COVID-19: Nature's Revenge, Culling, or Eugenics? (and Homosexuality)

Uploaded 4/27/2020, approx. 39 minute read

Good afternoon. Today I am going to discuss a fraught topicand I can't do it without the help of my Minnie Mouse and the coffee that she prefers.

And the topic is, is Covid-19 nature's revenge? Is it nature's way of getting back at us? Is it nature's way of calibrating, of culling us, of making sure that the damage that we inflict upon the environment seizes? Did all other species conspire against us in a concilium to which we were not invited and came up with a virus?

Nature is presented as some kind of cunning conspiracy theories, how to get us. Is it all true? And more importantly, is there such a thing as nature to start with?

These are all deep philosophical questions. I'll try to simplify them for you.

The video contains some parts, small parts, which are deep, philosophical, physicsand so on. Skip.

They're not critical. Just skip to the next part. And it contains parts which are much more accessible.

I'm sorry, I had to mix the two to make sense of the whole presentation.

So now let's tackle these fraught questions.

Around 55% of the world's population live in urban areasand that number probably will increase to 68% by 2050. And it is urbanization and it is a major driver of biodiversity loss.

So today, town planners all over the world are trying to incorporate nature, like a nature reserve, like the Native Americans, incorporate nature in cities.

And so we have like cities with green spaces and this kind of thing. Even cities with open zoos in the middle.

And there's a UN agreement, United Nations agreement called the Paris Agreement for Nature, which includes provisions to reverse biodiversity loss.

The COVID-19 pandemic is a pandemic of cities. It's very rare in the countryside. It's a pandemic of cities and it's a pandemic of the rich world. It's much more rare in places like Africa and big parts of Asia.

The outbreak has seen cities and towns go into lockdown.

And so because of that, wildlife took over, reclaimed what used to be nature.

So we see like wild boar, deer, monkeys, foxes, even lions venture into territory previously dominated by humans.

And so we can gaze out the window and see an elephant waving his trunk or a giraffe eating our potted plants.

Professors Joseph Cetelay, Sandra Diaz and Eduardo Buendizio, they came up with a cumbersomely titled report in 2019. It was published by the Intergovernmental Science Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, IPBES.

The titles of these reports are even worse than the names of the scientists involved.

I don't know why these people probably something to do with arcane access. At any rate, the report concluded that human society was in jeopardy from the accelerating decline of the Earth's natural life support system.

And the experts say in this report, the coronavirus pandemic is likely to be followed by even more deadly and destructive disease outbreaks, unless their root cause, the rampant destruction of the natural world is rapidly halted.

They published of course this after the pandemic started.

And they're saying there is a single species responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic and it is us.

Recent pandemics are a direct consequence of human activity, particularly our global financial and economic systems that prize economic growth at any cost.

We have a small window of opportunity in overcoming the challenges of the current crisis to avoid sowing the seeds of future ones.

Typical alarmist language. Is it all true? Are we at war with nature? Let's reverse a bit.

There is a field in physics called thermodynamics and there's a law in thermodynamics called the second law of thermodynamics. It predicts the gradual energetic decay, decline of physical closed systems.

This gradual energetic decay is called entropy.

Arguably, the universe as a whole is precisely such a system, a closed system. So the whole universe is falling apart, decaying, entropy.

But locally, order is often fighting disorder for dominance. In other words, when we have a localized system which is open, order sometimes tends to increase and by definition statistical entropy tends to decrease.

Stay with me. Don't shut off the video. It gets much better a bit in a bit.

But I must go through these considerations in order to get to the point.

I believe that some physical systems increase disorder either by decaying or by actively spreading disorder onto other systems and we call such vectors entropic agents.

And there are other physical systems that increase order or decrease disorder either in themselves or in their environment and we call these vectors negentropic agents.

So we have entropic agents, they increase chaos, they increase disorder and we have negentropic agents which increase order.

Human beings are and always have been negentropic agents. Look around you. We have buildings, we have roads, we have smartphones, we have mini mouse cups, we increase order.

But something has happened. We have gone awry. We went out of control.

Now through our excesses mankind is slowly being transformed from a negentropic positive agent, agent that increases order into an entropic agent, agent that increases chaos, disorder, disintegration.

Our nature so to speak has changed. We became a malevolent entity. Antibiotics, herbicides, insecticides, pollution, deforestation, acid rain, global warming, etc. They are all detrimental to the environment and reduce the amount of order in the open system that we call Earth, this spaceship, the only one that we have.

