TED Conversations

Bob Kirkpatrick

Writer - Editor, Deludia.com

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Are we psychotic rats helping nature to cull the human "herd?"

The talk by Paul Gilding took me back to a thought I had after listening to another speech on global disasters. Mentioned were volcano eruptions, earthquakes, declining ice packs and fisheries, erosion, air pollution, ground water contamination, increasing rates of life threatening disease, and more. For some reason, I began to think back to a high school science class where natural culling of deer population was described. In short, the deer would reach a high enough population that they ate the available food, so deer would starve, more would get sick and perish to predators. This would reduce the population back to a level which could be sustained by the deer's environment.

It caused me to imagine nature doing the same thing to the human animal; essentially allowing us to pollute and contaminate our environment, adopt non-survival attitudes, and throwing in a few natural disasters to boot. All to drive humans to a pinnacle of collapse that would significantly lower the population and produce a strong nudge back toward stone age technology.

The idea would make for an excellent B grade science fiction story, but I began to wonder if there was a possibility that there might be some small aspect of the idea that might be factual. That natural disasters aside, is there some innate force in humans that causes us to be reckless with our environment and resources?

Psychological studies have demonstrated that rats forced into overcrowding and diminishing resources become psychotic and even more self destructive as those pressures increase.

Are humans possibly affected similarly; Is there an element to us that likens us to those psychotic rats, declining deer populations and natural culling?

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Closing Statement from Bob Kirkpatrick

No.

  • Mar 16 2012: It could be that we self-destruct, or it could be that the earth will help that along. For example: the super caldera that is Yellowstone. If that thing blows, it will take out a huge chunk of the world's population.
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    Mar 16 2012: I'm thinking on more empirical levels. Do we have a built-in self destruction button? Perhaps I should have used lemmings as my example. They aren't really suicidal, they just get so caught up in what each other is doing they go blind to the dangers of where they're headed. Is there a human blind spot? Is it inherent in all animals?
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    Mar 16 2012: Eastern philosophy was developed to address this very issue. We are a social animal and tend to just want and want. But we have extraordinary computing skills that allow us to make intelligent decisions. Eastern philosophy was meant to advance us on the spiritual path that would lead us to seeing the big picture. All religions are built on the principles of Eastern philosophy, but in today's market, they are more resembling herd mentality than a real search for answers. That is one of my pet peeves, why aren't they telling us how to deal with real problems rather than imaginary ones. When I walk out of church, I feel like I just walked out of romper room.

    The geological record shows that planet earth goes through climate change. Our time here isn't going to make it all go away. We have to adapt to changes, and foreseeing those changes allows us to make intelligent decisions ahead of the game. That is what Eastern philosophy was meant to foster, to put us in sync with the creative forces of nature so that we could draw from its lessons. Science is doing that very thing now in trying to understand how the universe works, but its foresight is a little clouded. No one can agree because it's all about the money and who's agenda is going to get the most attention.

    I am amazed at how reckless people can be. They say it gives them an adrenaline rush. But who's resources do they draw from when their reckless activity goes out of control? I am also amazed at how many people like horror. They like to be scared. But what does it teach them?

    Militant religious fanatics breed out of control and then resort to genocide to keep competitive groups at bay. They are not learning to coexist, they are learning the law of the jungle. They are becoming social animals rather than enlightened souls.

    We have to keep ourselves focused on the big picture. Science is a great tool. But spiritual guidance is necessary to keep it in focus.
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    Mar 16 2012: I've often wondered this myself,is it a genetic expression that a species that gets to blowout proportions goes through?is there a mechanism in all of us that kicks in and we get hyperaggressive towards oneanother as the notion that there is not enough to go around,not enough food,too many people, considering the planet can't topple over from the weight of us and yet people act as if it is.

    I heard yesterday that the C02 content in australia has passed that of oxygen,it's frightening stuff yet the religious in me says this is meant to happen.
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    Mar 16 2012: well you know what i know so what do you want to do now?