Development’s Direction? – Inevitable Cultural Maturity or a Statistical Aberration?

      Comments Off on Development’s Direction? – Inevitable Cultural Maturity or a Statistical Aberration?

GEN Gathering August 2016 Session Slides:       Development as Statistical Aberration

References:            Development as Statistical Aberration References
Session Handout:  
Development as Statistical Aberration Handout

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?

GravesMomentous 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.

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 TalebThe 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.

Date Population:
2.5% in Millions Max  City size Innovation & Communication
-3000 14 0.4 80K Cuneiform, pyramids
-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)
1000 290 7.3 1M Algebra (Baghdad)
1100 311 7.8 200K Crusades, Saladin
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
1600 562 14 300K Newton, Harvey
1700 645 16 500K steam engine, Bach
1750 764 19 600K Mozart
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
1940 2,300 58 Atomic Energy
1950 2,556 64 Eliot Jaques, Maslow
1960 3,039 76 space program, Graves ECLET
1970 3,707 93 Reaching Critical Mass for Innovation
Click here to download this table
1980 4,454 111
1990 5,278 132
2000 6,081 152
2010 6,840 171
2020 7,570 189 

GEN Gathering August 2016