The Force of History--Howard Bloom
In 1995, I published my first  book, The Lucifer Principle: a Scientific 
Expedition Into the Forces of  history.  It sold roughly 140,000  copies 
worldwide and is still selling.  Some people call it their Bible.  Others say 
that it was the book that predicted 9/11.  And less than two months ago, on  
November 13, 2015, some current readers said it was the book that explained  
ISIS’ attacks on Paris.  Why?  What are the forces of history?  And what do 
they have to do with  information science? 
The Lucifer Principle uses  evolutionary biology, group selection, 
neurobiology, immunology, microbiology,  computer science, animal behavior, and 
anthropology to probe mass passions, the  passions that have powered historical 
movements from the unification of China in  221 BC and the start of the 
Roman  Empire in 201 BC  to the rise  of the Empire of Islam in 634 AD and that 
empire’s modern manifestations, the  Islamic Revolutionary Republic of Iran 
and ISIS, the Islamic State, a group  intent on establishing a global 
caliphate.  The Lucifer Principle concludes that the passions that swirl, 
 and twirl history’s currents are a secular trinity.  What are that trinity’
s three  components?  The superorganism, the  pecking order, and ideas. 
What’s a superorganism?  Your body is an organism. But it’s also  a 
massive social gathering.  It’s  composed of a hundred trillion cells.  Each of 
those cells is capable of living on its own.  Yet your body survives thanks to 
the  existence of a collective identity—a you.  In 1911,_[i]_ 
oundations%20of%20information%20science%2012-24-2015.docx#_edn1)   Harvard 
biologist William Morton Wheeler noticed that ant colonies pull off the  
same trick.  From 20,000 to 36  million ants work together to create an 
emergent property, a collective  identity, the identity of a community, a 
a colony, or a  supercolony.  Wheeler observed how  the colony behaved as if 
it were a single organism.  He called the result a  “superorganism.”_[ii]_ 
Meanwhile in roughly 1900, when  he was still a child, Norway’s Thorleif 
Schjelderup Ebbe got into a strange  habit: counting the number of pecks the 
chickens in his family’s flock landed on  each other and who pecked whom.  By 
 the time he was ready to write his PhD dissertation in 1918, Ebbe had 
close to  20 years of data.  And that data  demonstrated something strange.  
Chickens in a barnyard are not egalitarian.  They have a strict hierarchy.  At 
the top is a chicken who gets special  privileges.   All others step  aside 
when she goes to the trough.  She is the first to eat.  And  she can peck 
any other chicken in the group.  Then comes chicken number two.  She is the 
second to eat.  And she can peck anyone in the flock  with one notable 
exception.  She  cannot peck the top chicken.  Then  comes chicken number 
chicken number four, and so on.  Each one cannot peck the chickens above  her 
on the social ladder.  But each  has free rein to peck the chickens below.  
Finally, there’s the bottom chicken, a chicken everyone is free to peck  but 
who is free to peck no one.  Ebbe called this a “peck order,” a pecking 
order, a dominance  hierarchy. 
And in 1976, Oxford evolutionary  biologist Richard Dawkins coined two new 
015.docx#_edn3)   He observed that biological life, all of  it from 
bacteria to bathing beauties, depends on the evolution  of what Dawkins called “
replicators,”  molecules that can make copies of themselves. Then Dawkins 
spotted a newer kind  of replicator at work.  The first  biological replicators—
genes--did their thing in primordial puddles.  The new replicator worked in a 
puddle of  a radically different kind—the puddle of the human mind.  
Dawkins observed that we see replicators  at work when our mind fixates on a 
we hate and plays it over and over  again, no matter how vigorously we wish 
it away. That song is using our mind to  make more copies of itself.  But 
the  most important replicators in the soup of the human mind are not pop 
songs,  they’re ideas.  Dawkins called these  mind-based replicators “memes.” 
Superorganism, the pecking  order, and ideas—memes--that’s the holy 
trinity of The Lucifer Principle.  That’s the holy trinity that drives the  
of history. 
Here’s how it works.  Social groups compete.  They battle for pecking order 
position  in a hierarchy of groups.  They  strive to be at the top of that 
hierarchy and to avoid the fate of the chicken  at the bottom.  What’s the 
main  thing over which groups compete?  It’s a badge of group membership.  A 
badge of what molecular biologist Luis Villarreal and philosopher  Guenther 
Witzany call “group identity.”_[iv]_ 
tion%20science%2012-24-2015.docx#_edn4)   That badge?  A cluster of memes. 
A knot of  replicators that live in a sea of minds.  The Babylonians 
competed with the Assyrians and the Medes.  They competed using different  
languages.  They competed using  different ideas of what clothes to wear, what 
right and wrong, and, most  important, what gods to worship._[v]_ 
0foundations%20of%20information%20science%2012-24-2015.docx#_edn5)   The 
eight states that made war in China  in from 475 BC to 221 BC also had 
competing languages, religions, and  philosophies.  Rome set itself  against 
Persian Empire using the same tools of group identity: a different  language, 
a different clothing style, a different way of worship, and a  different 
pantheon of gods-- different ideas.  And today militant  Islam—in the form of 
the Islamic State  and what’s left of al Qaeda--is pitting itself against the 
West, Russia, and  China using the ideas  of  Islam.  Using the words and 
deeds of  Mohammed, words and deeds that are still making copies of 
themselves in new  minds 1,384 years after Mohammed’s death. 
Pecking order competitions  between groups, pecking order competitions 
based on ideas, are the meat and  potatoes of the headlines.  They are  the 
forces of history. 
Where does information come  into this?  Everywhere.  A fact that we shall 
have to  discuss.   
Why?  Because communication, sociality, and  information exchange are at 
the very heart of this cosmos.  So are competition and hierarchy.  Not to 
mention the ancestor of  superorganism-ness, the foremother of group identity—
the cosmos’ obsession with  mobs, gangs, flocks, and massively integrated 
social entities.  Social entities that range from protons,  atoms, galaxies, 
stars, planets and moons to galaxy superclusters.  What do all of these things 
have in  common?   What do they share  with megamolecules, DNA, cells, and 
bacterial colonies, not to mention ants,  nations, and ISIS?  Competition,  
hierarchy, and group identity.  Superorganism, pecking order, and ideas—the 
holy trinity of the  Lucifer Principle.  And guess what else they share?  


