The Rat Race

Living in the Rat Race

I’ve found that my mind was caught up in the rat race, living in a stressful  world, surrounded by indifferent, impersonal people who don’t even talk to me, though I see them every day.  It’s like being invisible.   When I reach out to talk to others, I usually find they pull away as if I were from out of space.  Do you ever think like this?  Then you may be living in the rat race.

A doctor John Calhoun is famous for his studies of the rat race – using Norway Rats as examples of what would happen to the human population when they were crowded.  The year was 1958, and he built them a restricted living quarters, where they had plenty of food and water, but because of the cramped quarters, they would not breed past certain figures, much lower than what was physically possible.

Here are two quotes from articles related to his four years of experiments:

“In John B. Calhoun’s early crowding experiments, rats were supplied with everything they needed – except space. The result was a population boom, followed by such severe psychological disruption that the animals died off to extinction. The take-home message was that crowding resulted in pathological behaviour – in rats and by extension in humans.”

“Initially the population grew rapidly, doubling every 55 days. The population reached 620 by day 315, after which the population growth dropped markedly. The last surviving birth was on day 600. This period between day 315 and day 600 saw a breakdown in social structure and in normal social behavior. Among the aberrations in behavior were the following: expulsion of young before weaning was complete, wounding of young, inability of dominant males to maintain the defense of their territory and females, aggressive behavior of females, passivity of non-dominant males with increased attacks on each other which were not defended against. After day 600 the social breakdown continued and the population declined toward extinction. During this period females ceased to reproduce. Their male counterparts withdrew completely, never engaging in courtship or fighting. They ate, drank, slept, and groomed themselves – all solitary pursuits. Sleek, healthy coats and an absence of scars characterized these males. They were dubbed “the beautiful ones”.

The conclusions drawn from this experiment were that when all available space is taken and all social roles filled, competition and the stresses experienced by the individuals will result in a total breakdown in complex social behaviors, ultimately resulting in the demise of the population.”

These ideas have spawned a whole lot of ideas, which probably are not true.  First is that tight living quarter cause social problems like crime, homosexuality and passivity in men.  These ideas sound right and good to many, but are they true, hardly.  People always looks for easy answers to complex questions.  Men are also not trapped into cages – they can go outside their boundaries to find more space and more resources.  As another one of the articles I read stated, the cultural popularity of Dr. Calhoun’s ideas actual silenced his more significant findings related to adaptability.  The rats actually changed the way they lived.

We are superior to rats, I hope, and I’m sure we can adapt to anything that comes are way, except possible nuclear war’s devastation.

I do believe that when some enormous error in human thinking  occurs humans don’t adapt, they destroy each other.  Take for instance the way the communists destroyed each other in Russia before World War II.  The idea of throwing out of their country the white Russians, the intellectuals, the capitalists, and the wealthy.  They then killed off each other to solidify power, with Stalin rising to the top.

Look at the rise of Hitler, using the democratic process to become elected, and then his parties dismantling of German democracy until he ruled supreme.  But wasn’t that all predicated by the fact the reparation payments the German government had to pay after World War I left them cripple economically.

Look at the abuses that lead to the depression with the American stock market ever growing on debts for those stock options.  Then boom!

We sit at the same type of place these days.  The government fixed a whole in the side of the capitalistic system by stopping the bankruptcies of several large companies.  But the abuses that the rich have placed on Americans such as providing credit without collateral, we certainly have significant consequences to the American people.

Yes there will be adaptation, but when things don’t adapt well, and when the human race is driven along moral and social delusions, the world stands to take it in the face.  And every time humans live in a delusional idealistic state where they demand others to live according to their rules, that snuffs out the creativity and the ability to adjust.  That is why political and religious freedom is necessary.  One way of think, one party, one religion will never make life worth living.

More about the Rat Race:

Dr. Calhoun’s Book: Environment and Population: Problems of Adaptation: An Experimental Book Integrating Statements by 162 Contributors

Escaping the Laboratory:  http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/22514/

Calhoun: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_B._Calhoun

The London School of Economics and Political Sciencehttp://www2.lse.ac.uk/researchAndExpertise/researchHighlights/Environment/rats.aspx

The Rat Race Trap: http://www.ratracetrap.com/

Blog: DEPRESSION, ANXIETY, AND ADDICTIONRag” Magazines vs. Science: Are the Rat Population Studies True?

1 Response to “The Rat Race”

  1. 1 vbub
    October 23, 2011 at 2:14 am

    “I’ve found that my mind was caught up in the rat race, living in a stressful world, surrounded by indifferent, impersonal people who don’t even talk to me, though I see them every day. It’s like being invisible. When I reach out to talk to others, I usually find they pull away as if I were from out of space. Do you ever think like this? Then you may be living in the rat race. ”

    I experienced and living just the same. When ever and where ever the people are put in competitive and dehumanized world the results proved to be the same. If all available space is taken and all social roles filled, competition and the stresses experienced by the individuals will result in a breakdown in complex social behaviors.

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