Kin and Kind – Some learning in progress?

“Kin and Kind” is an article in the Mar 5 New Yorker by Jonah Lehrer, on the remarkable career of E.O. Wilson and his quest to explain apparent “altruism” in animal behavior.  The reigning explanation for evolution is pure competition, and he’s beginning to think there must be more to it, asking “…is goodness an adaptive trait?”   I note that the very first ecologist to study complex ecological behavior, S.A. Forbes, had much the same way of raising the question, in 1887.

The question, possibly, is not how mutations affect behavior, but our having not looked squarely at what is common to the behaviors of life that are so successful.


for The Mail,

E.O. Wilson is remarkable among scientists for being willing to question his own dogma.  Where the article ends is with his next seeming breach of scientific etiquette, his now beginning to ask if “goodness is an adaptive trait”.

Very surprisingly, that is where the very first scientist to study complex organization in ecologies, S.A. Forbes actually began.    In 1887, in “The Lake as a Microcosm”, Forbes observed that somehow networks of many species evolved to respect each other enough to not make food chains highly unstable, as they would be if their competition had winners. Continue reading Kin and Kind – Some learning in progress?

Is “Sustainable Capitalism” a half step too few?

In “Beyond Firm-Level Sustainable Capitalism” John Fullerton reviews “Sustainable Capitalism” by Generation Investment Management LLP, as still not respecting our finite world.   Maximizing long term gain doesn’t make it sustainable, for example, given the difficulty people have had identifying future liabilities for currently profitable plans.   I add a graphic example, of how defining the world as what we know about it is deceiving, and results in:

simply enormous omissions from the information set we usually think of as needed for making good decisions


It’s great to see such a solid critique of Generation’s “Sustainable Capitalism”, that on the surface seems like remarkably responsive to environmental issues as an investment strategy, far more than than ANY sustainable investment plan of ten years ago.   The whole attitude toward avoiding environmental conflict, as a business strategy, may be applied inconstantly today but seems to have really swept the corporate world too.

It’s nice to see you’re thinking is still a few steps ahead, too, and seeing their approach as somewhat of a half-way measure. Continue reading Is “Sustainable Capitalism” a half step too few?