All for one and one for all

Lynne McTaggart

This week, I read about a fascinating study about bumblebees carried out by Dr. Andy Gardner of the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Edinburgh.  Gardner studies Darwinian adaptation, which to date has been believed to occur at the level of the individual organism.
Gardner, on the other hand, has been studying whether there is such a thing as group adaptation and ‘super organisms’ — where a particular species of animals operates only as a collective — so much so it can be seen to exist as a single organism in its own right. 
Recently, Gardiner and his colleagues from Edinburgh and also Oxford University, put together the first theory of group adaptation after using mathematical models to examine what is known as ‘swarm behavior’ to see how individual animals act in relation to the group. 
A model community
With some animals, they believe, what appears to be swarming is simply each individual jostling to get to the middle of the group to evade predators.
Bees and ants, on the other hand, are different. Both operate what could be considered a model community.  In this instance, individuals continuously act selflessly and are willing to sacrifice and even die if necessary to protect the colony. 
One example, he says, is the policing that goes on in hives.  Any egg not laid by the queen is destroyed by worker bees, to ensure that only the queen's offspring survive.  In that sense, the entire community is united in a common purpose. In countless other ways, bees will happily die in order to aid the community in some way. 
Gardner’s view is that the group dynamic carries on because the bees within any particular colony are mostly relatives of each other and so are simply hardwired by a biological evolutionary imperative – to ensure that queen survives in order to pass on their genes. 
But is that the only reason?
Smart machines?
To the scientific community, an animal is still perceived as nothing much more than a robot with an array of chemical processes, without the ability to register much more than the crudest pain or fear—certainly none of the more complicated human cognition or feelings such as excitement, boredom, annoyance, anger or suspicion.
A variation of this theme is the suggestion that animals have a kind of ‘animal consciousness’ that is far less sophisticated than ours.
As one beekeeper put it recently, summing up the prevailing view: “I have found the bee to be a charming, complex but not terribly smart little machine.”
Only Charles Darwin, ironically, maintained that animals have sophisticated emotions — a theory that, unlike his views on evolution, never caught fire. Mark S. Blumberg, of the University of Iowa, and Greta Sokoloff, of Indiana University in Bloomington, number among the most vocal proponents of the behaviorist view, claiming that the idea that animals process emotion is pure fiction and ‘anthropomorphic’.
Smart bees
However, a recent study of insect intelligence being carried out by Dr. Nigel Raine at Queen Mary, University of London, shows that bees are highly intelligent – as intelligent as rats and pigeons, for instance - capable of extraordinary feats of navigation, making use of trigonometry and landmark recognition. 
In fact, the London research now shows a hierarchy of intelligence, with some bees innately more clever than others, and able to learn memory tasks and retain information far more quickly. 
Dr. Raine’s research conclusively demonstrates that bees show the ability to learn with great nuance, discerning complex patterns, shapes, colors, textures and scents.   Raine has also discovered that they can even recognize human faces and make complex calculations about food supplies.

Random acts of self-sacrifice
Although bees may have evolved to be unselfish in the extreme, this may be less of an anomaly than we think. Copious evidence in neuroscience and biology demonstrates that a drive for cooperation and partnership, even sacrifice, rather than selfishness and naked survival, is fundamental to the biological makeup of all living things. Far from being born to be  “robot survival machines” shaped by the survival imperative of their genes, both animals and human beings are hardwired for empathy and altruism.
Animal champions such as Jeffrey Masson have amassed hundreds of astonishing cases demonstrating that animals routinely engage in what Gloria Steinem once referred to as ‘random acts’ of self-sacrifice, compassion, courage and generosity toward members of their own species, members of other species and even toward humans, often to their own detriment.
Although Masson’s work has been discounted as anecdotal, the hundreds of individual case studies from him and other scientists compound into a convincing argument that animals are capable of extraordinary self-sacrifice.
Animals routinely evidence moments in which they put aside the most fundamental drive of all: the need to eat. In innumerable instances, Masson and McCarthy have discovered instances where animals have shared food or ensured that weaker individuals in a pack or herd be fed, even if it means giving up their own food. This occurs even in species like red foxes, known for jealously guarding their own catch.

