The International Paleopsychology Project
The International Paleopsychology Project is a multi-disciplinary group of scientists dedicated to mapping out the evolution of complexity, sociality, perception, and mentation from the first 10-32 second of the Big Bang to the present. Paleopsychology’s analytical tools come from physics, microbiology, paleontology, endocrinology, neurobiology, anthropology, history and human ethology. Its media of concept fermentation is the internet. In other words, we are a goal-oriented “chat group” doing what Dr. Timothy Perper calls “science online.”
Below is a summary of initial International Paleopsychology Project achievements from the proposal for our anthology, Mindfire: the New Science of Paleopsychology. It is presented here to give an idea of the scope and caliber of the International Paleopsychology Project’s interests and of its members. Here is the Paleopsychology Manifesto.
Mindfire: The New Science of Paleopsychology
Mindfire: the New Science of Paleopsychology delivers the first fruits of the cyber-movement’s quest. Eshel Ben Jacob, head of the physics department at Tel Aviv University and one of the world’s two pioneering researchers on the “genetic engineering” with which bacterial colonies retool their society, demonstrates how the universe is not on its way to heat death via entropy, but is in a building mode. He does this in a manner which hints at the fusion of physics and biological evolution he is currently unveiling in a series of articles for Physica A and in a book for the International Paleopsychology Project’s New Paradigm book series. Dr. Ben Jacob’s work was featured on the cover of Scientific American, October 1998. International Paleopsychology Project founder Howard Bloom then presents an account of how sociality may well have originated in the first instant of the Big Bang, then have advanced to high complexity three billion years before the dinosaurs.
Valerius Geist, an award-winning investigator of large mammalian evolution, picks up the thread and tells the story of how humans evolved during the ice ages, disclosing the unconventional reconstruction which has emerged from his four decades of periglacial field research. Ferdinand Knobloch, who trained with Anna Freud and has headed the Psychotherapeutic Section of the World Psychiatric Association, turns current “selfish-gene” dogmas on their head by showing how the battle between groups may well have honed the human nature that we know today. And Dr. Peter Corning, Director of the Institute for the Study of Complex Systems, reveals how synergy has metabolized these forward movements in complexity.
Mindfire‘s contributors next excavate the residues of the primordial past which underlie our modern powers and future possibilities. Koen DePryck, President of the Institute of Knowledge Management in Dilbeck, Belgium, exhumes the evolutionary origins of religious and aesthetic creativity.
Biopsychologist/zoologist Gordon Burghardt — past director of the Life Sciences Ethology Program at the University of Tennessee and a researcher whose work has been funded in part by the NSF and NIMH — reveals the unaccustomed picture which has emerged from his meticulous studies of reptile behavior. Then Kent Bailey, past president of the Across Species Comparison and Psychopathology Association and creator of “phylogenetic progression/regression theory,” shows the reptilian brain’s descendant at work in the human psyche. Bill Benzon, Associate Editor of the Journal of Social and Evolutionary Systems and a jazz musician, explores how such inner animals emerge unexpectedly during a musical performance, taking a singer or trumpet player to emotional realms different from those he or she has ever known. Evolutionary biologist Neil Greenberg, formerly with Harvard’s Museum of Comparative Zoology and the National Institute of Mental Health, probes the neurobiology behind such mystic and artistic raptures.
James F. Brody, a pioneer in evolutionary psychopathology, reveals another animal leftover at work within our emotional system — the “supernormal stimulus”–and shows its role in sexual selection, orthoselection, our social structures, and in evolution’s punctuated equilibrium. Then Ferdinand Knobloch returns to reveal the fruits of his 20 years of research indicating how music uses these “supercues” to trigger outsized social passions buried deep within our primitive brain. Art is one path to vision, the search for gods is another.
Dorion Sagan, co-author of such classics as What is Life? and Mystery Dance: On the Evolution of Human Sexuality uses the science of illusion to anatomize our hunger for religion. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s David Porush, co-founder of the Society for Literature and Science and an expert in the mesh of computer science and humanities, suggests how mystic transports open worlds of altered possibilities.
