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Are We More Like Chimps Or Bonobos?

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Many of us wonder what the true state of our human nature is. The question of whether humans are most like Chimps or Bonobos has become a modern analogy and euphemism for the two polar states of humanity.

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Are we more like the competitive, selfish, hierarchical, and aggressive Chimpanzees?
Are we more like the cooperative, selfless, egalitarian, and pro-social Bonobos?
Maybe we’re both.

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Understanding the Human Animal

Ecology and ethology provide a simple lens to understand the emergence of cooperative and competitive behaviours in a species, through population ecology. The population size an environment and ecosystem can sustain is known as its carrying capacity. As carrying capacity is reached, populations become self-limited by a lack of resources. Resources may include food, shelter, space, mates, companions, social status, and any other resource necessary for survival.

Two broad forms of competition are integrated into the resource limitations imposed by carrying capacity. The competition for resources between species (interspecific); and the competition for resources within a species (intraspecific).

Not only have we humans dominated the competition with other species, but by artificially increasing the carrying capacity of our environments and ecosystems to support more and more humans, we have shifted the burden of competition from intraspecific to interspecific — i.e. onto other species, very much to their detriment.

However, we are still subject to the forces of competition between humans. In other organisms intraspecific competition is well studied. In animals in particular, increasing intraspecific competition is associated with increasing acts of aggression, violence, murder, cannibalism, and even acts of genocide; social species often form increasingly hierarchical societies with resource partitioning according to social status; the overall “fitness” of a population, i.e. their physical and mental health declines; mortality increases; migration increases, and so does territoriality. The overall effect is population growth slows.

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I don’t know if anyone could read that last paragraph and not draw parallels to the current state of humanity. I know I can’t. Yet for all its obviousness, there is a black-hole regarding research of intraspecific competition in humans and its effects. Why?

It’s like we don’t want to know what this, is doing to us:

Graph of total human population over time

World human population over time

Instead we find human societies are filled with dogma that supports and glorifies competitive behaviour. We have entire philosophies and ideologies dedicated to it, e.g. capitalism, education pedagogy, etc. We are sold competition as a good thing, which can make us a winner or bring us better service and cheaper prices from people that don’t know or care about us.

We in western societies are bathed in competition from the moment we are born: every developmental milestone, every parental choice, every outfit, every toy, every gadget, every test grade, every trade apprenticeship, every university application, every competition, every sports match, every job application, every queue line, every “stolen” car park, every traffic jam, every rental application, every food item out of stock, every sold out show, every conflict, every house offer, every noisy neighbour, every law and rule that favours someone other than us, every time we have to compromise our needs due to the needs of another.

I believe that these experiences are switching on, and locking in place, genes to help us compete harder and harder. But the cost of devoting all this energy to competing is our health, our well-being, and our happiness.

Reversing the Trend

I would suggest our gene expression, our epigenetics, can make us more Chimp-like than Chimps. But also that the opposite can be true, as Robert Sapolsky found. Sapolsky, a Standford neurobiologist, has been observing a baboon troupe in Uganda since 1978. In the mid-eighties a disease outbreak killed nearly half of the troupe males. Over that time a cooperative, pacifist culture emerged in the troupe, which had previously been dominated by a hierarchical, despotic, and competitive culture. Remarkably, this culture has persisted to this day, despite no original members existing (Sapolsky and Share, 2004).

Sapolsky and Share hypothesised that the culture change was due to the removal of the more despotic males from the group, leaving the more pro-social individuals. Certainly this would have an effect. But can a large part of the culture change and its persistence be explained by the sudden reduction of intraspecific competition? Is there an epigenetic/behavioural tipping point, where a social animal’s best survival is favoured by cooperative behaviour when group sizes are small and resources abundant; which progresses to competitive behaviour as group sizes increase and resources become limited? I believe there is, and it is driving the dichotomy we see in our human nature.

