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All the Numbers for the Fourth—Maybe a Few Special Ones?

ALL THE NUMBERS FOR THE FOURTH
Monthly Corner Hideaway for Insecure Writers—and others

Royal Bedchamber has not changed much since Domesday 11thC England, courtesy HM The Queen

Back in the ‘Nineties, British anthropologist Robin Dunbar noticed a remarkable correlation between primate brain size and the social groups they formed: His theory was simple—the bigger their brains, the larger their social groups—because animals with bigger brains can remember, and interact meaningfully with more of their peers.

Dunbar’s famous prediction achieved by correlation of his extrapolation curve to the size of the human brain, stated that humans could have no more than about 150 people in their social sphere.

Recent research has since found more evidence for Dunbar’s Number, from the size of hunter-gatherer societies, Roman legions—130-145—to effective modern businesses.

Dunbar’s Number—backed by recent internet/iCloud/social media statistics is even more apt for modern exchange via social networks, where we humans gravitate to a natural limit of meaningful relationships we can sustain—around 150.

Dunbar is Director of the Institute of Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology—the study of how we evolved as modern humans—at the University of Oxford and author of How Many Friends Does One Person Need? (Faber). His research has gone on to find ‘Dunbar layers’, from family intimacy—five—outward to once-a-year contact with the acquaintance layer—beyond 150.


Social Behavior Rooted in Human Biology and Layers in the Digital Age

Mediaeval Warrington & Cheshire villages, on banks of River Mersey, map courtesy John Speed

The way in which our social world is constructed stems from our biological inheritance. As primates, together with apes and monkeys, we have developed a general relationship between brain size and size of our social group. There are social circles beyond the group and layers within—but there is a natural cluster of 150.

This is the number of people you can have a relationship with involving trust, obligation—and usually—some personal history.

That’s the Dunbar number.

In updated research in the digital age, other patterns emerge for the average human—most people have a small group of three to five very close friends. Various layers of friendship – which increase in number but decrease in intimacy and frequency of contact are on average:

Dunbar Layers
Layer 0. Nucleus/very close friends—those you turn to in a crisis, ask for money, lean on for support—on average 3 to 5 people. Likely keep in touch once a week.
Layer 1. Close friends/sympathy group—12-15 people (number of Apostles, members on a jury). Contact once a month.
Layer 2. Distant friends—45 to 50 people
Layer 3. Maximum number of friends/acquaintances: 150 people (Dunbar’s Number)
Layer 4. 500 people
Layer 5. 1500 people
Layer 6. Plato’s ideal size for a democracy—5300 people

Answer to Life, the Universe and Everything… number according to Douglas Adams

“I was working on the arcane question of why primates spend so much time grooming one another, and I tested another hypothesis–which says the reason why primates have big brains is because they live in complex social worlds.

“Because grooming is social, all these things ought to map together, so I started plotting brain size and group size and grooming time against one another. You get a nice set of relationships.

“It was about 3a.m., and I thought, hmm, what happens if you plug humans into this? And you get this number of 150. This looked implausibly small, given that we all live in cities now, but it turned out that this was the size of a typical community in hunter-gatherer societies.

“And the average village size in the Domesday Book is 150.”
Robin Dunbar

“It’s the same when we have much better data–in the 18th century, for example, thanks to parish registers. County by county, the average size of a village is again 150. Except in Kent, where it was 100. I’ve no idea why.”

The number evolved as tribal societies did. Dunbar believes his Number probably dates back to the appearance of anatomically modern humans, 250,000 years ago, from Australopithicus to Neanderthal. Prior to that, by estimated brain size, community size declined steadily.

A key evolutionary adaptation of primates facing survival out there on the plains and in the forests was group living within a hierarchy, with explicitly communal solutions to living as a unit—an ape strategy, evolved very early in the timeline.

Most species of birds and animals are not as intensely social. Socialability for them hovers around pair-bonds, which is as complicated as it gets. But the species with big brains mate monogamously.

Has the Dunbar Number Increased with the Internet?
“We’re caught in a bind: community sizes were designed for hunter-gatherer societies where people weren’t living on top of one another. Your 150 were scattered over a wide area, but everybody shared the same 150. This made for a very densely interconnected community, and it also means the community polices itself.

