What Biologists Should Know, But Don’t

C. A. Hilgartner


I have worked out a general theory of biology. It not only offers an operational model for what living organisms do—what protocol they follow—to remain living-and-growing in the biosphere for entire life-spans, but also parsimoniously answers several other fundamental biological questions, e.g., concerning how living organisms arose on Planet Earth, how they developed such astonishing diversity, etc.

Expand to read full abstract

It offers an “organizing principle” for the planetary biosphere. It shows in principle how so-called “genetically modified organisms” fit, and/or fail to fit, into the biosphere. Humans belonging to the currently dominant world culture have never had a logically-and-empirically satisfactory theory concerning how living organisms function in their environments. Consequently, they make so many survival-errors that they threaten to destroy all living organisms on Planet Earth.

Keywords: diversity, ecology, GMOs, living, origin of life, theory of biology, uncertainty

Table of Contents: More Info:

  • Published :
  • Written:
  • Last updated:

Continue reading or download pdf

1. Introduction

I present here a different way of engaging in biological discourse. Today, I will use it to show that I have developed a principled way of viewing, and dealing with, so-called GMOs or genetically modified organisms.

Most Western scientists learn to accept a number of excuses for the life-sciences. The act of accepting these excuses has the effect of blinding the student to flaws of theory which, to someone looking more closely, might provide grounds for judging the theory as disconfirmed. Small wonder, then, that over most of the history of modern science, workers have regarded the biological and human psycho-social sciences as less worthy of esteem than the physical and mathematical sciences. Even we life-scientists ourselves have held our own disciplines as lacking in rigor. Our theories, “inadequate” at best (as we freely acknowledge), do not readily yield testable predictions, nor do they lend themselves to mathematical development. Our theories do account for some observations, but usually not the ones the investigator finds most interesting. Yet, most say, these “inadequate” theories seem so promising that we don’t dare abandon them. So—we don’t.

Meanwhile, over the past century or so, biologists have mostly focused on areas of study more “promising” than recognizing, and dealing with, the intractability of biological theory and their own “blind spots” on that topic. In so doing, most have made themselves into sub-specialty chemists and physicists—experts on the non-living. They have accumulated whole mountain-ranges of observations concerning the part-events which occur in fragments of once-living organisms. But Western biologists still have no coherent theory. We need an articulated collection of presuppositions or premises which, by explicit rules of inference, deliver constructs that survive both logical and empirical scrutiny. We need theory that satisfies the criteria as ‘maps’ similar in structuring to the ‘territory’ composed of the behaving-and-experiencing of ourselves-and-other-living-organisms. Such a theory would not only connect the various high points of current biological findings, but would also give guidance concerning how we, the members ofthe currently dominant world culture,might stop ourselves from rendering our planet less and less habitable.

In the process of studying human behavior from my non-standard viewpoint, I have elaborated an alternative frame of reference, rigorously based on the non-aristotelian premises proposed by Alfred Korzybski (1879-1950), tested by set theory analysis (Hilgartner & Randolph, 1969abcd) and also by my non-standard notation. Succinctly stated, these premises consist of three undefined terms (structure, order, and relations) and three postulates:

Non-identity: The word is not the thing it stands for; the ‘map’ is not the ‘territory’ it allegedly refers to or represents.

Non-allness: No ‘map’ includes representations of all of the ‘territory’.

Self-reflexiveness: Any ‘map’ includes some kind of representation of itself; or alternatively stated, any ‘map’ includes some kind of representation of the ‘map’-maker. (Modified from Korzybski, 1941)

Anyone who relies on these premises accepts Korzybski’s central inference: that the con-struct of identity (the notion of “absolute sameness in all respects”) cannot survive scrutiny. It appears valid under no circumstances whatsoever in a ‘universe’ that has living organisms, including humans, in it.

For use in my alternative frame of reference, I posit a novel setting, which I characterize in English with a run-on phrase: one-particular-organism-taken-as-a-whole-dealing-with-its-environment-at-a-date, as viewed by a designated observer, who subscribes to the non-aristotelian premises.

