Thinking about Evolution & Economics and Some Notes on the Natural Selection of Ideas

Part 14 - Historical Evidence - 

- Complex Adaptive Systems & Evolutionary Economics see Biological History (Genetic Costs & Benefits)

- Moral Sentiments & Immunity from Parasites & Predators see Creating Money Out of Nothing (Cooperative Synergies & Defence)

- Wealth Creation & Synergies from Specialisation & Scale see The Industrial Revolution (Torts, Trade & Technology)

- Cultural Evolution & Rules of Thumb see Liberal Democracy (Tit for Tat, Satisficing & Know How) 

History as WritNow God said, and I agree with him - 

'go forth and multiply, be fruitful and fill the earth and subdue it.'

But the great unwashed & the hoi polloi just didn't get it and in Matthew Chapter 14 verse 31, God chided them something rotten -

 'oh thou of little faith why did thou doubt' ...

Xenophanes was one of the first to hatch an inkling about what was going on -

‘The Gods did not reveal, from the beginning, all things to us, but in the course of time through seeking we may learn & know things better. But as for certain truth no man knows it, nor shall he know it, neither of the Gods nor yet of all things that I speak. For even if by chance he were to utter The Final Truth, he would himself not know it: for all is but a woven web of guesses.’

'A woven web of guesses' ... this all sounded very mysterious & worrying to us 'cos our Gran taught it simple -

'all things bright and beautiful, the Lord God made them all ... full stop'

but we were curious kids always asked awkward questions which were embarrassingly but quickly reposited by our gran -

 'whys the wherefores and crutches for lame ducks'.

Admitting ignorance was not on for Gran she was supposed to be an expert and we all thought she knew all about the ways of the world.

But happenings were not only mysterious & worrying they were also very bothersome & difficult ... even perverse ... especially when we searched for evidence in history.

History was infuriatingly mutable ... even mootable ... it all seemed to depend on who writ it and where you looked ... it seemed there were always 'alternative facts' ... facts it seemed were conflicting, changeable, complex & scarce ... there was just too much for mere mortal folk like us to grasp ... so we just got on with the job ... and coped ... or not ... as the case maybe.

A very few folk suspected that short necked giraffes just died out ... and that was it ... but almost everyone thought long necks were designed ... and that seemed like a good description of how history worked?

But an even fewer very few folk believed that those folk who behaved badly tended to die young and have fewer surviving babies? ... and the fewer very few folk also asked awkward questions ... so where the hell did good manners come from? From 'tablets of stone'? That just didn't cut the mustard.

But why worry about all this? Most folk just didn't bother ... after all they had a Government Guarantee ... don't worry the 'powers that be' were working on it ... as if on a whim, and in a fit of pique, the laws of nature had been Nationalised? 

Sure the 'powers that be' were always busy orchestrating happenings and writing history ... but they hadn't a clue ... they had no privileged access to 'know how' ... however they could write history. Perhaps such arrogant pontificating actually compounded ignorance 'cos almost all folk almost all the time thought 'the powers that be' were 'the powers that be' 'cos their mandate was bestowed on them from above, perhaps on the tablets of stone ... and ... if God was not behind it ... then who the hell gave them the necessary 'know how'?

Almost all folk almost all the time just didn't get it because they listened to the stories, they tuned into the BBC and they read history as writ. They were taught about plausible, deliberate, rational, purposeful, intentional, planning and the intelligent design of the Bishops, Princes, Generals and Bureaucrats ... and all sorts of other clever folk ... after all it was a 'fact' that the Boeing 747 was designed by highly paid aeronautical engineers with drawings and calculators ... we'd even met some of them and seen their manufactories at Broughton near ancient Chester?

It came to pass that untying this Gordian Knot of intrigue was terrible hard, the mind was willing but hands were tied by those damned indomitable laws of nature ... nobody seemed to be able to do anything about them, they just kept comin' at yer ... always makin' things more difficult ... and just to exacerbate the trauma ... lots of other folk, sometimes friendly folk, seemed to be in the mix, interfering & tying our shoe laces together.

So mesmerised folk persistently asked ... Wot on earth was going on? Who was in charge of history? Somebody somewhere must know? ... things didn't just happen?

Rosetta StoneTop Down History - History as Writ, the 'Intelligent Design' of the Bishops, Princes, Generals & Bureaucrats - 

Some said the first writing was cuneiform around 3,000 BC in Mesopotamia ... then Egyptian hieroglyphics followed in 196 BC but we couldn't read such scratching until 'The Rosetta Stone' was was decoded in 1922 ... and surprise, surprise the stone told the well worn story of the top down orchestrator ... if it wasn't God it was the Pharaoh ... after all it was the Pharos's tax that funded 'good works' for the Hoi Polloi ... but the gifts turned out to be bribes to keep the Priests & the Army on side and to 'control' crowd trouble ... thus was top down history of the Rosetta Stone ... written, not on tablets of stone, but on a lump of rock!

The history of history as writ all seemed to be about orchestrated happenings ... but strange ... what was writ invariably revolved round the top pecks ... designers called them 'the powers that be' ... they were the custodians of the know how written on the tablets ... the divine righters and the winners of the wars ...but think about it ... they were the only ones who could write!

In this way history was top down going from first to last ... The Old Testament was writ a long long time before biological history was even thought of ... there was a chronology to history as writ -

political history was about 'Wars, Lords & Land' as the Bishops, Princes, Generals & Bureaucrats exercised their 'power' over Joe Sixpack. Old histories were stories & yarns about unproductive conspiracy theories and the competitive thuggery of 'nature, red in tooth & claw' ... tyranny & oppression as complexity, change, conflict & scarcity upset the apple carts ... God was always 'on our side' in an awful downward spiral of cultural tit for tat ...

Tommy Jeffers sussed out politics and he writ the 'Constitution of America' in 1779 where he started to make life a tad safer for diversity as those at the coal face began to go for cooperation rather than compromise and violence.

economic history followed and economics cut the mustard ... ecnomics was all about 'Torts, Trade & Technology' as interactive folk 'trucked, bartered & exchanged', social cooperation was exciting and such fun was described late on during the 'Scottish Enlightenment' ...

