[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index][Subject Index][Author Index]

a new science--paleopsychology

Many of you will likely consider the following "old news" since the
message has been around other places (e.g. PaleoNet).  It was sent to
the old listprocessor address back in April -- unbeknownst to me it
appears that listproc@lepomis... has not been running since the end of
February.  Howard Bloom is one of the 200 or so people currently
scratching his head wondering what the error message he just received
is in reference to.  For others of you who sent messages to
listproc@lepomis... the reason your mail was just answered now is that
listproc just "woke up" there (I had to nudge it).  Sorry for the
confusion and sorry for the delay in the following.  Even though it's
later than Howard intended it, it is still somewhat topical (in one
sense perhaps even moreso than it was in April) and I suspect some of
you will find it of interest.  If you've recently received an error
message from listproc@lepomis... you can most probably ignore it

Mickey Rowe     (mrowe@indiana.edu)

------------------------- forwarded message ------- MR ---

Could you please consider posting the following announcement on your
newsgroup?  Many thanks, Howard Bloom.
We have started a new discipline--paleo-bio-socio-psychology or
paleopsychology for short.  The enclosed manifesto will appear  in the
Journal of the Across Species Comparisons and Psychopathology Society 
July or August (scheduling is being decided this week).  We hope you
find it of some interest.
                          Howard Bloom
       New York Academy of Sciences, American Association
     for the Advancement of Science, American Psychological 
             Society, Academy of Political Science, 
         Human Behavior and Evolution Society, European
                     Sociobiological Society

My collaborators and I propose the establishment of a new
discipline: paleo-bio-socio-psychology or "paleopsychology" for
short.  Each of us has already taken initial steps toward creating
a corpus of paleopsychological knowledge.  We welcome those who
would like to join us.

Standard paleontology has done a magnificent job of recreating the
morphology of creatures ranging from the first life forms 3.85
billion years ago to the early humans of comparatively recent
times.  In the case of the majority of pre-historic species,
however, paleontology has left us with a considerable problem.  How
did these creatures behave?  What, if any, were their social
patterns?  What cognitive and problem-solving abilities did they
possess?  What was the bio-evolutionary sequence which led to
learning, imitation, herding, information sharing, and to what John
Tyler Bonner has called animal culture?

Primate fossil evidence has often been looked at with an eye to
inferring the origins of campsites, tools, migratory patterns,
"mental modules," and some of the subject matter of which
paleopsychology is made.  Similarly, dinosaur remains have been
scrutinized for signs of maternal nurturance and other indicators
of social attachment and of the ability to tell one conspecific
from another.  But what of the social interactions and reactive
powers of the earliest bacteria, the first eukaryotes, the
recently-discovered Precambrian clams, and the Cambrian profusion
of phyletic representatives--from trilobites to eurypterids?  

What about the first insects of 350 mya--were they initially
solitary, as E.O. Wilson and numerous others assume, or were they
social, as one of us suspects?  Was individuality or sociality the
original state of living beings?  If the latter, how did the
anomaly of solitary existence emerge?  If the former, where does
sociality begin in the fossil record, and why?

The tools with which these questions can be probed are few today,
but will surely expand as more minds join the quest.  Mass-
behavior-specialist Howard Bloom has used data on bacterial social
behavior along with fossil evidence to postulate that the
cyanobacteria of 3.5 billion years ago were not only
extraordinarily social, but that their colonies exhibited what
physicist-turned-microbiologist Eshel ben Jacob calls a collective
"creative" intelligence.  Extrapolating from the work of Sorin
Sonea and Maurice Panisset (1983), Bloom has gone on to make the
case that the Pre-cambrian system of prokaryotic information
exchange was literally worldwide.  In addition, Bloom has penned
four papers for Germany's Telepolis tracing the history of the
cooperative impulse and of cognitive development from the first
10(-32) second of the Big Bang to 35 million b.p.  Combined with
the data of Ben Jacob and of the University of Chicago's James
Shapiro, Bloom's published views call into question fundamental
axioms of neo-Darwinist evolutionary theory.

Invertebrate zoologist Kerry B. Clark, creator of the definitive
teaching CD-ROM Metazoa, has applied the rules of his field to the
fossil record, tentatively recreating Cambrian social behavior. 
Among other things, he hypothesizes that Anomalocaris canadensis
swam in feeding herds. "The largest animals in most ecosystems are
typically herding herbivores," he notes, "and I see nothing about
Anomalocaris that precludes this."

