Bigger Than My Brain…

As we stared out the 3rd floor window of the nondescript office building in which we conduct our day to day job we couldn’t help but think of a post apocalyptic world. As smoke from what will go down in history as one of Australia’s biggest crisis blankets the skies and the news reels continue to show devastation, loss and tragedy across the nation. Our minds wondered to what would happen and where would we go if the world was to descend into chaos. After all there are plenty of maniacs in power who would love nothing more than to leave there stamp on history that have come close to kicking off the world’s next and what would likely be the final world war. Or the fact that we have pretty much poisoned the planet beyond repair in some places.

Perhaps it was waking up at 9am on a Sunday morning thinking it was earlier than it actually was due to the sun being blotted out by the thick smoke or perhaps it was not seeing blue sky for weeks on end that got us to start thinking about our mortality and what we’d do if there was an event that forced us to literally pack up and run. Then we began to think about what we would need and what we would take with us in such an event was to happen. Unlike all the crazy Yanks, Australians aren’t so big on prepping, we are sure there are the crazy, rich likely cashed up bogans who have no doubt built a fallout shelter or have a bug out plan in place but in general should an apocalyptic event unfold itself, most Australians would not have a clue about what they would do.

There are plenty of apocalyptic events that could have people heading for the hills cause lets face it, if there ever is to be an apocalypse the last place you want to be is in a major population center. Particularly if World War Three is to breakout, major population centers would be targeted right after major military installations. Sadly we have researched all this but on the flip side the best place to move to would be New Zealand. Well that’s our thoughts and we think as we unpack this week’s A Mind of Its Own everyone might start to agree with us for a change. So without any further segways and side notes lets get on with this weeks blog and put together a plan for surviving the apocalypse.

Firstly we need to understand what if anything could these apocalyptic events be and what would they consist of, who would they initially effect and what would the ramifications be if any? In order to answer those questions we’ve asked our chief investigator Google to do a little research and begin combing through articles and research papers. We like to keep everything we write about as close to the truth as possible after all why let the truth get in the way of a good story. But in all seriousness if the science is available to back up our blog we’ll always take it. So to start with we’ll look at the very unlikely but potential threat of a Zombie apocalypse.

We were hoping to find some good news that a Zombie apocalypse was something that could never happen but thanks to science we are now armed with the possibility that it could become very, very true. Reading one particular article it unpacked the 5 most likely causes behind a zombie apocalypse and to be Frank for a minute (We had to ask him if it was ok) they scared the absolute crap out of us. Like change your jocks scary. The first of the freaky 5 to cause a Zombie Apocalypse is Brain Parasites according to Google they turn victims into mindless, zombie like slaves. One in particular Toxoplasmosa Gondii is terrifying and to make matters worse half the human population of the earth is already infected with it. The likelihood of it turning us all into zombies though would a little human intervention and a perhaps a megalomaniac with a highly evolved version of the parasite that had been weaponised.

Then you have neurotoxins whilst not rating highly on the likelihood scale there have been cases documented in Haiti where the word Zombie comes from of Alkaloid toxins being used to control people and make mind numbed zombie like workers who harvested sugarcane. We then turn to a rage virus type scenario something like a super mad cow disease where people turn into mindless killing machine and don’t forget that we are only one brain chemical (Serotonin) away from that happening. We already have a human version of mad cow disease Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and again it would only take some mad scientists to play around with it in a lab to make it a weapon. Moving on to Neurogenesis or basic stem cell research, yeah we spoke about animal/human hybrids a couple of blogs ago but what about regrowing dead brain tissue? You wanted the undead well science is finally delivering, it is now possible to re-grow the brains of comatose head trauma patients until they wake up and can walk around again, throw in the new ability to keep dead bodies in a suspended state of animation and we are starting to sound like a science fiction novel but its all true. Whilst the cortex may die the stem remains so you will be able to function but not actually have any thoughts, feelings or emotions.

Finally we have nanobots yes nanobots, tiny little microscopic, self-replicating robots that can invisibly build or destroy anything. Studies have shown with a decade we’ll have nanobots that can setup and replace neural pathways in your brain. That’s right ladies and gents little mini self replicating robots will be able to rewire your thoughts. So the likelihood of the robot uprising now takes form in the shape of a zombie apocalypse. Think about it, the nanobots are programmed to self replicate but once the host dies so do they. So to preserve themselves they’d need a new host, therefore the last act of the nanobot zombie would be to bite a healthy victim so they can steam in and set up camp. And just like that it’s eat, sleep, bite, repeat and the robot zombie uprising is a real thing.

So what are the other possible apocalyptic events that could have us scurrying like rats leaving a sinking ship? The most likely yet unlikely event is a robot uprising, according to Artificial Intelligence researchers the likelihood of us having a robot overlord is quite slim but if it did happen our robot overseers could combat some of the other threats. The most likely apocalyptic event in which we’d need to bunker down somewhere and then scavenge till the end of days would be a global pandemic or nuclear war and with Trump in power and happy to divert attention away from his pending impeachment trial the later is the most likely to happen as he rattles sabers and assassinated people from the skies above. If it’s not Trump shooting missiles at foreign dignitaries to spark off a war it’ll be climate change deniers that are our undoing as we kill the earth.

If you are wondering if it’ll be something from space that does us in, the chances of an asteroid taking us out is one in 10,000. We are more likely to be wiped out by volcanoes and they are the most underrated threat on the matrix we’ve developed. The sleeping giants that could erupt around the world and blackout the sun while blanketing the earth in ash. There is also the possibility of aliens invading in which we would recommend you hide down the deepest darkest hole you can find and don’t come out for at least a decade. Perhaps Hollywood had been quite prophetic in some of their alien invasion movies over the past century. There is always over population and or of the next big freeze, heck there have even been suggestions that we could be attacked by something below us lurking in the depths of the oceans or below the earth’s surface. There are several other possibilities but these were just the ones that actually made sense or had a likelihood of possibly ever happening.

