Preventing Extinction


The book Preventing Extinction is NOT about creating concern or awareness of the problems that threaten the human race.  There is no need for this:  Everyone is aware of these problems.  It is almost impossible to get away from constant information about them.  We all get a barrage of information from the world around us, from our friends, and from the media that go into excruciating detail about the latest threats.  After we are told about the latest, we are given evidence that shows the problems are growing worse each day that passes.   We are then told (by people who seem to think this is something only they know and they are sharing shocking information) that the entities that claim to be solving these problems for us—the ones we call ‘governments of countries’—are not only not doing anything with any potential to solve the problems, they are doing things that make the problems much worse than they would be if not for the government interference.  

We are all aware of these things. 

We are all concerned. 

We just don’t know what to do about it. 

That is where Preventing Extinction differs from information sources dealing with the problems that threaten us. 

It is about what can be done.

It explains this two ways.

First, it explains the general forces at work and shows what can be done in general.  It starts with background information:  We need to step back and look at the big picture to understand what we are, where ‘we’ refers to humans, the not yet fully evolved beings that dominate the earth.  We need to understand how we got here and the forces that led us into the mess we are now in.  We need to understand that there are paths that we can take that will take us out of this mess.  (Again, ‘we’ here refers to ‘the members of the human race.’)  Then we need to understand the steps that, if taken, would move our race toward the easiest of these paths we could take, given the realities of the world that are already in place and that we can’t change.  Before we can think about what role the individuals of the earth can play in creating a society capable of meeting the needs of the human race, we need to have a general idea what steps, if taken by the human race in some organized way, would make this happen. 

Then, once we understand the general situation, we can look at the issues more specifically.  To build sound societies, we must first create tools that allow the human race to work together on our collective needs; we need something to turn what are now a collection of 8 billion people and several hundred national groups and collections of states that all work for their own interests, into a community of humankind that is able to work together to turn the desires of the human race into reality.  We can’t even really start to work on advancing the needs of the human race until we have some sorts of tools that give us the ability to make this happen. 

Why The Entities Called Governments Of Nations Won’t Help

Many look to the entities called ‘governments of nations’ to help make the world better.  We have all been raised to believe that these entities are our servants.  These public servants have decided to dedicate their lives to making life better for those under the governments, with no concern for their own welfare and no desire for personal wealth and power.  They love us all (all of those they ‘govern’) deeply and care only about the things that we, the people, care about.  If ‘we the people’ want something that the leaders of the governments of countries can make happen by making personal sacrifices. They will make these sacrifices without hesitation.  The forefathers, we are told, were totally altruistic and cared about nothing other than us, the future members of their countries.  They created a system that would make sure the people would always get their needs regardless of what happened.  The entities called ‘governments of countries’ only exist to meet the needs of ‘we the people’ and are waiting anxiously for us to tell them what we need so they can give it to us. 

This is the way we were told the world works when we grew up.  It is what the schools tell us and what the popular movies tell us.  But it is not really the way the world works. 

To understand how things really work, we need to take a look back at our past.  The institutions that we call ‘countries’ are almost identical, in their key aspects, to the tribal and territorial troops of our gorilla and other ape ancestors.  These animals were territorial.  Territorial animals fight over territory.  This is the way the term is defined.

Evolutionary forces decide which groups survive.  Evolution works through competition.  Groups of territorial animals compete for food by competing for territory.  Groups that are better at competition get the territory, get the food and therefore survive to pass on whatever genetic or cultural characteristics gave them these advantages to future generations.  If animals are capable of diversification of roles to help them compete better, evolution will make this happen. Some groups will diversify their populations into different categories or ‘classes’ with different roles.  The groups will fight other groups that don’t fight as well because they aren’t as well organized.  The groups with different ‘classes’ will have advantages in these fights.

Wolves, hyenas, gorillas, and chimpanzees are capable of this.  They all do this.  They have hierarchical (class-based) societies. 

