September 26th, 2011 // 3:51 am @ Oliver DeMille
Aquinas held that angels are intellectual beings because they know all things, while men are merely rational beings because they know little and therefore must figure things out.
Since each person must reason out each answer on his own to really use reason, the fact that others have outlined their thinking at every step makes reason easier to follow and to expand upon than intuition. Also, the argument goes, reason can be used to analyze and test intuition, while the opposite is seldom true.
The Bible discounted this view, comparing the rationalist “goats” with the more obedient and intuitive “sheep.” In much of Western culture, the term “sheep” became a negative name given to those who refuse to think things through.
Religious icon Aquinas, who certainly cannot be accused of not thinking things through,[i] argued that those who trust God’s full knowledge more than man’s limited knowledge are in fact more rational than those who believe in man’s abilities.
Ultimately, Aristotle taught, all demonstration rests on certain indemonstrable truths. Human rationalism can extend our understanding, as can science, but it cannot prove or disprove every detail.
However, rationalism is based on the assumption that there are truths in the universe, and that the use of our minds can help us learn these truths. In fact, modernism is based on this same concept.
For example, if there are no universal truths then math, logic and the scientific method are all flawed and useless. All of these depend on the ability to discover and detect truths that are out there.
Reason is the most democratic thinking method to date because it holds that each individual person can use it without depending on experts or elites.
In fact, it is how the regular people can analyze and test the words and assurances of the experts and elites. The other major methods of arriving at truth—from science, math and logic to theology, aestheticism and credentialism—depend on the assurances of experts.
Jefferson goes as far as saying that the people are bound by duty to use reason as they oversee government. The committee of founders which approved The Declaration of Independence agreed with this assessment.
A free people is a deep-thinking, well-read, independent-thinking people.
[i] His works are the longest and among the most logically and meticulously argued of the great books.
September 23rd, 2011 // 3:16 am @ Oliver DeMille
Note that the general concept of reason has changed since then. When most people think of reason today, they tend to mix it with the ideas of logic, science and determinism. In the American colonial and early republican era, this was not the case.
The term “science” was often used to mean general thinking and the idea of learning, and in this sense it coincided with the rational perspective. But today’s technical science, based on a general consensus of experts along with the empirical use of the scientific method, is quite the opposite of the rationalist viewpoint.
And logic, which is actually a branch of mathematics (rather than philosophy), is very different than reason.
Reason, in the original sense, is the use of one’s own mind to test and analyze the words of the experts, the ancients, and all authority.
In the founding generation, reason was a check and balance on the smug groupthink[i] of the upper classes and elites. Most of the leading founders usually used the term “right reason” rather than simple “reason,” since this first phrase carried the connotation that all right-thinking people would come to the same conclusions if they had the benefit of adequate information.
In this view, no king, priest, aristocrat or expert can rely simply on some claim to a “divine right” of expertise to be correct—each individual citizen can test everything said by the elites simply by taking the time to obtain all needed information and then think it through.
Forrest McDonald wrote in the introduction to Empire and Nation, a collection of writings by American founders John Dickinson and Richard Henry Lee:
“In the historical view, men have such rights as they have won over the years; in the rationalist view, men are born with certain rights, whether they are honored in a particular society or not.”
Using reason, leading American founder John Dickinson wrote:
“Ought not the people therefore to watch? to search into causes? to investigate designs? And have they not a right of JUDGING from the evidence before them, on no slighter points than their liberty and happiness?”[ii]
It is always up to the people to maintain their freedom, and one of the first steps is to think—independently as they see fit—regardless of the assurances, promises and statistics of experts and elites.
Throughout history, the experts have nearly always worked for the elites, and the regular people have held reason as their first line of defense. When the regular people put expertise, tradition, authority or official promises above their own reason, they have always lost their freedoms and prosperity.