Our Experiment

The above hypothesis is what I arrived at in 2013, and inspired our family’s decision to move out of the urban environment and into the country. From a fifth of an acre, onto 100 acres. From inhibition to freedom. How did our genes react to this change? Very predictably.

The first few months after our arrival were intense. Competitive behaviours poured out of us, but instead of the endless supply of strangers to compete with that we had expected, we now had only each other. So we competed over EVERYTHING. As parents it’s not hard to find things to compete about, e.g. who’s had more sleep, who’s being a better parent, who’s done the most housework, etc. The Chimp in us wasn’t giving up without a fight.

But we were committed to letting all that space change us, and slowly over time our behaviours started to shift. More cooperative behaviours emerged and competitive behaviours became very obvious and got in the way of authentically connecting with ourselves and others. More and more harmony descended on our family.

Today I wouldn’t describe us as a troupe of Bonobos just yet, as there are a few things severely lacking to cement our transition. Spending a few decades living as Chimps is not an easy thing to undo, and even then there is a severe lack of social systems around us to support more cooperative ways of human relating and living. Our experience has been that being vulnerable enough to show that you desire authentic connection and mutual cooperation is often seen as a weakness to be rejected or exploited for a competitive advantage when your society is overwhelmingly geared that way.

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The Future of Humanity

From here I see a few outcomes possible. Human populations will become increasingly self-limiting. The Earth (at least) will arrive at a carrying capacity for the human population. Our species will evolve to assume the ways of living afforded by this new carrying capacity. The adaptation of our needs will be necessary to need less space, freedom, wilderness, familiarity, and a greater tolerance for man-made environmental toxins and degraded resources. In a nutshell, most humans will adapt to living in greater density, with less personal freedom, less natural environment, and less specific community.

I believe this is already occurring in the cultures that have lived in higher densities for greater periods of history, and that this adaptation is leading to their ability to thrive and out-compete other cultures in high density environments. There is a lot to learn from them. Conversely, those same cultures are nearly completely absent in country areas.

The other stream is that those needing more space, personal freedom, and specific, cooperative community will continue to migrate to areas and lifestyles that support those needs, perhaps choosing housing co-ops, intentional communities, or off-grid living, or returning to traditional lands and lifestyles or rewilding. Ideally our societies should become much more tolerant and supportive of the full diversity of humans and their legitimate needs.

Nonetheless, our population density set-point is forever increasing from our human ancestors. As our evolution continues to play catch up to our population density, perhaps humans of the future will be more interested in the question, “Are We More Like Ants or Bees?”

References

Sapolsky R.M., and Share L.J. (2004). A pacific culture among wild baboons: Its emergence and transmission. PLoS Biol 2(4) e106. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0020106

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Vancouver Council Votes Against Mandatory Mask Mandate: They’re Not Required

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Vancouver, Canada will not have a required mask policy in civic facilities, and instead will simply recommend that people wear them.

  • Reflect On:

    Should governments recommend what they feel we should do and present the science instead of forcing certain measures on the population that many people and health professionals clearly disagree with?

What Happened: The city of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada will not mandate masks inside city buildings and will “strongly encourage” people to wear them instead. This is a bold move as many cities across the globe have mandatory mask measures in place.

The proposal by Counc. Sarah Kirby-Yung, which would have required masks inside city buildings, was opposed by more than a dozen speakers who pleaded with the city council to vote against it.

“Please consider our forefathers fought for our freedom, and if we release that choice, it’s the first step towards a dictatorship,” said one speaker according to City News. “Masks are used as weapons and they have certainly been used as weapons against me and others to silence and marginalize us and it’s not fair.”

According to Coun. Christine Boyle, public health experts encourage wearing masks, but a mandatory policy is not needed.

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Positive Association Found Amongst COVID Deaths & Flu Shot Rates Worldwide In Elderly

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    A recently published paper has found a positive association between COVID-19 deaths and influenza vaccination rates in elderly people worldwide.

