GEN Gathering August 2016 Session Slides: Development as Statistical Aberration
Stephen Jay Gould – Full House: The Spread of Excellence from Plato to Darwin
Is Evolution Going Somewhere?
Since Darwin’s time, conventional wisdom holds that evolution by natural selection has led inexorably to the development of more complex lifeforms, leading inevitably to the development of Homo sapiens, or at least some sentient species. Ken Wilber, in his integral theory, takes this further to claim the evolution of the universe has been a path of ever-increasing complexity from hydrogen atoms, to heavy elements to molecules, to single-celled living organisms, to complex life, to sentient life.
In “Full House”, paleontologist Stephen Gould claims that this view is a misinterpretation of the statistics of non-normal distributions, especially those distributions that bunch at a physical limit and then skew out in the other direction. In fact, the majority of organisms that have ever lived are single celled, and there is no direct evolutionary chain from the most advanced organism in each era to the next set of more advanced organisms. It’s not a tree of life, but rather a bush with mostly dead-end twigs.
Human development is a highly skewed. While it is certainly true that tens of Millions of people may be progressing beyond post-modern to a more systemic world view, these culturally mature are heavily concentrated among privileged elites. If we look at the rest of the world where western elites don’t go and clearly don’t understand, we see a couple of billion people in poverty-generated arrested development. If we take an honest look at statistics on cultural development, we see billions at the current world modal development level of “them vs us”. What do you think generates ISIS (ISIL)?
If we look at birth rates in less-developed cultures we see that many negative cultural behaviors have huge inertia and high birth rates are doubling and tripling the number of low-development people in the culture each generation. These cultures have been expanding over the last half century at a much faster rate than post post-modern capacity is growing.
Does evolution inevitably lead to complex life-forms? Is human development headed towards ever-increasing capacity for larger numbers of people? Perhaps; but Stephen Gould suggests biological complexity is not inexorable development, but merely a statistical aberration. As increasing population and longer life span creates larger absolute numbers at higher development levels, at least among affluent elites, it’s easy to think humans as a whole approach a higher development level. Can we discount the billions still trapped in poverty-driven low-capacity cultures?
Are those of us fascinated by development and the apparent trend towards higher development levels just fixated on the highly skewed tail of a non-normal distribution? Could the natural human condition be exactly what we observe today: billions clustered at lowest levels and the privileged few we see at modern/self-authored, post-modern/self-transforming and beyond a mere statistical fluke signifying no trend to increasing capacity? Can we raise the center of gravity of the whole or are we just working with heavy tail outliers?
Graves – Momentous Leap?
- The Never Ending Quest: Dr. Clare W. Graves Explores Human Nature: A Treatise on an emergent cyclical…– 2005
by Dr. Clare W. Graves (Author), Christopher Cowan & Natasha Todorovic (Editors)
- Levels of Human Existence -2002
A transcription of a seminar with Dr. Clare W. Graves explaining his Emergent Cyclical Levels of Existence theory of adult personality.
- Clare W. Graves: His Life and His Work
- Human Nature Prepares for a Momentous Leap
Deutsch – Constructor Theory
Kurzweil – Technology Evolution “The Singularity” & Speech Recognition
Charles Johnston – Cultural Maturity
Steven Pinker – Human Progress Quantified
Elliott Jaques – Science Based Management – Individual Capability
Nassim Nicholas Taleb – The Black Swan
Reaching Critical Mass for Innovation
Innovation researchers suggest that affluence, education, city size and ease of communicating ideas all correlate with increased levels of technical and cultural change.
|2.5% in Millions||Max City size||Innovation & Communication|
|-1000||50||1.3||100K||Phoenician alphabet, Chinese Hanzi characters|
|-500||100||2.5||300K||Buddha / Athens / Confucius / Mayans / geometry|
|1||211||5.3||1M||Christ / Roman Republic|
|500||198||5.0||1M||Muhammad, Zero-decimal (Constantinople)|
|1200||380||9.5||200K||Francis of Assisi, Thomas Aquinas, Magna Carta|
|1300||396||9.9||400K||Van Eyck, Dante|
|1400||362||9.1||200K||da Vinci, Gutenberg , Chinese exploration|
|1500||473||12||300K||Galileo, Michelangelo, Columbus, Luther|
|1700||645||16||500K||steam engine, Bach|
|1800||945||24||900K||telegraph, Lister (London)|
|1850||1,234||31||2.3M||Darwin, Freud, Verne|
|1900||1,654||41||telephone, radio, electric power, Curie|
|1910||1,750||44||cars, Einstein, Jung|
|1920||1,860||47||airplanes, Picasso, quantum mechanics|
|1930||2,070||52||Wernher von Braun – Rockets|
|1950||2,556||64||Eliot Jaques, Maslow|
|1960||3,039||76||space program, Graves ECLET|
|1970||3,707||93||Reaching Critical Mass for Innovation
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GEN Gathering August 2016