Chances are that if the world was coming to an end any semblance of order would quickly dissolve into chaos. People would riot and looters would roam the streets. From there things would begin to look a little like the Tom Clancy video game franchise The Division. Whilst we’d like to think people might actually behave in a manner which is respectful and considerate that just doesn’t seem likely and if history is any indication of human behavior in times of chaos we definitely become a bunch of words that mum only allows us to use in the paddock. In times of chaos we change our morals values to benefit ourselves over others so it’s no wonder that people loot stores and gangs lord themselves over others in times of crisis. The end of the world would be one such crisis.

The more research we did, the more we realised that unless you’ve gone to a Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape (SERE) course which are generally reserved for military personnel with a role designation that could see them behind enemy lines, or have studied prepping and began to put in place the resources and tools required to survive most of us are very much under prepared for any of the likely apocalyptic scenarios that we could be faced with over the next couple of decades. Even the basics evade most people, how many people are trained in self defense or hand to hand combat, not to be confused with hand to gland combat which would only take a quick google search for most people to become experts in that one. Getting back on topic how or would you be able to defend yourself if you were required to? There are several books that outline the basics of survival and having read several of them when researching for our pet project we can highly recommend the following if you are interested in staying safe and surviving.

Safe by former 22 SAS Trooper Chris Ryan is a good read and then there is the Violent Nomad series ‘100 Deadly Skills’ by Former Navy Seal Clint Emerson, that outlines survival tips and techniques for all scenarios and environments. There is also the SAS Survival books written by John ‘Lofty’ Wiseman also a former SAS Trooper. There are several other survival books that have good information but we’ve found the above books fonts of knowledge as well as having good example pictures and providing a B.L.U.F or Bottom Line Up Front, in other words there is a paragraph where the conclusions and recommendations are placed at the beginning of the text to facilitate rapid decision making rather than placing it at the end of the text.

So we now know what we can start to prepare, how we are going to survive them. In order to do that we need to prepare for all likely scenarios. A little like the scouts we’ll always be prepared or at least that’s what we think the scouts motto is. What would you put in your end of the world kit? Well we think we’d start with a vehicle or two and our vehicle of choice if money was no option to survive the end of the world would either be a suped up, all the mods & cons Toyota Prado armored up to protect us from either the infected zombies or the less fortunate trying to steal our prized wheels or a Land Rover Defender and yes it would have a machine gun turret. Desperate times call for desperate measures and if it’s the end of the world we want to be protected. Worst case we’d break into a defence base and steal a Bushmaster or a tank, we’d then find the armory and go nuts like a kid in the candy store taking all the toys we wanted and needed.

We’ve put together a list of things that are required for initial survival. First thing you’ll need is a bug out bag these suddenly chic survival satchels, also known as go bags, are typically lightweight military-grade backpacks stocked with provisions for at least 72 hours. Gray wolf Survival recommends a chain-saw blade stashed in an Altoids tin to harvest firewood. Feminine hygiene products are also recommended as something you should have in your Go Bag, even for men, to soak up blood from wounds. One of those things that you should have is currency. While Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies make news, many people are quietly packing their bug-out bags with rolls of pre-1965 American dimes, quarters or half-dollars, which are 90 percent silver and available from coin dealers and precious-metals websites (silver is currently about 17 US dollars an ounce).

Imagine a true economic apocalypse, one that makes the German hyperinflation of the 1920s, with its wheelbarrows of near-worthless paper currency, look like a hiccup. To prepare for the worst worst-case scenario, some doomsday preppers prefer to stock up on daily staples like tampons, vegetable seeds and cigarettes (that timeless prison medium of exchange) to silver or gold as an alternative-currency. Liquor, particularly in easy-to-swap airline bottles would likely prove a hot commodity, since it not only deadens the pain of surviving in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, but also provides useful off-label functions as a disinfectant or an ingredient in herbal remedy tinctures. In the event of apocalypse, bring condoms explained one prepper site. This may sound like a slogan from a sex safety campaign but condoms being featherweight, ultracompact and durable (nonlubricated, please) can be used as a makeshift canteen to store water, a fire starter or as elastic bands for an improvised slingshot to hunt small game.

Should law and order on the streets break down after, say, a massive hurricane or nuclear-reactor meltdown, that condom slingshot might come in handy. But where guns are illegal or highly regulated what are defenseless, law-abiding citizens to do? “100 Deadly Skills,” by Clint Emerson is filled with improvised alternative weapons, like a collapsible umbrella lined with wrenches, Sure, you could master jiu-jitsu but if it’s really on, hand-to-hand self-defense will only take you so far. To balance legality with lethality in a bug-out bag, you have to go simpler hammers, hatchets, heavy tools. That roll of old silver quarters might come in handy, too.

In the event of a breakdown of the food supply that leaves the shelves of Woolworths and Coles bare, you will still have to eat. Many survivalists are placing their hopes of sustenance in rabbit, a high-protein, low-fat meat that is also being embraced as “the new chicken” by sustainable food types. By livestock standards, rabbits are relatively clean and quiet. They can survive on table-scrap vegetables or even grass, and as a bonus, yield valuable fur for improvised winter clothing. And boy do they breed. A doe can produce up to 50 kits a year, yielding 250 pounds of meat, according to researchers.

To master archery and broadsword combat or how to manufacture fabric, bread, ceramic cookware and wood furniture by hand, or to perfect the preindustrial arts of iron craft and tanning of leathers should Armageddon arrive say, in the form of a limited nuclear exchange, global pandemic or cyber mega-attack these hobbies could mean your survival. In other words, chivalry may not be dead after all. You just don’t want to be running around in a suit of chain-mail Armour chances are you’ll be a little slow.