This frame of reference includes a general theory of biology. Among other topics, this biological theory accounts for the “internal” inter-connectedness of living organisms, and the “external” inter-connectedness of different organisms with others of their own kinds and with the other species, genera, orders, phyla, kingdoms of living organisms.

Allow me to tell you some of the other things I’ve figured out.

2. The Domain of Biology

As the anthropological linguist Benjamin Lee Whorf (1897-1941) points out, “What we call “scientific thought” is a specialization of the western Indo-European type of language….” (Whorf, 1956, 246). To me, that means that the whole gamut of “disciplines” utilizes versions of the WIE grammar, and so each includes among its premises that untenable assumption which I name as relying on identity as a valid construct. In learning her/his discipline(s), each student learns also to subscribe to the relevant vitiating excuses.

For workers who subscribe to one or another of the WIE frames of reference, the world has a split down the middle. On one side of this ‘unbridgeable gap’ there “exists” ‘matter’, traditionally regarded as lifeless and inert; on the other, some ‘immaterial’ ‘entity’, variously called ‘soul’, ‘spirit’, ‘mind’, etc. A living organism, then, arises when magic, or the inter-vention of a god, or some other happening sufficient to ‘break the rules’, enables ‘soul’ to cross the ‘unbridgeable gap’, and animate the non-living ‘matter’ which makes up the ‘body’ of the organism. Death occurs when ‘soul’ leaves the ‘body’. Aristotle (384-322 BCE), “papered over” his belief in the teleos (a minor deity) by introducing a vocabulary of teleological terms (noun-forms), e.g. adaptation, coordination, integration, regulation, etc.

Biologists “naturally” use the WIE grammar to define their specialty, by relying on noun-forms such as life (or gerunds such as living): “Biology, the Science of Life”. They use the noun life to designate that ‘thing’ that all living organisms “have” in common: the “attributes” which manifest presence of ‘soul’, which they ‘characterize’ by writing a list of other noun-forms: digestion, excretion, growth, ingestion, irritability, locomotion, reproduction, respiration, etc.

Eventually, the constructs of magic or of the intervention of a god ceased to convince workers who considered themselves scientists. Still, no one has found a way to replace those assumptions with alternatives. In the 20th Century, when workers encountered “borderline cases” which lacked one or more of the “attributes” of life—crystallizable viruses, mammalian red blood cells, blood platelets, etc., they could not answer questions such as, “Are they alive?”

In 1937, a virologist, Norman Wingate Pirie (1907-1997) proposed that biologists reject the terms life and living as intrinsically “meaningless in biology”. After ten or fifteen years of discussing this proposal, biologists reached a consensus—they agreed with Pirie. This agreeing tacitly destroyed the accepted means of drawing the boundaries of the domain of biology. By subscribing to this consensus, they rendered themselves incapable of saying anything principled on the topic of life, living organisms, ecology and the biosphere, survival, even on the topic of principled ways of specifying how to assign terms such as living, dead, and non-living.

In 1950, the anatomist and cyberneticist Gerd Sommerhoff (1915-2002) proposed a way of discussing what living organisms do rather than what they ‘are’ or what attributes they “have”. I give his contribution a central role in the alternative frame of reference. I have replaced some of Sommerhoff’s neologisms with simpler terms. Thus I posit a pair of terms, ‘initial conditions’ (in italics and with single quotes) and goal (in italics), between which I posit a strict logical relation. ‘Initial conditions’ signifies a grouping of actually occurring or possible “disturbances” within the setting presented above. Within this setting, when something affects (disturbs or arouses) an-organism-and-its-environment, that initiates an apparently-purposive sequence. The logically related construct of goal—a portion (or “subset”) of the construct of “outcome”—gives the criterion for an outcome within this setting which appears ‘favorable’ from the point of view of the organism. I regard ‘initial conditions’ and goal as polar to each other, since neither could “exist” or “occur” within this setting without the real or imagined presence of the other. The interplay between the responses of organism and of environment to these ‘initial conditions’ leads eventually to an “outcome” of the encounter. This may satisfy the goal, the criterion for ‘favorable’ from the point of view of the organism. The formal ‘map’ I use to designate this concerted, apparently-purposive sequence (altered from Sommerhoff to conform to the non-aristotelian premises) I designate by the verb-form directively correlated.