Adam the Smith writ his 'The Theory of Moral Sentiments' in 1759 and 'An Inquiry into the Nature & Causes of the Wealth of Nations' in 1776.

biological history was a bonanza about an unbelievable, spanking new history of  'Homo Sapiens' and the intensely economic survival of a super social species who drank beer ...   

Charlie Darwin writ the 'Origin of Species' in 1859 ... not so long ago.

genetic history tied up loose ends with real evidence as 'Copy/Vary/Select' and the 'genes eye' view of biological processes proclaimed that the genes themselves exploited synergies of specialisation & scale 'as if' they 'calculated' costs & benefits.

Dickie Dawkins received popular acclaim, building on the scientific giants from the past, he writ biological history books very very recently - The Selfish Gene (1976), The Extended Phenotype (1982), The Blind Watchmaker (1986), River Out of Eden (1995), Climbing Mount Improbable (1996), The Ancestors Tale (2004), The Greatest Show on Earth (2009)!

'Selfish genes' were doing things to history long long before history was writ. Top down history as writ turned out to be fake news ... bottom up biological history told about survival action at the coal face. The battle of ideas was engaged as empirical science started to erode intelligent design ... the genes couldn't write ... but they left their story recorded in DNA ... not on papyrus.

Bottom Up or Top DownBottom Up History - 'Biological History' as genes calculated 'costs & benefits' -

 Folk at the coal face couldn't write ... but they could learn ... they had always been busy trying to survive ... but they hadn't a clue either ... so they learned by trial & error ... what else could ignorant folk could do? ... this embarrassment was not part of God's curricula ... but the results were spectacular.

Folk, it seemed, had a miraculous capacity to think up new survival tricks to try ... so they endlessly tried alternatives ... they experimented ... and eventually one or two of the tricks seemed to work. Folk also ... miraculously ... remembered things and developed a capacity to learn from their own mistakes ... and, more miracles, they learned from the mistakes of other folk ... most of the others were long dead! Folk leaned ... they relentlessly discarded their miserable failures and 'created' a little space in the population for the growth of the few survival tricks which worked ...  and when ideas went wrong ... which they did all the time ... they were less enthusiastic about trying them again ... in this way there was no certainty just statistics ideas that didn't work died out. 

So this was what big brains did ... they thought up new tricks and learned from mistakes. And it was the survival tricks that survived not the failures ... folk failed their way to success, after all, this was the way the giraffes got their long necks ... think about it?

Richard Dawkins was a great teacher and one of his mates, Daniel Dennett, described the learning process -

'competence without comprehension' ... 'Darwin's 'natural selection' unthinkingly created extraordinary competence' ... miraculous?!

Historical Evidence about how the cookie crumbled had been accumulated ever since folk started to talk ... and when folk started to write it all down things really got into their stride. Jefferson, Smith, Darwin & Dawkins were giants standing on the shoulders of giants, and they taught us that the big trick was to learn history the other way round ... bottom up ... because, for sure, for certain, that was the way history must have happened ... mustn't it? ... think about it? DNA built brains and brains built ideas & memory ...

But the killer eureka idea was that the complex adaptive behaviour of folk started to change the local environment, big time .. and the local environment fedback and influenced the survival chances of earlier level variants ... read that paragraph again.

For certain the the laws of nature were impossible to change top down ... but what did happen was that some structures in the evolving universe didn't survive the changes in the environment ... after all, some DNA structures died out with the dinosaurs ...?

But even the genes were not at the bottom of the bottom ... were they? ... so where to start the search for evidence?

EmergenceHistorical Evidence.

Nobody said it was easy ... suppose evidence was buried in the science of complex adaptive systems? 

We loved Wikipedia ... and Empirical Science ... especially Peer Review & Citation Counts ... but there was no doubt Complex Adaptive Systems were bewildering. There was at least an ninesome assemblage of unfathomable notions which really hurt the brain ... surely such pain was best avoided? ... unless there was an opportunity to understand a little bit about what was going on ... and help survive a bit longer ... and a bit better?

Stephen Hawking be on the ball -

'Some individuals were better able than others to draw the right conclusions about the world about them and act accordingly. These individuals were more likely to survive and reproduce so their pattern of behaviour and thought became dominant'

Such individuals let their imaginations run riot and their follow up experiments seemed to be out of our world ... awful 'ard and almost beyond our ken ... certainly they addled our brains ... but our bones suggested all nine of the ninesome difficulties were utterly relevant -

1. Entropy

2nd Law of Thermodynamics (complexity, change, conflict & scarcity) = hard work - temperature gradients provided opportunities for survival of physical structures as entropy increased ... the arrow of time

2. Interconnectedness

Anthropic Principle ('know how' accumulates across generations in DNA, in institutions & in cultures) = self consistency - inherited interconnectedness, everything was dependent on everything else as patterns rhymed with the laws of nature  ... one whole shebang & caboodle  

3. Ignorance 

Emergent Feedback & Novelty (hierarchies of evolutionary stable structures) = discovery & accumulation - flip flopping instincts of restricted recursive minds were survival aids in an unknowable universe ... ignorance of replicating patterns

4. Effects as Causes

Non-Linear Maths (computer simulation) = 

Traditional scientific reductionism inevitably excludes emergent concepts which simply vanish when you focus on the individual constituent interactions. Undoubtedly there is some complex chemical cause and effect for economic behaviour but it is meaningless. 

Interesting equations are of the type - the value of x at time 'n+1' = a function of x*(1-x) at time 'n' ... 'x' is multiplied by itself involving interaction, feedback and non-linearity. A nonlinear system is one whose behaviour is not simply the sum of its parts.