Evolved beyond conflict
Rather than mindless drones, following in step, it could be that bees are highly intelligent creatures that have somehow evolved to avoid conflict for the sake of the whole. 
Nevertheless, a ‘superorganism’ —with as advanced a social organization as bees or ants — is quite rare, and can only exist when the international conflict within a social group has been eliminated or suppressed. 
That is why, says Dr. Gardner,  “we cannot use this term, for example, to describe human societies.”
This evidence about bee intelligence and behavior particularly interests me because bees, as you may know, are disappearing in great numbers.  All over the developed world, honey bees are disappearing, suffering from what scientists term Colony Collapse Disorder, where the entire community mysteriously just disappears. 
There is no evidence of dead bodies lying around – just an inexplicably empty hive that has been left behind.
Can it be that bees collectively decide that it is wise to up sticks and go because they are smart enough to figure out that their environment is electrically and chemically polluted?  
So tell me that’s the decision of a dumb animal. 

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Lynne McTaggart

Lynne McTaggart is an award-winning journalist and the author of seven books, including the worldwide international bestsellers The Power of Eight, The Field, The Intention Experiment and The Bond, all considered seminal books of the New Science and now translated into some 30 languages.

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21 comments on “All for one and one for all”

  1. Great article! I hope that we "superiorly intelligent" human beings can learn something from nature and the "less sophisticated" animal world. Maybe we could learn how to survive from ourselves? This tells such a sadly true story about human kind, we are blinded by our "intelligence" of who we really are. Hopefully studies like this will shed some light of truth on the truly destructive nature of the ideology of nationalism and the pride of culture. I have hope for the human kind, but we must accept our interconnectedness and get past our childish differences. Thanks Lynne and keep up the great work.

  2. Very interesting information. Thank you for sharing it.
    I have been feeding the birds and other wildlife around where I live since July 2008, and I can tell you that animals are very intelligent. All anyone has to do is take the time to observe them. I have seen the birds use body gestures like shaking their head at another bird to tell it to get out of the way so that it could enter onto our balcony to eat when another bird was standing there in the way and not moving out of the way. I have seen a father bird teaching his babies how to hunt for food through the grass, and when his baby started running over to a pile of birdseed that I left on the ground, the father sqreeched at the baby, and before reaching the food, the baby listened to his father and turned around and returned to his father. At first, the birds were scared to eat beside the doves and other animals. They have learned to let go of fear and are now eating beside squirrels, doves, crows, and even raccoons that normally would eat songbirds. I could go on and on about what I have observed. I have seen so much intelligent behavior from these animals. They have also taught me lessons about life as well.
    I also had a small dog as a child. She would sleep, play, etc. with her best friend (a cat). The cat and dog would go down to the edge of the driveway everyday (We had a long driveway.) at 4 pm to wait for us kids to arrive home on the school bus. They knew what time to wait for us. One day, the cat got hit by a car. The dog came to us wimpering with tears in her eyes, and she led us to the dead cat.
    I have observed a lot of emotion and intelligence from animals. They are souls just like us, simply inhabiting a different kind of body.

  3. There is a theory that when a human looks at his dog and sees some intelligent emotion, its just projection, the animal is not actually having an emotion, the human is projecting an idea onto the dog. I've been studying humans for over 30 years and I can say that this actually works in reverse. When humans look at each other they projects emotions. If you see someone looking sad, and then ask them how they are feeling, quite often they will express, I'm feeling fine. Then the cat will come over and sit on their lap, and they will proceed to stroke the cat, then after several minutes they will exclaim, isn't it funny that cats always seem to know when you're feeling sad. Then I would ask, so you were feeling sad then? To which they will reply, oh no, not really. Humans seem to be the most fickle and emotionally un-intelligent creatures on this planet, incapable of living alongside the environment in which they find themselves a part of. Forever at internal war with the animal who they are within, denying their own animal emotional reality, and thus projecting this notion of non emotional intelligence onto the surrounding animal world. It is in fact the animal world that offers us humans a great gift. If only we could step down from our self made pedestal long enough to experience the natural world as it truly is. An intelligent and emotional world, that we are a part of.