  • Reflect On:

    Why does vaccine hesitancy continue to grow worldwide? What's going on? What information/factors are contributing to this hesitancy?

What Happened: A recently published study in PeerJ  by Christian Wehenkel, a Professor at Universidad Juárez del Estado de Durango in Mexico, has found a positive association between COVID-19 deaths and influenza vaccination rates in elderly people worldwide.

According to the study, “The results showed a positive association between COVID-19 deaths and IVR (influenza vaccination rate) of people ≥65 years-old. There is a significant increase in COVID-19 deaths from eastern to western regions in the world. Further exploration is needed to explain these findings, and additional work on this line of research may lead to prevention of deaths associated with COVID-19.”

To determine this association, data sets from 39 countries with more than half a million people were analyzed.

The study was published on October 1st, and two weeks later a note from the publisher appeared atop the paper emphasizing that correlation does not equal causation, and that this paper “should not be taken to suggest that receiving the influenza vaccination results in an increased risk of death for an individual with COVID-19 as there may be confounding factors at play.”

The paper provides evidence from others which have recently been published that ponder if the flu shot could increase ones chance of contracting and dying from COVID-19.

For example, this study published in April of 2020, reported a negative correlation between influenza vaccination rates (IVRs) and COVID-19 related mortality and morbidity. Marín-Hernández, Schwartz & Nixon (2020) also showed epidemiological evidence of an association between higher influenza vaccine uptake by elderly people and lower percentage of COVID-19 deaths in Italy, which directly contradicts the author’s own findings and suggests that the flu shot may help prevent COVID-19 related deaths.

He goes on to mention another study:

In a study analyzing 92,664 clinically and molecularly confirmed COVID-19 cases in Brazil, Fink et al. (2020) reported that patients who received a recent flu vaccine experienced on average 17% lower odds of death. Moreover, Pawlowski et al. (2020) analyzed the immunization records of 137,037 individuals who tested positive in a SARS-CoV-2 PCR. They found that polio, Hemophilus influenzae type-B, measles-mumps-rubella, varicella, pneumococcal conjugate (PCV13), geriatric flu, and hepatitis A/hepatitis B (HepA-HepB) vaccines, which had been administered in the past 1, 2, and 5 years, were associated with decreased SARS-CoV-2 infection rates.

So, its important to mention that correlations between the flu vaccine have also found that it may decrease ones chance of deaths from COVID-19.

But are there studies that have shown an increased chance of death or contracting other respiratory viruses as a result of getting the flu shot? Yes.

That’s also discussed in the paper. For example, he mentions a paper published in 2018:

In a study with 6,120 subjects, Wolff (2020) reported that influenza vaccination was significantly associated with a higher risk of some other respiratory diseases, due to virus interference. In a specific examination of non-influenza viruses, the odds of coronavirus infection (but not the COVID-19 virus) in vaccinated individuals were significantly higher, when compared to unvaccinated individuals (odds ratio = 1.36).

The study above found the flu shot to increase the risk of other coronaviruses among those who had been vaccinated for influenza by 36 percent. The study was conducted prior to COVID-19, so it’s not included and only applies to pre-existing coronaviruses. The study also found an even higher chance of contracting human metapneumovirus amongst those who had received the flu shot.

Below are some more studies regarding the flu shot and viral infections that hint to the same idea.

  • 2018 CDC study (Rikin et al 2018) found that flu shots increase the risk of non-flu acute respiratory illnesses (ARIs), including coronavirus, in children.
  • A 2011 Australian study (Kelly et al 2011) found that flu shots doubled the risk for non-flu viral lung infections.
  • 2012 Hong Kong study (Cowling et al 2012) found that flu shots increase the risk for non-flu respiratory infections by 4.4 times.
  • 2017 study (Mawson et al 2017) found vaccinated children were 5.9 times more likely to suffer pneumonia than their unvaccinated peers.

