The Institute on Man and Science; Man is the System
National Educational radio in cooperation with the Institute on man and science presents a series of talks drawn from the institute's annual conference held recently in Rensselaer Vale New York. The Institute on man and science is a nonprofit educational institution chartered by the New York State Board of Regents. The annual assembly of the institute is designed to focus attention on 20th century technology and the human relationships resulting from its application. The speaker on this program is Hudson Hoagland president of the Worcester Foundation who will discuss the topic. Man is the system here now is Mr. Hoagland. Yesterday I talked about population problems in human societies and also in animal societies. I pointed out that stress of various kinds is reflected in many cases and the activity of the adrenal cortex the outside layer of the adrenal gland so that physiologists can have some measure of stress.
Prolonged stress we know may produce anxiety Nanon chronic behavioral disturbances and that will do this chronic behavioral disturbances in experimental animals. The role of life stresses and as contributary contributory agents to psychosomatic disorders which include hypertension arthritis ulcers skin disorders asthma and various other allergic manifestations has become established over the years in the field of Psychosomatic Medicine. Well now in studies of animals we also have some very interesting phenomena which I think to some degree are applicable to man and they can Minnesota hair something laboratory investigated over the years. They go through 10 year cycles of crowding. And in the burrows and building up a large population which then dies off
and this build up and die off in a 10 year cycle is not correlated with any particular epidemic or with any increase in predatory as. The animals die in convulsions very often or in coma with every evidence of overactivity of the pituitary adrenal system. The stress of crowding in barrows adds to fighting the social organization the animals collapses and there is this tension which builds up and results in the fight. Animals have societies as you know social organization in which the dominant animal usually a male is able to bully and push around the one below him and the one below that and one below that so this quarter of an organization of dominance and hierarchies dominance in the sensitive characteristics of the personalities of these animals and this social organization is essential for the society to function and to get along and to live together.
And it's been shown experimentally that it renal cortical activity is increased when previously isolated rodents for example rats mice are grouped together. Just putting them together from isolation increases the activity of their dreams. They experiments have shown that the DNA Kartel increases are related to the response of an animal to aggression from its neighbors or threat of aggression from members of the group. And that defeat in aggressive encounters is the main cause for this upsurge of adrenal function. The dominant animals mere presence can excite Adana Kartel activity in the defeated mouse or rat. Moreover the very odor coming from such an animal can excite the adrenal cortex of these animals. Air currents simply passing over the cage of a dominant animal will stimulate
the real cortex of animals that don't see that animal at all so that the signals they all factory signals and relate describe to us the position of these animals in various hierarchical arrangements and the organizations involved sometimes. Well crowding of course disrupts this type of organized relationship. Very hard to get the signals of who's who when you get out crowded together and the consequences can be quite disastrous. For example. In an island in Chesapeake Bay about 40 years ago there were a pair of deer put these deer then proceeded to breed and had about 300 acres and when the density of the deer population reached it one deer per acre they stopped breeding. They began to die off at about that they were fed every day they had plenty of food. Food was brought to them on a boat so there's no question of their of their starving they just began to be unhealthy and some of them died when they
died was shown a green a carnival activity was excessive at a crowding of more than one deer per acre. The dead animal showed. Atherosclerosis in a number of marks of stress as a result of the density of this song. When the reduction in numbers per acre when the reduction went down the animals were healthy again. John Calhoun of the National Institutes of Health has made experimental studies of crowding of rats and I'd like to describe some of that work in detail. He kept rats. In a pen about about wild rats and this was a case he captured while rats and kept them in a pen and outdoors such that they had to a certain extent. And when they reached a certain density of rats per acre they began to lose their ability to reproduce effectively and the other was a high
mortality rate. Mothers fail to build nests in the young and sometimes scattered about often scattered about and eaten particularly by the males and when the rats are examined they were also seemed to have. Marked signs of the stress syndrome. The adrenals were larger atrophied and the other signs which were characteristic of the spent syndrome are and haven't. Well he defined his experiments I'd like to describe a little more in detail. He had a one quarter acre enclosure and gave the animals plenty of food and water at the end of 27 months the population had increased to one hundred fifty rats in this area. Now from what we know of rats breeding potential that the number could well have been 5000 rats instead of one hundred fifty. This would be what you would expect if crowding had prevented the increase. But infant mortality was extremely high as the crowding reached one hundred fifty per acre. The stress from social interaction disrupted
maternal behaviors of only a few of the young survive. They then proceeded to extend this experiment to white domestic rats in an indoor enclosure by building them a set of four rooms. The two middle rooms were each connected by ramps to the two end rooms. The end rooms had therefore only one ramp connecting with the adjacent room but the two middle rooms had ramps connecting to each other and to the two and rooms. Now this is an interesting thing because of what happened. He examined a number of groups of rats put under these experimental conditions and rats had nests put in the cage in the rooms for them. They had plenty of food and water and they developed a strange pathological behavior when they bred to about twice he let them braid to about twice the normal remaining number per unit area and only twice the
area of crowding. Very curious things happen in the first place. They too middle roams became city slums too and rooms were more like more like. A pleasant suburban environments and the reason for this was as follows. At about the age of six weeks of rats gays and male rats in a round robin of fights to see who is the dominant rat and the rats bred and then they began to fight and organize their hierarchy and they distributed themselves to females pretty evenly in these four rooms. But what happened was that the dominant male rat in each of the end room so that it was became quite possessive about his females and is his property and the result was that when the other rats the other males in the end rooms got up in the morning and went fish and went about exploring and went into the other rooms to eat and drink.
