger genera on one side, and those of the smaller genera on the other side, and it has invariably proved to be the case that a larger proportion of the species on the side of the larger genera presented varieties, than on the side of the smaller genera. Moreover, the species of the large genera which present any varieties, invariably present a larger average number of varieties than do the species of the small genera. Both these results follow when another division is made, and when all the least genera, with from only one to four species, are altogether excluded from the tables. These facts are of plain signification on the view that species are only strongly-marked and permanent varieties; for wherever many species of the same genus have been formed, or where, if we may use the expression, the manufactory of species has been active, we ought generally to find the manufactory still in action, more especially as we have every reason to believe the process of manufacturing new species to be a slow one. And this certainly holds true, if varieties be looked at as incipient species ; for my tables clearly show as a general rule that, wherever many species of a genus have been formed, the species of that genus present a number of varieties, that is of incipient species, beyond the average. It is not that all large genera are now varying much, and are thus increasing in the number of their species, or that no small genera are now varying and increasing; for if this had been so, it would have been fatal to my theory: inasmuch as geology plainly tells us that small genera have in the lapse of time often increased greatly in size; and that large genera have often come to their maximal, decline, and disappeared. All that we want to show is, that, where many species of a genus have been formed, on an average many are still forming; and this certainly holds good.

MANY OF THE SPECIES INCLUDED WITHIN THE LARGER GENERA RESEMBLE VARIETIES IN BEING VERY CLOSELY, BUT UNEQUALLY, RELATED TO EACH OTHER, AND IN HAVING RESTRICTED RANGES

There are other relations between the species of large genera and their recorded varieties which deserve notice. We have seen that there is no infallible criterion by which to distinguish species and well-marked varieties ; and when intermediate links have not been found between doubtful forms, naturalists are compelled to come to a determination by the amount of difference between them, judging by analogy whether or not the amount suffices to raise one or both to the rank of species. Hence the amount of difference is one very important criterion in settling whether two forms should be ranked as species or varieties. Now Fries has remarked in regard to plants, and Westwood in regard to insects, that in large genera the amount of difference between the species is often exceedingly small. I have endeavoured to test this numerically by averages, and, as far as my imperfect results go, they confirm the view. I have also consulted some sagacious and experienced observers, and, after deliberation, they concur in this view. In this respect, therefore, the species of the larger genera resemble varieties, more than do the species of the smaller genera. Or the case may be put in another way, and it may be said, that in the larger genera, in which a number of varieties or incipient species greater than the average are now manufacturing, many of the species already manufactured still to a certain extent resemble varieties, for they differ from each other by less than the usual amount of difference.

Moreover, the species of the larger genera are related to each other, in the same manner as the varieties of any one species are related to each other. No naturalist pretends that all the species of a genus are equally distinct from each other ; they may generally be divided into sub-genera, or sections, or lesser groups. As Fries has well remarked, little groups of species are generally clustered like satellites around other species. And what are varieties but groups of forms, unequally related to each other, and clustered round certain forms — that is, round their parent-species? Undoubtedly there is one most important point of difference between varieties and species; namely, that the amount of difference between varieties, when compared with each other or with their parent-species, is much less than that between the species of the same genus. But when we come to discuss the principle, as I call it, of Divergence of Character, we shall see how this may be explained, and how the lesser differences between varieties tend to increase into the greater differences between species.

There is one other point which is worth notice. Varieties generally have much restricted ranges : this statement is indeed scarcely more than a truism, for, if a variety were found to have a wider range than that of its supposed parent species, their denominations would be reversed. But there is reason to believe that the species which are very closely allied to other species, and in so far resemble varieties, often have much restricted ranges. For instance, Mr. H. C. Watson has marked for me in the well-sifted London Catalogue of plants (4th edition) 63 plants which are therein ranked as species, but which he considers as so closely allied to other species as to be of doubtful value: these 63 reputed species range on an average over 6 ‘9 of the provinces into which Mr. Watson has divided Great Britain. Now, in this same Catalogue, 53 acknowledged varieties are recorded, and these range over 7 "j provinces ; whereas, the species to which these varieties belong range over 14 "3 provinces. So that the acknowledged varieties have nearly the same restricted average range, as have the closely allied forms, marked for me by Mr. Watson as doubtful species, but which are almost universally ranked by British botanists as good and true species.

SUMMARY

Finally, varieties cannot be distinguished from species, — except, first, by the discovery of intermediate linking forms ; and, secondly, by a certain indefinite amount of difference between them; for two forms, if differing very little, are generally ranked as varieties, notwithstanding that they cannot be closely connected; but the amount of difference considered necessary to give to any two forms the rank of species cannot be defined. In genera having more than the average number of species in any country, the species of these genera have more than the average number of varieties. In large genera the species are apt to be closely, but unequally, allied together, forming little clusters round other species. Species very closely allied to other species apparently have restricted ranges. In all these respects the species of large genera present a strong analogy with varieties. And we can clearly understand these analogies, if species once existed as varieties, and thus originated; whereas, these analogies are utterly inexplicable if species are independent creations.

We have, also, seen that it is the most flourishing or dominant species of the larger genera within each class which on an average yield the greatest number of varieties ; and varieties, as we shall hereafter see, tend to become converted into new and distinct species. Thus the larger genera tend to become larger; and throughout nature the forms of life which are now dominant tend to become still more dominant by leaving many modified and dominant descendants. But by steps hereafter to be explained, the larger genera also tend to break up into smaller genera. And thus, the forms of life throughout the universe become divided into groups subordinate to groups.

CHAPTER III Struggle for Existence

Its bearing on natural selection — The term used in a wide sense — Geometrical ratio of increase — Rapid increase of naturalized animals and plants — Nature of the checks to increase — Competition universal — Effects of climate — Protection from the number of individuals — Complex relations of all animals and plants throughout nature — Struggle for life most severe between individuals and varieties of the same species : often severe between species of the same genus — The relation of organism to organism the most important of all relations.

BEFORE entering on the subject of this chapter, I must make a few preliminary remarks, to show how the struggle for existence bears on Natural Selection. It has been seen in the last chapter that amongst organic beings in a state of nature there is some individual variability: indeed I am not aware that this has ever been disputed. It is immaterial for us whether a multitude of doubtful forms be called species or sub-species or varieties; what rank, for instance, the two or three hundred doubtful forms of British plants are entitled to hold, if the existence of any well-marked varieties be admitted. But the mere existence of individual variability and of some few well-marked varieties, though necessary as the foundation for the work, helps us but little in understanding how species arise in nature. How have all those exquisite adaptations of one part of the organisation to another part, and to the conditions of life, and of one organic being to another being, been perfected? We see these beautiful co-adaptations most plainly in the woodpecker and the mistletoe; and only a little less plainly in the humblest parasite which clings to the hairs of a quadruped or feathers of a bird: in the structure of the beetle which dives through the water : in the plumed seed which is wafted by the gentlest breeze; in short, we see beautiful adaptations everywhere and in every part of the organic world.

Again, it may be asked, how is it that varieties, which I have called incipient species, become ultimately converted into good and distinct species, which in most cases obviously differ from each other far more than do the varieties of the same species? How do those groups of species, which constitute what are called distinct genera, and which differ from each other more than do the species of the same genus, arise? All these results, as we shall more fully see in the next chapter, follow from the struggle for life. Owing to this struggle, variations, however slight and from whatever cause proceeding, if they be in any degree profitable to the individuals of a species, in their infinitely complex relations to other organic beings and to their physical conditions of life, will tend to the preservation of such individuals, and will generally be inherited by the offspring. The offspring, also, will thus have a better chance of surviving, for, of the many individuals of any species which are periodically born, but a small number can survive. I have called this principle, by which each slight variation, if useful, is preserved, by the term Natural Selection, in order to mark its relation to man’s power of selection. But the expression often used by Mr. Herbert Spencer of the Survival of the Fittest is more accurate, and is sometimes equally convenient. We have seen that man by selection can certainly produce great results, and can adapt organic beings to his own uses, through the accumulation of slight but useful variations, given to him by the hand of Nature. But Natural Selection, as we shall hereafter see, is a power incessantly ready for action, and is as immeasurably superior to man’s feeble efforts, as the works of Nature are to those of Art.

We will discuss in a little more detail the struggle for existence. In my future work this subject will be treated, as it well deserves, at greater length. The elder De Candolle and Lyell have largely and philosophically shown that all organic beings are exposed to severe competition. In regard to plants, no one has treated this subject with more spirit and ability than W. Herbert, Dean of Manchester, evidently the result of his great horticultural knowledge. Nothing is easier than to admit in words the truth of the universal struggle for life, or more difficult — at least, I have found it so — than constantly to bear this conclusion in mind. Yet unless it be thoroughly engrained in the mind, the whole economy of nature, with every fact on distribution, rarity, abundance, extinction, and variation, will be dimly seen or quite misunderstood. We behold the face of nature bright with gladness, we often see superabundance of food; we do not see, or we forget, that the birds which are idly singing round us mostly live on insects or seeds, and are thus constantly destroying life; or we forget how largely these songsters, or their eggs, or their nestlings, are destroyed by birds and beasts of prey; we do not always bear in mind, that, though food may be now superabundant, it is not so at all seasons of each recurring year.

THE TERM, STRUGGLE FOR EXISTENCE, USED IN A LARGE SENSE

I should premise that I use this term in a large and metaphorical sense including dependence of one being on another, and including (which is more important) not only the life of the individual, but success in leaving progeny. Two canine animals, in a time of dearth, may be truly said to struggle with each other which shall get food and live. But a plant on the edge of a desert is said to struggle for life against the drought, though more properly it should be said to be dependent on the moisture. A plant which annually produces a thousand seeds, of which only one of an average comes to maturity, may be more truly said to struggle with the plants of the same and other kinds which already clothe the ground. The mistletoe is dependent on the apple and a few other trees, but can only in a far-fetched sense be said to struggle with these trees, for, if too many of these parasites grow on the same tree, it languishes and dies. But several seedling mistletoes, growing close together on the same branch, may more truly be said to struggle with each other. As the mistletoe is disseminated by birds, its existence depends on them; and it may metaphorically be said to struggle with other fruit-bearing plants, in tempting the birds to devour and thus disseminate its seeds. In these several senses, which pass into each other, I use for convenience sake the general term of Struggle for Existence.

GEOMETRICAL RATIO OF INCREASE

A struggle for existence inevitably follows from the high rate at which all organic beings tend to increase. Every being, which during its natural lifetime produces several eggs or seeds, must suffer destruction during some period of its life, and during some season or occasional year, otherwise, on the principle of geometrical increase, its numbers would quickly become so inordinately great that no country could support the product. Hence, as more individuals are produced than can possibly survive, there must in every case be a struggle for existence, either one individual with another of the same species, or with the individuals of distinct species, or with the physical conditions of life. It is the doctrine of Malthus applied with manifold force to the whole animal and vegetable kingdoms; for in this case there can be no artificial increase of food, and no prudential restraint from marriage. Although some species may be now increasing, more or less rapidly, in numbers, all cannot do so, for the world would not hold them.

There is no exception to the rule that every organic being naturally increases at so high a rate, that, if not destroyed, the earth would soon be covered by the progeny of a single pair. Even slow-breeding man has doubled in twenty-five years, and at this rate in less than a thousand years, there would literally not be standing-room for his progeny. Linnaeus has calculated that if an annual plant produced only two seeds — and there is no plant so unproductive as this — and their seedlings next year produced two, and so on, then in twenty years there would be a million plants. The elephant is reckoned the slowest breeder of all known animals, and I have taken some pains to estimate its probable minimum rate of natural increase ; it will be safest to assume that it begins breeding when thirty years old, and goes on breeding till ninety years old, bringing forth six young in the interval, and surviving till one hundred years old; if this be so, after a period of from 740 to 750 years there would be nearly nineteen million elephants alive, descended from the first pair.

But we have better evidence on this subject than mere theoretical calculations, namely, the numerous recorded cases of the astonishingly rapid increase of various animals in a state of nature, when circumstances have been favourable to them during two or three following seasons. Still more striking is the evidence from our domestic animals of many kinds which have run wild in several parts of the world; if the statements of the rate of increase of slow-breeding cattle and horses in South America, and latterly in Australia, had not been well authenticated, they would have been incredible. So it is with plants: cases could be given of introduced plants which have become common throughout whole islands in a period of less than ten years. Several of the plants, such as the cardoon and a tall thistle, which are now the commonest over the wide plains of La Plata, clothing square leagues of surface almost to the exclusion of every other plant, have been introduced from Europe; and there are plants which now range in India, as I hear from Dr. Falconer, from Cape Comorin to the Himalaya, which have been imported from America since its discover)-. In such cases, and endless others could be given, no one supposes, that the fertility of the animals or plants has been suddenly and temporarily increased in any sensible degree. The obvious explanation is that the conditions of life have been higlily favourable, and that there has constantly been less destruction of the old and young, and that nearly all the young have been enabled to breed. Their geometrical ratio of increase, the result of which never fails to be surprising, simply explains their extraordinarily rapid increase and wide diffusion in their new homes.

In a state of nature almost ever}’ full-grown plant annually produces seed, and amongst animals there are very few which do not annually pair. Hence we may confidently assert, that all plants and animals are tending to increase at a geometrical ratio, — that all would rapidly stock ever}station in which they could anyhow exist, — and that this geometrical tendency to increase must be checked by destruction at some period of life. Our familiarity with the larger domestic animals tends, I think, to mislead us : we see no great destruction falling on them, but we do not keep in mind that thousands are annually slaughtered for food, and that in a state of nature an equal number would have somehow to be disposed of.

The only difference between organisms which annually produce eggs or seeds by the thousand, and those which produce extremely few, is, that the slow-breeders would require a few more years to people, under favourable conditions, a whole district, let it be ever so large. The condor lays a couple of eggs and the ostrich a score, and yet in the same country the condor may be the more numerous of the two, the Fulmar petrel lays but one egg, yet it is believed to be the most numerous bird in the world. One fly deposits hundreds of eggs, and another, like the hippobosca, a single one; but this difference does not determine how many individuals of the two species can be supported in a district. A large number of eggs is of some importance to those species which depend on a fluctuating amount of food, for it allows them rapidly to increase in number. But the real importance of a large number of eggs or seeds is to make up for much destruction at some period of life; and this period in the great majority of cases is an early one. If an animal can in any way protect its own eggs or young, a small number may be produced, and yet the average stock be fully kept up; but if many eggs or young are destroyed, many must be produced, or the species will become extinct. It would suffice to keep up the full number of a tree, which lived on an average for a thousand years, if a single seed were produced once in a thousand years, supposing that this seed were never destroyed, and could be ensured to germinate in a fitting place. So that, in all cases, the average number of any animal or plant depends only indirectly on the number of its eggs or seeds.

In looking at Nature, it is most necessary to keep the foregoing considerations always in mind — never to forget that every single organic being may be said to be striving to the utmost to increase in numbers; that each lives by a struggle at some period of its life; that heavy destruction inevitably falls either on the young or old, during each generation or at recurrent intervals. Lighten any check, mitigate the destruction ever so little, and the number of the species will almost instantaneously increase to any amount.

NATURE OF THE CHECKS TO INCREASE

The causes which check the natural tendency of each species to increase are most obscure. Look at the most vigorous species; by as much as it swarms in numbers, by so much will it tend to increase still further. We know not exactly what the checks are even in a single instance. Nor will this surprise any one who reflects how ignorant we are on this head, even in regard to mankind, although so incomparably better known than any other animal. This subject of the checks to increase has been ably treated by several authors, and I hope in a future work to discuss it at considerable length, more especially in regard to the feral animals of South America. Here I will make only a few remarks, just to recall to the reader’s mind some of the chief points. Eggs or very young animals seem generally to suffer most, but this is not invariably the case. With plants there is a vast destruction of seeds, but, from some observations which I have made, it appears that the seedlings suffer most from germinating in ground already thickly stocked with other plants. Seedlings, also, are destroyed in vast numbers by various enemies ; for instance, on a piece of ground three feet long and two wide, dug and cleared, and where there could be no choking from other plants, I marked all the seedlings of our native weeds as they came up, and out of 357 no less than 295 were destroyed, chiefly by slugs and insects. If turf which has long been mown, and the case would be the same with turf closely browsed by quadrupeds, be let to grow, the more vigorous plants gradually kill the less vigorous, though fully grown plants ; thus out of twenty species growing on a little plot of mown turf (three feet by four) nine species perished, from the other species being allowed to grow up freely.

The amount of food for each species of course gives the extreme limit to which each can increase; but very frequently it is not the obtaining food, but the serving as prey to other animals, which determines the average numbers of a species. Thus, there seems to be little doubt that the stock of partridges, grouse and hares on any large estate depends chiefly on the destruction of vermin. If not one head of game were shot during the next twenty years in England, and, at the same time, if no vermin were destroyed, there would, in all probability, be less game than at present, although hundreds of thousands of game animals are now annually shot. On the other hand, in some cases, as with the elephant, none are destroyed by beasts of prey; for even the tiger in India most rarely dares to attack a young elephant protected by its dam.

Climate plays an important part in determining the average numbers of a species, and periodical seasons of extreme cold or drought seem to be the most effective of all checks. I estimated (chiefly from the greatly reduced numbers of nests in the spring) that the winter of 1854-5 destroyed four fifths of the birds in my own grounds ; and this is a tremendous destruction, when we remember that ten per cent, is an extraordinarily severe mortality from epidemics with man. The action of climate seems at first sight to be quite independent of the struggle for existence ; but in so far as climate chiefly acts in reducing food, it brings on the most severe struggle between the individuals, whether of the same or of distinct species, which subsist on the same kind of food. Even when climate, for instance extreme cold, acts directly, it will be the least vigorous individuals, or those which have got least food through the advancing winter, which will suffer most. When we travel from south to north, or from a damp region to a dry, we invariably see some species gradually getting rarer and rarer, and finally disappearing; and the change of climate being conspicuous, we are tempted to attribute the whole effect to its direct action. But this is a false view; we forget that each species, even where it most abounds, is constantly suffering enormous destruction at some period of its life, from enemies or from competitors for the same place and food; and if these enemies or competitors be in the least degree favoured by any slight change of climate, they will increase in numbers; and as each area is already fully stocked with inhabitants, the other species must decrease. When we travel southward and see a species decreasing in numbers, we may feel sure that the cause lies quite as much in other species being favoured, as in this one being hurt. So it is when we travel northward, but in a somewhat lesser degree, for the number of species of all kinds, and therefore of competitors, decreases northwards; hence in going northwards, or in ascending a mountain, we far oftener meet with stunted forms, due to the directly injurious action of climate, than we do in proceeding southwards or in descending a mountain. When v/e reach the Arctic regions, or snow-capped summits, or absolute deserts, the struggle for life is almost exclusively with the elements.

That climate acts in main part indirectly by favouring other species, we clearly see in the prodigious number of plants which in our gardens can perfectly well endure our climate, but which never became naturalised, for they cannot compete with our native plants nor resist destruction by our native animals.

When a species, owing to highly favoured circumstances, increases inordinately in numbers in a small tract, epidemics — at least, this seems generally to occur with our game animals — often ensue; and here we have a limiting check independent of the struggle for life. But even some of these so-called epidemics appear to be due to parasitic worms, which have from some cause, possibly in part through facility of diffusion amongst the crowded animals, been disproportion ally favoured : and here comes in a sort of struggle between the parasite and its prey.

On the other hand, in many cases, a large stock of individuals of the same species, relatively to the numbers of its enemies, is absolutely necessary for its preservation. Thus we can easily raise plenty of corn and rape-seed, &c., in our fields, because the seeds are in great excess, compared with the number of birds which feed on them ; nor can the birds, though having a superabundance of food at this one season, increase in number proportionally to the supply of seed, as their numbers are checked during winter ; but any one who has tried, knows how troublesome it is to get seed from a few wheat or other such plants in a garden : I have in this case lost every single seed. This view of the necessity of a large stock of the same species for its preservation, explains, I believe, some singular facts in nature such as that of very rare plants being sometimes extremely abundant, in the few spots where they do exist; and that of some social plants being social, that is abounding in individuals, even on the extreme verge of their range. For in such cases, we may believe, that a plant could exist only where the conditions of its life were so favourable that many could exist together, and thus save the species from utter destruction. I should add that the good effects of intercrossing, and the ill effects of close interbreeding, no doubt come into play in many of these cases; but I will not here enlarge on this subject.

COMPLEX RELATIONS OF ALL ANIMALS AND PLANTS TO EACH OTHER IN THE STRUGGLE FOR EXISTENCE

Many cases are on record showing how complex and unexpected are the checks and relations between organic beings, which have to struggle together in the same country. I will give only a single instance, which, though a simple one, interested me. In Staffordshire, on the estate of a relation, where I had ample means of investigation, there was a large and extremely barren heath, which had never been touched by the hand of man ; but several acres of exactly the same nature had been enclosed twenty-five years previously and planted with Scotch fir. The change in the native vegetation of the planted part of the heath was most remarkable, more than is generally seen in passing from one quite different soil to another: not only the proportional numbers of the heath-plants were wholly changed, but twelve species of plants (not counting grasses and carices) flourished in the plantations, which could not be found on the heath. The effect on the insects must have been still greater, for six insectivorous birds were very common in the plantations, which were not to be seen on the heath; and the heath was frequented by two or three distinct insectivorous birds. Here we see how potent has been the effect of the introduction of a single tree, nothing whatever else having been done, with the exception of the land having been enclosed, so that cattle could not enter. But how important an element enclosure is, I plainly saw near Farnham, in Surrey. Here there are extensive heaths, with a few clumps of old Scotch firs on the distant hilltops: within the last ten years large spaces have been enclosed, and self-sown firs are now springing up in multitudes, so close together that all cannot live. When I ascertained that these young trees had not been sown or planted, I was so much surprised at their numbers that I went to several points of view, whence I could examine hundreds of acres of the unenclosed heath, and literally I could not see a single Scotch fir, except the old planted clumps. But on looking closely between the stems of the heath, I found a multitude of seedlings and little trees which had been perpetually browsed down by the cattle. In one square yard, at a point some hundred yards distant from one of the old clumps, I counted thirty-two little trees; and one of them, with twenty-six rings of growth, had, during many years, tried to raise its head above the stems of the heath, and had failed. No wonder that, as soon as the land was enclosed, it became thickly clothed with vigorously growing young firs. Yet the heath was so extremely barren and so extensive that no one would ever have imagined that cattle would have so closely and effectually searched it for food. Here we see that cattle absolutely determine the existence of the Scotch fir; but in several parts of the world insects determine the existence of cattle. Perhaps Paraguay offers the most curious instance of this; for here neither cattle nor horses nor dogs have ever run wild, though they swarm southward and northward in a feral state; and Azara and Rengger have shown that this is caused by the greater number in Paraguay of a certain fly, which lays its eggs in the navels of these animals when first born. The increase of these flies, numerous as they are, must be habitually checked by some means, probably by other parasitic insects. Hence, if certain insectivorous birds were to decrease in Paraguay, the parasitic insects would probably increase; and this would lessen the number of the navel-frequenting flies—then cattle and horses would become feral, and this would certainly greatly alter (as indeed I have observed in parts of South America) the vegetation: this again would largely affect the insects; and this, as we have just seen in Staffordshire, the insectivorous birds, and so onwards in ever-increasing circles of complexity. Not that under nature the relations will ever be as simple as this. Battle within battle must be continually recurring with varying success; and yet in the long-run the forces are so nicely balanced, that the face of nature remains for long periods of time uniform, though assuredly the merest trifle would give the victory to one organic being over another. Nevertheless, so profound is our ignorance, and so high our presumption, that we marvel when we hear of the extinction of an organic being; and as we do not see the cause, we invoke cataclysms to desolate the world, or invent laws on the duration of the forms of life !

I am tempted to give one more instance showing how plants and animals, remote in the scale of nature, are bound together by a web of complex relations. I shall hereafter have occasion to show that the exotic Lobelia fulgens is never visited in my garden by insects, and consequently, from its peculiar structure, never sets a seed. Nearly all our orchidaceous plants absolutely require the visits of insects to remove their pollen-masses and thus to fertilise them. I find from experiments that humble-bees are almost indispensable to the fertilisation of the heartsease (Viola tricolour), for other bees do not visit this flower. I have also found that the visits of bees are necessary for the fertilisation of some kinds of clover; for instance, 20 heads of Dutch clover (Trifolium repens) yielded 2,290 seeds, but 20 other heads protected from bees produced not one. Again, 100 heads of red clover (T. pratense) produced 2,700 seeds, but the same number of protected heads produced not a single seed. Humble-bees alone visit red clover, as other bees cannot reach the nectar. It has been suggested that moths may fertilise the clovers; but I doubt whether they could do so in the case of the red clover, from their weight not being sufficient to depress the wing petals. Hence we may infer as highly probable that, if the whole genus of humble-bees became extinct or very rare in England, the heartsease and red clover would become very rare, or wholly disappear. The number of humble-bees in any district depends in a great measure upon the number of field-mice, which destroy their combs and nests ; and Col. Newman, who has long attended to the habits of humble-bees, believes that "more than two-thirds of them are thus destroyed all over England." Now the number of mice is largely dependent, as every one knows, on the number of cats; and Col. Newman says, "Near villages and small towns I have found the nests of humble bees more numerous than elsewhere, which I attribute to the number of cats that destroy the mice." Hence it is quite credible that the presence of a feline animal in large numbers in a district might determine, through the intervention first of mice and then of bees, the frequency of certain flowers in that district !

In the case of every species, many different checks, acting at different periods of life, and during different seasons or years, probably come into play ; some one check or some few being generally the most potent; but all will concur in determining the average number or even the existence of the species. In some cases it can be shown that widely-different checks act on the same species in different districts. When we look at the plants and bushes clothing an entangled bank, we are tempted to attribute their proportional numbers and kinds to what we call chance. But how false a view is this ! Every one has heard that when an American forest is cut down, a very different vegetation springs up; but it has been observed that ancient Indian ruins in the Southern United States, which must formerly have been cleared of trees, now display the same beautiful diversity and proportion of kinds as in the surrounding virgin forest. What a struggle must have gone on during long centuries between the several kinds of trees, each annually scattering its seeds by the thousand; what war between insect and insect — between insects, snails, and other animals with birds and beasts of prey — all striving to increase, all feeding on each other, or on the trees, their seeds and seedlings, or on the other plants which first clothed the ground and thus checked the growth of the trees ! Throw up a handful of feathers, and all fall to the ground according to definite laws; but how simple is tile problem where each shall fall compared to that of the action and reaction of the innumerable plants and animals which have determined, in the course of centuries, the proportional numbers and kinds of trees now growing on the old Indian ruins !

The dependency of one organic being on another, as of a parasite on its prey, lies generally between beings remote in the scale of nature. This is likewise sometimes the case with those which may be strictly said to struggle with each other for existence, as in the case of locusts and grass feeding quadrupeds. But the struggle will almost invariably be most severe between the individuals of the same species, for they frequent the same districts, require the same food, and are exposed to the same dangers. In the case of varieties of the same species, the struggle will generally be almost equally severe, and we sometimes see the contest soon decided : for instance, if several varieties of wheat be sown together, and the mixed seed be resown, some of the varieties which best suit the soil or climate, or are naturally the most fertile, will beat the others and so yield more seed, and will consequently in a few years supplant the other varieties. To keep up a mixed stock of even such extremely close varieties as the variously-coloured sweet peas, they must be each year harvested separately, and the seed then mixed in due proportion, otherwise the weaker kinds will steadily decrease in number and disappear. So again with the varieties of sheep; it has been asserted that certain mountain-varieties will starve out other mountain-varieties, so that they cannot be kept together. The same result has followed from keeping together different varieties of the medicinal leech. It may even be doubted whether the varieties of any of our domestic plants or animals have so exactly the same strength, habits, and constitution, that the original proportions of a mixed stock (crossing being prevented) could be kept up for half-a-dozen generations, if they were allowed to struggle together, in the same manner as beings in a state of nature, and if the seed or young were not annually preserved in due proportion.

STRUGGLE FOR LIFE MOST SEVERE BETWEEN INDIVIDUALS AND VARIETIES OF THE SAME SPECIES

As the species of the same genus usually have, though by no means invariably, much similarity in habits and constitution, and always in structure, the struggle will generally be more severe between them, if they come into competition with each other, than between the species of distinct genera. We see this in the recent extension over parts of the United States of one species of swallow having caused the decrease of another species. The recent increase of the missel-thrush in parts of Scotland has caused the decrease of the song thrush. How frequently we hear of one species of rat taking the place of another species under the most different climates ! In Russia the small Asiatic cockroach has everywhere driven before it its great congener. In Australia the imported hive-bee is rapidly exterminating the small, sting less native bee. One species of charlock has been known to supplant another species; and so in other cases. We can dimly see why the competition should be most severe between allied forms, which fill nearly the same place in the economy of nature ; but probably in no one case could we precisely say why one species has been victorious over another in the great battle of life.