Why This Is Important: We live in an age where vaccinations are heavily marketed. We’ve seen this with the flu shot time and time again and we are also living in an age where a push for more mandated vaccines seems to be growing.

Dr. Peter Doshi is an associate editor at The BMJ (British Medical Journal) and also an assistant professor of pharmaceutical health services research at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy. He published a paper in The BMJ titled “Influenza: Marketing Vaccines By Marketing Disease.”  In it,  he points out that the CDC pledges “to base all public health decisions on the highest quality of scientific data, openly and objectively derived,” and how this isn’t the case when it comes to the flu vaccine and its marketing. He stresses that “the vaccine may be less beneficial and less safe than has been claimed, and that “the threat of influenza seems to be overstated.”

This is a touchy subject that dives into medical ethics and the connections that big pharmaceutical companies have with our federal health regulatory agencies and health associations. Vaccines are a multi billion dollar industry.

At a recent World Health Organization conference on vaccine safety, it was expressed that vaccine hesitancy is growing at quite a fast pace, especially among doctors who are now becoming hesitant to recommend certain vaccines on the schedule. You can read more about that and find links to the conference here.

We have to ask ourselves, why is this happening? Is it because people and professionals are becoming aware of certain information that warrants the freedom of choice? Should freedom of choice with regards to what we put in our body always remain? Are we really protecting the “herd” by taking these actions?

In a 2014 analysis in the Oregon Law Review by New York University (NYU) legal scholars Mary Holland and Chase E. Zachary (who also has a Princeton-conferred doctorate in chemistry), the authors show that 60 years of compulsory vaccine policies “have not attained herd immunity for any childhood disease.” It is time, they suggest, to cast aside coercion in favor of voluntary choice.

When it comes to the flu shot, I put more information and science as to why so many people seem to refuse it, in this article if interested.

The University of California is currently being sued for mandating the flu shot for all staff, faculty and students. A judge has prevented them from doing so as a result until a decision has been made. You can read more about that here.

In South Korea, 48 people have now died after receiving the flu shot this season causing a lot of controversy. You can read more about that here.

The Takeaway: There are many concerns with vaccines, and vaccine injury is one of them. The National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act has paid more than $4 billion to families of vaccine injured children. A 2010 HHS pilot study by the Federal Agency for Health Care Research (AHCR) found that 1 in every 39 vaccines causes injury, a shocking comparison to the claims from the CDC of 1 in every million.

Should these statistics alone warrant the freedom of choice? Should the government have the ability to force us into measures, or would it simply be better for them to present the science, make recommendations and urge people to follow them? When the citizenry is forced and coerced into certain actions, sometimes under the guise of good-will, there always seems to be a tremendous amount of uproar and people who disagree. Why are these people silenced? Why are they censored? Why are they ridiculed? Why don’t independent health organizations receive the same voice and reach that government and state “owned” or organizations do? What’s going on here? Do we really live in a free, open and transparent world or are we simply subjected to massive amounts of perception manipulation?

When it come to the flu shot there is plenty of information on both sides of the coin that point to its effectiveness, and on the other hand there is information that points to the complete opposite. When something is not 100 percent clear, freedom of choice in all places should always remain, in my opinion.

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Some South Korean Doctors & Politicians Call To Stop Flu Shots After 48 People Die

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    The number of South Koreans who have died after getting flu shots has risen to 48, but health authorities in South Korea have found no link between the vaccine and the deaths.

  • Reflect On:

    Is the flu shot as safe as it's marketed to be?

What Happened: It’s that time of year and flu shot programs are rolling out across the globe. The number of South Koreans who have died after getting the flu shot has now risen to 48 and some South Korean doctors and politicians have called to stop flu shots as a result, according to Reuters. The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) has decided not to stop the program, and that flu vaccines would continue to be given and will reduce the chance of having simultaneous epidemics in the era of COVID-19.