The section ends by exploring the ways in which individual emotions and brain settings weave a tango with the larger culture, a dance whose outcome can sicken a society or turn it to a pioneer. Neuroscience researcher Dr. John Robert Skoyles, whose work appears regularly in such journals as Nature, Trends in Neuroscience, and Medical Hypothesis, investigates fourth century b.c. Greek sculpture’s hints that Greek artists pioneered more than a new aesthetic, but also contributed permanently to the ways in which humankind would henceforth use the modules of the brain. Bill Benzon takes this insight a step further, intimating how the patterns of neural meshwork promoted by one people can be used to vivify another. Specifically, Dr. Benzon urges that the spirit of black culture be employed as an antidote to a dangerous deadness he sees infecting the American white mentality. Bill Tillier, archivist for the English language manuscripts of Polish psychiatrist Kazimierz Dabrowski, applies Dabrowski’s “Theory of Positive Disintegration” to show how the emotional conflicts we sometimes mistake for mental illness can lift a society past crisis and launch a whole new phase in cultural evolution.
Mindfire closes with a vision of humans as “the universe become aware of itself” by Russell Merle Genet. Genet, founder of Arizona’s Fairborn Observatory, inventor of many of the first robotic telescopes, and organizer of the Epic of Evolution Society, ventures into the future and considers whether we will self destruct or whether we will help evolution accelerate itself. After all, as Genet points out, we are not alien intruders, but elemental star stuff come alive.
SEE THE FOLLOWING WEBSITES FOR MATERIALS WHICH HIT PALEOPSYCHOLOGY FROM A WIDE ASSORTMENT OF VIEWPOINTS:
Howard Bloom, founder of the International Paleopsychology Project and executive editor of Mindfire, organized and led The Group Selection Squad (a worldwide team of 45 scientists dedicated to opening new horizons within the evolutionary disciplines), and is a board member of the Epic of Evolution Society. In addition, he is a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the New York Academy of Sciences, the American Sociological Association, and the Academy of Political Science.
Bloom’s theoretical work in mass behavior “will have a profound impact on our concepts of human nature” (Elizabeth Loftus, president of the American Psychological Society), offers “a long step forward in the human effort to understand human biology” (Dr. Richard Bergland, M.D., award winning researcher on brain endocrinology, founder of the department of neurosurgery, Sloan/Kettering, author of The Fabric of Mind), and presents “a freshly viable theory of human evolution” (The Washington Times).
For Bloom’s first mass market book, The Lucifer Principle: a scientific expedition into the forces of history (Atlantic) the Big Bang to The Twenty First Century, see: The Lucifer Principle to read up on his latest paleopsychological opus, Global Brain: The Evolution of Mass Mind from the Big Bang to the Twenty First Century (John Wiley & Sons, 2000) see: howardbloom.net’s homepage.
International Paleopsychology Project member Dr John Robert Skoyles, a former MRC (British Medical Research Council)-funded neuroscience researcher, opted for the independent scholar’s freedom to explore avenues frequently off limits to traditional academics. The gamble has paid off. Dr. Skoyles’ papers on his theoretical work regularly appear in journals ranging from Nature, Trends in Neuroscience, and Medical Hypothesis to Psycoloquy and New Ideas in Psychology. From his hideaway near Hampstead Heath, Dr. Skoyles has probed the no-man’s land where neurobiology, history, psychology, and information processing meet, emerging with such products as his widely-published “neural plasticity/prefrontal working memory theory of modern cognition,” which he has applied in print to the development of the alphabet, reading, and the history of Art. His award-winning website contains papers and upcoming books which literally redefine the science of neural and cultural evolution. The first of Dr. Skoyles’ books, called Odyssey on his website, will be published as part of the International Paleopsychology Project’s New Paradigm Book series. The New Paradigm series is designed to provide radical scientific insights in a style whose readability invigorates the mind as thoroughly as do its ideas.