A corollary of the highest importance may be deduced from the foregoing remarks, namely, that the structure of every organic being is related, in the most essential yet often hidden manner, to that of all the other organic beings, with which it comes into competition for food or residence, or from which it has to escape, or on which it preys. This is obvious in the structure of the teeth and talons of the tiger ; . and in that of the legs and claws of the parasite which clings to the hair on the tiger’s body. But in the beautifully plumed seed of the dandelion, and in the flattened and fringed legs of the water-beetle, the relation seems at first confined to the elements of air and water. Yet the advantage of plumed seeds no doubt stands in the closest relation to the land being already thickly clothed with other plants ; so that the seeds may be widely distributed and fall on unoccupied ground. In the water-beetle, the structure of its legs, so well adapted for diving, allows it to compete with other aquatic insects, to hunt for its own prey, and to escape serving as prey to other animals.

The store of nutriment laid up within the seeds of many plants seems at first sight to have no sort of relation to other plants. But from the strong growth of young plants produced from such seeds, as peas and beans, when sown in the midst of long grass, it may be suspected that the chief use of the nutriment in the seed is to favour the growth of the seedlings, whilst struggling with other plants growing all around.

Look at a plant in the midst of its range, why does it not double or quadruple its numbers? We know that it can perfectly well withstand a little more heat or cold, dampness or dryness, for elsewhere it ranges into slightly hotter or colder, damper or drier districts. In this case we can clearly see that if we wish in imagination to give the plant the power of increasing in number, we should have to give it some advantage over its competitors, or over the animals which prey on it. On the confines of its geographical range, a change of constitution with respect to climate would clearly be an advantage to our plant ; but we have reason to believe that only a few plants or animals range so far, that they are destroyed exclusively by the rigour of the climate. Not until we reach the extreme confines of life, in the Arctic regions or on the borders of an utter desert, will competition cease. The land may be extremely cold or dry, yet there will be competition between some few species, or between the individuals of the same species, for the warmest or dampest spots.

Hence we can see that when a plant or animal is placed in a new country amongst new competitors, the conditions of its life will generally be changed in an essential manner, although the climate may be exactly the same as in its former home. If its average numbers are to increase in its new home, we should have to modify it in a different way to what we should have had to do in its native country; for we should have to give it some advantage over a different set of competitors or enemies.

It is good thus to try in imagination to give to any one species an advantage over another. Probably in no single instance should we know what to do. This ought to convince us of our ignorance on the mutual relations of all organic beings ; a conviction as necessary, as it is difficult to acquire. All that we can do, is to keep steadily in mind that each organic being is striving to increase in a geometrical ratio; that each at some period of its life, during some season of the year, during each generation or at intervals, has to struggle for life and to suffer great destruction. When we reflect on this struggle, we may console ourselves with the full belief, that the war of nature is not incessant, that no fear is felt, that death is generally prompt, and that the vigorous, the healthy, and the happy survive and multiply.

CHAPTER IV Natural Selection ; or the Survival of the Fittest

Natural Selection — its power compared with man’s selection — its power on characters of trifling importance — its power at all ages and on both sexes — Sexual selection — On the generality of intercrosses between individuals of the same species — Circumstances favourable and unfavourable to the results of Natural Selection, namely, intercrossing, isolation, number of individuals — Slow action — Extinction caused by Natural Selection — Divergence of Character, related to the diversity of inhabitants of any small area, and to naturalisation — Action of Natural Selection, through divergence of Character and Extinction, on the descendants from a common parent — Explains the grouping of all organic beings — Advance in organisation — Low forms preserved — Convergence of Character — Indefinite multiplication of species — Summary.

HOW will the struggle for existence, briefly discussed in the last chapter, act in regard to variation? Can the principle of selection, which we have seen is so potent in the hands of man, apply under nature? I think we shall see that it can act most efficiently. Let the endless number of slight variations and individual differences occurring in our domestic productions, and, in a lesser degree, in those under nature, be borne in mind ; as well as the strength of the hereditary tendency. Under domestication, it may be truly said that the whole organisation becomes in some degree plastic. But the variability, which we almost universally meet with in our domestic productions, is not directly produced, as Hooker and Asa Gray have well remarked, by man ; he can neither originate varieties, nor prevent their occurrence ; he can only preserve and accumulate such as do occur. Unintentionally he exposes organic beings to new and changing conditions of life, and variability ensues; but similar changes of conditions might and do occur under nature. Let it also be borne in mind how infinitely complex and closefitting are the mutual relations of all organic beings to each other and to their physical conditions of life; and consequently what infinitely varied diversities of structure might be of use to each being under changing conditions of life. Can it, then, be thought improbable, seeing that variations useful to man have undoubtedly occurred, that other variations useful in some way to each being in the great and complex battle of life, should occur in the course of many successive generations? If such do occur, can we doubt (remembering that many more individuals are born than can possibly survive) that individuals having any advantage, however slight, over others, would have the best chance of surviving and of procreating their kind ? On the other hand, we may feel sure that any variation in the least degree injurious would be rigidly destroyed. This preservation of favourable individual differences and variations, and the destruction of those which are injurious, I have called Natural Selection, or the Survival of the Fittest. Variations neither useful nor injurious would not be affected by natural selection, and would be left either a fluctuating element, as perhaps we see in certain polymorphic species, or would ultimately become fixed, owing to the nature of the organism and the nature of the conditions.

Several writers have misapprehended or objected to the term Natural Selection. Some have even imagined that natural selection induces variability, whereas it implies only the preservation of such variations as arise and are beneficial to the being under its conditions of life. No one objects to agriculturists speaking of the potent effects of man’s selection; and in this case the individual differences given by nature, which man for some object selects, must of necessity first occur. Others have objected that the term selection implies conscious choice in the animals which become modified; and it has even been urged that, as plants have no volition, natural selection is not applicable to them! In the literal sense of the word, no doubt, natural selection is a false term ; but who ever objected to chemists speaking of the elective affinities of the various elements? — and yet an acid cannot strictly be said to elect the base with which it in preference combines. It has been said that I speak of natural selection as an active power or Deity; but who objects to an author speaking of the attraction of gravity as ruling the movements of the planets? Every one knows what is meant and is implied by such metaphorical expressions ; and they are almost necessary for brevity. So again it is difficult to avoid personifying the word Nature; but I mean by Nature, only the aggregate action and product of many natural laws, and by laws the sequence of events as ascertained by us. With a little familiarity such superficial objections will be forgotten.

We shall best understand the probable course of natural selection by taking the case of a country undergoing some slight physical change, for instance, of climate. The proportional numbers of its inhabitants will almost immediately undergo a change, and some species will probably become extinct. We may conclude, from what we have seen of the intimate and complex manner in which the inhabitants of each country are bound together, that any change in the numerical proportions of the inhabitants, independently of the change of climate itself, would seriously affect the others. If the country were open on its borders, new forms would certainly immigrate, and this would likewise seriously disturb the relations of some of the former inhabitants. Let it be remembered how powerful the influence of a single introduced tree or mammal has been shown to be. But in the case of an island, or of a country partly surrounded by barriers, into which new and better adapted forms could not freely enter, we should then have places in the economy of nature which would assuredly be better filled up, if some of the original inhabitants were in some manner modified; for, had the area been open to immigration, these same places would have been seized on by intruders. In such cases, slight modifications, which in any way favoured the individuals of any species, by better adapting them to their altered conditions, would tend to be preserved; and natural selection would have free scope for the work of improvement.

We have good reason to believe, as shown in the first chapter, that changes in the conditions of life give a tendency to increased variability; and in the foregoing cases the conditions have changed, and this would manifestly be favourable to natural selection, by affording a better chance of the occurrence of profitable variations. Unless such occur, natural selection can do nothing. Under the term of "variations," it must never be forgotten that mere individual differences are included. As man can produce a great result with his domestic animals and plants by adding up in any given direction individual differences, so could natural selection, but far more easily from having incomparably longer time for action. Nor do I believe that any great physical change, as of climate, or any unusual degree of isolation to check immigration, Is necessary in order that new and unoccupied places should be left, for natural selection to fill up by improving some of the varying inhabitants. For as all the inhabitants of each country are struggling together with nicely balanced forces, extremely slight modifications in the structure or habits of one species would often give it an advantage over others; and still further modifications of the same kind would often still further increase the advantage, as long as the species continued under the same conditions of life and profited by similar means of subsistence and defence. No country can be named in which all the native inhabitants are now so perfectly adapted to each other and to the physical conditions under which they live, that none of them could be still better adapted or improved; for in all countries, the natives have been so far conquered by naturalised productions, that they have allowed some foreigners to take firm possession of the land. And as foreigners have thus in every country beaten some of the natives, we may safely conclude that the natives might have been modified with advantage, so as to have better resisted the intruders.

As man can produce, and certainly has produced, a great result by his methodical and unconscious means of selection, what may not natural selection effect? Man can act only on external and visible characters : Nature, if I may be allowed to personify the natural preservation or survival of the fittest, cares nothing for appearances, except in so far as they are useful to any being. She can act on every internal organ, on every shade of constitutional difference, on the whole machinery of life. Man selects only for his own good: Nature only for that of the being which she tends. Every selected character is fully exercised by her, as is implied by the fact of their selection. Man keeps the natives of many climates in the same country; he seldom exercises each selected character in some peculiar and filling manner ; he feeds a long and a short beaked pigeon on the same food ; he does not exercise a long-backed or long-legged quadruped in any peculiar manner ; he exposes sheep with long and short wool to the same climate. He does not allow the most vigorous males to struggle for the females. He does not rigidly destroy all inferior animals, but protects during each varying season, as far as lies in his power, all his productions. He often begins his selection by some half-monstrous form ; or at least by some modification prominent enough to catch the eye or to be plainly useful to him. Under nature, the slightest differences of structure or constitution may well turn the nicely-balanced scale in the struggle for life, and so be preserved. How fleeting are the wishes and efforts of man ! how short his time ! and consequently how poor will be his results, compared with those accumulated by Nature during whole geological periods? Can we wonder, then, that Nature’s productions should be far "truer" in character than man’s productions ; that they should be infinitely better adapted to the most complex conditions of life, and should plainly bear the stamp of far higher workmanship ?

It may metaphorically be said that natural selection is daily and hourly scrutinising, throughout the world, the slightest variations; rejecting those that are bad, preserving and adding up all that are good; silently and insensibly working, whenever and wherever opportunity offers, at the improvement of each organic being in relation to its organic and inorganic conditions of life. We see nothing of these slow changes in progress, until the hand of time has marked the lapse of ages, and then so imperfect is our view into long past geological ages, that we see only that the forms of life are now different from what they formerly were.

In order that any great amount of modification should be effected in a species, a variety when once formed must again, perhaps after a long interval of time, vary or present individual differences of the same favourable nature as before ; and these must be again preserved, and so onwards step by step. Seeing that individual differences of the same kind perpetually recur, this can hardly be considered as an unwarrantable assumption. But whether it is true, we can judge only by seeing how far the hypothesis accords with and explains the general phenomena of nature. On the other hand, the ordinary belief that the amount of possible variation is a strictly limited quantity is likewise a simple assumption.

Although natural selection can act only through and for the good of each being, yet characters and structures, which we are apt to consider as of very trifling importance, may thus be acted on. When we see leaf-eating insects green, and bark feeders mottled-grey; the alpine ptarmigan white in winter, the red-grouse the colour of heather, we must believe that these tints are of service to these birds and insects in preserving them from danger. Grouse, if not destroyed at some period of their lives, would increase in countless numbers ; they are known to suffer largely from birds of prey; and hawks are guided by eyesight to their prey — so much so, that on parts of the Continent persons are warned not to keep white pigeons, as being the most liable to destruction. Hence natural selection might be effective in giving the proper colour to each kind of grouse, and in keeping that colour, when once acquired, true and constant. Nor ought we to think that the occasional destruction of an animal of any particular colour would produce little effect: we should remember how essential it is in a flock of white sheep to destroy a lamb with the faintest trace of black. We have seen how the colour of the hogs, which feed on the "paint-root" in Virginia, determines whether they shall live or die. In plants, the down on the fruit and the colour of the flesh are considered by botanists as characters of the most trifling importance : yet we hear from an excellent horticulturist. Downing, that in the United States smooth-skinned fruits suffer far more from a beetle, a Curculio, than those with down; that purple plums suffer far more from a certain disease than yellow plums, whereas another disease attacks yellow-fleshed peaches far more than those with other coloured flesh. If, with all the aids of art, these slight differences make a great difference in cultivating the several varieties, assuredly, in a state of nature, where the trees would have to struggle with other trees and with a host of enemies, such differences would effectually settle which variety, whether a smooth or downy, a yellow or purple fleshed fruit, should succeed.

In looking at many small points of difference between species, which, as far as our ignorance permits us to judge, seem quite unimportant, we must not forget that climate, food, &c., have no doubt produced some direct effect. It is also necessary to bear in mind that, owing to the law of correlation, when one part varies, and the variations are accumulated through natural selection, other modifications, often of the most unexpected nature, will ensue.

As we see that those variations which, under domestication, appear at any particular period of life, tend to reappear in the offspring at the same period; — for instance, in the shape, size, and flavour of the seeds of the many varieties of our culinary and agricultural plants ; in the caterpillar and cocoon stages of the varieties of the silkworm ; in the eggs or poultry, and in the colour of the down of their chickens; in the horns of our sheep and cattle when nearly adult; — so in a state of nature natural selection will be enabled to act on and modify organic beings at any age, by the accumulation of variations profitable at that age, and by their inheritance at a corresponding age. If it profit a plant to have its seeds more and more widely disseminated by the wind, I can see no greater difficulty in this being effected through natural selection, than in the cotton-planter increasing and improving by selection the down in the pods on his cotton-trees. Natural selection may modify and adapt the larva of an insect to a score of contingencies, wholly different from those which concern the mature insect; and these modifications may effect, through correlation, the structure of the adult. So, conversely, modifications in the adult may affect the structure of the larva ; but in all cases natural selection will ensure that they shall not be injurious: for if they were so, the species would become extinct.

Natural selection will modify)^ the structure of the young in relation to the parent, and of the parent in relation to the young. In social animals it will adapt the structure of each individual for the benefit of the whole community; if the community profits by the selected change. What natural selection cannot do, is to modify the structure of one species, without giving it any advantage, for the good of another species ; and though statements to this effect may be found in works of natural history, I cannot find one case which will bear investigation. A structure used only once in an animal’s life, if of high importance to it, might be modified to any extent by natural selection; for instance, the great jaws possessed by certain insects, used exclusively for opening the cocoon — or the hard tip to the beak of unhatched birds, used for breaking the egg. It has been asserted, that of the best short-beaked tumbler-pigeons a greater number perish in the egg than are able to get out of it; so that fanciers assist in the act of hatching. Now if nature had to make the beak of a full-grown pigeon very short for the bird’s own advantage, the process of modification would be very slow, and there would be simultaneously the most rigorous selection of all the young birds within the egg, which had the most powerful and hardest beaks, for all with weak beaks would inevitably perish ; or, more delicate and more easily broken shells might be selected, the thickness of the shell being known to vary like every other structure.

It may be well here to remark that with all beings there must be much fortuitous destruction, which can have little or no influence on the course of natural selection. For instance a vast number of eggs or seeds are annually devoured, and these could be modified through natural selection only if they varied in some manner which protected them from their enemies. Yet many of these eggs or seeds would perhaps, if not destroyed, have yielded individuals better adapted to their conditions of life than any of those which happened to survive. So again a vast number of mature animals and plants, whether or not they be the best adapted to their conditions, must be annually destroyed by accidental causes, which would not be in the least degree mitigated by certain changes of structure or constitution which would in other ways be beneficial to the species. But let the destruction of the adults be ever so heavy, if the number which can exist in any district be not wholly kept down by such causes, — or again let the destruction of eggs or seeds be so great that only a hundredth or a thousandth part are developed, — yet of those which do survive, the best adapted individuals, supposing that there is any variability in a favourable direction, will tend to propagate their kind in larger numbers than the less well adapted.

If the numbers be wholly kept down by the causes just indicated, as will often have been the case, natural selection will be powerless in certain beneficial directions; but this is no valid objection to its efficiency at other times and in other ways; for we are far from having any reason to suppose that many species ever undergo modification and improvement at the same time in the same area.

SEXUAL SELECTION.

Inasmuch as peculiarities often appear under domestication in one sex and become hereditarily attached to that sex, so no doubt it will be under nature. Thus it is rendered possible for the two sexes to be modified through natural selection in relation to different habits of life, as is sometimes the case ; or for one sex to be modified in relation to the other sex, as commonly occurs. This leads me to say a few words on what I have called Sexual Selection. This form of selection depends, not on a struggle for existence in relation to other organic beings or to external conditions, but on a struggle between the individuals of one sex, generally the males, for the possession of the other sex. The result is not death to the unsuccessful competitor, but few or no offspring. Sexual selection is, therefore, less rigorous than natural selection. Generally, the most vigorous males, those which are best fitted for their places in nature, will leave most progeny. But in many cases, victory depends not so much on general vigour, as on having special weapons, confined to the male sex. A hornless stag or spurless cock would have a poor chance of leaving numerous offspring. Sexual selection, by always allowing the victor to breed, might surely give indomitable courage, length to the spur, and strength to the wing to strike in the spurred leg, in nearly the same manner as does the brutal cockfighter by the careful selection of his best cocks. How low in the scale of nature the law of battle descends, I know not ; male alligators have been described as fighting, bellowing, and whirling round, like Indians in a war-dance, for the possession of the females: male salmons have been observed fighting all day long; male stag-beetles sometimes bear wounds from the huge mandibles of other males ; the males of certain hymenopterous insects have been frequently seen by that inimitable observer M. Fabre, fighting for a particular female who sits by, an apparently unconcerned beholder of the struggle, and then retires with the conqueror. The war is, perhaps, severest between the males of polygamous animals, and these seem oftenest provided with special weapons. The males of carnivorous animals are already well armed ; though to them and to others, special means of defence may be given through means of sexual selection, as the mane of the lion, and the hooked jaw to the male salmon ; for the shield may be as important for victory, as the sword or spear.

Amongst birds, the contest is often of a more peaceful character. All those who have attended to the subject, believe that there is the severest rivalry between the males of many species to attract, by singing, the females. The rock thrush of Guiana, birds of paradise, and some others, congregate ; and successive males display with the most elaborate care, and show off in the best manner, their gorgeous plumage; they likewise perform strange antics before the females, which, standing by as spectators, at last choose the most attractive partner. Those who have closely attended to birds in confinement well know that they often take individual preferences and dislikes; thus Sir R. Heron has described how a pied peacock was eminently attractive to all his hen birds. I cannot here enter on the necessary details; but if man can in a short time give beauty and an elegant carriage to his bantams, according to his standard of beauty, I can see no good reason to doubt that female birds, by selecting, during thousands of generations, the most melodious or beautiful males, according to their standard of beauty, might produce a marked effect. Some well-known laws, with respect to the plumage of male and female birds, in comparison with the plumage of the young, can partly be explained through the action of sexual selection on variations occurring at different ages, and transmitted to the males alone or to both sexes at corresponding ages; but I have not space here to enter on this subject.

Thus it is, as I believe, that when the males and females of any animal have the same general habits of life, but differ in structure, colour, or ornament, such differences have been mainly caused by sexual selection : that is, by individual males having had, in successive generations, some slight advantage over other males, in their weapons, means of defence, or charms, which they have transmitted to their male offspring alone. Yet, I would not wish to attribute all sexual differences to this agency: for we see in our domestic animals peculiarities arising and becoming attached to the male sex, which apparently have not been augmented through selection by man. The tuft of hair on the breast of the wild turkey cock cannot be of any use, and it is doubtful whether it can be ornamental in the eyes of the female bird ; — indeed, had the tuft appeared under domestication, it would have been called a monstrosity.

ILLUSTRATIONS OF THE ACTION OF NATURAL SELECTION, OR THE SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST.

In order to make it clear how, as I believe, natural selection acts, I must beg permission to give one or two imaginary illustrations. Let us take the case of a wolf, which preys on various animals, securing some by craft, some by strength, and some by fleetness ; and let us suppose that the fleetest prey, a deer for instance, had from any change in the country increased in numbers, or that other prey had decreased in numbers, during that season of the year when the wolf was hardest pressed for food. Under such circumstances the swiftest and slimmest wolves would have the best chance of surviving and so be preserved or selected, — provided always that they retained strength to master their prey at this or some other period of the year, when they were compelled to prey on other animals. I can see no more reason to doubt that this would be the result, than that man should be able to improve the fleetness of his greyhounds by careful and methodical selection, or by that kind of unconscious selection which follows from each man trying to keep the best dogs without any thought of modifying the breed. I may add, that, according to Mr. Pierce, there are two varieties of the wolf inhabiting the Catskill Mountains, in the United States, one with a light greyhound-like form, which pursues deer, and the other more bulky, with shorter legs, which more frequently attacks the shepherd’s flocks.

This is the first 100 pages. More will be posted later

4: Making the Game Winable

Written by dade on . Posted in 4: Reforming societies

Reforming Societies
Chapter Three: Tweaking (Altering Society by a Sequence of Tiny Changes

 

The term ‘gaming establishment’ is another term for ‘casino.’ Casinos make money by playing games. The owners set up the games so that the casinos will win with mathematical certainty. If you play at casinos, you are playing games that are designed to be unwinnable for players.

In most cases, the casino’s advantage comes from an analysis of random chance events and a calculation of payoff odds that guarantees the casino makes money, as long as the event being bet on is truly random. For example, in the game of craps (a dice game played with two six-sided die), you can make a bet that you will roll the number 6 before you will roll a 7. If you do, you will ‘win’ the bet and be paid at the rate of $7 for every $6 bet. (In other words, if you roll a 6 before you roll a 7, you will get $7 given to you and will still have the your $6 bet ‘working.’ It will remain ‘working’ until you ask for it back or roll a 7. If you roll a 7, the casino will take your $6.)

A little side note: casinos take advantage of customer ignorance by making it easier to make the exact same bet with a lower payoff. They don’t advertise the above bet: if you don’t know about it, you won’t be able to make it (it is called a ‘place’ bet; you throw your money down on the 6 and tell the attendants you want to ‘place the 6’). On the corner of the table is a ‘big 6’ spot where you can make the same bet, but if you win, you only get paid even money, or $6 in winnings per $6 bet. Obviously, the casino wants people to make the bets that the casino makes more money on, so they make it very easy to make this bet by putting it in a prominent position and accepting any bet down to the table minimum on the ‘big 6,’ while only accepting bets in multiples of $6 on the ‘place 6 bet.’ One way or the other, the casino makes money with mathematical certainty, but they make more from people who don’t understand the odds and are willing to accept an even lower payoff than the casino would have to make for people who understand the game.

There are 6 possible roll combinations out of a total of 36 that will give you a 7, but only 5 possible combinations that will give you a 6. (Link to source.) This means that the odds of rolling a 7 over a 6 are 6 to 5 (or 1.2 to 1). The casino pays you at the lower rate of 7 to 6 (or 1.16 to 1). If the die roll is truly random, the casino will pay out, on average, 96.66⅔ cents for each $1 bet. The players may be ahead for a while over the short term because it takes time for the casino’s advantage to average out. But over a long enough period of time, the casino always makes money on this wager, which means that, over a long enough period of time, the players always lose money. It is a mathematical certainty.

The game is rigged against the players. The only way people can avoid losing money on this game is to not play it.

The same is true with almost all of the games in the casino. (There is one exception, that we will look at shortly.) Mathematicians calculate the odds of a random event happening. They then calculate the payoffs needed for the casino to make money and set the payoffs accordingly. Gambling houses have come up with thousands of games based on this formula. With only one real exception (discussed below), they are set up so that the casino will win (meaning the players will lose) with mathematical certainty.

How to Cheat Casinos

 

The only real exception happens to be the most popular game played in casinos, called ‘vingt-et-un’ in most of the world, and ‘blackjack’ in the United States. People who understand this game can reverse the odds and create a mathematical certainty of making money.

The reason this is possible is that blackjack, unlike the other popular games, is not a true ‘game of chance.’ It doesn’t use a totally random draw of cards. Each round of game play only involves a few cards (possibly as few as 4) and dealers don’t shuffle the cards after every hand. Instead, they put the played cards into a ‘discard’ pile, and continue dealing off of the original deck. Players can see the cards as they are played so they know which chards have been played and know these cards are no longer in the deck. They can keep track of the played cards (the common term is ‘count cards’), then use betting strategies that will give a mathematical advantage to them, based on the specific cards in the part of the deck that has not yet been played.

Because the events involved are not truly random (future cards depend on past events, namely the cards that have already been played), it is not possible for casinos to create a mathematical certainty of winning. As a result, people can beat this game and turn the advantage to the player.

Many people have evaluated betting strategies based on various different methods of card counting. In some cases they have used high-speed computers to build algorithms that give them mathematical certainty of winning, provided they count right and bet right. The math is quite complex, but these people have published their findings and you can find many books that give you the exact mathematical advantage for the player with various strategies (look on Amazon for ‘wining at blackjack’). Even the best strategies give the player only tiny advantages, but even a tiny advantage can add up to big winnings over a long enough period of play.

It wasn’t until very recently that people began to take time to calculate ways to reverse the odds. People have played ‘vingt-et-un’ as a parlor game with small bets for at least 600 years, but large-scale gaming that would allow people to make large amounts of money by analyzing betting strategies didn’t become reality until March 31, 1931. On that day, Nevada legislature legalized casino gambling. People could open large-scale commercial casinos and take bets from all comers. Now, people who understood card counting could go from casino to casino, making money on their card play.

The early casino owners were all ‘sole proprietors,’ meaning they were small business people who put up their personal savings to fund the casinos. This was a result of a Nevada law that only allowed people of ‘good moral and social standing’ to operate casinos. People who wanted licenses had to appear personally in front of the state gaming board to prove they fell into this category. Because anyone who could meet this requirement could own and operate a casino, the owners came from all walks of life and all different backgrounds. Few mathematicians are attracted to this field. As a general rule, they didn’t understand the points discussed above and didn’t realize it was possible for players to turn the odds of this one game against the casinos. Players figured it out, however. In early days of casinos, a lot of casinos lost money on their blackjack operations, because they didn’t understand the tricks of the game.

The rules for casinos changed dramatically in 1972, when the richest man on Earth at that time, Howard Hughes, had his lobbyists draft a new law called the ‘Corporate Gaming Act’ and push it through the Nevada legislature. (The sidebar explains why he did this.)

Corporate gaming:

In 1972, Hughes was renting the top floor of the Desert Inn for himself and his entourage. He wanted to live there (and did live there) the rest of his life. Casinos generally use their hotels to attract gamblers and want gamblers living there. Hughes and his people did not gamble. The casino manager needed the space for gamblers so he kicked Hughes out of his rooms.

When Howard got the eviction notice, he made a few calls to his property buyers. The next morning, he was the new owner of the Desert Inn Hotel and Casino. He purchased the hotel so he wouldn’t have to leave.

Unfortunately, there was a problem: Only people who have appeared in person in front of the gaming condition commission can get licenses to operate casinos. Hughes didn’t want to do this. He put his lobbyists to work on the problem. Within a week, they had solved the problem: they wrote the law called the ‘Corporate Gaming Act’ and secured enough support in the legislature to get it signed into law.

In the United States, corporations can always be represented by attorneys in legal maters. (Forensic History explained the reason corporations have the rights they have in the United States.) Hughes never had to appear in person in front of anyone. Through his various corporations, he eventually became the largest owner/operator of casinos in the world.

After the law passed, corporations moved in to the field. There is a lot of money in casinos, and corporations go where the money is. Corporate researchers determined that they could a great deal of money from the casino business if they built very large and expensive casinos. (These mega casinos didn’t exist in the pre-corporation days because proprietors couldn’t raise the hundreds of millions of dollars needed to build them. Forensic History explains the special advantages corporations have over proprietors in raising money for large projects.) The larger the casinos, the more money they would make, both in total earnings and earnings per square foot. (This happens because of something economists call ‘economies of scale;’ in some businesses, large scale enterprises are more efficient than small scale businesses.) The corporations began to invest incredible amounts of money in resort hotel casinos that were larger than any resorts that had ever existed.

The corporations ran the casinos using scientific business principles. The managers soon realized that their blackjack divisions were not always producing profits and hired consultants to help them figure out why. The consultants figured out the card counting systems. (Many of the people who consulted on these projects wrote books about how to beat the casinos; again, search for ‘how to win in blackjack’ on Amazon to find their work.)

The casino owners had to do something.

But what could they do? They couldn’t simply stop offering the game of blackjack. It was the most popular game their casinos offered. Many gamblers came to Nevada specifically to play this game. If casinos didn’t offer this game, their customers would stop coming. Their business model depended on blackjack: they had to keep offering this game.

But they would have to change the game, or the corporate casinos wouldn’t be able to make money and pay dividends to shareholders.

They decided to alter the way this ancient game was played to restore the advantage to the casinos.

They couldn’t change it by much, or very quickly, or their customers would protest and stop coming to their establishments. They had to be crafty.

The first change involved switching from one 52 card deck to ‘two deck blackjack.’ To make sure that their players wouldn’t object, the casinos started adding in special perks like paying 1.5 times the bet for a ‘natural’ blackjacks (ace and face card on first two cards), or allowing gamblers to double their bets in certain cases that the old rules didn’t allow. Once the players adjusted to the new game rules, the casinos rolled back the perks. Then, they could change the game again, by adding additional decks. (Most casinos now use 5 decks.) Whenever players reacted to the changes by reducing their play, the casinos would add in perks to get the game play back to previous levels. The casinos also had many other anti-counting protocols that they added in over time. (For example, they would deal a large number of cards off of the deck face down so no one could see them, both when beginning the game and at various intervals; they would also start shuffling the deck when it was half way finished.) They used perks to offset the changes until the players became used to them, then rolled back the perks and started again.