3. A ‘General Theory of Biology’


I choose to conduct this inquiry from the standpoint of a frame of reference that presupposes the setting stated above. For simplicity, I distinguish between two logical roles (namely, between “the organism specified as under scrutiny”, as opposed to “our designated observer”), while discarding any pretense of implying gender, I appropriate the personal pronouns, he and she, in all their inflectional forms. Thus, without implying gender, I use he, him, his, etc., to point to “the organism under scrutiny”, and again, without implying gender, use she, her, hers, etc., to point to “our designated observer”.

In the view of our designated observer (in other words, from the perspective of anyone who adopts the theory I here present):

a. No organism has or can have certainty concerning exactly what will happen next. In other words, organisms on Planet Earth (the only organisms we have actually observed, to date) live under conditions of radical uncertainty.

b. To say that a (multi-cellular) organism lives means that he abstracts—his various sensory receptors, his past experiencing, etc., function together to generate guesses—some kind of ‘maps’ of that ‘territory’ composed of what goes on in and around our specified organism.

c. These include survival-oriented guesses. The organism must figure out just what he must obtain to remain living; how to obtain it; how to avoid getting injured or killed; etc.

d. Then he acts on his guesses—uses his ‘maps’ for guidance, in the process testing them. At the outcome of the encounter, if he survives he may have opportunities to judge his starting-’maps’ against how things actually turned out.

(1) In some situations, if the starting-’maps’ get disconfirmed, the organism dies then-there.

(2) If the starting-’maps’ appear disconfrmed to some degree, but the organism remains living and (perhaps) uninjured, he may have opportunities to revise, or reject and replace, the discredited ‘map’, to guess again concerning what he ‘needs’, and to try again to obtain that which will satisfy his ‘needs’.

(3) If the starting-’maps’ appear not-disconfirmed, the organism, with the expectations derived from that successful transacting firmly in place, proceeds on to the next pressing situation. (Transacting: an interchanging that leaves both sides fundamentally altered.)

The pattern I present here resembles the way some logicians of science describe a self-correcting system. So I summarize by saying: Organisms on Planet Earth survive in the biosphere by self-correcting.

In order to remain living, then, non-human organisms-in-their-environments abstract non-verbally. Similarly, in order to remain living, human organisms-in-their-environments abstract both non-verbally and verbally. Such abstracting usually starts on non-verbal levels, and may then get verbalized. I may use the term (to) assume to designate specifically-human abstracting.

4. Some key questions

Background: Those who study the fossil record and other kinds of evidence agree that morphological hominids have existed on the planet for at least 3 million years, and specimens of Homo sapiens for some 300-400,000 years. One recent writer (Wells, 2002, chapters 2 & 3), a former student of both Lewontin of Harvard and Cavelli-Sforza of Berkeley, considers the first Homo sapiens sapiens to have lived around 150,000 years ago.

Key question 1: Prior to the origin of the currently dominant world culture, some 11,000 years ago, what did our ancestors do (and what did they not do) that (a) kept them, as individuals-within-a-healthy-biosphere, living-and-growing from one moment to the next for whole lifespans, and (b) enabled them, as evolving-species-in-their-environments, to survive for geological eras?

Key question 2: What do non-human organisms-in-the-biosphere do that keeps them, as individuals, living-and-growing each for its own lifespan, and as species, evolving-over-geological-eras?

Answer to both in summary: Non-human organisms-in-situ, and the early humans-in-situ, kept themselves alive in the biosphere by self-correcting.


The topic of self-correcting covers only half the story for humans.

a. Because humans use and rely on languaging, and therefore make assumptions based on the presuppositions encoded in the language, they can take the stance, “I don’t make any guesses—I know how things really ‘are’, completely and accurately.”

b. If and when the outcome violates my intentions or expectations—(allegedly) not having made any guesses, I do not revise, or reject-and-replace, any guesses.

c. Instead, I depart from the unsatisfactory situation still clinging to the starting-guesses I held when I entered it, even though I now have evidence that they don’t work. As I depart, I probably make some excuse: “It’s my fault!” or “It’s your fault!” or “It’s its fault!”, etc.

