December 1999 Notebook Entries

Notebook entry, December 26, 1999

I hope that all of you had a good holiday.  Mine was busy as usual.   My wife and I were both kept busy delivering all those packages that you electronic pioneers have sent through the system by ordering online.  My daughter is in town, but we have yet to see her as she is spending the religious part of the holiday with her biological mother. But, despite the hectic activity, I was still moved to work on THE BOOK.  I finished the fifth chapter and began the sixth.  Plan to have about seven, eight, or nine chapters.  Hope to finish it by the end of January and prepare the launch sometime next spring. It is some of my best work, and the fingers are flying over the keys.  I feel bad about not adding to the web site, but  the site will hold for quite a long time on what is there now.  I have to grow and expand.

2nd item.  BusinessWeek issue December 27, 1999 & January 3, 2000, p.52, Under the News: Analysis & Commentary the story is about a poll taken about how Americans feel about the current economic condition. "Hey, What About Us?"  Highlights of some of the article:

There are some disturbing numbers in these polls.  As Michelle Conlin writes in the article: "It's the puzzling anomaly of the New Economy.  In the greatest period of wealth creation in U.S. history, the average American, it seems, is living in another era."  Quoting Princeton University economist Henry Farber: "In the real world, people are still living from paycheck to paycheck.  The tremendous wealth creation has by and large gone to the people at the top." The bottom line in Ms. Conlin's piece, is this: "Whatever the motive or the justification, these sentiments are bound to find their way into the political dialogue.  Already, signs of a populist tilt are apparent.  The promise of campaign reform and opposition to mega tax cuts that benefit the rich by self-styled outsiders Bill Bradley and John McCain appeals to anti-Big Business, anti-Belt-way voters."

As for the evolutionary perspective,  the "populist tilt" is nothing more than my theory of The Resource Differential Intolerance Ratio.  Which basically says that a peaceful co-existence is created when those without resources accept  the current situation with those that do have resources.  When those with more recourses begin to have even more resources, and those that do not notice a widening gap, there is a tension that builds because those that do not have resources feel threatened that their existence is in jeopardy. And that implies an innate universality.  Oh, well, time and debate will prove the theory.  In any case, you can read more about it in my Capitalism essay.  Click the word Capitalism and it will take you to the essay. 

Notebook entry, December 15, 1999

The January 2000 issue of Scientific American was in the mail today.  Ian Tattersall has the cover story, "Once We Were Not Alone," on p.56.  It's an update on his theories concerning emerging Homo sapiens and the 15 other species that co-evolved out-of-Africa. There are excellent illustrations by  Jay H. Matternes, except the one of the hunting family depicted in a cave of southern France -- strange, their features all look like the all-American family of the 90's.

Notebook entry, December 14, 1999

Business Week, December 20, 1999 issue has a book review of Howard Gardner's new book, The Brain's Many Mansions, Basic Books. The review is by Paul Raeburn, Senior Editor who covers science and the environment.  Basically, it sounds pretty much like his 1983 book, Frames of Mind.  In fact, Raeburn suggests that the new book would be better as an introduction to the theory of multiple intelligences. What Garnder has theorized are similar to what evolutionary psychologists label "algorithmic modules," I say similar, because to me they represent a higher level of ACCUMULATED behavioral modules that brain relies on to process information of a SPECIFIC subject; be the subject one small detail, or several specific details.   Gardner's theory arose from working with stroke patients in the mornings and gifted students in the afternoon while as a  psychologist at Harvard. Raeburn quotes Gardner: "Both of the populations I was working with were clueing me into the same message: that the human mind is better thought of as a series of relatively separate faculties, with only loose and unpredictable relations with one another, rather than as a single, all-purpose machine."  As a reminder to readers, the seven intelligences that Gardner has identified are: Linguistic; Logical-mathematical; musical; bodily-kinesthetic (dancer, or surgeon); spatial (graphic art, pilots, and architects); Intrapersonal (the capacity to understand oneself).