In the meantime, they evicted anyone they thought might be counting cards. They trained their personnel to recognize the common betting strategies for card counters. When they saw these patterns, they reported them to security. The security officers would then ask the patrons to leave. (Many rumors persist that card counters were treated very roughly and often beat up to discourage them from returning. Whether or not these rumors were true, the casinos had an interest in making poeple think card counters would be physically harmed.)

When casinos started using electronic techniques, they programmed their computers to recognize the strategies of card counters. The computers were much better at this than humans. They notified security and the patron was evicted. Now, casinos have facial recognition software and scan the faces of all patrons, looking for faces in their databases of known card counters. If the computers recognize card counters, they notify security to escort these people out of the casinos. Because all casinos have an interest in preventing the practice of card counting, the casinos share their databases and known card counters are not allowed in any casino that shares the information. (Get caught counting cards in a casino in Biloxi Mississippi and you will probably not be able to enter the Grand Casino in Monte Carlo.)

Technically, it is possible to beat the game. But the game has changed to the extent that it isn’t worth the effort to try. It takes a lot of time to memorize the techniques needed to effectively count cards. If you use them, you will be caught before you have made enough to even cover the value of the time you spent learning the techniques. We know that the casino’s efforts to deal with card counting have been effective because the casinos still offer blackjack in their casinos: they would not do this if they didn’t know they would make money on it.

 

Beating Games (In General)

 

We can learn a lot about the idea of gaming in general, and the practice of changing games that don’t suit one of the players, from casinos.

For example, games that appear at first to be ‘no-win’ games are not always truly no-win games. In some cases, they can be won. We learn that players who understand the details of the games can have better odds than players who don’t know the way the games are played. We can not only learn that it is possible to beat games that are designed to be no-win games, we can learn what must be done to make this happen: If we understand the incentives behind the rules of the game, we can know exactly where the game designers have had to place weaknesses.

Let’s consider how this information applies to the ‘game’ that was in progress on Earth when the current generation of people were born: Like casino game designers, the organize and run this game have to follow certain rules. They have no choice. Nations must remain competitive militarily, or they will be ‘conquered.’ If they are conquered, the game scoring chits (the money and ‘things that can be traded for money’ like land) are likely to be divided among top players in the conquering nation. Military necessity will eventually require that nations create certain structures that the people who want to change the game can exploit to make the game work differently. The existing authorities of the nations may not want to allow these structures to exist. But they have no choice. They have to compete militarily, they need the structures to do this, so they have to do more than allow the structures, they have to actually encourage them.

 

Examples

 

One example involves the ideas of ‘cities.’

Very early in the development of nations, rulers realized that armies with weapons made of steel had great advantages over armies without steel. The more steel weapons their armies had, the greater the advantages. They needed steel. Not just a little bit: the more they had, the greater advantages they had.

Large-scale steel production started about 5,000 years ago. To make large amounts of steel, a large number of people with very specialized skills have to come together in one place. They need enormous amounts of raw materials, teamsters to bring the materials to a central locations, construction workers to make the smelters, steel mills, and weapons factories, for example. If these people were spending their time making weapons, they wouldn’t have time to meet their own basic needs, so they would need people to bring in food and distribute and cook it; they would need even more construction workers to build homes for the workers, and more workers to make clothing, bring in fuel, and provide other necessities of life. They would need a large number of people living together in the same area. They would need ‘cities.’

Before cities, feudal sovereigns had almost total control over people’s behavior. The sovereigns owned the land and everything it produced, including the food. They could provide food to people who complied with their rules (including the rule that they work a certain amount) and deny food to others. If people act in ways that in any way bothers the sovereigns, the sovereigns can have other people who work for them (their armies or police) execute the violators.

In cities, people have to be able to get the necessities of life without having to go through processes the rulers first approve. (Generally, the rulers will simply buy the weapons. The people in the cities will have to work out a system that causes the weapons to get made and the weapons-makers to get paid.) They can’t directly control all aspects of the behavior of people who live in cities. Normally, rulers would prefer to have total control of everyone’s behavior. To have steel weapons, they have to give up some of this control. They face constraints and limits. People who understand these constraints can take advantage of them.

We can see that the people in cities understood this and took full of it by the artifacts we see in cities: Virtually all cities in Afro-Eurasia that existed during feudal times have enormous walls around them. These walls are very clear evidence that the people in the cities took advantage of their freedom from feudal control and became independent entities, the kind of entities historians now call ‘city states.’ As independent entities, they could sell their weapons and other goods to the highest bidders (not just to the sovereigns if nearby kingdoms) and make enormous profits. Obviously, the sovereigns leaders didn’t want this to happen, but they had no choice: they had constraints.

Example 2: Universities

 

In the late 1,000s, Chinese inventors invented gunpowder. Within a few centuries, they had very complex weapons that took advantage of this new material, including rockets, grenades, bombs, and cannon. In the 1200s, Chinese conquerors with these weapons were able to conquer land in other areas. They were eventually able to gain control of large parts of the Persian empire.

Some Persian leaders adapted: they started building gunpowder factories themselves. They also started building schools that would train people in skills needed to develop high-quality rockets and other gunpowder-related weapons. They eventually designed superior weapons. Using these weapons, they were able to drive the Chinese (called the ‘Mongols’ in history books) from the Persian and Arabian lands.

The Persians and their allies (generally meaning all Moslem people) were then at war on another front as well, with the Christians. Before the Moslems had gunpowder, their wars with Christians had not been going well and the Christians had gained control of large amounts of land in North Africa and the Middle East. (This included the land that both Christians and Moslems consider to be fundamental holy places, in and around Jerusalem).

With rockets, bombs, cannon, and other advanced weapons, the Persians and their allies were able to remove the Christians from North Africa fairly easily. They began to threaten the land of Europe.

The Christians had a very repressive regime at that time, with all non-religious education under a strict ban, with the death penalty for people who were found to violate the ban. This put the Christians at a great disadvantage: You can’t learn the best way to structure the propellant cylinders to make rockets from the Bible. To learn these things, the Christians had to legalize education and then allow schools. In fact, since they were already dealing from a position of weakness, they had to go much farther than this: they had to begin using church money to build schools and they had to encourage people to learn the skills these schools taught, including how to build better weapons than their enemies had. As we saw in Forensic History, over the next few centuries, the Christians built some extremely high-quality schools, many of which are still in operation today. They poured funds into research and—within a few centuries—built some of the largest and best-equipped militaries that had ever existed.

They allowed people the freedom to use their own minds. They actually encouraged this. The leaders had resisted such changes for many centuries. Uneducated people are far easier to control than educated ones. The rulers would have preferred to have people follow the leaders blindly and do what they are told.

But they had no choice: their enemies had rockets, cannon, bombs, muskets, and grenades. They couldn’t defend themselves against these enemies if they only had swords and knives. They had constraints on their behavior and, as we saw in Forensic History, the people eventually took advantage of these constraints. Slowly, people have built on the knowledge base and transferred rights and powers from sovereigns to the people. Sovereigns lost a great deal of their power and authority when they were forced to build and encourage universities and other institutions of higher education.

Example 3: Corporations

 

 

On December 31, 1600, the British government created the first ‘joint stock corporation,’ the East India Company. This company had ‘shares’ that could be bought and sold, so anyone with money could own it.

Corporations are powerhouses that have great abilities to alter the realities of nations and diminish the authority and power of sovereigns and other rulers. They can raise massive amounts of money (many corporations today are far larger than most nations today) so they can build things that, formerly, only nations could afford to build. They last forever so they can build on past successes and organize. They control many things that sovereigns and sovereign administrations desperately need—like money and weapons—so they can manipulate sovereigns and sovereign administrations to meet the needs of the corporations, even if the corporations need entirely different thing than the sovereigns and sovereign administrations.

Altering the game with corporations:

Forensic History gave one example of an attempt that almost worked to change the game using the power of corporations. In the 1860s, Henri Dunant created several enormous corporations of a new type, called ‘humanitarian corporations.’ Corporations had developed powerful tools to manipulate legislation and governments. These new ‘humanitarian’ corporations would take advantage of every trick known in the corporate world to manipulate governments to accept changes that would reduce the threat of and eventually eliminate war, and stop the enormous subsidies going to destroyers.

We saw in Forensic History that certain other people (namely, Gustav Moynier and his friends) thought that Dunant was going too far: they thought that God had created nations and given them their powers, and it was not moral to use the power of corporations to limit the power of governments. These opponents eventually were able to drive Dunant out of the humanitarian corporations that he had created, and change their role so they no longer would work to change the game.

Although this particular attempt failed, the idea was sound and the tools are capable of doing what Dunant wanted them to do. Not only can we take advantage of his ideas, we can add them to the ideas of others and use technology that didn’t exist in the 1800s to give additional advantages. We will see how to do all this as the book progresses.

 

This new kind of corporation had incredible power. (Corporations gained far more power after several corporations worked together to take over a part of North America and create new rules where corporations were ‘persons’ under the law with rights that human persons did not have; Forensic History explains these events in detail.) The people who made the rules may not have wanted to have organizations that had these powers. But they had no choice: The nations that sponsored the new kinds of corporations could build weapons and other tools of war far better than nations that did not. The rulers had constraints. They had to have corporations to compete in war.

We, the members of the human race and inhabitants of the planet Earth, can think of the above tools (cities, universities, and corporations) as tools. We can understand that these tools came to exist as a result of military necessity, not the desires of the people who had gotten into a position to make rules. As the sidebar above illustrates, it is possible to use these tools to help us, the members of the human race, meet our needs and goals, if we understand them well enough.

 

Example 4: The Internet

 

The fourth example is perhaps the most powerful illustration of tools that the gamers have been forced to create that empowers the people who are currently at the mercy of the rules that have been in place for thousands of years: the internet.

The United States government exploded ‘Ivy Mike,’ the first ‘thermonuclear’ (three stage nuclear bomb) on October 31, 1952. Immediately, communications systems crashed, not just at the site of the blast, but may thousands of miles away.

The government eventually realized the reason: the bomb had emitted a powerful electromagnetic pulse that generated an inductive current in the telephone lines. This current was far greater than the design current for these lines, so they melted. (In many cases, the melting wires were hot enough to catch the insulation on fire and many telephone switching stations burned to the ground.) The corporations that conducted the blast test for the government realized that the government would absolutely need a new communication system.

They had their people draw up proposals and, because of the urgency, got the ‘Arapanet’ project funded a few months after the Ivy Mike test. Arapnet was the prototype for the internet.

To be effective, the new communication system would have to have multiple pathways (as many as possible) which would be made of different materials and using as many different protocols as possible. They decided the new system should have an ‘open architecture,’ meaning that the military would not build the communication interfaces or even the pathways: users would build these things to the user’s specifications. With a potentially unlimited number of interfaces and pathways, all made differently, enemies would be unlikely to take everything down at the same time. As long as there were any pathways for communication, the military messages could get through, and they could continue to fight, even after a nuclear attack by an enemy. To make sure they had the maximum number of pathways and interfaces, the planners would have to make the system usable by other nations, so people all around the world could add pathways and interfaces. (Remember, the United States is only 4% of the world, yet has military objectives all over the world. It needs a global system.) Governments, corporations, and individuals all want to use the internet for different things, so they created millions of different interfaces. This makes it virtually impossible for anyone—even the people who created it—to effectively censor the internet. (Note: Forensic History provides a very detailed description of the background behind the internet and the way it works.)

Censorship:

Although many countries claim to have ‘freedom of speech,’ censorship has been used for all of history to keep people’s minds from being corrupted by ideas governments don’t want them to know about. I remember the huge amount of information that became available to the public for the very first time with the internet. I have done much of my research in the United States and China, both nations that are working hard to censor the internet. They have never been able to prevent me from getting to a site I wanted to go to, because I know how to get around the blocks. In the United States, where the censors don’t block the sites people most want to see (porn sites), the censorship is only a nuisance and few people bother to learn how to get around it. In China, however, everyone seems to know how to do this: they can get any information they want there.

The game managers knew that this kind of system would make effective censorship impossible. They use the control of information as a tool to control the way people think. With the internet, they wouldn’t be able to use this tool. But, just as the Christians had to allow universities in the 1300s, and Europe had to allow corporations in the 1600s, the United States had to allow and actually facilitate the creation of this tool. It was militarily necessary. They could not afford not to create a tool that they needed in order to fight the new types of war that became possible on the first of November, 1952.

There is some irony here: The internet was built in order to make a prolonged nuclear war practical. But it facilitates free information flows that never were possible before. These flows of information can be used—together with the other tools that the game managers created to advance their games—to change the game so that the nuclear wars the internet was designed to facilitate do not happen.

This is not going to be easy. It is not like we can just wave a wand and take advantage of all of these tools. The game planers and managers are adapting the game as you read this, in an attempt to find ways to keep their control over the minds of the people intact. But they have created a tool that makes this job infinitely more difficult than it was before.

 

The Other Side of the Coin

 

We, the members of the human race, are the players in the big game now in progress all over the world. This game is essentially a no-win game, a Kobayashi Maru scenario. If we simply give up, and fall into game play in desperation, we can only lose. But if the game doesn’t suit us, we have other options. We don’t have to simply accept our lot and play the losing game. When the casinos found out that one of the key games that people wanted to play did not meet the needs of the casinos, they didn’t just give up and play the game that didn’t suit them. They didn’t give up and kill themselves either. They changed the game.

We were born onto a world where a game was already in progress and had been in progress for thousands of years in many parts of the world. The great majority of the people of the world have to play this game in order to stay alive. They have two great fears:

First, the game is going to destroy everything. Tomorrow, when they would have otherwise woken up, they will be dead and everything around them will be gone.

But that is actually a minor fear compared to their big fear: They are afraid that the game they depend on to keep them alive will suddenly end or change in a dramatic way that they can’t adjust to. They won’t be able to support their families anymore; they will lose their homes, their cars, their medical care, or the other things they need. Their greatest fear is not death for themselves and their families from a nuclear war, or the end of the human race from an environmental disaster.

Their greatest fear is change in the game.

They wish that the game were winnable, and pray that someday someone will figure out how to change the way it works, but their behavior shows that they really want everything to stay the same. They know how the system works, they have adapted to it, they depend on it, and they have allowed their minds to accept it.

This means that, if we want to change the game, we have to take a clue from the corporations that changed the game of blackjack: we have to be crafty. We have to find a way to change the game without affecting the people who depend on the game to stay alive. I am not going to try to make you think this is easy: if it were easy it would have been done a long, long time ago. It is very hard to change a game without the people intimately involved with the game objecting or fighting the change. I am only trying to say that this is possible. If we start from the right place (a full understanding of the way the game works and what differences in it would make it winnable—this is discussed in the next chapter), and we use all of the tools at our disposal (including universities, international corporations, and the internet, all created as a result of military pressures as shown above), and plan the changes carefully, we have a very real chance of making it work.

Books in this series

This book is a part of a series of four books about the important realities of human existence. They are:

1. Forensic History: uses new scientific tools and information sources to reconstruct the series of events that put the human race on the path it is now on. It explains how the realities of human existence came to be as they are. It focuses on the events led to the existence of the power structures that dominate the world today, including the entities called 'nations,' organized religions, and the massive and extremely powerful entities we call 'corporations.' These entities did not appear by magic. They came to exist as a result of decisions people made in the past. If we want to understand the realities of human existence, we have to understand who made these decisions, why they were made, and how the decisions made in the past have led to the realities that we see around us.

2. Possible Societies goes over the capabilities of the human race and the limitations we have for organizing the realities of our existence. It is an attempt to categorize all possible methods of organizing human existence—or all possible societies—in a methodological and organized way. Once we understand the different options we have for organizing societies, we can go over them to determine which of the options are able to meet our needs without constant problems such as war and unnecessary environmental destruction.

3. Reforming Societies: We were born onto a world that was organized in a very dangerous way. It was cut up with imaginary lines into the entities we call 'nations.' Each nation had formed a government which claimed that everything within that nation belonged to the people who were born inside the imaginary lines. Any society built on this foundation necessarily has very serious problems, which include powerful forces these entities surrounded by imaginary lines to engage in activities that are the most horrific destructive within the capability of any physical beings with the power to think on a rational level. The pressure to perform these horrible acts is so powerful that the industries devoted to war and the support of war, combined, make up the largest industries on Earth: More wealth, manpower, effort, skills, talents, capital, and resources are devoted to organized mass murder and destruction than any other activity on the planet. People have gone as far as building weapons that will destroy the planet if used and actually deployed these weapons, making them ready for instant use if certain circumstances arise. Given enough time, these circumstances are certain to arise.

What if we—the current members of the human race—decide we don't like these particular realities of existence? What if we decide we want some other destiny for our race (than extinction)? It is possible to organize the realities of our world in different ways. (Even children should realize this: humans need food, water, air, sleep, and protection from the elements; the imaginary lines that cut the world into 'nations' don't give us any of these things.)

But is it possible to actually build them?

If we know other methods of organizing the realities of human existence are possible, we can work out the exact structural differences between the realities of these other societies and the current realities of human existence.

We can figure out practical steps to take to change the form of ('reform') other societies. It explains the exact practical steps that ordinary people like you and I can take to put the human race on a path to one of these societies, if we should decide we want to do this.

4. The Meaning of Life explains why this matters. The societies we were born into must raise children to think a certain way so they will be willing to sacrifice for and participate in the wars that are an inherent part of societies built on the division of the world into 'nations.' To make them willing to participate, they must raise children to believe that there is a higher purpose behind the wars and behind the existence of the nations: They must make children believe that they were born to and exist to protect their nations, to respect the claimed founding principles, to honor the nation and, through ceremonies that all children are taught in schools, to even worship the nation, in the same way they are taught to worship the higher power that they were told created the nation. To make them do the horrible things that people must do to have wars, they must make children believe that this is the meaning of life and the reason they were born.

New scientific evidence is allowing us to put together messages that are encoded in our DNA and evident from the structures that are necessary for the process we call 'life' to exist in ways that can show us that there are scientifically acceptable and mathematically likely explanations for the existence of life on Earth that totally conflict with the premises taught to keep people willing to fight, kill, maim, cripple, destroy, risk and accept death for the benefits of the entities called 'nations.' If we accept science, logic, and reason, we can put together a picture of the meaning of existence that can help us see that the claimed reasons for existence that have been taught in schools and accepted for thousands of years are basically propaganda, created for the express purpose of allowing rationalization of horrific acts. If they could put together some rational picture of the reason we are here, people would not be willing to do the things that they spend their lives doing today.

What if we find there is a real meaning to our existence and it has nothing whatever to do with worshiping invisible superbeings or protecting nations? The entire rationalization for dividing the world into 'nations' and making war basically disappears. We must accept that the realities of existence on Earth are as they are because people made certain decisions. These people are no longer alive. We are here. We can make our own decisions. We can decide where we want to go from here and begin going there.

3 Making the Game Winnable

Written by dade on . Posted in 4: Reforming societies

Book Three: Changing the Game

Chapter Three: Making the Game Winnable

 

Most people find it very hard to think objectively about the realities of human existence. You may find it easier to accomplish this feat if you think of it as a kind of game. It gives us a sense of distance and it also changes the way we look at it. You could think this: the people around you are being forced to act a certain way in order to win the game chits (money) that they need to stay alive. They are not evil, horrible, monsters, they are merely doing what they have to do to get by. The people who preceded us as inhabitants of this world set up a set of rules that people have to follow to meet their needs. Unfortunately, they built these rules around beliefs, rather than a logical and objective analysis of the interests of the dominant race of beings on this world. As we saw in Forensic History, If you start with beliefs that each part of the planet belongs to whichever group is strong enough to claim and hold it, you necessarily end with a set of incentives that encourage certain behaviors that lead to harm for the human race as a whole, large groups of people (classified according to religions, races, ideologies, or any other categorization method used to define ‘enemies’), and the world around us.

Rather than hating the people who respond to these incentives you can feel sorry for them: they are not smart enough to realize that they are being manipulated. They aren’t able to look beyond the immediate realities of their own lives and look at the big picture. They don’t see that it is a game. They can’t stop playing (they need the game chits to trade for the necessities of life) and, in most cases, can’t even afford to ease up in their game play (most people are barely able to get enough game chits to allow them to survive and keep their loved ones comfortable, even with all the effort they can muster). They are not to be hated, they are to be pitied. They are being forced to act in ways that humans don’t normally want to act, because of the rules of game play, and they don’t even realize they are being manipulated.

 

Remember this: for more than 99.98% of the time humans lived on Earth, the ‘game’ of existence was played an entirely different way, with different rules that led to entirely different behaviors. The horrible activities going on around us are not due ‘human nature;’ for the great majority of the time humans lived on the world, we acted differently. These activities are the result of the rules of the game: they force people to do things they otherwise wouldn’t do in order to meet their needs.

 

If we can get the right mental perspective, we can step back and look at the realities of existence objectively. We can accept that a game is in play, the great majority of the people of the world have to play it and will play it no matter what we do. It is not possible for people who want to change the realities of human existence to get these people to ignore the rules and stop trying to get the scoring chits (money). No amount of persuasion or guilt trips or protests will get loggers to leave trees alone if they need the money they will make cutting trees to keep their children from starving to death.

Since we can’t get people to not play or ignore the rules, there is only one practical way to change the realities of existence for the human race: we must change the game.

This is not going to be an easy task.

It will require some finesse.

It will require that we interpret the morals behind the rules of the game rather loosely, and tread onto ground that these rules make taboo.

 

Taboos:

Orwell claims that we are programmed from a very early age in the art he calls ‘crimestop.’ Basically, we are supposed to recognize when our thoughts are ‘inimical to Ingsoc’ (Orwell’s term for ‘the type of society we were born into) and use mental tools that we have been trained to use to make sure our minds don’t go there. (Orwell describes several of these tools, including intentional or pretended ignorance or anger, refusal to accept logical arguments, hatred of people who bring up topics, and several complex mental tools that Orwell discusses like the one he calls ‘doublethink.’) If you try to think about things ‘inimical to Ingsoc’ you will almost certainly start to feel a little guilty, ashamed of yourself, and even a little angry at yourself, as if you are failing in an essential task. I know I have these feelings—no matter how hard I try to fight them—and I have noticed the signs of these same feelings in others when they start to understand the implications of logical analysis of societies. This seems to be evidence that Orwell’s analysis is correct.

This book started with an analysis of the Kobiachi Maru and asked whether Kirk was acting immorally to change the rules of this normally unwinnable game to make it winnable. Although this depends on your own definition of right or wrong, I personally believe that life here on Earth means something and that we exist for a purpose. (The final book in this series, Why We Are Here, goes over the evidence that supports this premise.) If there is any purpose to our existence at all—no matter what that purpose may be—we must survive as a race to reach it. Is it immoral to change the game, if changing the game is the only way to survive as a race? As a practical matter, I have to proceed under the assumption that it is not immoral to change the game under these circumstances.

 

The people around us are wrapped up in the game. They are highly sensitive to the realities of the game. They have spent their pre-adult lives learning how the game is played so they can play it well enough to avoid death. They understand the aspects of it they need to understand to play. They are naturally fearful about changes in the game: as you know, the realities of our world are highly volatile and can change dramatically in a very short time. (Consider the changes that took place during the ‘war to end all wars’—WW1—the ‘Great Depression,’ then the first nuclear war—WWII—the ensuing ‘Cold War’ and nuclear arms race, the ‘transition of enemies’ after the collapse of state communism, and the ‘Great Recession’ that started 2008. This led to great trauma and hardship for many people.)

As we saw in Possible Societies, sovereign law societies are the most volatile and changeable societies that it is possible to form, so ANY changes in the rules of the game will tend to make the game more stable. But this doesn’t change the fact that people living on the edge and knowing that they could be wiped out by changes to the way the game distributes the scoring chits (money), are naturally afraid of change. In order to change the game, we will have to bear this in mind, plan out the changes carefully, and make sure they take place so gradually that the people who are afraid of change are far more affected by the random and unavoidable volatility of the system that is already in place than by the changes we make. We need to make sure that the general benefits that accrue to society as a whole are greater than the costs paid by all classes of society, and we need to make sure we make the changes in ways that leave all classes of society better off, not only due to the final system, but at all stages of the game play itself.

There are a number of different difficulties we will face. But I like to think of this as a challenge. (That is one advantage of thinking of it as a game: you can have some mental distance.) Yes, there will be problems. But that makes it interesting. We don’t have certainty of success. That makes it more interesting still. Perhaps we will fail if we try. But if we don’t try, we are absolutely sure to fail. Why not see what our minds are capable of achieving? The human race has only been here a short time, 3.2 million years; this is nothing in evolutionary terms. We are a ‘newly evolved’ race and we may not be ready for this challenge. But how do we know we aren’t ready unless we try?

We get to some subjective matters at this point. If we are trying to tweak this game to make it winnable, we can try several different approaches. If we want the greatest chance of success, we will be wise to analyze the game as thoroughly as possible before we begin. We need to find the exact ‘tweaks’ that will move the game play in the desired direction in ways that take the maximum advantage of all of the tools we have at our disposal (explained in detail in Forensic History) and both minimize the resistance we will face due to the factors discussed above and maximize the benefits that provide additional assistance.

 

Different Ways of Playing the Game

 

If we think of the realities of existence of humans here on Earth as a kind of game, there are two basic ways that the rules of the game can change:

 

1. The rules that deal with the way humans exist with the physical universe may be different.

2. The rules that determine how humans interact with other human beings may be different.

 

The ‘physical universe’ refers to the world we live on. It refers to the land that provides our food, the materials we use to build our shelters and make the goods we need, the mountains, rivers, lakes, oceans, and all of the other things that make up our ecosystems.

 

Note: The information below repeats information from Book Two of this series, Possible Societies. It is important information and bears repeating.

 

There are two extreme ways to interact with the world and an infinite number of intermediate options. One extreme way to interact with the world would be as absolute masters, or ‘owners’ of the world. We could decide that everything belongs to us (where ‘us’ refers to the currently living members of the human race) and we have unlimited rights to do anything we want with it, including destroy it entirely (either unintentionally or intentionally) so that future generations can never benefit from its existence.

The other extreme way to interact with the world would be as absolute vassals. We can decide that humans are no different than any other animals with no more rights than any other being that lives on this world. We can decide that whoever or whatever is allowing us and the other animals to live on this world—our host—is being generous to allow us to stay here and to provide for us, and that we have an obligation to respect our host’s property and keep it the way it was when we found it. We can decide that we have no rights at all to alter the world in any way.

Intermediate options are built on the premise that humans are the dominant species on this world and, as such, we are in a different position than other animals. As the dominant species, we are the custodians of this world: If we don’t take care of it and keep it healthy, no other animal species (no sub-dominant species) is going to be able to deal with damage we cause or take on the role of custodians. Nature has placed us into the position of custodians.

To be effective custodians, we have to be able to make rules about the use of the world. We have to accept the role of ‘lords of the land’ (‘rulemakers’ of the land) or ‘landlords’ of the world to be effective custodians.

If we accept these roles, we can decide that we want to create rules regarding the way the members of the human race interact with the world.

We don’t have to either accept that we own everything and can destroy it or own nothing and have no rights whatever. We can create rules that allow members of our group (the human race) to buy and own rights to use parts of the world in special ways provided they follow certain rules that we—the members of the human race—decide upon in advance.

We have infinite options. If we want, we can create rules that allow people to own almost all of the rights to the world, but not all of these rights. It may help you to visualize this if you refer to the chart below, marked ‘Possible ways to organize the rules of the game.’ The bottom line of the chart is marked ‘100% Ownability Societies. These societies are built on the idea that absolutely all rights to the world (‘sovereign rights,’ referring to the rights that kings and other sovereigns claim, which are absolute) are ownable. This is an extreme way to play the game: the human race can allow people who get into a position where they have ‘sovereignty’ over the world to do anything they want with it. If you move up a tiny, tiny bit from this lowest possible line, you get into ways of playing the game where the rule makers allow almost all of the rights to the world to be ownable, but not 100% of the rights to be ownable. For example, if we have an objective way to categorize the percentage of potentially ownable rights that are actually ownable, we might move up a tiny, tiny bit, to a system where 99.99% of the potentially ownable rights are actually ownable.

Objective categorization of ownability:

Book Two, Possible Societies, explains how to divide potential ownability into as fine of increments as we desire, using a tool that gives people ownership of specific rights to parts of the world without owning the parts of the world themselves.

The game today is played in accordance with the principle of ‘sovereignty’ of groups of people who call their groups by the proper names (generally ‘nations’ or ‘states’). These rules place our position of game play on the absolute bottom of the chart.

 

Qqq chart of possible game designs here.

 

The options are on a line, rather than at a point, because there are actually infinite possible games that can be built around the premise of 100% (sovereign) ownability. This is true because it is possible to organize many different games around the same rules regarding interaction with the physical universe. We can do this by altering the rules regarding the way we interact with other people on our world.

