Thursday, July 11, 2019

Freedom of speech is on the endangered list: full interview

[First published HERE.]

Journalist Dr. John Cooper recently published this article in LawNow:
In Canada and elsewhere, freedom of speech is on the endangered list
Here is the full interview with OCLA Researcher Dr. Denis Rancourt, which Dr. Cooper made in preparation for his article. The interview was organized through OCLA. It represents the spontaneous answers of Dr. Rancourt, not an official position statement.

Q: What are the major challenges journalists face with respect to press freedoms (e.g. access to sources, reduced access to information, fear of government intervention, arrest, etc)?

A: First, we must define journalist. The Supreme Court of Canada, in decisions related to freedom of expression, recognizes two overlapping categories of journalists: Career or salaried journalists working for large media corporations (corporate journalists), and citizen social-media or blogger journalists working independently under a variety of arrangements (social-network journalists). These two categories of journalists are broadly recognized as influential in society, and are often competitors in shaping or consolidating or compartmentalizing public opinion.

The overriding threat to press freedom for corporate journalists is near-absolute absence of professional independence. Journalists pander to the stated and unstated directives of their publishers. Careerism and job security rule the press office. This has been amply demonstrated in many academic studies. To the extent that the corporate media is a regulator in the democratic system, there has been complete regulatory capture.

Western corporate-media and business-media journalistic freedom existed after the Second World War, thanks to rapid economic growth and opportunities for small and medium-size publishers to sell advertisement to a large array of advertisers. Increasing globalization and corporate mergers (of both corporate advertisers and corporate media), and direct security-State oversight and infiltration, have closed that transitory window of freedom.

In the present era, corporate media really is “fake news”, both in content and by avoidance or omission of content that is vital to democratic societies in States involved in world affairs. It is propaganda. Its utility for analysts is in informing us of what the establishment wants us to think, and, therefore, in identifying some of the establishment’s main preoccupations.

Since corporate journalists are not unionized and do not have professional associations empowered by statute, they do not even have systemic or structural professional independence, compared to the circumstances of judges, academics, engineers, lawyers, doctors, and teachers. Furthermore, virtually all corporate journalists are now educated in specialized professional schools, and are thereby groomed to serve editors and publishers. Jeff Schmidt, author of “Disciplined Minds”, has brilliantly surveyed the grooming of professionals.

That is the elephant in the room regarding the now mythical press freedom of the corporate media. There are a few old guys left, who can negotiate assignments, but their headlines get trashed. Otherwise, the proverbial “two sides of the story” are carefully confined, and more and more frequently there is only one side, since the “other side” only serves as a repugnancy magnet, as with classic propaganda.

The challenges to press freedom for social-network journalists are quite different. Here, there are direct structural assaults against this democratized form of media. The assaults include: barring from the publication venues, blatant censorship following publication, demonetization, shadow banning, corporate manipulation of search results, and so on. In addition, Canada, for example, is implementing laws to regulate the censorship of independent media, using express pretexts that include: foreign interference in elections, preventing “hate”, and generally preventing “undesirable” views declared to be harmful to society. We can add the spectre of civil defamation law assaults, and Criminal Code prosecutions for victimless crimes of expression, all of which the Ontario Civil Liberties Association has consistently attempted to push back. This is a censorship era. We are at the level of the Soviet Union regulating access to photocopying machines.

Q: How are some of these challenges handled?

A: The challenge of corporate media press freedom is handled, primarily in three ways.

First, the dominant near-monolithic propaganda is challenged by a less-dominant opposing corporate media. Here, the finance-sector backed, Democrat-aligned, dominant corporate media is challenged by a lesser USA-domestic-based energy and military-manufacturing sectors backed, Republican-aligned, corporate media.

Second, the two competing corporate media, in this limited-view media-scape world, draw on social-network technology to boost their influence, thus somewhat levelling the coarse imbalance of means between the two camps. Trump tweets, social-media stars leak into corporate coverage as commentators, and so on.

Third, and most significantly, independent social-network journalists release vital reports and information that otherwise would never see the light of day. Sometimes, the information is so compelling and reaches such a wide audience that the corporate media cannot ignore it, and struggles to recast it. This is the undeniable contribution of Wikileaks, which is mostly ignored by the corporate media and academics, but which has exposed the greatest known systems of corruption and crimes in the Western world.

There are many others than just Julian Assange in social-network journalism — in a large organic network of contributors, publishers, whistleblowers, leakers, and researchers — but the vicious and sustained attacks against Assange most graphically proves the influence of social-network media, and its threat to the corporate media propaganda edifice.