And nature must balance this shift of allegiance, this deviation from equilibrium. And the only way nature can do this is either by reducing other entropic agents on Earth or by reducing our numbers, by reducing the numbers of humans.

Then there's no third way.

And to achieve the latter, to achieve the reduction in the number of humans, which is the path of least resistance and a typical self-regulatory mechanism.

To achieve this, nature causes humans to begin to internalize and assimilate the entropy, the mess that they themselves are generating.

In 1983, I published a paper, later I placed it online in 1997, and I suggested that nature uses three intricate and intertwined mechanisms to achieve the reduction in the numbers of humans.

The first one is the Malthusian mechanism after the scholar Malthus, the economist Malthus. Malthusian mechanism simply means that limited resources lead towards famine, diseases, and to a decrease in the population, and thus to the number of human and tropic agents.

Then there is the assimilative mechanism. Diseases old and new and other phenomena yield negative demographic effects directly related to the entropic actions of humans.

Examples, excessive use of antibiotics leads to drug-resistant strains of pathogens such as MRSA. Cancer and deteriorating sperm counts are caused by human pollution. We assimilate our own pollution, thereby reducing our numbers. Heart ailments, heart diseases are related to the modern Western diet. AIDS, avian flu, SARS, swine flu, COVID-19, all these diseases are results of either to unknown or mutated strains of viruses. Latter-day technologies such as telecommunication, transportation, social media, internet, and so on, these cause massive dislocations and enemies which lead to precipitous declines in the number of children.

Sexless marriages, atomization of societies, increasing adultery, casual sex, alienation, malignant individualism, narcissism, and rising psychopathic behaviors, all these conspire against stable families which are the only institution that we have come up with to raise children.

So it reduces the number of children. Technology has displaced warfare and famines. It's the main engine of decline and decadence of our civilization.

Technology, we invented it and now we are consuming it and it's poisoning us.

And then there's the cognitive mechanism.

Human limit their own propagation using rational cognitive arguments, devices, procedures.

So there's abortion, there's birth control, the pill, there's getting married and procreating later or not at all, there's family planning.

We ourselves are limiting our own numbers, the population bond.

So if you combine these three mechanisms, the Malthusian, the assimilative and the cognitive, nature controls the damage and disorder that mankind spreads, nature restores equilibrium to the terrestrial ecosystem.

It's sometimes sound like nature has a mind of its own, of its own. Like it's a thinking thing and indeed there's the Gaia hypothesis that actually earth is a kind of organism.

But of course, this is anthropomorphizing nature. It's attributing to nature human traits and qualities. Nature is nature, is nature. It's an automatic system. It's self-regulating.

If we damage nature, nature will damage us back. No question about this.

So this part I fully agree with environmentalists.

But the very concept of nature is very controversial.

Only 200 years ago, people hated nature. And I'm quoting from an article written by Stephen Budiansky. And the article is titled, Nature, A Bit of a Gun, US News and World Report December 2nd, 1996.

And in this article, Budiansky says, it wasn't just predictable curmudgeons like Dr. Johnson, who fought the Scottish hills ugly. If anybody had something to say about mountains at all, it was sure to be an insult.

People, for example, called the Alps monstrous excrescences of nature in the words of one wholly typical 18th century observer. People hated nature. People feared nature. People wanted to destroy nature in the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries.

So where did the concept of nature come from? And why do we love nature suddenly? What has happened?

The concept of nature is a romantic invention. It was spun by the likes of Jean- Jacques Rousseau in the 18th century. It's a confabulated utopian contrast to the dystopia of urbanization and Darwinian ruthless materialism.

The traces of this dewy-eyed conception of the savage, the wild men's alleged harmony and resonance with nature, the primitive men's unmolested, unadulterated surroundings. This whole can be found in the more malignant forms of fundamentalism and environmentalism.

In pop culture.

So you have a movie like Avatar, a cinematic extravaganza, which is essentially propaganda. It shows how primitive men get along with nature and how nature enables and empowers them. That's not true. That's not true.

Men, mankind has always been nature's worst enemy and nature has always conspired to kill as many humans as it could. We overcame our environment. We didn't collaborate with it. We destroyed it for good reason.

At the other extreme are religious literalists and they regard man as the crown of creation with complete dominion over nature and the right to exploit nature's resources unreservedly.

And so similar veiled sentiments can be found among many, many scientists.