To contrast this pattern against the one I call self-correcting, I designate this pattern as self-defending. Such patterned behaving-and-experiencing does not protect the integrity of the organism’s skin, nor of the organism’s healthy ‘feelings’, nor of his mutually-supportive inter-personal relations—this pattern defends only the organism’s starting-guesses, his premises.

As a pattern, self-defending appears unique to humans. Only humans can defend their assumptions, against all evidence. A human organism engaging in self-defending generates ‘maps’ not similar in structuring to the relevant ‘territory’, and so blocks her/his ability to predict the consequences of her/his own activities, and those of the activities of other organisms, human or non-human. In theoretical terms, her/his formal and/or informal theories of human behaving-and-experiencing, and her/his theories of biology don’t work—don’t do what we count on theories to do. Consequently, when and where s/he relies on her/his invalid theories, s/he ends up making survival-errors. Biologists, unawarely utilizing this pattern, have kept themselves stuck in a medieval structuring of theory.


Since the beginnings of the currently dominant world culture, some 11,000 years ago, the ancestral members and the current members have structured that culture in fundamentally self-defending ways.

Key Question 3:

In contrast to our predecessors, what do we, as members of the currently dominant world culture, do that leads us so blindly to seek to annihilate all living organisms on Planet Earth?


Our ancestors did not, and we do, institutionalize our self-defending, and glory in the resultant survival-errors. In my estimation, the accumulated weight of these survival-errors has by now brought us, and with us, also brought the other roughly 9,999 cultures on Planet Earth, and the rest of the biosphere, to the edge of extinction.

5. Novelty and self-correcting

In the view of our designated observer, organisms live under conditions of radical uncertainty. The environment of every known kind of organism remains intrinsically dynamic and to at least some degree unknown to the organism which transacts with it. Therefore, to our designated observer, every instance of transacting—every self-correcting sequence, and even the self-defending ones—appears to some (non-zero) degree novel.

In every instance of transacting or self-correcting, an organism tries something somewhat new. Thus I infer that at least sometimes, a somewhat new activity which our organism-in-his-environment tries will turn out successful—repeatably successful. To account for this successful procedure, I would prefer to describe what the organism-and-environment have learned to do in terms of Sommerhoff’s construct of directively correlated. Where this somewhat new procedure involves only already-established directively correlated sequences, I might speak of the somewhat new procedure as making the already-occurring sequences larger and more robust. This give an operational basis for one of Sommerhoff’s constructs:

Biological progress. We identify biological progress with the observed tendency in nature gradually to evolve biological forms whose self-preservation is based on ever larger degrees and ranges of directive correlation (especially short-range correlations). (Sommerhoff, 1950, p. 194-5)

Alternatively, a successful new procedure may involve combining already-occurring sequences into novel higher-ordered sequences. That would mean generating a new directively correlated sequence which correlates these already-occurring directively correlated sequences. To describe such a procedure, I may use the operational configurations which Sommerhoff generates. He re-focuses the old vocabulary of teleological terms into revised, useable versions of adaptation, coordination, integration, etc. (Sommerhoff, 1950, pp. 195-6). In such a context, I may legitimately discuss integrated directively correlated sequences, etc.

These considerations give a succinct way of (1) specifying constructs such as life or living; (2) accounting for how living organisms originated on Planet Earth; (3) explaining how what we commonly call biological diversity arose in the biosphere; and (4) showing what damage the biosphere sustains when a species becomes extinct.

6. What This Does for a Theory of Biology

Since agreeing with Pirie’s (1937) proposal, workers interested in living organisms have had no principled way to delimit a domain of ‘biology.’ The central constructs outlined above deliver a rigorous criterion for living—a strict, mathematically-based way for our designated observer to assign the term living or non-living to “doings” or “happenings” of interest. That criterion allows its users to draw a dynamic ‘boundary’ to separate the domain of biology from neighboring but incompatible ones, such as the domains of physics, chemistry, etc.

