Notebook Entries, Aug. 2002

Notebook entry, August 29, 2002 ----

It's not official yet, but it appears that the Alpha male I mentioned last in notebook entry, June 11, 2002 has fallen from grace and has been given a administrative leave of absence.  (a fancy wording for "getting fired") until further investigations are completed.  According to rumor, On August 18th he appeared for worked but was escorted into the office and then was seen leaving the building (facts are never given by management) It seems that my good friend was punching on the time clock a female friend in exchange for sexual favors. A big no-no.  Errrrr....punching in someone else on the time clock, that is.  It's looked upon as a form a thievery.  The latest is that he will be allowed to keep his job but that he will have to leave the station where I worked and not be allowed to return for three years.  In evolutionary terms, the alpha male is being exiled from the forest and has to start all over again into establishing himself in a new hierarchy.  The big bully boy will be sorely missed by yours truly, as I have learned much from the experience. I have learned much in regards as to why alliances are created and what holds them together at my local environment. And I will take that experience and teach others.  Yes, I will.

Notebook entry, August 22, 2002

An interesting article in Time magazine by Eugen Linden, August 19th, 2002 issue, p. 56. Title: The Wife Beaters of Kibale: The author of a new book offers a glimpse of evolution in action, as chimps in Uganda take up arms. Basically the article describes the cultural habit of a chimpanzee clan in Kibale, Uganda when the males beat their females with sticks. The article begins with a trip to the Peabody Museum in Cambride, Mass to meet Carole Hooven, a young graduate student in biological anthropology, and professor Richard Wrangham, her mentor. Ricahard is author of Demonic Males.  Most interesting.  I can't wait till the graduate students determine that  the various sexual behavior exhibited by various chimpanzee clans is cultural and not biological in origin. That will blow the socks off the anthropology world like the discovery of infanticide by Blafer back in the 1970s.

Notebook entry, August 15, 2002

I forgot to mention.  Just after writing the review on Evolution and the Capacity for Commitment, I received a email from a New York Times reporter. I thought that it best to decline as I thought his readers deserved the best credentialed source for their information. It's tough to do knowing that I could have received some extra exposure, but it's also the right thing to do as well.  Below, is his original email, my response where I suggested Randy Nesse, and then his reply to my decline on top. Sigh.

thanks a lot ... I'll try Nesse...


At 05:25 PM 8/14/2002 -0600, you wrote:
>I'm sorry, but I will have to decline your offer for an interview.  It's not
>that I don't have an evolutionary perspective on the subject, it just that I
>don't believe I'm qualified enough to give a credentialed opinion.  Please
>read my personal web page --  you'll understand.
>Why don't you try Professor
>Randolph M. Nesse?  -- here's his personal web site....I think it has his
>phone number inside.
>http://www-personal.umich.edu/~nesse/  Randy has enough credentials to sink
>a battleship.  He is a psychiatrist and a psychologist, plus he just gave a
>talk at the recent HBES (Human Behavior and Evolution Society)  conference
>in June on his commitment movement.  He is held in very high regard with the
>society. Or you can try his email at nesse@umich.edu
>Perhaps, some other time in the future?
>Best Regards,
>William  A.  Spriggs
>Evolution's Voyage
>----- Original Message -----
>From: "Warren St. John" <stjohn@nytimes.com>
>To: <wspriggs@evoyage.com>
>Sent: Wednesday, August 14, 2002 12:30 PM
>Subject: question from a NY Times reporter
> > Hi --
> >
> > I'm writing a piece for the Times about science of Schadenfreude (pegged
> > to the widespread delight over the fall of corporate rogues). I have a
> > number of social psychologists talking about the mechanics of
> > (how it is motivated by envy, and/or a desire for "justice") and I'd like
> > to have an evolutionary psychologist talk about what is or isn't known
> > about the evolutionary development of comparitive emotions like
> > Schadenfreude. Any chance I could interview you? My deadline is Thursday.
> >
> > thanks,
> > Warren St. John
> >
> >
> > -----------------------------
> > Warren St. John
> > Reporter
> > The New York Times
> > 229 West 43rd Street
> > New York, NY 10036
> > 212.556.3685
> > stjohn@nytimes.com

Notebook entry, August 14, 2002

All while these events were occurring -- my mother's death, the political campaign activities, I did manage to finish reading and reviewing Randy Nesse's book Evolution and the Capacity for Commitment.  Here is his reaction to my review in an email, dated Aug. 12th, 2002.