Dickinson put it this way:
“Indeed, nations, in general, are not apt to think until they feel; and therefore nations in general have lost their liberty.”[iii]
March 16th, 2011 // 10:42 am @ Oliver DeMille
The obvious big trend right now is that oil prices threaten to reverse economic recovery across the globe.[i] The recent problems with nuclear power in Japan only promise to exacerbate the oil crisis. And the concern about a second mortgage bubble lingers.[ii] Food and other retail prices are increasing at alarming levels while unemployment rates remain high. In addition, some trends and current affairs promise to significantly influence the years ahead despite receiving little coverage in the nightly news. Here are ten such trends that every American should know about:
- “In the wake of the financial crisis, the United States is no longer the leader of the global economy, and no other nation has the political and economic leverage to replace it.”[iii] Increased international conflicts are ahead.
- The new e-media is revolutionizing communication and fueling actual revolutions from the Middle East to North Korea.[iv]
- The new media is also differentiated by both political views and class divisions,[v] meaning that people of different views hardly ever listen to each other. This is creating more divisiveness in society.
- In response to the rise of the Tea Parties, some top leaders of American foreign policy feel that Washington must find ways to promote a “liberal and cosmopolitan world order” and simultaneously “find some way to satisfy their angry domestic constituencies…”[vi] The disconnect between the American citizenry and elites continues to increase. So does the wage disparity between American elites and everyone else.[vii]
- The evidence suggests that “teams, not individuals, are the leading force behind entrepreneurial startups.”[viii] This has been a topic of debate for some time, and a new book (The Invention of Enterprise by Landes, Mokyr and Baumol[ix]) outlines the history of entrepreneurship from ancient to modern times.
- As Leah Farrall put it, “Al Qaeda is stronger today than when it carried out the 9/11 attacks. Accounts that contend that it is on the decline treat the central al Qaeda organization separately from its subsidiaries and overlooks its success in expanding its power and influence through them.”[x]
- One trend is outlined clearly by a new book title: Alone Together: Why We Expect More From Technology and Less From Each Other.[xi]
- In contrast to poplar wisdom, democracy and modernization are significantly increasing the influence of religion in many developing regions around the world.[xii]
- More people are using Facebook to connect more with their children—in one survey this included 64% of those surveyed.[xiii]
- While governments—at national, provincial/state and local levels—are increasingly strapped for cash and struggling to balance budgets and service looming debts, many multinational corporations “sit on enormous stockpiles of cash…”[xiv] This reality is giving strength to the argument in some circles that the future of governance should be put in the hands of corporations rather than outdated dependence on inefficient government.[xv]
[i] “The 2011 oil shock,” The Economist, March 5th, 2011.
[ii] Consider the ideas in “Bricks and slaughter,” The Economist, March 5th, 2011.
[iii] Ian Bremmer and Nouriel Roubini, “A G-Zero World,” Foreign Affairs, March/April 2011.
[iv] See James Fallows, “Learning to Love the New Media” and Robert S. Boynton, “North Korea’s Digital Underground,” The Atlantic, April 201.
[v] Op. cit., Fallows.
[vi] See Walter Russell Mead, “The Tea Party and American Foreign Policy,” Foreign Affairs, March/April 2011.
[vii] See “Gaponomics,” The Economist, March 12th, 2011.
[viii] See Martin Ruef, The Entrepreneurial Group, 2011, Kauffman.
[ix] 2011, Kauffman.
[x] Leah Farrall, “How al Qaeda Works,” Foreign Affairs, March/April 2011.
[xi] By Sherry Turkle, 2011, Basic Books.
[xii] See book reviews, Foreign Affairs, March/April 2011.
[xiii] Redbook, April 2011.
[xiv] See op. cit., Bremmer and Roubini.
[xv] See the following: Shell Scenarios; “Tata sauce,” The Economist, March 5th, 2011; Adam Segal, Advantage: How American Innovation Can Overcome the Asian Challenge, 2011, Council on Foreign Relations; and “Home truths,” The Economist, March 5th, 2011.
September 17th, 2010 // 4:00 am @ Oliver DeMille
New Science on What Makes Quality Education
Harvard Business School recently emphasized that the major changes in the world tend to come from what they called “disruptive innovators.”
These are surprising innovations that usually come from out-of-the-mainstream sources and drastically change society, business, and other facets of life.
Disruptive innovators are disruptive precisely because they are totally unexpected by the mainstream.
Indeed, Harvard, Yale, Stanford and their counterparts may lead the analysis about innovations, but “chicken-wire Harvards” produce many more innovative projects.
