More on Behavior and Thermodynamics

When some encounter an energy theory of behavior, they recast it as something it isn’t, such as telepathy, creationism, intelligent design, mysticism. You know the drill.

I believe that life evolves according to principles of energy, not by random. I also believe that the earth, the moon and the stars evolve according to principles of energy, not by random. Now if the latter belief keeps me in good stead with modern science, why not the former?

I do not know Why the earth, the moon and the stars behave and evolve the way they do. I don’t know what or Who put the whole system into motion. Perhaps below these principles of energy is a completely random process generating the laws of nature. Maybe, maybe not, I don’t know. I have my beliefs but for the purposes of understanding dogs they’re not applicable. However, we can know that the evolution of the earth, the moon and the stars can be extrapolated from their current behavior. We can also know for the same reasons that they evolve in syncopation with each other rather than independently because we can see in their behavior that they are integrated into one system that moves as a whole.

Likewise I believe that life evolves according to principles of energy because it too can be extrapolated from the behavior of animals. (If that is, one resists the intellectual reflex to project their own thoughts and human rationales onto what they’re observing.) It strikes me as illogical that there could be one kind of evolution that governs the inanimate realm versus one that governs the animate domain. I don’t believe this any more than Newton believed there was one set of rules for the movement of celestial bodies in the heavens versus the movement of objects on earth. It also strikes me as illogical that species evolve as separate genetic entities in competition with each other. I don’t believe this is logical because it can be seen that all species of animals can potentially connect and communicate through a common universal code, one predicated on principles of energy, i.e. emotion. The existence of this universal fundamental common denominator can be extrapolated from their behavior; and that there is a common emotional module orchestrating all behavior and life into a common whole should be part of any theory of behavior that strives to be consistent with Darwin’s theory of a common descent.

Is there any science trending toward confirmation of the above suppositions?

“Natural selection doesn’t explain certain characteristics,” said Ard Louis, a biophysicist at Oxford University, in an email. These characteristics include a heritable change to gene expression called methylation, increases in complexity in the absence of natural selection, and certain molecular changes Louis has recently studied.”

“{England} derived a generalization of the second law of thermodynamics that holds for systems of particles with certain characteristics: The systems are strongly driven by an external energy source such as an electromagnetic wave, and they can dump heat into a surrounding bath. This class of systems includes all living things. England then determined how such systems tend to evolve over time as they increase their irreversibility. “We can show very simply from the formula that the more likely evolutionary outcomes are going to be the ones that absorbed and dissipated more energy from the environment’s external drives on the way to getting there,” he said. The finding makes intuitive sense: Particles tend to dissipate more energy when they resonate with a driving force, or move in the direction it is pushing them, and they are more likely to move in that direction than any other at any given moment.
“This means clumps of atoms surrounded by a bath at some temperature, like the atmosphere or the ocean, should tend over time to arrange themselves to resonate better and better with the sources of mechanical, electromagnetic or chemical work in their environments,” England explained.” ‘I am certainly not saying that Darwinian ideas are wrong,’ he explained. ‘On the contrary, I am just saying that from the perspective of the physics, you might call Darwinian evolution a special case of a more general phenomenon.’ ”

In other words, a complex system ultimately resonates and exhibits the characteristics of the energy that drives it. Its behavior is a “dissipation of heat.” So yes indeed genes will prove to be a special case of a more general phenomenon. They will prove not to be the most basic form of information. The driving force will be. Emotion as the embodiment of principles of energy will prove to be the physical embodiment of that driving force because emotion is universal to all life forms despite the particulars of their genetic makeups. Emotion compels the animal mind to move its body, these movements are a dissipation of heat that resonate and thus replicate the driving force, i.e. environmental inputs that trigger internal emotional affects.

Eventually Neo-Darwinism will retreat and say that while okay, energetic principles may be a powerful factor, first however genes must generate the random variables through mutation and drift that will then be able to fit the energetic backdrop against which they must conform. But this stop-gap dam will also break and in some years hence genes will be recognized as the mechanism not for generating traits, but for locking them in for hereditary transmission. Darwin is touching upon this emotional dynamic in his Principle of Antithesis.