5. Random Survival

Molecular Biology & Natural Selection (neo-Darwinian synthesis) = copy/vary/select - simple processes of adaptation were incomprehensibly complex ... trial & error learning  

6. Cognitive Bias

Evolutionary Psychology & Moral Sentiments (self-conscious choices as flip flopping emotions of excitement & fear discover 'know how' and memory & reason accumulate 'know how') = torts - universal instincts of 'fairness of shares' & 'resentment of cheats' ... excitement & fear   

7. Synergies 

Theory of Mind & Comparative Advantage (cooperative synergies) = trade - cooperative synergies of specialisations & scale ... wealth creation 

8. Know How

Neuroscience & Total Factor Productivity (hierarchies of naturally selected neural networks & circuits as survival aids) = technology - compound growth of knowledge ... know how    

9. Opportunity Costs

Biological History & Blockchains (evidence of gene/culture coevolution & social animal synergies) = value - supply & demand measured & accounted for in balanced Balance Sheets ... trust in strangers   

There we have them ... but nobody bet on much understanding ... this was the blind leading the blind with more questions not answers ...

why did the 'experts' always seem to lose the plot in 'impenetrable jargon' when there were just a few 'pertinent points' to be made? ... why did they congregate in 'echo chambers' and 'polarised clubs' that tended to be 'exactly wrong' rather than 'vaguely right'?

 why did curious Joe Sixpack rely on 'nous' & 'feel' as flip flopping emotions of excitement & fear complicated his grope to longevity? ... why did he 'look into the eyes' of the 'con men' who always had 'incentives to distort' and 'weaponise' each bit of know how that came along?

... but problems were opportunities ... with shattering implications.  

We vowed in 2018 to try and understand a little more ... a sort of New Year Resolution ... but we needed help ... happenings overwhelmed individual brains ... suppose it all started with the thermodynamics of the Big Bang ... where else could it start? Help ... !

Hard Work 1. 2nd Law of Thermodynamics (complexity, change, conflict & scarcity) = hard work - temperature gradients provided opportunities for the survival of physical structures as entropy & complexity increased ... the arrow of time  

The flawed myth of 'something for nothing' persisted but there was evidence in history that bills have to be paid -

As the hot universe expanded & cooled, temperature gradients dispersed energy spontaneously & irreversibly making it statistically certain that concentrations were eroded and the capacity for work decreased as available Boltzmann's micro states were increasingly 'delocalised' & 'diluted' & 'spread out' & 'randomised'. Only in time when energy was added & work done was there some local fugitive order.
There was no free lunch, life was at the cost of energy dispersal & 'waste'.

It was daft to start with history as writ 'cos everyone agreed that history was happening long before folk even existed ... and long before folk could could writ. But come to think of it history was happening long before biology ... Daniel Whelan was certain it had all started with a big bang ... and we argued with grandchildren at our peril ... especially when they were learning.

So things 'just happened', it was the 2nd law that saw to that ... and we suspected that the 2nd Law was there at the start ... but lots of hard work was required before folk appeared ... and more before imaginations imagined.

Were the unfathomable notions & musings in imaginations really outcomes of physical & chemical processes which just happened?

Folk were perplexed but there was zilch evidence for any alternative explanation, there was nothing else was going on ... all things bright & beautiful was a good yarn but no one could find an intelligent designer anywhere ... and it was not for want of trying ... the Soothsayers had been searching since forever? 

Jimmy Watt searched more than most ... he was sure he needed more efficient steam engines so he tried & wrestled with the 2nd Law at our alter mater. But why did putting a condenser on his steam engine help?

Dissipating energy streams over the temperature gradients drove recursive interactions which constantly changed in time due to the ravages of the 2nd law of thermodynamics. Wot happened at time (t+1) depended inexorably on happenings at time (t) but meanwhile entropy had increased?

In 1872 Ludwig Boltzmann went balls down and suggested -

'useful energy was the underlying thing at stake as the universe evolves, as if struggling for existence'.  

But was Boltzmann's statistical certainty of the struggle an opportunity to work for survival?

The economic problem was that useful energy was constantly eroded as it dispersed and randomised ... happenings were massively inefficient ... only work worked.

All the time folk were learning; parts of nature itself were relentlessly subdued by physics, chemistry & biology ... by work.

This learning was important because when the bubble burst and folk wanted their money back. But 'the powers that be' always seemed to ignore the 2nd law and the process of creative destruction and went head first into intelligent design as they -

reverted to coin clipping and more taxes & wasteful spending and then

tried printing to create money out of nothing

And there was more as more & more folk learned crowd trouble raised its head ... 'the powers that be' hadn't a clue and the evidence was everywhere ... but it was very difficult to understand ... oh dear wot a 'mess' ... we told you it was mind boggling!

But don't get it wrong ... to top the lot there was never ever no 'shortage of energy' ... just always an erosion of usable energy for work.

Entropy was not about 'disorder' as we were taught ... but rather about the statistical 'certainty' of energy dispersion which provided opportunities for work.   

The mind bender was how to get your head around entropy - energy dispersion and the notion that work created local order in a wasteland.     

Somehow in one way or another thermodynamics was where Ludwig started, he loved Darwin and followed his thinks from thermodynamics & physics, to atoms, molecules & chemistry, to biology & folk ... but were they all one and the same thing? ... a whole throbbing shebang & caboodle ... the outcome of ancient processes of copy/vary/select?

Whatever which way history became increasingly complex ... direction

Anthropic Universe2. Anthropic Principle ('know how' accumulates across generations in DNA, in institutions & in cultures) = self consistency - inherited interconnectedness, everything was dependent on everything else as patterns rhymed to the laws of nature ... one whole shebang & caboodle

The flawed myth of independent blank slate brains & 'free will' persisted but there was evidence in history that girls always danced backwards -

Only in one whole shebang & caboodle which continually, physically & chemically evolved and made possible biological self consciousness, would there be folk capable of imagining such fine tuned miracles.
There was no discontinuity, life on earth required a pre-existing universe.

So history started long long before folk could writ and to understand history folk had to think about the laws of nature, interconnectedness and one whole throbbing shebang & caboodle ... and a long long continuity over a long long time ... big time. 

Isaac Newton thought the universe may be clockwork ... but he was at the very beginning of understanding ... and he was humble about his ignorance -

 'If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants, whilst the great ocean of truth lies all undiscovered before me'.  

In 2006 Lee Smolin, Harvard Theoretical Physicist, suggested in 'The Trouble with Physics' -

'The tendency of groups of human beings to quickly come to believe something that its individual members will later see as obviously false is truly amazing. Some of the worst tragedies happened because well-meaning people fell for easy solutions proposed by bad leaders'.

