Notebook entry, March 26, 2001

Some very interesting news from the gender wars today in The New York Times as reported by Jonathan D. Glater.  The story appeared in The Denver Post, front page, top fold: Women Set to Dominate Law Schools: Women are expected to be in the majority this fall and that has wonderful implications for our future society here in America. As the number of women with law degrees continues to grow, they may be more likely to pursue careers in business and politics, where legal training has often served as a springboard to positions of power.To quote a one Carol Gilligan, a Harvard University psychologist who teaches at New York University Law School: "Women may go to medical school, and that's good for a variety of reason, but that doesn't affect the structure of our society."  

Our species has a long way to go to meet its potential of creating a world in which we respect all aspects of our diverse cultures and realize that diversity is the key to a strong genetic makeup; it would be that diverse makeup  that would make it stronger against potential hazards.   We will never get there on our present course with the male in control and the women who support them in the degrees that our past history has given us.  With women in charge, things would not be the same as they are now. Keeping your fingers crossed or praying for our species could help, but having more women in political office would help tremendously.  More women lawyers is a start.

Notebook entry, March 22, 2001

Big news story in The New York Times by John Noble Wilford today as reported in The Denver Post, 3/22/01: Human Family Tree Grows Unruly. p.1a.

A 3.5 million-year-old skull found in Africa is from an entirely new branch of the early human family tree, with upsets the prevailing view that a single line of descent stretched through the early stages of human ancestry. 

The discovery was made in 1999 on the western side of Lake Turkana in northern Kenya by a research team led by Meave G. Leakey.  Because of the flattened face and small molars, Leakey has given the name of the hominid Kenyanthropus platyops, (Flatfaced man of Kenya). Quoting Leakey in the journal Nature: "Kenyanthropus shows persuasively that at least two lineages existed as far back as 3.5 million years.  The early stages of human evolution are more complex than we previously thought."

Notebook entry, March 21, 2001

Newsweek is out this week and includes a nice three page spread on cultures in animal species. It is a delight to see more on this in the popular magazines. Wait till they digest the data and conclude that sexual practices among some primates may be cultural! -- that will be worth reading about in Time and Newsweek!

 I even learned a bit about whales and their diving practices.  It is the March 26, 2001 issue, p. 48. Title: Culture Club: Birds do it; Chimps do it; Whales do it: engage in rituals and pass on the traditions about how they eat, greet, use tools and even dance. By Sharon Begley.  You go girl.

Notebook entry, March 18, 2001

I've added a new Territorial Signpost posting that I feel you will find most interesting.  It is a story about two cities that figure prominently in Colorado's gold-mining history, and I feel, empirically gives evidence of human territoriality that I have been attempting to establish.  You will find the new posting under Territorial Signposts which falls under the Politics and Evolution section.  You may go to the new posting by clicking here.

Notebook entry, March 16, 2001

An Interesting story from Associated Press about the English Language and dyslexia. Study: English Compounds Dyslexia, by Paul Recer, as found in The Denver Post, March 16,2001, p. 11a.  Basically, the story tells us that English-speaking children with dyslexia have a more difficult time in learn the their language than other non English-speaking children. English-speaking children most learn more than 1,100 ways that letters in the written language are used to symbolize the 40 sound in the spoken language. Compare that with Italian-speaking students who have to learn 33 sounds that represent only 25 letters or letter combinations. The study was done by an international team in Italy, France, and England.

The researchers noted that identified dyslexics are rare in Italy because the language helps learning readers to quickly overcome problems caused by the disorder. 

Dyslexia involves a brain structure that makes it hard for a learning reader to connect verbal sounds with the letters or symbols that "spell" that sound.  Such connections are essential to learning to read. 

Notebook entry, March 14, 2001

Tragedy has struck again in our nation's high schools with another outbreak of shooting violence, and once again I have to update one of my essays. On March 5, 2001, one Charles Andy Williams of Santana High School brought to school his father's hand gun and began shooting from the men's bathroom killing two and injuring 13; swift response from the police most likely prevented more deaths and injuries. Those who considered themselves friends of the shooter told police that the frail and very pale-skinned 15-year-old freshman was repeatedly bullied since moving to California in 2000. Please make a mental note of the shooter's size: He is 5'4" tall, and weighs only 115 lbs.

There has emerged one thing different in the popular press about the Santana High School shooting because the common thread of bullying and teasing that has been present in all of the recent shootings, and had been rejected, re-emerges from all the statistics and media coverage to stand alone. The only question that remains to taunt us is the same question that the FBI raised when Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold who killed 12 students, one teacher, and themselves at Columbine High School in the spring of 1999: "Why, if their motive was rage at the athletes who taunted them, didn't they take their guns and bombs to the locker room? Because retaliation against specific people was not the point. Because this may have been about celebrity as much as cruelty. 'They wanted to be famous,' concludes FBI agent Mark Holstlaw. And they are. They're infamous.'" Time magazine, Dec 20, 1999. We still don't know the details abut the Santana shooting, but it appears that the shooter was also shooting randomly at anyone within range of his firearm; it raises the same question: why did he not seek out and harm the people who had abused him?

