Is Humanity Suicidal?

My view is that the wicked problems we face as individuals and groups and societies are related to the quality of our thinking. The solutions to these threatening problems will only be revealed if we achieve a significant increase in the quality of our thinking. But this seems highly unlikely.

Why? Because of the BIG problem of I-am-right-and-you-are-wrong!

Escaping from our local truths (cvs) is very difficult because we crave certainty. We are taught at school and encouraged at work to defend our truths rather than escape from them. This medieval mindset makes us very slow thinkers.

Here’s an extraordinary and provocative article I rediscovered from one of humanity’s great thought-leaders, Edward O. Wilson who is a double winner of the Pulitzer Prize for science writing. It’s not only beautifully written but … this will get you thinking!

 

Is Humanity Suicidal?

This classic article was published 2 decades ago by one of the world’s great biologists & humanists, Edward O. Wilson, famous for his illustrious career as a scientist and his advocacy for environmentalism, he was Professor of Entomology and Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University.

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Imagine that on an icy moon of Jupiter – say Ganymede – the space station of an alien civilization is concealed. For millions of years its scientists have closely watched the earth. Because their law prevents settlement on a living planet, they have tracked the surface by means of satellites equipped with sophisticated sensors, mapping the spread of large assemblages of organisms, from forests, grasslands and tundras to coral reefs and the vast planktonic meadows of the sea. They have recorded millennial cycles in the climate, interrupted by the advance and retreat of glaciers and scattershot volcanic eruptions.

The watchers have been waiting for what might be called the Moment. When it comes, occupying only a few centuries and thus a mere tick in geological time, the forests shrink back to less than half their original cover. Atmospheric carbon dioxide rises to the highest level in 100,000 years. The ozone layer of the stratosphere thins, and holes open at the poles. Plumes of nitrous oxide and other toxins rise from fires in South America and Africa, collect in the upper troposphere and drift eastward across the oceans. At night the land surface brightens with millions of pinpoints of light, which coalesce into blazing swaths across Europe, Japan and eastern North America. A semi-circle of fire spreads from gas flares around the Persian Gulf.

It was all but inevitable, the watchers might tell us if we met them, that from the great diversity of large animals, one species or another would eventually gain intelligent control of Earth. That role has fallen to Homo sapiens, a primate risen in Africa from a lineage that split away from the chimpanzee line five to eight million years ago. Unlike any creature that lived before, we have become a geophysical force, swiftly changing the atmosphere and climate as well as the composition of the world’s fauna and flora. Now in the midst of a population explosion, the human species has doubled to 5.5 billion during the past 50 years. It is scheduled to double again in the next 50 years. No other single species in evolutionary history has even remotely approached the sheer mass in protoplasm generated by humanity.

Darwin’s dice have rolled badly for Earth. It was a misfortune for the living world in particular, many scientists believe, that a carnivorous primate and not some more benign form of animal made the breakthrough. Our species retains hereditary traits that add greatly to our destructive impact. We are tribal and aggressively territorial, intent on private space beyond minimal requirements and oriented by selfish sexual and reproductive drives. Cooperation beyond the family and tribal levels comes hard. Worse, our liking for meat causes us to use the sun’s energy at low efficiency. It is a general rule of ecology that (very roughly) only about 10 percent of the sun’s energy captured by photosynthesis to produce plant tissue is converted into energy in the tissue of herbivores, the animals that eat the plants. Of that amount, 10 percent reaches the tissue of the carnivores feeding on the herbivores. Similarly, only 10 percent is transferred to carnivores that eat carnivores. And so on for another step or two. In a wetlands chain that runs from marsh grass to grasshopper to warbler to hawk, the energy captured during green production shrinks a thousandfold.

In other words, it takes a great deal of grass to support a hawk. Human beings, like hawks, are top carnivores, at the end of the food chain whenever they eat meat, two or more links removed from the plants; if chicken, for example, two links, and if tuna, four links. Even with most societies confined today to a mostly vegetarian diet, humanity is gobbling up a large part of the rest of the living world. We appropriate between 20 and 40 percent of the sun’s energy that would otherwise be fixed into the tissue of natural vegetation, principally by our consumption of crops and timber, construction of buildings and roadways and the creation of wastelands. In the relentless search for more food, we have reduced animal life in lakes, rivers and now, increasingly, the open ocean. And everywhere we pollute the air and water, lower water tables and extinguish species.