You should be able to easily imagine how important this would be in a war.  A group of apes that are fighting for territory, but where they all think they should be equal and should not have to do anything demeaning or part particularly dangerous, will not be able to compete with troops that have leaders that organize the troops and soldiers that have been raised to be willing to make any sacrifice needed, including that of their own lives, to win the battle.  Troops where the followers are highly loyal, and are willing to make any sacrifice for their leaders will have advantages over troops without this loyalty.  This is true for all territorial animals.

People who study the societies of gorillas (Diane Fossee for example) and chimpanzees (Jane Goodall for example) describe the way this works in nature:  There are leaders (called ‘alphas’) and followers.  If there is a vacancy in the position of alpha male, the males in the group compete to take on this role.  The alphas have rights that the non-alphas don’t have, including preferences in breeding, the choice of the best places to sleep, the right to demand grooming services from lower members, and the rights to the best food.  When vacancies open up, the more ambitious males of the group begin to compete vigorously for these roles.  Often, the competition is violent:  murder is a common cause of death among these leadership candidates.

Once the positions are filled and hierarchies are established, the lower-level individuals (including candidates who tried out for the role, failed, and survived) take positions of subservience.  They serve the leaders, even if they didn’t support them as candidates.  Apes have social, political, and even economic hierarchies.  Each class has its tasks and role.  Those that don’t act appropriately are either driven from the group or killed. 

The alphas don’t act alone.  They select a group of individuals to take care of administration.   These individuals, called ‘betas,’ have greater rights than the commoners but not as many rights as the alphas.  (Normally, when vacancies open for the role of alpha, the betas compete against each other to fill it.)   When wars come, each troop (the name given to groups of apes) fights as a unit.  The alphas are clearly in charge; the betas direct local fighting and the soldiers go into the fray and fight until either they or their opponents are dead. 

This is the way ape societies work today.  (At least, this is true in the areas where the apes can still live as they did before involvement with humans.)  It is, presumably, the way the societies of our ancient ancestors worked millions of years ago. 

The book Fact Based History goes over the final stage of evolution in detail.  It takes three chapters to go over evidence we have about this period in our history.  There are a lot of steps that we can follow by studying artifacts and chains of DNA profiles that led from the early apes to modern homo sapiens.  I think it is a very interesting issue and hope you will want to know more and read Fact Based History as well.  This book, however, attempts to put together the big picture and deals only with the issues that need to be understood to help us understand how to prevent extinction. 


In territorial animals, evolution takes place within and between groups.  The groups compete for territory by fighting.  Those better at organizing themselves for these fights get territory and survive.  Over time, the organization skills of the groups increase.  Groups that find better ways to select the most capable alphas have advantages over groups that aren’t as good at this.  (Capable refers only to their ability to keep the troops properly organized and motivated so that they can better defend their territory and conquer additional territory.)  

An outsider (say a scientist from another world watching evolution, or someone from our own time who has some ability to reconstruct the past) would expect to see the organizational capabilities of the different troops of apes increase over time.  For example, they would find better ways to train their young to play roles in society.  Some would be raised to be commoners, learning only the appropriate skills and being taught, from an early age, to respect authority and follow directives of authority figures.  Others would be raised to be betas and possibly aspirants for leadership.  They would learn more complex skills:   they know exactly when it is appropriate to challenge authority and when they must act like commoners themselves, grooming and otherwise showing respect for whichever ape happens to be the alpha at that time. 

Evolution is brutal and has no concern for the feelings or welfare of the individuals.  It cares only which troops are able to compete successfully for the territory that provides food.  Those better at competing will survive; those not as good will perish.

Evolution also acts within the groups.  Different commoners have different skill levels.  Some are so stupid they can’t do the things the rest of the troop needs them to do to compete in the wars.  These animals will generally be killed.  (Territorial apes are very violent and, generally speaking, murder is the #1 cause of death in their societies.)  Some will be too intelligent for their own good.  They will try to jump up to the next class.  A few, perhaps, will succeed.  But many will suffer the same fate as those that are too stupid.  Their interdependence and challenges to authority prevent the troops from fighting well enough to keep their territory.  Their comrades will either send them into battles with the greatest likelihood of their own death or simply kill them themselves.  (There is a great scene in the movie ‘Platoon’ where a soldier who is too smart to fit in is killed by his own unit.) 