On the extreme left side of the chart, the game is built on this particular social structure: certain people are ‘rulers’ and the rest are ‘subjects.’ The rulers control the food supply and can use this control to make all of the subjects do whatever the rulers want them to do. In such systems, the rulers can control the subjects absolutely and make them act in any way they want them to act; even the slightest infraction can be punished by death. Games built around these rules are called authoritarian games.

Authoritarian games are extreme options from a social-rules perspective. We would want to put them at an extreme position on the chart of possible game designs, so I have put them at the extreme left. All points on the up-down line at the extreme left side of the chart of possible game designs are authoritarian games. The point at the extreme lower left corner of the chart is a game with two extreme characteristics: it is both a sovereignty-based game (built on rules that allow 100% ownability by ‘sovereign nations’) and an authoritarian system (with a totalitarian administration).

It is also possible to organize a game as a direct democracy, while all decisions are made by consent of the people and no people are in any position to make rules without first gaining the consent of the people at all. This would also be an extreme option, the opposite extreme from authoritarianism. If this were a possible way to organize the game, a sovereignty-based game with a direct democracy would be at the point on the extreme lower right corner of the chart of possible game designs.

However, there are technical reasons that this particular combination of game rules won’t work. (In other words, it is not possible to have a system with sovereign entities and no ‘government’ at all.) The reason is very practical: all sovereignty-based society need war in order to function and wars require decisions to make that people in true democracies are not willing to make. Societies built on sovereign ownability need bodies with the authority to organize the economy so that it can devote resources to weapons production (rather than meeting the needs of the people) to organize education and propaganda systems to create the state of mind needed for people to accept wars, and to organize the armies, the military contractors, finance systems, and other social organizations needed for wars to take place. Direct democracies depend on the will of the majority and the majority of the people would prefer to devote resources to things that make their lives better, rather than devoting resources to the construction of nuclear bombs, supersonic bombers, intercontinental ballistic missiles, and other tools of mass murder. The majority of the people don’t want to have their children’s minds manipulated to make them willing to hate and kill. As a practical reality, decisions that lead to activities that the majority of the people would not accept, if they were asked, must be made by a small group of people who have somehow gained the ability and authority to make these decisions. In other words, absolutely need the type of body we now call a ‘government.’

 

Forensic History explained how and why the realities of the world we live in evolved to make sure that governments were in charge of all important decisions, and the people had either no control or only indirect control over important variables.

Because of the need for governments in games played under rules that allow 100% ownability, it is not possible to organize the game in ways that have 100% ownability and direct democracies. In fact, it is not possible to even have very high degrees of democracy in societies built on 100% ownability, or even in societies built on extremely high degrees of ownability.

You can find practical details and mathematical proof that direct democracy (or even high degrees of democracy) is not consistent with sovereign ownability (or even high degrees of ownability) in Part Two of Possible Societies.

All other options on the chart (all but the lower right corner, which is shaded in white) are possible game options.

It is possible to start with rules allowing 100% (sovereign) ownability and have authoritarian governments (many such societies have existed over the last 6,000 years) and it is possible to have such societies with very large, large, or moderate governments. It is also possible to have societies with rules where the human race allows lower degrees of ownability and where all common decisions are made by the people in direct elections. (Many natural law societies have existed, for example, with true direct democracies. In fact, most of the natural law societies we have information about appear to have been direct democracies.)

 

Tweaking the Game

 

We didn’t choose the rules that were already in place when we were born. We were born onto a world where people were playing according to the rules of sovereignty, or unlimited ownability of parts of planets, by individuals called ‘sovereigns’ or groups of people who were able to ‘conquer’ land that had been under the control of sovereigns. For most of the period of time this particular game has been in progress (6,000 years), systems have been authoritarian or near-authoritarian. However, as Forensic History explained, when the system gains certain technological capabilities, it must allow people to learn skills that allow them to take power and control away from their ruling bodies.

Gunpowder, for example, can be used to make rockets, grenades, bombs, mines, cannon and guns. Nations that have built systems that will allow research into rocket science and other sciences needed for warfare will have great advantages in war over nations that do not. Perhaps the rulers of these nations may not want to allow the people to use their minds, because the people who use their minds will realize that they have the ability to take over at least some decisions from their rulers, and will do so. Each time technology advances, people must be given more freedom over their own minds. The tools described above (crimestop and doublethink, for example) will not work as well on people who learned how to think objectively as on others. The rulers may not want to take the risks of losing power by allowing people the freedom to use their minds. But they don’t have any choice. To compete in war, they have to match the technology of enemies and to ‘win’ wars, they have to exceed enemy technology.

Over the last roughly 1,000 years, since the discovery of explosives (mainly gunpowder), the game has moved decidedly to the right of where it was prior to 1,000 years ago. Now, in many places in the world, certain decisions are made by the people in binding elections. Of course, the great majority of the decisions are still made by governments that have the authority to make decisions without having to first gain the consent of the populace.

If we are going to ‘tweak’ the game, we need to know were we are starting. Our starting position on the chart of game rule play is roughly in the middle of the bottom line. We have rules that allow the entities called ‘sovereign nations’ to own parts of the world absolutely. This puts us on the bottom line. We have the greatest amount of freedom of information in all of history, the greatest control of our own minds, the greatest university systems, the greatest library systems, and the most liberal communication systems that have existed in the entire 6,000 years this game has been in play. Although the people do have unprecedented rights and freedoms in these systems, the great majority of the world’s children are still required to spend time in education centers that teach them that the idea of ‘nations’ is a natural one; these education centers teach a highly distorted version of history which is designed to create the impression that the game can really only be played one way, the way it is played not. Although people can find accurate and objective information if they try hard enough, they have to wade through unimaginable quantities of subjective analysis presented by giant corporations, governments, and the minions of the corporations and governments (people funded by corporations and governments). Our freedom and ability to get correct information is unprecedented, but we still do not have direct control (through binding elections) of the most important aspects of game play. We are roughly half way between rules that grant authoritarian bodies absolute power and systems without authoritarian bodies at all, so we are roughly in the middle of the bottom line of possible ways to organize the game.

 

The Lower Range

 

If you refer to the chart of possible game plays, you will see a line that separates two areas of game play. Rule systems below this line are marked ‘suicidal game rules.’ Rule systems above this line are marked ‘survivable game rules.’ As a practical matter, our goal in tweaking the game would be to get from our current set of rules at the extreme bottom line to somewhere into the range marked ‘survivable game rules.’

 

 

 

Chapter Under Construction. Check back later.

Overview

Written by dade on . Posted in Uncategorized

This site showcases a series of books about the organizational realities of human existence, or the ‘societies’ humans have, have had, and could have in the future. This book series explains how the realities of human existence came to be as they are at this point in history; it explains other ways of organizing human existence, and shows how to change structures that make up our current modes of existence to other structures, if we should wish to do this.

 

Forensic History

 

The book first in the series is ‘Forensic History.’

History is undergoing a revolution.

Each day that passes, new technologies give us new information about the events that shaped the realities of human existence and put the human race where it is now. We are learning that much of what has been taught as ‘history’ for centuries is incorrect. In many cases, people in the past distorted the accounts of history they were telling and then taught these distorted accounts to children as facts. They embellished and altered their depictions of certain events so much that people who were actually there would almost certainly not recognize the events as the same ones they experienced. They left out, ignored, hid, and disguised many of the most critical events of human history—often banning any books or other disclosure of this information under threat of the harshest penalties imaginable—and then tried to make future generations believe that these events never took place.

Now, we can know the truth.

In the past few years, we have gained easy and ready access to immense quantities of historical records, first person descriptions, diaries, personal letters, official accounts, and other actual evidence of events. Due to new technologies, we now have access to the actual records of the events and first-person accounts that tell us what actually happened. People have scanned billions of such documents onto public archives of the internet. Although this information has existed ever since the documents were first created, people who wanted to access the information couldn’t get it, in part because they wouldn’t have any way to even know that these documents existed, and in part because they would not have been allowed to look at the documents even if they knew they existed and where they were.

Due to text recognition and automated translation software, people of all languages can get information that was first written in other languages, including obscure languages that are not spoken anymore. Supercomputers belonging to Google, Microsoft, Baidu and other global corporations work 24 hours a day to index and cross reference all of the text of all of these documents so that anyone who knows any relevant facts or any combination of words in the documents can find them within microseconds of entering their search terms. Once people find the information, they can follow links to scans of the originals and can verify their authenticity personally.

This is a new experience for the human race: Now, everyone can access information that, only a few years ago, would not have been available to anyone, no matter how well-connected they happened to be.

We are seeing a similar revolution in the sciences that can help us understand our past. Only very recently, people had to simply guess about the ages of artifacts discovered in historical sites. Historians had to make sure their estimates conformed to the standard beliefs they inherited from people in the past (like the belief that nothing in existence is more than 6,000 years old) or they would not have any hope of anyone accepting them. Through centuries of analysis, people put together depictions of history based on these beliefs. We had to accept their information: we had no way to tell they were wrong.

Now, science can tell us exactly how old most artifacts are. We can now see that the claims made by people in the past were so off point that it is hard to take anything they concluded from their analysis seriously.

Only very recently, historians claimed no one would ever know or could ever know the age of the Earth, the ages of the stars, the time that life came to exist on Earth, and the time that humans first appeared on the world. Now, scientists have tools that can provide totally objective information about all these things.

New machines like DNA sequencers are being used to verify claims that have been made by non-establishment historians for very long periods of time about the great antiquity of life on Earth and the human race, but which were never accepted by people in the mainstream and were forbidden to be taught to children in schools. We know now that the human race is far, far older than previous views. We can use DNA markers to trace habitation and migration patterns that took place in times that, until recently, were thought to have been long before ‘the beginning of time.’ By sequencing the DNA on bits of food residue left on ancient cooking implements, scientists can now tell us what people had for dinner more than 10,000 years ago; they can determine how these foods were grown (many of the plants did not grow in nature and must have been cultivated), and how many generations removed they are from plants that nature produces. New technologies are allowing us to reconstruct events that had important impacts on the development of important realities of existence that took place long, long before the former historians claimed that ‘history’ even began.

Forensic History deals with history from a new perspective.

The old perspective required that people make their stories about what happened in the past match the belief sets that people had inherited from past generations.

For the past 525 years, conquerors (the victors in wars, who are the ones who write history) have promulgated a belief about ongoing events called ‘manifest destiny:’ This principle holds that a higher power has a destiny in mind for the world and is manifesting this destiny by organizing the events that take place here on Earth to move us closer to this desired destiny each year that passes.

To make history conform to this belief set, historians must accept that every successful genocide event was a good thing, eliminating races that the higher power wanted to be gone, that every war fought in history was for a good cause and won by the races, cultures, and nationalities of people that the higher power wanted to dominate that part of the world. In other words, each war and destructive event that takes place is the best possible thing that could happen and we only move closer and closer to a perfect existence with each new experience.

Many of these belief sets were designed to rationalize or hide activities that can only be called atrocities (see sidebar for more information). Other beliefs sets—like the belief that the entire universe was created in 6 days and that female humans were made from the ribs of males—were entirely inconsistent with virtually unlimited quantities of objective and scientific evidence.

We now have objective information that can confirm how history really progressed and show that the distortions of these events were truly massive.

We need to know the real story: If we, the members of the human race, want to move toward a better future, we have to have some idea of past events that got us to this particular point in time. How can we expect to understand our options for the future if we refuse to be realistic and objective about the past? How can we hope to build a better world if we base our analysis of our current world on fairy tales?

To have a solid foundation, we need more information than just the stories of the victors of battles between nations. This is just a tiny piece of the whole picture of our past as a species.

We need to know how long humans have been on this planet so we can understand how much human history exists. We must understand how people organized their existence in the early period and what, exactly, has changed over time. We need to know when the entities called ‘nations’ first came to exist (they were not always here), and why they were created. We need to know how the origin of the belief that parts of planets within certain imaginary lines can belong absolutely and entirely to the entities we call ‘nations,’ as this belief is one of the main causes of the events that hold the greatest likelihood of destroying our race and world, wars. We need to know what we can change (if it came from people, people can change it) and what we cannot change, and go from there.

All of the versions of history that conform to standard belief sets I could find essenitally claim all the basic realities of our existence came to exist by magic: a being or beings with superpowers created the planet, the universe around it, all animals and plants, and then the human race. The superbeing(s) then created the entities we call ‘nations,’ granted rights to everything inside these nations to certain groups of people, and then (in versions of history accepted by the largest religions in the world) created wars and made the rule that ‘winners’ in wars would ‘own’ the land they conquered in the wars.

Saying ‘it’s all magic’ is another way of saying ‘I don’t know and I don’t want to go to any effort to think about it anymore.’ These explanations provide no objective information the human race can use to move toward a better future.

If we ever want to live any other way—or ‘organize our existence’ any other way—than we do now, we will need this information. We can’t get this information from the conventional versions of history (see sidebar for more information).

But we can get it from the evidence that the amazing new technologies that are only now making available, and other forensic evidence that is now at our disposal.

 

The term ‘forensic’ comes from the Latin forensis, meaning ‘in open court.’ Forensic evidence is defined as evidence that is considered to be unbiased as a result of analysis of possible kinds of evidence in courtrooms for thousands of years. Although standards are different in different jurisdictions, as a general rule, courts accept data from technical sciences that can give us statistical probabilities, they accept person accounts, official documents and records, and versions of past events reconstructed from physical evidence. Forensic History focuses on evidence that falls into these categories.

 

If we examine history from a forensic perspective, we can clearly see that the human era in history is far longer and richer than would be implied by the versions of history we were told in school. Humans have been on this Earth longer and done much more than the non-forensic histories claim.

This is good news: If we have done more than people in the past have accepted, this means that we are capable of more than people in the past have accepted. Perhaps some of the hopelessness we see around us is not justified. Perhaps humans have the capability to overcome the obstacles we now face and move to a new future after all. As you will see, an objective version of history gives us a great deal of hope for our future, by showing that we have accomplished a great deal in the past.

 

Possible Societies

 

The second book in the series, Possible Societies, deals with the options the human race has going forward.

If we know what we have done in the past we will have a very good start in understanding what we can do in the future. Although past events provide a great deal of help in understanding our capabilities, one one does not ONLY have to look to the past to see the incredible capabilities of the human race: Look at recently-developed technologies, including those that allow people to work together effectively as never before. Taking information about what we have done in the past together with new knowledge (including emerging sustainable technologies) we see that the possibilities ARE actually endless.

Our ancestors decided to organize their existence around certain principles. (Most important: the division of the planet into ‘nations’ which are claimed to have ‘sovereignty’ over parts of the world and have both the right and obligation to defend this claimed ‘sovereignty’ as if it were the most important reality of existence. Forensic History deals with the way these principles developed in detail.)

What if we—the descendents of the ones who created this system—want something else?

What other options exist?

What are the various different ways to organize the realities of existence for thinking beings with physical needs (a class humans fall into)? If there are many options, which of them are within the capabilities of the specific ‘thinking beings with physical needs’ we have here on Earth (humans)?

What is the true potentials of the human race?

To really understand this, we need to widen our perspective a little. Consider this:

At one time, people thought the Earth was the center of the universe and the only world of any kind there was. Only about 400 years ago, renegade scientists used telescopes to determine that we actually live in a ‘solar system’ and the Earth is not the only ‘world’ in this solar system, but one of many ‘planets,’ some of which were considerably larger than the Earth.

When people gain access to information that reveals a new worldview, eventually the worldview of society as a whole changes and we are able to build more on this foundation. Now that our worldview of history is changing in ways that are becoming more and more undeniable, the foundation for society IS shifting.

Worldviews have changed profoundly in the past, and it is NOT AT ALL beyond the realm of possibility for them to change in a profound way again moving foreword.

In the last few years, scientists have taken advantage of new technology to discover of thousands of additional ‘worlds’ or ‘exoplanets’ that are extremely far away from us. By analyzing the stars and the planets they support, they could determine that, if the rest of the universe was like the part close to us, there would have to be many trillions of other ‘worlds’ in the part of the universe we can see from Earth, and many billions of these other worlds would have to be in the same general category as Earth, and be capable of supporting life in the form it takes on this planet. Perhaps the same factors that led to humans existing on Earth caused beings with human-like characteristics to exist on other worlds.

How might these other intelligent beings have organized their existence? What kinds of ‘societies’ might they have? Do you think they ALL organize their existence exactly as we do here on Earth? Or might at least some of them have organized their existence differently? Do you think they ALL divide their worlds into entities similar to the entities we call ‘nations’ with imaginary lines called ‘borders’ and then build weapons with the capability of destroying the planet for the purpose of moving or preventing the movement of these imaginary lines? Do they ALL have massive military industrial complexes to support the war machines of any ‘nations’ or ‘nation-like’ entities they have? Do ALL of the planets with intelligent life organize their world in ways that make them want to increase the number of ‘jobs’ there are in production, and therefore increase the amount of work required to meet their needs? (The societies we live in are dependent on jobs to distribute wealth to the great majority of the people, so they need jobs and people in governments work hard to create jobs, to the point of subsidizing destruction, creating tensions that can drive up employment in the military industry, and even starting wars to ‘put people to work.’ Do you think that some intelligent beings might prefer to organize their existence so they have more good things to make life better for them, rather than actually destroying value when necessary to keep their people working?) Do you think they all divide the people of their world into ‘classes’ and give different classes different rights?

What if they don’t ALL organize the realities of their existence this way?

What if there is one group of intelligent beings somewhere in the universe that organizes its existence—or has organized its existence in the past—differently than humans organize their existence today?

If this is true, then we will know there are other ways for intelligent beings with physical needs (a class humans fall into) to organize their existence.

Once we know it is possible to organize our existence different ways, the next step is to figure out how many options there are. How many different ways can intelligent beings with physical needs organize the realities of their existence? In other words, how many different categories of ‘societies’ are possible?

The second book in the series, Possible Societies, deals with this issue.

It explains that there are two different things we can vary about the way we organize our existence:

 

1. We can change the way we interact with physical realities such as the world we live on

2. We can change the way we interact with each other.

 

These are the variables we can control. As you will see, there is a range with limits for both variables, so we can lay them out in a logical way that makes sense. Since we are organizing two variables, we can make use of a chart or map to lay out all of the different ways the human race can organize the important realities of its existence. We can then examine and compare the different options to each other, using mathematical tools that come from analysis of charted variables. If we have a chart, and we know where the societies that have existed in the past are in this chart, we can see exactly where in the range the human race has been throughout its history, and were we are now. We can also see how far we are from other options that have never existed but are possible, and how much work we would have to do to move to these other options, if we wanted to try them.

As you will see, the option that our ancestors chose is one of the most destructive ways to organize existence within the capabilities of thinking beings with physical needs. It works in ways that send massive amounts of wealth to people who contribute to the most harmful activity within the capability of intelligent beings, the organized orgies of mass murder and destruction called ‘war.’ It also works in ways that allow people to get extremely rich harming the world that we depend on to give us life. Possible Societies shows that not all possible societies thinking beings can form send wealth to people who do things that harm the world and people on it. You will see that a great many of the options have a great deal in common with the systems we were born into (in other words, they work more or less the same way and people familiar with the societies that now exist would be able to understand and function easily in these other systems) but they do not have the destructive characteristics that are an inherent part of the type of societies that now dominate the planet Earth.

If we understand the structural differences between these different options, we will know what exactly what we must change if we want to move from the societies that were already in place when the current generation of humans were born to some other kind of societies. The second book in the series provides this information.

 

GameChanger (A Practical Guide To Changing The Realties Of Existence Here On Earth)

 

What if we want change?

What if we understand that other modes of existence or ‘societies’ are possible; we understand how these other modes of existence work, and we want to begin a transition to something else?

How, exactly, would we proceed?

It is easy to get overwhelmed by the thought of trying to changing the world. There are so many horrible things going on around us. It is easy to get emotional, angry, to want to harm to others, to want to tear everything down and make the people who contribute to the problems pay. in fact, it is easy to get to the point where we start to feel hopeless to even think about it, and try to turn off our minds whenever any such thoughts come up.

This kind of mindset does not help solve problems of a technical nature. People who are highly emotional or prone to hopelessness are not very good at solving technical problems.

As we will see, if we can solve certain technical problems, we have a very clear and rather simple path to transitions to societies that can meet the needs of the human race for a very long time into the future. We can solve these technical problems much more effectively if we can create a mindset that allows us to have some emotional distance and considers solving the problems to be a challenge that we will want to succeed at (rather than pretend does not exist to keep our minds from having to contemplate the consequences of failure). GameChanger is designed to help create the necessary metal perspective: If we are afraid to think about the issue, we will never move foreword; if we are anxious to think about it—because we think of it as a challenging puzzle—and devote enough time to the effort, we easily have the ability to solve it.

The third book, GameChanger, explains a perspective that can help us understand effective, practical, non-traumatic ways to do this.

You could think of the realities of the societies we were born into as a kind of ‘game in progress.’ This ‘game’ involves having groups of people divide into teams called ‘nations’ and then using the wealth of each nation to try to defend that nation’s claim to total rights to the part of the world inside of certain imaginary lines, and, if possible, move those imaginary lines outward so that more of the game board is within the lines of that ‘nation.’ This game uses scoring chits that are little pieces of paper with numbers on them called ‘money.’ People who play the game well get a lot of these chits and people who organize for the primary activities of this game (wars) can get immense quantities of these chits together with control of resources that produce immense flows of additional scoring chits.

People can exchange these scoring chits for good things, including food and other necessities of life. People who were born to parents who didn’t already have a large number of these game chits to pass down to them have no way to get food and other necessities without getting some of these chits and the only way most people can get them is by playing the game. They have to play or die.

If we look at the world this way—as if it is a game—we can see that the idea of changing the way human existence works is a kind of game strategy. They way the game is now, it is clearly unwinnable: within a few centuries (and perhaps sooner) the realities of the game play will destroy the board and everything on it. But we don’t have to sit back and wait for this. One strategy that people use in games that appear to be unwinnable is to change the game to make it winnable.

This is not going to be easy. We are trying to figure out how to change the rules of a game while the game is in progress and while billions of people are being forced to play the game just to stay alive.

This is a very difficult puzzle to solve.

But it does have solutions.

GameChanger considers the idea of changing the practical realities of human existence given these constraints. You will already realize (from reading Forensic History) that we have considerable tools and capabilities to make this reality. You will also realize (from reading Possible Societies) that we don’t have to change everything, we just have to alter the specific realities that differ between the ‘societies we were born into’ and the ‘societies we wish to leave for future generations.’

Once we look at the options, we can examine the mathematical likelihood of succeeding in changing the game before we run out of time. As you will see, there are some strategies that give us an extremely high likelihood of changing the game before it is too late.

 

We really are capable of more than we have yet achieved.

We can do better.

We are the dominant species on this world. If we want to change the realities of our existence, no other species (at least none that we can detect with our senses or scientific instruments) can stop us. Our destiny is in our hands.

3 Tweaking

Written by dade on . Posted in 4: Reforming societies, Uncategorized

Reforming Societies
Chapter Three: Tweaking (Altering Society by a Sequence of Tiny Changes

 

The term ‘gaming establishment’ is another term for ‘casino.’ Casinos make money by playing games. The owners set up the games so that the casinos will win with mathematical certainty. If you play at casinos, you are playing games that are designed to be unwinnable for players.

In most cases, the casino’s advantage comes from an analysis of random chance events and a calculation of payoff odds that guarantees the casino makes money, as long as the event being bet on is truly random. For example, in the game of craps (a dice game played with two six-sided die), you can make a bet that you will roll the number 6 before you will roll a 7. If you do, you will ‘win’ the bet and be paid at the rate of $7 for every $6 bet. (In other words, if you roll a 6 before you roll a 7, you will get $7 given to you and will still have the your $6 bet ‘working.’ It will remain ‘working’ until you ask for it back or roll a 7. If you roll a 7, the casino will take your $6.)

A little side note: casinos take advantage of customer ignorance by making it easier to make the exact same bet with a lower payoff. They don’t advertise the above bet: if you don’t know about it, you won’t be able to make it (it is called a ‘place’ bet; you throw your money down on the 6 and tell the attendants you want to ‘place the 6’). On the corner of the table is a ‘big 6’ spot where you can make the same bet, but if you win, you only get paid even money, or $6 in winnings per $6 bet. Obviously, the casino wants people to make the bets that the casino makes more money on, so they make it very easy to make this bet by putting it in a prominent position and accepting any bet down to the table minimum on the ‘big 6,’ while only accepting bets in multiples of $6 on the ‘place 6 bet.’ One way or the other, the casino makes money with mathematical certainty, but they make more from people who don’t understand the odds and are willing to accept an even lower payoff than the casino would have to make for people who understand the game.

There are 6 possible roll combinations out of a total of 36 that will give you a 7, but only 5 possible combinations that will give you a 6. (Link to source.) This means that the odds of rolling a 7 over a 6 are 6 to 5 (or 1.2 to 1). The casino pays you at the lower rate of 7 to 6 (or 1.16 to 1). If the die roll is truly random, the casino will pay out, on average, 96.66⅔ cents for each $1 bet. The players may be ahead for a while over the short term because it takes time for the casino’s advantage to average out. But over a long enough period of time, the casino always makes money on this wager, which means that, over a long enough period of time, the players always lose money. It is a mathematical certainty.

The game is rigged against the players. The only way people can avoid losing money on this game is to not play it.

The same is true with almost all of the games in the casino. (There is one exception, that we will look at shortly.) Mathematicians calculate the odds of a random event happening. They then calculate the payoffs needed for the casino to make money and set the payoffs accordingly. Gambling houses have come up with thousands of games based on this formula. With only one real exception (discussed below), they are set up so that the casino will win (meaning the players will lose) with mathematical certainty.

How to Cheat Casinos

 

The only real exception happens to be the most popular game played in casinos, called ‘vingt-et-un’ in most of the world, and ‘blackjack’ in the United States. People who understand this game can reverse the odds and create a mathematical certainty of making money.

The reason this is possible is that blackjack, unlike the other popular games, is not a true ‘game of chance.’ It doesn’t use a totally random draw of cards. Each round of game play only involves a few cards (possibly as few as 4) and dealers don’t shuffle the cards after every hand. Instead, they put the played cards into a ‘discard’ pile, and continue dealing off of the original deck. Players can see the cards as they are played so they know which chards have been played and know these cards are no longer in the deck. They can keep track of the played cards (the common term is ‘count cards’), then use betting strategies that will give a mathematical advantage to them, based on the specific cards in the part of the deck that has not yet been played.

Because the events involved are not truly random (future cards depend on past events, namely the cards that have already been played), it is not possible for casinos to create a mathematical certainty of winning. As a result, people can beat this game and turn the advantage to the player.

Many people have evaluated betting strategies based on various different methods of card counting. In some cases they have used high-speed computers to build algorithms that give them mathematical certainty of winning, provided they count right and bet right. The math is quite complex, but these people have published their findings and you can find many books that give you the exact mathematical advantage for the player with various strategies (look on Amazon for ‘wining at blackjack’). Even the best strategies give the player only tiny advantages, but even a tiny advantage can add up to big winnings over a long enough period of play.

It wasn’t until very recently that people began to take time to calculate ways to reverse the odds. People have played ‘vingt-et-un’ as a parlor game with small bets for at least 600 years, but large-scale gaming that would allow people to make large amounts of money by analyzing betting strategies didn’t become reality until March 31, 1931. On that day, Nevada legislature legalized casino gambling. People could open large-scale commercial casinos and take bets from all comers. Now, people who understood card counting could go from casino to casino, making money on their card play.

The early casino owners were all ‘sole proprietors,’ meaning they were small business people who put up their personal savings to fund the casinos. This was a result of a Nevada law that only allowed people of ‘good moral and social standing’ to operate casinos. People who wanted licenses had to appear personally in front of the state gaming board to prove they fell into this category. Because anyone who could meet this requirement could own and operate a casino, the owners came from all walks of life and all different backgrounds. Few mathematicians are attracted to this field. As a general rule, they didn’t understand the points discussed above and didn’t realize it was possible for players to turn the odds of this one game against the casinos. Players figured it out, however. In early days of casinos, a lot of casinos lost money on their blackjack operations, because they didn’t understand the tricks of the game.

The rules for casinos changed dramatically in 1972, when the richest man on Earth at that time, Howard Hughes, had his lobbyists draft a new law called the ‘Corporate Gaming Act’ and push it through the Nevada legislature. (The sidebar explains why he did this.)

Corporate gaming:

In 1972, Hughes was renting the top floor of the Desert Inn for himself and his entourage. He wanted to live there (and did live there) the rest of his life. Casinos generally use their hotels to attract gamblers and want gamblers living there. Hughes and his people did not gamble. The casino manager needed the space for gamblers so he kicked Hughes out of his rooms.

When Howard got the eviction notice, he made a few calls to his property buyers. The next morning, he was the new owner of the Desert Inn Hotel and Casino. He purchased the hotel so he wouldn’t have to leave.

Unfortunately, there was a problem: Only people who have appeared in person in front of the gaming condition commission can get licenses to operate casinos. Hughes didn’t want to do this. He put his lobbyists to work on the problem. Within a week, they had solved the problem: they wrote the law called the ‘Corporate Gaming Act’ and secured enough support in the legislature to get it signed into law.

In the United States, corporations can always be represented by attorneys in legal maters. (Forensic History explained the reason corporations have the rights they have in the United States.) Hughes never had to appear in person in front of anyone. Through his various corporations, he eventually became the largest owner/operator of casinos in the world.