The answer to me is very simple: the shooters were angry at the "total socialization process" that allowed the bullies to do their work of making their lives miserable while they operated in open knowledge of the whole school; that includes officials, teachers, and fellow students. It would make sense that any behavior "allowed" to exist, would therefore be encouraged, while any behavior "discouraged" would have mechanisms to stop those behaviors. It has been empirically established that the Columbine High School football team yearbook picture was in color while the international debating team's photo was in black and white; this sets up the establishment of "physical strength is better and intellectual smart not as good" behavior amongst students, and as such, such behavior (as in knocking people around and making them submit to one's will) is rewarded. This is despite sworn testimony from the high school's principle, Frank DeAngelis, a former high school coach, that no "bullying" took place at his high school. Emphasis was on the "glory" that the football team brought to the school, while intellectual achievement took a back seat. Was Columbine any different than most high schools in this "long live the Jock" mentality?

Our brains have evolved from evolutionary origins which formed in our early hominid bands of hunter-gatherer groups. Most activities then were settled in the open spaces where the group lived, and most disputes of food, mate selection, and status were determined by violent behavior of strong over weak. It is my theory that these shootings when the 'revenge' factor is cited, are really extensions of emotional outbursts, a crying out for help, seeking a "grievance" judgment from members of the group, and a possible cessation of the humiliating activity. To me the striking back were attempts to express the frustrations, anger, and grievance failure procedures that the shooters felt. The striking out and shooting at random are examples of transmitting messages to those in their group: We were abused, why did you not care? Why did you not come to our aid? Why have you ignored us? Why have you left us behind? 

Ridiculous? Not really. What do you thing the police officer was trying to convey to the Haitian immigrant he was sodomizing with a boom stick handle in a famous case in New York City? It was a message to all black-Haitians that one group ( the police) was dominate and that all in your group (the Haitian-Americans) should obey and be submissive. I know that I am speculating here, but Group Messaging should be studied in more detail before we can confirm the empirical nature of the beast. I know that it is there.

The random shootings are also saying to the whole group: "WHY DIDN'T YOU DO SOMETHING TO STOP THEM FROM HUMILIATING US?" It is also possible that it was a message to the group that 'your admiration of the jock culture most likely gave encouragement to the jocks to humiliate us.' The shootings by students today to express there anger, most likely was a very rare occurrence of group messaging in our humanoid past -- yet a very effective method of letting the entire group know of the severity of the infractions. It is only the modern "evolved genius" of humankind's ability to invent handguns and assault weapons -- and the political climate that makes them easily available -- that separates us from our "low intelligent" animal ancestors -- plus the saturation of media coverage that gives an overwhelmingness to all of these terrible events. The behaviors have not basically changed, but the technology and the knowledge of their happenings have greatly changed.

A second part of answering the FBI question of why not target the tormentors is that perhaps Klebold and Harris were "fearful" that the jocks would dismantle their plans: Anger at someone 'other' may also be anger at 'oneself' for not being able to stop the humiliation because the submissive knows that they would lose in any confrontation. If fear is present in the human emotional perception, then "fear avoidance" could easily dominate one's actions. If Klebold and Harris went directly to the locker rooms for revenge, perhaps they could easily have been stopped in their tracks by their "jock" tormentors. If that were the case, then there could have been even greater humiliation; hence we can begin to understand their not targeting the jocks.

This brings us to an interesting question: Why is it that the FBI did not see the common thread of bullying in all of the shootings. Or, if they did notice, why did they emphasis the guilt of the shooters over the guilt of the bullies that created the shooting action? Why is it that our society gives freedoms of actions to some in our society, while ignoring others and their "bad" behaviors? (Jail sentencing for crack cocaine, a black favorite, vs. suspended sentences for users power cocaine, a white favorite, is a perfect example). It is an important question because it goes to the heart of my theories that we are an exclusionary society that does not want to admit that it excludes individuals based on their size, weight, sexual orientation, skin color, or gender. I am not for one minute saying that the shooters had the right to harm anyone; that is an established ethnic value handed down to us from God, but I refuse to give up the argument that not enough is being done to protect those that are publicly humiliated with impurity while law-enforcement officials shrug off the innate, internal pain of those being humiliated. The time of being told to sit down, shut up, and take your lumps for the benefit for others who do not deserve special exemptions is over.

If Klebold and Harris were trained in the rough-and-tumble environment of the FBI where physical and mental training has taught individuals to defend themselves and use force to subdue perpetrators, perhaps they would not be afraid of the "Jocks." But, then if they know how to defend themselves against bullies, then perhaps there would have been no Columbine tragedy. .  Somehow the investigation of the Jock's bullying, if it was considered, was never given much credence. And why? because it is the culture (think of our society admiration of the Super Bowl -- the money spent on commercials per minute, and the individuals involved -- now recall that Andy Williams was only 5'4" and 115 lbs) that dominates and provides the recourses to those that share those beliefs. Our society does not want the "losers" to get an even break. No one wants to admit it, including the FBI, but that is what is happening. Think about it. What is wrong with the FBI assessment is that they see the actions of "losers" as anti-social beings -- and energy and resources are not spent on "losers" -- or so the culture seem to prevail.

Right now, the conservative-leaning house Representative, Tom Tancredo, whose district includes Columbine, has brought a proposal before congress to fund a national toll-free hot line for students to report anyone who voices that they are going to use violence in their schools. I agree to any method that stops violence, but if tax-payers dollars are going to be used for a "snitch" line, then there ought to be a toll-free line to report bullying and failure by school officials to stop such behaviors. The Denver Post, in an editorial, asked basically the same question: "While bullying is no justification for slaughter, we wonder if nobody in at Santana high noticed that the suspect was being tormented? Why didn't his friend report this to school officials? The Denver Post, March 8, 2001, p.10B.

You will find my original essay on the Columbine High School shootings, dated May 10, 1999, and this update at: The Littleton shootings: An Evolutionary Perspective