Invasive Species
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23-04-2013, 02:16 PM
RE: Invasive Species
To, everyone.

I'll preface all of this with this. Read ISHMAEL by Daniel Quinn.

It will alter your life.

Hey, Full.

Thanks for the props Smile

Now...

A lot of people have said things in response to your elephant post. I'm gonna let all of those exchanges stand because if I didn't I'd be here for the next day writing responses. So I'm just going to respond to you. Hopefully my response will touch on what some people have been saying and hopefully I'll be able to present the coming torrent of information in a manner that is easy to unpack.

Humans ARE an invasive species. The nuance is that we slowly migrated into new niches. Other species do that too. And if the process is slow enough, the receiving ecosystem has a chance to adjust. The difference between humans and other organisms is that we are intensely adaptable. So we can enter new niches rapidly. There have certainly been casualties as a result of the human migration from Africa. The woolly mammoth, the woolly rhinoceros, the cave bear, the Cyprus pygmy hippopotamus, and the gigantic deer known as the Irish Elk (source: EO Wilson "The Future of Life"). All of that being said, humans are highly adaptable. Meaning that they can enter a new niche and, while becoming the apex predator, can insinuate themselves into the system without too much damage. This is why the instances of ecosystem collapse as a result of the African exodus are relatively low.

So yeah, the megafauna didn't do to well in our wake simply because prior to our arrival they really didn't have to worry about predators and so had inadequate defenses against human hunters, but for tens of thousands of years, we managed to enter new ecosystems around the world and rapidly found ways to become partners within them. For the vast majority of the history of the human species, from Homo habilus all the way through to Homo sapiens, aside from the megafauna that we killed, we've been as benign a force as any other species.

This, of course, changed.

The problem wasn't entering new ecosystems. The problem was what we did differently thousands of years after entering them.

The agricultural revolution ten thousand years ago allowed us to become sedentary. We promoted the regrowth of species we liked to eat and that we could use to our advantage. This too was relatively benign for another 5 000 years.

Because we were sedentary, we began making permanent structures and generating larger and larger food surpluses. This meant that groups could no longer divide and go their separate ways.

Division was important. Robin Dunbar determined that humans can maintain meaningful interpersonal relationships with 75 people at the ideal and 150 at the extreme. So when band tribes approached 150, they'd undergo mitosis (winding up at around the ideal population of 75) and go their separate ways. This allowed us to use interpersonal relationships and kin selection to maintain an egalitarian organisational structure.

As food supplies increased and populations rose beyond the Dunbar number, interpersonal relationships and kin selection were no longer sufficient to govern the organisation. The first societies that rose above the Dunbar number, to about 300 people, were called chieftancies. These were the first instances of hierarchy. But they were not full-blown civilisation. Many chieftancies occured even without the use of agriculture, like those that rose around the salmon runs of the Pacific Northwest.

Then civilisation hit.

5 000 years ago, civilisation arose independently in a few locations, around the great rivers: Tigris, Euphrates, Ganges, Yellow, Nile, Amazon... Civilisations boasted much larger populations, more hierarchical complexity and the complex division of labour.

Civilisation in and of itself is not a bad idea. But when a few memes took over, that was it.

The single biggest meme is UNLIMITED GROWTH. Unlimited growth permeates, utterly permeates, every part of Our culture. The problem with this is that you constantly expand. Because of that, you need a constantly increasing supply of inputs. Because of that you need to annex more land, make the land more productive and take more and more from the land.

This gives birth to the second meme: the world belongs to us. If it is a possession then we can do as we wish with it, claim as much as we want of it and take as much as we want from it. This is NOT an exclusively religious meme. It is a meme, like unlimited growth, that permeates Our culture.

NOTE: This is one of the PRIMARY reasons that I try desperately to explain to Atheists that the issue does not lie with religion but rather with a deeper level of complexity. If we don't understand this, then we could eliminate religion tomorrow and both the unlimited growth and world belongs to us memes would persist untouched. It would be same shit, different pile. If you don't believe me, go to the Harvard School of Business and find me a SINGLE DOCUMENT that preaches anything other than unlimited growth and treating the world like a set of inputs to be exploited.