So what we’ve worked out is that, if the world is coming to an end anytime soon your average Joe is not going to be prepared enough to survive for any lengthy duration. In case of a nuclear holocaust the safest place is New Zealand due to it’s lack of major military targets and it’s Australia’s forgotten ugly (yet beautiful, scenery wise) cousin therefore people often overlook they are also an ally of the great Satan. Plus most of New Zealand has moved to the Gold Coast. Everyone needs a go bag with at least 72 hours worth of provisions and tools you’ll need to survive. Having a plan is always a good idea and various iterations of that plan, make it even better. If you can get some self defence training it’s always a good idea even if an apocalyptic event isn’t coming. Ensure you have something to trade or a form of currency and lastly a little faith that it never comes down to you having to survive.

As we wrap up the conclusion is that it’ll only take a couple of deranged scientists and a world leader with an inferiority complex to make the Zombie apocalypse happen. Volcanoes are the most likely apocalyptic event, we’ve researched this way too much and now we are thinking we need to start planning for the worst while we hope for the best. It gets you thinking though and well life is too short for regrets or to be pondering crap like this, live in the moment and make memories that’s what we plan on doing. And just because you identify as a helicopter does not mean you can fly in times of crisis. Until next week we wish well and hope that we haven’t scared the absolute crap out of you. Sometimes it’s good to know that there are freaky things and not all science fiction books and films are made up…

Fuck Authority…

Apologies to our beloved fans and friends, we’ve been incommunicado for a couple of weeks now and you have all been very patient while you’ve waited for you next installment of A Mind of Its Own. Well we have some good news and we guess some bad news. The good news is you’ll no longer have to hear about the gorgeous weather of Queensland and Northern NSW or our team outings to the beach. And the bad news we are now in the thick of it, we are in the Nation’s Capital where it all happens and we’ll be able to keep you updated with all things legislation, legal and political as well as our usual anything goes twist on the topics that no one wants to talk about but everyone wants to hear about.

It’s not often we go on a rant but when people start attempting to jam values down our throats you can be sure it gets our goats. They say anger should be tamed and is the rawest of emotions well when you start to talk to the team at A Mind of Its Own about values and what you want to see from them. It certainly makes for an interesting conversation as well as an interesting blog that we put together outlining all the contradictions against the values that are being set out in which we should follow. For those that personally know anyone who has put time an effort into writing for this blog, you know that we have our own set of values, our own code that we live by. As a coach that we didn’t really get along with once said to us “You are only as good as your word”.

What made us start to write this was a little injustice, a little anger and a little in the fact that we feel we have and are good at what we do whether it is writing this blog or our day to day job that pays the bills and keeps the lights on here. You can tell us what to do, you can micromanage us but at the same time we work best when we are left to get along with whatever it is we are doing. Values to us are going to be different for each and everyone, they are a personal choice and they are compass on the path to morality in our eyes. A guiding light if you will, what you value, who you value and how you value those those things in your eyes reflects on you as a person. So it’s safe to say when we see someone talk about values only to steer clear of following any of them or completely ignoring them in the face of greed and corruption we tend to become a little irate.

Companies do it all the time, they’ll create corporate values employees are to follow as part of their contracts and yet the higher up that corporate ladder you climb the less likely you are to actually follow any of them. Call it corruption, call it greed, call it whatever you want but let’s be honest most of us aren’t great a wielding the power that comes with being a corporate bigwig working for multimillion dollar company. As you can imagine there are some passionate and potentially ego driven thoughts on this as we watch all these companies with a corporate responsibility to make the world a little better for those less fortunate. However most people running these companies tend to have some narcissistic traits that allow them to only think of themselves and the bonuses that will come their way. Do they then take these values into their personal lives?

One could only assume that would be the case, however the psychology behind it all it quite interesting to say the least. We can only assume and we all know assumptions tend to make and ass out of you and me as they say. So how do you go about working out what is important to you in terms of what you value in life. In a way this all ties back to the choices that you will be faced with throughout your life. What we fail to realise is that a lot of the choices we make will be underpinned our core values. These values tell us what kind of people we are, or want to be and provide us with guidelines or imperatives for our actions. We are somewhat governed by our values as they influence our decisions. But how do we choose our values and align them to to our lives, and all that we do?. Well let’s attempt to answer that for you, as well as outlining how big corporates shit all over their own values all day, every day in the quest of dollars.

Firstly what is a value? Well there is the dictionary definition but we are much happier with the definition given by Barb Markway and Celia Ampel in the ‘Self Confidence Workbook’. “Values are the principles that give our lives meaning and allow us to persevere through adversity,”. A lot of our values are handed down to us from our parents, our teachers, if you are religious than we guess religious leaders and finally from our societal environments we live in. Over time you will have somewhat rebelled and turned your back against those values or changed your mind on having some of them at your core as you’ve learnt about yourself and the world around you in which you are continuing to grow. Most people will decide on 6 to 8 core values which will steer them through life. They may change some of these throughout time as they reassess life but for the most part they will remain the same.

If you are unsure about your list of values or would like to clarify them, the first thing you need to do is create a list of values and for your sake make it wide ranging. The broader the list the better or you can just go on the internet and hit Google up for a list of values in order to help work out what your core values are. Dr Russ Harris has kindly provided such free lists on his website. From here you can pick your 6 to 8 values and hey by all means change them if you change your mind, it’s a good activity to do every now and then. Words on your list could be as following as an example, Financial Security; Compassion; Health/Fitness; Nature; Accomplishment; Creativity; Dependability; Loyalty; Beauty; Bravery; Gratitude; Love; Connection/Relationships; Learning; Leadership; Survival; Self-Preservation; Security; Adventure; Family; Work; Success; Calm; Freedom.