My goodness, what a comprehensive and enthusiastic and knowledgeable review!  Thanks so much.  You will help some people to understand the book better.  I think you may see my motives more astutely than I do.  I keep trying to give equal billing to both the nice and the nasty sides of commitment, but as you suggest, my deeper motive is to show how selection can shape a capacity for genuine goodness, without resorting to anything other that plain old natural selection.  I am not sure we are a movement yet, but we are on the way.  The most important thing is the research that is beginning.  We asked hundreds of people about the most generous thing they ever did, or the most generous act they ever befitted from.  Guess what? When we asked them what the motives were, they almost to a person said, "that is just what friends do"

  Thanks again,

Randolph M. Nesse, M.D.
Professor of Psychiatry, Professor of Psychology
Senior Research Scientist, RCGD, Institute for Social Research
The University of Michigan

Notebook entry, August 13, 2002

My political candidate, Mike Feeley, won the Democratic Primary for the new 7th Congressional District. I spent the evening at the campaign headquarters. Pretty exciting stuff to be on the winning side. Reporters, cameras, lights, happy faces, etc. The losing candidate, Dave Thomas, came over to give a concession speech around 930pm.

However, the opponent in the November elections is the former head of the Colorado State Republican committee. I except the campaign to be somewhat negative in tone.  Diana and I have put in for November 5th off from work and expect to be at the headquarters and doing "go-fer" work all day.

Notebook entry, August 6, 2002. 

U.S. News and World Report is considered a moderate to conservative magazine.  Yet in a cover story about "The New Reality of Evolution, July 29, 2002, title of the article: A Theory Evolves: How evolution really works, and why it matters more than ever, by Thomas Hayden p.,43 the magazine let pass what I consider something very important  that I believe it would not have done in the past: It called evolution a science, and not a theory.  Here is the opening paragraph: "When scientists introduced the world to humankind's earliest known ancestor two weeks ago (see my notebook entry, July 30, 2002), they showed us more than a mere museum piece.  Peering at the 7 million-year-old skull is almost like seeing a reflection of our earlier selves. And yet that fossil represents only a recent chapter in a grander story, beginning with the first single-celled life that arose and began evolving some 3.8 billion years ago. NOW, AS THE SCIENCE OF EVOLUTION MOVES BEYOND GUESSWORK, WE ARE LEARNING SOMETHING EVEN MORE REMARKABLE: HOW THAT TALE UNFOLDED." (Capital emphasis mine). The article offers a general quick review of the history of evolution, but emphasizes the work that has been done with genetics, and genetic engineering.

However, true to its Christian connections, on p. 52, the same magazine, offers salvation in the form of "intelligent design." Title: Life's Grand Design: A new breed of anti-evolutionists credits it to an unnamed intelligence. " Basically, intelligent design is creationism without the view that the Earth is only six thousand years old.  It also has no problem with the fact that humans evolved from primates; it just disputes how.  The bottom-line for both: that some complex examples of life could not have possibly evolved through random selection. This departure of not calling evolution a theory leaves many bible fundamentalist with no porch to sit on to chew the fat. They really miss that old time religion with the God's Masculine Authority-To Human Male as Captain of the Ship-Then to Subservient  Female- Then to Obeying and Honoring Child - Then to Animals (and minorities) Hierarchy. The problem, as they see it, is once their authority is challenged, (such as their word that evolution is just a theory), then its a slippery slope of others not believing the rest of their doctrine. They see science as taking them farther away from their God.

I believe it is the other way around.  I believe that science is taking us closer to God, not farther away. It is just that my concept of God is a bit different that the old time religions of the past. But, what do I know, I'm just a mailman -- a messenger.