Sally called for a session earlier than due. "I have to see you right now."
Her department head scheduled a meeting with Sally and asked that she also bring her union representative. Her students had met with Sally's boss and relayed a list of complaints about her style and preparation. Sally, with some 15 years of seniority and a year, because of her age, from retirement, should not have been distressed but she was.
I counseled a middle ground, take each complaint on its own and offer another interpretation or a change in classroom tactics. No big deal, but Sally followed evolution (as she already had when she called me).
She initially detected that the leader was an EMT, "They always make trouble because they think they know everything." Further investigation turned up a young, obnoxious, part-time instructor who had taken some of Sally's assignments (territory) before and possibly elicited the students' going to her department head.
Sally moved into combat mode, "discovered" a support group in her last year's students who just happened to stop by and say that they ALL missed her. One half of this year's group (the half that she supervises in the clinic) told her that they wanted to take more courses with her.
Aha. She had a team and relayed their findings to the boss. Crisis averted, honor (and pecking position) protected.
She could have been a microbe discovering a symbiotic alliance or a mid level chimpanzee at Arnheim. The guidance people call it "individuation and differentiation." Sulloway (1996) refers to Darwinian "competition leading diversity." (not strictly true, but so what!). Krebs and Denton (1997) discuss our proclivity for developing alliances, even when randomly assigned to the partner. The incident is almost trivial, even in its compliance to well-aged forms observed even by middle school primates. "My friends can beat up your friends." I nearly forgot the episode.
Today, Christmas, there was a newscast of a poll finding that more Americans going to church than in years past, that we are increasingly religious. The rub is that no one said, "Christian" although I presumed it to be true and was fairly happy about it.(1) Then, I remembered an incident from yesterday.
There was a caller to the talk show, a caller from Syria who identified himself as Christian. He noted a "Muslim belt" wrapping from Malaysia to Morocco, and that Semite Christians are being eliminated in Muslim countries. That we all should "wake up and smell the coffee."
He didn't mention the substantial Muslim communities in Paris or even in the United States. Likewise, he neglected the Muslim organizing efforts in our prisons and in our inner city neighborhoods where Muslim social dominance may be taken by vigilant mothers as proof of dependability, safety, an ascendant future for her children, and of a divine mission. Louie Walcott (Farrakhan) is spending Quaddafi's money someplace besides his own jet; the rituals and cash infusion confer "supernormal stimulus" properties on himself and on his followers. Since his customary targets, despite his own light skin, are black the contrast can be heightened between them and "the rest of us." The kindling is potentially worse than kerosene and fertilizer.
Stuart Kauffman (1996) notes that large things always erode when there is a change in the fitness landscape. He uses the Soviet Union as one example, downsizing and American industry as another. The smaller companies outcompete the larger in changing fitness landscapes because innovation (mutation) is a key survival asset. The little guys beat the dinosaurs only as global temperature increased, even before the meteor crashed (Ward, 1989). We need to stay in the middle of things internationally, including Bosnia despite two millennia of fighting in that area, and promote the growth of lots of "little guys."
There are two (or perhaps a hundred!) significant gradients. The one describes the infusion of "Western" culture into the Middle East. The mullahs are correct to view us as the "Great Satan" to the extent our values and toys erode their coherence. They "know" that our ideas will change their fitness landscape and downsize them. The second gradient is our own dependence on Islam's petroleum. IBM is said (talk show gossip from a computer maker) to have once made competitors dependent on them. That is, IBM would order everything the competitor could produce, encouraging the competitor to expand operations and assume more debt. In the second year, IBM withdrew all purchases, collapsing the competitor. IBM then bought their stock very cheaply.
Somewhere in Crawford and Krebs (1997) is the observation that the United States is currently the most ethnically diverse nation in the history of humankind. Kauffman's model suggests an increase in regional autonomy (ethnic as well?) should there be a significant change in our own fitness landscape. Thus, the IBM tactic (even if not true about IBM) could work against us, changing our own fitness landscape, downsizing the United States and any coherent domestic or international policy. If the first gradient is the first to reach it's axis (Islam becomes more complex), then we can still percolate, swap ideas, mutate, and symbiote at top rate as in a ripe vat of kefir (Margulis & Sagan, 1997) (2). If we run out of gas too soon, then our survivors will face Mecca several times per day.
The mullahs must be highly ambivalent about us. Our toys satisfy their psychological adaptations as well as ours. (3) Will they opt to follow their PAs, buy Nintendo, and ogle Cindy Crawford in exchange for a loss in geographic sweep? It's not a simple prediction because they also likely have some PAs for hunting, killing, and eating red meat. Nesse & Berridge (1997) suggest that Nintendo is addictive on the basis that it stimulants reward and incentive systems faster and more intensely than natural behavior requirements. You can satisfy your presumed centers for hunting and killing other chimps without personal risk. And you can do it many times per hour. A jihad could be just as satisfying (as measured by frequency of occurrence) and addictive in pumping up a manic state as staring at Madonna or Cindy, particularly if you've never seen them. (4)
1) Christianity already experienced a fitness shift and downsize. There is no monopoly; therefore, no inquisitions, racks, or boiled evolutionists as happened in Europe and in early Salem. I can happily do my thing.
2) Margulis uses kefir, a yogurt relative, as an example of symbiosis and perhaps a prototype for how new organisms formed. Kefir, a middle eastern product, is recently advertised in the United States.
3) If you were in an egg through high school and still don't believe in the cue and reinforcer properties of sex and aggression, count the hits and dollars generated by various web sites. Porn and bombs win.
4) Thomas Kuhn (1992) discusses science and the resistance of scientists to change their beliefs. Religious leaders are apt to be little different and for about the same reasons, whether articulated in Skinnerian, Darwinian, or Kuhn's language.
Crawford C & Krebs D (1997) Handbook of Evolutionary Psychology. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum. (I would be exact and cite the chapter but I was nodding off at the time. Sorry!)
Kauffman, S. (1995) At Home in the Universe: The Search for the Laws of Self-Organization and Complexity. NY: Oxford.
Kuhn, T. (1992) The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (3rd Ed), 1992, Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.
Krebs D & Denton K. (1997) Social Illusions and self-deception: The evolution of biases in person perception. In Simpson J & Kendrick D (Eds.) Evolutionary Social Psychology. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum, pp. 21-47.
Margulis L & Sagan D (1997) Slanted Truths: Essays in Gaia, Symbiosis, and Evolution. NY: Springer-Verlag.
Nesse R & Berridge K (1997) Psychoactive drug use in evolutionary perspective. Science, 278, 63-66.
Sulloway, F. (1996) Born To Rebel: Birth Order, Family Dynamics, and Creative Lives. New York: Pantheon.
Ward, P. (1989) The End of Evolution: On Mass Extinctions and the Preservation of Biodiversity. NY: Bantam.