There are several other ways of working out what your core values are and labelling them, another way is to look at people you admire or love the most and why they are so important to you. By doing this you think of the values they embody most. You could also see a career counselor or life coach seeing as our values are a defining factor in our career choices. There is also online inventories and looking at yourself and learning, we also have the good and bad in life to look at that will help us with deciding on our core values. Most of you will already know what you value the most. It’s often just the reminder or prompting we need to remember them and solidify them in our minds. What we don’t remember though is we’ll often have values conflicting at any given time throughout our lives. At any given moment our values can be called into question, many of us often pay lip service to values or lose sight of our values as new and exciting things come into our lives.

Sometimes you’ll have to defend your values against difficult people, such as psychopaths, extreme narcissists, and master manipulators, who seem to be guided by negative values. With such people, it can be a challenge to stick to the positive values in your life. But that’s what will ultimately define your own set of values when you are faced with challenges that require you to block out all the outside noise and negativity to make your own choices in which people will want you to follow their behaviour and actions. It’s all part of not being the sheep and part of the flock and standing as a lone wolf on the periphery of the field watching and waiting to act. But when we look at organisations who define their values, they tend to want sheep, no wolves allowed because apparently being a good corporate citizen means you can’t and shouldn’t have an opinion or act on your own. You can think it, just don’t show it as it will no doubt shine a light on the values that are never upheld.

Take corporate company, we’ll call them Corporation A, they decided they needed 7 core values in which all they wanted their staff to abide by and demonstrate. There is just one small problem which you will soon see as we outline the values. Now there is no rule to how many values you should or shouldn’t have. Each of us will find our core values and priorities them based on what we want and or need in our lives at any given time. In a way we have our core values followed by our subsidiary values that will interchange when we require. Well that’s our take on it anyway now back to corporation A.

According to the company website “Values are the behaviours we want to see” sits above there Seven (7) core values. The seven values in no particular order along with their little spiel about each of the values are as follows:

  1. Trust – Building a trusting environment through being open, honest and transparent with each other.
  2. Respect – Through showing respect, we remain genuine and act with integrity towards each other and our customers.
  3. Simplicity – Simplicity means being straightforward, clear and focussed in all we do in the workplace.
  4. Focus on the Customer – We demonstrate value by listening, collaborating and delivering personalised and innovative solutions to enable shared success.
  5. Accountability – We each own our results and feel empowered and trusted to deliver required outcomes for us and our customers.
  6. Purposeful – We are passionate and driven to deliver with purpose for our customers and ourself.
  7. Learning – We are empowered through learning to continually develop insight and knowledge to add value to our customers.

Written like this they seem fairly reasonable and like values most good corporate citizens would want to get behind and support but when put into place would most corporations actually live up to and follow their own core values. Maybe from the outside looking in, they are and when speaking to clients it will look like the values are followed and supported but that is often far from the truth. Big corporates are in the business of making money. As such they will say and do whatever they can to win your business. They will paint you a picture of a wholesome, supportive, inclusive organisation that has equality at the forefront of everything they do for you and your company. The sad truth though, behind that mask is a different beast who’s greed doesn’t align with their values at all. The values above start to look a little like this:

  1. Trust – Building a trusting environment through being open, honest and transparent with each other. People will tell you that Trust is earnt and not given which we completely agree with however we do feel tenure and revenue generation should be taken into account when trusting your staff to do their jobs autonomously and with empowerment. Communicating openly with your staff at all levels is a sign of trust, empowering your staff is a sign of trust and doing what you say is a sign of trust. All things that are often overlooked by big corporate.
  2. Respect – Through showing respect, we remain genuine and act with integrity towards each other and our customers. Respect like trust is earnt and the harder you work, the more you give, the more you should be respected in an organisation. Unfortunately that is not always the case. Respect in Multi-million dollar corporation often hangs on the price tag of your suit or the amount of money you make for the company in question. The more you make the more you are respected until you aren’t because you choose to speak up or think outside the corporate box.Your ideas may not gel with the big wigs and their thoughts about the bottom line.
  3. Simplicity – Simplicity means being straightforward, clear and focussed in all we do in the workplace. In order for things to be simple it requires respect, trust and communicating with staff and clients, when we don’t do this, things tend to become rather convoluted and far from simplistic. People lose focus, nothing is ever clear and the workplace becomes an environment in which people do not thrive.
  4. Focus on the Customer – We demonstrate value by listening, collaborating and delivering personalised and innovative solutions to enable shared success. This is often overlooked by big corporations as they see value in doing what is going to make them the most money, not what is in the clients best interests. As long as they are making us money and decent margin there will be little collaborating and personalisation until it comes time to negotiate an extension to the contract..
  5. Accountability – We each own our results and feel empowered and trusted to deliver required outcomes for us and our customers. Owning your results would mean being empowered and you might have started to see a pattern here? All your values whether they are in the workplace or personal are interlinked. Organisations need to be trusting of their staff to empower them and allow them to become accountable.
  6. Purposeful – We are passionate and driven to deliver with purpose for our customers and ourself. While this should be the crux of delivery to all clients across all industries the all mighty dollar tends to drive whether or not a company is passionate about the delivery and purpose of said delivery to a client.
  7. Learning – We are empowered through learning to continually develop insight and knowledge to add value to our customers. Linked to all of the above and the fact that we are continually learn throughout our lives it saddens us when organisations are only willing to invest in their staff and empower them as long as they can see the dollar signs flying back at them in the short term. We are all responsible for our own learning however working for a multimillion dollar corporation they should be putting in place learning and development plans for all of their staff no matter what level they are within the organisation. As they say you have to spend money to make money.

Unfortunately it’s not just Corporation A who have values and seem to only follow them when they are trying to sell themselves. There are those people who will continually pay lip service to their own values as they feel that they are what society wants them to value and show in their lives. It’s those people who often tend to also fit somewhere on the narcissistic scale and always have an excuse or someone to blame as to why they are the way they are. But enough about people and companies disregarding their values. You are the Captain of your ship and master of your soul so it is on you to decide what’s right for you in terms of your goals, values and morals. They’ll influence each other but at the end of the day you are responsible for you and you make the decisions that set you on the path you are now headed down. The next step is the right step, value yourself and chase those dreams.

