Minority view of group selection
The conventional wisdom is that natural selection acts at the level of the individual. But Richard Dawkins gained popularity by claiming a gene within the individual drives evolution remorselessly.
Howard Bloom, who debuted with the best-seller “The Lucifer Principle,” takes the opposite direction by claiming that natural selection work at the level of the group, not individual or gene.
In his 2000 book “Global Brain: The Evolution of Mass Mind from the Big Bang to the 21st Century,” Bloom argues that collective intelligence is behind the group selection, which is a minority view among evolutionary scholars. According to him, “individuals are parts of a larger survival machine.”
While chasing cooperation among various organisms, he contends that contemplation behind the book “The Selfish Gene” is not true because it leaves out the universal nature of networking.
In particular, he focuses on two mass minds of microbes and humans. Some 3.5 billion years ago, he believes that bacteria had their global brain up and running. “By swapping genetic bits and re-engineering themselves, they could create upgrades in hours or in days,” he notes.
He even expects that the two global minds will be in conflict by saying, “the struggle between the microbial global brain and ours may be the Great War of the 21st century.”
“Since these bacterial and viral relatives are often allies and just as often enemies, 3 billion human lives could be lost if we don’t maximize our group mind’s speed and creativity,” he says.
Yet, he iterates that the real global brain and the truest planetary mind involves all biosphere.
“The global brain is not just human, made of our vaunted intelligence. It is webbed between all species,” he says. “It turns all creatures great and small into probers, crafters, innovators, ears, and eyes.”
“We are neurons of this planet’s inter-species mind,” he concludes.
Of note is that he regards reality as just a shared hallucination, the view that affected Yuval Harari, the world-renowned author of “Sapiens” and “Homo Deus.”
“The artificial construction of reality was to play a key role in the new form of global intelligence which would soon emerge among human beings,” he says.