Notebook entry, December 12, 1999

New Yorker  magazine, issue date: December 13, 1999. Robert Wright takes a poke at Steven Jay Gould under an article heading of: "REPUTATIONS." Article title: " The Accidental Creationist: Why Stephen Jay Gould is Bad for Evolution.  This article is nothing more than cocktail conversation fodder for the elite social set as it tries to diminish Mr. Gould's strong opposition to the silly theories of creationists and their ardent supporters.  Mr. Wright feels that Mr. Gould's observations that since "the sequence of local environments in any one place should be effectively random through geological time -- the seas come in and the seas go out, the weather gets colder, then hotter, etc.  If organisms are tracking local environments by natural selection, then their evolutionary history should be effectively random as well." From this statement, Mr. Wright concludes that the randomness of Gould's theory of sporadic starts and spurts for evolution helps to give the creationists a crack into which they can introduce the "facts" of creation, and as such, Mr. Gould is bad for evolution and good for the creationists.  Buffalo droppings..  Anyone who keeps up with the evolutionary community knows that Mr. Gould is no friend of creationists or "Young Earth" supporters.  Stay turned for the rebuttal in an issue soon to your newsstands.  I suppose that this is the way elites have "savage" struggles that substitute for sex and violence down here at the lower socioeconomic end of the real world.  Perhaps it is nothing more than the New Yorker trying to increase its sales similar to cable news and broadcast networks are introducing more sleaze in their programs to compete against the encroaching cable network programming.

I did like one particular long paragraph in which I would like to quote from the essay.  Wright writes: "Early in this century, biological progressivism was dear to the hearts of social Darwinists, who used evolution to justify racism, imperialism, and a laissez-faire indifference to poverty.  Part of the logic behind social Darwinism -- to the extent that it had a coherent logic-- was something like the following: The suffering, even death, of the weak at the hands of the strong is an example of "survival of the fittest." And surely the "survival of the fittest." has God's blessing.  After all, He built the dynamic into His great creative process, natural selection. And how do we know that natural selection is God's handiwork?  Because of its inexorable tendency to create organisms as majestic as ourselves, organisms worthy of admission to Heaven.  In short, biological progressivism was used to deify nature in all of its aspects, and nature, thus deified, was invoked in support of oppression." p.59  Then Mr. Wright makes, what I consider, a fatal flaw in his essay.  He writes: "This variant of social Darwinism -- which infers political and moral value from the direction of evolution -- has been essentially dead for a long time." In my opinion, Wright continues in the next paragraph by inflicting another fatal stab at his own authority of political knowledge.  He attacks Gould by writing: "His war against progressivism, it seems, is waged partly to vanquish a religious right that died out long ago."  Not so, my good man.  In fact, the religious right is as active today as ever, and I am very hard pressed to believe that this well-studied and important writer made such naive statements. It casts a shadow of doubt over his entire essay.  Too bad.  We owe Mr. Wright much for his popular book, The Moral Animal, which has given much life to evolutionary psychology.

Notebook entry, December 6, 1999

A Los Angeles Times report by Eric Lichtblau tells us the story of the Milton S. Eisenhower Foundation updated report on poverty and violence in America.   The first report, nearly three decades ago,  found America is moving backward in fighting these ills and remains "a society in deep trouble."  The report continued, stating that violence is much more prevalent today than 30 years ago, and the odds of dying in a violent crime remain much higher in the USA than any other industrialized nation, due in part because the number of firearms has doubled to 200 million.  Worse yet, crime has been exacerbated by a "vast and shameful inequality in income, wealth and opportunity."

2nd item.  The Associated Press newswire story tells us about violent crime committed by males and females.  Women commit about 2.1 million violent crimes each year.  By comparison, men commit about 13 million violent crimes each year.  The figures was based on averages for the years 1993-1997 as measured in the annual National Crime Victimization Survey of about 100,000.  "This report shows that women are where men were during the 1960s and 1970s, using their fists when they commit violent assaults," says Jack Levin, a professor of sociology and criminology at Northeastern University in Boston.

The newswire concluded with: Women comprise almost 52 percent of the population, so the totals mean that there is one violent male offender for every nine males age 10 or older, compared with one violent female offender for every 56 women age 10 or older.

It is the first time in my 40 plus years of reading the daily paper that I can recall seeing statistics based on gender.  I feel that it is a major breakthrough, and in my slightly delusional state, feel that my "Male Criminal Mind," essay, which has been online since 1996, may just have had something to do with it.

You can read this early essay of mine by clicking here.