The human species is, in a word, an environmental abnormality. It is possible that intelligence in the wrong kind of species was foreordained to be a fatal combination for the biosphere. Perhaps a law of evolution is that intelligence usually extinguishes itself. This admittedly dour scenario is based on what can be termed the juggernaut theory of human nature, which holds that people are programmed by their genetic heritage to be so selfish that a sense of global responsibility will come too late. Individuals place themselves first, family second, tribe third and the rest of the world a distant fourth. Their genes also predispose them to plan ahead for one or two generations at most. They fret over the petty problems and conflicts of their daily lives and respond swiftly and often ferociously to slight challenges to their status and tribal security. But oddly, as psychologists have discovered, people also tend to underestimate both the likelihood and impact of such natural disasters as major earthquakes and great storms.

The reason for this myopic fog, evolutionary biologists contend, is that it was actually advantageous during all but the last few millennia of the two million years of existence of the genus Homo. The brain evolved into its present form during this long stretch of evolutionary time, during which people existed in small, preliterate hunter-gatherer bands. Life was precarious and short. A premium was placed on close attention to the near future and early reproduction, and little else. Disasters of a magnitude that occur only once every few centuries were forgotten or transmuted into myth. So today the mind still works comfortably backward and forward for only a few years, spanning a period not exceeding one or two generations. Those in past ages whose genes inclined them to short term thinking lived longer and had more children than those who did not. Prophets never enjoyed a Darwinian edge.

The rules have recently changed, however. Global crises are rising within the life span of the generation now coming of age, a foreshortening that may explain why young people express more concern about the environment than do their elders. The time scale has contracted because of the exponential growth in both the human population and technologies impacting the environment. Exponential growth is basically the same as the increase of wealth by compound interest. The larger the population, the faster the growth; the faster the growth, the sooner the population becomes still larger. In Nigeria, to cite one of our more fecund nations, the population is expected to double from its 1988 level to 216 million by the year 2010. If the same rate of growth were to continue to 2110, its population would exceed that of the entire present population of the world. With people everywhere seeking a better quality of life, the search for resources is expanding even faster than the population. The demand is being met by an increase in scientific knowledge, which doubles every 10 to 15 years. It is accelerated further by a parallel rise in environment-devouring technology.

Because Earth is finite in many resources that determine the quality of life – including arable soil, nutrients, fresh water and space for natural ecosystems – doubling of consumption at constant time intervals can bring disaster with shocking suddenness. Even when a non-renewable resource has been only half used, it is still only one interval away from the end. Ecologists like to make this point with the French riddle of the lily pond. At first there is only one lily pad in the pond, but the next day it doubles, and thereafter each of its descendants doubles. The pond completely fills with lily pads in 3o days. When is the pond exactly half full? Answer: on the 29th day. Yet, mathematical exercises aside, who can safely measure the human capacity to overcome the perceived limits of Earth? The question of central interest is this: Are we racing to the brink of an abyss, or are we just gathering speed for a takeoff to a wonderful future? The crystal ball is clouded; the human condition baffles all the more because it is both unprecedented and bizarre, almost beyond understanding. In the midst of uncertainty, opinions on the human prospect have tended to fall loosely into two schools.

The first, exemptionalism, holds that since humankind is transcendent in intelligence and spirit, so must our species have been released from the iron laws of ecology that bind all other species. No matter how serious the problem, civilized human beings, by ingenuity, force of will and – who knows – divine dispensation, will find a solution. Population growth? Good for the economy, claim some of the exemptionalists, and in any case a basic human right, so let it run. Land shortages? Try fusion energy to power the desalting of sea water, then reclaim the world’s deserts. (The process might be assisted by towing icebergs to coastal pipelines.) Species going extinct? Not to worry. That is nature’s way. Think of humankind as only the latest in a long line of exterminating agents in geological time. In any case, because our species has pulled free of old-style, mindless Nature, we have begun a different order of life. Evolution should now be allowed to proceed along this new trajectory. Finally, resources? The planet has more than enough resources to last indefinitely, if human genius is allowed to address each new problem in turn, without alarmist and unreasonable restrictions imposed on economic development. So hold the course, and touch the brakes lightly.