This criterion requires three of Sommerhoff’s revisionist constructs: (a) directively correlated, discussed above; (b) biologically integrated, a term applied to “doings” or “happenings” which appear directively correlated, where these directively correlated sequences appear directively correlated inter se (e.g., their respective goals appear in turn to satisfy the criteria as directively correlated); and (c) a grouping of directively correlated “doings” or “happenings” which, over any proximate goals, have as an ultimate goal the continued existence of the whole for at least a few moments more.

According to our rigorous criterion for living, any grouping of “doings” or “happenings” under scrutiny which, in the view of our designated observer, satisfies these three conditions, meets the requirements for her to classify this grouping asliving.

The present theoretical treatment appears to me to furnish at least part of what we count on theories to provide: It describes, operationally—in the terminology of what organisms do (instead of what they ‘are’)—the kinds of “doings” or “happenings” which make up these crucial apparently-purposive activities of living organisms.


7. The origin of living organisms on Planet Earth

From the resulting standpoint, I suggested the possibility that this alternative frame of reference can

(a) provide a parsimonious answer to the question of how living organisms originated on Planet Earth, and also

(b) make this answer susceptible to experimental testing.

In a footnote to Hilgartner & Randolph (1969a), I offered a worked example which applies this rigorous criterion for living:

“...I have become aware of the studies of Sillén (1967) on “The Ocean as a System”. From his studies of the physical chemistry of three-phase systems, Sillén concludes that the ionic composition of the ocean, its pH, etc., are dynamically stabilized…. An examination of these physical chemical relations discloses that they meet the criteria for classification as a directive correlation… The directively correlated variables include the possible chemical reactions among the dissolved contents of the ocean, and the solubility constants of the different reaction products. The focal conditions include relative constancy of pH, ionic strength, chemical composition, etc., of the sea water.

The discovery of at least one directive correlation … even on an abiotic planet drastically alters our perspective on the problem of the origin of ‘life’: instead of the puzzle of how ‘organisms’ which are characterized by sets of integrated directive correlations could arise from a planet devoid of directive correlations, (‘inanimate nature’),we find instead that the ‘inorganic chemistry’ of a three-phase system analogous to the ocean of an abiotic planet is characterized by at least one directive correlation. This finding gives immediate empirical support to some of the speculations of Whyte, Teilhard de Chardin, and Korzybski (1921).

Against this altered background, the famous experiment of Miller (1953) takes on new significance... [abiotic genesis of organic chemicals, including amino acids] … Perhaps further examination of conditions which include Sillén’s three-phase systems in conjunction with Miller’s abiotic genesis of organic chemicals will disclose still further directive correlations, which might turn out to be integrated (directively correlated inter se). In that case, an abiotic planet would meet the criteria for classification as a ‘living system’, and the problem usually referred to as ‘the origin of life’ would turn out to be isomorphic with the problem of biological evolution, the development of more numerous, complex, and highly integrated directive correlations.” (Hilgartner & Randolph 1969a, footnote p. 309)

It seems to me that carefully-planned experiments which combine Sillén’s three-phase systems with Miller’s abiotic genesis of organic chemicals—so far as I know, not yet attempted—might cast further light on this fundamental question.

The origin of biological diversity in the biosphere of Planet Earth

Assume for the moment that further study of my 1969 suggestion does indicate the possibility of integrated directively correlated sequences on a still-abiotic planet with an ocean and an atmosphere. Then any successful innovations which occur in this planetary living organism will, according to this speculation, result in more numerous, more robust, more inter-related, etc., new directively correlated sequences. This inference appears to account for how our biosphere may have generated what today’s ecologists and biologists call biological diversity.


8. What damage does the biosphere sustain when a species becomes extinct?

In this frame of reference, no organism, species, or any of the higher-ordered terms of this sort we may care to consider, “exists” as an isolated ‘thing’. Instead, our designated observer regards such “doings” or “happenings” as a complex of adapted, coordinated, integrated, organized, regulated, etc., directively correlated sequences which occur within a directively correlated ecosystem. When a species becomes extinct, the entire ecosystem of directively correlated sequences in which that species took part gets damaged or disrupted. That may destroy other kinds of organisms too.