If you expand unlimitedly, when you run out of room, you have to take it from someone else.

The society must become a power maximiser.

Smookler's Parable of the Tribes neatly explains the problem. Once one player in the system becomes a power maximiser, then that strategy MUST spread through and dominate that system. If you stand up to a power maximiser, they destroy you or assimilate you. If you run away, they take your land. The only way to fight them is to become them. Ergo, power maximisation cannot help but take over the system.

When I speak of Our culture (a Quinnian term) I mean the culture of power maximisation. Because that culture has spread across the face of the planet. Canada, the US, the UK, Russia, China, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Australia, Argentina, Germany, Saudi Arabia, India, Pakistan, Mongolia, you name it, all of these countries are, at their core, the same. They are the same because they would not have survived otherwise. The East and West are (as Quinn notes) Twins of the Same Birth. Everywhere you look, save for those final outposts of extant tribal cultures, living in lands we don't want... yet, is Our culture.

The third component of our culture is the meme that says this: wipe out your competitors. This is why the strategy of Our culture is called the annihilator strategy. Wolves competing with you? Wipe them out. Bugs? Wipe them out. Jews? Wipe them out. Islam? Wipe it out. Paganism? Wipe it out. Forests? Wipe them out. Communists? Wipe them out. Insert competition here. Wipe it out.

Our culture is the perfect storm: It only ever grows, takes whatever it wants in ever increasing quantity and destroys anything that gets in its way.

I can go on for a lot longer on this, but I'm gonna bring it back in now.

This, it needs to be noted, is a CULTURAL phenomenon, not a GENETIC one. If it were genetic, then every single human society would do it. That is not the case.

So when people say that HUMANS are parasitic, they are incorrect. Our culture is a parasitic culture.

Historically, Our culture has hit the secondary limits to growth time and time again. It's a constant cycle of grow, collapse, regroup, grow, collapse. For those of you paying attention, this cycle is demonstrated in stunning brilliance in The Matrix trilogy (do yourself a favour and watch the Matrix philosophy DVD). And that's not even getting into the cycle of revolution that Orwell dramatised in the absolutely brilliant Animal Farm.

On a long enough timeline, Our culture will hit the primary limit to growth.

That's the problem I outlined in my last post.

The problem is changing directions. That has proven difficult (which is another conversation entirely that has a lot to do with game theory, but one that explains WHY when people like you and I say, "hey, ain't we destroying our only planet," that we don't actually CHANGE the manner in which we make our living).

There are two possible outcomes to all of this. 1 - We change. 2 - We fuck up the biosphere to the point that we kill off our species. If we fail in the first, then the latter solution will be imposed on us.

So, to ensure our survival is simple. We need to change... ASTONISHINGLY EASIER SAID THAN DONE I'm afraid.

Hope this was of value to you. Questions and comments are welcome Cool

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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23-04-2013, 08:11 PM
RE: Invasive Species
(23-04-2013 02:16 PM)Ghost Wrote:  This, it needs to be noted, is a CULTURAL phenomenon, not a GENETIC one. If it were genetic, then every single human society would do it. That is not the case.

So when people say that HUMANS are parasitic, they are incorrect. Our culture is a parasitic culture.

Terrific post, thanks.

The quoted above I found to be very interesting. I had not thought about it in those terms.

I have read some E.O.Wilson but not the book you mentioned. Also Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs and Steel which sheds light on dispersion and success of certain cultures.

Spent much of the day looking for Lionfish, tomorrow is the Derby, weather permitting we'll remove a few.

“I suppose our capacity for self-delusion is boundless."
― John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley: In Search of America
“I am quite sure now that often, very often, in matters concerning religion and politics a man's reasoning powers are not above the monkey's." - Mark Twain in Eruption
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24-04-2013, 06:03 AM
RE: Invasive Species
Hey, Full.