After the law passed, corporations moved in to the field. There is a lot of money in casinos, and corporations go where the money is. Corporate researchers determined that they could a great deal of money from the casino business if they built very large and expensive casinos. (These mega casinos didn’t exist in the pre-corporation days because proprietors couldn’t raise the hundreds of millions of dollars needed to build them. Forensic History explains the special advantages corporations have over proprietors in raising money for large projects.) The larger the casinos, the more money they would make, both in total earnings and earnings per square foot. (This happens because of something economists call ‘economies of scale;’ in some businesses, large scale enterprises are more efficient than small scale businesses.) The corporations began to invest incredible amounts of money in resort hotel casinos that were larger than any resorts that had ever existed.

The corporations ran the casinos using scientific business principles. The managers soon realized that their blackjack divisions were not always producing profits and hired consultants to help them figure out why. The consultants figured out the card counting systems. (Many of the people who consulted on these projects wrote books about how to beat the casinos; again, search for ‘how to win in blackjack’ on Amazon to find their work.)

The casino owners had to do something.

But what could they do? They couldn’t simply stop offering the game of blackjack. It was the most popular game their casinos offered. Many gamblers came to Nevada specifically to play this game. If casinos didn’t offer this game, their customers would stop coming. Their business model depended on blackjack: they had to keep offering this game.

But they would have to change the game, or the corporate casinos wouldn’t be able to make money and pay dividends to shareholders.

They decided to alter the way this ancient game was played to restore the advantage to the casinos.

They couldn’t change it by much, or very quickly, or their customers would protest and stop coming to their establishments. They had to be crafty.

The first change involved switching from one 52 card deck to ‘two deck blackjack.’ To make sure that their players wouldn’t object, the casinos started adding in special perks like paying 1.5 times the bet for a ‘natural’ blackjacks (ace and face card on first two cards), or allowing gamblers to double their bets in certain cases that the old rules didn’t allow. Once the players adjusted to the new game rules, the casinos rolled back the perks. Then, they could change the game again, by adding additional decks. (Most casinos now use 5 decks.) Whenever players reacted to the changes by reducing their play, the casinos would add in perks to get the game play back to previous levels. The casinos also had many other anti-counting protocols that they added in over time. (For example, they would deal a large number of cards off of the deck face down so no one could see them, both when beginning the game and at various intervals; they would also start shuffling the deck when it was half way finished.) They used perks to offset the changes until the players became used to them, then rolled back the perks and started again.

In the meantime, they evicted anyone they thought might be counting cards. They trained their personnel to recognize the common betting strategies for card counters. When they saw these patterns, they reported them to security. The security officers would then ask the patrons to leave. (Many rumors persist that card counters were treated very roughly and often beat up to discourage them from returning. Whether or not these rumors were true, the casinos had an interest in making poeple think card counters would be physically harmed.)

When casinos started using electronic techniques, they programmed their computers to recognize the strategies of card counters. The computers were much better at this than humans. They notified security and the patron was evicted. Now, casinos have facial recognition software and scan the faces of all patrons, looking for faces in their databases of known card counters. If the computers recognize card counters, they notify security to escort these people out of the casinos. Because all casinos have an interest in preventing the practice of card counting, the casinos share their databases and known card counters are not allowed in any casino that shares the information. (Get caught counting cards in a casino in Biloxi Mississippi and you will probably not be able to enter the Grand Casino in Monte Carlo.)

Technically, it is possible to beat the game. But the game has changed to the extent that it isn’t worth the effort to try. It takes a lot of time to memorize the techniques needed to effectively count cards. If you use them, you will be caught before you have made enough to even cover the value of the time you spent learning the techniques. We know that the casino’s efforts to deal with card counting have been effective because the casinos still offer blackjack in their casinos: they would not do this if they didn’t know they would make money on it.

 

Beating Games (In General)

 

We can learn a lot about the idea of gaming in general, and the practice of changing games that don’t suit one of the players, from casinos.

For example, games that appear at first to be ‘no-win’ games are not always truly no-win games. In some cases, they can be won. We learn that players who understand the details of the games can have better odds than players who don’t know the way the games are played. We can not only learn that it is possible to beat games that are designed to be no-win games, we can learn what must be done to make this happen: If we understand the incentives behind the rules of the game, we can know exactly where the game designers have had to place weaknesses.

Let’s consider how this information applies to the ‘game’ that was in progress on Earth when the current generation of people were born: Like casino game designers, the organize and run this game have to follow certain rules. They have no choice. Nations must remain competitive militarily, or they will be ‘conquered.’ If they are conquered, the game scoring chits (the money and ‘things that can be traded for money’ like land) are likely to be divided among top players in the conquering nation. Military necessity will eventually require that nations create certain structures that the people who want to change the game can exploit to make the game work differently. The existing authorities of the nations may not want to allow these structures to exist. But they have no choice. They have to compete militarily, they need the structures to do this, so they have to do more than allow the structures, they have to actually encourage them.

 

Examples

 

One example involves the ideas of ‘cities.’

Very early in the development of nations, rulers realized that armies with weapons made of steel had great advantages over armies without steel. The more steel weapons their armies had, the greater the advantages. They needed steel. Not just a little bit: the more they had, the greater advantages they had.

Large-scale steel production started about 5,000 years ago. To make large amounts of steel, a large number of people with very specialized skills have to come together in one place. They need enormous amounts of raw materials, teamsters to bring the materials to a central locations, construction workers to make the smelters, steel mills, and weapons factories, for example. If these people were spending their time making weapons, they wouldn’t have time to meet their own basic needs, so they would need people to bring in food and distribute and cook it; they would need even more construction workers to build homes for the workers, and more workers to make clothing, bring in fuel, and provide other necessities of life. They would need a large number of people living together in the same area. They would need ‘cities.’

Before cities, feudal sovereigns had almost total control over people’s behavior. The sovereigns owned the land and everything it produced, including the food. They could provide food to people who complied with their rules (including the rule that they work a certain amount) and deny food to others. If people act in ways that in any way bothers the sovereigns, the sovereigns can have other people who work for them (their armies or police) execute the violators.

In cities, people have to be able to get the necessities of life without having to go through processes the rulers first approve. (Generally, the rulers will simply buy the weapons. The people in the cities will have to work out a system that causes the weapons to get made and the weapons-makers to get paid.) They can’t directly control all aspects of the behavior of people who live in cities. Normally, rulers would prefer to have total control of everyone’s behavior. To have steel weapons, they have to give up some of this control. They face constraints and limits. People who understand these constraints can take advantage of them.

We can see that the people in cities understood this and took full of it by the artifacts we see in cities: Virtually all cities in Afro-Eurasia that existed during feudal times have enormous walls around them. These walls are very clear evidence that the people in the cities took advantage of their freedom from feudal control and became independent entities, the kind of entities historians now call ‘city states.’ As independent entities, they could sell their weapons and other goods to the highest bidders (not just to the sovereigns if nearby kingdoms) and make enormous profits. Obviously, the sovereigns leaders didn’t want this to happen, but they had no choice: they had constraints.

Example 2: Universities

 

In the late 1,000s, Chinese inventors invented gunpowder. Within a few centuries, they had very complex weapons that took advantage of this new material, including rockets, grenades, bombs, and cannon. In the 1200s, Chinese conquerors with these weapons were able to conquer land in other areas. They were eventually able to gain control of large parts of the Persian empire.

Some Persian leaders adapted: they started building gunpowder factories themselves. They also started building schools that would train people in skills needed to develop high-quality rockets and other gunpowder-related weapons. They eventually designed superior weapons. Using these weapons, they were able to drive the Chinese (called the ‘Mongols’ in history books) from the Persian and Arabian lands.

The Persians and their allies (generally meaning all Moslem people) were then at war on another front as well, with the Christians. Before the Moslems had gunpowder, their wars with Christians had not been going well and the Christians had gained control of large amounts of land in North Africa and the Middle East. (This included the land that both Christians and Moslems consider to be fundamental holy places, in and around Jerusalem).

With rockets, bombs, cannon, and other advanced weapons, the Persians and their allies were able to remove the Christians from North Africa fairly easily. They began to threaten the land of Europe.

The Christians had a very repressive regime at that time, with all non-religious education under a strict ban, with the death penalty for people who were found to violate the ban. This put the Christians at a great disadvantage: You can’t learn the best way to structure the propellant cylinders to make rockets from the Bible. To learn these things, the Christians had to legalize education and then allow schools. In fact, since they were already dealing from a position of weakness, they had to go much farther than this: they had to begin using church money to build schools and they had to encourage people to learn the skills these schools taught, including how to build better weapons than their enemies had. As we saw in Forensic History, over the next few centuries, the Christians built some extremely high-quality schools, many of which are still in operation today. They poured funds into research and—within a few centuries—built some of the largest and best-equipped militaries that had ever existed.

They allowed people the freedom to use their own minds. They actually encouraged this. The leaders had resisted such changes for many centuries. Uneducated people are far easier to control than educated ones. The rulers would have preferred to have people follow the leaders blindly and do what they are told.

But they had no choice: their enemies had rockets, cannon, bombs, muskets, and grenades. They couldn’t defend themselves against these enemies if they only had swords and knives. They had constraints on their behavior and, as we saw in Forensic History, the people eventually took advantage of these constraints. Slowly, people have built on the knowledge base and transferred rights and powers from sovereigns to the people. Sovereigns lost a great deal of their power and authority when they were forced to build and encourage universities and other institutions of higher education.

Example 3: Corporations

 

 

On December 31, 1600, the British government created the first ‘joint stock corporation,’ the East India Company. This company had ‘shares’ that could be bought and sold, so anyone with money could own it.

Corporations are powerhouses that have great abilities to alter the realities of nations and diminish the authority and power of sovereigns and other rulers. They can raise massive amounts of money (many corporations today are far larger than most nations today) so they can build things that, formerly, only nations could afford to build. They last forever so they can build on past successes and organize. They control many things that sovereigns and sovereign administrations desperately need—like money and weapons—so they can manipulate sovereigns and sovereign administrations to meet the needs of the corporations, even if the corporations need entirely different thing than the sovereigns and sovereign administrations.

Altering the game with corporations:

Forensic History gave one example of an attempt that almost worked to change the game using the power of corporations. In the 1860s, Henri Dunant created several enormous corporations of a new type, called ‘humanitarian corporations.’ Corporations had developed powerful tools to manipulate legislation and governments. These new ‘humanitarian’ corporations would take advantage of every trick known in the corporate world to manipulate governments to accept changes that would reduce the threat of and eventually eliminate war, and stop the enormous subsidies going to destroyers.

We saw in Forensic History that certain other people (namely, Gustav Moynier and his friends) thought that Dunant was going too far: they thought that God had created nations and given them their powers, and it was not moral to use the power of corporations to limit the power of governments. These opponents eventually were able to drive Dunant out of the humanitarian corporations that he had created, and change their role so they no longer would work to change the game.

Although this particular attempt failed, the idea was sound and the tools are capable of doing what Dunant wanted them to do. Not only can we take advantage of his ideas, we can add them to the ideas of others and use technology that didn’t exist in the 1800s to give additional advantages. We will see how to do all this as the book progresses.

 

This new kind of corporation had incredible power. (Corporations gained far more power after several corporations worked together to take over a part of North America and create new rules where corporations were ‘persons’ under the law with rights that human persons did not have; Forensic History explains these events in detail.) The people who made the rules may not have wanted to have organizations that had these powers. But they had no choice: The nations that sponsored the new kinds of corporations could build weapons and other tools of war far better than nations that did not. The rulers had constraints. They had to have corporations to compete in war.

We, the members of the human race and inhabitants of the planet Earth, can think of the above tools (cities, universities, and corporations) as tools. We can understand that these tools came to exist as a result of military necessity, not the desires of the people who had gotten into a position to make rules. As the sidebar above illustrates, it is possible to use these tools to help us, the members of the human race, meet our needs and goals, if we understand them well enough.

 

Example 4: The Internet

 

The fourth example is perhaps the most powerful illustration of tools that the gamers have been forced to create that empowers the people who are currently at the mercy of the rules that have been in place for thousands of years: the internet.

The United States government exploded ‘Ivy Mike,’ the first ‘thermonuclear’ (three stage nuclear bomb) on October 31, 1952. Immediately, communications systems crashed, not just at the site of the blast, but may thousands of miles away.

The government eventually realized the reason: the bomb had emitted a powerful electromagnetic pulse that generated an inductive current in the telephone lines. This current was far greater than the design current for these lines, so they melted. (In many cases, the melting wires were hot enough to catch the insulation on fire and many telephone switching stations burned to the ground.) The corporations that conducted the blast test for the government realized that the government would absolutely need a new communication system.

They had their people draw up proposals and, because of the urgency, got the ‘Arapanet’ project funded a few months after the Ivy Mike test. Arapnet was the prototype for the internet.

To be effective, the new communication system would have to have multiple pathways (as many as possible) which would be made of different materials and using as many different protocols as possible. They decided the new system should have an ‘open architecture,’ meaning that the military would not build the communication interfaces or even the pathways: users would build these things to the user’s specifications. With a potentially unlimited number of interfaces and pathways, all made differently, enemies would be unlikely to take everything down at the same time. As long as there were any pathways for communication, the military messages could get through, and they could continue to fight, even after a nuclear attack by an enemy. To make sure they had the maximum number of pathways and interfaces, the planners would have to make the system usable by other nations, so people all around the world could add pathways and interfaces. (Remember, the United States is only 4% of the world, yet has military objectives all over the world. It needs a global system.) Governments, corporations, and individuals all want to use the internet for different things, so they created millions of different interfaces. This makes it virtually impossible for anyone—even the people who created it—to effectively censor the internet. (Note: Forensic History provides a very detailed description of the background behind the internet and the way it works.)

Censorship:

Although many countries claim to have ‘freedom of speech,’ censorship has been used for all of history to keep people’s minds from being corrupted by ideas governments don’t want them to know about. I remember the huge amount of information that became available to the public for the very first time with the internet. I have done much of my research in the United States and China, both nations that are working hard to censor the internet. They have never been able to prevent me from getting to a site I wanted to go to, because I know how to get around the blocks. In the United States, where the censors don’t block the sites people most want to see (porn sites), the censorship is only a nuisance and few people bother to learn how to get around it. In China, however, everyone seems to know how to do this: they can get any information they want there.

The game managers knew that this kind of system would make effective censorship impossible. They use the control of information as a tool to control the way people think. With the internet, they wouldn’t be able to use this tool. But, just as the Christians had to allow universities in the 1300s, and Europe had to allow corporations in the 1600s, the United States had to allow and actually facilitate the creation of this tool. It was militarily necessary. They could not afford not to create a tool that they needed in order to fight the new types of war that became possible on the first of November, 1952.

There is some irony here: The internet was built in order to make a prolonged nuclear war practical. But it facilitates free information flows that never were possible before. These flows of information can be used—together with the other tools that the game managers created to advance their games—to change the game so that the nuclear wars the internet was designed to facilitate do not happen.

This is not going to be easy. It is not like we can just wave a wand and take advantage of all of these tools. The game planers and managers are adapting the game as you read this, in an attempt to find ways to keep their control over the minds of the people intact. But they have created a tool that makes this job infinitely more difficult than it was before.

 

The Other Side of the Coin

 

We, the members of the human race, are the players in the big game now in progress all over the world. This game is essentially a no-win game, a Kobayashi Maru scenario. If we simply give up, and fall into game play in desperation, we can only lose. But if the game doesn’t suit us, we have other options. We don’t have to simply accept our lot and play the losing game. When the casinos found out that one of the key games that people wanted to play did not meet the needs of the casinos, they didn’t just give up and play the game that didn’t suit them. They didn’t give up and kill themselves either. They changed the game.

We were born onto a world where a game was already in progress and had been in progress for thousands of years in many parts of the world. The great majority of the people of the world have to play this game in order to stay alive. They have two great fears:

First, the game is going to destroy everything. Tomorrow, when they would have otherwise woken up, they will be dead and everything around them will be gone.

But that is actually a minor fear compared to their big fear: They are afraid that the game they depend on to keep them alive will suddenly end or change in a dramatic way that they can’t adjust to. They won’t be able to support their families anymore; they will lose their homes, their cars, their medical care, or the other things they need. Their greatest fear is not death for themselves and their families from a nuclear war, or the end of the human race from an environmental disaster.

Their greatest fear is change in the game.

They wish that the game were winnable, and pray that someday someone will figure out how to change the way it works, but their behavior shows that they really want everything to stay the same. They know how the system works, they have adapted to it, they depend on it, and they have allowed their minds to accept it.

This means that, if we want to change the game, we have to take a clue from the corporations that changed the game of blackjack: we have to be crafty. We have to find a way to change the game without affecting the people who depend on the game to stay alive. I am not going to try to make you think this is easy: if it were easy it would have been done a long, long time ago. It is very hard to change a game without the people intimately involved with the game objecting or fighting the change. I am only trying to say that this is possible. If we start from the right place (a full understanding of the way the game works and what differences in it would make it winnable—this is discussed in the next chapter), and we use all of the tools at our disposal (including universities, international corporations, and the internet, all created as a result of military pressures as shown above), and plan the changes carefully, we have a very real chance of making it work.

Books in this series

This book is a part of a series of four books about the important realities of human existence. They are:

1. Forensic History: uses new scientific tools and information sources to reconstruct the series of events that put the human race on the path it is now on. It explains how the realities of human existence came to be as they are. It focuses on the events led to the existence of the power structures that dominate the world today, including the entities called 'nations,' organized religions, and the massive and extremely powerful entities we call 'corporations.' These entities did not appear by magic. They came to exist as a result of decisions people made in the past. If we want to understand the realities of human existence, we have to understand who made these decisions, why they were made, and how the decisions made in the past have led to the realities that we see around us.

2. Possible Societies goes over the capabilities of the human race and the limitations we have for organizing the realities of our existence. It is an attempt to categorize all possible methods of organizing human existence—or all possible societies—in a methodological and organized way. Once we understand the different options we have for organizing societies, we can go over them to determine which of the options are able to meet our needs without constant problems such as war and unnecessary environmental destruction.

3. Reforming Societies: We were born onto a world that was organized in a very dangerous way. It was cut up with imaginary lines into the entities we call 'nations.' Each nation had formed a government which claimed that everything within that nation belonged to the people who were born inside the imaginary lines. Any society built on this foundation necessarily has very serious problems, which include powerful forces these entities surrounded by imaginary lines to engage in activities that are the most horrific destructive within the capability of any physical beings with the power to think on a rational level. The pressure to perform these horrible acts is so powerful that the industries devoted to war and the support of war, combined, make up the largest industries on Earth: More wealth, manpower, effort, skills, talents, capital, and resources are devoted to organized mass murder and destruction than any other activity on the planet. People have gone as far as building weapons that will destroy the planet if used and actually deployed these weapons, making them ready for instant use if certain circumstances arise. Given enough time, these circumstances are certain to arise.

What if we—the current members of the human race—decide we don't like these particular realities of existence? What if we decide we want some other destiny for our race (than extinction)? It is possible to organize the realities of our world in different ways. (Even children should realize this: humans need food, water, air, sleep, and protection from the elements; the imaginary lines that cut the world into 'nations' don't give us any of these things.)

But is it possible to actually build them?

If we know other methods of organizing the realities of human existence are possible, we can work out the exact structural differences between the realities of these other societies and the current realities of human existence.

We can figure out practical steps to take to change the form of ('reform') other societies. It explains the exact practical steps that ordinary people like you and I can take to put the human race on a path to one of these societies, if we should decide we want to do this.

4. The Meaning of Life explains why this matters. The societies we were born into must raise children to think a certain way so they will be willing to sacrifice for and participate in the wars that are an inherent part of societies built on the division of the world into 'nations.' To make them willing to participate, they must raise children to believe that there is a higher purpose behind the wars and behind the existence of the nations: They must make children believe that they were born to and exist to protect their nations, to respect the claimed founding principles, to honor the nation and, through ceremonies that all children are taught in schools, to even worship the nation, in the same way they are taught to worship the higher power that they were told created the nation. To make them do the horrible things that people must do to have wars, they must make children believe that this is the meaning of life and the reason they were born.

New scientific evidence is allowing us to put together messages that are encoded in our DNA and evident from the structures that are necessary for the process we call 'life' to exist in ways that can show us that there are scientifically acceptable and mathematically likely explanations for the existence of life on Earth that totally conflict with the premises taught to keep people willing to fight, kill, maim, cripple, destroy, risk and accept death for the benefits of the entities called 'nations.' If we accept science, logic, and reason, we can put together a picture of the meaning of existence that can help us see that the claimed reasons for existence that have been taught in schools and accepted for thousands of years are basically propaganda, created for the express purpose of allowing rationalization of horrific acts. If they could put together some rational picture of the reason we are here, people would not be willing to do the things that they spend their lives doing today.

What if we find there is a real meaning to our existence and it has nothing whatever to do with worshiping invisible superbeings or protecting nations? The entire rationalization for dividing the world into 'nations' and making war basically disappears. We must accept that the realities of existence on Earth are as they are because people made certain decisions. These people are no longer alive. We are here. We can make our own decisions. We can decide where we want to go from here and begin going there.

2 The Kobiachi Maru

Written by dade on . Posted in 4: Reforming societies

Reforming Societies
Chapter Two: The Kobiachi Maru

 

On the original Star Trek series, the lead character, Captain Kirk, was said to have been the only person in Starfleet history to have ever passed the Academy test designated the ‘Kobayashi Maru.’ The Kobayashi Maru is a kind of war game, conducted under extreme pressure, with enormous losses implied by every possible decision that might be made. The game is designed to be a no-win scenario; it is designed to test the character of the officer candidates, determine how far they can be pushed before they reach their breaking points, and test their ability to make extreme sacrifices to obtain an objective.

No one is supposed to ever be able to ‘win’ the Kobayashi Maru. It is designed to be unwinnable.

How did Kirk win this unwinnable game?

At one point, Kirk explains how it did it: he cheated. He knew the game he was supposed to play, the Kobayashi Maru, was unwinnable. He didn’t want to have to play a game that couldn’t be won, so he changed the game. He got into the computer system and tweaked the program by just enough to create an opening that he could exploit to win. He didn’t actually win the Kobayashi Maru, he won a game of his own design that was almost identical, but had enough differences from the Kobayashi Maru, to be winnable.

You and I were born onto a world where a kind of game has been in progress for about 6,000 years. In this game, people form onto teams that they call ‘nations’ and fight ‘for their nations’ against the teams of all other nations on Earth. There are no off-limits moves in this game: One of the ‘play options’ in this game is an activity called ‘war.’ Nothing is too horrible to do in war so nothing is too horrible a move to make in this game. Most of us have seen the results in the real world, watching the people who have been crippled, maimed, lost their loved ones, or been driven insane by the game play trying to salvage some hope that will allow them to function for whatever time they have left. It is the way the ongoing game that is being played in the world around us works.

You and I didn’t start this game or even ask to play it. We had no choice. When we came to this world as babies, this game was already in progress. The rules had already been made, and these rules required everyone to take part. We got sucked into this game just as the generations before us were sucked into this game.

We can all see that it is a ‘Kobayashi Maru’ scenario, in that it is an unwinnable game.

No matter what play we personally make we will, a race, all lose. All we can hope for is to stretch out the game long enough for someone to figure out how to get our race to stop playing.

 

The Right Thing To Do

 

Kirk cheated.

How does this speak to his character?

What would we think of someone who cheats in this scenario? Recognizing that if one plays by the rules there is no way out, what does deciding to play by the rules, and what does deciding to take agency and change the rules say about the player?

We live in a society that is playing an unwinnable game, a ‘war game.’ Many people see that this game is unwinnable; but they play anyway and do their best to follow the rules. It is the only life they know. They see playing by the rules as a sign of good character; they are proud of the fact that they are able to do this and uncomfortable with any thoughts or suggestions that may try to convince them to live any other way.

What if some people were to say: This game sucks: We’re changing the rules.

Is this a bad thing to say? Is it something we are not even supposed to think about?

In his book 1984, George Orwell came up with the term ‘thoughtcrime’ to refer to thoughts like this: Society is supposed to work a certain way. We are not even supposed to think about trying to make it different. Orwell claimed that the type of society we live in (he used the term ‘Ingsoc’ to refer to ‘the type of society that dominates the world in 1984’) absolutely can’t function without indoctrination.

It needs indoctrination to keep people holding the desired frames of mind. This indoctrination includs instruction about a made-up past that held that claimed nothing else had ever existed. It included, in Orwell’s book, ceremonies like the ‘two minutes hate’ designed to legitimize the emotions promoted by the leaders, and it included training in mental techniques that helped people recognize when they are thinking properly and when their thoughts might be straying into criminal areas.

In the book, Orwell describes three mental techniques to help people avoid thought crime: crimestop, blackwhite, and doublethink. Here he describes the simplest technique, the one taught to children first:

 

The first and simplest stage in the discipline, which can be taught even to young children, is called, in Newspeak, crimestop. Crimestop means the faculty of stopping short, as though by instinct, at the threshold of any dangerous thought. It includes the power of not grasping analogies, of failing to perceive logical errors, of misunderstanding the simplest arguments if they are inimical to Ingsoc and of being bored or repelled by any train of thought which is capable of leading in a heretical direction. Crimestop, in short, means protective stupidity. But stupidity is not enough. On the contrary, orthodoxy in the full sense demands a control over one’s own mental processes as complete as that of a contortionist over his body. (Link to source, 1984 by George Orwell.)

 

Are we committing thoughtcrime when we allow ourselves to think about taking agency to change the game?

Or are we simply acting responsibly and taking advantage of our mental capabilities?

If we continue to play this game by the rules our ancestors played by, everyone loses. People playing the game can get the game chits that we use to keep score (money) by doing the most horrible things imaginable, including acts that, if they continue long enough, will destroy the game itself, by destroying the game board (the Earth).

If we allow ourselves a little mental distance, we can get some advantage that will help us solve this moral dilemma. If we allow ourselves to accept that this really is simply a game, and analyze it the way Kirk analyzed the Kobayashi Maru, we can consider it as if we were disinterested parties. We can leave our emotions about the problems behind and stop trying to get vengeance on the descendents on those who have harmed people and the things we love in the past (as part of their game play) and start thinking about manipulating the game variables to make it winnable, for all of us.

We can analyze the game and come to understand how people ‘score’ (mainly by getting the ‘chits’ we call ‘money) in it. We can look for ways to manipulate the rules of this game so that when they ‘score’ personally, they move the human race as a whole toward a better future, rather than a worse one.

 

Anatomy of the Game

 

To understand the game play, you have to have a starting point that takes us back before the game play began. In the earlier books in this series, we saw that the first sign of true human beings on this planet (with demonstrated capability of abstract thought, generalizations, and complex plans that were intentionally orchestrated and carried out) goes back 3.4 million years.

Links to other books in the series:

Forensic History: Explains how the realities of human existence came to be as they were at the time that the current generation of humans came to exist.

Possible Societies: Explains other ways that beings with our general limitations and capabilities—thinking beings with physical needs—can organize the realities of their existence, or the different kinds of societies that are within our capabilities.

The Meaning of Life: Goes over scientific information that can help us understand whether we ought to try to change the way we organize our existence.

Humans have lived on this world for a very long time.

If this game was always in play, we might conclude that we have no choice but to play it. It came from our creator or is a part of our nature. But the truth is different. The truth is that this game started only a very short time ago. It goes back a mere 6,000 years, less than 2/10th of 1% of the time humans have lived on this world. This means that there was a time when this game was not in play. Then, it started. Now, it is in progress.

To understand the anatomy of the game, we need to have some idea how people lived before game play started. Before this particular game started, people still had to organize the realities of their lives in some way that would allow them to get the food and other physical items that humans need to stay alive. All animals with physical needs have to do this, of course: If we don’t meet our physical needs, we die.

Humans are unique, however, in an important way: our intention gets involved. We have the ability to think on an abstract level, to generalize, to work out plans in advance in our minds, calculate the results, and then choose the plan that we think has the best outcome.

Other animals have to organize their existence to meet their needs. But they don’t have the same abilities to plan as we have. Other animals are born with their most important behaviors pre-programmed. They must act in whatever ways that nature has programmed them to act. Humans alone are capable of designing our societies. We can decide how we want to organize our existence, determine what structures are needed to make this a reality, plan out these structures, work through them in detailed ways in our minds, make plans to put them into place, and make them reality. This is not a brand new capability that humans have only had for the last 6,000 years. It is a defining capability of humans, one that our species by its very definition: we are ‘homo sapiens,’ the ‘intelligent’ hominids. Early humans would have taken advantage of this capability just as we do today.

We know from a huge number of artifacts that they organized their existence differently than we do now. They also played a kind of game, they just organized their game differently. Before the game now in progress started, people treated the world differently. The world still provided the food and other things they needed, just as it does now. But they didn’t consider the planet they considered on to be ownable by anyone, not even groups of people who called themselves ‘nations’ and went through ceremonies. As a result of the fact that they didn’t consider the land to be ownable, they didn’t offer prizes to groups that were able to ‘conquer’ land, or ‘convert it from ownership by one team to ownership by another team.’

They played the game of existence differently than we play it now.