The Innovation “Gene”
Why is more entrepreneurial, innovative and leadership education flourishing in small, humble, usually under-funded environments than in the prestigious, elite halls of endowments and status?
And even when the mainstream and elite institutions take note and attempt to emulate such successes, why do they usually fall short of the smaller talent hotbeds?
The answer is simple. The breeding grounds of initiative and leadership believe in and implement the philosophy of individualized education.
Nearly everywhere else, the emphasis is on systemized models of learning that students must learn to navigate and “fit.”
To reinforce this point, there are many small, humble and under-funded educational models that are not talent hotbeds—almost invariably they are followers of the “systems model” rather than individualization.
Dead Poet’s Society
I well remember a visit years ago to a private school that had just received two major breakthroughs: an endowment from a wealthy parent, and a new president who promised to significantly grow the school.
As I talked to this president, however, I realized that he fully intended to turn this excellent, proven hotbed of talent into a systemized conveyor belt. He felt that this is what the wealthy donor wanted, and maybe it was.
But I could tell after a few minutes of visiting with him that he would ruin the depth, quality and excellent results the school had boasted for the past decade.
Five years later, my worst concerns were unfortunately the reality. The school was no longer a place of deep quality and excellence, but it was much bigger, more bureaucratic, and hardly distinguishable from the local public schools. Indeed, several charter schools in the area offered much higher quality.
The key to this change was teachers. In the public schools, teachers have been penalized for great teaching since 2002. As Harper’s noted:
“Under the No Child Left Behind Act of 2002…U.S. teachers are forced to choose between teaching general knowledge and ‘teaching to the test.’ The best teachers are thereby often disenfranchised by the improper use of education information systems.”
But in private schools, this system is not mandated. However, when such schools apply the systems approach to education, they usually obtain similar mediocre results.
In the old, under-funded days of this high school, the teachers had given their hearts and souls to provide personalized, individualized attention to every student.
As the school turned to industrial systems, these teachers were forced to move on or change their approach from individualized learning to factory-style academia.
Approaching each child with the assumption that she has genius inside, and that the teacher’s role is to help her find it, develop and polish it to improve herself and the world—this is called teaching. Anything else is something else.
Where true teaching occurs, excellence flourishes. This is applicable at all levels, from elementary to high school, undergraduate to graduate programs, and also adult learning.
Individualization of education is the first step to leadership education, and without it quality always decreases.
Seratonin, Adrenaline & Myelin
Science is now beginning to show the reasons why quality in education increases with individualization.
Studies have shown for a long time that students receiving personalized, caring and quality mentorship learn more effectively than those required to conform to a deeply structured and systemized model.
Elites have historically been successful in engaging tutors, mentors and individualizing private schools over less personal conveyor-belt schooling options.
Scientists are now discovering that the individualized method (personalized mentoring, deep practice, long hours of inspired and enthusiastic academic effort) results in drastically higher levels of the neural insulator myelin than the standardized system of education.
Students with higher levels of myelin learn more and remember it longer. It is especially valuable for gaining, maintaining and polishing skills.
As Daniel Coyle writes in The Talent Code:
“The talent code is built on revolutionary scientific discoveries involving a neural insulator called myelin, which some neurologists now consider to be the holy grail of acquiring skill. Here’s why. Every human skill…is created by chains of nerve fibers carrying a tiny electrical impulse—basically, a signal traveling through a circuit.
“Myelin’s vital role is to wrap those nerve fibers the same way that rubber insulation wraps a copper wire, making the signal stronger and faster…each new layer adding a bit more skill and speed.”
This research is in its infancy, but it is already helping us understand that there are neuro-chemical factors in our basic psycho-physiology that are impacted by our learning environment.
Personalized educational models, with dedicated and caring mentors helping learners achieve depth and inspiration in their studies, achieve better results than assembly-line education.
Quality mentors help students learn at least three key things:
- How to see their internal greatness and potential.
- How to study and practice in ways that greatly increase the flow of learning.
- How to repeat this kind of learning experience at will.
These are nearly always individualized lessons; and when they are applied, researchers are finding, the level of myelin and the resultant quality of learning increases.