Health authorities in South Korea have explained that they’ve found no direct link between these deaths and the shots. KDCA Director Jeong Eun-kyung said, “After reviewing death cases so far, it is not the time to suspend a flu vaccination programme since vaccination is very crucial this year, considering…the COVID-19 outbreaks.”

According to Reuters, “Some initial autopsy results from the police and the National Forensic Service showed that 13 people died of cardiovascular, cerebrovascular and other disorders not caused by the vaccination.”

The South Korean government is hopeful to vaccinate approximately 30 million of the country’s 54 million people.

Concerns Some People Have With The Flu Shot: One concern many people seem to have is the worry of a severe adverse reaction.

Dr. Alvin Moss, MD and professor at the West Virginia University School of Medicine emphasizes in this video:

The flu vaccine happens to be the vaccine that causes the most injury in this country. The vaccine injury compensation program, 40 percent of all vaccinations in this country are flu shots, but 60 percent of all the compensations are for the flu vaccine. So a disproportionate number of  vaccine related injuries are the flu shot.

Moss is one of many who believe that the flu vaccine is not as effective as it’s been marketed to be. For example,  A study recently published in Global Advances In Health & Medicine titled “Ascorbate as Prophylaxis and Therapy for COVID-19—Update From Shanghai and U.S. Medical Institutions outlines the following:

Recently outlined A recent consensus statement from a group of renowned infectious disease clinicians observed that vaccine programs have proven ill-suited to the fast-changing viruses underlying these illnesses, with efficacy ranging from 19% to 54% in the past few years.

Dr. Peter Doshi is an associate editor at The BMJ (British Medical Journal)  published a paper in The BMJ titled “Influenza: Marketing Vaccines By Marketing Disease.”  In it,  he points out that the CDC pledges “to base all public health decisions on the highest quality of scientific data, openly and objectively derived,” and how this isn’t the case when it comes to the flu vaccine and its marketing. He stresses that “the vaccine may be less beneficial and less safe than has been claimed, and that “the threat of influenza seems to be overstated.”

These are just a few examples out of many claiming that the flu shot has not really been effective, opposing others that claim it is.  Mercury that’s still present in some flu shots also seems to be a concern.

The National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act has paid more than $4 billion to families of vaccine injured children. A 2010 HHS pilot study by the Federal Agency for Health Care Research (AHCR) found that 1 in every 39 vaccines causes injury, a shocking comparison to the claims from the CDC of 1 in every million.

Professor Heidi Larson, a Professor of Anthropology and the Risk and Decision Scientist Director at the Vaccine Confidence Project stated at a World Health Organization (WHO) conference that more doctors are starting to be hesitant when it comes to recommending vaccines.

The other thing that’s a trend, and an issue, is not just confidence in providers but confidence of health care providers, we have a very wobbly health professional frontline that is starting to question vaccines and the safety of vaccines. That’s a huge problem, because to this day any study I’ve seen… still, the most trusted person on any study I’ve seen globally is the health care provider…

This is no secret, and actions against mandates are being taken. The University of California was recently sued for making the flu shot mandatory. That trial will begin soon, and you can read more about it here, and find information regarding the claim that the flu shot can help in the times of COVID-19.

The Takeaway: We are living in an age of extreme censorship of information, no matter how credible or how much evidence is provided, information that goes against the grain always seems to receive a harsh backlash from mainstream media as well as social media outlets. Why is there a digital fact checker patrolling the internet? Should people not have the right to examine information openly and freely and determine for themselves what is and what isn’t?

As far as vaccines are concerned, despite the fact that there are many safety issues the scientific community  is bringing up, a push for vaccine mandates continues and the idea that we are protecting other people is usually the narrative that’s pushed hard. Vaccine skepticism is growing at a fast pace among people of all professions, and people aren’t stupid. There’s a reason why more and more people are starting to question what we’ve been told for years, and those reasons should be acknowledged and openly discussed amongst people on both sides of the coin.

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