The opposing idea of reality is environmentalism, which sees humanity as a biological species tightly dependent on the natural world. As formidable as our intellect may be and as fierce our spirit, the argument goes, those qualities are not enough to free us from the constraints of the natural environment in which our human ancestors evolved. We cannot draw confidence from successful solutions to the smaller problems of the past. Many of Earth’s vital resources are about to be exhausted, its atmospheric chemistry is deteriorating and human populations have already grown dangerously large. Natural ecosystems, the wellsprings of a healthful environment, are being irreversibly degraded. At the heart of the environmentalist world view is the conviction that human physical and spiritual health depends on sustaining the planet in a relatively unaltered state. Earth is our home in the full, genetic sense, where humanity and its ancestors existed for all the millions of years of their evolution. Natural ecosystems -forests, coral reefs, marine blue waters -maintain the world exactly as we would wish it to be maintained. When we debase the global environment and extinguish the variety of life, we are dismantling a support system that is too complex to understand, let alone replace, in the foreseeable future.

Space scientists theorize the existence of a virtually unlimited array of other planetary environments, almost all of which are uncongenial to human life. Our own Mother Earth, lately called Gaia, is a specialized conglomerate of organisms and the physical environment they create on a day-to-day basis, which can be destabilized and turned lethal by careless activity. We run the risk, conclude the environmentalists, of beaching ourselves upon alien shores like a great confused pod of pilot whales. If I have not done so enough already by tone of voice, I will now place myself solidly in the environmentalist school, but not so radical as to wish a turning back of the clock, not given to driving spikes into Douglas firs to prevent logging and distinctly uneasy with such world movements as ecofeminism, which holds that Mother Earth is a nurturing home for all life and should be revered and loved as in pre-modern (paleolitlilc and archaic) societies and that ecosystematic abuse is rooted in androcentric that is to say, male-dominated-concepts, values and institutions.

Still, however soaked in androcentric culture, I am radical enough to take seriously the question heard with increasing frequency “Is humanity suicidal?” Is the drive to environmental conquest and self-propagation embedded so deeply in our genes as to be unstoppable? My short answer – opinion if you wish – is that humanity is not suicidal, at least not in the sense just stated. We are smart enough and have time enough to avoid an environmental catastrophe of civilization-threatening dimensions. But the technical problems are sufficiently formidable to require a redirection of much of science and technology, and the ethical issues are so basic as to force a reconsideration of our self-image as a species. There are reasons for optimism, reasons to believe that we have entered what might someday be generously called the Century of the Environment.

The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, held in Rio de Janeiro in June 1992, attracted more than 120 heads of government, the largest number ever assembled, and helped move environmental issues closer to the political center stage; on Nov 18, 1992, more than 1,500 senior scientists from 69 countries issued a “Warning to Humanity,” stating that overpopulation and environmental deterioration put the very future of life at risk. The greening of religion has become a global trend, with theologians and religious leaders addressing environmental problems as a moral issue. In May 1992, leaders of most of the major American denominations met with scientists as guests of members of the United States Senate to formulate a “Joint Appeal by Religion and Science for the Environment.” Conservation of biodiversity is increasingly seen by both national governments and major landowners as important to their country’s future. Indonesia, home to a large part of the native Asian plant and animal species, has begun to shift to land-management practices that conserve and sustainably develop the remaining rain forests. Costa Rica has created a National Institute of Biodiversity. A pan-African institute for biodiversity research and management has been founded, with headquarters in Zimbabwe. Finally, there are favorable demographic signs. The rate of population increase is declining on all continents, although it is still well above zero almost everywhere and remains especially high in sub-Saharan Africa. Despite entrenched traditions and religious beliefs, the desire to use contraceptives in family planning is spreading. Demographers estimate that if the demand were fully met, this action alone would reduce the eventual stabilized population by more than two billion. In summary, the will is there.