To increase myelin levels and create talent hotbeds, Coyle says, mentors must create an environment of individualized coaching, be perceptive in seeing individual needs in their students, use shock or intensity to open student minds and then share valuable information, and find ways to really connect with each learner.
All of this is traditional leadership education, based on the same principles as the 7 Keys covered in my book A Thomas Jefferson Education:
- Classics, not Textbooks
- Mentors, not Professors
- Inspire, not Require
- Structure Time, not Content
- Quality, not Conformity
- Simplicity, not Complexity
- You, not Them (example)
It would be interesting to study the myelin levels of each. Say, for example, a study of myelin levels in students whose teachers emphasize the “inspire” approach versus those with more “requirement-oriented” methods. There could be many other examples.
Individualization Breeds Innovation
One thing is clear, if not yet scientifically studied: Most parents and teachers who apply the 7 Keys see significant, drastic and lasting increases in the quality of their students’ and their own learning.
Personalized education is more effective in helping students learn in their areas of interest, and it also outperforms generally in math, science and technology.
In the decades ahead, as in decades past, many of the most innovative ideas and projects are likely to come from talent hothouses outside the mainstream—places where dedicated and caring mentors help young people see their huge potential, start to discover their great inner genius, and feel inspired to do the hard and effective work of getting a great education.
Individualized, mentored, intensive learning has better results than standardized, rote and minimum-standards systems.
Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.
September 9th, 2010 // 10:52 am @ Oliver DeMille
On the morning of September 11, 2001, biology stopped being a science. For that matter, so did physics and mathematics, but our focus here is on biology.
Historically, the great philosophers and thinkers divided knowledge into four major branches:
First, the sciences, or the things which can be proven empirically — based on evidence and fact.
Second, the arts, areas of knowledge that are best understood through experiencing beauty.
Third, the spiritual, which Aristotle called metaphysics and which many moderns narrowly refer to as ethics.
Fourth, the humane, meaning the realm of organizing and leading human beings, the highest level of which is statesmanship, with social leadership being a close second.
Before 9/11, biology clearly belonged to the branch of knowledge called science. But as the world watched the planes fly into the buildings that day, over and over on our screens, the field of biology moved firmly and irreversibly into the realm of statesmanship.
As early as the 1920s, economist John Maynard Keynes suggested that the 21st Century would be the Democratic Century, as democracy and capitalism would finally spread around the world.
By the early 1990s, futurists Alvin Toffler and John Naisbitt separately predicted that the 21st Century would be the Asian or the Pacific Century, due to the rising might of China and the other Asian economies.
By the end of the nineties, the Bill Gates and Steve Jobs types suggested that the true explosion of the next hundred years would be technological rather than national — that the 21st would be the Digital Century.
But as big as these trends may or may not turn out to be, one thing will almost certainly eclipse them all: The 21st Century will be the Century of Biology.
And statesmen and social leaders of the future had better prepare accordingly.
But how should we prepare? What exactly does “The Century of Biology” mean?
Simply put, the events of 9/11 and the commencement of the Fourth Turning catapulted biological thinking from the first branch (pure science in pursuit of knowledge) immediately into the fourth branch (thought processes used to organize human endeavors) .
Biology is no longer about the sterile exercise of our intellects to answer questions about living organisms. Now biology has morphed into a means by which societal vitality may be investigated and sustained.
In biology, certain well-trained experts work to maintain health and banish disease from individuals and communities. We call these people healers, physicians, veterinarians, and the like.
In the twenty-first century, certain people, well-educated in the thinking of modern biology, will seek to sustain the vitality and vanquish the ills of society. To my way of thinking, these individuals have only one best, all-encompassing name: statesmen.
There are at least eight sub-trends of the overarching shift from the Information Age to the Biology Age . Each is significant, each is currently increasing its power, and each must be understood by the statesmen and social leaders of our day.
The first four trends are:
1. Business is coming to life.
2. Technology is coming to life.
3. Information is coming to life.
4. Culture is coming to life.
Together, these four trends are causing and will cause four other macro-trends, including:
5. The end of stability in national domestic life.
6. The end of security in all aspects of life — business, economic, governmental, etc.
7. The rising philosophy of General Evolution (not to be confused with micro- or macro-evolution).
8. Biology as a branch of leadership and a central tenet of all statesmanship.
The impact on our lives can hardly be overstated.