Key questions

Question 4.a: How does the biosphere persist?

Question 4.b: Background: Various workers have discerned numbers of different “logical levels” in the domain of biology—the ways (a) cells deal (transact) with themselves-and-their-environments (including other cells), (b) one cell within a multicellular organism deals with its environment, including the-other-cells-of-that-organism-in-its-(larger-scale)-environment, (c) multicellular organisms deal with themselves-and-their-environments (including other organisms), (d) one member of a species deals with the environment composed of the members of its own species as well as members of other species, (e) whole-species deal with themselves-and-their-environments (including other whole-species), and so on. Question:By what organizing principle can we account for the two-way transacting of living organisms with their surroundings, including other organisms, which leaves both sides fundamentally altered?

Question 4.c: How, in our accountings, do we connect these various “logical levels”?

Question 4.d: By what principle(s) can we model how the biosphere remains sustainable, viable, hospitable—able to harbor the almost inconceivable diversity of living organisms?

Question 4.e: By what principle(s) can we account for the fact that the biosphere generates biodiversity, and appears to require biodiversity?

Answer: We can account for the transacting that occurs on each of these logical levels, connect these various “logical levels” to one another, and model how the biosphere remains sustainable, viable, hospitable—able to harbor the observable, almost inconceivable diversity of living organisms—by the biological principles already discussed.

9. Understanding the Products of Genetic Engineering

Living organisms transact with themselves and their environments. Doing so successfully requires a long-standing relationship among these organisms. I infer that every naturally occurring organism alive today has an unbroken chain of ancestors leading back to the earliest of cells. Every cell has both personal and inherited experience in transacting with itself-and-other-cells, including F1 hybrids, which may occur in the biosphere in the absence of human intervention. Such ancestry and such experience give an ample basis for predicting—self-correcting. Thus I propose that the biosphere has, as an “organizing principle”, predictability, or self-correcting, in a radically uncertain, but in principle predictable, environment.

The products of genetic engineering—others have called them genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, whereas I prefer to call them pseudo-organisms—present to biologists (and to other organisms, human and non-human) a new topic, one that I see as without known precedent. Such pseudo-organisms fall outside the scope of WIE biology—in part, I suspect, because they arise solely and exclusively from sustained human activities, which mainstream biology does not deal with.

In contrast to terrestrial organisms, pseudo-organisms have no ancestors. Therefore, when cells of the ancestral lineages encounter pseudo-cells or pseudo-organisms, they have no experience in transacting with them. They have no basis for predicting anything about such encounters, including how to survive the encounter. Conversely, pseudo-cells or pseudo-organisms have no experience in transacting with cells of ancestral lineages, or with themselves, including how to survive the encounter. Already we know that pseudo-organisms do not breed true; no one can predict what their progeny will look like, act like, even whether they will prove viable, or alternatively, turn out as ecologically-aggressive super-weeds, or produce super-poisons, etc. (See Notes on the topic of a near-catastrophe involving the common soil organism Klebsiella planticola.)

As it seems to me, in order to understand pseudo-organisms, I must ask and answer yet another crucial question:

Key Question 5: How do such pseudo-organisms comply with, or violate the “organizing principle” of the biosphere?

Answer: My theoretical system suggests that genetically-modified pseudo-cells or pseudo-organisms disrupt the main “organizing principle” of the biosphere. They prevent self-correcting by removing predictability. They have no ancestors, and no natural organisms have any way to transact with them. Supposedly engineered to survive, these pseudo-organisms take over or contaminate related natural species, destroying carefully developed varieties of plants on which the world depends for genetic diversity.

Development of these pseudo-organisms, allegedly to alleviate world hunger, etc., has only one motive: profit. Few workers looked at possible adverse consequences of introducing GMOs, and those who did usually received some form of punishment: dismissal, prevention of publication, etc. Lacking an acceptable theory of biology, they had no principled way to settle the dispute between the ideas of corporate-sponsored engineers eager to disperse their pseudo-organisms and their own ideas of responsible treatment of the biosphere.