Scientists regard nature as something to be manhandled, raped. And you have something like an example in the anthropic principle. It's promoted by many outstanding physicists and the anthropic principle claims, it's a religious principle in my view, it claims that the nature of the universe is preordained to accommodate sentient beings.

And guess who these sentient beings are?

Yes, no prize goes to anyone. These sentient beings are us humans.

Nature has been altered to accommodate us.

Industrialist politicians and economists have only recently begun to pay lip service to sustainable development and to the environmental cost of their policies.

And thus, in a way, these people bridge the abyss, at least verbally between the two diametrically opposed forms of fundamentalism, environmentalism and religion.

Similarly, the denizens of the West continue to indulge in rampant consumption, but now it is suffused with environmental guilt rather than driven by unadulterated hedonism.

But even if we look at, let's say, religion versus environmentalism, nature is men's servant, or nature is men's master.

Despite these essential dissimilarities, in both of them, there's a dualism, men in nature, and this dualism is universally acknowledged.

It was modern physics, it is modern physics that is trying to eliminate this Cartesian artificial distinction between men and nature.

Modern physics, notably the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics, has abandoned the classic split between a typical human observer and a usually inanimate observed.

Environmentalists, in contrast, have embraced this discarded worldview all heartedly. When you talk to environmentalists, men is the active agent operating upon a distinct, reactive or passive substrate known as nature.

But it's intuitively compelling because we have self-awareness, we have introspection, we feel that we are distinct from each other and of course from nature, but it's a false dichotomy. It's a false dichotomy because men by definition is a part of nature. His tools are natural, is nothing more natural than the smartphone. His constructions are natural, the built environment, buildings, bridges.

There are numerous species in nature which construct buildings, termites construct high-rises, beavers construct bridges. Man interacts with the other elements of nature, yes, true, modifies the other elements of nature, true, ecosystems, all true, but all other species are doing the same.

Arguably, bacteria and insects exert on nature far more influence than men. They have far further reaching consequences than men has ever had.

Even an environmentalist like Bill McKibben of End of Nature fame, they recognize this synergetic confluence.

There are two versions, to think like a mountain, alto leopold.

And the challenge is to think like a shopping mall, Stephen Vogel, because shopping malls are natural.

We should consider the entirety of our surrounding, argues, Stephen Vogel.

We should seek to optimize our environment regardless of its origin.

Men made unnatural is an artificial distinction, not true.

Still, the law of the minimum, that there is a limit to human population growth and that this barrier is related to the biotic and abiotic variables of the environment, this law is undisputed.

Whatever debate there is veers between two strands of this Malthusian Venal.

There is a utilitarian strength anthropocentric, shallow, technocentric, and there's the ethical strength, biocentric, deep or ecocentric.

Let's review these two strands of thinking.

First, the utilitarian. Economists, for instance, tend to discuss the costs and benefits of environmental policies. Activists, on the other hand, demand that mankind consider the rights of other beings, for example, animals, and the rights of nature as a whole in determining the least harmful cause of action.

Utilitarians regard nature as a set of exhaustible and scarce resources and deal with their optimal allocation from a human point of view.

Yet, utilitarians usually fail to incorporate intangibles, such as the beauty of the sunset or the liberating sensation of open spaces.

Utilitarians should go out more often. Green accounting, adjusting the national accounts to reflect environmental data, is still in its unpromising infancy. It is complicated by the fact that ecosystems do not respect man-made borders and by the stubborn refusal of many ecological variables to succumb to numbers.

To complicate things further, different nations weigh environmental problems very, very desperately.

Despite recent attempts, such as the Environmental Sustainability Index, ESI, produced by the World Economic Forum, WEF, no one knows how to define and quantify elusive concepts such as sustainable development. Even the cost of replacing or repairing depleted resources and natural assets, even these costs which are supposedly in terms of money, they are difficult to determine. Efforts to capture quality of life considerations in the straitjacket of the formalism of distributive justice.

These efforts have backfired. It is known as the human welfare ecology or emancipatory environmentalism.

These schools, they did not work out. They backfired. They led to derisory attempts, ridiculous attempts, to reverse the inexorable processes of urbanization and industrialization by introducing localized, small-scale production.

It is pathetic.

Social ecologies prefer the same prescriptions but with an anarchist twist. The hierarchical view of nature with men at the pinnacle is a reflection of social relations, they suggest.

It is mental social relations and you get rid of the war with nature.

