This whole thing started as a joke.
In February of 2004, between my backgrounds in theatre and psychology, I made a life-changing discovery. All human behavior is motivated by a combination of exactly three sources, all of which operate both consciously and subconsciously: behavioral traits of our species, which would make everyone react the same way to a situation; physical and inherent mental characteristics of individuals, which make people react differently to situations, but all of which originate from human physiology; and bodies of ideas that we use to interpret our situations, which we build up over time through direct life experience and by learning ideas from other people.
This is why, in a well made movie, every facial expression of every character either embodies everything you know about that character at that point in the movie or foreshadows something about them that you find out later. For a movie to feel realistic, not only do the characters have to make realistic conscious decisions, they also have to make realistic subconscious decisions as the smallest level, like in their posture and tones of voice from moment to moment. It took theatre artists about 2,400 years to figure out enough about human behavior to be able to do that with a lot of intuition and a lot of practice, and still without being able to explain it to people who didn’t work in theatre.
The new science of evolutionary psychology had come far enough to make overlapping discoveries. Evolutionary psychologists had used their own talents, skills, and approaches and had discovered the same founding concepts theatre artists have been working with for about a century. They had made a lot of profound discoveries by testing things one at a time, but it takes the kind of intuition and practice the theatre industry is founded on to see how all those discoveries fit together at once.
So I went home that night and started writing down what meant for things people think about. Fifteen months later I was up to 400,000 words, which is the length of five average novels. I had a book about the foundation of everything people think about. It was a book about unifying themes in everything people think about. That meant it connected every book in the world into one big story of the world. So I titled it 42, as the mythical answer to Douglass Adam’s question of Life, the Universe, and Everything, and self-published it.
While I was filling out my copyright application for the Library of Congress, I saw they had a line for Alternate Title. This was in 2005, while George W. Bush was president and the evolution versus intelligent design debate was going on. So I wrote down The Third Testament. For the human race to work together for Peace on Earth depends on our finding a common point of reference on what we all have in common and where our differences originate, and that’s exactly what the science of human evolution was discovering. None of the people who were trying to get intelligent design taught in biology class were offering to teach evolution in Sunday school, so I thought I might be able to help them see the connection. I assumed my application was going to be rejected, but to my surprise, it wasn’t.
Then I wrote an article about my work and submitted it to al-Jazeera, the biggest media source of the Muslim world. Because this was a War of Ideas, so we ought to start pitting ideas against ideas. People have been fighting wars over religion for millennia, but no one has ever gone to war over scientific discoveries. The Theory of General Relativity was proved in 1922 with telescopes and math, not by scientists killing people who didn’t believe it. But al-Jazeera turned me down.
There were plenty of other groups of people struggling for other things. In every controversial debate the people on each side believed whatever they believed because they were using different combinations of the same three things. That meant the point of view of one side was always some number of steps away from the point of view of their opponents. That included one religion versus another, and religion versus science. It also included every political ideology versus every other political ideology. It also included the struggle between globalization versus anti-imperialism.
In 1994 the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN, by their Spanish initials) started a revolution in southern Mexico. Globalization was, and still is, being used there to drive indigenous farmers off their land and destroy their communities and traditions, which as far as they could see, made globalization exactly the same as the previous 502 years. The farmers decided they’d better fight for their land while they still had enough strength to fight for it. They figured they were probably going to be annihilated, but if they lost their farms they were going to be annihilated by poverty anyway.
Their revolution turned out to be so popular that it spread all over Mexico and the world almost instantly. All over the world people are facing various manifestations of multinational corporations moving their headquarters to the countries with the weakest environmental and labor laws, and otherwise finding ways to take control of things that are vital to people’s lives, like food production, drinking water, medicine, education, prisons, law enforcement, and the military.
Throughout history conflicts among people have always been won by whoever has the most effective decision making power on their side. What has changed is the environmental crisis. The value of money has more to do with psychology than with physics. But the environment functions according to physics, not psychology. Back when money was invented, about 4,000 years ago, there were only about 70 million people in the entire world, so that discrepancy wasn’t very noticeable. But sometime around 1985 we reached the point where humanity started having more of an impact on the global environment than the environment could absorb. Climate change is one effect of that. The energy crisis, deforestation, over fishing, and falling water tables are others.
Contrary to what supporters of globalization say, the people on the anti-globalization side aren’t motivated by a lack of understanding of economics. They’re motivated by a basic understanding that one way or another we need to find a new foundation for economics. They don’t feel like it’s a good idea to let people who have gotten rich and powerful in the money economy get even more rich and powerful by selling us our drinking water while we’re running out of drinking water.
Capitalism is the belief that people have the right to use the resources they control in whatever way they see fit. The people on the anti-globalization side aren’t opposed to that idea. The anti-Capitalist revolution hinges on one question: Is there, or isn’t there, a more fundamental law of society than that? If so, what is it and how do we make it work?