_[i]_ (file:///C:/cnt/the%20n
x#_ednref1)   Jürgen Tautz, The Buzz about Bees: Biology of a 
Superorganism, Berlin: Springer,  2008, p. 3,.
_[ii]_ (file:///C:/cnt/th
cx#_ednref2)   William Morton Wheeler, The Termitodoxa, Or Biology And 
Society, The Scientific  Monthly, February, 1920.
ocx#_ednref3)   Richard Dawkins, The Selfish Gene, Oxford: Oxford 
University Press,  1976.
cx#_ednref4)   Luis P. Villarreal,  Origin of Group  Identity: Viruses, 
Addiction and Cooperation,  New York: Springer,  2009.
x#_ednref5)   For more on the battle of the gods in Mesopotamia, see Howard 
Bloom, The God  Problem: How a Godless Cosmos Creates, Buffalo, NY: 
Prometheus Books,  2016.

Howard Bloom
Author of: The Lucifer Principle:  A Scientific Expedition Into the Forces 
of History ("mesmerizing"-The  Washington Post),
Global Brain: The Evolution of Mass Mind From The  Big Bang to the 21st 
Century ("reassuring and sobering"-The New  Yorker),
The Genius of the Beast: A Radical Re-Vision of  Capitalism ("A 
tremendously enjoyable book." James Fallows, National  Correspondent, The 
The God Problem: How A Godless Cosmos  Creates ("Bloom's argument will rock 
your world." Barbara  Ehrenreich),
How I Accidentally Started the Sixties ("Wow! Whew!  Wild!
Wonderful!" Timothy Leary), and
The Mohammed Code ("A  terrifying book…the best book I've read on Islam." 
David Swindle, PJ  Media).
Former Core Faculty Member, The Graduate  Institute; Former Visiting 
Scholar-Graduate Psychology Department, New York  University.
Founder: International Paleopsychology Project; Founder, Space  Development 
Steering Committee; Founder: The Group Selection Squad; Founding  Board 
Member: Epic of Evolution Society; Founding Board Member, The Darwin  Project; 
Founder: The Big Bang Tango Media Lab; member: New York Academy of  
Sciences, American Association for the Advancement of Science, American  
Psychological Society, Academy of Political Science, Human Behavior and  
Society, International Society for Human Ethology, Scientific Advisory  Board 
Member, Lifeboat Foundation; Editorial Board Member, Journal of Space  
Philosophy; Board member and member of Board of Governors, National Space  
Fis mailing list

Reply via email to