Thanks for the props.

Diamond is a very smart man. His books are excellent.

If anyone has three hours to kill, head on over to Netflix and watch the three part PBS version of Guns, Germs and Steel. It is superb.

It's only on American Netflix, so unless you Canadians do something nefarious like download the Mediahint plugin so Netflix thinks you have an American IP, then you're shit out of luck. But that would be nefarious Cool

EO Wilson's The Future of Life is a good read.
Daniel Quinn's Ishmael is exceptional.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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25-04-2013, 08:52 AM (This post was last modified: 25-04-2013 08:58 AM by Full Circle.)
RE: Invasive Species
The Lionfish Derby was a success. A total of 161 fish were collected and we had a fantastic lunch afterwards.

Of note I took the largest Lionfish so far recorded in Florida Keys waters, 41.5cm (16-1/3") and weighed about 4 pounds. Our team finished second with 35 total, friends of ours took 77. The biggest ones we are now finding in deeper water, this one we found in 95 feet.

Studies in Bahamian waters have shown that monitored reefs that are unculled lose an average of 65% of their native biomass, a few have lost 95%! We dissected some of the larger fish and found all types of prey including cleaner types.

I know, pics or it didn't happen you bunch of heathen skeptics - so here you go Cool

[attachment=1342] [attachment=1343] [attachment=1344] [attachment=1345] [attachment=1346]

“I suppose our capacity for self-delusion is boundless."
― John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley: In Search of America
“I am quite sure now that often, very often, in matters concerning religion and politics a man's reasoning powers are not above the monkey's." - Mark Twain in Eruption
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25-04-2013, 09:55 AM
RE: Invasive Species
(25-04-2013 08:52 AM)Full Circle Wrote:  I know, pics or it didn't happen you bunch of heathen skeptics - so here you go Cool

Dead fish always creep me out. I really don't like fish, but when they serve it to me with the head... Yuck!

(Which is actually kinda ironic, in light of some of my plans for the near future [Image: girl_prepare_fish.gif])

"E se non passa la tristezza con altri occhi la guarderò."
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25-04-2013, 08:09 PM
RE: Invasive Species
(25-04-2013 09:55 AM)Vera Wrote:  
(25-04-2013 08:52 AM)Full Circle Wrote:  I know, pics or it didn't happen you bunch of heathen skeptics - so here you go Cool

Dead fish always creep me out. I really don't like fish, but when they serve it to me with the head... Yuck!

(Which is actually kinda ironic, in light of some of my plans for the near future [Image: girl_prepare_fish.gif])

I love the emoticon!

We didn't serve the fish whole, there were finger bites and delicious fish tacos.

I'm big on irony Thumbsup

“I suppose our capacity for self-delusion is boundless."
― John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley: In Search of America
“I am quite sure now that often, very often, in matters concerning religion and politics a man's reasoning powers are not above the monkey's." - Mark Twain in Eruption
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25-04-2013, 08:27 PM
RE: Invasive Species
(23-04-2013 02:16 PM)Ghost Wrote:  So when people say that HUMANS are parasitic, they are incorrect. Our culture is a parasitic culture.

I would like you to flesh this out.

For instance even in small numbers, below the Dunbar Number of 150, humans can be destructive as well (for some reason Lord of the Flies comes to mind). You say that not all cultures are this way, are you thinking of a specific example?

“I suppose our capacity for self-delusion is boundless."
― John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley: In Search of America
“I am quite sure now that often, very often, in matters concerning religion and politics a man's reasoning powers are not above the monkey's." - Mark Twain in Eruption
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25-04-2013, 10:26 PM
RE: Invasive Species
Hey, Full.

That's a hideous fucking fish. You're gonna put that shit in your mouth? You eat nightmare? Man. Glad I'm a fucking vegan Cool

Saying that small egalitarian human cultures live sustainably as partners with their ecosystem just like muskrats, gazelles, guppies, sloths, sparrows and tuna, is not to say that they are especially nice to one another. The kids in Lord of the Flies may have killed Piggy, but they didn't destroy their island.