Well that will just about do it for another week and our return to regular broadcasting. We are back and now settled amongst the politicians, fireworks, porn and now weed. Canberra the place where all things illegal become legal at some point after all the biggest hypocrites always tend to be the people running a country. Don’t forget if there is a topic you’d love to see us cover you can leave a comment of contact us via the contact page. We’ll make it special and give you a shout out for doing so and it’ll be given that Mind of Its Own attention and detail. So for another week we bid you a fond farewell and good tidings, speaking of Christmas is fast approaching and the multi million dollar consumer industry is already pumping out the hype and decorations. Adios Amigos…

Things We Lost In the Fire…

After last weeks foray into self-help books and people not being able to be themselves or needing to wear a mask to the world. We thought we’d dive a little deeper into the study of evolutionary anthropology and look at one of only a handful of men who have a number named after him. Once we’ve done all that we’ll attempt to make light of why we struggle when presented with so much choice and why our choices often lead to what is more commonly known as the ‘fear of missing out’ or as the kids tend to say these days FOMO. So as we kick of another week of A Mind of Its Own we welcome old friends and new friends alike to yet another addition of Australia’s favourite blog. The country just doesn’t know it yet…

Being a topic that has piqued our interest us for quite some time now we thought it was only prudent that we lend our hand to spreading the message that is the study of evolutionary anthropology and psychology. It’s only fitting that we start with the man that introduced us to some of the studies that captured our imagination. It was Mark Manson who pointed out Professor Robin Dunbar and his now famous number in a talk he gave about his most recent self help book ‘Everything is F#cked’ at the Brisbane Powerhouse. The team attended as part of our exploration into the self help world and it’s so called gurus. (See previous blog for more context around the topic). So who is Robin Dunbar?, What is the Dunbar number and how did he come up with it? All will be revealed below along with some of our own observations, calculations and salutations.

Robin Ian McDonald Dunbar, born 28th of June 1947, for those that are into Astrology he’s a cancer, yep a crab. The man hails from our motherland, yes England and we wonder whether he’s ever thrown out the convict title when referring to all of us in the land down under. An anthropologist and evolutionary psychologist by trade he specialises in primate behaviour. However when asked what his research is all about Professor Dunbar usually responds with the following. He’s written multiple books on psychology, evolution, anthropology as well as scientific and research journals. Been interviewed on several occasions regarding the Dunbar number as well as had several people try to disprove his theory only to come back to the magic number around 150.

“My research is concerned with trying to understand the behavioural, cognitive and neuroendocrinological mechanisms that underpin social bonding in primates (in general) and humans (in particular). Understanding these mechanisms, and the functions that relationships serve, will give us insights on how humans have managed to create large scale societies using a form of psychological that is evolutionarily adapted to very small scale societies, and why these mechanisms are less than perfect in the modern world. This has implications for the design of social networking sites as well as mobile technology. We use conventional behavioural and cognitive experimental approaches, combined with network analysis, agent based modelling, comparative studies of primate brain evolution, neuroimaging and neuroendocrinology to explore explicit and implicit processes at both the dyadic and the group level. An important feature of our behavioural studies has been the constraints that time places on an individual’s ability to manage their relationships, and the cognitive tricks used to overcome these”.

So how did he come up with the Dunbar number and what is it? There is a complex answer and a simple answer to what is the Dunbar number and if you read on we’ll explain how Professor Dunbar came up with it. But First things first. The Dunbar number, what is it? It is the number of people you can have a relationship with involving trust and obligation. There is some personal history and not just names and faces. That’s the simple answer, the more complex answer goes a little something like this. The way our social world is constructed is part and parcel of our biological inheritance. Together with apes and monkeys, we form part of the primate family. Within that family there is a general relationship between the size of the brain and the size of the social group. We fit within a pattern. There are social circles beyond it and layers within it but there is a natural grouping that averages around 150. The Dunbar number is actually a series of them. The best known, a hundred and fifty, is the number of people we call casual friends—the people, say, you’d invite to a large party. (In reality, it’s a range: a hundred at the low end and two hundred for the more social of us.)

From there, through qualitative interviews coupled with analysis of experimental and survey data, Dunbar discovered that the number grows and decreases according to a precise formula, roughly a “rule of three.” The next step down, fifty, is the number of people we call close friends—perhaps the people you’d invite to a group dinner. You see them often, but not so much that you consider them to be true intimates. Then there’s the circle of fifteen: the friends that you can turn to for sympathy when you need it, the ones you can confide in about most things. The most intimate Dunbar number, five, is your close support group. These are your best friends (and often family members). On the flipside, groups can extend to five hundred, the acquaintance level, and to fifteen hundred, the absolute limit—the people for whom you can put a name to a face. While the group sizes are relatively stable, their composition can be fluid. Your five today may not be your five next week; people drift among layers and sometimes fall out of them altogether.

Firstly, it’s a little confusing as there is no specific number actually assigned as the ‘Dunbar number’, as previously stated above however 150 is a common number which is associated and the answer as to why will become more apparent as we explain how Professor Dunbar came across his numbering during a study. As to how the study came about well thanks to our cousins in the animal kingdom. Yes primates, whilst working on why primates spend so much time grooming each other he wanted to test a hypothesis that says primates have big brains and the reason why is because they live in a complex social world. Grooming being social, he hypothesised that all these things should be able to be mapped together. He started plotting brain size, group size and grooming time against one another in which he came out with a nice set of relationships.

According to the good professor, he had a light bulb moment rather early one morning around 3am where he wondered what would happen if he plugged humans into the study. After doing so he got a number of 150 connections, on first glance it looked implausibly small given that most people now live in cities. It turns out the number was the typical size of hunter gatherer societies. It was also the average size of a village in the Domesday Book (A manuscript record of the “Great Survey” conducted in much of England and parts of Wales in 1086 by order of King William The Conqueror).