Ethicists appear to be as confounded and ludicrous as their feet on the ground opponents. Biocentrists view nature as possessed of an intrinsic value regarding of its actual or potential utility.

They say nature in itself is a value, never mind if we can use it or not.

But they fail to specify how this, even if true, gives rise to rights of nature or, for example, commensurate obligations.

Why, if nature has a value, intrinsic value, does it oblige me to do anything or to refrain from doing anything?

Their case is not aided by their association with the apocalyptic or survivalist schools of environmentalism which have developed proto-fascist tendencies and they're totally scientifically debunked.

The proponents of deep ecology, radicalize the ideas of social ecology, are absurd and postulate a transcendentalist spiritual connection with the inanimate, with nature, whatever that may be.

In consequence, these people refuse to intervene, to counter or to contain natural processes, including pandemics and famine.

That's how far we've got.

The politicization of environmental concerns runs a gamut from political activism to eco-terrorism.

The environmental movement, whether in academia, in the media, non-governmental organizations, legislature, even in government itself, the whole movement is now comprised of a web of bureaucratic interest groups.

And like all bureaucracies, environmental organizations are out to perpetuate themselves, to make money, to fight heresy and accumulate political clout and the capital and perks that come with political clout.

They have become political movements. They are no longer disinterested, an objective party. They have a stake in the apocalypse. That makes them automatically suspect in my book.

A few years ago there was a guy called Bjorn Lombo and he wrote The Skeptical Environmentalist and he was at the receiving end of such self-serving sanctimony. He was attacked.

The guy is a statistician. He demonstrated that the doom and gloom are at best dubious, and at worst, the outcomes of deliberate manipulation of numbers.

The situation is actually improving on many fronts. Showed Lombok, non-reserves of fossil fuels, and most metals are actually rising, not being depleted. Agriculture production per head is surging. The number of the famished is declining, not going up. Biodiversity loss is slowing. Pollution is slowing. Tropical deforestation is slowing.

Yes, believe it or not, despite Bolsonaro in Brazil. In the long run, even in pockets of environmental degradation in the poor and developing countries, rising incomes and the attendant drop in birth rates will likely ameliorate the situation in the long run, said Lombok.

And yet, both camps, the optimists and the pessimists, shall I say, will be in the long run.

The optimists and the pessimists, shall I say, the perennial pessimists, or the professional pessimists, or the self-interested pessimists, they both rely on partial, irrelevant, or worse manipulated data.

The multiple authors of People and Ecosystems, published by the World Resources Institute, the World Bank, and the United Nations, they themselves conclude, our knowledge of ecosystems has increased dramatically, but it simply has not kept pace with our ability to alter these ecosystems.

Quoted by The Economist, Daniel Estay of Yale, the leader of an environmental project sponsored by the World Economic Forum, he says, why hasn't anyone done careful environmental measurement before? Businessmen always say, what matters get measured.

Social scientists start with quantitative measurement only 30 years ago, and even political science turned to hard numbers only 15 years ago.

Yet, look at the environmental policy, and the data allows you.

Nor is this dearth of reliable, unequivocal information likely to end anytime soon. Even the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, supported by numerous development agencies, elementary groups, you name it, it's seriously underfunded, under-finals.

The conspiracy-minded attribute this curious underfunding to the self-serving designs of the apocalyptic school of environmentalism.

Ignorance and fear, they point out, are among the fanatic's most useful allies. They also make for good copy, of course.

I like to illustrate my points with movies.

So, there were two movies, Kingsman, The Secret Service, 2014, and the action thriller Inferno, by Dan Brown. In both movies, deranged billionaires seek to cull or sterilize the human race.

Today, conspiracy theorists say that Bill Gates is planning to do this. And these billionaires want to cull or limit the growth in the numbers of humans as a way to avoid an ineluctable and disastrous showdown with the planet Earth, egregiously abused by us.

Their reprehensible methods aside, their diagnosis and prognosis are presented as ominously correct. Their intentions are pure to ascertain and safeguard the survival of our species.

So, the movie says they are right about the prognosis, they are right that we should stop, but they are wrong on how to do it.

But the abstract concept of species is at best a mere organizing principle. A taxonomic artifact, it is like a nation state. It serves to point at commonalities shared by individuals.

But nation and state can claim an even higher standing because in contradistinction to species, they have some utility. They reify fruitful functionalities. Individuals subsume themselves in nation states because doing so enhances their chances at longevity and welfare and guarantees a hospitable environment for procreation and wealth accumulation.