Paleontologist Kevin Brett, who spent five years working at the
Burgess Shale for the Royal Ontario Museum and National Geographic
Magazine, disagrees about Anomalocaris, but cites evidence that
trilobites may well have been sexually dimorphic, and that many
trilobites were, in his words, "quite ornate." Brett also points to
the well-known observation that, "Trilobites are often found in
mass associations of mono-specific gatherings of complete
individuals. This suggests mating and/or moulting gatherings such
as those observed in modern marine arthropods such as Limulus
(Horseshoe crabs). Evidence has been found for multispecific
gatherings as well as physical processes such as wave and current
transport."  From this and the positioning of trilobites in fossil
beds, he proposes that trilobite sexual gatherings may not have
been entirely promiscuous.  Modern "toads," he points out, "will
mate with just about anything--so they don't necessarily recognize
members of even their own species."  Brett suspects that Cambrian
arthropods were more discerning. 

Entomologist Christine Nalepa cites an understudied source of data,
trace fossils.  From fecal remains in chambers carved in dead
Carboniferous tree ferns, she infers that the earliest proto-
cockroaches (Cryptocercidae-like insects) may have shown active
social behavior 300 million years ago--over 160 million years
before even the most extreme dates hypothesized for the emergence
of eusociality.

As Brett points out, "All animals are social.  We have the
opportunity to trace the degrees of sociality in the fossil record
using burrow and hive traces, mass associations, nests, etc."  Adds
Clark, "The chemical transmitters in the most advanced organisms
have their precursors in the simple biochemically-mediated
behavioral responses of bacteria and protists, indicating a
continuity of mechanisms between these extremes.     

"The basic organizational features of the most advanced nervous
systems -- ganglionation, condensation of diffuse sensors into
discrete organs, and interneuronal processing -- that we associate
with intelligent behavior, are expressed in all but the simplest
animals, and it is reasonable to look for, and expect, some
expression of intelligent behaviors in 'lower' animals. Social
behaviors, by assembling superorganisms, facilitate 'emergent
properties' that can assemble intelligent behaviors not found in
solitary forms, optimizing exploitation of their environments, and
may or may not be associated with fossil evidence of the
superorganism. The two prime correlates of intelligence, organism
size and complexity, can arise both in big, complex individuals and
in smaller organisms that communally form large, complex units of
biomass.  Our knowledge and recognition of such social interactions
is still at an early stage."

Bloom, Clark, Brett and Nalepa are all members of our group.  But
we have illustrious forebears. Charles Darwin hinted at a
psychology of the creatures which preceded us in his Expression of
Emotions in Man and Animals (1872).  With Darwin's blessings,
George Romanes took the query a step further in his 1884 Mental
Evolution In Animals.  Lynn Margulis has done a masterful job of
reconstructing the lives of what she calls "microbial communities
in the Archean and Proterozoic Eons."  Margulis credits as other
predecessors Schimper (in his work of 1833), Famintzyn (1891),
Mereschkovsky (1909), Portier (1918) and Wallin (1927)--all
concerned, as is Margulis, with evolutionary cell biology.  In
addition, B. Moore has worked recently on reconstructing the
evolution of imitative learning.

Yet the area explored by these pioneers has often been forgotten
once the researchers responsible have gone.  It is time to end this
periodic amnesia.  The tools exist.  The evidence exists.  And the
need to know is there.  The evolution of behavior, sociality, and
the physiology of proto-mentation finally deserve a discipline of
their own.

If you wish more information on paleopsychology,  or would like to join
us in our quest, please e-mail or phone: 

Howard Bloom
705 President Street
Brooklyn, NY 11215
phone 718 622 2278
fax 718 398 2551
e-mail howlbloom@aol.com

For further data on the participants and a taste of their
accomplishments, see: www.bookworld.com/lucifer (re Howard Bloom);
http://users.aol.com/kbclark/cambrian and
http://users.aol.com/kbclark/metahome (Dr. Kerry B. Clark);
www.ualberta.ca/~kbrett/Trilobites.html and
www.ualberta.ca/~kbrett/index.html (re Kevin Brett); and Nalepa,
Christine (1994), "Nourishment and the Origin of Termite
Eusociality," in Nourishment and Evolution in Insect Societies,
edited by James H. Hunt and Christine A. Nalepa, 1994, Boulder,
Colorado: Westview Press: 57-96.
<HTML><PRE>Howard Bloom
New York Academy of Sciences, American Association for the
Advancement of Science, American Psychological Society, Academy of
Political Science, Human Behavior and Evolution Society, European
Sociobiological Society
705 President Street
Brooklyn, NY 11215
phone 718 622 2278
fax 718 398 2551
e-mail howlbloom@aol.com
for two chapters from 
The Lucifer Principle: A Scientific Expedition Into the Forces of
see www.bookworld.com/lucifer
<A HREF="http://www.bookworld.com/lucifer";>The Lucifer Principle:a
scientific expedition into the forces of history</A> </PRE></HTML>