To them, the land was a giver of gifts, not a possession to be exploited for the benefit of the team that had conquered it. The land will give more gifts if it is kept healthy. They divided the gifts the land provided among the people in some way. No matter how they divided these gifts, if the land produced more, everyone got more gifts. They ‘played the game’ by working together to find ways to keep the land as healthy as they could make it, so they would get the maximum in points and have the best lives.

If you are being allowed to live on land that you don’t own, you are a guest there. The people who lived in these societies considered themselves to be guests on the land, not the owners of the land. Guests have a kind of obligation to their hosts: if they want to keep receiving hospitality (the gifts from the land), they have to respect their host’s property. If their hosts, whoever this was, had wanted dams, power plants, irrigation systems, and buildings that would last thousands of years, their hosts would have provided these things. Since these things didn’t already exist, the guests had no right to create them. They were bound, by the rules of the game, to leave the land as it was when they arrived.

Since the game precluded them from changing the world, the game precluded them from either improving or harming the world. The world stayed as it was. The people had the ability to make improvements. We know this from the artifacts they left behind, which includes complex tools and artwork that require a great deal of planning to create. They made these things, indicating they had the ability to build things that would have permanently altered the world. But they were just as involved in the game then as we are now. The rules of the game prohibited change so there was no change for millions of years.

 

Playing A New Game

 

One group in one time at one place didn’t like these rules.

The rules prevented them from making changes that they could see would make their lives better.

Some people in new generations thought that the rules were old-fashioned. They wanted new rules. They decided to change the game.

To make this happen, people had to change their mindsets. They had to change the way they thought about the role of humans in existence and the rights we have to interact with our world in different ways. Consider a very simple and obvious change to the world that people would have certainly thought of many times over history: the construction of a dam to create a pond for the purpose of irrigation. If we are only guests on this planet, we have no right to create an artificial pond: If our hosts wanted an obstruction in the river that created a pond, they would have obstructed the river there and the pond would already exist. It is against the rules of the game of existence (the way they thought of them) for guests to presume to alter the world to create a pond that the hosts didn’t want. (If you were a guest at the White House, and wanted a pond that wasn’t there, would you believe you had the right to create one?) For people to take the steps that we know they began to take 6,000 years ago, they must have decided that the old rules of the game did not suit them. They must have decided to change the game.

Once one group makes this decision, that group can expect progress and growth in production that does not happen in groups playing the game by the old rules. They will have advantages in terms of food and free time that other groups do not have. Under the new rules of the game, parts of planets are now ownable. Groups can take advantage of their greater production and higher efficiency of production (created from improvements to land, like the construction of irrigation dams) to force groups without these advantages to move off of the land they inhabit. The group that considers the land to be ownable can then go through whatever ceremonies its members accept will cause the land to be ‘claimed’ by some group and ‘belong’ to that group.

Now two entirely different games are in progress. In one game, people organize into teams to get points. They can get points by ‘conquering’ land. Once they conquer the land, anything it contains in a pie shaped wedge from the imaginary lines they call ‘borders’ to the center of the Earth belongs to the conquerors. Anything it produced in the past, produces now, or will ever produce in the future, belongs to the conquerors. The more land they conquer, the more prizes they win. They can organize their particular team (their ‘nation’) in ways that encourage other team members to help contribute to the team effort. They can create a kind of point system that rewards people who do things that move the team toward its goals. They may stamp out little disks of metal (perhaps using gold, silver, or other metals that are not very common and therefore can’t easily be acquired) or print up very fancy pieces of paper with numbers on them that represent rights to get things the land produces or contains. They can set up ‘economies’ around these pieces of paper, organizing these ‘economies’ so that people who contribute to the war effort get points and people who don’t contribute do not get points.

Such societies have enormous military advantages over societies built on the former game play. If they want land, they can take advantage of their weapons industry (something people playing by the old rules will not even have) and their military industry (the old rules don’t have enough surplus production to support a dedicated military) to simply move any groups playing by the old rules out of the way and ‘conquer’ their land. The area controlled by people playing by the old rules will shrink; the area controlled by people playing by the new rules will grow.

At some point, the ones being moved will not have anywhere to go. The people playing by the new rules will naturally take the best land first. As the land capable of supporting life becomes ‘owned,’ the people who play by the old rules will be forced onto land that can’t support them. The people playing the game by the new rules can then decide what they want to do with the remnants of the old system. They have the ability to simply wipe them out. They can assimilate them, by killing the males and turning the females into concubines. (Babies will be raised according to the new rules. They will never be exposed to any remnants of the old rules, except perhaps in the songs they remember their mothers singing to them as infants.) They can force them onto special ‘reservations’ and leave them in conditions so harsh their numbers decline, eventually to insignificance, using their control over the wealth of the land to force these people to change their ways and accept the new rules. It will take time, but the old ways will die out entirely. The new game will have taken over.

On Earth, the game was played according to the old rules for more than 3,394,000 years. The rules of the old game were very compelling. Almost certainly, people tried to change the game during this time, but if they did, their changes didn’t take hold. But, in one place (the central part of the AfroEurasian continent) at one time (6,000 years ago), the attempt to change the game worked. One group abandoned the old rules and created new rules. This change happened in the central part of the AfroEurasian continent about 6,000 years ago.

People who played by the new rules were able to conquer land very, very rapidly. As we saw in Forensic History, the expansion of land under control of the new rules took place in much the same way that a cancer grows: A new ‘colony’ would be formed in an area where the old rules prevailed. The rules in the area being colonized would reward people who expanded the borders of the colony to include new land. They could move people playing under the old rules out and move their borders out. The colony would grow in much the same way a tumor grows, expanding outward as long as there was healthy tissue to take. People in the colony could gain more points for themselves if they went out, away from the existing colony, and created a new colony themselves. They would spread out in much the same way as malignant tumors send out tendrils to healthy tissue. The colonies, each of which would now be a ‘state’ or ‘nation,’ would grow until they were touching each other. They would then establish borders by some method (generally through war). Eventually, so much of the board would be under control of the new rules that, the new game would become the dominant game. Its players could then play according to the new rules to take the remainder of the land. At some point, the only game left would be the new game. The game would have changed.

Forensic History explained the way this happened on Earth. Here is a quick recap.

The first group playing by the new rules appeared 6,000 years ago. Areas under the control of the new system expanded so rapidly that, within 2,000 years, it covered the entire breadbasket of AfroEurasia, from the area now called ‘China’ and ‘India’ to the Mediterranean basin. Over the next 3,500 years, the players worked on perfecting their games. They figured out how to make new and better weapons. They worked on different methods of organizing the internal structures of ‘nations,’ to get people to work harder, to get them to extract more wealth from the land, to organize to build superior weapons and tools of war.

They found that certain technologies translated into advantages in the most important play of this game, the play called ‘war.’ People had been making iron and steel for thousands of years before the first nations came to exist, but they made it only in very tiny quantities by very labor-intensive methods. Steel is extremely useful in war. Certain nations figured out that they could make large amounts of steel if they were willing to create and support population centers where people lived who did not produce food or other necessities of life for themselves and their families. They could make more steel if they formed the structures we now call ‘cities.’ The team leaders decided to allow and even encourage these ‘cities’ to exist, because the cities could provide steel and other weapons useful in game play. The economies of the cities were set up so that people could get points (pieces of paper with numbers on them or metal disks called ‘money’) if they could build better weapons than those that already existed. About 4,800 years after the new rules of existence started, people discovered how to make explosives, the first of which was called ‘gunpowder. With both explosives and steel, people can make truly devastating weapons, including cannon, rockets, grenades, mines, torpedoes, and a great many different kinds of bombs.

Once this technology existed, only nations that had scientists capable of building rockets, bombs, guns, and other high-technology weapons were able to succeed in war. Nations had to start encouraging science. Technology advanced.

By 1492, technology had advanced to the point where people playing the game by the new rules were able to build ships that could cross the great ocean sea to the west of Afro-Eurasia. One mariner decided to see if he could cross to the west and end up in the east. In the attempt, he discovered that the continent that played by the new rules only included half of the land of the Earth. Another half existed that had yet to be ‘conquered.’ People there were still playing by the old rules. The conquest of the lands that the conquerors were to call ‘the new world’ began right away. Within 500 years, the realities of existence for this other half of the planet had also changed. There was now only one game in town, the new game, the game of conquest and destruction.

 

The Kobayashi Maru

 

For the human race as a whole, the game is unwinnable.

As individual teams advance toward their goals, the human race as a whole suffers. The teams can gain if they have more and better weapons. Weapons are tools of mass murder and destruction. Having more tools of mass murder and destruction on the planet do not make the world a better place for the human race as a whole. To make more weapons than the other players, the teams must extract more resources than the other players. The cheaper they can extract these resources, the cheaper the weapons. They can extract more resources more cheaply by ignoring the environmental damage they do, so they ignore the damage. The world gets more damaged each year that passes. The teams playing the game gain advantages from these activities, but the human race as a whole suffers.

We are limited by physical laws to this one planet. It is our home and, if it is destroyed, we are destroyed. To quote one of the people who played by the old rules (when this still happened) Chief Seattle of the Duwamish ‘soil your bed and you will wake up in your own waste.’

There are no more new frontiers. There is no more land to conquer. Any conquests from now on will require conflicts between two teams in competition for each other. As team leaders realize this, they devote more and more wealth to finding tools of mass murder and destruction that will give them advantages in game play. Unfortunately for the human race, they have succeeded very well at this and now have weapons that can destroy the world in a microsecond, at the touch of a button. We keep hoping that the button is never pressed. But the people who play the game know they can get points for their team if they can get other people in the world to think they will press the button if they don’t get their needs met. They want to convince people they will press the button and have even set up systems to cause the button to be pressed automatically in certain circumstances.

They don’t think of this as a game at all. They see it as reality. They are driven to play this game. Nothing else is important to them. They will keep playing and playing. But they can never win. There is no such thing as ultimate victory in this game; there is only ultimate defeat. If this game goes on long enough, every team will lose, because the playing field will be gone and all the players will be dead.

In the movie ‘War Games,’ a computer programmed to learn is programmed to play war games with itself. At one point, the people in charge of nuclear weapons decide that humans are the weak link in nuclear war, because they may not press the button when required, so they turn the launch codes over to the computer. The computer decides that reality is a game and starts to play war games for real, getting ready for the launch that will end the world. A kid computer-genuis comes up with a solution: program the computer to play an unwinnable game. The computer is designed to learn. Eventually, it will learn that the only way to not lose the game is to not play the game. In the movie, the computer finally figures this out and stops the game only seconds before destroying the world.

We need to learn the same lesson. The only way to not lose this game is to not play it.

 

Tweaking the Game

We have seen that the game is rigged: the people who run the game and are its best players have gained control of the score pieces and we all need these score pieces in order to eat. We can’t simply decide not to play, at least not as individuals.

But this doesn’t mean we are doomed. We can use the same trick to defeat the game that James Kirk used to defeat the Kobayashi Maru: We can ‘tweak’ it. We can alter the parameters of game play and change the game itself.

Kirk could not win the Kobayashi Maru. It was not winnable. So he changed the game. To all the testers in Starfleet, it looked like the Kobayashi Maru. But it was a tiny bit different game. The game Kirk played had an avenue for victory. This is the challenge: how to change the game without destroying the players, the game pieces, the lives of the existing players, and the game board itself.

In the central book of this series, Possible Societies, we saw that there are many different ways for thinking beings to organize their existence. There are many different ways to play this game. Only a tiny number of the options are true no-win game options for the human race as a whole. The great majority of the options do not push the people of the world to divide into teams and then compete against each other to kill and destroy. We saw that there is a continuum of possible options for game play, starting with ‘sovereign law game rules’ (the rules now in effect) on one end and ending with ‘natural law game rules’ on the other extreme.

Under sovereign law game rules, groups of people can own absolute rights to or ‘sovereignty’ over parts of the planet. These game rules allow total or 100% ownability of parts of planets. Natural law game rules don’t allow any human entities (even groups that go through ceremonies and draw up declarations that claim they are ‘nations’) to own any rights at all to parts of planets. In other words, they allow ownability of 0% of the rights the planet.

100% and 0% are extremes. One means ‘all rights ownable’ the other means ‘no rights ownable.’ There are infinite gradients between ‘everything’ and ‘nothing.’ There are infinite numbers between 0% and 100%. Possible Societies showed how we could use tools like leasehold ownership to create systems that allow ownability that is somewhere between 0% and 100%. This means that, if we want, we can have game play under rules that are almost identical to the rules now in place, but not totally identical. We can move away from the extreme systems to moderate systems. We saw that some of the moderate systems work in ways that alter the rules of the game just enough to make it winnable. Some modify the rules by a great deal and some give the human race as a whole a key position as moderators of this game, with the ability to alter the rules through global democratic elections.

It is possible to do what Kirk did at his Kobayashi Maru trial: we can tweak the game. We can alter it in tiny ways that the players who depend on the game won’t even notice. The game will continue, but it won’t reward destruction and violence as much as it does now. At some point in this continuum of possible game play rules, we get to scenarios where the game is no longer unwinnable. We will no longer be playing the unwinnable game.

 

The Tree

I don’t claim this method of reforming societies is going to be easy. There are roadblocks that will be in the way of any group that tries to make this a reality. If we want to get past these roadblocks, we have to accept they are there, understand why they are there, and understand why people are driven to place roadblocks in our way. If we understand this and use the tools we have at our disposal in intelligent ways, we can get around these roadblocks.

Changes that will alter this game really do benefit everyone. If the game ends with the destruction of the world, it won’t matter which team controls the most land or has the most points (piece of paper with numbers on them or metal disks called ‘money’ used to keep score in this game) at the end. Dead people don’t benefit from having large amounts of money or controlling more of the Earth’s surface. Everyone benefits if we can tweak the game to make it winnable.

Why would anyone try to put roadblocks in the way of such efforts?

The main reason is that a large percentage of the people of the world believe this is not a game at all; they think it is reality. They think that the entities called ‘nations’ are real things and these ‘nations’ were created by an invisible spirit being or beings with powers that dwarf the powers of humans. Since the invisible superbeing created it all, there is nothing we can do to change it. All we can do is love our team (‘nation’) and fight and kill and die for our team and the superbeing in the sky who created it, loves us all, and will reward us all with better lives (lives where this game is not in play) after we die, provided we devote our earthly existence to this game. They believe this. If you try to tell them they are deluded, they will get angry. They will fight and resist any attempt to make them see the big picture with every ounce of their strength.

They have been trained to think a certain way and they have learned to think that way.

I think the best way to understand this is through an analogy. There is a redwood tree outside my window that has been standing there for more than 1,200 years. When I look at the tree, I see something good. It is nature, something that I associate with the Chinese word ‘how,’ which means ‘good.’ (The symbol for ‘how’ is 好, the symbol for a mother next to the symbol for a baby boy. How do you draw a picture of the concept of ‘good?’ The people who came up with this symbol have been able to put something together that makes you feel what the term ‘good’ represents.)

I know people who think differently. If that tree were cut down, it could be turned into the little pieces of paper with numbers on them that grant points in this game. It is a very big tree, so it could make me a lot of money. By cutting this tree down, I would help create jobs, because there would be more demand for logging services, more demand for trucking, and more demand for mills. I would add to the amount of lumber available to builders. This would cut the cost of building homes and encourage more homebuilding, creating even more jobs. More jobs would lead to competition for workers, which would drive up wages. Higher wages would give people more to spend and they would spend more, stimulating the economy. The government taxes incomes, profits, and all activities that my actions would stimulate, so it would get more money and could devote more to weapons research. These people think that the current military conflict is a crucial conflict, perhaps the most important military conflict in all of history. They think that, if we could just spend a little more, the forces of good (which they truly believe the team they consider themselves to be on represents) we could finally defeat evil.

They say I am not doing my part. It is true that cutting down the tree would not have a huge impact on the variables that matter. But we are all part of the process. If everyone does a little, our efforts will add up and we will be able to make a better world. My part in making the world better is to turn that tree into little pieces of paper with numbers on them. I will benefit, my team will benefit, the forces of good will benefit, and the world will get better.

There is a game in progress. If I am not playing for our team, I am helping the other team. I am with the forces of evil. That is the way they see it. To not cut down the tree is the same as not drilling for oil when it is there or not attacking people and taking their land when they are vulnerable.

If we are to make this game winnable, we have to accept the obstacles in our way and plan for them. We have to accept that our real adversary is a mindset that allows people to think that the game is everything, that ‘nations’ are very real things with real rights which come from a higher power, and that all of the evidence to the contrary is not worth considering.

Where do we start?

Other people have tried to change games while in progress before. In fact, they have succeeded. It makes sense to learn from people who have done it before and build a plan that conforms to efforts that have succeeded, even if the game they were trying to change is not nearly as comprehensive as the game that we are trying to change.

Books in this series

This book is a part of a series of four books about the important realities of human existence. They are:

1. Forensic History: uses new scientific tools and information sources to reconstruct the series of events that put the human race on the path it is now on. It explains how the realities of human existence came to be as they are. It focuses on the events led to the existence of the power structures that dominate the world today, including the entities called 'nations,' organized religions, and the massive and extremely powerful entities we call 'corporations.' These entities did not appear by magic. They came to exist as a result of decisions people made in the past. If we want to understand the realities of human existence, we have to understand who made these decisions, why they were made, and how the decisions made in the past have led to the realities that we see around us.

2. Possible Societies goes over the capabilities of the human race and the limitations we have for organizing the realities of our existence. It is an attempt to categorize all possible methods of organizing human existence—or all possible societies—in a methodological and organized way. Once we understand the different options we have for organizing societies, we can go over them to determine which of the options are able to meet our needs without constant problems such as war and unnecessary environmental destruction.

3. Reforming Societies: We were born onto a world that was organized in a very dangerous way. It was cut up with imaginary lines into the entities we call 'nations.' Each nation had formed a government which claimed that everything within that nation belonged to the people who were born inside the imaginary lines. Any society built on this foundation necessarily has very serious problems, which include powerful forces these entities surrounded by imaginary lines to engage in activities that are the most horrific destructive within the capability of any physical beings with the power to think on a rational level. The pressure to perform these horrible acts is so powerful that the industries devoted to war and the support of war, combined, make up the largest industries on Earth: More wealth, manpower, effort, skills, talents, capital, and resources are devoted to organized mass murder and destruction than any other activity on the planet. People have gone as far as building weapons that will destroy the planet if used and actually deployed these weapons, making them ready for instant use if certain circumstances arise. Given enough time, these circumstances are certain to arise.

What if we—the current members of the human race—decide we don't like these particular realities of existence? What if we decide we want some other destiny for our race (than extinction)? It is possible to organize the realities of our world in different ways. (Even children should realize this: humans need food, water, air, sleep, and protection from the elements; the imaginary lines that cut the world into 'nations' don't give us any of these things.)

But is it possible to actually build them?

If we know other methods of organizing the realities of human existence are possible, we can work out the exact structural differences between the realities of these other societies and the current realities of human existence.

We can figure out practical steps to take to change the form of ('reform') other societies. It explains the exact practical steps that ordinary people like you and I can take to put the human race on a path to one of these societies, if we should decide we want to do this.

4. The Meaning of Life explains why this matters. The societies we were born into must raise children to think a certain way so they will be willing to sacrifice for and participate in the wars that are an inherent part of societies built on the division of the world into 'nations.' To make them willing to participate, they must raise children to believe that there is a higher purpose behind the wars and behind the existence of the nations: They must make children believe that they were born to and exist to protect their nations, to respect the claimed founding principles, to honor the nation and, through ceremonies that all children are taught in schools, to even worship the nation, in the same way they are taught to worship the higher power that they were told created the nation. To make them do the horrible things that people must do to have wars, they must make children believe that this is the meaning of life and the reason they were born.

New scientific evidence is allowing us to put together messages that are encoded in our DNA and evident from the structures that are necessary for the process we call 'life' to exist in ways that can show us that there are scientifically acceptable and mathematically likely explanations for the existence of life on Earth that totally conflict with the premises taught to keep people willing to fight, kill, maim, cripple, destroy, risk and accept death for the benefits of the entities called 'nations.' If we accept science, logic, and reason, we can put together a picture of the meaning of existence that can help us see that the claimed reasons for existence that have been taught in schools and accepted for thousands of years are basically propaganda, created for the express purpose of allowing rationalization of horrific acts. If they could put together some rational picture of the reason we are here, people would not be willing to do the things that they spend their lives doing today.

What if we find there is a real meaning to our existence and it has nothing whatever to do with worshiping invisible superbeings or protecting nations? The entire rationalization for dividing the world into 'nations' and making war basically disappears. We must accept that the realities of existence on Earth are as they are because people made certain decisions. These people are no longer alive. We are here. We can make our own decisions. We can decide where we want to go from here and begin going there.

1: The Game of Existence

Written by dade on . Posted in 4: Reforming societies

Reforming Societies: A Practical Guide to Societal Change
Chapter One: The Game of Existence

We did not choose the conditions if our birth.

We did not choose what planet to be born on, what point in the evolution of this planet we would be born, the identities or wealth positions of our parents, or any of the details (like the ‘nation, state, and city’) where we would be born. We happened to have been born onto a world at a time after it had been organized in an extremely dangerous way:

People who were born onto this world before us had decided to cut it up with imaginary lines into the entities that we were raised to call ‘nations.’ They then decided they would consider the people born inside of each ‘nation’ and children born inside the imaginary lines to be the ‘sovereigns’ (ultimate owners) of everything within those imaginary lines. They would have the same rights as traditional sovereigns like kings: everything inside the imaginary lines would belong only to the people of the ‘nation;’ they would have absolute rights to take anything contained in their nation from the imaginary lines at the surface through a pie-shaped wedge to the center of the Earth, and take and control all decisions about anything that was produced or would ever be produced on the part of the world within the imaginary lines until the end of time.

They set up ‘reality’ on Earth like a game: This game splits the people of the Earth into ‘teams’ (each ‘nation’ is a team) who try to advance the interests of their teams at the expense of other teams and the human race as a whole.

In this game, no moves whatever are off limits.

If teams what to organize their economies to leave their people without essential services so that they can afford to build bombs capable of destroying the entire planet, and then if they want to threaten to destroy the entire planet if their team’s demands are not met, they have the right to do this. The game is set up to make this possible. Organized and intentional mass murder and destruction events called ‘wars’ are very common plays in this game: at any given time, many of the teams involved in this play are involved in these strategic moves.

This game has been in progress on Earth for about 6,000 years. (For information about how this situation came to exist, see Forensic History, available from this link.) None of us have been around for any longer than about a century, so none of us created this game or set up its rules. All this was worked out by people who lived before us.

For all of history, people have seen that this particular method of organizing existence caused unnecessary hardship, misery and death. Now, we can see that this game is essentially a game of Russian Roulette: it puts human existence on the line and considers the destruction of human existence a legitimate move in a clearly suicidal game.

What if we don’t want to play?

What if we accept that this game can’t be won, and decide to change the rules of existence so they work some other way?

What if we decide to ‘re-form’ the realities of existence—or the ‘societies’—we were born into in a way that allows the human race to survive? Do we have the mental capabilities to understand other ways of organizing existence? Do we have the ability to look objectively at the different options to see which meets our needs? Once we have found one that meets our needs, do we have the tools cause the realities of our societies to begin to evolve in ways that will eventually cause them to change in ways that meet our needs?

 

The Tools of Change

 

Let’s consider the last question first: do we have the tools needed to reform societies to make them meet the needs of the human race?

Again, we did not choose the conditions of our own birth. We happened to have been born at a time after a great many important events had taken place on Earth. We have records of many of these events and amazing scientific tools that can help us understand events that took place before the recorded part of history began. If we understand the sequence of events and decisions that led to the realities of existence being as they are, we will understand how we got onto the particular path we are now on. (The book Forensic History uses new scientific techniques and information technologies to put together a picture of our past that makes this understandable.) New technologies have allowed us to determine that human history is more than 3.4 million years old. If we accept this, we have to accept that the realities of existence currently threaten us have not always been in place. This particular method of organizing existence has only been in place for 6,000 years, less than 1% of the time humans have existed. This means that humans must be capable of organizing existence other ways, because we have organized our existence other ways. If we realize that humans have organized their existence other ways, we must accept that it is possible for humans to organize their existence different ways.

Once we know other methods of organizing existence are possible, it makes sense to put together the best information we can find about organizing societies to see if there are any options that work better than the one we were born into (the system that works like a game and considers nuclear war to be a legitimate play in this game). The book Possible Societies does this. It shows that there are ways that put together the best parts of all of the societies that have existed in the past and the best parts of the societies that now exist to make societies that can meet all of the needs of the human race. We are intelligent beings. If we are selecting the structures we want in our societies, it makes sense to choose to include the best structures of all kinds that are possible.

What about practical realities? Do we have tools needed to make practical changes in the realities of our existence and turn existence here on Earth around so it moves the human race toward a better future with each day that passes? Let’s consider this next:

 

Do We Have The Tools Needed To Create Utopia?

 

We did not choose the conditions of our birth. We had the good fortune to be born at a time after some amazing discoveries had been made and inventions perfected. Consider this example:

By the time any of us were born, people had already figured out that sunlight that comes to us in unlimited quantities can be turned directly into the most efficient and versatile energy source known, electricity. They had invented devices that use the most abundant mineral on Earth—silicon dioxide—to make devices that can easily turn this sunlight into electricity. (Here is a link to a post that explains how this works.) Roughly 87% of the lithosphere of the Earth—the part we can get to—is silicon dioxide, the material needed to make photoelectric panels. Technologies have already been discovered that allow us to process this super-abundant material in ways that turn ordinary things like roads and roofs into photoelectric generators. These devices are practical and, if they were made in quantity, would be extremely cheap. (Currently, lobbies and other arms of corporations that profit extracting fuels and selling them have been able to prevent such technologies from being used enough to drive down their costs. Here is a link to a post that explains the technologies and how corporations and governments are working together to prevent wide-scale use that would eliminate the need for any extraction of fuels whatever.)

The technology to make this happen was already understood when we were born. (The initial discovery was made in 1887. Here is a link to a post that explains the history of the process.)

When we came to exist on this world, amazing discoveries had already been made about ways to use this energy. We could turn it back to light with very efficient devices, we could make this light show us pictures and videos on television, computer, and phone screens made of the same silicon material needed to make the photoelectric devices, we could use it to run refrigerators, air conditioners, dehumidifiers, and other devices that keep us comfortable all the time, we could use it to run trains that allow us to travel across vast continents in style at a speed far faster than any animals are capable of traveling, we can use it to power electric cars that can take us wherever we want to go whenever we want to go there.

We could be using the electricity and other technologies that already exist to totally eliminate the need for labor and hardship in production and creation of value: with machines making everything we need and want, we could all have enough for everyone and no one would ever be in need.

All of the raw materials to create a utopia here on Earth already exist and existed before any of us were born. We did not choose which planet to be born onto. But we should count ourselves incredibly fortunate to have been born onto this one, at least if we want to live in a utopia.

The most important material needed to create utopia, silicon dioxide (usable both for generating electricity and utilizing that electricity) is by far the most abundant material on Earth. The second most abundant mineral on Earth is aluminum, which happens to be the most useful and versatile metal known: lighter, more malleable, and stronger pound for pound than steel, it is the best known conductor of electricity and the key material needed to make jet planes, bullet trains, appliances, and all manner of machinery that can make life better for human beings. An amazing 8.2% of the part of the planet we can get to is aluminum: we can have all we ever need and, since it is infinitely recyclable, if it is taken from the Earth without destruction (using already-understood electrolytic processes powered by solar energy) we never need to harm anything to have all we want: if we ever want to put it back, we can put it back and make the Earth exactly as it was before. The third most abundant material on our world is iron, used to make steel, an incredibly versatile metal that can be used to reinforce concrete (made of calcium, our forth most abundant material) to build luxury skyscrapers that allow us all to live in what artists of old depicted as heaven, high in the sky with all manner of luxuries at our disposal.

We have all of the raw materials needed to make utopia here on Earth. We didn’t create any of these things. We happened to have been born on a planet that happens to be made of the exact materials we need to create a world with everything the people of the world need. We already have massive infrastructures needed to remove these materials and get them to factories that can turn them into things that make life better for humans. We already have the skills and talents to make machines that will do all of the physical work for us, making it unnecessary for us to have to suffer through drudgery to have the good things that we can now make in such immense quantities so easily. When we were born, the great bulk of the advantages needed to make utopia were already in place. We didn’t create them. They already existed. We inherited them.

If we want, we can decide that our ancestors put us on a certain path and we have an obligation to remain on this path. Our ancestors created nations separated by imaginary lines and armies with weapons to fight over the locations of these imaginary lines. If we want, we can decide we have an obligation to do as they did, and work to make the part of the world that we have been raised to call our ‘nations’ more capable in war.

But we have another choice:

If we want, we can decide to take a broad look at the realities of our existence. We can look at how we got where we are now, exactly what options we have going forward, and which options will best meet the needs of our race. We can then choose an option that we may eventually want to have, perhaps in a general election over electronic media that all people within a few miles of someone with a cell phone can access (which means everyone). We can decide that ‘this is where we want to end up.’ We can then work out the exact steps needed to get us from where we are to where we want to end up. We can hold another election to determine whether the majority of the members of the human race want to head down that path and, if they do, we can start down the new path.

Why haven’t we done this already?

