There’s a fallacy presented to the world which states that all species must compete for scarce resources. This is taken to be true because it is assumed that all should – in the interests of fulfilment, self preservation, and survival – fight for the greatest share of all resources … but is this actually true?
The prevailing “wisdom” would say yes without hesitation, and this is what I wish to challenge.
The reality is quite simply the contrary and self evident fact that we “must” do no such thing, as we’re perfectly capable of COOPERATING for access to scarce resources also. The difference here being that on the one hand you have competition for access to scarcity tending to maintain and increase scarcity, while cooperation tends to reduce scarcity.
Proponents of the capitalist paradigm would likely argue in rebuttal that it is competition of businesses which creates abundant products for all to buy … but the reality is more accurately that it is cooperation and diversity of labour that creates abundance of resources; while capitalism on the other hand creates, exploits, increases, maintains and “profits” from such scarcity, as scarcity increases value per product – even perceived scarcity (exclusivity) – also including the creation of relative scarcity by selfishly robbing the workers of their fair share of their own labour.
As with many other things, capitalism tries to take credit for the gains of others, while avoiding responsibility for the true consequences of its own nature. This is the cognitive bias we will debunk in this article.
The competition fallacy came about via an overly simplistic analysis of species evolution, in which it was noticed that:
- species do indeed at times compete for resources;
- human society itself is based on such competition in formalised economic systems;
- thus the belief paradigm: “surely this must be the basis of the natural world”.
But the phrase “survival of the fittest” is an extremely misleading term as a summary descriptor of all evolutionary principles in action, and it isn’t even entirely accurate to improve the phrase by saying “survival of the best adapted”, as this improves but still misses the point.
The reality of evolutionary biology is that systems TEND to evolve by best adaptation … BUT … sometimes “best” doesn’t mean what you think it does, hence the misleading nature of the phrase.
Contemporary evolutionary scientists speak in terms of things such as genetic drift, because they recognise that whether or not a particular adaptation is very useful (or not), its probability of occurrence in populations is partially dependent on nothing but pure blind luck.
For Example: a species that is low in numbers – while perhaps brilliantly adapted to its environment – might go extinct, for the simple reason that it’s low numbers make it probabilistically closer to extinction. While another species that may arguably have a lesser adaptation advantage – and without any competition between the two species – may survive where the greater does not.
EVEN IF the better adaptation isn’t lower in numbers, extinction could still occur by such random events, as the better adapted species just happening to live at what will soon be the impact site of an asteroid, wiping them all out.
The point being: there’s no such thing as “evolutionary superiority”, except in purely relative terms, competition does not cause more or better evolution than any other driver – evolution is vastly more complex than mere “survival of the fittest”.
So we’ve identified the problem here is that people tend to dumb things down, and having dumbed it down they immediately interpret it as supporting their own assumptions or agenda.
Making it worse is that when you point out this capacity for cognitive bias, instead of using the knowledge to question their own assumptions & agendas, people tend to use it to trick others into supporting their own assumptions & agendas, because they perceive an economic &/or political advantage from doing so.
Thus we end up with the divide & conquer social engineering agenda of the Competition Fallacy, which keeps people fighting amongst themselves, divided, disorganised, disempowered and distracted; meanwhile the ruling elite hide behind a facade of superficial competition (where the stakes are played with other people’s lives) – but which is actually mostly collusion and cooperation – and hypocritically they see themselves as heroes, teaching the “dumb peasants” to be better competitors (ie – “tough love” as I’m sure they’ll likely call it).
So here we have a misinterpretation and dumbing down of facts, supporting assumptions and agendas, entwined in cognitive bias, resulting in self-fulfilling prophesy, and being used as social engineering … with disastrous consequences.
The property/trade/currency-based (capitalist) economic paradigm is thus on a suicidal path, with the blind leading the blind (no offence intended to the actual sight-impaired / medically blind).
The reality can be seen all around as the flow on consequences are observed over time, but only those lacking the cognitive bias can trace the root cause, and which is thus effectively invisible to those whom presume the innocence of the cause.
Key Principle – the Probability of Events:
For any event – of any type – to occur, there exists a critical threshold of resources required for a non-zero probability of occurrence within the scope of a particular domain. As that probability increases, so too does the frequency of occurrence (for any random or periodic non-unique event), for either a finite or infinite series of such events within the domain.
In other words:
- A unique event will happen only once within the domain in which it is unique;
- A rare event will occur with low frequency in the domain;
- A common event will occur with high frequency;
- A limited event series will occur over a limited domain of time &/or space, and;
- An infinite event series will keep occurring at whatever domain frequency is given by its probability.
A probability function for such night look like this (cheating as I have no math symbols etc. available):
- Pd(Ei:Tb,Tq) = F(Tq/Tb)*Tu
Meaning: the domain limited probability (Pd) of an event instance (Ei) with respect to the frequency time base (Tb) & time in question within the domain (Tq), is equal to the frequency of event occurrence (F), multipled by the time period in question (Tq) over the time base (Tb), in whatever units of time we’re using (Tu).