In the meantime however Neo-Darwinian logic is predicated on the Why rather than the How. It begins with a principle of Randomness, organisms are said to simply vary and this variability is then the grist for a mill of random environmental exigencies. There isn’t information in the behavioral sense until genes are on the scene. Neo-Darwinians then connect the dots by way of human rationales. The Why is conflated with the How.

In the old days Darwinian logic led to a tautological argument characterized as survival of the fittest. Who survives? The fittest, Who are the fit? Those that survive. But we’re now advised that those days are over and were a mischaracterization at any rate. Really?

Which randomly generated traits are better at adapting to future environments? Those genes that randomly generate better traits. Which genes randomly generate better traits? Those that are better suited to future environments. This tautological thinking led behaviorism to believe that the proximity of humans and dogs is what enabled dogs to comprehend human ways. Those proto-dogs that at random had the traits more suited to understanding human gestures fared better in our midst than those who were disadvantaged by their random endowment. But in the seventies through my experiences with interpreting dogs in terms of the immediate-moment, it became clear that humans were merely tapping into an emotional dynamic already present. Man didn’t create the dog, in fact, Temple Grandin and some anthropologists are now speculating that the dog created the human rather than the other way around. Modern research is beginning to confirm that there is indeed a pre-existing capacity.

Neo-Darwinian logic cannot escape a tautology because it has conflated the Why (random variability) with the How. It afflicts itself with this conflation because it is a reductionist manner of analysis that begins its inquiry with the assumption that genes are the basic unit of information and survival and reproduction of said genes are the basic metric of evolutionary success.

Neo-Darwinians characterize those who question their Why-tautology as being unscientific—Young Earth—Flat Earth Creationists. Neo-Darwinians say give us more time and we’ll get the answers. Science is never settled, don’t expect quick easy resolutions.

But everybody gets that. No reasonable person questions E = MC Squared or Newton’s laws of motion or even quantum weirdness, and interested lay people have been patiently waiting for findings in the quest for the Higgs particle, and furthermore, merely expect that whatever findings emerge will just lead to even more interesting questions. We get science. We love science. But logic counts too.

Physicists are never patient when their theories grow more and more complex and generate internal contradictions. When they detect an internal contradiction, or if there is but one anomaly, if but one apple were to float skyward, physicists immediately question the prevailing consensus and all its underlying assumptions, and they are willing to do so no matter how much historical and conventional inertia has built up around a popular theory. Yet this doesn’t happen in Neo-Darwinian behaviorism. Animals are constantly doing things to lessen the chances their individual genes will perpetuate into the future, as well as performing altruistic acts that can’t possibly benefit the genome of their species, and Neo-Darwinians increasingly generate convoluted theories to explain the everyday phenomena of personality, sexuality, play, etc.. In fact everything dogs do remains unsettled. Why do dogs hump? Behaviorism says no one knows. It depends on context. Translation, insert a human reason.

Neo-Darwinian logic says that combining an animals’ reproductive functions with its elimination functions is evidence of inefficient, purposeless engineering, the hallmark of a natural selection that is predicated on random variability and random environmental selective pressures. Whereas an emotional energetic theory of behavior can easily answer such questions and connect why dogs hump, eat you-know-what, wallow in snow, fresh dew, the blood of a kill, play, perform a copulatory tie in mating, circle before bedding, herd sheep, like to ride in cars, can be trained to heel, sit, down, stay no-matter-what, search and rescue, can be bred to hunt in stereotypical ways with a suite of personality traits that follow, etc., etc., as points along a smooth continuum.

