Brian's response to the Quinnian Pop Dynamics thread


#1
 This is addressed to Ink and this entire subject in general.  In [i]My Ishmael[/i], I think I remember Daniel Quinn describing an "Erratic Retaliator" dynamic that happens when tribes live in neighboring territories.  These tribes wouldn't neccesarily be competitive with each other in the way that "Takers" see it (through growth), but the tribes would have ocassional skirmishes with each other that would keep their populations in check with the land and resources in their territories.  If one of the tribes tried to grow through "totalitarian agriculture" and arm themselves with the assertion that they knew "the one right way to live" their imposition would be retained by the "borders" created by the now unsympathetic neighboring tribes.  The offending tribe would either lose population through war or be forced to back down on growth because of their territiories limit of natural resources.
I interpret "survival of the fittest" to mean that [b]those creatures which maintain a comfortable  [i]fit[/i] in an interdependent and cyclical ecosytem will continue to reproduce and co-evolve with the rest of the ecosystem.[/b]   (catchy, huh?)  There seems to be a balance between competiveness and cooperation in every sustainable system, and that puts a limit on growth.  Civilization's interpretation is more like "survival of the fiercest" which will work as a short term competitive gain for an individual or species, but ultimately will prove fatal when the resource supply is depleted to the point where it can't meet the demand of "the fierce" anymore.  This is likely why the huge, resource-demanding dinosaurs are all exctinct while most other smaller species continued to survive.  Through this process of limited growth, I think species "learn" to find their niche and "cooperate" with the biological support system around them.
Civilization's "meme" that there is "one right way to live" is what I think Daniel Quinn sees as the real culprit causing overpopualtion.  "Mother Culture" basically tells us that quantity is better than quality, and that this growth is best acheived through totalitarian agriculture and the hierarchy that supports it.  Quinn wants to change minds so that we can see the error we cause ourselves when we pursue only the wealth of quantity.  The "food race" is just a simplistic way of explaining how humans are converting the earth's biomass into human flesh.  I think Quinn intended it as an easy-to-understand visualization, not something you could neccesarily trace backwards to find a solution to overpopulation.  He seems to be asking us to try SOMETHING else, whether it be personally limiting our own offspring, or creating policies like China's one child per family.  
Daniel Quinn's suggested method, of course, is that we return to small tribal units in which we will be self-limiting in size due to social contentedness, resource limitations, and perhaps the ocassional "erratic retaliation."  Dynamics within the tribes would all be different, but each would likely have a great emphasis on mutual support, and embracing each members' very different contributions as special gifts.  Just consider for a moment that the elderly were almost always revered in tribal society rather than seen as a burden.  "Weeding out the weak ones" only makes sense if the tribe's vision is the pursuit of violent and unchecked growth, which has shown to be a fatal meme to the quality and "fitness" of life.  I think this is DQ's basic message....   I hope this is helpful

#2

Brian-

You may not have read fully to the end of the thread. I said:

Anything else besides further posts by Sacha (or perhaps Jason and Urban Scout to answer questions/address observations Sacha has made about their work), I will shunt to the humanure bucket. This thread has gotten too messy.

Hence why I’ve moved your post to its own thread. The humanure bucket on second thought seemed overkill.


#3

Willem~

I guess I should have stated why I posted that post in the pop. dynamics thread so it didn’t seem like I was going off-topic.

I was hoping for a welcome to the conversation and an assurance that my questions and contributions are welcome.

You may have noticed earlier in the thread that I asked some questions about how many children where actually optimal for humans to have in a tribal setting; I even proposed a theory. I’m incredible curious about this subject, but I feel intimidated in continuing to question and theorize when certain individuals seem to be the leaders and seem to know so much and have such ready answers.

It doesn’t seem like dissent on a simple nuance population dynamics should cause much of a problem, and yet I’m afraid to make anymore statements that sound like dissent if it is a problem. I know that everyone is supposed to have read Jason’s 30 (I have) and agree with them (I mostly do), but I would think there’s at least some leeway there. I’m trying to find out what that leeway is.

Brian~

Thanks for the info. I have read enough passages and quotes from Quinn to know that he should be high on my reading list. In fact, that’s why I acknowledged that I haven’t yet given Quinn a thorough reading yet: because I wanted people to know that I was getting kind of a bad first impression but was open to having that notion corrected.

