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Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Written by: Rick Staggenborg, MD on May 23, 2009 6:13 AM PDT

This essay is dedicated to William Gibson, one of the finest of today's science fiction writers and a visionary of the near future.

When I was young, I used to laugh at the notion that we are still evolving. Drawings on the cover of science fiction dime novels showed future men with swollen brain cases making their heads look vaguely like mushrooms. The effect was as comical as the idea itself. 

I reasoned that if evolution is driven by survival of the fittest, surely our bodies could not be evolving because we had evolved to the point where selective pressures no longer operated. The proof was in longer life expectancy and the defeat of many diseases that had formerly weeded out those with less fortunate genetic endowments.

As I grew older and found my time occupied with more serious studies, I regretfully put aside these fascinating stories of worlds of the future and prepared myself for my personal future. Now, with my formal education long behind me, I find myself reading more about current threats to human survival that make me question my earlier assumption that human evolution has ceased. I have recently realized that this requires an important paradigm shift.

There are many threats to human life on this planet that the less reality challenged among us have begun to face. Chief among these is global climate change. We have depended on the energy of the sun for our growth and survival since before life was merely blue-green algae, a scum formed from the primordial ooze. At that time it covered the Earth’s oceans, deriving our sustenance directly from the sun through the miraculous process of photosynthesis. Lacking minds or souls, we could not imagine that God had looked upon the void and said “Let there be light.”

As life on Earth gradually evolved into its more familiar forms, we now are beginning to realize that our unchecked growth is becoming like a cancer on our mother, Gaia. The ruthless mathematics of exponential growth is causing us to approach what mathematicians call an asymptote. In more familiar terms, human life threatens to reach the stage where if we were still algae, we would soon form an algal bloom. Most of us are familiar with this phenomenon, which results in an apparently clear body of water turning green (or red, depending on the sunlight converting pigment of the particular species) overnight.

This cannot happen with human life. Humans are not capable of unchecked growth forever leading to a sudden limit on further growth in the population. The smooth graphs illustrating exponential growth are but a model and an asymptotic curve eventually rises to infinity at a nearly instantaneous rate. This is but another example of how models fail to reflect reality. 

Unfortunately, this is not simply an intellectually challenging exercise of developing a more complex equation to describe the phenomenon. The failure to grasp the implications of this reality threatens the survival of all advanced forms of life on Earth.

As the population rises, selective pressures again emerge to slow its growth. This has given us some breathing room to solve the problem. Unfortunately, millions have died and will die from disease, pandemic, environmental change, war and pestilence as a result of our neglect of the problem for the decades since it was first recognized. 

I recall reading in my youth that we would by now have developed interstellar travel, which would have allowed us to relieve this pressure by populating other planets, Terraforming them if necessary. Because we have devoted our resources to war and the accumulation of wealth, that time is a long way off. Meanwhile, the population bomb continues to tick.

You may think, what can we do to prevent this apparently inevitable fate? The answer comes in the realization that we have not yet grown as a species beyond our adolescence. Only when humanity begins to function as a single organism, like the algae that once covered the planet, will we be able to avert catastrophe and save ourselves. Despite the prayers of millions, Jesus will not come down from the skies to save us. If God created us, it endowed us with reason and free will so that we might save ourselves from the disasters of our own making that now threaten our survival.

You might ask yourself how we can hasten our evolution and become adults who take responsibility for their actions before it is too late to save ourselves from self-destruction. After all, the more mature among us realize that every action has repercussions that affect others immediately but eventually affect ourselves as well. Unfortunately, too many humans never fully mature morally, a prerequisite for understanding the problem and its solution. 

Intelligence agencies use the term blowback to refer to the predictable consequences of their actions to innocent bystanders. When the consequences of human actions are unexpected and influenced by seemingly random events, we refer to them as being due to the butterfly effect. This is based on the idea that the beating of a butterfly's wings can have an effect on local weather patterns which can have effects that  change weather patterns worldwide. Thus, simple disturbances in the existing order can produce effects that can be as profound as they are unpredictable. 

