Chaos – not balance – and competition for resources are the natural order

This 2015 Amsterdam/New Zealand/Cornell shore-life study found:

“Species abundances in natural ecosystems may never settle at a stable equilibrium.

Species in one of the world’s oldest marine reserves showed chaotic fluctuations for more than 20 years. The species replaced each other in cyclic order, yet the exact timing and abundances of the species were unpredictable.

Our findings provide a field demonstration of nonequilibrium coexistence of competing species through a cyclic succession at the edge of chaos.

Our findings show that natural ecosystems can sustain continued changes in species abundances.”

The University of Amsterdam also participated in a 2013 study Evolution of microbial markets where evolutionary biologists studied microbes. Their related findings included:

“Cooperative interactions between individuals of different species.

Strategies important for microbes to optimize their success in potential biological markets:

  • (i) avoid bad trading partners;
  • (ii) build local business ties;
  • (iii) diversify or specialize;
  • (iv) become indispensable;
  • (v) save for a rainy day; and
  • (vi) eliminate the competition.”

A 2015 study How a well-adapted immune system is organized (the *.pdf file is linked because the html has errors) had a related finding that applied to our body’s immune system. The researchers found that the primary reason why each of our immune systems is unique is due to the effect of:

“Competition between receptor clones.

Not a biologically implausible centralized mechanism distributing resources system-wide.

The repertoire of lymphocyte receptors in the adaptive immune system protects organisms from diverse pathogens. A well-adapted repertoire should be tuned to the pathogenic environment to reduce the cost of infections.

Competitive dynamics can allow the immune repertoire to self-organize into a state that confers high protection against infections.”

Chaos and competition for resources are facts of life observed within ourselves and in nature from ocean life down to the microbe level.

So, why are we often presented – as a fact of life – that what’s natural is for all aspects of our lives to be in balance? Emotional, economic, social, intellectual – you name it, we’re told that the natural model is one of “stable equilibrium.”


Two hypotheses of Dr. Arthur Janov’s Primal Therapy are relevant:

Trying for closure, though, becomes an act-out – a temporary fulfillment of a substitute need. But the underlying need remains unsatisfied, and soon drives further act-outs. Balance is thus never achieved.

With this viewpoint, can you see how behavior like the following shows the internal state of the actor as they attempt to thwart the natural reality of the situation?

  • A person in authority who demands that people cease their competition for a resource and instead, accept what the authority figure determines is fair and balanced. An example is limiting supplies with price controls after a disaster.
  • A person who disrupts cooperative behavior that provides a solution for the cooperators’ needs/wants and instead, interposes themselves in a directed solution. An example is requiring licenses for cooperative childcare.
  • A person who insists that peoples’ responses to chaos to form an optimal adaptation cease, and instead, conform to some other way of responding. An example is prohibiting free movement after a disaster.

It reveals even more about the internal states of people that the above examples become codified. Children are taught that the natural and solely acceptable way to behave is in accordance with these unnatural solutions.


There are some signs that unnatural solutions in society can be reversed. For example, here is a 2013 article about a UK village that benefited from removing all of its traffic signals and reverting to the natural order of human cooperation and competition.

At the individual level, though, it’s up to each one of us to recognize and reverse our unnatural states. We and the people around us will be pleased when we and they are no longer adversely affected by our unconscious act-outs that are driven by our internal states. There’s enough natural chaos without adding more with act-outs.

Our internal systems will suffer damage, for example, when our unconscious act-out is to be busy, always doing something, and we can’t relax. Stress adversely affects our internal systems until we understand and reverse the driving unnatural states.

http://www.pnas.org/content/112/20/6389.full “Species fluctuations sustained by a cyclic succession at the edge of chaos”

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