In my considered opinion, we, the members of the currently dominant world culture, have brought every species on Planet Earth to the edge of extinction. In order even to begin digging ourselves out of the evolutionary cul de sac we have created, we must abandon our self-defending patterns, including profit über alles. We have only one way to reject these already-disclosed errors—replace the discredited underlying assumptions with others which look as though they could support us to generate viable, sustainable, life-affirming ways for humans to live. Then we can begin to undo our damage to the biosphere by fostering its self-repair.

To replace a disguised theology, I have outlined a testable, disconfirmable theory of biology. It explains much that has perplexed biologists for millennia. I believe we can use it to make apparent the survival-errors by which we currently threaten to annihilate the entire biosphere in which we live, and to develop alternative patterns we can follow to survive.

10. Notes


In dealing with pseudo-organisms, humans can make mistakes. One such error centered around a pseudo-organism which had passed all the usual (perfunctory) environmental tests. Someone wanted to turn cellulose into alcohol, in order to handle some particularly troublesome agricultural waste products. Someone had engineered the common soil organism Klebsiella planticola, one of the relatively few living organisms capable of breaking cellulose down into sugar, to go on and turn that sugar into alcohol. Before these pseudo-organisms got released, however, another researcher performed an experiment that showed that inoculating soil with the altered Klebsiella would within a day or so generate a concentration of ethyl alcohol in the soil sufficiently concentrated to poison any known land plants. Those who had engineered the alcohol-producing Klebsiella cancelled their plans to release the pseudo-organism into the environment. They stored, but did not destroy, the original genetically-modified cultures (which means that that pseudo-organism could still get released, by accident). (Holmes, et al., 1998)


Hilgartner, C. A., Randolph, John F., 1969a,b,c,d. Psycho-Logics: An Axiomatic System Describing Human Behavior. 1. A Logical Calculus of Behavior. Journal of Theoretical Biology 23, 285-338.2. The Structure of ‘Unimpaired’ Human Behavior. Journal of Theoretical Biology 23, 347-374. 3. The Structure of Empathy. Journal of Theoretical Biology 24, 1-29. 4. The Structure of ‘Impaired’ Human Behavior. (Unpublished.).

Holmes, M. T., et al., 1998. Effects of Klebsiella planticola SDF20 on soil biota and wheat growth in sandy soil. Applied Soil Ecology 326, 1-12, 14 .

Korzybski, Alfred, 1921. Manhood of Humanity. New York: Dutton. 2nd edition, 1950, The International Non-aristotelian Library Publishing Co.; Institute of General Semantics, Distributors.

---------- 1933. Science and Sanity: An Introduction to Non-aristotelian Systems and General Semantics. International Non-aristotelian Library Publishing Co., Chicago. 2nd edition, 1941; 3rd edition, 1948; 4th edition, 1958; 5th edition, 1994, p. 20.

---------- 1941. General Semantics, Psychiatry, Psychotherapy, and Prevention.
American Journal of Psychiatry 98, 203-214. Reprinted in Korzybski (1990), pp. 295-308.

Miller, Stanley L., 1953. A Production of Amino Acids Under Possible Primitive Earth Conditions. Science 117, 528-9.

Pirie, N. W., (1937); The Meaninglessness of the Terms Life and Living. In Perspectives in Biochemistry. Cambridge University Press, London.

Sillén, Lars Gunnar, 1967. The Ocean as a Chemical System. Science 156, 1189-1197.

Sommerhoff, G., 1950. Analytical Biology. London: Oxford University Press.

Wells, Spencer, 2002. The Journey of Man A Genetic Odyssey. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ.

Whorf, Benjamin Lee, 1956. Language, Meaning and Reality: Selected Writings of Benjamin Lee Whorf. John Carroll, ed. MIT Press/Wiley, New York, p.241.

go back to the beginning of the page


Home About us Collaborate Links Radio Interviews Site map Contact us