Yet the awful truth remains that a large part of humanity will suffer no matter what is done. The number of people living in absolute poverty has risen during the past 20 years to nearly one billion and is expected to increase another 100 million by the end of the decade. Whatever progress has been made in the developing countries, and that includes an overall improvement in the average standard of living, is threatened by a continuance of rapid population growth and the deterioration of forests and arable soil. Our hopes must be chastened further still, and this is in my opinion the central issue, by a key and seldom recognized distinction between the nonliving and the living environments. Science and the political process can be adapted to manage the nonliving, physical environment. The human hand is now upon the physical homeostat. The ozone layer can be mostly restored to the upper atmosphere by elimination of CFC’S, with these substances peaking at six times the present level and then subsiding during the next half century. Also, with procedures that will prove far more difficult and initially expensive, carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases can be pulled back to concentrations that slow global warming.

The human hand, however, is not upon the biological homeostat. There is no way in sight to micromanage the natural ecosystems and the millions of species they contain. That feat might be accomplished by generations to come, but then it will be too late for the ecosystems and perhaps for us. Despite the seemingly bottomless nature of creation, humankind has been chipping away at its diversity, and Earth is destined to become an impoverished planet within a century if present trends continue. Mass extinctions are being reported with increasing frequency, in every part of the world. They include half the freshwater fishes of peninsular Malaysia, 10 birds native to Cebu in the Philippines, half of the 41 tree snails Of Oahu, 44 of the 68 shallow-water mussels of the Tennessee River shoals, as many as 90 plant species growing on the Centinela Ridge in Ecuador, and in the United States as a whole, about 200 plant species, with another 680 species and races now classified as in danger of extinction. The main cause is the destruction of natural habitats, especially tropical forests. Close behind, especially on the Hawaiian archipelago and other islands, is the introduction of rats, pigs, beard grass, lantana and other exotic organisms that outbreed and extirpate native species.

The few thousand biologists worldwide who specialize in diversity are aware that they can witness and report no more than a very small percentage of the extinctions actually occurring. The reason is that they have facilities to keep track of only a tiny fraction of the millions of species and a sliver of the planet’s surface on a yearly, basis. They have devised a rule of thumb to characterize the situation: that whenever careful studies are made of habitats before and after disturbance, extinctions almost always come to light. The corollary: the great majority of extinctions are never observed. Vast numbers of species are apparently vanishing before they can be discovered and named. There is a way, nonetheless, to estimate the rate of loss indirectly. Independent studies around the world and in fresh and marine waters have revealed a robust connection between the size of a habitat and the amount of biodiversity it contains. Even a small loss in area reduces the number of species. The relation is such that when the area of the habitat is cut to a tenth of its original cover, the number of species eventually drops by roughly one half.

Tropical rain forests, thought to harbor a majority of Earth’s species (the reason conservationists get so excited about rain forests), are being reduced by nearly that magnitude. At the present time they occupy about the same area as that of the 48 conterminous United States, representing a little less than half their original, prehistoric cover; and they are shrinking each year by about 2 percent, an amount equal to the state of Florida. If the typical value (that is, 90 percent area loss causes 50 percent eventual extinction) is applied, the projected loss of species due to rain forest destruction worldwide is half a percent across the board for all kinds of plants, animals and microorganisms. When area reduction and all the other extinction agents are considered together, it is reasonable to project a reduction by 20 percent or more of the rain forest species by the year 2020, climbing to 50 percent or more by mid-century, if nothing is done to change current practice. Comparable erosion is likely in other environments now under assault, including many coral reefs and Mediterranean-type heathlands of Western Australia, South Africa and California.

The ongoing loss will not be replaced by evolution in any period of time that has meaning for humanity. Extinction is now proceeding thousands of times faster then the production of new species. The average life span of a species and its descendants in past geological eras varied according to group (like molluscs, echinoderms or flowering plants) from about 1 to 10 million years. During the past 500 million years, there have been five great extinction spasms comparable to the one now being inaugurated by human expansion. The latest, evidently caused the strike of an asteroid, ended the Age of Reptiles 66 million years ago. In each case it took more than 10 million years for evolution to completely replenish the biodiversity lost. And that was in an otherwise undisturbed natural environment. Humanity is now destroying most of the habitats where evolution can occur. The surviving biosphere remains the great unknown of Earth in many respects. On the practical side, it is hard even to imagine what other species have to offer in the way of new pharmaceuticals, crops, fibers, petroleum substitutes and other products. We have only a poor grasp of the ecosystem services by which other organisms cleanse the water, turn soil into a fertile living cover and manufacture the very air we breathe. We sense but do not fully understand what the highly diverse natural world means to our esthetic pleasure and mental well-being.