“You don’t need lawyers and policemen. If you step out of line, Grannie will wag her finger at you.”


Rôle of the Internet, Smart Devices, & BFFs in the (Wired) Generational Divide

Can we extend deep relationships beyond the old numbers?

Magdalen College Oxford Prof. Robin Dunbar

Dunbar says he can find out what you had for breakfast from your tweet, but can’t really get to know you better. Digital developments help us keep in touch over distance, when in the past a relationship might have faltered and died. Now it can be extended. But we can only maintain Five Close Friends

Current statistics compiled by consumer research specialist, Paul Hudson point to a generational divide—younger teenagers aged thirteen to sixteen–the fastest-growing social media generation—have an average of 450 social network “friends”.

Figures rapidly reduce between decades—people in their thirties have on average between one and two hundred friends; those in their forties between fifty and 100; and over-fifties—if they are internet-savvy—form the lowest stat-curve, the majority having fewer than twenty friends.

Seventeen Hugs a Day—the Touchie, Feelie Solution
Dunbar stands by his ‘grooming’ theory: that we actually have to get together to make a relationship work. Tablets, iPads and smartphones still haven’t figured out how to do virtual touch, which humans rely heavily on—the ape hug, the elephant caress, lioness’s kiss, dolphin’s smooch.

In a widening social network, intimacy becomes more important—and apparently less available, considering the number of dogs in the United States equals the human population! That, my dear Virtual Cap’n and fellow Insecure Writers, must hold for another day.

One hopeful statistic: Writers—as we IWSG-ers all know—are mostly introvert, so we keep our BFFs forever!

Words are slippery. A touch is worth a thousand words—always.
©2018 Marian Youngblood

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July 4, 2018 Posted by | ancient rites, art, authors, belief, blogging, culture, Doomsday, fiction, history, publishing, traditions, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Nuclear Option—Above or Below Ground?

DEALING WITH CATASTROPHE—DEATH-or-LIFE UNDERGROUND
Monthly Drawing Breath Corner for Insecure Writers

Bruno Groth’s Pelican—a remarkable bird that may survive ocean mountains of nuclear waste

It isn’t the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out; it’s the pebble in your shoe
Mohammed Ali

Doomsday ‘Preppers’ have been getting ready for Armageddon-aka-nuclear misfire—cultural breakdown—since the Cold War; but in Silicon Valley they have made it into an art.

One tech company C.E.O. told the New Yorker
“It’s still not at the point where industry insiders would turn to each other with a straight face and ask what their plans are for some apocalyptic event.”

But, having said that, he believes it’s logically rational and ‘appropriately conservative’ to ‘manage the risk’, i.e. plan for the eventuality.

Vulnerability of the United States was exposed by the Russian cyber-attack on the Democratic National Committee during the U.S. election, and by a large-scale hack on October 21st, 2016 which disrupted the Internet in North America and Western Europe.

World food supply is dependent on GPS, logistics, and weather forecasting, which are generally dependent on the Internet. On the Peninsula, every geek knows the Internet is dependent on D.N.S.—the system that manages domain names.

“Go risk factor by risk factor by risk factor, acknowledging that there are many you don’t even know about, and you ask, ‘What’s the chance of this breaking in the next decade?’ Or invert it: ‘What’s the chance that nothing breaks in fifty years?’”

The Final Frontier
Exactly how many wealthy Americans are really making preparations for a catastrophe is difficult to tell; a lot of people don’t like to talk about it. “Anonymity is priceless,” according to one hedge-fund manager.

Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn and a prominent investor, recalls telling a friend he was thinking of visiting New Zealand. “Oh, are you going to get apocalypse insurance?” the friend asked.

In the event of civil disorder, these items can be stowed in an overnight bag or go for Dome Living

“I’ve wrestled with alligators / I’ve tussled with a whale / I done handcuffed lightning / And thrown thunder in jail.”
Mohammed Ali/Cassius Clay

New Zealand, it seems, is a favored refuge in the event of a cataclysm. According to Hoffman, saying you’re ‘buying a house in New Zealand’ is kind of a wink, wink, say no more. Once you’ve done the Masonic handshake, they’ll be, like, ‘Oh, you know, I have a broker who sells old ICBM silos, and they’re nuclear-hardened, and they kind of look like they would be interesting to live in.’”

