Get PJ Media on your Apple

PJ Lifestyle

Howard Bloom

"I know a lot of people. A lot. And I ask a lot of prying questions. But I've never run into a more intriguing biography than Howard Bloom's in all my born days. What's so striking, besides the you-gotta-be-kidding details, is the coherence of the narrative -- the arc that still has Bloom thinking and striving with regard to space, science, transcendence, and simple clarity, 55 years later. Sweet." Paul Solman, Business and Economics Correspondent, PBS NewsHour with Jim Lehrer _______________ Howard Bloom has been called "the Darwin, Einstein, Newton, and Freud of the 21st Century" by Britain's Channel4 TV and "the next Stephen Hawking" by Gear Magazine. Bloom calls his field "mass behavior" and explains that his area of study includes everything from the mass behavior of quarks to the mass behavior of human beings. He is the founder of three international scientific groups: The Group Selection Squad (started in 1995), The International Paleopsychology Project (1997), and The Space Development Steering Committee (2007), which includes Buzz Aldrin, Edgar Mitchell (the sixth man to set foot on the moon), and decision makers from NASA, the National Science Foundation, and the Air Force. And he's the founder of a mass-communications volunteer group that gets across scientific ideas using animation, The Big Bang Tango Media Lab (started in 2001). Bloom comes from the world of cosmology, theoretical physics, and microbiology. But he did 20 years of fieldwork in the world of business and popular culture, where he tested his hypotheses in the real world. In 1968 Bloom turned down four graduate fellowships and embarked on what he calls his Voyage of the Beagle, an expedition to the dark underbelly where new myths, new historical movements, and new shifts in mass emotion are made. The result: Bloom generated $28 billion in revenues (more than the gross domestic product of Oman or Luxembourg) for companies like Sony, Disney, Pepsi Cola, Coca Cola, and Warner Brothers. He accomplished this by taking profits out of the picture and focusing on passion and soul. He applied the same principle to star-making, helping build the careers of figures like Prince, Michael Jackson, Bob Marley, Bette Midler, Billy Joel, Paul Simon, Billy Idol, Peter Gabriel, David Byrne, John Mellencamp, Queen, Kiss, Aerosmith, AC/DC, Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five, Run DMC, and roughly 100 others. Bloom also plunged into social causes. He helped Launch Farm Aid and Amnesty International in the United States, created two educational programs for the Black community, put together the first public-service radio advertising campaign for solar energy, and co-founded the leading national music anti-censorship movement in the United States, an organization that went toe-to-toe with Al Gore's wife Tipper and with the religious extremists manipulating her. A former visiting scholar in the Graduate Psychology Department at New York University and a former Core Faculty Member at The Graduate Institute in two fields--Conscious Evolution and Organizational Leadership--Bloom is the author of four books: The Lucifer Principle: A Scientific Expedition Into the Forces of History ("mesmerizing"--The Washington Post), Global Brain: The Evolution of Mass Mind From The Big Bang to the 21st Century ("reassuring and sobering"--The New Yorker), How I Accidentally Started The Sixties ("a monumental, epic, glorious literary achievement." Timothy Leary), and The Genius of the Beast: A Radical re-Vision of Capitalism ("exhilaratingly-written and masterfully-researched. I couldn't put it down."--James Burke). But Bloom's chef d'oeuvre is a project of the kind that normally only lunatics undertake, the 5,700 chapters of what he unabashedly calls "The Grand Unified Theory of Everything In the Universe Including the Human Soul." Pavel Kurakin of the Keldysh Institute of Applied Mathematics of the Russian Academy of Science in Moscow says that with the Grand Unified Theory of Everything In the Universe Including the Human Soul, "Bloom has created a new Scientific Paradigm. He explains in vast and compelling terms why we should forget all we know in complicated modern math and should start from the very beginning. ...Bloom's Grand Unified Theory... opens a window into entire systems we don't yet know and/or see, new...collectivities that live, love, battle, win and lose each day of our gray lives. I never imagined that a new system of thought could produce so much light." Concludes Joseph Chilton Pearce, author of Evolution's End and The Crack in the Cosmic Egg, "I have finished Howard Bloom's books, The Lucifer Principle and Global Brain, in that order, and am seriously awed, near overwhelmed by the magnitude of what he has done. I never expected to see, in any form, from any sector, such an accomplishment. I doubt there is a stronger intellect than Bloom's on the planet."
Follow Howard:

Why Societies Develop Like Embryos

Wednesday, August 8th, 2012 - by Howard Bloom

An exclusive excerpt from chapter 6 of the new science/history/philosophy nonfiction book The God Problem: How A Godless Cosmos Creates, the new offering from the author of The Lucifer Principle: A Scientific Expedition into the Forces of HistoryGlobal Brain: The Evolution of Mass Mind from the Big Bang to the 21st Century and The Genius of the Beast: A Radical Re-Vision of Capitalism.