Regarding loss of publication venues and censorship, social-network media handle this by exploiting windows of alternative venues and the ever changing technological landscape, in the same way that pamphleteers of the past exploited press technology, from silk screens to photocopiers and guerilla radio transmitters.

Q: With the advent of a dense and intense social media landscape, how challenging is the issue especially in light of concerns over ‘fake media?’

A: The “concerns over fake media”, expressed by the dominant corporate media and its associated pundits and politicians, is a crass pretext for outright State and corporate censorship. The said pretext is an assault against the presumption that citizens in a democratic society have the ability to judge and decide if they are allowed access to the broadest possible sources of information. The population will have been infantilized to the degree that it will accept the said pretext as legitimate.

Q: How confident are journalists in the ability of their media outlets to protect their free speech rights?

A: As a general rule, corporate media journalists are part of corporate media, and do not have a valid concept of or a surviving individual impulse for journalistic independence, nor are they given the time and freedom to research, except at the elite level where editorial wishes are fully assimilated.
There are exceptions, as rare reports, that prove the rule, but red lines are never crossed. There are also exceptions with specific journalists at niche outfits, such as reports in the Haaretz newspaper of Israel. But these repeated exceptions can only exist in societal circumstances in which they can have no substantial influence beyond selling copy to a niche audience or serving as a lightning rod for the dominant paradigm.

Social-network journalists, on the other hand, are confident that the technological venues they rely on for publication will always be assailed by dominant forces. They reasonably have little confidence that the courts can effectively protect their freedom of expression rights, nor do they have the resources to use the courts, nor does pro bono law exist anymore that would be of use in this regard, because of corporate capture of the legal profession.

Furthermore, the Supreme Court of Canada has not exactly been progressive in its freedom of expression decisions. It likes to distinguish “useful expression in a democracy” from “expression not worthy of protection”, it condones the common law of defamation, which violates universal standards of protection of freedom of expression, and it regularly makes regressive applications of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms loopholes that are sections 1 and 32.

Q: What changes have you seen over time (i.e. is press freedom being reduced? Is it growing?)

A: There can be no doubt that suppression of freedom has progressed, from the post-war Bretton Woods economic era, to the popular movements of the 1960s and 1970s, to the establishment’s coordinated assaults against democracy of the 1980s, to the aggressive new era of globalization starting in the 1990s, to the global corporate and finance mega-merger sprees of the late 1990s and mid-2000s.

The economic and institutional and statutory transformations were accompanied by large-scale social engineering of attitudes and beliefs, related to the emergent culture of “safe spaces”, and of “hate speech” as being assimilated with physical or psychological violence against specific and identified individual persons.

These economic and societal transformations have been outlined in the Ontario Civil Liberties Association’s published “OCLA Report 2019-1”.

Q: Are there more challenges/barriers to journalists reporting on the important issues at hand?

A: With corporate media, in a nutshell, there cannot be a “challenge” in preserving press freedom where there is no press freedom.

With social-network journalism, the challenges are endless, because social-network journalists threaten the mental landscape being fabricated and maintained by the bosses of the economy, via corporate media and institutional capture. As such social-network media is targeted for capture and confinement.

Q: What do you think the future holds for journalists in terms of freedom of speech and freedom of the press?

A: This is the future. 1984.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Mossbauer spectroscopy software "Recoil for Windows" now available as a free download

By Denis G. Rancourt

I'm now providing the free Mossbauer spectroscopy software "Recoil for Windows", originally developed in my laboratory.

Interested scientists can go here:

Or, directly read the QUICK INSTALLATION GUIDE AND RECOMMENDATIONS for Recoil, here:

The analysis methods used in Recoil have a strong scientific basis. For example, the scientific article describing a main fitting module in the program ...

“Voigt-based methods for arbitrary-shape static hyperfine parameter distributions in Mössbauer spectroscopy”, DG Rancourt and J-Y Ping, Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research B (NIMB) B58, 1991, 85-97.

has been cited more than 500 times, according to Google Scholar.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Why is the USA attacking Iran and Venezuela?

This is the English version of an interview I made for Kayhan news of Iran, on April 15, 2019. The interview was published in Persian.

My interview was made prior to the USA announcement of April 22, 2019, that it would enforce zero-export of Iranian oil with heavy penalties against any non-compliant nation.

My interview explains why the aggressive warring sanctions should be expected, from the consistent USA campaign for world dominance, and why the USA wants war in both Iran and Venezuela.

