A typical r-selected species, such as deer, tend to die off due to either
- mass starvation, when their uncontrolled breeding has exceeded the carrying capacity of the environment to feed them, or
- mass predation, when their uncontrolled breeding has raised the carrying capacity of their natural predator’s environment.
Therefore, if homo sapiens were a typical r-selected species we would expect their breeding populations to follow either
- Malthusian boom-bust cycles
- Or predator-prey cycles*
However, modern humans are not typical r-selected species for at least three reasons. The first is that humans engage in mass war when they reach the environment’s carrying capacity, rather than merely starving or being eaten. This introduces a self-culling mechanism which, when the “war” instinct has been triggered, acts more like the discharge of a capacitor in an RC time circuit than a spring equation with constant forcing and resistance.
This effect is described in the M0 virus article in the sidebar:
The cycle starts with the population at relatively low dopamine levels, although too high to permit the exploitation of feedback in cognition. They are confused and in their era’s version of poverty. Because of the low dopamine and the presence of a few natural immunes seeing what is in front of their noses and behaving opportunistically, they soon get organised and start to get real and paying, if “humble” jobs. As useful work builds, ritualism builds with it.
Please note here that I emphatically disagree with the authors’ mechanism for M0, which is the suggestion that ritualistic behavior releases dopamine. I strongly believe that the true mechanism is that extrinsically motivated, dopamine-seeking personalities (extraverts) can only be organized for group activities according to explicit procedures with explicit rewards and no surprises (as described in the infographic below).
Indeed, over time these extraverted phenotypes will increasingly demand the political institution of these procedures, as predicted by the first law of Edenic political science, which produces the observed ritualistic behaviors via addiction.
Each roof tile is put on the same way, each palette of bricks is loaded the same way, the bus is caught at the same time every day, the same conversation happens a hundred times a day in the grocery shop. So dopamine levels rise as well as activity and material productivity.
The Earth is bountiful, and soon an economic surplus develops. By now, the population is suffering high dopamine levels, are seriously unaware of the overall picture of their own actions, and need more and more frequent ritual fixes. So they start to accrete pointless ritualised behaviours that can be performed more frequently than productive rituals such as carrying bricks up ladders. They “regularise” and “administrate” themselves. Throughout the whole human history that M0 culture has been able to retain, people have always moaned about administration, but it is no sick joke. The population soon absorb the entire economic surplus they have generated, swanning around in ever deepening dopamine induced standby mode with ever more pompous “job titles”. When the surplus is exhausted, the dopamine self-addiction has become chronic, and the ritual fixers begin to abandon productive work to concentrate on ritual fixing. Everybody is “in a meeting”, “arguing” around in circles.
Eventually, the physical wealth in play drops to the point where economic collapse occurs. The apparatus used in ritual fixing disappears, and at the height of their self-absorption and dopamine induced stupidity, the population are plunged into massive dopamine withdrawal and poverty.
Since it provides both ritual and an outlet for aggression, the population now start marching, and destroy the remaining ritual supporting apparatus. The cycle then begins again.
Historical observation suggests that the psychology of this “war” self-culling instinct, which rapidly converts homo sapiens between docile and intra-tribal predator phenotypes, may have nested time constants to produce cycles and supercycles. If we imagine that the DC voltage source can be modeled as the sun shining on a conductor to produce a heat-to-current Peltier effect, then this model could also include William Sidis’ model of violent revolutions.
*The monomyth of man-eating giants suggests that, at some time in the ancestral environment, humans had a natural predator. These mythical predators could have been symbolic, where cannibalism is imagined particularly as the logical conclusion of the more general class of predatory behaviors, or it could have been literal. I believe it was literal, because the contemporary behavior of unmixed homo sapiens in sub-Saharan Africa and Denisovan remnants in oceania suggests the taboo against cannibalism is neanderthal-centric (that is, mostly restricted to Europe and Asia).