Scientists are unprepared to manage a declining biosphere. To illustrate, consider the following mission they might be given. The last remnant of a rain forest is about to be cut over. Environmentalists are stymied. The contracts have been signed, and local landowners and politicians are intransigent. In a final desperate move, a team of biologists is scrambled in an attempt to preserve the biodiversity by extraordinary means. Their assignment is the following: collect samples of all the species of organisms quickly, before the cutting starts; maintain the species in zoos, gardens and laboratory cultures or else deep-freeze samples of the tissues in liquid nitrogen, and finally, establish the procedure by which the entire community can be reassembled on empty ground at a later date, when social and economic conditions have improved. The biologists cannot accomplish this task, not if thousands of them came with a billion-dollar budget. They cannot even imagine how to do it. In the forest patch live legions of species: perhaps 300 birds, 500 butterflies, 200 ants, 50,000 beetles, 1,000 trees, 5,000 fungi, tens of thousands of bacteria and so on down a long roster of major groups. Each species occupies a precise niche, demanding a certain place, an exact microclimate, particular nutrients and temperature and humidity cycles with specified timing to trigger phases of the life cycle. Many, perhaps most, of the species are locked in symbioses with other species; they cannot survive and reproduce unless arrayed with their partners in the correct idiosyncratic configurations. Even if the biologists pulled off the taxonomic equivalent of the Manhattan Project, sorting and preserving cultures of all the species, they could not then put the community back together again. It would be like unscrambling an egg with a pair of spoons. The biology of the microorganisms needed to reanimate the soil would be mostly unknown. The pollinators of most of the flowers and the correct timing of their appearance could only be guessed. The “assembly rules,” the sequence in which species must be allowed to colonize in order to coexist indefinitely, would remain in the realm of theory.

In its neglect of the rest of life, exemptionalism fails definitively. To move ahead as though scientific and entrepreneurial genius will solve each crisis that arises implies that the declining biosphere can be similarly manipulated. But the world is too complicated to be turned into a garden. There is no biological homeostat that can be worked by humanity; to believe otherwise is to risk reducing a large part of Earth to a wasteland. The environmentalist vision, prudential and less exuberant than exemptionalism, is closer to reality. It sees humanity entering a bottleneck unique in history, constricted by population and economic pressures. In order to pass through to the other side, within perhaps 50 to 100 years, more science and entrepreneurship will have to be devoted to stabilizing the global environment. That can be accomplished, according to expert consensus, only by halting population growth and devising a wiser use of resources than has been accomplished to date. And wise use for the living world in particular means preserving the surviving ecosystems, micromanaging them only enough to save the biodiversity they contain, until such time as they can be understood and employed in the fullest sense for human benefit.

♦ Edward O. Wilson is a double winner of the Pulitzer Prize for non-fiction. He is widely known for his illustrious career as a scientist, advocacy for environmentalism, and secular-humanist ideas pertaining to religious and ethical matters. He is Professor of Entomology and Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University.

GALLUP PRESS: The Coming Jobs War

The Coming Jobs War

What everyone in the world wants is a good job.

In a provocative book for business and government leaders, Gallup Chairman Jim Clifton describes how this undeniable fact will affect all leadership decisions as countries wage war to produce the best jobs.

Leaders of countries and cities, Clifton says, should focus on creating good jobs because as jobs go, so does the fate of nations. Jobs bring prosperity, peace, and human development — but long-term unemployment ruins lives, cities, and countries.

Creating good jobs is tough, and many leaders are doing many things wrong. They’re undercutting entrepreneurs instead of cultivating them. They’re running companies with depressed workforces. They’re letting the next generation of job creators rot in bad schools.

A global jobs war is coming, and there’s no time to waste. Cities are crumbling for lack of good jobs. Nations are in revolt because their people can’t get good jobs. The cities and countries that act first — that focus everything they have on creating good jobs — are the ones that will win.

About the Author

Jim Clifton is Chairman and CEO of Gallup. His most recent innovation, the Gallup World Poll, is designed to give the world’s 7 billion citizens a voice in virtually all key global issues.

Under Clifton’s leadership, Gallup has expanded from a predominantly U.S.-based company to a worldwide organization with 40 offices in 30 countries and regions.