I can’t say that I agree or disagree with Sacha about Quinn’s philosophy being rooted in civ, because I haven’t read him in full. However, I can say that many people’s notions of Darwinian evolution and population dynamics have been thoroughly rooted in civ… which makes me wary.


#4

Ink: your contributions are heartily welcome! Please dont feel as if they arent! Everyone has something to contribute that others dont know about. Just because someone is an “expert” (or an expert - no quotes) doesnt mean you cant question them here. Just form it in a question. Simple, no? Also, on this specific topic, ai think Willem is just trying to keep on the topic first adressed, rather than stifling dissent. The topic was Sacha’s views on Quin’s theory of population dynamics, not on population dynamics in general, or others’ views on Quin’s theories. (Though ai dont actually agree with limiting a thread to strictly the topic originally stated.)
That said, a simple rule of thumb: tell your story, or ask a question; dont tell others their own story as if you know about it, cause only they do; dont insult anyone on the forum, but if they arent on the forum, you can go at it; lastly, interperet all posts you find objectionable as your failure to recognize their good intent and then ask them if this is truly the case. This should avoid shouting matches and needless insults.
Though ai dont remember “Thou shalt always and unswervingly post on topic.” Did ai miss it or forget about it Willem? Or am ai going way out on a limb and saying things that are completely untrue?


#5

Wow. Awesome rundown! ;D

Though ai dont remember "Thou shalt always and unswervingly post on topic." Did ai miss it or forget about it Willem? Or am ai going way out on a limb and saying things that are completely untrue?

I definitely stepped into a situation where usually I would stay more hands-off, for the aforementioned reasons. You have it correct; normally I don’t care about “staying on-topic”.


#6

if you don’t mind i’m going to copy and paste this at the myspace rewild group as a general rule for discourse. it seems to work pretty well here so why not use it on myspace.


#7

Just a quick comment, for what it’s worth – Brian, I think your post is right on, for the most part. Especially –

There seems to be a balance between competiveness and cooperation in every sustainable system, and that puts a limit on growth. Civilization's interpretation is more like "survival of the fiercest" which will work as a short term competitive gain for an individual or species, but ultimately will prove fatal

Yes, pure competition and obsession with expanding your own group (species, tribe, corporation, etc) serves only in the short run and is fatal in the long run. As you say, and deserves repeating, “There seems to be a balance between competiveness and cooperation in every sustainable system, and that puts a limit on growth.”

(As talked about elsewhere, animals like deer who are dependent on predators to keep their numbers in check are, in a real sense, “cooperating” with the predators they depend on, and the removal of the predators they depend on is a catastrophe for them.)

And Ink –

I can't say that I agree or disagree with Sacha about Quinn's philosophy being rooted in civ, because I haven't read him in full.

I do have to clarify. I am NOT saying that Daniel Quinn’s philosophy in its entirety is rooted in civ. Quite the contrary. There is a LOT of good stuff and strong valuable insights in Quinn’s books. (They are easy reads, too.) I have a great deal of respect for Quinn. But certain things have to be sorted out.


#8

If you mean mai patictular version, then ai dont mind at all. :wink: Ai hereby release all ai write and type into the creative commons, for all to read, copy, edit etc.


#9

sorry, i’m new here and NO expert and don’t have very many answers, but my instinctive response to this question is replacement number for herself and her chosen mate. meaning each human gets one single other human to replace themselves with. this presupposes that the population truly is occupying its given space in a totally sustainable manner. due to accidents and diseases, one of which i would surmise to be slightly more likely and one slightly less in a tribal society, that roughly equals out to the scientific number of whatever the industrial world’s average is now. meaning, we currently produce about 2.3 (with slight variations) kids per couple now, and that is roughly a replacement value for those who have passed on due to accidents & currently incurable diseases.

this should actually be an encouraging sign, as people occupying the developed nations generally have the resources available to them to have as many children as they can conceivably afford to take care of. so, given as much food as we have & prosperity & bread & circuses, we seem to have gone back to what should have been the ideal breeding rate. however, i did not say that those 2.3 came from a sustainable number of originating population, nor that they were occupying the space sustainably. one article i read claimed that each of us here in the industrial world uses up the resources that could support 32 individuals in the developing world. so, heh…time for myself to be ashamed of technology usage again. bad computer, bad!