All our central models and worldviews will change — or at least the language we use to support our views.
For example, in the 20th Century our vocabulary and ideas were infused with the teachings of physics: time, distance, size and mechanical interactions were the rule. We understood things by asking who? what? where? why? when? and how?
In contrast, in the Biology Century our central metaphors will be creativity, initiative, adaptability, and the organic interconnections of things.
Instead of seeing a world made up of atoms, we will see a universe that can only be understood by comprehending relationships — not just knowing that relationships exist, mind you, but truly understanding them.
(As a side note, some authors including Tom Peters have suggested that therefore the 21st Century will be totally dominated by women).
In short, as Daniel Pink put it, the Right Brain will lead the 21st Century .
Relationships in business will dominate the bottom line; relationships in government will determine success in security, trade, economics, and even freedom; relationships in families will create a new class system, just as family arrangements created all historical class systems.
Relationships, not atoms, are the building blocks of our universe.
Let’s consider some specific examples of this shift into the Century of Biology, starting with the future of business. Twentieth century business emphasized the mechanical approach, including planning, strategizing, predicting, engineering the company, and controlling change.
A whole mechanical-based leadership industry grew around dozens of books which outlined the seven keys to success or the three choices of leaders. All of this is now turning to biology . Just consider the following business phrases now in use in the general corporate world:
- Adaptive Organizations
- Metabolic Companies
- Evolutionary Corporations
- Permanent Volatility
- Non-Linear Systems
- Organic Leadership
- Cell Management
- Organism Organization
- People Power
- Mutation Marketing
- Going Viral
- Responsive Customized Manufacturing
The list could go on. But consider another huge trend which is not only re-seeding the way leaders and managers work, but is actually re-focusing the products and services businesses offer.
Technology is literally coming alive.
In the excellent book It’s Alive: The Coming Convergence of Information, Biology, & Business by Christopher Meyer and Stan Davis, the authors outline several major fields of bio-technology in the coming decades, including, but not limited to, nano-tech and materials science.
Nano-tech, which literally means the technology of the very, very small, has virtually exploded in the past decade — and it is growing exponentially.
To summarize this exciting new field, suffice it to say that with current optical technology and the latest generation of super microscopes, almost anything can be done smaller.
For example, researchers can now manipulate atoms, see genes in action, watch proteins as they interact and DNA strands as they fold. Scientists have “slowed” light down enough to capture a photon particle, and they can routinely manipulate the gene.
Medical researchers can “see” directly into the cell and even laser inject a medication directly into a cell without a needle. Nano-technology is being pursued by numerous national militaries and a host of private companies.
Also consider the breakthroughs of materials science. Research is currently underway to create the matter compiler, which would deconstruct a substance and then re-pattern the molecules to form a different pre-programmed substance.
What does this mean?
Imagine if ancient alchemy and Star Trek replicators meet in the middle sometime around the year 2052.
Or consider the concept currently under design of the Universal Mentor — a wrist watch or a pair of glasses with a world wide web link and audio capability which listens to your conversations and pipes answers, facts, quotes and sources directly into your watch or earpiece.
Experience Entertainment may be the closest to manufacturing these coming gadgets — where the interactive movie or CD connects directly to the central nervous system or visual cortex so that you are Arnold Shwarzenegger or Angelina Jolie.
And already in operation is the Social Science Simulator, which scholars are using to predict the results of a certain policy or law.
As fantastic as these ideas may be, they are still all based on mechanical technology, right? For now, yes. But significant funding and research are being put into “smart” technologies — machines which think, learn, evolve and possibly even “feel”.
Of course, the movie industry has shown the dangers of this in a barrage of movies in the last twenty years. But two facts remain: bio-tech research is in its embryonic stage, and embryos grow and develop.