The number turns out to be much the same when you have better data available. An example of this is parish registers in the 18th century. County by county the average village size was once again 150, except for Kent which was 100. Professor Dunbar has no idea why it is smaller but hypothesized that perhaps there was a higher density of people with bigger brains in Kent throughout the 18th century. Unfortunately the records available can not prove or disprove this theory. A quick google search though did tell us that the population in England exploded throughout the 18th century which is contrary to the Dunbar number and the parish records that state the average size of the village was 100 people.

The professor further hypothesized that the number most likely dates back to the appearance of anatomically modern humans around 250,000 years ago and by going back in time and estimating brain size we can see community sizes on the decline. Through evolutionary strategy we evolved and adapted as a social species. Most animal species aren’t as intensely social as humans, apes and monkeys. They tend to pair up and mate for life unlike primates, who whilst they tend to mate monogamously it’s not always for life or the same partner. We guess the lesson behind that is there is something computationally demanding about maintaining close relationships over a very long period of time as we all know.

Ok so when we started out on this little exploration into the Dunbar Number we were under the assumption that it was a number based on connections you could have in your life, which is correct but we being the A Mind of Its Own team thought it was a little simpler than it has turned out to be. Like most topics we tackle it’s just raising more and more questions but slowly the pieces of the puzzle are coming together to create the picture. So before we wrap it up for another week, we’ll answer two more burning questions and for once try to tie it all together in a nice neat bow for you, rather than leaving it ambiguous and unfinished as we’ve so often done.

The first of the final two questions is can we grow the Dunbar Number? Again there is a simple answer and complicated answer. In modern times we are caught in a somewhat of a bind as community sizes were designed for hunter-gatherer type societies, when people weren’t living on top of one another. Days gone by your 150 would be scattered over a wide area but everyone shared the same 150. It made for a dense interconnected community that policed itself. You didn’t need lawyers and policemen. If you stepped out of line you more than likely had granny to answer to. For the last twenty-two years, Dunbar has been “unpacking and exploring” what that number actually means—and whether our ever-expanding social networks have done anything to change it.

The problem we face is the sheer density of people, it stretches our networks rather than keeping them compact. Most people will have friends scattered around the world who don’t know one another. This in turn means we no longer have interwoven networks, therefore leading to less well integrated societies. So the question now becomes how do we recreate that old sense of community. That’s a social engineers problem that needs to be worked around. The alternative is that we evolve bigger brains, they’d have to be much bigger and that would take a long time.

The second of our final two questions actually started out our interest in all this and we have written about technology and whether it has killed off social interaction on several occasions in the past. What role does the internet and social media play in the Dunbar Number? Like an onion there are multiple layers to this question. Can you have meaningful relationships online with the old number of 150? Well the answer is yes according to Professor Dunbar. Using the example of Twitter, we can find out what you had for breakfast from a mere tweet. Can we really get to know one another better though? Digital developments have helped us to keep in touch when in the past a relationship might have died through distance of various other circumstances, however due to our biology in the end we actually have to get together to make a relationship work.

As humans we still rely heavily on touch and as hard as the crazy science guys have tried we still have worked out how to do virtual touch, perhaps when we cracked that big nut it may lead to a true Dunbar Number? The last and final piece to our puzzle is where does choice come into all of this? Living in an interconnected world we have an abundance of choice at our fingertips. We have everything we could possibly need at the palm of our hands. Every aspect of our lives can be managed from a device and for every aspect there are multiple choices. If we look at social media and the amount of connections people have on average, most people would say they have more than the average Dunbar Number. Most of the A Mind of its Own team certainly have more than 150 followers or are following 150 people whether it be Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or any of the other social media platforms.

Ask yourself this question though, out of all those people who you follow or are following, how many of those people do you truly trust and feel an obligation towards to maintain your friendship. We can guarantee you that number won’t match the number you follow or thought. You may be able to arrange them into the various patterns of Dunbar Numbers but there will be some that float in between groups. So here’s our take on the whole Dunbar Number, the internet why the world is so ridiculously F#cked at present. Whilst many people will blame social media it was the internet that ruined the world. We (Humanbeings) thought that by providing each other with as much information as possible at our fingertips the truth would float to the top. That’s not the case our brains aren’t developed or evolved enough, if you will to compute that amount of data and work out whats fact from fiction.

The internet has provided us with freedom of choice when it comes to deciding what’s truth and what is a lie. The fact our thinking brain and feeling brain can’t make an educated decision due to the amount of data available has led us down the garden path in more ways than one. Unsubstantiated facts have have become the truth for many around the world as their feeling brains take over and that fact whilst not having any truth or in most cases science behind it, it now becomes their truth and the knock on effect is that each time they relay that fact if becomes more and more the truth they believe. Give someone too many choices whether it be selecting one festival to attend out of all them across a year, you are guaranteed that person will have some from of regret or FOMO.

In societal aspects this can be related to dating and the rise of online dating platforms like Tinder, Bumble, Hinge, Plenty of Fish and eHarmony. The fact that divorce is on the rise, polygamy and polyamory are now both acceptable in society leads one to believe we now have too much choice when it comes to finding a mate. In a society of swiping left and right, we no longer base our connections on more than just looks and are we truly getting to know people? An example of this are the boys and girls who are seeing multiple people at once as they can’t decide on just one person through fear of missing out that someone better might come along. Again we have too much choice and aren’t making the strong connections we would have made back in the day before we lived in an interconnected world. In relation to Dunbars numbers a lot of these people would start in the acquaintance group and depending on whether a relationship developed or not they could move up or out of the larger number.

On an even deeper level, there may be a physiological aspect of friendship that virtual connections can never replace.