The alphas and betas will always be trying to find new and better ways to fight.  They are capable of using tools (apes have this ability).  They will look for better tools they can use as weapons.  They will find them.  When they make certain important discoveries, there will be a long period of time when competition between two groups with the same discoveries will lead to brain lobes that help them use these discoveries better.

For example, a group will eventually find its way to a place where massive undergrounds oil deposits push to the surface, creating tar pits, gas flows, and oil pools that can remain on fire for decades after being ignited.  Apes that come to these areas will eventually realize they can use fire to help them fight other apes over territory.  At first, they won’t do this in any real organized way.  They will simply take advantage of fire, when they find it, to help them see better at night, perhaps moving the battles closer to areas that were burning.  But eventually they will realize they can take the fire to the fight.  Different brain components will help them understand these things.  Those that develop these components will have advantages in the fights and will eventually control the land.  They will evolve in ways that make them better able to take advantage of fire.  This process takes a long time but it is cumulative.  Abilities build on each other.  Eventually, some of the apes will have the ability to use fire to keep themselves warm at night (making them better able to fight in the morning), to cook food (cooked food can last many times longer than raw food), and to make weapons that groups without fire would not be able to make. 

Evolution increases the mental abilities of the most capable of the apes as time passes.  Their evolutionary instincts tell them to divide into troops and fight over territory.  Their instincts, inherited through the processes above, cause them to create hierarchical systems, with different ‘classes’ of individuals with different rights.  The instincts would tell them that the members of their own species that were not members of their own troops (called ‘outsiders’ in this book) were dangerous.  They could not be trusted. They wanted the land that their troop had staked out.  They would use trickery, deceit, and any other tool, including organized mass murder, to take it.  Their instincts told them that these outsiders were enemies, to be destroyed when encountered. 

We interpret forces that push us to do things that are not logical and reasonable as ‘feelings.’  The apes had instincts that pushed them to mark off territory with borders, then defend the borders.  We might say they had feelings that told them this was the right thing to do.  They didn’t use logic and reason to tell them to do this, they did it because their feelings told them to do it.  They had feelings that pushed them to be loyal and respect authority, in most conditions.  (Those raised in the higher classes might, at some point, feel the time is right for them to begin to fight to become the authorities themselves.)   They had feelings toward outsiders—members of their own species that weren’t part of their group—that we would probably call ‘hatred’ and ‘fear.’  They wanted only to kill these individuals, preferably in ways that inflicted the greatest possible amount of pain as they were dying. 

Over time, their mental tools improved.  They became capable of more and more intellectual analysis.  They used their intelligence to do things that they felt were the right things to do.  They felt it was right to be loyal to their alphas and the betas that enforced day-to-day policy.  In other words, they felt it was the right thing to do to follow the directives of their ‘governments.’  Their most powerful feelings involved hatred and fear of outsiders.  They wanted to kill these individuals.  They know the outsiders felt the same way and would kill them if they could.  As they grew more and more intelligent, they developed better and better weapons for this. 

Eventually, they/we gained the ability to put together complex arguments.  We could use words as parts of speech to create complex languages that allowed us to discuss abstract ideas.  At some point, some of us realized that we could use these abilities to understand the big picture and, perhaps, build societies that rested on something other than the evolutionary forces that pushed us to divide our species into different tribes/troops/countries to fight others.  But the ones in charge realized that we had to have a priority.  Our first priority had to be to win the competitions.  After a long time, we developed tools that made the competitions meaningless.  For example, as soon as we have the tool of money and can trade, there is no longer any need for each tribe to have enough territory to meet all of its needs in each area:  the different groups could produce the things best produced in each area and then trade them.  The divisions that worked so well for evolutionary apes didn’t have any reason to exist after this point. 

The people who ran the different divisions still had special rights.  They got breeding preferences.  (The ‘kings’—alpha males—could send their governments out to gather harems for them that consisted of the most desirable girls and women.)  They got the best ‘nesting’ sites.  (The kings could build castles on hilltops where they could live in unimaginable luxury).  They got wealth and power.  Of course, they wanted to keep these things.  They could only keep them if they kept the structure of society as it was.  They were in charge and had tools they could use to prevent change. 