What are the benefits of species? What benefits does the concept of species confer on any of us? Why do we have to use it?

From an individual s point of view, while it would make sense to sacrifice human lives in order to preserve certain collectives, to sacrifice human lives in order to propagate the human species is nonsensical because there is no such thing.

But is it as inane when seen from the point of view of mankind as a biological whole? Yes, it is.

There is no such thing as the standpoint of the nation or the perspective of the species.

Collectives don't have world views. They don't have priorities.

Only the individuals that comprise collectives do.

The aggregate of individual choices and decisions is not an emergent phenomenon independent of its individual roots. Statistics should never be confused with reality, with ontology.

So how should we adapt to, for example, phenomenon like rapid climate change to minimize severe upheaval? Even this question makes two explicit assumptions, both of which are controversial and disputed.

First of all, that climate change is rapid. Second, that it would result in severe upheaval.

Similarly, it is not clear whether the best reaction to global warming should be societal, or individual, or perhaps global. That global warming is happening has now been established.

Only idiots would deny that. Yet such a forcing is likely to take centuries to induce any discernible climate change on the planetary level.

Moreover, self-interested and well-paying hypersites, we know close to nothing about the hyper-complex set of interactions between various greenhouse gases, the atmosphere, oceans, Earth s orbit, ice sheets, volcanic eruptions, human activities, and unforeseen outcomes, byproducts of well-meaning regulation technologies, biofuels, solar dynamics, plate tectonics, thousands of other factors, thousands of factors, the vast majority of which have yet to be discovered. We know nothing. We know nothing. It is hubris and vanity to make claims about the planetary system, as it is hubris and vanity to make claims about the brain.

We are very, very grandiose. Environmentalism is therefore poor science or pseudoscience. It is a pernicious and venal form of faddish hubris.

In our current state of ignorance, not knowledge, the more ambitious variants of solutions such as geoengineering are far more dangerous than the threats of global warming.

Only two things are clear.

A, climate change had happened frequently and repeatedly, long before, and ever since, humans, strong as scene.

B, some regions of Earth will greatly benefit economically from global warming. Others will be damaged. Others, inevitably, will suffer and will have to adapt.

None of this sounds like a severe upheaval, let alone life-threatening, as the more rabid and sensationalist environmentalists will have us believe.

We should take an inventory of what we know. We should act upon this inventory resolutely. Mitigation. We should mitigate.

Emissions from fossil fuel combustion should be tamed, captured, stored, sunk, sequestered. Aerosols should be further studied in conjunction with global dimming and ozone depletion.

Measures for population control and family planning should be enhanced. Alternative and renewable fuels should be studied. Incentives should be provided to energy efficient. Clean, green technologies, cement manufacture should be tweaked.

Cap-and-trade or tax schemes implemented on the national corporate individual levels. Weather resistors, energy conserving, green construction technologies, pioneered. Diets of livestock should be adopted to restrict biological emissions. Deforestation and reforestation should be rationalized, as should be land use. Drought-related indigenous agricultural and water management knowledge.

Crop varieties, they should all be preserved. Flood defenses, erected, strengthened. Weather monitoring capacity should be extended and modernized.

These measures make good sense. They're indisputable.

Whatever the urgency of the problem facing us, why not implement them? Why do we need to go into panic? Panic mode, like in COVID-19, we are recently, in the past few decades, acting out of panic. We will become a panicky species, if species exist, or a panicky race.

Panic, anxiety, depression, now affect a whopping 20% of the human population. Fact, clinical fact.

But we should invest the bulk of our scarce resources in research, in innovation. We should accept that climate change is inevitable, and work out ways of harnessing it to our benefit. We should come up with new agricultural methods and strains, new types of tourism, new irrigation techniques, water desalination, diversion, water transport and allocation schemes, ways of sustaining biological diversity, of helping the human body adapt to global plans to cope with energy production problems, poverty, disease, triggered by global warming.

Global warming is here to stay. Let's get over it. Get used to it.

For the next few centuries, global warming is inexorable, largely irreversible.

As the IPCC, by the way, essentially admits. To think otherwise is completely delusional.

Better to reimagine our existence on this planet, better to adapt as temperatures rise in certain locales and drop in others, by the way. New economic activities, roots of commerce should be made possible or rendered visible.

Maybe, I don't know, sunbathing tourism in Sweden. New types of produce, new types of forests will flourish, new technologies will be developed to cater to a novel and growing sets of needs. It's an opportunity.