The God Problem: How A Godless Cosmos Creates was published on August 24 and is now available on Amazon. [Update: the Kindle edition is still "a couple of weeks" away.]


The Zygote Snabs Herbert Spencer

Meanwhile, in 1851, when he is thirty-one years old and walking, talking, and singing with Miss Evans, Herbert Spencer runs across an idea that will make him one of the biggest big-picture thinkers of all time. It is the idea that will keep Spencer a bachelor married to only one thing, his grand “synthesis.” Herbert Spencer will come across von Baer’s principle that cells in an embryo start out looking pretty much alike, then get more and more unique to their species. And more and more specialized in their function. Von Baer’s principle will change Spencer’s thinking. It will become the key to Spencer’s grand unification. And to his view of evolution. It will become Herbert Spencer’s equivalent to Newton’s gravity.

Yes, differentiation and the metaphor of the embryo will enter Herbert Spencer’s thinking three years after he comes to the Economist and one year after he begins to frequent John Chapman’s soirees. Says Spencer, “In 1851, I became acquainted with von Baer’s statement that the development of every organism is a change from homogeneity to heterogeneity.” And that acquaintance will push Spencer to till the soil in which Charles Darwin will plant a seed.

Once Herbert Spencer is exposed to von Baer’s work, the embryologist’s influence will show up almost instantly in Spencer’s work. It is the grand unifying principle that Spencer has been hunting for. It is another unifying principle to add to what Spencer has taken from George Henry Lewes’s explanations of Comte—the principle of evolution, and the principle that evolution constantly churns out something that Spencer calls “progress.” So von Baer’s principle of differentiation becomes central to Spencer’s 1851 first book, Social Statistics. The bigger and the more advanced the society, Social Statistics says, the more differentiation, the more specialization. The more “‘distinct classes’ and ‘special occupations.’” Large-scale societies unfold like embryos. They evolve like zygotes in the womb. Spencer publishes Social Statistics eight years before the publication of the book in which Charles Darwin premiers his theory of evolution, the Origin of Species. But Spencer, like the other habitués of Chapman’s get togethers, is already an evolutionary thinker, and he portrays the differentiation of human societies as an evolutionary process. Again, the word evolution has not appeared even once in Darwin’s only published book, his Voyage of the Beagle. But it appears one hundred times in Spencer’s second book, his 1855 Principles of Psychology. A book that comes out four years before Darwin’s On the Origin of Species.

Here’s how the combination of evolution and von Baer’s differentiation works. Says Spencer, in early societies, everyone did everything—hunting, fishing, and tool and weapon making. But as societies evolved, some men specialized in hunting and fishing and others became full-time tool or weapons makers—full-time spear and fishing hook experts. Way, way down the line, really advanced societies invented machines like railroad engines with hundreds of parts. So in an advanced society, there might be a specialist in Swindon who zeroed in on nothing but hand-making the setscrews for the steam engine, a task so exacting that one real-life machinist of Spencer’s day said “it almost made me sick.” Meanwhile other specialists assembled the engine, tested it, and ran it. And yet more specialists raised fruits, veg- etables, cows, and pigs and sent them into the city via railroad to feed the setscrew specialist. At the same time, even more specialists raised cotton in the American South, carded it and combed it in Manchester, then ran the resulting thread through Manchester’s weaving machines to make the set- screw maker’s clothes.

The result? Says Spencer, societies are like organisms. And their advance toward higher levels of complexity is like “the development of an embryo or the unfolding of a flower.” Yes, societies unfold like flowers or embryos:

Hence it happens that a tribe of savages may be divided and subdivided with little or no inconvenience to the several sections.

Read bullet | Comments »