The ideas and developments I highlighted in the last article may all seem impossible, or at least impractical. But listen to Dr. Rodney Brooks, MIT Professor and Director of the Artificial Intelligence Lab at MIT. He says:
Fifty years ago, just after the Second World War, there was a transformation of engineering. Before that, engineering had been a craft-based exercise, but starting around 1950 it was transformed into a physics-based discipline. Now we are seeing the beginnings of a transformation of engineering again, this time into a largely biologically-based discipline…At MIT’s Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, where I am director, I see signs of this transformation every day. We have torn out clean rooms where we used to make silicon chips and installed wet labs in their place, where we compile programs into DNA sequences that we splice into genomes in order to breed bacterial robots. Our thirty-year goal is to have such exquisite control over the genetics of living systems that instead of growing a tree, cutting it down, and building a table out of it, we will ultimately be able to grow the table. . . Similar transformations are happening throughout engineering departments, not just at MIT but all over the world.” 
Professor Brooks continues:
“Some of the early biological augmentations of ourselves may entail increasing the number of neurons in our cortex. Already these sorts of experiments are being carried out on rats. When extra layers of neurons are placed in the brain of a rat at a critical time in its development, its intelligence is enhanced relative to rats without this augmentation. As we better understand the hormonal balances that control the growth of our brain in childhood, we will perhaps be able to add sheets of neurons to our adult brains, adding a few points to our IQ and restoring our memory abilities to those we had when younger. There will likely be some errors and horror stories about augmentation gone haywire, but make no mistake — the technology, in fits and starts, will proceed.
“By the midpoint of the twenty-first century, we will have many, many new biological capabilities. Some of them seem fanciful today, just as projections about the speed, memory, and price of today’s computers would have seemed fanciful to the engineers working on the first digital computers in 1950.” 
Psychology and mathematics are also turning biological. As Marc Hauser, Professor in the Department of Psychology and Program in Neurosciences at Harvard University, wrote:
“A chicken with a piece of quail brain bows its head like a quail but crows like a chicken. A seventy-year-old man with Parkinson’s disease, confined to his wheelchair, receives a piece of brain from a pig and in no time at all is out golfing, without a hint of his porcine accessory. This is not science fiction, a la Douglas Adams. This is scientific fact. Today we can swap brain tissue not just among individuals of the same species but between species. In the next fifty years such exquisite neurobiology will have revolutionized our understanding of the brain—of how it is wired up during development and how it has evolved over time.”
And consider these thoughts from Ian Stewart, the 1995 recipient of the Royal Society’s Michael Faraday medal:
“Far more influential, and far more radical, will be the mathematics inspired by the biosciences: biomathematics. As the triumphal announcements about the human genome give way to a new realism about the results, it has become clear that merely sequencing DNA does not get us very far in understanding organisms, or even in curing diseases. There are huge gaps in our understanding of the link between genes and organisms. . . .
“Genes are part of a dynamic control process that not only makes proteins but modifies them and gets them to the right place in a developing organism at the right moment in its life history. The understanding of this process will require much more than a mere list of DNA codes, and most of what’s missing has to be mathematical. But it will be a new kind of mathematics, one that blends the dynamics of organism growth with the molecular information processing of DNA. . . . The new biomathematics will be a strange new mixture of . . . analysis, geometry, and informatics. Plus lots of biology, of course.” 
Stewart also says:
“Today, complex systems are being studied in two main areas—biology and finance. A stock market, for instance, has many agents who interact by buying and selling stocks and shares. Out of this interaction emerges the financial world. The mathematics of finance and commerce will be revolutionized by throwing away the current “linear” models and introducing ones whose mathematical structure more accurately reflects the real world.
“Even more dramatically, mathematics will invade new areas of human activity altogether—social science, the arts, even politics. However, mathematics will not be used in the same way as it is currently used in the physical sciences.” 
And National Medal of Technology recipient Ray Kurzweil writes:
“. . .‘narrow’ AI [includes] machine intelligence that equals or exceeds human intelligence for specific tasks. Every time you send an e-mail or make a cell phone call, intelligent algorithms route the information. AI programs diagnose heart disease, fly and land airplanes, guide autonomous weapons, make automated investment decisions for a trillion dollars’ worth of funds and guide industrial processes. These were all research projects a couple of decades ago.
“So what are the prospects for ‘strong’ AI . . . with the full range of human intelligence? We can meet the hardware requirements . . . . [W]e need about 10 quadrillion calculations a second to provide a functional equivalent to all the regions of the brain. IBM’s Blue Gene/L computer is already at 100 trillion. If we plug in the semiconductor industry’s projections, we can see that 10 quadrillion calculations a second will be available for $1,000 by around 2020.” 
The ramifications are mind boggling, and the science is clearly here to stay.
But how is this all shifting to the realm of statesmanship and social leadership? The answer is profound. Genetic engineering, cloning, bio-mathematics and direct genetic healing cross the boundaries between science and leadership on many levels.
Jefferson spoke for all the great freedom philosophers of history when he wrote, “all men are created equal.” Indeed, this is the most basic tenet of free government, free markets and just laws.
But what if a new generation of children aren’t created equal?
What if only the very rich, or citizens in certain leading nations, can afford the gene scripting that gives their children the brains of Aristotle, the strength and speed of a professional football player, the height of a pro basketball center, and the looks of Apollo?
What if some men and women really are created “more equal than others?”
Politicians may try to stop the use of this technology for a time, just like they met in diplomatic summits and signed treaties to stop the technologies of the machine gun, chemical weapons, mind-enhancing drugs for entertainment, or nuclear weapons.
But where the technology exists, human beings will find a way to use it. The statesmen of the 21st Century will have to do better than just passing laws or signing treaties.
Indeed, the statesmen and social leaders of our generation will face a host of challenges unimagined by Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Gandhi, Churchill, or Mother Teresa. Which is why we must be better prepared than any generation before us — in virtue, wisdom, diplomacy and courage.
We must be the best educated of any generation — ever.
Just consider the emerging concept of General Evolution, as taught by Meyer and Davis.
Whereas micro-evolution means that external pressures, adaptation and mutation lead to evolution within a species, and macro-evolution refers to one species evolving into another, the evolution debate is now infused with a whole new issue.
General Evolution argues that all things, not just biological organisms, evolve along the same lines as Darwin’s micro-evolution.
In short, agents act to create, the creations face selective pressures and either perish or overcome, they overcome by connecting with other agents and then adapting, such adaptation causes them to evolve to a whole new level, where they self-organize, replicate or reproduce, and start over.
In biology the agent is the cell, made up of smaller agents such as proteins. In society the agent is the family, in an economy it is a business, in physics it is an atom, and so on. In the Information Age the agent is software, and if it actually does evolve, then it will naturally meet the criteria of being alive.
This may seem far-fetched, but who is to say that the biology code of G,T,A,C is inherently superior to the binary code of 1 and 0? Both were created or inspired by the same God. Indeed, numerous researchers are currently combining the two.
Interestingly, many of the strongest proponents of both sides of the 20th Century debate over macro evolution versus creationism are natural believers in General Evolution.
The atheistic skeptic already believes that man is god, so why can’t we create other beings in our own image that hopefully are like us in all the good ways but don’t inherit our flaws?
And the religious person believes that God created man, and that He also gave us the gift to create.
Why then can’t we create smart machines that learn and improve themselves as well as those that just do what the programmer says?
They will never take the place of human beings, just like cats and dogs never take the place of our children — but for people who don’t have children in the home, pets and smart machines might be excellent company.
In any case, in more practical terms, many (if not a majority) of the entrepreneurs of the 21st Century will only succeed if they infuse biology into their companies — in terms of products and especially relationships.
The mothers, fathers, entrepreneurs, social leaders, social entrepreneurs, community leaders and national and world statesmen of the 21st Century need to think biologically. They need to realize that families, schools, nations, and societies are organic, not mechanical.
For example, mothers are much more like arms than bumpers — you can’t just pull one off and replace it, without creating excruciating and lasting pain. Schools that treat teachers like factory workers instead of best friends will be full of students with glazed over eyes who can’t wait to get out of school. Why should they study if they hate the place?
Nations which pass laws mechanically, just assuming that whatever is legal will be followed by everyone regardless of their deepest beliefs, will not succeed.
People are disposed to “suffer a long chain of abuses,” but at some point the soul comes out and slaves rise against masters — not because they want to, but because deep within them they have to. It’s who they are. It’s their biology, and their spirit.