<< Overall, the USA will continue its vile wars of sanctions against the peoples of all independent nations that have energy resources — Iran, Syria, Russia, and Venezuela — in a bid to reserve profit from oil and gas for itself and the allies it controls. The USA will also do everything it can to limit the development of China. China is responding with Eurasian trade development, by developing its massive coal reserves, and by energy security agreements with free nations. >>

I explain that the drive to war follows a clear longstanding pattern, anchored in preventing development of independent countries and regions, by imposition of the US dollar as the world currency, rather than being primarily the result of partizan politics or the interests of allies (see interview with Iran's Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammad Javad Zarif).

Here is the full unedited interview:

K:  What is the aim of America by designating IRGC as a terrorist group? What is Trump looking for by doing such an irrational international act?

DR:  The USA wants to control the Middle East because it wants to control both a high price of oil and who can benefit from selling oil; and gas, by extension.

Let us start at the beginning. The USA has been negotiating a dilemma since 1971 when it unilaterally cancelled the Bretton Woods trade agreement with its post-World-War-II allies and its controlled jurisdictions. The allies were developing too much. I explained this in my recent report entitled “Geo-Economics and Geo-Politics Drive Successive Eras of Predatory Globalization and Social Engineering”.

The dilemma, since 1971, is that on the one hand the USA must have high oil prices and force oil contracts to be signed in US dollars in order to secure the US dollar as the de facto world currency, its main financial instrument of global exploitation, whereas on the other hand, nations not under USA control can produce oil and gas and greatly benefit from the high price, thus driving their independence and development.

Development of sovereign nations outside of USA control inescapably leads to a multipolar world with balanced competing regional interests, rather than a world dominated by the USA and largely held in underdevelopment. The USA is desperate to delay the inevitable natural emergence of economic and military multipolarity. The USA is insecure, rationally fearful of revenge, and addicted to its power. Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov states this in his characteristically pithy and diplomatic words as: “The United States has a fear of fair competition”.

High-price commodities other than oil and gas also serve to artificially maintain the US dollar as the world currency. These include the payments on forced loans made in US dollars, US military hardware sales imposed on its subservient allies, and opium (Afghanistan) and USA-patented pharmaceuticals. 

In this context, Iran threatens USA domination in two ways. First, Iran is the anchor of an axis of resistance against USA-Israeli domination in the region. Iran is a rare entirely sovereign and strong nation. Second, Iran produces oil, which can be used to fund its own sovereign security, its own popular development, and its defensive influence and ties with neighbouring countries Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon. As such, Iran has been identified by the USA regime as the main threat against USA-Israeli domination of the Middle East. Iran is a focal point of opposition against USA hegemony, so USA aggression against Iran will not end until the USA experiences sufficient backlash, producing a more balanced world.

That is the aim of putting the IRGC on the USA list of terrorist organizations. The unprecedented move is part of a USA declared war of sanctions, aimed at destabilizing and weakening Iran, in order to create opportunities for political interference, terrorist attacks, and military strikes, to provoke a collapse. The targeting of Iran is a long-term goal of Republican administrations. This goal was rejected by the Democratic Obama administration as too risky. Democrats wanted “containment”, although Hilary Clinton is an extreme war hawk. Republicans want war.

In terms of partisan factions, war in the Middle East (or Venezuela) helps the Republican energy (shale oil and gas) and arms sectors. Whereas contained stability with USA domination helps the Democrat base of financiers (Wall Street). War in the Middle East also props up Israel by giving it an expanded role within the USA regime.

Overall, the USA will continue its vile wars of sanctions against the peoples of all independent nations that have energy resources — Iran, Syria, Russia, and Venezuela — in a bid to reserve profit from oil and gas for itself and the allies it controls. The USA will also do everything it can to limit the development of China. China is responding with Eurasian trade development, by developing its massive coal reserves, and by energy security agreements with free nations.

K:  What would be the security and intelligence consequences of America’s decision for the region?

DR:  The USA has become an unlawful rogue regime, and the illusion that it created in the United Nations now frustrates its intentions to intimidate and destabilize in order to delay the inevitable emergence of independent nations and regions.

The unlawful, vicious, and rogue USA behaviour is now clearly seen on many fronts: Economic and trade sanctions used as weapons of mass suffering, covert wars by supporting terrorists, such as in Syria, support for the genocidal war against Yemen, fomenting deadly instability in Ukraine, the recent cold-blooded murder of the nation of Libya, interference and direct war threats against Venezuela, deciding that it can use its courts to prosecute alleged crimes in foreign sovereign nations, in absentia, demanding arrests of citizens of foreign sovereign nations (Julian Assange, Meng Wanzhou), running torture camps (Guantanamo), declaring sovereignty over militarily occupied territories (Golan Heights), and so on.