Physicists are increasingly contributing to the nature of intelligence, cognition and basic evolutionary processes and will soon overtake the discussion because they are approaching the animal mind in energetic terms, i.e. as a flow system. In “Design In Nature” Adrian Bejan inarguably demonstrates that nature is one contiguous flow system that evolves by way of the principles of Thermodynamics, most especially, the Constructal Law, the universal architecture to the movement of heat in all its inanimate and animated forms. Bejan argues that were the evolutionary tape to be replayed all over again, we would end up with almost exactly the same body types and behavior in addition to all the diversity of all the species because these life forms are in perfect resonance with the laws of nature and in their combination reflect a spreading vascularizing architecture. This diversity of living organisms is the only way life can resonate with nature. Such diversity of forms for flying, swimming, running, respirating, metabolizing and replication, will reliably repeat no matter how many times evolution replays because they improve the flow for all; in the medium of an environment which is organized according to energetic principles, and the animate resonating with the inanimate is the only way any system can persist over time.

When presented with the problem solving capacity of animals, Neo-Darwinians immediately leap to high cognition. They do so reflexively because of the Why tautology that informs their system of interpretation. The only way they can account for complex time-deferred problem solving is through abracadabra human-like thinking. Physics is now beginning to question this assumption.

Therefore, drawing on the latest science and a lifetime of observing animal behavior in terms of the immediate-moment, i.e. emotion which works according to principles of energy, how might one answer the question as to which genes will “persist” into the future without resorting to tautology? Answer: Those genes that resonate with the energy that is driving the system so as to most efficiently dissipate heat by self-replication and thereby impress a branching architecture of activity upon the environment in accord with the Constructal law. In other words, those genes that improve ease of access to an underlying current perpetuate into the future. It’s not random, it’s the law.

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Published February 23, 2014 by Kevin Behan
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6 responses to “More on Behavior and Thermodynamics”

  1. Ann F says:

    I was cold one day, and so I was rubbing my palms together rapidly. You know, like you would with sticks, to generate a spark, to start a fire. Rub, rub rub, rub. Tika became very interested, very excited. I was, after all, generating heat–and energy. Hm.

  2. Sundog Fitz says:

    I have nothing brilliant of my own to add to this because I am just not that smart, but since I am currently reading “The Story of Philosophy” by Will Durant I will share a few passages that I believe really sums up what I am witnessing.

    “Science gives us knowledge, but only philosophy can give us wisdom.”

    Maybe the Unknown Scientist would be satisfied if NDT was referred to as a philosophy instead of a theory since he/she got triggered over the scientific definition of “theory”? I would not presume to speak for you Kevin, but NDT as a philosophy does not sound inferior to scientific theory as I consider these passages from Durant, Pulitzer Prize Winner and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

    “Science always seems to advance, while philosophy seems to always lose ground. Yet this is only because philosophy accepts the hard and hazardous task of dealing with problems not yet open to the methods of science…so as soon a field of inquiry yields knowledge susceptible of exact formulation it is called science. Every science begins as philosophy and ends as art; it arises in hypothesis and flows into achievement. Philosophy is a hypothetical interpretation of the unknown (as in metaphysics –see quote below about metaphysics), or the inexactly known (as in ethics or political philosophy); it is the front trench in the siege of truth. Science is in the captured territory; and behind it are those secure regions in which knowledge and art build our imperfect and marvelous world. Philosophy seems to stand still but only because she leaves her fruits of victory to her daughters the sciences, and herself passes on, divinely discontent, to the uncertain and the unexplored.

    Shall we be more technical? Science is analytic description, philosophy is a synthetic interpretation. Science wishes to resolve the whole into parts, the organism into organs, the obscure into the known. It does not inquire in the values and ideal possibilities of things, nor into their total and final significance; it is content to show their present actuality and operation, it narrows its gaze resolutely to the nature and process of things as they are….But the philosopher is not content to describe the fact; he wishes to ascertain its relation to experience in general, and thereby get at its meaning and its worth; he combines things in interpretive synthesis; he tries to put together better than before, that great universe-watch which the inquisitive scientist has analytically taken apart.”