William Benzon, Senior Scientist at Meta4 Incorporated and an Associate Editor of The Journal of Social and Evolutionary Systems, has been a consultant to NASA, the U.S. Air Force, New York State, and many private sector corporations on matters ranging from long-term computing strategies, through process design and re-engineering, to document design. A multi-disciplinarian, Dr. Benzon has taught in the Department of Language, Literature, and Communication at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and has published scholarly articles, reviews, and technical reports on African-American music, literary analysis and theory, cultural evolution, cognition and brain theory, visual thinking, and technical communication. In conjunction with Richard Friedhoff he has written a book on computer graphics and image-processing entitled Visualization: The Second Computer Revolution (Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1989). Dr. Benzon is currently writing a book, Beethoven’s Anvil, on the paleopsychology of music, including the evolutionary, neuroscientific, and social origin of music’s passions. The work will also be published in the International Paleopsychology Project’s New Paradigm series home page.
International Paleopsychology Project charter member, the late Kerry Bruce Clark, F.A.A.A.S., Professor of Biological Sciences at the Florida Institute of Technology, Melbourne, FL, was marine ecologist in the Department of Biological Sciences, Florida Tech, from1971 until his death in 1999. His research interests included all aspects of the biology of opisthobranch gastropod molluscs (sea slugs); physiological and population ecology; conservation of marine invertebrates; and computer applications in biology. One of his major projects was the development of METAZOATM, a CD-ROM-based multimedia tutorial in invertebrate zoology. His multimedia recreations of the creatures of the Cambrian Era, their environment and behavior, was widely used in museums around the world. During his lifetime, Dr. Clark’s vivid 3-D images of Cambrian fauna and their accompanying explanations could be seen at: http://users.aol.com/kbclark/cambrian Alas, this vital hyperlink to the evolutionary past died with its creator.
Neil Greenberg, creator of a pioneering university course in Art and Organism, is Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He doubles as Director of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and runs the University of Tennessee Division of Biology Threshold Honors Program in Biology. Dr. Greenberg has done some of the most remarkable work on the neurobiology of sociality around, including research with Dr. Paul MacLean on the reptilian brain which we humans cart around as part of our endowment from our evolutionary past. Dr. Greenberg has also initiated an exploration of the paleopsychology of creativity, and is currently mulling over the means by which the resulting insights can be harvested for the New Paradigm series.
James Brody, Ph.D. is the founder of “clinical sociobiology,” the application of biological and ethological findings to human emotional distress, is author of approximately 300 internet essays on evolution, behavior genetics, and clinical problems. He has also organized summer, week-long seminars as part of the prestigious Cape Cod Institute, sponsored by Albert Einstein Medical College of Yeshiva University.
- Clinical Sociobiology: Taking Charge of Our Genes, with John Pearce MD, on for the 18th Cape Cod Institute
- Healing the Moral Animal: Lessons from Evolution. Co-presenters at the 1998 event were Robert Wright (author of The Moral Animal: Why We Are the Way We Are: The New Science of Evolutionary Psychology), Frank Sulloway (author of Born to Rebel: Birth Order, Family Dynamics, and Creative Lives), Russell Gardner, MD, and John Pearce, MD.
- Clinical Sociobiology: Psychotherapy and Universal Goods with John Price, MD, coauthor of Evolutionary Psychiatry and Russell Gardner, MD., founder and editor of Across Species Comparisons and Psychopathology. Summer, 1999. (other speakers pending!)
The clinical treatment model applies concepts from evolutionary psychology, complexity theory, and behavior genetics to therapy techniques as well as to an understanding of our daily choices and conflicts, to our aspirations and to our morality. New page building at http://forums.behavior.net/forums/evolutionary with 900+ essays and dialogues.