The dominant male would sit at the bottom of his single ramp and would not allow the other males to return. He would simply fight with unless they came down the ramp and drive him off. Furthermore. His mere presence was enough to frighten the other rats away so they'd retreat and they'd end up. Males would end up concentrated in the two middle pen Well listen creates the density of rats for a pen. But it also increases the density of males in the pen. Result was that the social situation in the middle pens rapidly deteriorated. The hierarchy of dominance was hard to establish here were all these wretched rats fighting around with each other. There was no organization in the course of time. The females were pursued ruthlessly by the males instead of being polite the males would even chase a female in her nest for mating purposes. And unlike us to let them rats mate in public you see outside but this was a dreadful thing when a rat would chase a female right into our nest and the upshot of it was that chaos
reigned in the middle pants. Some of the male rats became zombies they sort of hid away and never came out. Others became frantic in their activity chasing each other chasing the females and and behaving in a frantic sort of a meaningless way. They social hierarchy degenerated to a point where the females who were females had premature births. They were exhausted. They die. Many of them and. The males in fighting wounded each other they were scattered about so that the whole population went downhill in the middle pancit. They enhance However they non-Islam plans were quite different the male there protected the young protected the females. The females were sleek and well taken care of and so were the young and the male was the dominant fella. He wouldn't let the other males in well this was a very interesting example of effective crowning pathological Crowdy Calhoun speaks of pathological
togetherness which is a term I find quite fascinating and I think we can extend that to some of our own thinking about things well. The development of the series pathology came about with only double the crowding we know would be effective in having a healthy colony otherwise. And as tempting to draw comparisons between city slums and and crowded areas for people. There may be this may be a very far fetched analogy because rents and people are very very different in many ways but let's think about it. We're certainly justified in asking whether and to what extent the stress syndrome may be a limiting factor in reducing the growth rate of human populations. Studies from a number of laboratories including our own have demonstrated the pituitary adrenal system functions in man the way it does in animals under stress. And there is direct evidence that inmates of concentration camps have died as a result of the stress syndrome when they're been examined post-mortem and concentration
camps are quite different from city slums in the city slums one can escape and get get away. In city streets and so on. So the analogy really would be much closer if we kept people confined in cages or in very limited areas. Similar studies of been made have also indicated that there's a higher incidence of several studies that indicate there's a higher incidence of psychosis schizophrenia and other psychotic and erratic behavior in very congested urban areas and in more spacious surroundings. But here again other factors than the mere crowding condition stress may be involved and the increased incidence of atherosclerosis and other cardiovascular pathology associated with urban living with its competitive stresses may also be enhanced by crowding. You know underdeveloped countries with high birth rates and recently lower death
rates due to medicine and public health measures. This has resulted in population growth in saving lives and extending life spans. To. An average of 2 to 4 percent per year and any possible decrease in life expectancy associated with stress would probably be statistically washed out. In these countries such as India Calcutta and these overcrowded cities by the very process of medication and life saving measures which would swap out the negative effects of stress in reducing life expectancy so that the data are very hard to come by in a convincing way. Well. Olan has reviewed the literature on this comparative subject and there are similarities between effects of fertility reduction from stress in human populations which are similar to those discussed in other animals. For example we have essentially the same
reproductive type of system in the same agreement sort of system in response to stress the stress of territorial defense which is very real in animals and the struggle for status is also real and this also applies in our own societies let me remind you. Maintenance of status in the pecking orders of our professions and our businesses our universities if we hold faculty appointments in government bureaus and then the armed forces is indeed a very stressful business particularly for the males. Our territories that we defend include not only our geographical area is our property our real estate in our country for that matter but it also includes its stocks and bonds if we happen to have them includes our homes and and status giving possessions which are which are part of our territory. But it also includes our ideologies and
our beliefs and our religion. That's one is prepared to defend not only one's country but one's beliefs political religious or professional beliefs. The burden of these stresses fall primarily incidentally upon Mame's because they are the breadwinner so call and they're the ones who are out competing every day in activities and with increasing urbanization and competition. Males die sooner than females. Now this could be due to a lot of reasons other than stress. It could be due to the two most of the deaths are due to Astro due to higher cardiovascular conditions and these could be a function of maleness and femaleness. I won't go into the details of this but this is a part of the picture that we have to consider on the other hand there is one aspect of this mortality of males being greater than females and that is that it's more pronounced in crowded city areas and it's been increasing with increasing