The butterfly effect explains many things, from the consistent failure of self-interested U.S. meddling in the affairs of other nations to the repeated collapse of the world economy. However, the regular expansion and bursting of bubbles seems to indicate contrary to popular belief, these are not random events, but blowback that Goldman Sachs and its favored associates consider acceptable collateral damage to the American and world economies and to the Peoples who depend on the ability to earn a living wage in an economic environment increasingly hostile to life as we know it. 

Whether due to blowback or random events, both war and boom-bust cycles result from the short sighted actions of an economic elite that worships Ayn Rand and regards life’s purpose as the lowly pursuit of personal wealth and pleasure.  It seems that the generals in this game of economic warfare do not consider the possibility of a global economic winter if they implode the American economy.

For those unfamiliar with the malignant teachings of the misguided prophet Ayn Rand, she postulated that it is the nature of every biological organism to pursue naked self -interest in order to further the propagation of its species at the expense of others.  She fostered a movement to justify selfishness that assumed almost religious fervor in the last three decades that have brought the United States and world economies to a virtual collapse as a result of blind faith in the God of greed. 

Among her acolytes was former Fed chief Alan Greenspan, whose faith in the invisible hand of the market caused him to refuse to regulate the derivatives that were at the heart of the global economic meltdown.  The Pnzi scheme of mortgaging houses to high risk buyers was brought down by the first shift of the economic winds like the house of cards that it was.

If we are to solve the many problems threatening human civilization we must understand the danger in accepting her assertion that radical individualism is the way of nature. We cannot accept that the treatment of life as a game won by accumulating the most toys by the time we die is a good and natural thing. I will not bother to cite the many counterexamples that refute Rand's silly assertions. Thom Hartmann has already eloquently addressed this in The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight. I refer the interested reader to it for a powerful but frightening explanation of the details of what I am attempting to describe. 

We are beginning to grasp the consequences of the actions of the rigid fundamentalists believers in the discredited faith of the free market economy. They have tried to proselytize the tenets of a Satanic religion that worships greed and selfishness. The assumptions Rand made have become part of the collective consciousness of the electronic herd that has driven our economy once more to the brink of its destruction. If we cannot change the perception that it is human nature to think only of ourselves, it seems unlikely that human civilization will survive in a form that we recognize.

The implication of my thesis is that our economy must radically change in order to produce a just world order that will assure the survival of the human race. A fundamentalist Christian fearing Armageddon  might be tempted to imagine that Rand is the Antichrist. Prophets have told us that the world will end in fire andiIt is not hard to imagine that global climate change might be metaphorically described in this way. If Rand's thesis is not challenged, unrestrained greed may lead to a literal Hell on Earth.  

We have to believe that the predicted end of the world is not a promise but a warning. Perhaps if we can come to a new understanding of our relationship to the Earth and to each other, the world will indeed end, only to be replaced by a new and better one. Just as we create our own individual reality in the privacy of our minds, we can consciously create a new reality of the world in the higher mind that is the human collective consciousness, if we so choose.

We have the tool in hand that will assure our survival. It is the Internet. Through this instrument, mankind can rapidly reverse its slide down a slippery slope toward its self-destruction. Like most things, it is not inherently good or evil but a tool that we must individually and collectively decide to use for one or the other. Used for the good of Mankind, it can produce an exponential rate of change in the shared belief system of Mankind for the better, the like of which the world has never seen.

The beauty of the internet is that it has caused a connection of human minds and information around the planet such as never existed before. Used as a tool to manipulate investor greed, it can cause convulsions in the stock market and destroy national economies. Used as a tool to work together to drastically change the power structure by allowing people all over the planet to plan together to end corporate domination in a fascist New World Order, it can be our salvation. 