Dr. Robert A. Johnson, a graduate of Princeton, working on Capitol Hill, before entering finance—M.D. at Soros Fund Management—describes himself as an accidental student of civic anxiety. After the 2008 financial crisis, he became head of a financial think tank, the Institute for New Economic Thinking.

He grew up with financiers, company chairmen, hedge-fund managers in Greenwich, Connecticut.

“They all lived within fifty yards of me. From my own career, I would just talk to people. More and more were saying, ‘You’ve got to have a private plane. You have to assure that the pilot’s family will be taken care of, too. They have to be on the plane.’”
Robert A. Johnson, Ph.D.

Silver Better than Gold
Essentials in the Bug-Out Bag, along with the hatchet, have to include a parachute (from the private plane), foldable canoe (to cross that river of disaster) collapsible tent or Bucky Dome—Buckminster Fuller would approve.

One interesting fact is consensus that small is better than big when the S–t Hits the Fan—it even has its own acronym—TSHF—i.e. silver in small coins beats large pieces of gold jewelry when it comes to trading for food and other life essentials.

Not a happy scenario for a beautiful autumn day, perhaps?

But you know what they say about Silicon Valley—way beyond the Capitol Hill wall: always leading edge.

Will we Insecure writers follow? We IWSG-ers are mostly introvert—according to Myers-Briggs—that’s how we pop up after it’s all over and ask “wot hoppen?” because we’ve been so head-down in the rabbit hole.

Such a tactic could serve us well this time, or we might, like Mohammed Ali/Cassius Clay proclaim:

“Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.”
©2017 Marian Younbgblood

October 4, 2017 Posted by | art, authors, birds, blogging, culture, Doomsday, energy, fantasy, history, nature, ocean, publishing, seasonal, seismic, volcanic, weather, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Earth Day: Celebration or Apocalypse Now?

Pacific Ring of Fire Responds to Himalayan Quakes
If ever there was reason to wish for a tsunami, this is it.

Overnight Monday 04/27/2015 Nepal’s sacred peaks suffered 142 aftershocks following-on to Saturday’s 7.8-mag.Richter blow. Same night, Japan’s new 900-foot raised beach in S.Hokkaido raises eyebrows. The Japanese agency blame ‘crustal shift’ and explain away the shoreline’s subsequent landslide/sinkhole-subsidence on ‘the waves’.
Nippon Seismic Agency claims “No human fault, just waves. Tsunami clearance not authorized”.
The new beach is, nevertheless, littered with human, biological, marine, plastic and nuclear waste.

Do they wish to take responsibility and initiate a clean up now?
Or, blame THAT on the waves, too?

Siderealview's Blog

EARTH WEEK STARTS WITH A BANG

6.6mag. Taiwan S.Japan location 24º129'N 122º335E   01a.m. UTC April 20. 2015 “6.6mag. Taiwan S.Japan location 24º129’N 122º335E 01a.m. UTC April 20. 2015 Four hours ago, a massive 6.6 magnitude Richter earthquake hit coastal Taiwan and Southern Japan. Local agencies, already overburdened with ongoing (nuclear) clean-up, continue to report. Minimal U.S. press coverage—slow to extract reports from the world arena in (western) night-time, unless specifically targeted—may find that differences in international dateline/time-zones may not result in this event’s being buried, It may not fit into a neat, orderly media-orchestrated political schedule.

There are ramifications, however—especially for western U.S.A.

EarthCrisis or Early Warning?
Minimum 'safe' height: 146ft—most of Tsunami Alley: sea-level Minimum ‘safe’ height: 146ft—most of Tsunami Alley: sea-level

MAGNITUDE 6.6 mwp
Location / uncertainty 24.129°N 122.335°E± 5.4 km
Depth / uncertainty 28.9 km± 4.4
Origin time 2015-04-20 01:42:58.470 UTC
Source: USGS

Two groups of Native American elders have summoned their communities, in preparation for uprooting and a move inland, away from their traditional…

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April 27, 2015 Posted by | consciousness, Doomsday, earth changes | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment