Natural Dog Training and Evolution

I tend not to get involved in discussions of behavior on other forums as it’s very difficult to keep the discussion focused like a laser beam on the salient points. The argument quickly radiates out in many different directions and the threads always seem to peter out into a debate of either who-is-the-better-dog-trainer or what-color-coat-does-your-dog-like. Furthermore, it’s also necessary for some period of time to suspend one’s familiar frame of reference in order to grasp the underlying principle I’m trying to articulate. So if one is first and foremost motivated to disprove the premise, which they are likely to do if I intrude on an ongoing discussion, then there’s no chance for the idea to get through in the first place. One finds themselves denying that there’s anything special going on by virtue of dogs loving to go for car rides, or fetching a stick, or working all day long. (Meanwhile, if Harvard studies why only dogs follow the human gaze, that’s considered a scientific line of inquiry.) While there’s a role and a time for skepticism, first one must be able to fully articulate the premise they are trying to disprove. For example, Lee Kelley can articulate the modern theories of learning and while this doesn’t necessarily make him right in any given debate, at least he is arguing from the perspective of understanding the various sides of the discussion. And a debate that proceeds with both sides capable of articulating each others’ position can indeed advance our understanding.
Meanwhile, my belief is that unless one is discussing any given system in terms of energy, then they will always end up with self-defeating logic loops and so I do like to trawl these various forums to capture in distilled form the hub of the various arguments so as to reveal their internal contradictions. For example, if someone says on the one hand that they believe in evolution by way of common descent, and then on the other hand they say that survival and reproductive advantage are the lynch-pins of natural selection, they are therefore saying that that genes replicate for the sake of replication, which is a human concept rather than a principle of energy. This therefore this means that various organisms and species are self-contained entities of intelligence, subsets of information dedicated to their own survival and reproduction, and which now means that any given set of information is unrelated to any other. (One might then presume that canine curiosity could be motivated by a gathering of resources for purposes of survival or reproductive advantage.) This then brings us to a contradiction of the the central premise of evolution by way of common descent, i.e. that all things contain the germ of all other things (and in my view the only thing that all things could possibly share in common is energy).
For example, the following is a quote from a dog behavior site that aptly encapsulates such a self-defeating logic loop:
“To explain canine behavior by merely tracking the underlying material processes is naive. The whole fallacy of an ‘energy model’ of a dog (or a fellow human mammal) is to ignore the layers of complexity provided by evolution. Complexities that emerge from the evolutionary advance are not identical with their supporting substrata.”

If it can be true that a complex level of organization can emerge from a process of evolutionary advance so that it is not “identical” (which means in-essence, for example, obviously I’m not arguing that a Macintosh is identical with a PC in all ways, rather that both run on the same digital binary operating system, their “germ” is identical and in fact their superficial differences can be explicated in terms of this germ, i.e. the design and function of a Mac even at the superficial level has to contend with the thermodynamics of its processor’s heat, the limits of space on a desktop, the carrying weight of a laptop, etc., etc. the same as a PC) with its supporting substrata, this means that the person is not arguing for evolution by way of common descent because it is now possible for a form-of-information to spring from whole cloth, detached from any “supporting substrata” and therefore it would not in-essence be related to any other thing. This would mean that according to such a theory a species of animal could be shaped by a process unrelated to what affects any other given species because it’s core processes are emergent and therefore not limited by any supporting substrata and/or governed by whatever processes by which the substrate evolved. This self-defeating logic loop is an example of Intellectual Creationism and which in fact is arguing against the Darwinian notion of evolution by way of common descent. As far as I can see Natural Dog Training based on an immediate-moment (i.e. energy) theory of behavior, is the only school of thought that in fact is 100% consistent with Darwin’s idea of evolution by way of common descent, and this precisely is because it is not gene or thought-centric, which in reality are the same thing.

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Published October 12, 2010 by Kevin Behan
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5 responses to “Natural Dog Training and Evolution”

  1. Heather says:

    I think I understand the complaint you have with behavioral science’s reasoning about behavior processes being circular (the question determines the conclusion).

    But separate from the process of something (ie, the “how” of it, which is always fascinating on its own merits), there is indeed a “why,” and even though behavioral science seems to use the how and why in that circular manner, I also get confused about NDT’s view of the why of evolution.

    If NDT would say that they why is to harness energy via desire that otherwise would be dissipated as heat (and increase entropy per the 2nd law of thermodynamics), thus expanding the energy in and complexity of the network, there is still the “why” of any particular desire. Why is one desire more meritorious than the next? Is it just based on who has the “information” before the energy for evolution becomes available, an other species are out of luck? (that notion is one place where I get stuck.)

  2. kbehan says:

    The significance of the circular argument that arises from conflation of the why and how questions, is that it reveals that modern Darwinian and behavioral logic is predicated on faith rather than reason. This doesn’t make it wrong perhaps, but it means that its argument isn’t any more scientific than Intelligent Design or Creationism which science criticizes for being based on faith rather than on a logical interpretation of the evidence. Whereas if we focus on the HOW as does a physicist we can build a more scientific argument and we can get much closer to the question of WHY. So my interpretation of the evidence of animal behavior that I’ve arrived at by not projecting thoughts into their head no matter how complex, intelligently adaptive or time deferred their behavior may be, is that there is one universal operating system for all animals, it is emotion, it is the physical embodiment of the laws of physics and is how consciousness interfaces with nature. Nature and the behavior of animals is not random, but always adds energy to this network of interconnected consciousness. Consciousness is energy that animals evolve IN RESPONSE TO rather than evolving TO HAVE. The only logical interpretation of the evidence is that consciousness comes before form, rather than form evolving to have consciousness. So if two animals come into a state of emotional suspension with each other, then the one with the strongest Desire, i.e. can feel the pull toward potential energy, will experience a shift of emotional energy to its heart and will do whatever is required to fit with the other individual. Sometimes going first, sometimes going second, or making itself the ground for the other and so on. The two entities thus become of ONE MIND and the former may hold back allowing the other to go first because that’s the best computation of the system to move energy.
    Being-in-conflict without being-in-conflict is the highest state of consciousness because it adds energy to the network. Is this a testable premise? Yes, via the question as to what is the number one motive in animal behavior? My answer is potential energy. It’s why animals are more powerfully motivated (in activities other than active forms of hunting) by “differential reinforcement” rather than regular reinforcements. When it’s intermittent, it puts the animal into a state of conflict and conflict is a form of potential energy and so the animal is attuned to conflict inducing events. For example, many dogs like to drop their toys into hard to reach places and then they enjoy struggling to get it back, whereupon they immediately lose it all over again. They are attuning to a state of conflict and experiencing POTENTIAL ENERGY which is far more powerful that REALIZED ENERGY. Animals ALWAYS choose potential energy (I introduced this concept to the Police dog world in the mid eighties as a means of teaching the Out and the Recall in bite work when the market was using dominance and behavioral principles) over the opportunity for gene replication when there is a clear demarcation between these two events. So then what comes after the understanding that there is but one operating system and an overarching consciousness as the most reasonable interpretation of the evidence on animal behavior, in other words WHY is there but one overarching consciousness? A leap of faith.

  3. kbehan says:

    One aspect of your question I failed to fully address is what about the poor deer that gets eaten by the wolf? Because it’s all part of adding energy to the network, the predator being the heart of any given ecosystem, the genes of the deer are “rewarded” by the network and it maintains its network niche. The deer can’t evolve beyond its niche unless that benefits the network. You can see this playing out this fall when camouflaged hunters climb trees to slay deer walking underneath that can’t evolve the survival mechanism to look up for danger, even though for millions of years cats, Neanderthals and now camouflaged weekend hunters have been dropping down from above to kill them. Predators have to eat too.

  4. christine randolph says:

    this reminds me of this hindu theory of the unmanifested consciousness that is the reason for creation,

    i.e. because this infinite blob of consciousness has such a STRONG desire to experience itself it splits itself into a million different beings, thus creating humans and animals, anything sentient.

    so if this had any truth to it the original desire would be in all of us and would be the driver for any subsequent desire here in our universe.

    so as Kevin so aptly explained, the desire to survive and the desire to eat used to drive evolution via eliminating the expressions of each species that showed fewer survival skills.

    ..until human civilization became sophisticated enough to desire to overrule much of this…

  5. Heather says:

    Thank you Kevin and Christine.

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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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