Home Page Science Frontiers

No. 121: Jan-Feb 1999

Issue Contents

Other pages

Other Interesting Sites











Is intelligence a deadly pathogen?

A recent letter in Nature reinforces our comment in SF#120 concerning the threat humans pose to the workings of Gaia. (The Gaia Hypothesis asserts that the biosphere acts in ways that maintain environmental conditions favorable to the existence of life.) In his letter, A. Longhurst wonders whether the earth's biosphere acting as a whole -- Gaiafashion -- may have erred in creating an environment conducive to the evolution of intelligence. It is is not clear, he says, that the sentient part of the biosphere (meaning "us") can develop enough self-control to reverse global warming, pollution, etc. He concludes as follows:

"In short, is intelligence a pathogen to which the biosphere can adjust, or is it terminal? Perhaps it is as well that we cannot yet observe other habitable planets, to discover what became of their sentient life."

(Longhurst, Alan; "Too Intelligent for Our Own Good," Nature, 395:9, 1998.)

From Science Frontiers #121, JAN-FEB 1999. 1999-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987