In 2006 the teacher’s strike in Oaxaca, a city in southern Mexico, gained so much support that they drove the Mexican government out of the city completely. The people there started organizing the city themselves. That wasn’t very difficult for them, because their ancestors, beginning with the Maya, began building cities in that area 5,000 years ago. So most of the people who lived in the city had shared cultural traditions that worked pretty well.
They took over all the radio stations in the city and started using a lot of them for education. That gave me my idea for Zapatista University, a book about environmental science for indigenous farmers. Evolution might be controversial in the US, but I grew up in a farming town and I have a lot of Native Americans in my family. There’s nothing about evolution that can’t be explained in terms of ordinary things farmers do every year, because farmers make species evolve by breeding their plants and animals. There’s nothing about the environment that can’t be explained to people who already feel like we’re part of the world instead of the rulers of it, and there’s nothing about evolutionary psychology that can’t be explained to people who believe we’re related to the other animals. Most of the farmers around Oaxaca only have second grade educations, but they had a lot of teachers and university students on their side, so among them they could fit it all together. So all I had to do was to write a book about that, record an audio version of it, post it on the internet, and hope someone there translated it into Spanish.
Unfortunately, the Mexican government retook the city six months later, before I was finished. But the idea remained. The internet had only been public for 10 years at that point. Social media has come a long way since then.
Along with Zapatista University I wrote Planetary Biology and the Anti-Capitalist Revolution, as an expanded version for people with access to colleges, libraries, and the internet. I produced some other written and audio projects to supplement those books.
These projects made me realize how much further 42 could go, so I wrote two more volumes, each of them about the same length as the first.
In the process of doing all this I found out that scientists had been hard at work for decades looking for connections among branches of science. The hardest ones were biology and psychology, because those fields involve so many more interacting factors than any other fields. But most of those connections had been found. Richard Dawkins connected chemistry to biology at the molecular level with his Selfish Gene theory. James Lovelock connected chemistry to biology at the environmental level with his Gaia theory. Evolutionary psychologists had connected biology to psychology at the level of individual decisions. The one connection that was missing in the unification of science is the connection from biology to psychology at the level of bodies of ideas. Which was what I discovered without realizing how important it was. Back then I just thought of it as an easy way to use movies to teach psychology.
So I wrote another book about that and titled it The Theory of Evolutionary Relativity. In it I showed how what people call spiritual energy functions as a force in decision making. Ironically, we’re so aware of it intuitively that it’s hard to notice consciously. Using that stuff partly intuitively but more consciously than most people is what makes theatre a fine art. Evolutionary psychologists have discovered all of the steps that makes artists’ intuition function. The missing link is was for someone who has that kind of intuition to learn enough about the science to explain it to scientists.
That raised some very interesting questions. Things like: Since science depends on observation, and observation depends on talents and skills, how do you make a scientific discovery if all the people who have those talents and skills already have careers as artists? If the people who have the necessary talents and skills are already making their livings using their talents and skills in an industry they’ve built up around their talents and skills, the problem isn’t a lack of talents and skills, but of a lack of the necessary talents and skills among scientists.
By then I had been giving talks and guest lectures to some groups in my area. So my next step was to start making video lecture series that connected social justice struggles to science. Anywhere a group of people is struggling for equal rights part of the struggle is always for better education. I’m a Certified Flight Instructor, and there are a lot of other teachers in my family. You don’t need to get schools desegregated to get better educations anymore. Social media connects people who want to learn to information for free now.
My video lectures attracted the attention of the founders of the Ballinamore Film Festival in Ireland, who invited me to submit a film to their first season. I had five weeks until the deadline, and I didn’t even own a video camera at that point. Luckily a friend had just videoed a guest lecture I’d given, so I bought a camera and built up a documentary around the lecture footage. That was Somewhere Under the Rainbow.
A month after I finished that, Occupy Wall Street began. It started in Arizona the following month. Now that I had my video camera, I joined the Occupy! Phoenix media department and started videoing protests and teach-ins.
Videoing things for free has made me really popular with people who are trying to be seen. By the time the Black Lives Matter movement started, I was known in the local activist scene as one of the few video journalists here who videos small civil disobedience events. Having one of the most expensive cameras in the group makes you a high profile target, because cameras are what make people see civil disobedience.
Then after the shootings in South Carolina, The Dukes of Hazzard was taken off the air. That brought together a lot of ideas I’d been writing book manuscripts about. It’s drawn a lot of attention to problems a lot of people can’t find any good solutions to. But that’s only because people have gotten so far removed from the origins of some conflicts that they can’t even agree on what they’re arguing about anymore. That brought me to this, the new incarnation of my website.
Self publishing books takes a lot more time and money than I have, so I don’t bother with it anymore. Now I’m focusing on producing videos, audio files, and writing for social media while I look for publishers for my book manuscripts. All of it still revolves around my discovery from 2004, that every point of view on anything is always some number of steps removed from every point of view on anything else.