Every crisis is an opportunity.

We would do well to not consider global warming as a crisis, but as a massive change.

And even if we insist on regarding it as a cataclysm, as the Chinese saying goes, there are opportunities in every predicament.

By the way, they don't say this. It's a Western invention.

The initial costs of every transformation and transition in human history have been steep.

Do you remember the Industrial Revolution? Those of your my age, do you remember the Industrial Revolution? Do you remember the transition from communism to capitalism? Every change has a price.

Climate change is not likely to be the only exception. Such a massive realignment implies severe disruption, great distress, all true.

But invariably, tectonic shifts are followed by an extended period of creativity and growth. This time will be no different.

Okay, you see, but what about pandemics? What about disease? What about COVID-19? What about this? What about that?

We are all terminally ill. It's a matter of time before we all die. Aging and death remain almost as mysterious as ever.

We feel odd and uncomfortable when we contemplate these twin afflictions. They are afflictions, they are diseases.

Indeed, the very word, this is, denotes, denoting illness. It contains its best definition. This is a mental component of lack of well-being, must exist subjectively. The person must feel bad, must experience this curvature for his condition to qualify as a disease.

And to this extent, we are justified in classifying all diseases as kind of spiritual or mental.

But is there any other way of distinguishing health from sickness, a way that does not depend on the report that the patient provides regarding his subjective or very subjective experience?

Well, obviously, I'm not, I'm not deluded and I'm not, this is coffee, not vodka, so I'm still lucid.

Some diseases are manifest, others are latent or imminent. I know this. Genetic diseases, for example, can exist unmanifest for generations.

And this raises the philosophical problem of whether a potential disease is a disease.

Aids and hemophilia carriers, which are asymptomatic, are they sick? Should they be treated ethically speaking?

They experience no disease. They report no symptoms, no signs are evident.

On what moral grounds can we commit these people to treatment or even to social distancing?

If I may seem, I have COVID-19 and I'm asymptomatic, what are the moral ethical grounds to limit my movement?

Of course, the immediate answer is on the grounds of the greater good, greater benefit. Carriers threaten others, must be isolated or otherwise neutered.

The threat inherent in carriers must be eradicated.

But this is a very dangerous moral precedent.

All kinds of people threaten our well-being.

Unsettling ideologies, mentally handicapped, psychopaths, narcissists, and the vast majority of politicians.

Why should we single out our physical well-being as worthy of a privileged moral status? Why is our mental well-being, for example, less important? Why don't we, out of all, socially distant psychopaths forever?

Moreover, the distinction between the psychic and the physical is hotly disputed philosophically.

The psychophysical problem is as intractable today as it ever was, if not more so. It is beyond doubt that the physical affects the mental and the mental affects the physical.

This is what disciplines like psychiatry are all about. The ability to control autonomous body functions, even heartbeat, even blood pressure, and mental reactions to pathogens of the brain are proof of the artificialness of this distinction. It is a result of the reductionist view of nature as divisible and summable. The sum of the parts, alas, is not always the whole, and there is no such thing as an infinite set of the rules of nature, only an asymptotic approximation of it.

The distinction between the patient and the outside world is superfluous and wrong. The patient and his environment are one and the same. Disease is a perturbation in the operation and management of the complex ecosystem known as patient world.

Humans absorb their environment. They feed it in equal measures. This ongoing interaction is the patient.

We cannot exist without the intake of water, air, visual stimuli, and food and viruses. Our environment is defined by our actions and by our own output, physical and mental.

Thus, one must question the classical differentiation, the classical distinction between internal and external.

Some illnesses are considered endogenic, generated from the inside. Natural internal causes, a heart defect, biochemical imbalance, genetic mutation, metabolic process, they've gone awry, they cause disease, aging, deformities, also belong in this category.

In contrast, problems of nature and environment, early childhood abuse, for instance, malnutrition, they're external, and so are classical pathogens, such as germs or viruses, and accidents.

But this, again, is a counterproductive approach.

Exogenic and endogenic pathogenesis is inseparable.

Mental states, for example, increase or decrease our susceptibility to externally induced disease. Talk therapy or abuse external events alter the biochemical balance of the brain.

The inside constantly interacts with the outside and is so intertwined with the outside that all distinctions between inside and outside are artificial and, worse, misleading.

The best example is, of course, medication. It is an external agent. It influences internal processes and it has a very strong mental correlate. Its efficacy is influenced by mental factors.