In less extreme nations, where slavery is outlawed, but the laws slowly promote immorality and become less and less just, the same pattern emerges. Eventually the people stand up, speak out, and do whatever it takes to win back their freedoms and re-institute virtue and goodness.
When positive change occurs, it does so biologically, organically, not mechanically. Like the fall of the Berlin Wall or the Civil Rights movement, few can predict it and then suddenly, in a few short years it is over and the world is changed. In retrospect, it seems inevitable.
That is what statesmanship and social leadership are about: preparing yourself to recognize unforeseen opportunity and lead change when the time is finally right.
20th Century experts may continue to suggest a mechanical strategy and a well-formed plan for the change, but a deep reading of history shows that the most important changes don’t happen that way.
Missions Worth Pursuing
The great changes of the 21st Century will happen biologically, naturally, as you submit to your Higher Power, focus your life on the mission given to you, and do what our generation was born to do.
In the 21st Century, there is nothing stopping us from feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, healing the sick, educating the ignorant, and freeing the captive. These are each biological imperatives. They are why our generation was born.
These are the missions worth pursuing. If you are giving your life to something else, please reconsider. You were born for a purpose. Find out what it is, and dedicate your whole biology to it — your body, heart, mind, and even your soul. Such grand purposes are the core of the human being. It is who we are. It is why we were born.
7 Areas of Focus for 21st Century Leaders
Specifically, the leaders of the 21st Century will lead biology in the following seven arenas. Each of us needs to become a student of all of them, and others that will naturally emerge in the decades ahead. Indeed, by 2020 I predict that to “be educated” will mean that you are literate in all seven, and a master of at least a few.
The 7 divisions of the new biology are:
- A vision of the future that is simultaneously accurate, good, and transformational.
- Adaptability and flexibility in the face of frequent change.
- Robustness and strength in overcoming all the challenges of this generation.
- The spirit of innovation, of destabilizing things that seem to be okay but are actually mediocre.
- Exploration and experimentation of good ideas and “impossible” dreams.
- Depth relationships — meaning a life focus on the most important relationships, with spouse, children, family and a few intimate others.
- Breadth relationships — including ministering to the people of the world by building friendships in every nation and people.
These are the great imperatives of statesmen, social leaders, mothers, and fathers in the 21st Century. And each of these is a biological process.
Where & How to Get This Education
Our vision is to train world-class statesmen who are true experts in these organic processes.
Leadership Education provides an in-depth study of what constitutes our society — the basic political, governmental, legal, economic, social, cultural, business and family forms which make up a society. It is, in the broad sense, the new biology.
Whereas rocket science studies inanimate objects, students study these seven biological challenges. They also master an eighth challenge, which is the highest struggle biology has ever known: how to build the ideal society.
If you were born to be one of the statesmen or stateswomen of the 21st Century, let nothing stop you from getting a true statesman’s education.
What Will You Invest In?
Whatever your focus is during the next decade, in the Century of Biology it is finally time to dedicate ourselves to solving the world’s problems.
Feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, liberating the captive and teaching the ignorant are not just good ideas; they are our biological purpose in the decades ahead. They are why we are here.
We are biological beings. Biological entities don’t just exist, they live. Such beings learn, adapt, and at the highest levels, serve. They meet challenges and change the world. This is your heritage. It is the reason you are here. Live up to it.
Finally, the highest level of biology is investment. Whatever living organisms invest in tends to create their legacy and their future. Most living things invest primarily in survival. Man-made organizations tend to focus their investment on growing.
The Caucasian cultures that arose in Europe and spread throughout Western Civilization invest mainly in assets. In contrast, the Hebrews traditionally saw education as the highest investment. Many cultures around the world invest in relationships or family as the highest goal. And a number of Asian cultures emphasize investing in beauty or meaning.
You are what you invest in– you’ll put your best time, best effort and deepest desires into your primary investment in life. So choose your investment well. Because whatever you choose, it will define you, as well as your failure and your success.
For statesmen and social leaders, there is only one choice: a special type of biological relationship called Service. If your life is lost in serving the good of the world, you will find yourself.
And maybe, if I can be so bold, you will become something much, much more than a biological being.
Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.