Posted by: The Amoeba | February 11, 2009

An Article of Faith

Kindly take a moment and think about this graph:

J-curve

No, 401K fans, it’s not what you think it is. Yet. Hang with me a bit.

Actually, the graph is a staple of the scientific field, population biology. It describes what happens when a creature, let’s say mice, Mickey, lands someplace with lots of profit opportunities resources, let’s say a field of grain that’s never seen a mouse before.

What happens next is obvious. The mice do what mice do: eat, and breed. And eat and breed and eat and breed and eat and breed and …

Starve.

Because they’ve eaten their way through all their credit lines the grain.

Now, the obvious thing to do to prevent this sort of thing from happening is to ensure that you don’t eat all the grain, that some is left over. In the arcane jargon of “pop bio”, this phenomenon is known as a “savings account”. However, for this strategy to work, two things must be in place*:

1. Forethought – the ability to see what the consequence of too much eating and breeding will be, and change behavior accordingly.

2. Protection – because no amount of forethought is safe from a horde of hungry mice, unless it’s protected by metal murines packing AK47s.

Forethought is supposed to be the big thing that sets humans apart from the rest of [sic] the animals. Included within that concept of forethought is the ability to communicate that forethought to others, so that savings accounts can be protected by mutual agreement, so that everybody doesn’t have to go around with bazookas on their hips.

Forethought would seem to be able to say, “you don’t go charging after every last dollar kernel, so that you have something on which to fall back if there’s a credit freeze crop bust.”

Instead, we’ve charged mindlessly into the pile of grain, and now are wondering where it’s all gone. (For what it’s worth, the graphs tracking unemployment rates in the US over the last year are tracking pretty closely those of 1929-1930.) Any mouse – hell, any amoeba – could have done as well.

Now (tell me if I’m wrong), have not the policies that have promoted such mindless, mousely behavior – including the oft-quoted mantra that “the two things that drive business are ‘greed’ and ‘fear'” – been sold to us, especially over the past eight years, by a group of people …

who deny that humans are descended from animals?

Go figure.

* Yes, I’m oversimplifying again. To explain would make this a really long post. If you think you know where I’ve cheated, see me after class.

  O Ceallaigh
Copyright © 2009 Felloffatruck Publications. All wrongs deplored.
All opinions expressed are mine, as a private citizen.

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Responses

  1. did you see
    NOVA
    on PBS last night?

  2. No, I confess I missed it the first time (Nov. 07) and this time too. I did follow the story online.

    One question I have: given that school boards like the one in Dover, Pennsylvania are public entities that are perennially strapped for cash, who paid the $1 million judgment against it?

    I could also say something about a society that supposedly has “foresight” allowing (for example) one person’s “charity” to exceed the GDP of half the nations of the world, while most of the world’s citizens work two jobs to keep a tent over their heads (or don’t work, and sleep under bridge abutments). But I won’t …

  3. i cannot answer the question
    nor can i
    say anything

  4. I agree with them. It seems much likelier that animals are descended from humans.

  5. I dig, family.

    We are Devo, Dawg?

  6. […] to wait until men were ready to have children, there would be no children.” A moment’s reflection on the current human population crisis, and my response options to this critique shrink to one. […]


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