  4. As a counseling psychologist for the past forty-one years, I've had the opportunity to observe numerous individuals, couples and groups with regard to their non-verbal communications. I agree with Echart Tolle that it is our "Ego" that prevents us from forming empathic community with out fellow humans.

  5. Bobee Wiseman,
    In response to your post - When our dog was wimpering and had tears in her eyes, we had no idea that the cat had gotten killed. We weren't sad and weren't projecting any feelings onto the dog. We didn't even know at that point in time that the cat had been killed. The dog came to us wimpering with tears in her eyes. We then followed her, and she led us to the dead cat. Her wimpering and tears came prior to us feeling any emotions at all.

  6. It is amazing to me how arrogant the human race is when it thinks it's the only species on the planet that is intelligent. I have one question - How many animals died in the tsunami? As far as I know, none died or very few died, because they were intelligent enough to go to higher ground or get out of there before the tsunami occured. They did this without any GPS systems, laboratory equipment, fancy college degrees and credentials, etc. Humans use machines and technology, but ironically, a lot of people died during the tsunami despite this fact. Hum, doesn't it make you wonder who the intelligent ones are? Humans are so out of balance with mother nature and their own spiritual nature and so caught up into greed and materialism, etc. These catastrophes are wake up calls.

  7. All life and matter are expressions of the energy some call god.
    Even plants have been proven to perceive human thoughts.
    Plants are alive and cognizant , some folks are just to much disconnected to notice.
    I live with 2 dogs that are always reading my thoughts.
    For example, sometimes I start to get frustrated with my computer. I do not make any outward indication of my frustration but somehow my German Shepard will come over and put her head under my arm and demand I pet her.
    She looks at me with such concern and I get the impression she wants to take my mind off what I'm focusing on. She wants me to feel better and she makes this very clear.
    She will often purr when I pet her.
    Her buddy Lucy is a straight up mind reader.
    She acts like the guardian of the house.
    If my roommate and I are roughhousing, Lucy with rush over and break it up by jumping up and licking our faces.
    Then she will put her paws up on my chest and bark once, wagging her tail like there's no tomorrow.
    She will then go to my roommate and do the same thing.
    She seems to be demanding our attention so we will not " fight".
    Every emotion we have they seem to be able to share and understand.
    They are another form of help and JOY that our creator has provided us with to enhance the life experience.
    We need to do a better job of heading the message they constantly offer, we are ONE LIFE ,ONE LOVE, all emanating from the same source.
    Separateness and physicality is an illusion, LOVE [ pure energy ] is all there is and all we are.
    Thanks Lyn,

  8. Thanks Lynne, I would be surprized at any disagreement re: the 'guilt' on my dog's face.(ears down, eyes avoiding, head turning, body non erect) And he is usually a cocky little terrier. My fav. quote at the moment is by PUTMAN (1995) ..Communities did not become civil because they were rich, but rather they became rich because they were civil.

    1. These are the lines that are left engraved on my heart: "The lights have gone out in America now. They may come back. They may not. It's up to us. No one is going to come help us do it. Other countries have America. We have outelevss.&quor; Powerful!

  9. Interesting blog Lynne, thanks and thanks to respondents too. I find it is no coincidence that we are the way we are as humans or that we have the relationship we have with nature when we are so dehumanised by a system that has no relationship to nature. We are intended to be robots and identify everything as being mechanical because we are easier to control. There is a complete seperation that occurs at every level, most critically with ourselves. This fabricated souless expediency denies us our divine birthright and conveniently predisposes us to manipulation. If we don't matter then what else does?

  10. Once again I am exited about the amount of evidence we find daily that supports that humanity is not the ruler of the world by decree, but that we are in fact part of the world. In fact so much that we cannot live without the animals and plants around us - we just think we can.
    Spiriutality is our lives lived. And if we live our lives as beings separate from everything else living, then our lives will be poor - at best.
    I am glad to see that at least some humans are starting to realize we are all one - even with the animals and plants - yes even with the earth and the rest of the universe. Even if it is difficult to understand.