To understand this, we have to have some historical perspective. The book Forensic History goes over the events that led to the current realities of human existence in great detail, with extensive references and scientific data to support the findings, for those who need this information. Here, I just want to summarize some of the more important events, so you can see why the realities of existence are as they are:

How We Got Here

 

Before about 6,000 years ago on the Afro-Eurasian supercontinent, and about 500 years ago everywhere else in the world, people lived in very simple ways:

They were thankful that they had the wonderful good fortune to be born onto this beautiful and productive planet, but they did not believe that this fact made them in any way the owners of this planet. They thought we were residents of this world, like the other residents, including the birds, fish, deer, bear, trees, and other beings on this world, but not in any way its owners. They believed that nature, mountains, rivers, lakes, oceans, islands, continents, and other permanent things are above us all, the givers of good things, not mere property that people can claim to own and somehow, by making the claims the right way, become owners. They believed that this is a natural reality of existence and not something that people can change by going through formal ‘claiming’ ceremonies (like those explained in Columbus logs, available from this link), or by sewing up different colored and shaped cloths together and calling the finished items ‘national flags,’ or by drawing up fancy documents that ‘declares independence’ for the group that draws up the documents, or through any combination of songs, ceremonies, squiggles on paper, and other things that humans can create.

They believed that the world we live on is our home and we are very fortunate that whoever or whatever owned this world allowed us to stay here, but the fact we are here does not make us the owners of this world. They organized the realities of their existence around this belief system and it led to entirely different types of societies than the type we have now. (Possible Societies explains the realities of such societies in great detail.)

About 6,000 years ago, a group of people who lived in the central part of the Afro-Eurasian supercontinent made a certain decision: They decided that there were circumstances under which parts of planets could really belong to human beings. They decided that they had the right to split off a part of the planet and call it their very own. It existed only for the benefit of that particular group and its descendents (plus, perhaps, a few outsiders who, from time to time, were granted ‘citizenship’ after fancy ceremonies). They decided that if anyone not in the group tried to benefit in any way from the existence of the land that belonged to them, these people were infringing on the natural rights of the group and they had the right to use any measures necessary—including organized murder, terrorism, and destruction of lives and things people have spent their lives building—to prevent this. They owned that part of the world. It belonged to them and existed for their own benefit.

When groups of people believe they own a part of the world, they can organize the realities of property control in ways that create incentives that encourage people to make significant investments in property to improve its ability to create value. To put it simply, they can set up a system of property rights that allow people to get rich if they can improve the part of the world they control. People want to get rich. If they can get rights of ownership, they will look for efficient ways to make these improvements. They will discover new and better ways to do things. Technology will improve.

The group that had set up the new system began to have progress in technology and growth in production. With more food and other wealth, their population could grow. Some of the people would rights of ownership and others would not. Those with no rights of ownership would not have any way to get food and other necessities unless they got jobs. They would become a ‘class’ of humans we now call ‘the working class.’ If some of these people in the ‘working class’ could somehow become owners themselves, they could have the same benefits other owners had.

Other groups all around them lived in the earlier systems, the ones that did not accept any land could be owned at all. Their system did not have the progress and growth of the other system. If the more technologically advanced people wanted, they could use their technology to drive these people off the land and then ‘claim’ this land for their nation. If the nation they lived in didn’t work in ways that benefited the conquerors, they could form their own ‘nations’ and ‘claim’ the land for their new nation. If two of the ‘nations’ wanted the same land, they could compete for it by fighting a war between themselves over the new land. This kind of behavior seems crazy, but it is totally consistent with the belief system that supports these systems. The various ‘nations’ could continue to compete for available land until there was no more land to take.

Then, they could only get additional land by taking it away from other nations.

On Earth, we reached this point about a century ago. By the early 1900s, virtually land on this planet was under the effective control of one or another of the Earth’s ‘nations.’ Once this point is reached, all of the ‘easy’ wars are over. It is no longer possible to take additional land for a nation by simply rounding up and eliminating technology primitive people. At this point, the nations of the world have to get serious about their weapons development or they will not be able to conquer more land. They must take aggressive steps to improve weapons technology, both for offensive and defensive purposes.

We were born into societies that were at this point. The rules of such societies were already in place when we were born.

If we understand that this is how we got here, we have a pretty good idea why we do not live in a utopia that takes full advantage of all the wonderful capabilities of our race: we have not tried to create one. People in the past have organized the realities of existence like a game. To succeed in this game, the various teams (nations) must organize their economies so that enormous amounts of wealth go into areas that do not make the world a better place for the human race as a whole. (War, for example, is organized and intentional mass murder and destruction of lives and value. More destruction and murder do not make the world better for the human race as a whole.)

 

The Game of Existence

 

These societies are not built on an objective and logical analysis of the needs of the dominant species on this world—the human race—and a scientific evaluation of the structures that will best meet the needs of the human race. They are built on beliefs. A group of people decided that it is possible for humans to go through certain procedures and then ‘claim’ a part of the planet for that group. Once they had done everything properly, they would be a ‘nation’ and that ‘nation’ would belong to them. The world is the ultimate source of all food and other wealth; the more land the ‘nations’ control, the more of this wealth they can extract and use for the benefits of their members.

This kind of system turns reality into a kind of game. Here are a few of the more important rules of the game:

Teams are called ‘nations.’ Teams can get control of all the wealth a part of the world contains to the center of the Earth and everything it produces now and will ever produce through a game play called ‘conquering’ the land.

Since the teams can get real wealth through this game play, the team leaders (the ‘governments’) have incentives to organize the realities of life in land they control in ways that will encourage team members to do things that make it easier for the team to conquer land.

They can do this by printing up pieces of paper with numbers on them and setting up a kind of point system. People who do things that benefit the nation—say build weapons or extract resources—can be given points, in the form of these little pieces of paper. We are very used to using these government-printed pieces of paper because they are needed everywhere on Earth to get the necessities of life.

We call them ‘money.’

They can give large numbers of points (large amounts of money) to people who can give them very effective tools of war like jet airplanes, guided rockets, and bombs that can destroy cities. The people who have figured out how to make these things can use part of the money they get to pay people to extract the needed resources and convert them into the required weapons. If they can sell the weapons for more than they have to pay to extract the resources and turn them into weapons, they can keep the extra money, which they can call their ‘profit.’

Not everyone approves of organized mass murder and destruction. Some believe it is immoral. The leaders of the teams know that, if their nation has a lot of people like this, these people may get in the way of activities that the team needs to succeed in game play. To prevent this, the leaders of the teams go to great lengths to make sure the people who live inside the imaginary lines that define their team’s territory conform to standards, accept the game realities as the realities of life, and don’t do anything to interfere in the progress of the game.

We all know about this. We have all seen it. We all know that such training is very effective and actually convinces a great majority of the people of the world that nations are real things and that the wars between nations are fought for noble and righteous purposes: if this were not true, our world would not work as it does.

 

Changing the Game

 

The people who set up this game lived a very long time ago and did not know many of the things that we know now. They didn’t have the history we have to tell them how their decisions would play out over time and what would happen to future generations if they kept playing this game. They didn’t have the perspective to tell them what happens once this game play is started and how future generations might get sucked into it and take it even more seriously than the ones who started it.

They didn’t have the tools we have now to analyze organizational structures and gain consensus among the people of the world for institutions that benefit us all. They didn’t have access to the incredibly convincing scientific arguments that we now have, arguments that allow us to show that many of the claims used to rationalize devoting our existence to playing this game were nonsense that can’t be justified logically.

We are—at least hopefully—at little more evolved and mentally capable than they were.

What if we don’t want to play anymore?

What if we want to take advantage of the incredible new tools that we have, the great base of knowledge, the fantastic technologies, and the amazing capabilities we now have to organize outside of the imaginary lines that mark what we are told is ‘our nation’ and build a system that works some other way? What if we want to change the way the organized realities of existence or ‘societies’ in place at this time work?

What if we wanted to look at this question logically to determine what practical tools the human race has at its disposal to alter the conditions of its existence, and how we may use these tools?

 

Game Changer

 

This book takes a non-standard approach to societal reform. It does not deal with any of the details of anything that people traditionally call ‘problems.’ It doesn’t try to get people to protest any particular war, or even the concept of war in general.

Specific wars between specific nations are not separate diseases that have separate causes. They are all symptoms of a greater underlying problem. Each war is like an individual cough of someone dying of tuberculosis. The cough is a painful and agonizing side effect of the workings of a bacterial infection. It is easy to get emotional and believe that something has to be done to deal with the cough, and do everything possible to prevent even a single additional bloody cough.

That’s ok. We all have empathy. We don’t want people to suffer.

But if you focus on the symptoms of the disease and leave the underlying cause in effect, the patient will get worse and eventually die. Tuberculosis is caused by a bacterial infection. If you want to cure the patient, you have to concentrate some resources on non-obvious realities of the problem. Rather than spending more to have more people there to make more and better cough suppressants, you need to spend more to have people doing research on how to eliminate bacterial infections. Once the infection is gone, the cough will disappear on its own. If you have limited resources and really want to cure the disease, you may realize it is better to let the patient cough for a while, so you can focus more resources on eliminating the infection. This may make you appear to be cold and insensitive to the needs of the patient. But it really isn’t. If you devote all your effort to useless work on symptoms, and leave the disease in place, the patient will suffer with the maximum amount of misery and then die anyway.

War between nations is not a disease of humankind; it is a symptom of a deeper disease. The real problem is not that the captain of one team disagrees with the captain of another team of which of the two teams has the right to exploit and benefit from the existence of a certain oil-rich piece of land. The real problem is that structural realities of the societies we were born into work in ways that cause the human race to cut itself up into teams in the first place.

The real problem is that people mistake the game we are playing for reality.

If we accept that the societies that rest on the idea of ‘nations’ work exactly like a game, we can see there is a way to reform societies that has not yet been tried:

Treat it as a game.

Figure out all of the different ways this game can be played. Then figure out if there are other ways of playing the game that don’t have the same problems as the way it is played now, and which may actually benefit all of the players, rather than benefiting some teams at the expense of the others. After figuring out all of these things, we can work out the exact differences between game rules that benefit everyone and game rules that benefit one team at the expense of the human race as a whole. We can study the tools that we have at our disposal to alter the rules of this game in a way that would be acceptable to the people of the world who are forced to play the game in order to get the little pieces of paper with numbers on them that are used to keep score and must be acquired for us to survive. We can consider the fact that other people have experiences that can help us changing the game, because other parts of existence work like games and people have figured out how to change them. We can take all this and put it together. We can figure out the tools that we have, we can put all of the lessons of history into the mix, and use all of the advantages of new technology and information that have recently come into our possession.

We can work out strategies and figure out the best way to put together all of the advantages that we have at our disposal to change the realties of existence for the better. I am trying to make this sound as easy as possible, because I want as many people as possible to believe it is possible so that they can make it happen. But I don’t expect you to believe it will be easy.

I only want you to believe it is possible.

If people believe it is not possible (without even considering the details) they will not even bother to try. If no one tries, it really isn’t possible. But, if enough people believe it is possible with enough conviction to believe it is worth working on, it is quite possible to create a plan that will have an extremely high mathematical probability of working. The more people believe it is possible for the human race to survive, the greater the probably to success.

I claim this: Human beings created the societies we were born into. Human beings can understand them, and human beings can change their form, or ‘reform’ them. I claim that this is within the capabilities of the strange and wonderful beings we call ‘humans.’ This book is an attempt to provide a practical explanation of the exact steps required for people who want to contribute.

6 Pascals Wager

Written by dade on . Posted in 7: A The Meaning of Life

The Meaning of Life
Chapter Six: Pascal’s Wager

 

Members of the Abrahamic religions have a strong argument to convince people that it is a good idea to accept religion. It can be summed up in something called ‘Pascal’s Wager.’

Abrahamic religions:

The first Book of Moses (called ‘Genesis’ in Christian and Moslem holy books) explains how Abram was the founder of all nations and ‘advanced’ modes of thought. These ideas, the religious texts hold, came directly from God. After God realized that this man had gained this incredible insight, he decided Abram would be the model upon which all of the future of the human race would be based. God changed Abram’s name to ‘Abraham’ and made him the father of all nations and religions, with his children becoming the leaders of the future world. (This is from the Christian version: Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee. And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee.) Three major world religions and a large number of smaller religions rest on the foundation of these religious doctrines, including Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. All religions that start with this premise are ‘Abrahamic religions.’

Since the Abrhamic religions all teach that God created ‘nations’ and is personally behind the idea of war (which God uses to reallocate land among nations), all of these religions are extremely hostile and aggressive (teaching that God wants the wars to happen). Their aggression has given them enormous advantages in war and people motivated by these religions have basically taken over a large part of the world, with most of the most important fights of the world today between different Abrahamic religions.

Here is the basic idea behind Pascal’s wager:

If you decide NOT to believe in God, you are making a wager (bet). If you are wrong, and there is a God, you will go to hell and suffer eternity in endless misery, torture, pain, and agony. If you are right, however, and it turns out there is no God or afterlife judgment of your beliefs, nothing bad will happen to you. So, choosing NOT to believe in God exposes you to the maximum possible in afterlife risk, with no potential for an upside benefit.

If you choose to believe, you are making the opposite wager, with the opposite set of possible outcomes: If you are right and win the wager, you will spend eternity in comfort and pleasure (and possibly endless sex with virgins, a big benefit to young men of fighting age who were raised with several of the current Abrahamic religions). If you are wrong, and there is no God, there is no downside at all: you won’t punished for believing, because there is no God to punish you.

So, the argument called ‘Pascal’s Wager’ goes, you are being foolish not to accept God and the teachings of the religious texts. If you do, you can only benefit, at least in the afterlife. There is no possibility of harm.

 

The Problem with Pascal’s Wager

 

Pascal’s wager has been presented in many forms; it is the basic logical premise behind evangelism and missionary doctrine. It has convinced a great many people. The problem is that it ignores reality. If we accept reality (if we accept the evidence of our own senses, as categorized in the fields collectively called ‘science,’) we can easily see that these beliefs bring truly horrific results. In fact, they are virtually guaranteed to bring horrific results. Here is the reason:

If we accept that a being with superpowers directs all activities on Earth, we are led to believe that we, the members of the human race, are helpless pawns of the superbeing, with no ability to affect events here on Earth. If we even allow ourselves to question the premise that we are helpless, we are showing a lack of faith and, if we truly believe, we know that even thinking it is possible that humans are the dominant beings on Earth will lead to everlasting torture and agony. We have seen in Forensic History and Possible Societies that, if we look at the world logically, accepting the teachings of science, we must accept that human race has great capabilities.

We have the ability to reorganize our existence, if we want to do this. If we open our minds to the options, and compare them objectively, we can see that the option our ancestors have chosen for us is destructive and will ultimately destroy us if we don’t change it. We can also see that other options are possible (within the capabilities of the human race) and that these options can take us off of the destructive path and put us on a path to a better world. In fact, we know that non-destructive options are possible because these other modes of existence have existed, for far longer than the mode of existence that was chosen for us. We have seen, in the two previous works, that if we accept these other options are possible, analyze the difference between them and the system that we were born into, and make methodological changes to the system we inherited, it will change into a system that can meet our needs.

Why hasn’t this been done a long time ago?

The main problem appears to be the apparent advantage of Pascal’s wager, which turns into a real world disadvantage: Pascal’s wager holds that you can only be harmed by NOT believing that God is in charge of earthly events, and can only benefit by accepting this. The only way to lose this wager (the wager holds) is to ever let your mind accept that it is possible that humans are in charge of their own destiny, at least here on Earth. If you accept this, you have shown a lack of faith and will lose the wager (if the all-seeing and known God detects your momentary lapse). So, you have to resist every attempt that anyone may make to get you to accept that the human race may NOT be under the control of a superbeing. Anything that leads to this mode of thought is to be twisted, in your mind, to allow you to reject it without even considering the implications.

 

Is Panspermia Correct?

 

I have proposed that our notions about the meaning of life depend, to a large degree, on our notions about how life came to exist on this world.

If we accept that an invisible superbeing created everything and directs it from an (invisible) perch, we are led to believe that the meaning of life is whatever the people who are able to convince us they are most in tune with God tell us. If these people tell us that we are here to protect and defend the ‘nations’ that they tell us God created, by participating in the giant military industrial complex, and we believe they are in tune with God, we will accept that they are right: that is what life is for, to fight, build tools of murder, and sacrifice our lives for the ideals they claim came from God. (Forensic History explains how such a notion may come to have been a part of our world about 6,000 years ago).

Many people have seen how much harm such a belief system creates and have tried hard to come up with an alternative explanation for the way life came to exist on this world, because they find the above belief set morally offensive, primitive, and self-serving to the powered elite for whom ordinary people are sacrificing their lives. They have tried to convince people that it is all random and there is no order to anything. This doesn’t provide any real guidance that may help us get to a better world, and it is not intellectually satisfying: It the wonders of life really do appear to be far too good to have come about by chance. (The more I learn about DNA and the activities inside living things, the harder it is for me to believe that they are the result of random chance.) The only real advantage to ‘its all random’ argument is that it allows us to reject the common rationalizations for war and the miseries that accompany our war-based societies (like environmental destruction and the almost indescribable inequality in rights and incomes). Many people reject the ‘its all random’ argument simply because it doesn’t square with reality and what our senses tell us.

What else is there?

The third possible way life could have come to exist on Earth is this: It could have been designed somewhere else (on some other world) by being that are subject to the same physical laws as we are. (In other words, not superbeings with magical powers.) Then, it could have come, by some process, to Earth. Francis Crick’s Panspermia theory holds that, if this did happen, it is so likely to have been done intentionally that, for practical purposes, we can ignore all other options and concentrate on this one. But, for now, let’s leave the idea of internationality aside and think only about how the premise of non-magical creators would affect the idea of the meaning of life. If there are creators with no magic powers (in other words, they are subject to the same physical laws as bind us) on another world, they can’t possibly be directing events here on Earth: the law of relativity holds that no energy, mass, or information may move faster than the speed of light. Since the nearest potentially-habitable exoplanet is more than 10 light years away, it would take more than 10 years just for them to be able to see what we are doing here, and, if they had the best technology that doesn’t violate the laws of relativity, another 10 years for any effects of their manipulation to become reality. The idea of the creator(s) determining the winner of the Superbowl (as many people claim happens for God) is therefore an impossibility. (If God lives on the nearest inhabitable world, he wouldn’t even know who was playing in the Superbowl each year world until 10 years after it was played.) The idea the creator(s) determining the winner of war battles is just as silly. In fact, if we accept even this one scientific law, we have to realize that science simply doesn’t allow day-to-day events on Earth to be manipulated by an extra-solarsystem race of people.

I propose that, if we look at the world scientifically, we will start with the theory that conforms to observations and is the most likely (of all theories that conform to the evidence) to be correct. The evidence holds that life on Earth came to exist some time between the year Earth formed (about 4.38 billion years ago) and the time of the first fossil records (3.58 billion years ago). The very first living things were built on DNA and had coded messages written in their DNA which are in the same code as the messages in human DNA, telling us that this code and its messages are NOT the result of evolution from non-living things. (Again: evolution implies change. If the living things had evolved from non-living things, we would have found many, many different life-supporting molecules built on simpler foundations and with messages written with a different code. There would have to have been many of them because the random processes would not have hit on what we have now—which is very close to perfection from a bio-chemical perspective—without trying less effective options first.) We have not only not found ‘many many’ other options, we haven’t found a single one, ever. From a scientific perspective, we would have to put ‘evolution from a non-living precursor) at the end of the list of possible ways life and humans could have come to exist. It is almost impossibly unlikely, so it makes sense to start with the more likely options and only move to the ‘almost impossibly unlikely’ option after we have found ways to discard the more likely options.

The ‘spontaneous generation’ argument is in the same category. DNA-based life is so incredibly complex—and was from the very beginning—that it is almost impossibly unlikely that it simply came to exist as a result of random alignment of atoms that were infused with a life force that came from lighting or some other natural energy source. We can’t totally rule this out, because given enough time, it is possible for even a very complex thing (like a human baby) to come to exist as a result of random chance, and if this happened enough times under the right circumstances, and it is possible that a life force could enter the living thing in the same way that electricity can spark a heart to beat normally. But the odds of this happening are so incredibly remote that, if we are to be practical, we would not want to start with this option. We would look for something that is more likely.

From a scientific perspective, we must also reject any argument that requires the violation of physics. The idea of a superbeing creating it all by incantations (saying certain words) implies a belief that the laws of physics are not the same everywhere in the universe, but there are places where they don’t hold and beings for whom they don’t apply. Of course, we can’t know for certain that there are no beings who are not bound by the laws we can observe and prove apply to us and everything we can detect with our senses in every single case. But it is not scientific to start an analysis by rejecting science. If we are to be scientific, we would have to reject any explanation for the origin of life that doesn’t conform to the laws of physics.

After we have rejected all of the above explanations, what is left?

Only one explanation remains: Roughly 3.58 billion years ago, life arrived on Earth from some other world.

This is the only explanation that conforms to the scientific evidence and is not ‘impossibly unlikely.’ It makes sense to start with this as the most likely way life arrived on Earth. Without getting into the ‘why’ or ‘how’ at this point, let’s just accept that this is AN explanation for ‘the way life got onto Earth’ that conforms to science, is consistent with the evidence we have, and which is not ‘impossibly unlikely.’ What would this imply about the meaning of life?

 

The Meaning Of Life

 

If we accept ANY premise for ‘the beginning of life on Earth’ that is built on the premise that the known laws of science (particularly physics) are real laws and apply everywhere all the time, AND which accepts the scientific evidence of our past, we have a foundation for understanding the meaning of life which excludes certain explanations:

First, we must exclude the premise that we are doomed to go extinct and were doomed from the very beginning. It would take a lot of time and effort to build a package that would be able to send all of the essentials of life across the remoteness of inter-stellar space. No being with intent would go to the trouble of sending microorganisms across intestellar space to ‘teraform’ this world and make it capable of supporting advanced life, knowing this would take billions of years, and send all of the essentials of advanced life here, knowing that intelligent life would require hundreds of millions more years after the terraforming, if the intelligent life had absolutely no chance of making it. Perhaps the ones who set this all up had a science of society and knew that the intelligent life forms, when they/we evolved, would face hurdles. But if this is true, it wouldn’t make sense to go to all this trouble if there was no chance whatever we would make it over these hurdles.

Perhaps they worked out the same scientific principles as we have worked out, including the principle Einstein called ‘relativity’ that shows that it is impossible to affect events on distant worlds fast enough to affect events on a world on a different solar system. Perhaps they believed these laws were real laws (which many humans don’t seem to affect) and concluded that this meant they would not be there to help us some of the difficult times, including the times we are going through now. Perhaps they calculated the odds of us getting through this particular period in our evolution, and perhaps the odds were quite high against us.

The idea if ‘panspermia’ implies sending the packages that contain life to many different potentially habitable worlds. Perhaps most weren’t expected to make it. Perhaps MOST of them weren’t expected to make it. Perhaps they wrote off 90% of all the packages they sent as expected failures, and perhaps they wrote off 99.9999999999% of the packages they sent.

I never had any school spirit. (My father was in the military so I moved every year, and never went to the same school twice.) I didn’t ever feel very ‘patriotic’ and had no real ‘national sprit.’ (I went to my first 2 years of school in the French public school system at a time when the United States was occupying France and not seen as a friendly occupier. The people in France didn’t instill good feelings about the United States.) I never really cared for sports or had any team spirit. But I am not without feelings of belonging. I belong to a wonderful race of people who have done incredible things. We have pulled ourselves out of the slime and mud and developed language, music, math, and incredible engineering skills. In my opinion, we haven’t yet scratched the surface of our capabilities. We are capable of far more than we have accomplished and, if we can get past our inherited primitive ways of thinking, our future is potentially endless.

I believe there is a purpose for our being here. I have been convinced by the massive evidence I see all around me that tells me this. I don’t know exactly what this purpose is, but I am absolutely convinced we were NOT placed here to fight, kill, and destroy the world to protect the imaginary lines called ‘borders’ that separate the imaginary entities called ‘nations.’ Whatever our purpose, we must get through this stage in our evolution to get there. I have some pride in our race—the human race—and know we are capable of getting through this era and make progress toward whatever destiny and purpose awaits us. Whatever this destiny is, we must do one thing as a prerequisite: we must reorganize our existence to reduce the strength of the destructive and violent forces that are part of the societies our ancestors created and passed down to us. I am convinced that our race can do this; all we have to do is accept that reality is real and the principles we can derive from reality are real. The field that categorizes reality (things we can see and analyze with our senses) is called ‘science.’ All we have to do is get over the inherited tendency that members of our race have to attribute things we don’t understand to magic and beings with magic powers.

Books in this series

This book is a part of a series of four books about the important realities of human existence. They are:

1. Forensic History: uses new scientific tools and information sources to reconstruct the series of events that put the human race on the path it is now on. It explains how the realities of human existence came to be as they are. It focuses on the events led to the existence of the power structures that dominate the world today, including the entities called 'nations,' organized religions, and the massive and extremely powerful entities we call 'corporations.' These entities did not appear by magic. They came to exist as a result of decisions people made in the past. If we want to understand the realities of human existence, we have to understand who made these decisions, why they were made, and how the decisions made in the past have led to the realities that we see around us.

2. Possible Societies goes over the capabilities of the human race and the limitations we have for organizing the realities of our existence. It is an attempt to categorize all possible methods of organizing human existence—or all possible societies—in a methodological and organized way. Once we understand the different options we have for organizing societies, we can go over them to determine which of the options are able to meet our needs without constant problems such as war and unnecessary environmental destruction.

3. Reforming Societies: We were born onto a world that was organized in a very dangerous way. It was cut up with imaginary lines into the entities we call 'nations.' Each nation had formed a government which claimed that everything within that nation belonged to the people who were born inside the imaginary lines. Any society built on this foundation necessarily has very serious problems, which include powerful forces these entities surrounded by imaginary lines to engage in activities that are the most horrific destructive within the capability of any physical beings with the power to think on a rational level. The pressure to perform these horrible acts is so powerful that the industries devoted to war and the support of war, combined, make up the largest industries on Earth: More wealth, manpower, effort, skills, talents, capital, and resources are devoted to organized mass murder and destruction than any other activity on the planet. People have gone as far as building weapons that will destroy the planet if used and actually deployed these weapons, making them ready for instant use if certain circumstances arise. Given enough time, these circumstances are certain to arise.

What if we—the current members of the human race—decide we don't like these particular realities of existence? What if we decide we want some other destiny for our race (than extinction)? It is possible to organize the realities of our world in different ways. (Even children should realize this: humans need food, water, air, sleep, and protection from the elements; the imaginary lines that cut the world into 'nations' don't give us any of these things.)

But is it possible to actually build them?

If we know other methods of organizing the realities of human existence are possible, we can work out the exact structural differences between the realities of these other societies and the current realities of human existence.

We can figure out practical steps to take to change the form of ('reform') other societies. It explains the exact practical steps that ordinary people like you and I can take to put the human race on a path to one of these societies, if we should decide we want to do this.

4. The Meaning of Life explains why this matters. The societies we were born into must raise children to think a certain way so they will be willing to sacrifice for and participate in the wars that are an inherent part of societies built on the division of the world into 'nations.' To make them willing to participate, they must raise children to believe that there is a higher purpose behind the wars and behind the existence of the nations: They must make children believe that they were born to and exist to protect their nations, to respect the claimed founding principles, to honor the nation and, through ceremonies that all children are taught in schools, to even worship the nation, in the same way they are taught to worship the higher power that they were told created the nation. To make them do the horrible things that people must do to have wars, they must make children believe that this is the meaning of life and the reason they were born.

New scientific evidence is allowing us to put together messages that are encoded in our DNA and evident from the structures that are necessary for the process we call 'life' to exist in ways that can show us that there are scientifically acceptable and mathematically likely explanations for the existence of life on Earth that totally conflict with the premises taught to keep people willing to fight, kill, maim, cripple, destroy, risk and accept death for the benefits of the entities called 'nations.' If we accept science, logic, and reason, we can put together a picture of the meaning of existence that can help us see that the claimed reasons for existence that have been taught in schools and accepted for thousands of years are basically propaganda, created for the express purpose of allowing rationalization of horrific acts. If they could put together some rational picture of the reason we are here, people would not be willing to do the things that they spend their lives doing today.

What if we find there is a real meaning to our existence and it has nothing whatever to do with worshiping invisible superbeings or protecting nations? The entire rationalization for dividing the world into 'nations' and making war basically disappears. We must accept that the realities of existence on Earth are as they are because people made certain decisions. These people are no longer alive. We are here. We can make our own decisions. We can decide where we want to go from here and begin going there.

Books in this series

This book is a part of a series of four books about the important realities of human existence. They are:

1. Forensic History: uses new scientific tools and information sources to reconstruct the series of events that put the human race on the path it is now on. It explains how the realities of human existence came to be as they are. It focuses on the events led to the existence of the power structures that dominate the world today, including the entities called 'nations,' organized religions, and the massive and extremely powerful entities we call 'corporations.' These entities did not appear by magic. They came to exist as a result of decisions people made in the past. If we want to understand the realities of human existence, we have to understand who made these decisions, why they were made, and how the decisions made in the past have led to the realities that we see around us.