Why believe in fine tuning when 'the six universal numbers' were inevitable in a universe where folk existed, could look see and learn?

The economic problem was how to speed up empirical science.

Empirical Science slowly began to map out a strange journey of change through chronological time from the Big Bang 13.6 billion years ago to planet earth 4.8 bya ... then to folk ... and on to the opening cadenza of Louis Armstrong's 'West End Blues' ... and some wags went on to include the Boeing 747 in 1969 ... but no one believed the wags.

Energy never dispersed and randomised smoothly into empty 'space' as temperatures cooled ... it changed its form ... and some structures were stable at the lower temperatures ... waves & particles, became atoms & molecules, became matter & galaxies ... and these coexisting differences interacted ... 

The laws of nature knew of no discontinuities but they did know of fluctuations & graininess & cycles where everything depended on everything else as all the happenings happened now and were -

contemporaneous 

interconnected

interactive

interdependent

and novel ... as emergent cycles were also contemporaneous & interconnected & interactive & interdependent ... oh dear wot a 'mess' ... we told you it was mind boggling!

As soon as folk managed to grasp the idea of an arrow of time and the 2nd law, the Bishops, Princes, Generals & Bureaucrats were immediately confronted with the evolving shebang & caboodle ... sure folk experimented all the but the genes could not be stopped from doing cost/benefit analysis. 

Einstein shattered our most cherished ideas when he glimpsed the problem of evolutionary time and increasing entropy when he couldn't disentangle space & time ... things that happened were clear until you started moving and then happenings happened earlier or later depending ...

But don't get it wrong ... to top the lot there was never ever no certainty ... just increasing complexity, change, conflict & scarcity. 

The Anthropic Principle was not about 'fine tuning' as we were taught ... but rather about the emergence of alternative structures that did not exist.

The mind bender was how to get your head around interconnectedness - dynamic systems, interactive, interdependent, contemporaneous & emergent ... a 'wholeness' and the notion that everything was 'included in' as effects were also causes and coherence was guaranteed as incompatibility could not, did not survive ... the laws of nature were unimpeachable.  

Somehow in one way or another the laws of nature produced a complex adaptive system of a universe ... where thermodynamics & physics, atoms, molecules & chemistry, biology & folk were all part of a self consistent coherent whole shebang & caboodle where only compatible, complementary novel structures survived? 

Whatever which way history was not random chaos there were some ... replicating patterns

Emergent Novelty3. Emergent Feedback & Novelty (hierarchies of evolutionary stable structures) = discovery & accumulation - flip flopping instincts of restricted recursive minds were survival aids in an unknowable universe ... ignorance of replicating patterns

The flawed myth of 'getting a grip on outcomes' persisted but there was evidence in history that co-operative synergies, two plus two made five, aided survival -

From local interactions at 'lower levels' new novel structures emerged at 'higher levels', the new structures themselves then interacted as effects were also causes. There was feedback, the mathematics was non-linear. Nobody could possibly know from the initial conditions what bifurcations & patterns & structures would emerge until the equations were run and the work was done. 
There was no alternative to the hard work of experiments.

The scientists cottoned on to the laws of nature but outcomes remain stubbornly, bewilderingly mysterious ... and such pervasive ignorance sparked the quest for survival by more & more experiments ... what else could ignorant folk possibly do?

Albert Einstein guessed that -

'God doesn't play dice. God reveals himself in the orderly harmony of what exists'.

... but the last time he checked happenings were were a tad more complicated than he thought ... he needed modern computing power to run the equations and even then there were no answers ... only patterns.

In 1967 Benoit Mandelbrot, Polish Mathematician, saw the patterns, and asked a simple question -

'How long is the coast of Britain'?

There were no easy answers when things were fiendishly difficult?

The economic problem was that folk had to work hard for answers, and work cost.

The ebb & flow of the trials & errors produced inevitable cycles. Folk hadn't a clue. It was a hit & miss affair, everybody was guessing, nobody knew what was happening, there was excitement & fear, booms & busts, 'Kondratieff Waves' as well as Business Cycles, runs on banks, stock market crashes, asset bubbles, currency crises, sovereign defaults ... and lynch mobs, riots and crowd trouble ... and on and on and on and on … how many cycles? ... all cavorting in a mad dance one on another, one with another ... crazy bewilderment ... in different places with different outputs at different times at different speeds ... as cycles interacted there were amplifications & suppressions, combinations & displacements ... big booms & busts and small booms & busts ... overshoots of euphoric experimental discovery... undershoots of odious experimental failure ... one damn cycle after another ... prices of coffee influenced prices of tea ... and some even suspected the price of potatoes influenced the price of holidays in Benidorm ... prices seemed to be all over the place ... especially after a failure of the rain dances ... and what of the stupendous puzzle of money itself, and credit, and new cowry shells and coin clipping inflation? ... no wonder it all went wrong so often?

Outcomes of such 'chaos & cacophony' emerged some semblance of order ... unknowable in advance ... unknowable not only because of complexity, change, conflict & scarcity ... but 'cos of a much deeper happening ... scientists were statistically certain time (t+1) was different from time (t) 'cos entropy had increased ... but they hadn't a clue which particular micro state existed at which particular time in which particular place ... 'the Gods did not reveal, from the beginning, all things to us' ... oh dear wot a 'mess' ... we told you it was mind boggling!

But don't get it wrong ... there was never no new laws of nature, no new particles nor wave functions nor forces just new interactions, strong enough to survive locally ... to top the lot there was never ever no repetition of history ... but history did rhyme.

Emergence was not about Laplace's 'clockwork' ... but rather about non-linear equations which had no solutions just patterns.

The mind bender was how to get your head around ignorance - the notion that it was physically impossible to see the exquisite patterns of history until the equations were run.   

 Somehow in one way or another stable interconnected hierarchical levels of emergence were constructed which constantly fed back on themselves. Blind, relentless, recursive, physical, chemical, biological, behavioural processes of continuous hierarchical unknowable emergences.

