On Meddling

“Is it not in the nature of complex social systems to go wrong, all by themselves, without external cause? Look at overpopulation, look at Calhoun’s famous model, those overcrowded colonies of rats and their malignant social pathology, all due to their own skewed behavior. Not at all, is my answer. All you have to do is find the meddler, in this case Professor Calhoun himself, and the system will put itself right. The trouble with those rats is not the innate tendency of crowded rats to go wrong, but the scientists who took them out of the world at large and put them in too small a box.”

Lewis Thomas
“On Meddling,” Lives of a Cell: Notes of a Biology Watcher.

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