If the collective consciousness of man is connected through the internet, there is the potential to create a tectonic paradigm shift in human consciousness. If we are approaching asymptotic growth in this process we may see that the End of the World is not a catastrophe but a new beginning for Mankind.

One can think of the Internet as a vast, somewhat disordered mind. As it begins to reach its potential it assumes the nature of an intelligence, bringing together the neurons of our individual brains to form a superbrain, from which arises a collective consciousness which can direct itself toward solving the many problems besetting us. 

New thoughts can propagate at the speed of light, spreading like a wave if the right individuals can be reached. The idea of six degrees of separation can be used to amplify the message by utilizing the interconnectedness of all of us through nodes in the network that are the most highly connected individuals. Such rapid evolution is our best hope of saving ourselves from the threats that at this point appear obvious to most thinking people and unavoidable to those who have already given up hope in the essential goodness of mankind. 

It is not too late to change the course of history if we can learn to abandon the conflict model of change and work together in enlightened self interest to create a better world for our children.

Please go to the International Planned Parenthood website and give generously.

Rick Staggenborg, MD

Coos Bay, Oregon


  1. Although I describe the evolution of consciousness as akin to a chaottic "butterfly effect," the fact is that the evolution of consciousness can be quite deliberately manipulated by someone with the understanding of human psychology, enough exposure to the public and a compelling narrative. Thom Hartmann alludes to this in The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight.

    I considered calling this essay "Going Viral," since initially that was the main theme I was thinking of. The actual title of this and many other essays is somewhat arbitrary, as it is often difficult to identify an overarching theme among the inter-related concepts I try to introduce in each of these early ones.

    I founded Soldiers For Peace International under the assumption that if enough people understood the real causes of war, there would be a tectonic shift in human consciousness that would result in our suddenly finding the idea of war inconceivable. "Sudden," of course, is a relative term when one is using a geological metaphor.

  2. To elaborate on this theme, I should point out that underlying the idea of human evolution in modern times as the evolution of our collective consciousness, it is helpful to think of the totality of the internet as analogous to a brain and the information in it as analogous to a simple mind that is the product of that brain.

    In such a model, each of us is the equivalent of a computer that is linked to all of the other computers whose processing capacity is thus amplified. We correspond to interlinked neuron networks and are performing many parallel processes at any given time.

    Specific functions in such a computer network are like linked neuron subsystems that perform each of the cognitive tasks involved in perception, information processing and storage, computation and memory retrieval.

    Scientists studying artificial intelligence are using just such computer networks to model various features of the human brain that have the potential to tremendously increase the processing capabilities of the artificial intelligence they are seeking to create.

    Given that the internet will eventually contain all the important knowledge that Mankind has accumulated over the millenia since the scientific method began to be reasoned out,such a mind will have the capacity to think at an almost instantaneous rate.

    When enough ideas are shared and consensus is formed on what it means to be human, our moral responsibilities to each other and of nations to their People and all Peoples of the world, we will have the tool we need to establish liberty and justice for all and end war.

    The way that we will do this is to approach the issue with conscious intent to reach this goal. There are fascist forces in the United States, China and elsewhere trying to control the internet. We must defeat them to realize the ancient goal of ending war.

    The superbrain that is being created by our scientists will of course be weaponized if we do not prevent it. This is one of the most important short term objectives of Soldiers For Peace International. At present our leaders will not listen because of the strength and power of the military-industrial complex.

    Events in the Muslim world are inspiring Americans to renew the fight for democracy in America. With the middle class under siege and unions being stripped of the power to protect workers, the time is now or never to build the international united front that will end the threat of the imposition of a fascist New World Order.

    In order to win the "war" that has already begun, we will need to look past our differences to join in an "Army" with a common mission: universal freedom through world democracy providing justice and real security for all citizens of the planet.

  3. Great work Rick! I see you finally got that synopsis you were looking for input on a year or two ago.

  4. Thanks, my friend. Hope you liked it. The input I got was very helpful, although I still feel it is a bit rambling. Hope no one else notices!


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