Whatever which way all this malarkey gave history no advanced knowledge of unknowable novelty ... rhyme not repetition

4. Non Linear Maths (computer simulation) = 

The mind bender was how to get your head around effects as causes -

Entangled Bank 5. Molecular Biology & Natural Selection (neo-Darwinian synthesis) = copy/vary/select - simple processes of adaptation were incomprehensibly complex ... learning by trial & error  

The floored myth of 'plausible, deliberate, rational, purposeful, intentional, planning' persisted but there was evidence in history that short necked giraffes died out -

A pre-existing inherited variant with a survival advantage in the local environment always increased in population frequency in the gene pool as alternative variants died out; thus changing the environment which then fed back and influenced the survival chances of any new variant.
There was not intelligent design, short necked giraffes died out.

Evolution was a general universal copy/vary/select process which generated vast diversity and differential survival. This was so powerful an idea that such a simple process ... in the course of relentless time ... explained everything ... there were grandmothers, jazz, beer prices ... and the Boeing 747 ... and a lot more ... everything we see in the universe ... and the evidence mounted day by day... there was nothing else going on.

 Charlie Darwin was distraught in 1859 when he revealed his origins, a master stroke, but he also warned -

'it's an awful stretcher to believe the peacock's tail was thus formed, I must be a very poor explainer'

Charlie Darwin's process explained, neatly, clearly & cleverly, how happenings just happened to evolve ... a continuity which stretched all the way from the big bang to the Boeing 747 ... the Boeing 747 evolved!? ... you must be kidding? ... no wonder so many folk still believed it was a matter of 'intelligent design'?

In 1976 Richard Dawkins was beside himself -

'it's almost as if the human brain were specifically designed to misunderstand Darwinism, and to find it hard to believe'.

Folk couldn't see the wood they only saw the the trees ... the penny had to drop?

The economic problem was that betterment only came from innovation, which involved hitherto unconnected connections.

The genes did a pretty good job at building biological organisms which produced big brains, and big brains produced a diversity of behaviours as folk trialed & errored their way to survival. A hierarchy of survival behaviours emerged as ordinary folk discovered & accumulated synergies of specialisation scale.

Interactions had always been necessary for survival .. boys & girls had done it since forever ... and then interactions intensified in team work. And team work needed communication & language. And language needed a not only vocal muscle transmitters but also understanding receptors. And understanding needed empathy. And empathy was subconscious ... consciousness was a scene which became self consciousness as meaning emerged from hours of introspection and learning ... to survive.

 The genes were relentless, they always did their cost/benefit calculations as they constructed niches in the environment without foresight; the watchmaker had no truck with intelligent design, he was blind.

For sure all this niche construction was mind boggling ... giraffes long necks, bird's nests, parasites & predators ... and the behaviours of folk were inseparable parts of the whole shebang & caboodle of nature ... the whole 'entangled bank' ... wot would Mrs Darwin say if things just happened without divine intervention? But there was more ... much more ... the differential survival of inherited variants was not confined biology ... there was a long long continuity ... maths, physics, chemistry, biology, genetics, economics, behaviour, instincts, ideas ... and culture ...

Evolution and genetic chemistry built from the bottom up ... how else could it be done?

Some bright sparks with vivid imaginations did see some vague statistical uniformities, some path dependencies, and some were curious and tried to painstakingly fathom it out by empirical science ... some happenings, it seemed, were repeatable ... if you were careful.

But others, the soothsayers, the demagogues, the Fuhrers & the pontificators thought they knew it all from the start and just grabbed autocratic power with guns or by promising salvation, milk & honey for everyone and the elimination of parasites & predators ... but they were on a different utopian planet, real life wasn't like that. Using weasel words they appealed to interest group emotions & prejudiced conspiracy theories and when things went wrong they stumbled from rampant misunderstanding to abject denial to deliberate fraud ... they blamed the gods ... they blamed the bloody foreigners ... they blamed the rich ... but the failures were failures of promising promises ... folk were always ignorant of what is was they didn't know ... and in any case when push came to shove it was the girls like Mitochondrial Eve and who were taking the decisions ... but us macho fellas refused to believe it ... and it was the men who writ the history ... oh dear wot a 'mess' ... we told you it was mind boggling!  

But don't get it wrong ... building from the bottom up did not stop folk experimenting ... and some ideas 'worked' and survived ... to top the lot there was never ever no random outcomes ... just random ideas and novel creation from the sifting of diversity in the rigours of reality.

Adaptations were not about 'design' as we were taught ... but rather about alternatives which died out. 

The mind bender was how to get your head around random survival - the randomness of variants and the notion that surviving genetic variants were pre-existing. The only ones that were seen on the entangled bank were those that just happened to survive.    

Somehow in one way or another the thermodynamics & physics, the atoms, molecules & chemistry, biology, neurology & psychology led to a diversity of behaviour as folk tried for survival longevity ... the cookie crumbled inexorably ... and some structures survived ... biological economic systems didn't do blame because there wasn't a cause to blame ... effects emerged and became causes ... and some happenings survived ... there was no intelligent designer ... this was biological history ... there was a lot going on around 'Darwin's Entangled Bank' ... and Boeing 747s ... more than met the eye.

Whatever which way history was continuous ... learning from empirical failure

Moral Sentiments6. Evolutionary Psychology & Moral Sentiments (self-conscious choices as flip flopping emotions of excitement & fear discover 'know how' and memory & reason accumulate 'know how') = torts - universal instincts of 'fairness of shares' & 'resentment of cheats' ... excitement & fear

The flawed macho myth of 'command & control' of behaviour persisted but there was evidence in history of an abundance of cheats -

It was physically impossible to control the process of natural selection by human intention because human intention not only arrived late on the scene but was an integral part of one whole complex adaptive system. Rather natural selection produced universal human immune systems & moral sentiments as survival aids.
Team work produced stocks but as soon as their were stocks there was theft by parasites & predators. Cooperative systems & defence systems had to co-evolve. 
But the dice were loaded, co-operation trumped cheating, the rule of law trumped violence and production trumped theft.