population in the United States where it's been studied. The gap between the average death the average length of life of males and females has been increasing. We have data. Actually data from one thousand Western countries I won't cite those figures showing that there has been over the past decade actually since 1950 an increase in the in the difference between the age average age of death of males and females. This increase is hard to account for except the does correlate with population densities to some degree. Again. Large Dr Lawrence Henkel and his collaborators have found that illnesses and illnesses positively correlated with difficulty of adjusting to the environment which is made more difficult in congested areas as preceded it preceded by the patient he studied the life histories of the many patients and recorded that such things as as as stress as a threatened divorce or actual
divorce loss of jobs and lawsuits are correlated not only with neuroses and psychosomatic disorders but also with cardiovascular illnesses and with susceptibility to infectious diseases and even the disease of cancer has a positive correlation with some of the life stresses that his people have gone through. Well there's a large literature on the social behavior of mammals in relation to population density and of especial importance as a book by V.C. when Edwards and title animal aspersion in relation to social behavior. I'd like just briefly to have a few of the high spots at this point of view. He points out that in nature when food supplies are. Far removed or fail to materialize a local. Overpopulation emergency exists and among highly immobile animals such as birds and insects that fly or they can move off quite readily
into another area and I Grayson's of locusts are cases in point where they eat up everything and passing along somewhere else. And this immigration mess relieves the stresses and the social hierarchy in code of behavior to which the animal subscribes acts as devices to force out excessive members of the population where they range the food area cannot support such a large population and these social organization processes are have been reviewed and they're very interesting they differ for different animals but the lower members of the hierarchy are expelled. They're not necessarily killed or driven out of the Herd of the pack of the flock and they then may set up new communities in other locations. Or if they are unable to do so they'll simply perish because they're expelled from the from social organization. Now this is emigration of a
safety valve kind and it's associated with stress and with a teary rating economic conditions for the animals. The individual spell expelled are you there. You are usually the junior members of the lower members of the hierarchy all the young and young are often expelled. I'm thinking. Aren't statically of the human colonization activities of the past in which the Greek city states for example it sent out. Colonies to colonize the Italy and the Aegean area the Black Sea area with setting up new cities. And it was the younger members of these cities the sons of the junior the junior contingent that went out to to set these cities up usually because of food shortages in the. In the area of City Center Athens and current. And other major cities of Greece. And again it was a younger sons of the
British families that emigrated to Portugal and I mean to emigrated to the United States and to the colonies. Younger sons. Of Portugal and Spain came out of the South American Latin American countries and established colonies in the western hemisphere. These were the junior members that did this. Australia was very much colonized by a group of low in the pecking order namely prisons so that we have an analogy here at least to the animals and their conduct. When Edwards points out that the same social machinery that controls safety valve immigration's is involved in regulating and micro seasonal migrations we just versions such as migrations of birds in that two way flights and there have been intensive studies of some animals for example a white stork has been extensively studied here the nestling mortality is very high with
certain levels of crowding in an area these young storks or are killed by the driven out of the nest and actually killed by the parents when they reach a certain density or the eggs are destroyed by them. This is likely to happen when the parents are beginners or young adults and that and the males very often eat their own young and killing killing off the young and in prolific breeding conditions is characteristic of a great many birds and that have been investigated as well as in many mammals. It is a direct result of social stress but the killing of the young and cannibalism are known to occur quite widely in call animals and all the way up from insects and insect larvae. When a crowding occurs kümmel is in results and in. Mammals and birds and fish the whole darn range. Cannibalism is a property of a crowd of crowding conditions and it's reversible when crowding falls off. Well mortality from