So when you say destructive, you have to be very specific.

Homo habilus has been around for a coupe of million years. That's a long fucking time. Fast forward to Homo sapiens and we've been here for a solid 100 000 years. It's only in the last 5 000 that we've really been running amok. That's 5% of Homo sapiens and like 0.25% of our genus' time on Earth. The rest of that time, the VAST majority of it, we lived sustainably and in harmony with our environment. If we were naturally parasitic, the history of our species would be dramatically different. This parasitic behaviour is an ANOMALY in human behaviour. We're just used to it because it's all we see and all we've ever known.

So the example is every single human society that is not a civilisation. Of which there are thousands historically and still a few extant today.

We're speaking specifically about infecting and overwhelming an ecosystem and that is something that egalitarian band tribes do not do.

Our culture is designed to do nothing but (for reasons I outlined above).

There are 193 countries in the world right now (plus a few more that not everyone adds to the list). Name a single one that is not practicing the annihilator strategy. Name one that doesn't embrace unlimited growth. Name one that only takes what it needs from their ecosystem and leaves the rest. Canada? Nope. Argentina? Nope. South Africa? Nope. Denmark? Nope. Mongolia? Nope. Bangladesh? Nope. China? Hellz no. You won't find it. Because they all belong to Our culture.

Now go through the list of extant tribal cultures in the world. And name one that acts like a parasite. Won't happen, because that's not how they roll. You say that some do. Time to put your money where your mouth is Cool

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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25-04-2013, 10:52 PM (This post was last modified: 25-04-2013 10:56 PM by Full Circle.)
RE: Invasive Species
(25-04-2013 10:26 PM)Ghost Wrote:  Hey, Full.

That's a hideous fucking fish. You're gonna put that shit in your mouth? You eat nightmare? Man. Glad I'm a fucking vegan Cool

In the water the fish are quite beautiful with their fins looking like feathers.

(25-04-2013 10:26 PM)Ghost Wrote:  Saying that small egalitarian human cultures live sustainably as partners with their ecosystem just like muskrats, gazelles, guppies, sloths, sparrows and tuna, is not to say that they are especially nice to one another. The kids in Lord of the Flies may have killed Piggy, but they didn't destroy their island.

I think they just needed more time Big Grin

(25-04-2013 10:26 PM)Ghost Wrote:  So when you say destructive, you have to be very specific.

Now go through the list of extant tribal cultures in the world. And name one that acts like a parasite. Won't happen, because that's not how they roll. You say that some do. Time to put your money where your mouth is Cool

I think that all your points are valid, I agree with you that our recent culture is destructive sometimes even when tribal. I'll give you the first example that comes to mind to discuss (we'll probably end up trying to define tribal). I traveled to Indonesia and the islands of Pulau Kawula and Pulau Soangi where the native fishermen dynamite the reefs. The small villages were isloated behind mountain ranges consisting mostly of volacanos, the only way out that I ever saw was by canoe, no motors, radio, phone, TV or internet, no electricity or running water. Pretty isolated and primitive communities.

So they trade fish for dynamite with passing traders from other islands and then blow their own life sustaining reefs to rubble. Eventually they will have to move or starve I would think.

FC

“I suppose our capacity for self-delusion is boundless."
― John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley: In Search of America
“I am quite sure now that often, very often, in matters concerning religion and politics a man's reasoning powers are not above the monkey's." - Mark Twain in Eruption
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26-04-2013, 07:05 AM
RE: Invasive Species
Hey, Full.

Quote:we'll probably end up trying to define tribal

It can be a broad term, but specifically we're talking about societies below the Dunbar number (eg, neither chieftancies nor civilisations).

The most correct term is band (or band tribe).

So who are these fishermen? Are they a tribe that lives in isolation like the Yanomami, or are they just Indonesian villagers? And why do they blow up their reefs? My guess is that it's not for shits and giggles.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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