All this hokum wasn't 'selfish' reciprocal altruism, not rational 'enlightened self interest', not intelligent design but more like worms in the head ... emotional biological dopamine kicks were economic sanctions & rewards ... biological morality ... you must be kidding!

Neural circuits that were laid down early on ... birds built nests and chimps were social animals but folk had more honed emotions ... rats didn't seem to have the tools to do much constructing but folk had the best tools of all ...  instincts were bog standard survival aids ... it was useful to be frightened, jealous & suspicious because such sussed out the cheats but it was also useful to be honest, feel shame & guilt & love & compassion because such encouraged fairness and cooperation ... the bad conscience of the Jews, the inner light of the Quakers, the holy ghost of the Christians and the moral sentiments of Adam Smith.

Adam the Smith penned his profound idea that the 'moral sentiments' of 'Homo Sapiens' were on an unstoppable genetic trajectory which distinguished folk from rats ... but most thought about 'selfish survival of the fittest' and very few had noticed his opening paragraph -

'How selfish soever man may be supposed, there are evidently some principles in his nature, which interest him in the fortune of others, and render their happiness necessary to him, though he derives nothing from it except the pleasure of seeing it'

Of course the Smith knew nothing of the moral sense of Darwin ... and nothing of genetics at that time ... in 1759 he wrote 'Theory of Moral Sentiments', the framework for 'Wealth of Nations' in 1776.

In 1984 Robert Axelrod in 'The Evolution of Cooperation' tied up the link between morality, cooperation and economic science -

'the key to doing well lies not in overcoming others but in eliciting their co-operation. Individuals don’t have to be rational; the evolutionary process alone allows the successful strategy to thrive, even if the players do not know why or how'.

Was co-operation a prerequisite for wealth ... Adam Smith was a 'Moral Philosopher' before he wrote about the wealth of nations?

The economic problem was establishing trust in exchange with strangers who offered specialisation & scale.

Folk could not only construct niches but also test out options in the imagination before committing scare resources ... that way they had fewer failures ... and they could also learn from the failures of others ... could social behaviour which helped survival become internalised? Everybody knew everybody experienced excitement & fear, love & hate, pride & guilt ... folk felt ... the words had universal meaning ... 'feelings' were somehow within the human genepool?

In 1896 James Mark Baldwin had a brainwave ... perhaps the behaviour of folk changed the environment which then fed back and influenced the survival chances of new behaviours ... perhaps such feed back fed back and influenced the survival chances of pre-existing genetic predispositions ... perhaps cooperation and defence behaviours became permanent hard wired instincts ... both were essential survival traits as socially interactive folk couldn't survive without both cooperative synergies and some defence against parasites & predators ... but ... confound it ... the parasites & predators were also adapting and having their evil way with us ... it was an 'arms race' ... oh dear wot a 'mess' ... we told you it was mind boggling!

But don't get it wrong ... to top the lot there was never ever no genetic determinism ... the genes never had it all their own way because folk always had alternative ideas to try out, and some ideas worked better than others and affected the survival chances of the genes that built the folk.

The wealth of nations was not about 'selfish cut throat competition' as we were taught ... but rather about moral sentiments underpinning trust in exchange. 

The mind bender was how to get your head around the cognitive bias - there was no blank slate, emotions emerged in the physical brain, when everybody had always believed that such worms in the head were 'supernatural', and there was a God behind every tree. But a 'natural God' in your head was far too far fetched for mere mortals.  

Somehow in one way or another the thermodynamics & physics, the atoms, molecules & chemistry, the biology, neurology & psychology & the behaviour folk led inexorably to learning how to survive by cooperation and defence from parasites & predators ... some useful behaviour became hard wired instincts ... human intention was itself a product of natural selection ... it was not the cause of natural selection ... but it did influence natural selection ... it sped things up ... it enabled trial & error in the imagination to save some time.

Whatever which way folk history was, in the first place, about cooperation & defence ... flip flopping emotions

London Gateway7. Theory of Mind & Comparative Advantage (cooperative synergies) = trade - cooperative synergies of specialisations & scale ... wealth creation

The flawed economics of 'Mercantilism' persisted but there was evidence in history of  the failure of the corn laws -

Different folk, at different times, in different places, with different opportunity costs & comparative advantages shaped a global network of deals as folk 'trucked, bartered & exchanged' their skills, aptitudes, merits, talents, efforts & know how securing cooperative synergies of specialisation & scale.
The genes calculated costs & benefits, it was not a zero sum game everybody had friendships to trade.

New biological insights explained the growth of economic synergies of specialisation & scale as Adam the Smith moved on from cooperation & moral philosophy to wealth creation & natural philosophy. The beer in the Clubs of Edinburg inspired the sages of the Scottish Enlightenment to chew it over and learn about trust & confidence and the synergies of specialisation & scale. Astounding economic interactions as folk traded their specialisations and secured economies of scale. Synergies were discovered & accumulated through trade deals if they were inclusive 'free' and 'fair' at market prices, there was no future for 'cheats', folk resented them and they lost their deposits. The Chinese silk road was good but the sea going trade was better as it intensified trade and spawned the industrial revolution.

Dickie Dawkins got it in one when he suggested a genes eye view of the world and a few cottoned on ... the genes were at work and they had a long reach they did cost/benefit calculations. Not 'what' happenings happened or 'why' happenings happened with all the unknowable complexity but 'how' happenings happened ... it was a sifting process of adaptation - 

'what really happens is that the gene pool becomes filled with genes that influence bodies in such a way that they behave 'as if' they made complex, if unconscious, cost/benefit calculations'.

As interactions intensified the genes and the cultures mixed ... some tried violence & theft, but they missed out on trading synergies. It was the trading communities that adapted & survived. Seafaring mongrels were on a roll, not the raiders but the traders.

In 1996 Paul Krugman, Nobel Laureate, most recently became infuriated ... how best to explain David Ricardo's fiendishly difficult idea -

'Comparative Advantage like Natural Selection is an idea that seems simple & compelling to those who understand it, but about which intelligent people somehow manage to get confused time & time again and find this particular idea impossible to grasp.
Of course, they say that they understand it, but they regard it as oversimplified or invalid in the modern world.
It is a harder concept than it seems, because like any scientific concept it is actually part of a dense web of linked ideas. It is truly, madly, deeply difficult.
But it is also simple, utterly true, immensely sophisticated ... and extremely relevant to the modern world.'