predation has also been examined and this appears to be dependent on the extent that the prey cooperates in its density in making itself an vailable to to the predatory predators accumulate to capture the young and feeble of a herd to do this for instance with cherub. But the predators follow rather than otherwise in connection with this phenomenon. Then again because of lowered resistance to infection due to overactivity of the adrenal car takes activities cuts down the inflammatory reaction which is the body's normal defense against microbial infection. Thus it's been cortical hormones and contra indicated infectious cases because it does cut down the body's defense and inflammatory reaction. Because of this. How much under stress are more susceptible to infections of a great variety of kinds. And so that
microorganisms are also present to us in this sense and accentuated their activity with crowding conditions. Also there is a surplus of individuals who may be predisposed to injury by their dominant fellows naturally experience variety of variable amount of uncontrolled mortality which tends to fall most heavily on the young. Under crowding conditions and these are young yet unprotected by acquired immunity from bacterial and viral infections which occur under the crowding conditions. And of course social stress can lead to casualties at all ages both through direct and mortal combat and through stress induced diseases. Social stress is sometimes partly physical as when the exercise and water rights leads to the infliction of wombs or the withholding of food and shelter and animal societies. But it may also be
largely mental as in the case of man who in the more his more unsophisticated States may die from the conviction that he has been but which instances are no apparently induced by social stress and the social stress will surely build up in our human societies as the population density increases. For example it's predicted that the city of Calcutta unless something drastic is done about it will have in the course of 40 years a population of 60 million people. This is an appalling thought really. People are still or are starving in Calcutta now what it's going to be 40 years at the rate cities are building up the growth rate of cities is said to be something like 40 fold per cent.. Forty four percent. This can't go on indefinitely. Course we can look forward to the whole Atlantic seaboard being one continuous city from Portland to Washington in the course of a generation or
two at the present growth rate of cities. And this if we think we have her problems now what are we going to have a generation or two hence the rate in which cities or centers are growing much faster the population as a whole. All rural people are going moving into the cities and moving aggressively all the time. We used to have 90 percent of our people live where farmers lived in the country now about 10 percent are farmers because of machine tools and farming and so on. New York City has been then facetiously referred to as an organized nervous breakdown and I think that we can look forward to more organized nervous breakdowns this in future. But another way the population of 3 million people which at the present growth rate of 2 percent doubles every 35 years and this will grow from 3 to 24 bit in a hundred five years and will reach forty eight billion in only one hundred forty years. This is more than can be fed by any known advances in food technology and as we have seen
it is anticipated that a decade hence will witness may well witness starvation on a scale to unknowingly developing countries. But what. And be done about it. The late General Clark has argued that the population explosion probably cannot be controlled until the world has accepted some form of universal and complete disarmament under were a law and devotes a substantial part of the hundred forty billion dollars a year that are now being spent on weaponry to raising the living standards of the have not people he bases his view on the often demonstrated fact that birth control procedures are only extensively used by literate and prosperous people with hope and ambition for bettering their locks and those of their children. The take off point for family planning. And limitation requires a critical
level of education and prosperity that is not usually found in these very poor countries. The completely gloomy view of course of this would be that if we don't manage to dishonor then a decade or two and if and solve the population problem we can solve the problem nation problem by nuclear extermination. In any case the two major problems of our time which I've been talking about these last two days nuclear war and the population explosion are closely linked together. I think school science is in the medical sciences have given mankind these two world wide challenges which have never been dreamed of by previous generations and quite unique to our time and I think only by very fundamental changes in our ways of thinking. Can these problems be dealt with. Thank you. Thank you. You heard Hudson Hoagland president of the Worcester foundation as he spoke on the topic. Man is the system. Mr. Hoagland spoke at the annual
conference of the Institute on man and science held in Rensselaer Vale New York on our next program Curtis Hemenway director of the Dudley observatory will speak on the subject probing space. These lectures were recorded by the Institute on man and science. The programs are prepared for broadcast and distributed by the national educational radio network.
- Man is the System
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- Institute on Man and Science
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- For series info, see Item 3566. This prog.: Man is the System. Hudson Hoagland, president, Worcester Foundation.
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- MLA: “The Institute on Man and Science; Man is the System.” 1969-03-17. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. December 4, 2023. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-6q1sk425>.
- APA: The Institute on Man and Science; Man is the System. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-6q1sk425