Clifton is also the creator of The Gallup Path, a metric-based economic model that establishes the linkages among human nature in the workplace, customer engagement, and business outcomes. This model is used in performance management systems in more than 500 companies worldwide.

Clifton lives in Washington, D.C., with his wife, Susan.

Reviews

“This is the most important book published in my lifetime. It’s as easy to understand as a personal, face-to-face conversation. . . . This is a ‘must-read’ for every voter and every leader, either local, state, or national, whether in politics or education or in a nonprofit or for-profit organization! The case for [Daniel] Kahneman’s ‘behavioral economics’ versus ‘strictly rational classical economics’ is awesomely convincing! I hope and pray that the next President invites Jim Clifton to be his chief advisor!”

— Dr. Robert W. Bass, M.A. Oxon [Rhodes Scholar]; Prof. of Physics & Astronomy, BYU (1971-81, retired); Adjunct. Prof. of Systems Engineering, F.I.T., reviewing on Amazon.com

Future x10: Ten Possible Futures

cvs2bvs is the Universal Brain Software which frees the brainuser to hop across parallel universes with tenpower.

cvs2bvs also allows the brainuser to switch from one parallel universe to another.

Leaping

A parallel universe is a possible future. At any particular moment you are heading to one possible future. But, you could escape from that possible future and head for a different possible future. We do this every day and every time we take a decision. For example, right now I am writing this sentence about a very embarrassing incident that once happened to me in New York when I …

However, I have just decided to escape from that sentence and instead of finishing it I have decided to write this sentence instead. A quite different but possible future.

alternatives

There are, of course, a virtually unlimited number of possible futures facing us at any moment in time but so many futures may be too daunting to think about. So, let’s just limit the options to ten.

Future XIO is the brain app which says that at any time you are faced with a decision there are always ten possible futures from which to choose.

Usually there is the most likely future which will turn out to be the decision you are most likely to take. In this brain app we call the most likely decision choice: Future #10. We do this to draw attention to the fact that there are at least 9 other options or possible futures that we could consider if only we made the metacognitive effort to do so.

Just to spell this out we’ll call these options or possibilities or choices:

Future #10

Future #09

Future #08

Future #07

Future #06

Future #05

Future #04

Future #03

Future #02

Future #01

The Future XIO Brain App

The excellence and power of the Future XIO brain app is that at any NOW moment of the day you have an opportunity for cvs2bvs and to select any one of ten possible futures.

For example:
» You might get writer’s block while preparing a scientific paper — cvs2bvs.
» You might find yourself being a space glutton in a family meeting — cvs2bvs.
» You might be trying to help your child solve a problem — cvs2bvs.
» You might be googling the www looking for an opportunity — cvs2bvs.
» You might be worried and depressed about money — cvs2bvs.
» You might be about to decide what to have for lunch — cvs2bvs.
» You might be boring a client or customer — cvs2bvs.
» You might be being bullied by a friend or family member — cvs2bvs.
» You might be playing Angry Birds — cvs2bvs.

Practise and repetition ensures that the cvs2bvs switch will pop up at a time when you need to use it. And when it does pop up, what then?

Repetition

To Look Is To See

If you decide to look for a BVS, you will see it. Yes, you really will see it.

INSTRUCTION: What time is it?
(Check your watch and record the time here ________.)

Isn’t it amazing! The time is always there, BUT you only see it when you actually look for it. Think about that for a moment! Through training and practice, your brain learned (developed the cognitive pattern) to tell the time, long ago. One just needs to use the trigger question: What time is it? and Hey! Presto! … We get to see the time! The same applies to a BVS.

It’s your attention that controls your behavior. You need a trigger to manipulate your attention from merely focusing on your CVS and to get it to switch to a BVS. This is also called lateral thinking or creative thinking or X10 thinking. You’ve done it many times before but you need to do it better and much more often — on command! The key to creativity is remembering to be creative at any particular moment, remembering to use the switch cvs2bvs. Remember: What time is it?

Seek and You Shall Find

cvs2bvs will dramatically increase your odds of finding ideas, because you will be actively looking for them, habitually, as a matter of personal policy. You can get a good idea today, a better idea tomorrow and you get the best idea … never! There’s always a BVS! This means that you can have a perfectly valid CVS, but there must always be a better one because you always have ten options from which to choose. And, for repetition sake, here they are again:

Future #10

Future #09

Future #08

Future #07

Future #06

Future #05

Future #04

Future #03

Future #02

Future #01

There’s Always a BVS!