So as we gift wrap this latest blog for you we can sum it up by saying, the internet killed the world and gave rise to anti-vaxxers, flat earthers and a lot of the internet’s other whack jobs. It’s responsible for providing a platform or soapbox to every man and its dog to play their violin and whinge their woe is me story. Or spew their hateful rhetoric across the internet. Whilst we are more interconnected than ever, we are not as interwoven as we have been throughout history and therefore our Dunbar Numbers stay relatively the same. Social media and internet dating sites and applications have given us too much choice and therefore we are not happy with the choices we are making. People no longer try to work things out due to this and sexually transmitted infections, apparently people didn’t like catching a disease are on the rise in 1st world countries. So all in all as Mark Manson put it, “Everything is Fucked” until next week do some thinking and work out who your 5 are. We know ours.

“Words are slippery, a touch is worth a 1,000 words any day”.

This Celluloid Dream…

Where is the line? A question often asked and yet never answered. Personally most people know where and when to draw a line in the sand and say enough is enough. But when it comes to matters that have potentially political ramifications we often have no idea where to draw that said line and say we’ve gone way too far. Recent international events have people up in arms over all sorts of issues that may or may not really have any impact of effect upon their lives. We’ve spoken about victimhood chic in a previous blog but it’s in times of tragedy, loss and of pure evil that we see it come out more and more. Fingers are pointed and everyone has someone or something to blame for the event or issue. With the evolution of the internet we have given a platform or soapbox for everyone with access to a computer or smartphone.

Despite all of that we’ve somewhat had a change of heart, well more a change in topic that we are way more interested in. Well maybe not so much interested but more peaked our interest in the premise behind it. We’ve never been forwards and going backwards here at a Mind of Its Own. We are a bunch of geeks, we love sports, we love comics, we love video games and we love books. After all knowledge is power and who is to say that a comic or graphic novel can’t provide you with information? There is something to be said for fiction that is based around a premise that potentially could become real at some point in time. One of the biggest things about providing something to the masses whether it be a book, video game or other source of media is its ability to appeal and the more likely that it could become real the more it tends to sell.

By now you’re once again asking where the hell we are going with this weeks blog. How outside the box is it going to be and what crazy theme if any will the bunch of clowns hiding behind their keyboards like chairborne commando ready to take Normandy give us? Well we are glad you asked because yeah there is some cray, cray as the kids say in this week’s edition of the nation’s number one outside the box, thinking blog. We aren’t just saying that for shits and giggles. As we dive down this weeks rabbit hole it had us asking some serious questions about what we’d do if the following events ever became reality. In some ways it pays to be a poor writer. Read on to see what we mean by that as this weeks piece come to life thanks to the brains in the office of craze, the wonder writers at a mind of its own blog. Coming soon to internet compatible device near you. (Yep shameless plug!)

As we stated before the team here are a little on the geeky side, we find beauty and creativity in things like comics and video games that some people would look at and go that’s a little childish. To each their own we say. The premise of this weeks blog comes from the story sitting behind a video game franchise. Despite the beautiful open world game that allows the player to explore the city they are in while completing missions. Behind the beautiful graphics and three-dimensional rendering there is a story that would have a massive impact on the world’s population if it were ever to come true. Ladies and Gentlemen we are talking about Tom Clancy’s the Division. Yes for those asking it is the guy that writes books. He’s had a few books adapted into video games and a few games that will adapted into books and movies.

To get to the crux of the story we first need to look at the condition of the world as it currently is. If we were to swear we could sum it up in one word but as it is every week this is a family friendly blog. Where to start is a good question, some people believe that we are overpopulating the world. We aren’t saying they are wrong or right but as our population grows so too does the demand for resources. Put simply our prediction is that future wars will be fought over fresh water and food sources rather than oil, land or religion. In calculation models prepared by the United Nations we are predicted to grow from 7.71 Billion people in 2019 to 9.7 billion people by 2050 and further increasing to 11.2 billion by the end of the century. Some of you are probably sitting there thinking that’s not a lot of people however you need to think outside the box for a second and what that increase could potentially mean.

In order to ensure their survival certain countries could take population control into their own hands. We’ve seen version of it in China through their one child policy or the holocaust during world war two as Hitler tried to exterminate the Jewish as part of his new world order in which the Aryan race was the only pure blood line. Population control has always been a concern for the worlds governing bodies and yes it sounds like a super villain from a Bond film is going to step into the limelight and ensure population numbers are controlled through some heinous crime but in reality that’s pretty much all it would take, one person or a group of people taking matters into their own hands to cause a worldwide problem that we may not recover from. There are no doubt those out there that will say we ruined the earth so we deserve whatever we get however our children and our children’s children did not have anything to do with crimes we’ve committed against the earth.

Let’s start with the story behind the hit game series Tom Clancy’s The Division and you’ll start to get a feel for where we are going with this weeks blog. Black Friday is the busiest shopping day on the American calendar and fastly spreading around the world as a day of sales where shops can clear out old stock before Christmas. The one thing all countries have in common is money and when it comes to sales there is always plenty of it around. If you wanted to control population what better way to do so than spread a virus amongst money to be circulated in the worlds largest day of sales. This is the premise that the Division is based on. A professor creates a smallpox like super virus that not only incubates faster but also spreads and takes effect quicker. The super virus is created with six separate pathogens: Dengue, Ebola, H1N1, Hantavirus, Marburg and Swine Flu.