Absolute advantage was the fare of experts and could be stolen by parasites & predators but comparative advantage was yours alone and up to you?

The economic problem was securing the synergies from the participation of everybody.

Way before Charlie Darwin, Adam the Smith identified the evolutionary trend which loaded the dice in favour of cooperation over violence. Moral sentiments were a prerequisite trade & exchange. Such moral urgency constructed wealth niches which fed back and favoured the survival of pre-existing propensities to cooperate. Social cooperation fostered cultural & social learning resulting in technologies that led to the transforming of the word to suit the needs of the species, the industrial revolution. Empathetic folk copied and imitated their mates and understood not what & why but how. If you know how he is doing it you can improve it! Thus learning from others is not just copying, it is copy, vary, select. Not only what's he up to? And why is he doing it? But how? 'Listen to me and use your imagination' it's discovery & accumulation by trial & error, the story of the industrial revolution.

To understand history folk had to think about economic systems which emerged from the economic biological interactions of ordinary folk ... behavioural rules of thumb which discovered synergies as alternatives to costly violence ... synergies from our very own differences ... we loved girls who danced backwards but struggled with different Gods and skin colours... oh dear wot a 'mess ... we told you it was mind boggling'! 

But don't get it wrong ... to top the lot there was never ever no parasites & predators that didn't steal ... but there were immune systems ... hard wired biological instincts in folk ... 'fairness of shares' & 'resentments of cheats' ... cooperation & defence.

Trade synergies were not about 'competitive advantage' over others as we were taught ... but rather about differences in everybody's opportunity costs.

The mind bender was how to get your head around synergies - cooperation, differences and trade, the notion of the difference between absolute advantage where the best prospered because their costs were lower and comparative advantage where everyone could prosper if they specialised on what they were better at and traded for the rest.

Somehow in one way or another the thermodynamics & physics, the atoms, molecules & chemistry, the biology, neurology & psychology & the behaviour folk led inexorably to learning how to survive by cooperation in trade & defence from parasites & predators ... as smart folk continued to discover & accumulate synergies of specialisation & scale and the industrial revolution followed.

Whatever which way economic history was about differences in the opportunity costs of folk as theft & destruction of stocks were trumped by synergies ... exchange trade   

Scientific Knowledge8. Neuroscience & Total Factor Productivity (hierarchies of naturally selected neural networks & circuits as survival aids) = technology - compound growth of knowledge ... know how   

The flawed economics of 'throwing money at problems' persisted but there was evidence in history economic growth -

Know how, embedded the knowledge base of Empirical Science (observation, maths theory, testable hypotheses, experimental validation, peer review), grew at 3% compound from simple rules of thumb like Satisficing, Tit for Tat & Liberal Democracy.
Economic growth came from emergent institutional cultures and the discarding of failures in the past rather than whims of Bishops, Princes, Generals & Bureaucrats.

Some simple rules of ancient thumbs seemed to work ... more often than not. After many generations of replication, the replicators showed the 'appearance' of design for effective replication, but in reality they had just accumulated the copying errors that had successful replication as their effect ... read that again? 

Joe Schumpeter & Thomas Kuhn explained how Empirical Science itself was a process of creative destruction from the relentless copy, vary, select of unfathomable notions -

'the essential point to grasp is that in dealing with capitalism we are dealing with an evolutionary process'.

The scientists themselves were experimenting, they were not designing, it was just copy/vary/select! They were learning from there own experiments ... and the experiments of others ... many of them long dead.

In 1970 Robert Solow described Total Factor Productivity in 'Growth Theory' and others somewhat irreverently quipped -

'TFP is a residual, a measure of our ignorance'?

Were the Factors of Production; land, labour & capital, inadequate for an explanation of economic growth?

The economic problem was the production of 'know how'.

Then the shit hit the fan ... who had access to the know how?

Copy = imitation = Religious Wars. The autocracies of religious & political dogma abhorred experimentation and hindered discovery & accumulation.

Vary = diversity = Bloody Foreigners. There were many heroic escapes from tyranny & oppression, and such immigrants were not needy beggars nor idle scroungers ... but then came the violent predators to be replaced by the hated parasites & free lunch merchants. Workers were always essential as they contributed diversity & competition into economic growth.

Select = synergies = Global English common Law & common Language. A river of innovative synergies from a stream of cultures from overseas. Everything that was useful, whatever the source, was assimilated & accumulated into the best of the existing.

Some 'rules of thumb', some behavioural traits survived & prospered because synergies were naturally selected and new cultures emerged. This was the way that the genes expressed all the Principles of Evolutionary Economics, not by violent acquisition of territory, living space & minds but by technological & organisational 'know how' which made the world safer for diversity as folk voted with their feet and joined a club of their choice.

Satisficing - experiment & learn

An alternative to command & control.

Tit for Tat - cooperate & defend

An alternative to parasites & predators.

Liberal Democracy - diversity & choice

An alternative to tyranny & oppression .

But solutions became problems became opportunities became problems again  -

Due diligence & caveat emptor? I don't care I have a government guarantee? Who guarded the guardians? Bailouts rewarded bad behaviour for votes? Bankruptcy provided 'space' for economic growth? Ban the competition to secure jobs? Would you buy a second hand car from this man? If it's free put me down for two, please? Free but not free to harm others? What's your trade? Mind your own business? ... oh dear wot a 'mess' ... we told you it was mind boggling!

But don't get it wrong ... to top the lot there was never ever no fool proofing ... just a few habits which seemed to work more often than not ... so they were tried again ... and improved.

Economic growth was not about 'resources' as we were taught ... but rather about ignorance and know how.

The mind bender was how to get your head around know how - the notion of cumulative learning across the generations & compound interest ... survival aids.     

Somehow in one way or another the thermodynamics & physics, the atoms, molecules & chemistry, the biology, neurology & psychology & the behaviour folk led inexorably to learning how to survive by cooperation and immunity from parasites & predators and some useful behaviour became hard wired instincts and smart folk continued to discover & accumulate synergies ... synergies and know how ... or were they both the same thing?  