The placebo effect, the nocebo effect, we give people water, they heal, they get cured.

The very nature of dysfunction and sickness is highly culture dependent. Societal parameters dictate right and wrong in health, especially mental health. It is on a measure of statistics.

Certain diseases are accepted in certain parts of the world as a fact of life or even a sign of distinction. For example, the paranoid schizophrenic in the past used to be thought of as chosen by the gods. If there is no dis-ease, there is no dis-ease.

That the physical or mental state of a person can be different does not imply that it must be different or even that it is desirable that it should be different.

In an overpopulated world, sterility might be the desirable thing or even the occasional pandemic, but there is no such thing as absolute dysfunction.

The body and the mind always function. They adapt themselves to their environment and if the environment changes, they change.

Personality disorders are the best possible responses to abuse, for example. There are positive adaptations. Cancer may be the best possible response to carcinogens and a part of evolution because it encourages mutations. Aging and death are definitely the best possible response to overpopulation. Pandemics are the best possible response for population control in Kaling.

Perhaps the point of view of the single patient is incommensurate with the point of view of his species, but they should not serve to obscure the issues or derail rational debate.

For example, in COVID-19, most patients who died in nursing homes, 50 percent, and in Italy more than 95 percent were above the age of 70, 56 percent above the age of 81.

It's painful to the families, but is it bad?

As a result, it is logical to introduce a notion of positive aberration.

Certain hyper or hyper-functioning can yield positive results and prove to be adaptive.

The difference between positive and negative aberrations can never be objective. Nature is morally neutral and bodies no values, no preferences. It simply exists.

We humans introduce our value systems, our prejudices, our priorities into our activities, including science. It is better to be healthy, we say, because we feel better when we are healthy.

Really? Circularity aside, this is the only criterion that we can reasonably employ.

If the patient feels good, it is not a disease, even if we all think it is. If the patient feels bad, it could be stunning, unable to function, it is a disease, even when we all think it is not.

Needless to say that I am referring to the mythical creature, the fully informed patient.

If someone is sick and knows no better, has never been healthy, then his decision should be respected only after he is given the chance to experience health.

All the attempts to introduce objective yardsticks of health are plagued and philosophically contaminated by the insertion of values, preferences and priorities into the formula, or by subjecting the formula to these values altogether.

One such attempt is to define health as an increasing order or efficiency of processes, as contrasted with illness, which is a decreasing order, increasing entropy, and in the efficiency of processes, while being factually disputable.

Some diseases increase order and actually create new functions. So it is factually disputable.

But this dichotomy suffers from a series of implicit value judgments. For instance, why should we prefer life over death? Why should we prefer order to chaos, efficiency to inefficiency?

Health and sickness are different states of affairs. Whether one is preferable to the other is a matter of the specific culture and society in which the question is posed. Health and its lack.

They are determined by employing three filters, as it were.

One, is the body affected?

Two, is the person affected?

This is the bridge between physical and mental illnesses.

Three, is society affected?

In the case of mental health, the third question is often formulated as, is it normal? Is it statistically the norm of this particular society in the particular time?

We must re-humanize disease.

By imposing upon issues of health the pretensions of the accurate sciences, we have objectified the patient and the healer. Patient and the healer alike.

And we have utterly neglected death which cannot be quantified or measured.

The human spirit, the human mind.

Recent studies in animal sexuality are an example of such an approach, such thinking.

They serve to dispel two common myths that sex is exclusively about reproduction and that homosexuality is an unnatural sexual preference.

These are examples of the imposition of values on medicine, on psychology, in psychiatry, because homosexuality used to be a mental health diagnosis in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual until 1973. It now appears that sex is also about recreation as it frequently occurs out of the mating season in animals.

Same-sex copulation and bonding are common in hundreds of species, from bonobo apes to gals.

Moreover, homosexual couples in the animal kingdom are prone to behaviors commonly and erroneously attributed only to heterosexuals.

The New York Times reported in its February 7, 2004 issue about a couple of gay penguins who are desperately and recurrently seeking to incubate eggs together.

In the same article titled, Love That Dare Not Speak Its Name, Bruce Bagemill, author of the groundbreaking biological exuberance, animal homosexuality and natural diversity, he defines homosexuality as any of these behaviors between members of the same sex, long-term bonding, sexual contact, kerchief displays, or the re-ring of the young, raising children.

Still, that a certain behavior occurs in nature is natural, does not render it moral. Infanticide, patricide, suicide, gender bias and substance abuse, they are all to be found in various animal species.