The USA is the main global security threat at this time, without any close competitor. Naming the IRGC as a terrorist organization is the new norm in its outrageous behaviour. Imagine that: Unilaterally deciding that a national military organization, created to defend against the main rogue regime on the planet, is a “terrorist organization”.  The USA is asserting that those who defend themselves are terrorists.

This is an interesting development. It means that the USA is setting the precedent that a national military can be termed a terrorist organization. There is no basis in international law for such nonsense. But if such are the new rules, then surely the greatest terrorist organization at present, occupying entire continental regions, has to be the USA military and the CIA.

In other words, Trump’s irresponsible move puts USA occupiers and covert operatives at risk everywhere, of being detained and prosecuted as terrorists. That is why top USA intelligence and military officials, including General Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, opposed the designation of the IRGC as a terrorist organization.

The USA is in the throes of trying to slow the development of the free world. There will be more and more episodes of USA miscalculations. The designation of the IRGC as a terrorist organization may turn out to be such a miscalculation. If so, it will not be the last.

K:  American intelligent services are blamed for murdering innocent people and covertly supporting terrorist groups, still they point to IRGC for terrorist acts while the entity has devoted itself to fighting terrorism. How does this paradox get answered in West?

DR:  My definition of stupidity is a chronic inability to perceive objectively, due to class immunity and subservience. The paradox (reality) is not perceived because of self-image-based allegiance to the USA regime. Therefore, there is no paradox, no perceived reality that could cause cognitive dissonance.

This explains why ordinary citizens do not actually oppose the USA regime’s domestic and foreign violence. The regime does everything to indoctrinate by effective propaganda, rather than allow individual thought. When propaganda and institutionalized indoctrination are not enough, then the USA regime jails its own citizens, at the highest incarceration rate in the world (almost 7 incarcerated citizens per 1000 population).

On the other hand, USA elite planners should be concerned about the paradox that you describe, because such incongruities produce vulnerability for the empire. An empire can topple very quickly by a cascade of reactions if it produces fertile ground for such reactions.

The USA has lost its ability to produce and promote great statesmen and has become a cauldron of often pathological special interests. At the same time, it pursues an arms race, and is itching to use nuclear weapons. The world needs to limit USA adventures and ambitions. This is the most urgent problem of our era. Thankfully, Russia, China, Iran, and others are highly mature nations, with strong institutions and internal incubation of thoughtful leaders.

K:  It is reported that the Pentagon severely disagrees with the Trump decision. What is the reason?

DR:  Yes, as I mentioned earlier, the Pentagon seems to be the voice of reason in this matter. Military men have strong classical educations, at military academies, and this education includes the societal conditions for national stability and successful military campaigns.

Wars are not won solely by technology. Advanced technology can be defeated in unpredictable ways. Furthermore, coercive systems are by nature unstable. I think the Pentagon often does everything that it can to inject components of “reality on the ground”.

Unfortunately, the Israel model is too often followed by the USA, both domestically and in its foreign projects. The Israel model is one of brutal occupation by overwhelming force, combined with a massive system to recruit, bribe and blackmail collaborators. This may or may not, in the end, achieve the desired genocidal outcome in Palestine, but it is not a model that realistically can be applied on the global scale, without major diplomatic concessions, in my opinion.

K:  Could this decision relate to the Israel election?

DR:  Of course, yes. Netanyahu publicly thanked Trump on twitter for declaring the IRGC a terrorist organization: “Thank you for accepting another important request of mine.” This would have given Netanyahu a boost of credibility in time to influence the Israeli election.  This would explain why the designation was done in such a rush by the Trump administration, according to insider accounts.

Geo-Economics and Geo-Politics Drive Successive Eras of Predatory Globalization and Social Engineering: Historical emergence of climate change, gender equity, and anti-racism as State doctrines

“Geo-Economics and Geo-Politics Drive Successive Eras of Predatory Globalization and Social Engineering: Historical emergence of climate change, gender equity, and anti-racism as State doctrines”,

by Denis G. Rancourt,

Ontario Civil Liberties Association, OCLA Report 2019-1, April 2019.


Wednesday, January 23, 2019

The matters in dispute between the University of Ottawa and professor Denis Rancourt have been amicably resolved

Denis Rancourt in front of his office door at the University of Ottawa in 2006.

I'm happy to report that all the matters in dispute between the University of Ottawa and me have been amicably resolved, through voluntary mediation that occurred on January 16, 2019, with the help of expert mediator William Kaplan.

The terms of the agreement are confidential.

The protracted litigation started before I was dismissed from my Full Professorship on March 31, 2009. The most current aspects of the conflict were described by me in an article in the January 2019 issue of the Society for Academic Freedom and Scholarship's SAFS Newsletter (LINK).