  11. Finally someone noticed "One for all and all for one". Hopefully more NOTICEABLE events will be noticed and we can figure everything out.
    Who else has gone outside the bubble to see what there is to see?
    One hard reality about this experience is the fact that evil is in all of us and we don't understand it's existence yet. If in fact "All for one and one for all" then we must realize that evil is part of the whole, we must be one with it. We must understand it's nature to experience world peace.
    Intentions are amazing, through intentions you start to become aware of what you think about and why. That will unfold your truth, the meaning of why you are here experiencing everything you are experiencing.
    Illness is a symptom of the evil's you allow into your life - evil will kill you. Healing any illness involves looking at the cause, cure the cause and you cure the disease. Yes it is just that simple. Everything has a cause, why do you do what you do? Why do you accept some things while reject another?
    If anyone has gone outside the bubble and you see what there is to see out there, you won't be the same - you can never go back. You will appear completely insane - crazy - out of this world, because everything is completely opposite of everything we believe. Everything you've come to believe to be true is COMPLETELY FALSE, it's not that it's false - it's incomplete.
    Intentions - amazing tool
    All for one and one for all = getting warmer
    Can't wait until you discover more, there is so much more to be learned and understood before we recognize change.
    One amazing concept to understand is holodynamics by Vernon Woolf. He doesn't have all the answers yet, but he is the closest I've seen so far. He has been curing cancer, aids, all mental illnesses, addictions for more then 20 years and his success is found through his understanding of "Cure the cause and you cure the disease".
    Global peace can be experienced and it can happen fast but we have to be open for the cure and I don't think we are ready to handle that yet.

  12. At last someone is proving that we and all things are connected, and can influence everything around us and anywhere on earth by the power of thought. If only we could all band together and switch off the evil thoughtsin so many minds, at this time. Maybe we can make that happen. In the meantime please go on intending and changing things for the better.
    Good one Lynne.

  13. In one of your recent blogs, you quoted from JAMA - It’s now clear even to most doctors that our current medical model, with its reliance on drugs and surgery, is not working. According to the Journal for the American Medical Association, correctly prescribed drugs are now the third leading cause of death in America, only a whisker behind heart attacks and stroke.
    Can you tell me which edition? Thank you

  14. I also would love to know which JAMA article to quote when I spew forth about the danger of pharmaceuticals, which I do regularly. Thanks for asking, Ray. I forget sometimes that the sceptics I deal with could use that kind of proof.
    I believe also, in response to Ken Jackson - the change is happening now, it has begun and we here are the seeds, the sun, the water and the earth. Metaphorically speaking, of course. We are becoming the song, the dance, the bees.

  15. Hi Ray and Cid,
    That statistic is from JAMA, 2000, 284 (1): 483-5.
    I have that and many more details like it in my book What Doctors Don't Tell You and newsletter of the same name (
    The JAMA article says that correctly prescribed drugs and procedures are responsible for a quarter of a million deaths per year in America alone.
    To put that into perspective, every single week correctly prescribed medical drugs and procedures kill twice the number of people who died from the 9/11 Twin Towers tragedy .
    Or, to look at it another way, in America, where 40,000 people are shot dead every year, you are almost six times more likely to be killed by orthodox medicine than by a gun.

  16. This is a double-"DUH!" to my mind, in that "duh!.." it's so abundantly obvious to ME that there is "intelligence" in all life forms, and most often humans have been the ones who've been too 'dumb' in accessing the "hows" and "whys" of other species' communicative forms, and so we call their forms 'primitive' or other such derogatory terms. Secondly, another "duh!" in that if we're supposedly THE most 'intelligent' species, why then have we ruined not only our entire planet, but caused not only ourselves but most other species to become so plagued by illness?
    HUMAN definitions of "intelligence" have always been lacking to begin with, as far as I'm concerned. I think that's the type of definition Arthur C. Clarke was speaking to when he said, "It has yet to be proven that intelligence has any survival value."

  17. A bizarre set of responses to a fairly mundane finding. The fact that many animals sacrifice their own well-being or even lives for related animals is not news. It;'s called kin selection and it's been a part of standard evolutionary biology for 40 years. By sacrificing one's own life for the group one ensures that one's own genes will survive in related animals. There's some math involved but that's the general idea. One need not postulate anything about supra-individual consciousness or even consciousness at all. Furthermore almost no evolutionary biologist or psychologist would deny that people are "naturally" altruistic. It's hard to imagine that we could survive as a species without it.

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