As with all viruses it rapidly mutates making it highly difficult for conventional drugs or antibodies to identify and exterminate the virus. It also makes it extremely difficult for virologists to create a proper vaccine against the disease. Through distributing the virus via infected bills during Black Friday sales it ensure a rapid spread of the highly infectious disease. Initial symptoms of the virus display as new strain of flu that is extremely contagious and spreads rapidly. Given the premise of the game is for you to help a virologist find samples of the virus while fighting off factions of criminals, military, law enforcement and military contractors who have turned outlaws and are trying to wrestle control of the city from you and the other members of a joint task force you start to see the knock on effects of population control. Two words…

Civil unrest… They say the first rule of treating a virus is containment. Anyone that shows signs of the virus goes into isolation or quarantine as it’s better known when referring to infectious diseases. In the case of our man-made super virus what better way to contain it than section off part of the city and shove all the sick, dying and symptomatic people in there to fight it out over the little supplies dropped in each week. We’ll build some walls perhaps we’ll use Trump’s Mexican wall contractors. Outside that wall we’ll have guarded checkpoints manned by healthy or immune military or law enforcement. No one gets out and really who in their right mind would want to go in? Oh us as we hunt for clues on how to stop the virus and fight all the factions trying to take over the city that’s who’s stupid enough to go into the contamination zone or Dark Zone as it’s referred to in the game.

It’s at this point we start to realise that it wouldn’t take a huge stretch of the imagination for us to actually see this type of thing in the real world. Poisoned water supplies, food, air-conditioned offices, money. Basically anything touched by another human being could be a potential place for some crackpot scientist or world leader who seeks to cement their place at the top of the new world order to contaminate with a virus and watch it spread. Heck the TV show the Last Ship is pretty much based around a virus that decimates the world’s population and trying to not only survive but find a cure. There have been plenty of examples throughout history where biological agents or warfare have been used by armies. It might be a little stretch to say by an individual hell-bent on world domination but then again we’ve had some rather disgusting people throughout history who thought they could create a better world or were that dilussional that they thought they knew what was best and should rule all humanity. See what absolute power does kids, it goes to people’s heads, that’s why we have checks and balances on our governments. No one wants to live under a dictator. For all that’s wrong with democracy it’s doing a lot of things right.

The fact that the United States Government has simulated and war game this type of outbreak is a little scary to say the least. The code name giving to the mock bio-terror attack was also a little on the bleak side. In June of 2001 the United States carried out a mock attack of weaponized smallpox code-named Operation Dark Winter. While the operation was designed to create preventative measures against such an attack it also outlined just how inadequate the national services response would be to such an attack. With a localised attack on one city the mock attack showed just how quickly events could spiral out of control. Concerns of such an attack would spark pandemonium in the communities and in all likelihood spread quickly through continental United States rapidly. The sheer logistics required to contain a virus had the team somewhat mesmerised thinking about all the things you’d need to do. The transportation industry would grind to a halt, travel industry, well as we think about it most of the industries would stop while medical and law enforcement attempt to get containment protocols in place.

Here in Australia I don’t think we would even be prepared to contemplate such an attack or outbreak let alone contain it and start the search for a cure. If there is a government contingency for such an attack or outbreak unlike our American friends it’s not broadcast to all and sundry. All hell would break loose we’d have the Cronulla riots times ten. Imagine all the Southern Cross tattoos that would come out then. Heck you’d see more bogans than usual looting the local chemist. We are an isolated country yes but we are also allies with the world’s most hated country and we aren’t doing ourselves any favours by letting Jim Henson’s creations govern our great land. The fact that we’ve sat and not only thought about it but contemplated what would or could happen in the event of a virus, man-made or otherwise is a little concerning. It shows we are in a great time of uncertainty in the world.

It also has the team thinking that great Minds being the Division might be onto something and we as Australians should be training up a batch of sleeper Agents to be activated in times of emergency to bring peace and order to our great nation because let’s be honest without order there is chaos and chaos uncontrolled is just pure mayhem waiting for someone to come along and organise it. So why not have a group of dedicated individuals both men and women with the skills to rebuild a nation hidden away for when you need them. Or for when our neighbours to the north finally decide to invade after they bought up most of our land and primary industry. A little like a resistance against the anarchy and chaos that would no doubt ensue after a virus wiped out half the population. Heck our hospitals are already bad enough can you even imagine the trouble and outbreak would cause for the Australian Health system. Safe to say the last thing we are prepared for is a major viral outbreak man-made or not.

As you can see ladies and gentlemen whilst the premise of the video game might be fictional it doesn’t take much of an imagination to see the real world application for the use of a man-made virus to control the world’s population or take over another country through biological warfare. There is a big fear the next war will be nuclear but in our eyes it’s the things you don’t see that you really should be watching out for. With Man’s incessant need to mettle, manipulate and tinker with everything in an attempt to make it better or perfect we have created some absolutely horrific viruses or weaponised strains of viruses that occur naturally in nature. We are in a sense our own worst enemies. Only humans have the ability to create death and destruction in a vial all in an attempt to get the upper hand over each other. Safe to say we are somewhat always attempting to wipe ourselves off the face of the earth through our own attempts to discover, to learn, to be better, you could say we found a way to tie in our opening paragraph. Where is the line and where do we draw said line when it comes to trying to play god.

While we pray to the heavens or in our case a thunder-cloud as the rain engulfs the house we are currently writing from as we don’t believe in God or religion. Again each to their own, we certainly hope that this all stays fiction and no one tries to control the world by releasing a deadly pathogen. We are certainly thinking all those crazy preppers around the world might be onto something. Perhaps we should build a mind of its own shelter, an inner sanctum in which we can continue to spread the word on all things no one else wants to. But in saying that the internet might be down. Maybe investing in an old print machine might be an idea. We could make paper out of hemp this time instead of cutting down trees.

Who would have thought a guy running around in a flannelette shirt, pants and some hiking boots

Until next week we’re going to wander off into the waste land that has become Washington D.C and attempt to restore some order to the good ole US of A and cure a virus. Hopefully we won’t have to fight a super Oompa Loompa who’s looking to build walls around things and makes saying China sound more like Vagina. Although in saying that his Space Force isn’t ready so it is a fight that we might win beside our fellow agents at the Strategic Homeland Division (SHD) or simple The Division. Adios amigos and stay tuned we’ll continue releasing a new edition each and every Friday just in time for your weekend incase you get bored, sick or stuck on public transport.