Dr. Don Beck and his collaborator, Christopher Cowan, are the creators of Spiral Dynamics, a scientific approach in wide use by activists in the field of personal and social change. They have also authored Spiral Dynamics: Mastering Values, Leadership, and Change. Spiral Dynamics has been described as “a massive body of knowledge designed to provide a tentative bridge between genes & memes. Its concepts connect back into biological genetics as well as evolutionary memetics.” Dr. Beck studied with the pioneering social psychologist Muzafer Sherif, focusing on cognitive structures, intra-intergroup dynamics, and high level conflict resolution. He and his collaborator, Christopher Cowan, taught at the University of North Texas before leaving campus in l981 to pursue this particular perspective, both in this country, where President Bill Clinton has engaged Spiral Dynamics in his attempt to promote dialog between the races, in South Africa, where the discipline has been used in the effort to calm that country’s conflicts, and in Australia, where new eruptions of racism have called for all the help which science could deliver. Says Dr. Beck of the Spiral Dynamics approach and its relationship to paleopsychology, “We can find nothing else like it in the research or applied literature.” http://www.spiraldynamics.com
Bill Tillier is the archivist of Kazimierz Dabrowski’s manuscripts and one of the primary interpreters of his concepts. Dabrowski, a Polish psychiatrist with ten books published in the United States and over 400 scholarly articles published in Poland, was the originator of The Theory of Positive Disintegration, a theory of psychological and personality development which contributes substantially to the understanding of our personal churnings, of psychopathology, and of creativity. Tillier has published in The Journal of Psychology and Human Sexuality, was co-organizer, Second Annual Conference of Dabrowski, Alberta, Canada, 1996, and has delivered papers on Dabrowski and on the education of gifted children at conferences in the United States and Canada. http://members.shaw.ca/positivedisintegration/
The late Alexander Chislenko was a specialist in the philosophy of technology, information theory and future studies. He worked on Artificial Intelligence systems in the Russian Academy of Sciences until his immigration to USA in 1990. During the final decade of the 20th century he observed the evolution of the world from Cambridge, Massachusetts. His interests included evolutionary theory, system studies, macroeconomics, cognitive science, artificial intelligence, demographics, environmental studies, memetics, global modeling. His final work concentrated on history and perspectives of development of intelligence architectures and distributed knowledge-processing systems. Besides theoretical writings, he worked on the implementation of technologies incorporating social knowledge distribution methods. Alexander Chislenko was an active member of the World Future Society and Extropy Institute. His writings continue to be available on the Web at http://www.lucifer.com/~sasha/home.html
International Paleopsychology Project charter member Kevin D. Brett is located at the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Brett, who has done paleontological work on the Burgess Shale (made famous by Stephen Jay Gould’s book Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale and the Nature of History) maintains what is widely considered the leading trilobite site on the WWW: http://www.westerntrilobites.com/index.html as well as http://www.paleonature.org/from-the-dig-site/201-the-5th-international-trilobite-conference-in-prague
David McFadzean, M.Sc., P.Eng. is the cyber-patron of the International Paleopsychology Project–maintaining the listserv which makes the IPP’s daily dialogs and pursuit of online scientific progress possible. He is a specialist in object-oriented software engineering, artificial life (simulation of the evolution of autonomous agents), and agent-based computational economics (ACE). http://www.econ.iastate.edu/tesfatsi/ace.htm McFadzean also maintains a rich cyber labyrinth containing material from a myriad of those pursuing interests related to his own and to those of many paleopsychologists. Don’t let its occultish title fool you. This is a site for scientific explorers. Formally known as Church of the Virus, the webpage looms out of the blackness at: http://virus.lucifer.com
Matt Fraser works simultaneously in the fields of Physiology and Neuroscience. He has also been active in the study of Evolutionary Biology, Physical Anthropology, Geology, Chemistry, Behavioral Neuroscience and Paleoanthropology. His particular interest is the relationship between sexual dimorphism and sexually dimorphic behavioral characteristics and how both of these relate to mating strategy and spatial abilities. Fraser’s Paleo Website is at http://www.pitt.edu/~mattf/PaleoPage.html His Neuro Website is at http://www.pitt.edu/~mattf/Research.html