2. Possible Societies goes over the capabilities of the human race and the limitations we have for organizing the realities of our existence. It is an attempt to categorize all possible methods of organizing human existence—or all possible societies—in a methodological and organized way. Once we understand the different options we have for organizing societies, we can go over them to determine which of the options are able to meet our needs without constant problems such as war and unnecessary environmental destruction.

3. Reforming Societies: We were born onto a world that was organized in a very dangerous way. It was cut up with imaginary lines into the entities we call 'nations.' Each nation had formed a government which claimed that everything within that nation belonged to the people who were born inside the imaginary lines. Any society built on this foundation necessarily has very serious problems, which include powerful forces these entities surrounded by imaginary lines to engage in activities that are the most horrific destructive within the capability of any physical beings with the power to think on a rational level. The pressure to perform these horrible acts is so powerful that the industries devoted to war and the support of war, combined, make up the largest industries on Earth: More wealth, manpower, effort, skills, talents, capital, and resources are devoted to organized mass murder and destruction than any other activity on the planet. People have gone as far as building weapons that will destroy the planet if used and actually deployed these weapons, making them ready for instant use if certain circumstances arise. Given enough time, these circumstances are certain to arise.

What if we—the current members of the human race—decide we don't like these particular realities of existence? What if we decide we want some other destiny for our race (than extinction)? It is possible to organize the realities of our world in different ways. (Even children should realize this: humans need food, water, air, sleep, and protection from the elements; the imaginary lines that cut the world into 'nations' don't give us any of these things.)

But is it possible to actually build them?

If we know other methods of organizing the realities of human existence are possible, we can work out the exact structural differences between the realities of these other societies and the current realities of human existence.

We can figure out practical steps to take to change the form of ('reform') other societies. It explains the exact practical steps that ordinary people like you and I can take to put the human race on a path to one of these societies, if we should decide we want to do this.

4. The Meaning of Life explains why this matters. The societies we were born into must raise children to think a certain way so they will be willing to sacrifice for and participate in the wars that are an inherent part of societies built on the division of the world into 'nations.' To make them willing to participate, they must raise children to believe that there is a higher purpose behind the wars and behind the existence of the nations: They must make children believe that they were born to and exist to protect their nations, to respect the claimed founding principles, to honor the nation and, through ceremonies that all children are taught in schools, to even worship the nation, in the same way they are taught to worship the higher power that they were told created the nation. To make them do the horrible things that people must do to have wars, they must make children believe that this is the meaning of life and the reason they were born.

New scientific evidence is allowing us to put together messages that are encoded in our DNA and evident from the structures that are necessary for the process we call 'life' to exist in ways that can show us that there are scientifically acceptable and mathematically likely explanations for the existence of life on Earth that totally conflict with the premises taught to keep people willing to fight, kill, maim, cripple, destroy, risk and accept death for the benefits of the entities called 'nations.' If we accept science, logic, and reason, we can put together a picture of the meaning of existence that can help us see that the claimed reasons for existence that have been taught in schools and accepted for thousands of years are basically propaganda, created for the express purpose of allowing rationalization of horrific acts. If they could put together some rational picture of the reason we are here, people would not be willing to do the things that they spend their lives doing today.

What if we find there is a real meaning to our existence and it has nothing whatever to do with worshiping invisible superbeings or protecting nations? The entire rationalization for dividing the world into 'nations' and making war basically disappears. We must accept that the realities of existence on Earth are as they are because people made certain decisions. These people are no longer alive. We are here. We can make our own decisions. We can decide where we want to go from here and begin going there.

Keywords: Keywords: meaning of life, the meaning of life, why we are here, who made us, where did we come from, is religion right, is religion lies, lies in religion, extraterrestrial life, life on other worlds, panspermia, spermogeneisis, possible societies, possiblesocieties.net, alternative societies, better societies, utopia, utopias, utopian societies, building better worlds, rebuilding societies, repairing societies, reforming societies, ReformingSocieties.com, non-destructive societies, nondestructive societies, fixing war, ending pollution, ending depletion, making the world a better place, leasehold ownership, private ownership, government ownership, corporate ownership, preventing extinction.

7 The Operating System

Written by dade on . Posted in 7: A The Meaning of Life

The Meaning of Life
Chapter Seven: The Operating System

 

If you wanted to send life to another world, sending some DNA there wouldn’t do any good if, once it got there, it just sat there and did nothing. The DNA must have the ability to manufacture ATP to provide its electricity. It must have the enzymes needed to make ATP (at least 8 enzymes are needed for this, given the most efficient ATP production method known). It must then have the enzymes to direct the electricity produced (when the ATP breaks down) to operate its processes. It must be able to use the ATP to provide energy to power the ribosomes, as they ‘grab’ the necessary amino acids to replicate the DNA ‘rungs.’ It must have the enzymes needed to attach the sugar ‘spine’ onto the ladder ‘rungs’ to make a new ‘ladder.’ It must have the enzymes needed to manufacture new amino acids when they get depleted by the reproduction process, and it must have the enzymes needed to create all of the 20 amino acids that will be needed to make the enzymes and other proteins it and its daughters will need to sustain their life processes. It will also need to use the electricity in a kind of ‘brain’ that monitors all of the levels of amino acids and other essential molecules, ‘tells’ them all what to do, and ‘tells’ them when they have done it right.

All this must be self-replicating: it must be able to make copies of itself. These copies have to be incredibly exact: If even a single rung out of each billion rungs of the DNA ladder is wrong, the copied DNA will be defective and won’t be able to do what DNA must do.

 

An Operating System

 

Before the computer age, not many people would have understood exactly what is needed to make non-living things (like the silicon that is in rocks) actually do things in an organized way. Now that we have computers, and a large percentage of the world’s people have been raised with them and learned to use them, a great many people understand the concept of ‘hardware’ and ‘software.’

The hardware is the physical computer itself. The main working parts of the computer are made of silicon, which is the same thing sand and rocks are made of. (About 87% of the part of the world we know about is silicon dioxide; this is the main component of sand and rocks.) In other words, the working parts of the machine (the silicon ‘chips’) are basically ordinary earth; if you if you break them with hammers, you will end up with sand, the same thing they are made of. Before being processed, powered, and organized with the operating system, sand is incapable of doing any of the things that computers do. In fact, even after sand has been processed into a fully assembled computer, the computer won’t do anything at all unless you provide power and somehow get the instruction set called the ‘operating system’ into the computer, in the proper way.

The same is true for DNA. DNA is a molecule made of atoms of carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, hydrogen, and phosphorous. If you have a bucket of mixed coal (carbon and hydrogen) water, and rocks that contain both phosphorous and nitrogen, they are not ‘alive’ and won’t do anything normally. Even if you were somehow able to assemble these elements into the proper configuration, which every one of billions of atoms in the exact right place to make it DNA, it wouldn’t do anything more than the bucket of drenched rocks, unless it has a power system and some sort of instruction set to tell it what to do and how to do it. We have seen the power system: the DNA basically runs off of electricity, with the electricity produced by ATP: The ATP has latent energy in the attachment of the negatively charged phosphate; when the phosphate is released, it sends free electrons (electricity) to do whatever work the living thing needs done. (Moving a muscle, for example, or replicating a protein.) But how does the electricity ‘know’ what to do? Where is its ‘instruction set’ or ‘operating system?’ How did this operating system come to exist and how did the DNA molecule get ‘programmed’ with this operating system so it can do all of the complex things it does? In order to understand this, we may want to start with an examination of some simpler process that causes inanimate matter to do organized and productive work: a computer.

 

Living or ‘Non-living’ (Dead)?

 

If you buy a computer today, it will normally come with an operating system installed. The manufacturer builds machines then buys licenses for the operating system from other companies to use the operating systems that these other companies have built. Often, the right to use the operating system costs as much as the working parts of the computer. Of course, computer companies could sell their computers for far less money if they didn’t have to buy the licenses for operating systems. (You can easily see that roughly half of the cost of computers involves the combination of the license for the operating system and the installation, because you can get computers from small manufacturers that don’t buy and install operating systems from Ebay, and the costs of these computers without operating systems are about half of the cost of comparable computers with installed operating systems.)

However, the manufactures know that most people don’t have any use for a computer without an operating system, so people won’t buy them, even for very low prices. (You can buy a computer and buy a separate license for an operating system. But most people are not capable of the task of installing the operating system—it is a very complicated process—so very few people actually do this.) The manufacturers spend a lot of money (often it is their largest input cost) to buy the licenses and spend even more money installing them and making sure they work right. If they don’t do this, the computers are basically useless and no one would buy them.

 

What is an Operating System?

 

If you buy a computer with a pre-installed operating system, you probably don’t have any real idea exactly what the operating system is or how it differs from the computer itself. If you have ever bought a computer without an OS, and put it on the computer, you will know that the OS normally comes on some sort of media (a CD, DVD, flash drive, hard drive, or ‘floppies’) but the actual physical thing the OS comes on is not the operating system itself. The OS is nothing physical, it is a set of instructions that tell the transistors (switches) on the computer chip when to open and close, allowing electricity to pass through the switches or stopping the electricity.

The OS is information.

Computer operating systems started out very small. The first operating system in use for microchip based computers (personal computers) was CP/M, created to allow the Intel 8080 chip to process basic information. The entire instruction set for this operating system consisted of 27,880 ‘bits’ of information, where each ‘bit’ was a character of either 1 or 0. (The ‘bits’ were arranged in sets of 8 which were processed together as something called a ‘byte,’ each of which could be thought of as a ‘word.’ The entire operating system was in 3,584 ‘bytes’ or ‘words.’ This works out to about 7 pages equivalent of typed words.) These ‘words’ basically tell the microprocessor how to set its switches (each ‘transistor’ in the circuit is one switch that allows information to either pass or not pass) so it can process information.

As time passed, people built larger and larger instruction sets for operating systems, and compiled them into larger and larger operating systems. The operating system most commonly installed on most new personal computers as I write this is Windows 10, with an instruction set that includes 36,960,000,000 (36.9 billion) bits of information, or 1,289,062,500 times more information than was in the instruction set installed on the first microchip-based computers.

 

How Many Operating Systems Were Needed?

 

If the DNA was sent intentionally to Earth, the people who sent it would have had to have included at least three separate operating systems, one for each of the minimum of 3 life forms they were sending. There are at least three entirely different and entirely independently operating ‘machines’ of life to be found here on Earth. (There may be more; we don’t know.) All three are made of the same component (DNA), but they all operate differently and function independently of each other. The matter part of the living things is the same (DNA) but the instruction set or operating system is entirely different.

 

The Operating system for the Teraforming Substance

 

The first operating system would run the blue-green algae that would reduce the carbon dioxide levels of the atmosphere to make the planet habitable. They would split the carbon from the oxygen (this process requires a great deal of energy, which is provided by the sun through photosynthesis), bind the carbon to hydrogen and bury it (these hydrogen-carbon molecules are the ‘hydrocarbons’ like coal, oil and natural gas that are under the ground), and release the oxygen into the atmosphere.

Although the operational details of blue-green algae are extremely simple compared to those of other life forms on Earth, they are incredibly complex relative to the operating systems of microchip-based computers. Blue-green algae have to be able to use solar energy to create a power source (photosynthesis creates ATP, which provides the energy to power the algae’s life functions, and powers the splitting of carbon and oxygen). They must then reproduce themselves, over and over, manufacturing all of the essential amino acids (all 20) needed for this themselves (there are no other life forms to make amino acids for them). They must do this reliably over the course of billions of years, with the same basic DNA spine ‘living’ for billions of years to produce more and more offspring.

If all you want is ‘life of some type’ you would only have to send down one operating system infused DNA molecule, the blue-green algae. But if you wanted more advanced life, you would have to send down at least two more: one to generate the massive amounts of electricity that would be needed to run the more complicated life forms, and another to run the life forms themselves.

 

The Operating System for the Power Source

 

The mitochondria in your body was NOT created by your body. The mitochondria reproduces by itself, without any involvement from any of the DNA in your nucleus, the one that identifies ‘you’ and makes ‘you’ different than other people. In fact, the DNA in the mitochondria is not unique to you: it is identical to the DNA in your mother (which is where it came from) and your siblings. In fact, with only incognizant differences, your mitochondrial DNA is identical to the mitochondrial DNA of every other human being on Earth. In fact, your mitochondrial DNA is the same as the mitochondrial DNA of every animal and every plant on Earth. You are, in a very real way, connected with every living thing on the planet.

Although this mitochondria is absolutely essential to the life processes of all advanced living things on Earth, including humans, it operates independently of the other processes of life. Your body supplies the environment for mitochondria to live in, but it does not power the mitochondria or get involved in mitochondrial reproduction. The mitochondrial DNA (MDNA) has its own operating system.

Mitochondria are very complex living things. They are the energy systems or power cells that produce the ATP for all advanced living things on Earth. They are the power source for advanced life. (All living things use ATP for power, but blue-green algae manufacture their ATP using an far less efficient process that does not require free oxygen.)

The mitochondria require unbound oxygen to work. (Without unbound oxygen, they ‘die’ or cease to function within microseconds. When life first appeared on Earth, there was no unbound oxygen, so the mitochondria would not have been able to produce ATP or do anything at all. If we assume that life was sent down in a single package, the people who sent this package would have realized that the mitochondria would be basically unnecessary for the several billion years necessary for the blue-green algae to make the planet habitable by advanced living things that would take advantage of mitochondria to produce their energy. (We have a synergistic relationship with mitochondria: we provide the environmental factors they need for survival, and they provide the ATP we need to run our life processes. Advanced living things help mitochondria do their thing; they help us do ours.)

 

The Operating System for Advanced Life

 

The third operating system would be the one needed to operate the advanced life forms that would run on the ATP produced by the mitochondria. These advanced life forms would be entirely different in character than the algae that performed the Earth, so they would require their own operating system. They would have ‘cells’ with many different internal structures; all of these structures would have to work together, sustain each other, and operating in sync with each other, for the ‘cells’ to remain alive and reproduce. Clearly, the operating system for these advanced living things would have to be far larger and more complex than the operating systems for algae and mitochondria.

Since the advanced life forms would reproduce in a way that led to genetic diversity, they would ‘evolve’ over time. The diversity would create some organisms that were better suited to survival than others; these ‘better suited’ organisms would survive to sexual maturity and reproduce, while less suited organisms would perish before they reproduced. The organisms would change. As the cells (and eventually multi-cellular organisms) developed new structures, the operating system would have to be able to deal with them without crashing. This means it would have to be ready for structures that did not yet exist. (Modern operating systems are built to be ready for physical components of computers that don’t yet exist: they have interfaces (USB ports, for example) that can be ‘configured’ with ‘drivers’ to interact with memory chips, video chips, sound chips, peripherals (printers, for example, cameras, and scanners) that have not yet been invented. When they are invented, the operating system is already able to deal with them, through instruction sets that are built in to the operating system.

The operating system that ran the first advanced life on Earth would have had to have had the same capabilities, or it would not have been able to accommodate evolution. Since we know evolution took place, we can infer that the operating system has been able to adapt as necessary to power the life forms. This is unlikely to have happened by pure chance. If the operating system were preinstalled, it would have to have the ability to adapt to change, while not changing its basic instruction set (necessary for DNA to use the power of ATP to manufacture amino acids and proteins, and reassemble them into new beings, under the rules of sexual reproduction.

Once more, the basic realities of existence give us evidence to support the premise of intelligent design. Advanced life on Earth requires three separate operating systems that operate independently of each other. One operating system operates the blue-green algae that made and keeps the planet habitable by advanced life. One operating system runs the mitochondria that creates the ATP that powers all life on Earth and must be produced in enormous quantities for advanced life to function, and the third operating system powers the advanced life.

The two more advanced operating systems could not have evolved from the simpler one, for a very simple reason: the oxygen needed for these operating systems to function did not exist until the first operating system created it. Although there are synergies between the two beings that are needed for advanced life (mitochondria and cellular life), the operating systems work entirely independent of each other. In fact, this is a general characteristic of all advanced Earth life (everything other than blue-green algae): it has many structures that work independently of each other to allow complex life forms to exist and reproduce. This feature of Earth life can’t be explained by evolution through random processes: for this to have happened, evolution had to have been planned, at least to some extent, with an operating system designed to create certain structures (when cellular processes were advanced enough to accommodate them) and put them into use. Then, eventually, the system would have to start producing specialized ‘cells’ to do separate things that would work together (in the same basic way that internal cellular structures work together to keep cells alive), to create a ‘body’ of a being that was far more advanced than any single-celled being cold be.

For DNA to appear at all on this world by random chance—with all of the correct configuration of hundreds of billions of atoms—seems to stretch the limits of probability. How can a random chance events arrange anything with such incredible precision? For the DNA to begin ‘operating’ at all, and doing anything whatever, stretches out probability much farther. For it to ‘operate’ as it does operate, creating all of the essential molecules needed to reproduce itself, and then assembling these molecules into copies of itself, all through random chance, is hard to imagine ever happening even once in all of time in any place at all. For it to then operate in a way that positively reeks of intent, with the new DNA-based life rearranging the environment, changing the atmosphere, altering the climate, all of which led to a world where liquid water was common and the oxygen needed for complex life existed—and then accept that this all happened by chance—would require that we throw the laws of probability out the window and disregard it all.

Then, once this happened, for an entirely new form of life to come to exist, one that somehow sensed that oxygen was now available and took advantage of that oxygen, by random chance? No sane person would speculate on something so remote. Then, for the new living things to be organized in ways that utilize the energy with so close to the maximum efficiency that, for all intents and purposes, it is perfectly efficient? (The ATP/Krebs cycle is 98% efficient; perfect efficiency is 100%.) Finally, for the new living things to start reproducing in ways that appear to be designed to lead to evolution, all by random chance? It makes more sense to simply fall back on the primitive modes of thought that have been dominant for millions of years in human communities, and call it all magic.

If we are to be true scientists, we must discard these two possiblities for the origin of life on Earth, and the origin of humans:

 

1. It is magic.

2. It random chance.

 

(The first, because it is not scientific to claim something you don’t understand happened by magic; the second, because the probabilities of it happening are so remote it is not scientific to accept it as a reasonable option.) After we have thrown these two options our, the only thing that appears to remain is non-magical intelligent design. This is the only theory for the origin of life on Earth that is both scientific and is anything other than ‘impossibly unlikely.’

If we want further evidence for non-magical intelligent design, we can look beyond the numbers themselves to the basic realities of ‘life.’ The coded messages in DNA provide more evidence that it is not random: Even if nature decided to create something that looked like letters of the alphabet, it would not be very likely to arrange all of these letters into the form of a book that you could pick up and read, and which would make sense to us. The message coded into DNA can be read (with gene sequences) and it makes total sense.

What about the power source? How could the simple blue-green algae that first appeared on this world know that oxygen was needed for life with enough energy efficiency to reproduce into complex organisms that would evolve? Is it just a coincidence that the formerly hostile planet Earth—which could never have supported humans—got changed into the perfect environment for advanced life forms? Then, is it another coincidence that mitochondria—which were capable of providing energy to advanced life using this new oxygen—suddenly materialized, literally as soon as there was enough oxygen? Then, somehow, the new power source became the engines for all life that followed? This seems like an amazing thing to happen by chance.

The final evidence comes from the operating systems of living things. We know that there are three different sets of rules that living things follow on Earth. Although the ‘hardware’ is the same for all DNA-based life (DNA is the same and produces amino acids and proteins through the same mechanism), one of the pieces of software (operating system) allows its living thing to live entirely from solar energy and produce oxygen, without any need for oxygen itself. Another operating system appears to be the operating system for a power cell: you have trillions of these power cells in your body, generating the electricity and other energy that your body needs. These power cells have done what they do (they have ‘operated’) for the entire time oxygen-using life exists.

Then we have the most powerful operating system at all, the one that runs multi-celled, sexually-reproducing living things: Nature doesn’t create many thousands of different structural elements and then hook them up together so they work as one perfect machine through random chance. It would be like expecting nature to randomly create all of the different parts of a jet fighter, all hooked up so that the fighter would operate just like an intentionally-designed fighter. Then, to top this all off, we have the miracle of sexual reproduction, a process that creates a brand new organism each and every time it operates, the perfect conditions needed for evolution.

And what is wrong with the non-magical intelligent design theory?

Why resist it?

Why fight our minds when they try to tell us that it is the only scientific explanation for life on Earth that makes sense? Why not let our minds accept that it just might be right? It may not meet the requirements needed to be classified as a ‘belief set’ or a ‘religion,’ but it seems to meet the requirements needed to be a working scientific theory for realities of existence that are otherwise impossible to explain scientifically. We can then do what scientists do: examine this theory objectively to determine how accepting it would affect other important aspects of our existence.

If thinking entities that are subject to the same laws of science as ourselves created a package and sent it to Earth some 3.58 billion years ago, what does that tell us about the meaning of life? Why would anyone do this?

Books in this series

This book is a part of a series of four books about the important realities of human existence. They are:

1. Forensic History: uses new scientific tools and information sources to reconstruct the series of events that put the human race on the path it is now on. It explains how the realities of human existence came to be as they are. It focuses on the events led to the existence of the power structures that dominate the world today, including the entities called 'nations,' organized religions, and the massive and extremely powerful entities we call 'corporations.' These entities did not appear by magic. They came to exist as a result of decisions people made in the past. If we want to understand the realities of human existence, we have to understand who made these decisions, why they were made, and how the decisions made in the past have led to the realities that we see around us.

2. Possible Societies goes over the capabilities of the human race and the limitations we have for organizing the realities of our existence. It is an attempt to categorize all possible methods of organizing human existence—or all possible societies—in a methodological and organized way. Once we understand the different options we have for organizing societies, we can go over them to determine which of the options are able to meet our needs without constant problems such as war and unnecessary environmental destruction.

3. Reforming Societies: We were born onto a world that was organized in a very dangerous way. It was cut up with imaginary lines into the entities we call 'nations.' Each nation had formed a government which claimed that everything within that nation belonged to the people who were born inside the imaginary lines. Any society built on this foundation necessarily has very serious problems, which include powerful forces these entities surrounded by imaginary lines to engage in activities that are the most horrific destructive within the capability of any physical beings with the power to think on a rational level. The pressure to perform these horrible acts is so powerful that the industries devoted to war and the support of war, combined, make up the largest industries on Earth: More wealth, manpower, effort, skills, talents, capital, and resources are devoted to organized mass murder and destruction than any other activity on the planet. People have gone as far as building weapons that will destroy the planet if used and actually deployed these weapons, making them ready for instant use if certain circumstances arise. Given enough time, these circumstances are certain to arise.

What if we—the current members of the human race—decide we don't like these particular realities of existence? What if we decide we want some other destiny for our race (than extinction)? It is possible to organize the realities of our world in different ways. (Even children should realize this: humans need food, water, air, sleep, and protection from the elements; the imaginary lines that cut the world into 'nations' don't give us any of these things.)

But is it possible to actually build them?

If we know other methods of organizing the realities of human existence are possible, we can work out the exact structural differences between the realities of these other societies and the current realities of human existence.

We can figure out practical steps to take to change the form of ('reform') other societies. It explains the exact practical steps that ordinary people like you and I can take to put the human race on a path to one of these societies, if we should decide we want to do this.

4. The Meaning of Life explains why this matters. The societies we were born into must raise children to think a certain way so they will be willing to sacrifice for and participate in the wars that are an inherent part of societies built on the division of the world into 'nations.' To make them willing to participate, they must raise children to believe that there is a higher purpose behind the wars and behind the existence of the nations: They must make children believe that they were born to and exist to protect their nations, to respect the claimed founding principles, to honor the nation and, through ceremonies that all children are taught in schools, to even worship the nation, in the same way they are taught to worship the higher power that they were told created the nation. To make them do the horrible things that people must do to have wars, they must make children believe that this is the meaning of life and the reason they were born.

New scientific evidence is allowing us to put together messages that are encoded in our DNA and evident from the structures that are necessary for the process we call 'life' to exist in ways that can show us that there are scientifically acceptable and mathematically likely explanations for the existence of life on Earth that totally conflict with the premises taught to keep people willing to fight, kill, maim, cripple, destroy, risk and accept death for the benefits of the entities called 'nations.' If we accept science, logic, and reason, we can put together a picture of the meaning of existence that can help us see that the claimed reasons for existence that have been taught in schools and accepted for thousands of years are basically propaganda, created for the express purpose of allowing rationalization of horrific acts. If they could put together some rational picture of the reason we are here, people would not be willing to do the things that they spend their lives doing today.

What if we find there is a real meaning to our existence and it has nothing whatever to do with worshiping invisible superbeings or protecting nations? The entire rationalization for dividing the world into 'nations' and making war basically disappears. We must accept that the realities of existence on Earth are as they are because people made certain decisions. These people are no longer alive. We are here. We can make our own decisions. We can decide where we want to go from here and begin going there.

Books in this series

This book is a part of a series of four books about the important realities of human existence. They are:

1. Forensic History: uses new scientific tools and information sources to reconstruct the series of events that put the human race on the path it is now on. It explains how the realities of human existence came to be as they are. It focuses on the events led to the existence of the power structures that dominate the world today, including the entities called 'nations,' organized religions, and the massive and extremely powerful entities we call 'corporations.' These entities did not appear by magic. They came to exist as a result of decisions people made in the past. If we want to understand the realities of human existence, we have to understand who made these decisions, why they were made, and how the decisions made in the past have led to the realities that we see around us.

2. Possible Societies goes over the capabilities of the human race and the limitations we have for organizing the realities of our existence. It is an attempt to categorize all possible methods of organizing human existence—or all possible societies—in a methodological and organized way. Once we understand the different options we have for organizing societies, we can go over them to determine which of the options are able to meet our needs without constant problems such as war and unnecessary environmental destruction.

3. Reforming Societies: We were born onto a world that was organized in a very dangerous way. It was cut up with imaginary lines into the entities we call 'nations.' Each nation had formed a government which claimed that everything within that nation belonged to the people who were born inside the imaginary lines. Any society built on this foundation necessarily has very serious problems, which include powerful forces these entities surrounded by imaginary lines to engage in activities that are the most horrific destructive within the capability of any physical beings with the power to think on a rational level. The pressure to perform these horrible acts is so powerful that the industries devoted to war and the support of war, combined, make up the largest industries on Earth: More wealth, manpower, effort, skills, talents, capital, and resources are devoted to organized mass murder and destruction than any other activity on the planet. People have gone as far as building weapons that will destroy the planet if used and actually deployed these weapons, making them ready for instant use if certain circumstances arise. Given enough time, these circumstances are certain to arise.

What if we—the current members of the human race—decide we don't like these particular realities of existence? What if we decide we want some other destiny for our race (than extinction)? It is possible to organize the realities of our world in different ways. (Even children should realize this: humans need food, water, air, sleep, and protection from the elements; the imaginary lines that cut the world into 'nations' don't give us any of these things.)

But is it possible to actually build them?

If we know other methods of organizing the realities of human existence are possible, we can work out the exact structural differences between the realities of these other societies and the current realities of human existence.

We can figure out practical steps to take to change the form of ('reform') other societies. It explains the exact practical steps that ordinary people like you and I can take to put the human race on a path to one of these societies, if we should decide we want to do this.

4. The Meaning of Life explains why this matters. The societies we were born into must raise children to think a certain way so they will be willing to sacrifice for and participate in the wars that are an inherent part of societies built on the division of the world into 'nations.' To make them willing to participate, they must raise children to believe that there is a higher purpose behind the wars and behind the existence of the nations: They must make children believe that they were born to and exist to protect their nations, to respect the claimed founding principles, to honor the nation and, through ceremonies that all children are taught in schools, to even worship the nation, in the same way they are taught to worship the higher power that they were told created the nation. To make them do the horrible things that people must do to have wars, they must make children believe that this is the meaning of life and the reason they were born.

New scientific evidence is allowing us to put together messages that are encoded in our DNA and evident from the structures that are necessary for the process we call 'life' to exist in ways that can show us that there are scientifically acceptable and mathematically likely explanations for the existence of life on Earth that totally conflict with the premises taught to keep people willing to fight, kill, maim, cripple, destroy, risk and accept death for the benefits of the entities called 'nations.' If we accept science, logic, and reason, we can put together a picture of the meaning of existence that can help us see that the claimed reasons for existence that have been taught in schools and accepted for thousands of years are basically propaganda, created for the express purpose of allowing rationalization of horrific acts. If they could put together some rational picture of the reason we are here, people would not be willing to do the things that they spend their lives doing today.

What if we find there is a real meaning to our existence and it has nothing whatever to do with worshiping invisible superbeings or protecting nations? The entire rationalization for dividing the world into 'nations' and making war basically disappears. We must accept that the realities of existence on Earth are as they are because people made certain decisions. These people are no longer alive. We are here. We can make our own decisions. We can decide where we want to go from here and begin going there.

Keywords: Keywords: meaning of life, the meaning of life, why we are here, who made us, where did we come from, is religion right, is religion lies, lies in religion, extraterrestrial life, life on other worlds, panspermia, spermogeneisis, possible societies, possiblesocieties.net, alternative societies, better societies, utopia, utopias, utopian societies, building better worlds, rebuilding societies, repairing societies, reforming societies, ReformingSocieties.com, non-destructive societies, nondestructive societies, fixing war, ending pollution, ending depletion, making the world a better place, leasehold ownership, private ownership, government ownership, corporate ownership, preventing extinction.