They eventually realized they could not possibly keep the great majority that were ‘under’ their ‘government’ under control entirely by force.  They had to use psychological tools to trick these people into accepting the status quo.  They came up with mandatory and universal education systems. 

In his book πολιτείες, Socrates discusses the tools used to convince children that their country was a good thing, existing for the good of ‘we the people,’ and that their government was not simply the organizer of mass murder events (war) but was a wonderful thing that acted entirely out of love.  He shows that the indoctrination begins long before children are able to fully understand the meaning of words.  They are taught with music, that associates certain ideas with feelings.  The songs tell them how much their ‘country’ loves them, they associate it with the creators who love us all deeply, and associate tools that cause great misery and massive death with the most joyous melodies they could devise.  (The French anthem associates slitting the throats of children and filling the furrows of the fields with blood with the uplifting melody of the Marseilles; the American anthem associates bombs that blow children’s bodies to bits and rockets that send these bombs into homes with no notices with fireworks displays of orgasmic magnitude.)  

Our feelings, inherited from the ancient instincts of territorial apes, make want to accept these messages.  It is wrong to use logic in certain areas.  The saying is ‘our country, right or wrong.’  We defend it without question, even if our logical minds tell us the leaders are doing things that are just as horrible as the leaders of the countries they call ‘enemies.’  The poem goes ‘theirs is not to question why, theirs is but to do and die.’  Not do OR die.  Do AND die.  It is wrong to use logic in these areas. 

Now to the point of this section of text:  We can’t depend on the entities called ‘governments of nations’ to take the lead in helping the human race move toward sound societies.  They were not created to help advance the interests of the human race.  They were always created to advance the interests of one particular group of people, who are never more than a tiny percentage of the human race.  In these struggles, the entity called the ‘human race’ is the one intended to be the loser in all policy decisions.  The government is there to advance the interests of the members of its ‘country’ by transferring rights from outsiders to the insiders. 

Governments exist to try to gain benefits and rights for a minority of the human race at the expense of the majority.  They can’t make the majority of the people of the world accept worse lives so that the minority can have more than their share by asking them.  No matter how nice they ask, people won’t accept worse lives for the majority so the minority can have better lives.  The governments can only get what they want by conflict.  It is what they do.  It is what their procurers (the alpha and betas of the ape societies) did.  For the human population to depend on the entities called ‘governments of nations’ to the world toward sound, sane, safe, sustainable, peaceful, and universally prosperous societies would be like the rabbit population depending on groups of coyotes and groups of wolves to help them move to societies where rabbits aren’t meals for predators. 

This doesn’t mean we can’t ever have sound societies. 

It just means that we can’t expect the entities called ‘governments of nations’ to take the lead in the process.  We, the people of the world, have to realize that we share needs and goals with all other people on the planet, no matter which side of the imaginary lines called borders their mothers were on when their mothers gave birth to them.  We have to realize that we have a great many very powerful tools that we can use to help us work together to meet these needs.  If we take advantage of these tools, we can do things that past generations could not do. 

We are at a unique time in history.  We are learning that many of the  things people have believed for all of history are, in fact, wrong.  We are learning that things that people have been told and have believed are totally fixed and are unchangeable are, in fact, under the control of the people of the world.  This book is about using this new information to change things that really can be changed, even though people have believed, for all of history, are unchangeable. 

To do this, we need to change our perspective.  We need to change the way we look at the world.  We need to stop thinking about the world as apes, fighting so that our team/tribe/country can have more territory in its exclusive use zone than other teams/tribes/territories.  Any mental effort we waste trying to do things that don’t benefit the human race is stolen effort, taken away from a cause that can help us and moving us toward a cause that can help us. 

We need to understand that there is a big picture.  We are capable of thinking about it, understanding it, and using our understanding of the big picture to help us move toward new kinds of societies, societies that can meet all of the needs of the beings that live on the little blue speck of a world that we call ‘Earth.’