It is futile to argue for homosexuality or against it based on zoological observations.

ethics is about surpassing nature, not about emulating it.

The more perplexing question remains, what are the evolutionary and biological advantages of recreational sex, of homosexuality? Surely both entail the waste of scarce resources.

Convoluted explanations such as the one preferred by Marlene Zuk, homosexuals contribute to the gene pool by nurturing and raising young relatives, she says.

Marlene Zuk.

These explanations defy common sense, experience and the calculus of evolution.

There are no field studies that show conclusively or even indicate that homosexuals tend to raise and nurture their young relatives more than straight guys do, or girls.

The arithmetic of genetics would rule out such a strategy.

If the aim of life is to pass on one's genes for one generation to the next, the homosexual would have been far better off raising his own children who carry forward half his DNA, rather than his nephew with whom he shares merely one-quarter of his genetic material.

What is more, though genetically predisposed, homosexuality may be partly acquired, the outcome of environment and nurture, rather than nature.

An oft-overlooked fact is that recreational sex and homosexuality have one thing in common. They do not lead to reproduction.

Homosexuality may therefore be a form of pleasurable sexual play. It may also enhance same-sex bonding and train the young to form cohesive, purposeful groups, for example, the army or boarding school. Homosexuality amounts to the culling of 10 to 15 percent of the gene pool in each generation.

The genetic material of the homosexual is not propagated and is effectively excluded from the big roulette of life.

Growers of anything from cereals to cattle similarly use random culling to improve their stock.

As mathematical models show, such repeated mass removal of DNA from the common brew seems to optimize the species and to increase its resilience and efficiency.

So it is ironic to realize that homosexuality and other forms of non-reproductive pleasure-seeking sex may be key evolutionary mechanisms and integral drivers of population dynamics.

Reproduction is but one goal among many equally important end results. Heterosexuality is but one strategy among a few optimal solutions.

Studying biology may yet lead to greater tolerance for the vast repertory of human sexual foibles, preferences, predilections, proclivities.

Back to nature in this case may be forward to civilization.

And so I think the messages live and let live. That is nature's message.

Epigenetics aside, both are now discarded strong forms of Lamarckism, the inheritance of all acquired characteristics as a sole vehicle of evolution.

And evolution theory, both of them postulate, that function determines form. Natural selection rewards those forms best suited to carry out the function of survival.

It is called survival of the fetus in each and every habitat through the mechanism of adaptive radiation.

But whose survival is natural selection concerned with? Is it the survival of the individual, of the species, or the habitat of the ecosystem?

These three individual species-habitat are not necessarily compatible or mutually reinforcing in their goals and actions.

If we set aside the dew-eyed arguments of altruism, we are compelled to accept that individual survival sometimes threatens and endangers the survival of the species.

For instance, if the individual is sick, or weak, or evil, the species is threatened. Typhoid married.

As every environmental scientist can attest, the thriving of subspecies puts at risk the existence of whole habitats and ecological niches and leads other species to extinction, for example, invasive species.

To prevent the potential excesses of egotistic self-propagation, survival is self-limiting, self-regulating.

Consider, again, pandemics. Rather than go on forever, they abate after a certain number of hosts have been infected.

This kind of Nash equilibrium, self-limitation.

Macroevolution, the coordinated emergence of entire groups of organisms, trumps microevolution, the selective dynamics, species, races and subspecies.

This delicate and self-correcting balance between the needs and pressures of competing populations is manifest even in the single organism of species.

Different parts of the phenotype invariably develop at different rates, thus preventing an all-out scramble for resources and maladaptive changes.

And this is known as Mosaic evolution. It is reminiscent of the invisible hand of the market that allegedly allocates resources optimally among various players and agents.

Martin Nowak, a Harvard professor, argues that emergent cooperation is a fundamental principle of evolution, as basic as natural selection, as mutation.

Moreover, evolution favors organisms whose rate of reproduction is such that their populations expand to no more than the number of individuals that the habitat can support, the habitat's carrying capacity.

And these are called case selection species or case strategies. They are considered the poster children, poster children of adaptation.

Live and let live is what evolution is all about, not the law of the jungle.

The survival of all the species that are free to survive is preferred to the hegemony of a few rapacious, highly adopted, belligerent predators. Nature is about compromise, not about conquest.

It's a lesson that COVID-19 is trying to remind us of.

And never mind how many of us died this pandemic. It's a lesson well worth the price.

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