The difference between the way you use your necktop now, and the way it could operate, is up to the software you use. Each time you do your 100 repetitions of cvs2bvs, it guarantees that you are keeping yourself, your family, your school or company, on the road to a much better future, the road to a BVS. Here are 100 repetitions of cvs2bvs:

cvs2bvs cvs2bvs cvs2bvs cvs2bvs cvs2bvs
cvs2bvs cvs2bvs cvs2bvs cvs2bvs cvs2bvs
cvs2bvs cvs2bvs cvs2bvs cvs2bvs cvs2bvs
cvs2bvs cvs2bvs cvs2bvs cvs2bvs cvs2bvs
cvs2bvs cvs2bvs cvs2bvs cvs2bvs cvs2bvs
cvs2bvs cvs2bvs cvs2bvs cvs2bvs cvs2bvs
cvs2bvs cvs2bvs cvs2bvs cvs2bvs cvs2bvs
cvs2bvs cvs2bvs cvs2bvs cvs2bvs cvs2bvs
cvs2bvs cvs2bvs cvs2bvs cvs2bvs cvs2bvs
cvs2bvs cvs2bvs cvs2bvs cvs2bvs cvs2bvs

cvs2bvs cvs2bvs cvs2bvs cvs2bvs cvs2bvs
cvs2bvs cvs2bvs cvs2bvs cvs2bvs cvs2bvs
cvs2bvs cvs2bvs cvs2bvs cvs2bvs cvs2bvs
cvs2bvs cvs2bvs cvs2bvs cvs2bvs cvs2bvs
cvs2bvs cvs2bvs cvs2bvs cvs2bvs cvs2bvs
cvs2bvs cvs2bvs cvs2bvs cvs2bvs cvs2bvs
cvs2bvs cvs2bvs cvs2bvs cvs2bvs cvs2bvs
cvs2bvs cvs2bvs cvs2bvs cvs2bvs cvs2bvs
cvs2bvs cvs2bvs cvs2bvs cvs2bvs cvs2bvs
cvs2bvs cvs2bvs cvs2bvs cvs2bvs cvs2bvs

 

Australia x10?

Michael Hewitt-Gleeson:

Who in their right mind would multiply Australia by ten? The 23 million citizen-thinkers of Australia. That’s who!

Australia needs a lot more than the standard belt-tightening austerity programs from Canberra. We need a big focus on innovation. Every Australian. Every day.

That’s why School of Thinking teaches x10 THINKING to lift your innovation skills. How? By helping you to understand some interesting and useful facts about basic cognitive neuroscience and the plasticity of your brain. We do this so you can upgrade your own thinking software giving you new apps for intelligence. Scientists call this “thinking about thinking” – metacognition.

Thought experiment: What if you gave Aristotle a tutorial?

Daniel Dennett makes the point that because you have the privilege of living after Galileo, Newton, Darwin, Einstein, Planck, Watson, Crick, Gallup, Berners-Lee and their science colleagues that you yourself could give Aristotle a tutorial and you could thrill him to the core of his being.

So, have a think and if you could go back in time and give the great Aristotle a tutorial from your current perspective of 2015, what is the one thing that you would reveal to old Ari that would be a real knockout for him?

 

Journal of Thinking

The first edition of the Journal of Thinking is scheduled for publication in October 2015. All School of Thinking Members will be eligible to submit an article for publication in the journal. Ten articles will be published online in this inaugral issue. The articles will be reviewed by the SOT Science Panel.

What is the Journal of Thinking?

Mindful of the primary audience, which is members of the School of Thinking, the journal is focused on the activities and methods of the school. Most SOT members are online and part-time students who are in business or careers and who have limited time and attention to spare on SOT. So this SOT journal must be easy to read but thoughtful and curious. It differs from academic journals in that the SOT journal is non-scholarly nor is it peer-reviewed. Its purpose is to keep SOT members abreast of new developments and in that role its purpose is similar to how academic journals, scientific journals, medical journals, and engineering journals serve their audiences.