- An event has a frequency of 0.75 ever 4 seconds
- We want to know the probability of occurrence over 1 second
- So P(Ei) = 0.75(1/4) seconds = 3/16 probability of an event instance occurring over 1 second.
So probability and frequency are very closely related concepts, or in other words: a frequency is a time/space-domain specific category or expression of probability.
Probability & Relativity of Perception:
Now … here’s the bit where people almost always screw up:
- Whether an event has occurred or not & what the event actually was, has only limited bearing on whether you observe it, when you observe it, and what you perceive when you observe it;
- But more importantly, it has no bearing at all on what you CONCLUDE as a result of your perceptions.
By way of example, there’s a story told in physics lectures about a treaty being signed on a moving train. The terms of the treaty are that both representatives must sign the treaty at precisely the same time, with each of the two men sitting at opposite ends of a long table in the train carriage as it passes the station platform … with a flash set in the middle of the table, they both sign when the flash goes off.
Now, assuming for a minute we slow down the speed of light to exaggerate the time differences & make them more perceptible … from the perspective of the inside of the carriage, the light travels at the same speed – being a universal constant – in both directions, so the two men see the light simultaneously and begin to sign … BUT (and here’s where it gets interesting):
- the man at the back of the carriage is seeing the light from the other man signing AFTER himself, as it has to travel back the length of the carriage for him to see it;
- the man at the front sees the reverse for the exact same reason;
- someone stationary on the train station platform will see the guy at the back sign first as they go past;
- someone moving in a car at some other vector to the train, will see one or the other sign first, depending on their relative position & vector to the vector & position of the train.
So how do you know what happened? Someone has to be sitting where the flash goes off in the middle, using mirrors to see both directions simultaneously from an equidistant central point.
… the moral of the story?
The relativity of probability occurs with respect to the reference point of the actual event.
Domain, Scale, Scope & Orientation of Perception:
If you want to know the absolute truth – assuming there is one – you have to get as close as you can to the perspective of the object/subject of the question.
NOW … the probability of increasingly thermodynamically dense & complex event systems, decreases proportionally with respect to time – in other words: an event system that is less energetically dense and less complex, relative to the scale and scope of the domain of event occurrence being queried, tends to be more likely to occur.
- The chances of any mouse farting anywhere on the planet over the course of a century is high;
- The chance of any mammal farting anywhere on the planet of the course of a century is higher;
- The chance of a category 5 hurricane occurring in your cubicle at work while you take a quick toilet break, is low.
Eventually – as these ridiculous examples show – the probability of events in a domain can asymptote to zero or infinity.
So here’s the thing … for the reasons already given, the largest densest & most complex systems of human influence over increasing durations of time, have the greatest possible probability – asymptoting towards their theoretical maximum – of occurrence, and thus also of causing complex consequences.
This event probability maximum occurs as those systems approach their theoretical maximum scale & scope, which is still capable of being contained within the parent system (ie – the biosphere of Earth).
In other words:
- Our civilisation is a thermodynamically dense & complex bundle of event probabilities;
- Some (many) of those probabilities relate to deleterious ecological & social consequences;
- The probability of those consequences are thus directly proportional to that of their causation events;
- These probabilities are increasing as they trend toward their theoretical maximums within the domain;
- Where the domain itself is shrinking – due to past consequences – this accelerates the probability of consequences further, as the scale of the event system is taken as relative to the size of the containing domain … but mainly because one of the variables affecting the frequency of events, is the population size relative to the domain size, and another is the desperation to exploit resources increasing as a result of relative scarcity;
- So either the event system growing OR the domain shrinking, makes the probability of consequences increase.
THUS: our economic system is stuck in a runaway positive feedback loop between causing destruction, and the consequences of that destruction causing a positive feedback into the probability of events that lead to further destruction.
So the dysfunction of capitalism is that it causes deleterious consequences … BUT … it rewards those who cause them.
The capitalist observer is not at the reference point of the deleterious consequences; he perceives the information arriving from those consequences (along with other events nearby to the destruction) at the same time … but he is “far away” (in one sense or another), so he perceives the cause of the consequences to be related to not his own actions (backward in time), but to these other – possibly completely unrelated – circumstances that just happen to be in the same vicinity.
Such a person is rewarded for blaming someone or something else, because it means he doesn’t have to pay the cost of those consequences, and if the person or thing blamed just happens to live near the event being caused by the capitalist … this tends to repeat the process, and further entrenches the cognitive bias of the capitalist that he is not to blame.
So capitalism is basically killing trillions of animals, destroying millions of hectares of habitat, causing species extinction, ecosystem collapse, environmental pollution and degradation of every kind … then blames the very same vulnerable people that it enslaves & exploits, for being the cause of both their own captivity AND all the other damage being done (or some other equally bizarre blaming of someone or something else).
The very nature of capitalism, is thus an extreme case of cognitive bias (to put it nicely).
The really sad thing is that none of this is necessary, but more importantly it isn’t even advantageous … NOT EVEN to those who control it, but they can buy their way out of perceiving how they’re not even serving their own interests.