Whatever which way modern history was about cultural know how ... across the generations  

Blockchain9. Biological History & Blockchain (evidence of gene/culture coevolution & social animal synergies) = value - measured & accounted for in balanced Balance Sheets by supply & demand ... trust in strangers  

The flawed economics of 'creating money out of nothing' persisted but there was evidence in history of lethal debt -

Nobody knew where the next good idea was coming from and 'the powers that be' had no privileged access to 'know how' and always eventually resorted to bribery & corruption to secure votes. Synergies of specialisation & scale from cooperative deals grew economic activity & stocks as supply & demand minimised the inefficient costs of 'gluts & queues'.
Parasites & predators found it hard to cope with double entry booking keeping.

In 2008 the powers that be taxed, wasted & printed monopoly money and Banks were bailed out as Balance Sheets refused to balance in a flood of lethal debt.

The Hoi Polloi played a bum note -

'I'm not worried, I've got a government guarantee'

But there was no money left and government guarantees turned out to be yet another dose of lethal debt.   

Satoshi Nakamoto was a smart cookie ... but nobody knew who he was ... he tried to open the door to global deals -

'peer-to-peer deals with trust in the technology'

In 2009 Satoshi Nakamoto wrote a piece of software which enable our mates to do deals with us ... if they wanted to ... and to keep track of who owed what to who, when ... with a secure, distributed, immutable, transparent ledger ... a measurement system where cryptology secured balanced Balance Sheets & trust ... this was Blockchain technology ...

The Blockchain was focused on accounting for wealth not lethal debt ... the technology was generally useful ... after all our mates wanted to do deals and to exchange valuable goods & services ... they wanted fairness of shares and they resented cheats. 

In 2017 Hernando de Soto ... had a go at property rights in Chile.

In 2018 Maersk and IBM ... had a go at containerised global goods traffic.

Amongst all the 'Bitcoin' hysteria & misunderstanding, Blockchain was a shattering innovation in the mundane realm of accounting and double entry bookkeeping. The most optimistic acolytes of this electronic book balancing breakthrough held that token based projects based on torts, trade & technology would be the foundation of the interweb’s next revolution. Limitless possibilities for deal making for folk & businesses that delivered more value for their customers at lower costs 'cos they were less dependent on rent-seeking politicos, middlemen & fake news advertisers.

Balance Sheets balanced, accounted for value. Value, money & price mechanisms measured, stabilised, balanced & lubricated deals ... leading to more synergistic interactions .... leading to more output per man ... increased productivity ... higher real wages.

Satoshi Nakamoto 'used his imagination' ... Torts, Trade & Technology sped things up ... so did money ...

Did money attempt measure 'know how' growth at 3% compound? Was money 'created out of nothing'? Who had a stash of the initial coin offerings? Did it break the cycle of tax, waste & print? Was the Creative Destruction (diversity & sifting) of value still viable? ... oh dear wot a 'mess' ... we told you it was mind boggling!

But don't get it wrong ... to top the lot there was never ever no deals without trust -

 any post deal CHANGES invalidates ALL future deals

 REWARDS are accrued for work which adds VALIDATED deals to the chain

= a shared, decentralised, definitive record of entitlement but nothing about CAVEAT EMPTOR & DUE DILIGENCE of any assessment of VALUE ... garbage in garbage out ... there ain't no app for that.

Blockchain was not about 'Bitcoins' as we were taught ... but rather about trading value ... with or without a measurement system?.

The mind bender was how to get your head around peer to peer global hand shakes with strangers ... at the touch of a technology button ... with no sign of an insolvent Bank.

Somehow in one way or another the thermodynamics led to deals in synergies and know how ... they were both the same thing after all?  

Whatever which way post modern history remained all about ... trading value 

Time EndsWhere to finish? Biological History - The View -

Darwin’s 'Natural Selection' of behavioural traits confronted 'Intelligent Design' ... a very different bottom up history of social interaction at the coal face was contrasted with the top down orchestrations of the Bishops, Princes, Generals and Bureaucrats ... this way round the history of battles against ignorance, complexity, change, conflict & scarcity were fought as  survival tricks were discovered & accumulated.

Folk could 'feel' that others 'felt' the same way ... some happenings like excitement & fear were universal ... it seemed folk 'used their imaginations' and happenings speeded up ... imaginations ran riot.

Herbert Gintis -

'Biologists have developed much better models of cultural evolution than sociologists or anthropologists, and it is a crime and a scandal that the latter disciplines have not taken over wholecloth the body of research created by evolutionary population biologists and animal behaviour theorists'.

Synergies of specialisation & scale emerged from hard work (from entropy increase), honesty (from moral sentiments) & thrift (from investment in 3% compound growth) there were no discontinuities (a whole shebang & caboodle) just a focus on torts (scale from trust), trade (specialisation for innovation) & technology (know how) of economic activity.  

History didn't repeat itself because some social folk learned, they learned to experiment and discover & accumulate cooperative synergies which were communicated across the generations in cultural institutions and some slowly became hard wired in brains. History rhymed because as soon as there were stocks there were always co-evolving parasites & predators.

The Scottish Enlightenment of Adam the Smith was the best bet, he explained not only the industrial revolution but also, although he didn't know it at the time, biological history, this was before the better explanation which had to wait until Charles Darwin in 1859. Then Richard Dawkins expanded the view when he suggested the genes themselves did the economics and calculated costs & benefits. Biological historians knew there were new generations but no discontinuities, this was ontology not analogy.

Alternative interpretations of history were errors of the arrogant designers ... there was no evidence that anyone had privileged access to 'know how' for design work ... but 'know how' ain't what it seemed to be in the textbooks.

We were biased but not naive. In the long term we were all dead ... but our great grandchildren's children were sure to take a longer view ... and we have a wager in place!

History Timeline = 13.6bya Big Bang -- 4.3bya Earth -- 2.4mya Apes -- 100,000ya talking -- 10,000ya writing -- 8 years ago Daniel Whelan!

john p birchall

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