The first Editor of the Journal is Sig. Francesco Caso. Caso is currently completing his Master of Applied Positive Psychology at the Melbourne Graduate School of Education. He holds a Law Degree from the University of Naples and a Graduate Diploma in Psychology from the University of Melboune.

If you are interested in submitting a paper click here …

Melbourne’s world-class education rank confirmed – World’s Second Best.

Dr Michael Hewitt-Gleeson sits on the MGSE (Melbourne Graduate School of Education) Centre for Positive Psychology advisory board. He is therefore delighted to share here news of the excellent world class ranking of MGSE:

melbourneEducation at the University of Melbourne has been ranked second in the world in the latest QS World University Rankings by Subject.

The rankings, released today, list the top 200 universities around the world in 30 subject areas.

The University of Melbourne is listed in 29 subjects, including law and accounting and finance, both ranked eighth, psychology, which is ranked 10th and medicine, environmental science and linguistics all of which were ranked 12th.

The University has 11 subjects ranked in the top 20 and 27 subjects in the top 50.

University of Melbourne Vice-Chancellor Professor Glyn Davis said it was pleasing to see a diverse range of subjects performing well against international peers.

“The University has ranked well across social sciences, engineering and technology, life sciences and medicine and arts and humanities, giving students wanting to study in Australia access to a world-class education,” he said.

It is particularly pleasing to see education being recognized as a global leader; this is testament to the outstanding staff within the Melbourne Graduate School of Education and its constant pursuit of excellence.

Dean of the Melbourne Graduate School of Education Professor Field Rickards said he was delighted with the announcement.

“It is very pleasing to see that our research is having such global impact and that Australia has a graduate school recognised as one of the very best in the world,” he said.

“This ranking is a strong endorsement of the outstanding work of our dedicated and highly talented staff who are committed to ensuring our future teachers receive the highest standards of training based on the latest research and are highly prepared for the difficulties of the classroom.”

The QS (Quacquarelli Symonds) World University is an annual league table of the top universities in the world. For the 2014 Rankings by subject QS evaluated 3002 universities and ranked 689 in total.

Dawkins on Memes

Former Oxford Professor, Richard Dawkins, is well known for his witty and elegant explanations of how Darwin’s Theory works in genetic detail. It’s all about replicator power!

Fitness survives!

In Dawkin’s acclaimed book on Darwin’s Theory, The Selfish Gene, he showed how fitness survives not only in biology but wherever we can find replicators at work.

As another example he coined the word meme as a unit of culture which gets passed on from person to person. A meme is a replicator like a gene. Successful genes replicate from DNA to DNA and successful memes replicate from brain to brain via word-of-mouth (WOM).

“Memes can be good ideas, good tunes, good poems, as well as drivelling mantras.” says Richard Dawkins in Unweaving the Rainbow. “Anything that spreads by imitation, as genes spread by bodily reproduction or by viral infection, is a meme … As with genes, we can expect the world to become filled with memes that are good at the art of getting themselves copied from brain to brain … It is enough that memes vary in their infectivity for darwinian selection to get going … We may think this spreading for the sake of spreading rather futile, but nature is not interested in our judgements, of futility or anything else. If a piece of code has what it takes, it spreads and that’s that … In Climbing Mount Improbable I explained that an elephant’s DNA and a virus are both ‘Copy Me’ programmes. The difference is that one of them has an almost fantastically large digression: ‘Copy me by building an elephant first’. But both kinds of programmes spread because, in their different ways, they are good at spreading.

The meme is a very useful tool for understanding how WOM in marketing works because it allows us to harness much of the power of Darwin’s Theory. Today, memetics is one of the fastest growing ideas in science. Memetics allows us to understand not only how people get ideas but, more importantly, how ideas acquire people or how minds become memed.

In marketing, nothing is more important than taking the meme’s eye-view because nothing is more important than WOM.

WOM is the meme that gets itself passed on from one customer to another. Or, a meme is the WOM that allows one customer’s brain to become ‘infected’ by another brain.

Memes reside in the brain (like genes reside in DNA) and how they get from one brain to another is what memetics is all about. Only the fittest memes survive.

Think of the marketplace as the meme pool. There are vastly more memes than there are brains to shelter them.

Which ones will survive? Why? Which ones will fail? Why?