John Wilkins, the Head of Communication Services for Australia’s Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, specializes in the history and philosophy of science, concentrating on its classification and species definitions. His writings focus on David L Hull’s view of science as an evolutionary process and on the influences and precursors of Darwin’s theory of evolution. Wilkins’ Short History of Evolutionary Theory is designed to lay to rest the canards that Darwin was a plagiarist, an intellectual isolate, or out of touch with the science of his day. http://evolvingthoughts.net/
Bruce K. Kirchoff, Department of Biology, University of North Carolina, Greensboro, has been working steadily to produce “a way of doing science that has fewer (well, at least different!) limitations that the methods that I learned in school.” His site on Holistic Biology will dramatically change your view of form, its visceral nature, and its relationship to scientific perception. Home Page: http://www.uncg.edu/~kirchoff/
Richard Brodie, author of Virus of the Mind, helped create Microsoft Word, utilized that experience to understand the spread of complex dynamic entities (computer programs, genetic programs, ideas, cultures, etc.), and has become on of the leading figures in memetics, the study of how conceptual replicators, memes, spread their tentacles and build or throttle societies. Brodie’s Meme Central, an outstanding place from which to explore the cosmos from a memetic viewpoint, is located at http://www.brodietech.com/rbrodie/meme.htm
SITES OF SEVERAL OTHERS CONTRIBUTING TO THE KNOWLEDGE BASE ON WHICH PALEOPSYCHOLOGY DEPENDS:
Hans-Cees Speel is involved in a field which explores an important corner of paleopsychology, memetics. He is managing Editor of the “Journal of Memetics Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission” http://web.inter.nl.net/users/hanscees/evolu.htm
Jeremy C. Ahouse, Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Howard Hughes Medical Institute http://www.radford.edu/ibarland/Manifestoes/pinker-crit.html
Al Cheyne, Department of Psychology University of Waterloo, CA. is a past author in imitation and self-control, moral development, personal space, phylogeny and ontogeny of facial expressions, dominance, social relations among ADHD children, functional relations between play and problem solving, effects of protein malnutrition on motor development, portrayal of the sexes in educational texts, and reciprocity in children’s social relations. His current research interests, in no particular order, include: hermeneutics, narrative and paradigmatic thinking, inner speech and dialogue, the role of perceptual systems in the origins of Paleolithic graphics, the development of sensitivity to somatic markers in decision making, evolutionary (mimetic–sensu Donald) analysis of group bullying (“mobbing”) in middle childhood, and intersensory conflict and phenomenal displacement of body parts.
His current research, with a dedicated group of graduate and undergraduate students, involves the Psychology of Anomalous Conscious Experiences with special reference to sleep paralysis with hypnagogic and hypnopompic hallucinations. This work brings together a number of topics mentioned above. Most fundamentally, he is interested in how people recruit and utilize psychological and cultural resources to make sense (by narration and explanation) of their experiences. He believes that the study of anomalous experiences may be especially revealing and that such experiences issue particularly serious challenges to sense-making. Visit the project’s web-site at:
Sherman Wilcox, editor Evolution of Communication http://unm.academia.edu/ShermanWilcox
David Baldwin, Ph.D., WWW: Trauma Info Pages http://www.trauma-pages.com/david.php
Ian Pitchford,Centre for Psychotherapeutic Studies, University of Sheffield, United Kingdom.
Stevan Harnad, Professor of Psychology, Director Cognitive Sciences Centre, Department of Psychology, University of Southampton, United Kingdom. Dr. Harnad has posted a series of remarkable papers on human cognition. These have played a role in paleopsych discussions on the evolutionary origins and neurobiological bases of consciousness. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stevan_Harnad
Stephen Clark, Professor of Philosophy, Liverpool University, is currently working on the interface between Biology and Ethics for a book commissioned by Cambridge University Press. Further details from http://www.liv.ac.uk/philosophy/staff/stephen-clark or Stephen’s more extensive Philosophy link pages http://www.liv.ac.uk/Philosophy/philos.html
Former International Paleopsychology Project member Marc Hauser, Associate Professor, Departments of Anthropology & Psychology, Program in Neurosciences, Harvard University, is a leader in the study of animal perception. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marc_Hauser
(Founder: International Paleopsychology Project; member: 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; board member: Epic of Evolution Society)
International Paleopsychology Project
705 President Street
Brooklyn, NY 11215
phone 718 622 2278
fax 718 398 2551
e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org For two chapters from The Lucifer Principle: A Scientific Expedition Into the Forces of History, see www.howardbloom.net/lucifer .