    “[a form of philosophy] Metaphysics (which gets into so much trouble because it is not, like other forms of philosophy, an attempt to coordinate the real in the light of the ideal) is the study of the ‘ultimate reality’ of all things: of the real and the final nature of the ‘matter’ (ontology), of ‘mind’ (philosophical psychology), and of the interrelation of ‘mind’ and ‘matter’ in the processes of perception and knowledge epistemology).”

    As far as I can tell all the Unknown Scientist has been able to do is prove that you cannot prove NDT using science, which is really no big “gotcha” at all. Carl Sagan says, “the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.” You have said repeatedly, you are not a scientist Kevin and you acknowledge that in order for NDT to promulgate science must deign to grant NDT “credibility”. My impression is that you would welcome an in depth scientific analysis of NDT and to that end you have gone out of your way to educate yourself to synthesize science with what you have observed in your life with dogs in an effort to help point the scientists in the right direction. You have shared how your hypothesis of NDT arose and it has flowed towards achievement. You have been on the edge of the unknown and you keep “pushing”on towards truth. You have proved that NDT works with the thousands of dogs and people you have helped. If science values and demands evidence using the tool of observation then all they have to do is come and watch.

    If one passage from Durant and one passage form Sagan sums up NDT and you Kevin it is these:

    Durant: “We want to be whole, to coordinate our energies by criticizing and harmonizing our desires; for coordinated energy is the last word in ethics and politics, and perhaps in logic and metaphysics too. ‘To be a philosopher,’ said Thoreau, ‘is not merely to have subtle thoughts, nor even to have found a school, but so to love wisdom as to live, according to its dictates, a life of simplicity, independence, magnanimity, and trust.’”

    Sagan: “Does trying to understand the universe at all betray a lack of humility? I believe it is true that humility is the only just response in a confrontation with the universe, but not a humility that prevents us from seeking the nature of the universe we admire.”

    Which leads me to this idea: You are a scientist and philosopher Kevin and NDT is on the verge of being passed to the daughters of science, let’s hope they have the necessary humility, curiosity and courage.

  3. Kevin Behan says:

    Thanks Sundog for contributing such learned wisdom to the discourse. Your reference of Sagan reminded me of a lecture I attended by Lynn Margolis, who had been married to Carl Sagan, and who was arguing for Symbiogenesis as an alternative theory for evolution. She made a compelling case. It’s too bad that those like the Unknown Scientist who profess to love science, don’t seem to enjoy discussing evolution with we of the unwashed masses. I have to imagine that the Unknown Scientists’ readers are disappointed in his/her manner of discourse. I’m sure they would like to hear how one should integrate the Constructal law and England’s theory of thermodynamics into their understanding of evolution. All they get is the ad hominem.

  4. Anonymous Until Unknown Scientist is Revealed says:

    This was my reply to Unknown Scientist/Mus Musculus on dogbehaviorscience blog that s/he has not posted:

    Yes, I can see why you might view my comment about what I perceive as your rage as a personal criticism. I did struggle to try and figure out a way to convey that it was a perception that I have based on what you have written, hence the emphasis on the word “SEEM”. The truth is I cannot know that about you because you will not reveal yourself. It is a perception that I am “simply pointing out” DIRECTLY to you in the only format I have available to me.

    And just as you can very rightly point to my comment/criticism about your emotions as contradictory to what my stated convictions are, I too can say you display the same. When you say you are “simply pointing out” what you BELIEVE about Mr. Behan’s state of mind you are making a judgment, not pointing out a fact about him (by the way I do mean the word “believe” because you will never convince me that you can prove any of what you are saying about the character or intentions of Mr. Behan as fact since you refuse to have any contact).

    My experience in life tells me that there will be times when everyone one of us, you, me and Mr. Behan, will be contradictory and even hypocritical as we express our convictions. None of us are above it. This is because we are HUMAN. This applies to all the HUMAN scientists who strive to explain with absolute certainty the nature of the universe. The reason we continue with scientific endeavors is the PURSUIT of knowledge. And sometimes that knowledge refutes, sometimes it supports, sometimes it refines previous understanding. Once we have all the perfect, absolute, certain knowledge then there will be no more pursuit, and scientists will be out of a job. So far that has not happened. So it is perfectly acceptable to me that Mr. Behan questions the current science on canine cognition especially given his extensive and comprehensive observations and experiences. I realize that may sound preachy to you and I am sure what I am saying here is not a new revelation to you, but that is what I would like to remind you of.

    I have had conversations with Mr. Behan and he is very humble and respectful even with those who disagree with him, even encouraging me to pursue alternatives because he knows that we all have to come to our own conclusions when making decision about how to train our dogs. I have also personally witnessed him being asked, practically baited into saying personally disparaging things about other dog trainers and he will not do it. He will make a case for why his methods and philosophy are superior and even make comparisons to their methods, but he will not personally attack them. To me that is the definition of humble and classy, and I can say this with authority because I KNOW him. But my opinion is NOT fact is it?

    You and Mr. Behan have conviction and passion and I applaud that. Since I can only evaluate your anonymous blog, I will make no claims that Mr. Behan is more RIGHT than you, or even SMARTER than you. But I do make the JUDGMENT that he is more CIVIL than you.

    It is obvious to me that since you believe that your language and tone regarding Mr. Behan is a form of “simply pointing it out” I will probably never convince you otherwise. But I will try again because you are someone who states a concern and interest in dogs and I can find common ground with you on that.

    In my opinion, the way it FEELS to me when I read what you write is that you are personally attacking someone, not critiquing their ideas (see, I chose to use a different word than “theory” since that seemed to create another point of conflict). Your tone makes it very difficult for me to listen to you and remain open to your opinion, much less persuaded. So please consider this: you MAY be right, but I cannot hear you.

    So again, I make the request that you reveal yourself.

  5. Kevin Behan says:

    I persist with the Unknown Scientist for two reasons. 1) I believe in self-defense. 2) It affords the opportunity to contrast my theory/notion/hunch/idea against the consensus mainstream. For example this article on how wolves hunt was intended to refute my model, and yet affirms the core tenet of NDT, that all behavior is a function of attraction, even something as complex as syncopated hunting.

    This became clear to me in the seventies when the experts of the time were arguing for advanced communication, planning and high cognition to account for the hunting style of wolves. The geometry of the hunt is why dogs do everything in a circle.

    Meanwhile this second article is consistent with the NDT formulation of the self as a function of emotional projection so that the individual feels integrated with its surroundings.

    Empathy follows naturally from such a formulation and then runs consistently from the animal kingdom through human behavior.

    The Unknown Scientist is in fact a theocrat who sees open discussion as heresy. Note the inability of US to respond to the advancements that physics and thermodynamics is making to cognition and behavior. I trust the U.S. will continue to critique NDT and I will continue to show how the scientific evidence substantiates my argument.

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Books about Natural Dog Training by Kevin Behan

In Your Dog Is Your Mirror, dog trainer Kevin Behan proposes a radical new model for understanding canine behavior: a dog’s behavior and emotion, indeed its very cognition, are driven by our emotion. The dog doesn’t respond to what the owner thinks, says, or does; it responds to what the owner feels. And in this way, dogs can actually put people back in touch with their own emotions. Behan demonstrates that dogs and humans are connected more profoundly than has ever been imagined — by heart — and that this approach to dog cognition can help us understand many of dogs’ most inscrutable behaviors. This groundbreaking, provocative book opens the door to a whole new understanding between species, and perhaps a whole new understanding of ourselves.
  Natural Dog Training is about how dogs see the world and what this means in regards to training. The first part of this book presents a new theory for the social behavior of canines, featuring the drive to hunt, not the pack instincts, as seminal to canine behavior. The second part reinterprets how dogs actually learn. The third section presents exercises and handling techniques to put this theory into practice with a puppy. The final section sets forth a training program with a special emphasis on coming when called.
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