I am happy with this development. I am thankful to my union, the Association of Professors of the University of Ottawa (APUO), for its continuous and unwavering support, and for the many students and friends who over the years signed petitions, wrote letters, attended hearings, followed the events, and publicly expressed their opinions. Thank you all very very much!

On the professional side, I am now going to more fully devote myself to my volunteer work as a researcher at the Ontario Civil Liberties Association (, to helping folks that way; and to my social theory explorations (author-page at Dissident Voice), plus some basic and environmental science. Follow my agitation on current issues on Facebook.

Check out my researcher page on Research Gate (LINK), and see my profile on Google Scholar (LINK).

[updated on 2019-03-31]

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Stability and Dynamics of Individual Personality in a Dominance Hierarchy

By Denis Rancourt

First published here:

In this article, I develop a physics model of the bimodal personality of the social animal. The model uses free-energy barrier-crossing theory and provides a new and testable paradigm of individual behaviour and perception in a dominance hierarchy.

A realistic theory of social organization must use a correct model of the individual. The said correct model must not only contain correct elements but it must also be sufficiently complete to be predictive and to produce observed social behaviour.

For example, it is correct to say that the individual is intrinsically driven to seek safety, resources and to reproduce, however actually expressed in society.  By “intrinsic” I mean “hard-wired” or “evolutionary” or “physiologically prescribed”.  But these correct biological characteristics of the individual are not sufficient by themselves to explain that dominance hierarchy is virtually always the organizational type in societies of social-animal species.

Nor do these correct characteristics of the individual explain the long-term stability of a given class-structured dominance hierarchy, or the phenomenon that many individuals in society can choose to forgo reproduction or even forgo striving to obtain optimal levels of safety and access to vital resources.

Having posited the internal drivers for safety, resources and reproduction, the next level of complexity of the model of the individual is to describe the individual’s intrinsic response function to external (i.e., societal or environmental) signals. Such signals include both positive and negative social feedback, and include both aggression and rewards from the dominance hierarchy.

Regarding the individual’s intrinsic response function, in a 2011 article I postulated that the strong causal relation between poor individual health and subjection to dominance-hierarchy stress was a biological reality that both enabled the formation of dominance hierarchy and provided a mechanism to cull burdensome individuals from the society.1

However, this was a linear response function that incorrectly does not admit any beneficial effect from stressor events, in any circumstances. It also did not make the important distinction that the “stress” that determines health is not an objective consequence of the external stressors but, instead, must be understood as the “experienced stress”. I described the important additional concepts of “experienced stress” and comparative “self-image” in 2014.2 These modulators move us towards the needed non-linearity of the response function, and in themselves explain many health outcomes.

Independently, it has been a major theoretical breakthrough, in the area of individual health, to explicitly posit that the individual’s intrinsic response function is not linear and has a “U” shape. This is scientist-reviewer Sapolsky’s “inverted-U” function.3 I have reviewed these advances in my critical assessment of cancer science.4  The inverted-U idea is that there is an optimum degree of stress, not too little (isolation) and not too great (overwhelming oppression), which maximizes individual health.

While the inverted-U curve of stress response is a useful unifying concept, it does not account for the capricious nature of experienced stress, which in turn is the actual determinant of health in a given individual.  The same objectively measured external stress can have opposite health effects in different individuals in the same social class, and opposite effects in the same individual at different times while remaining in the same social class, for example.

The above considerations, the overwhelming importance of dominance hierarchy as the main organizational principle in animal societies, and a review of the science of the monoamine neurotransmitter serotonin in relation to social status, aggression and dominance interactions led me to propose the simplification that “social animals have two modes of being”, which I explained in the following way:5
I propose that the animal has two modes of being, which are binary end-points on an attitudinal, self-image and behavioural psychological-state-scape.

I’m not saying that each individual is permanently in one or the other mode of being. Rather, I propose that the individual shifts and slides into one or the other mode depending on his immediate social circumstances and on his history (biological and metabolic memory) of being predominantly in one mode or the other.

The modes of being that I propose map onto the social dominance hierarchy, and are consistent with the roles of different individuals within the hierarchy.

Specifically, one mode is the mode (and strategy) adopted by the dominated individual. This mode is one where the individual seeks “fairness” and minimal aggressions in their environment. The individual seeks a “safe space” and has no actual design to displace dominants. The culture of individuals that coalesce into such a stratum of the hierarchy is one where “kindness” and “being a good person” are the highest social values that are encouraged and rewarded. Altruism and “goodiness” are elevated to a status meriting religious indulgences. Viciousness actuated by enforcers within the social stratum is turned towards violators of this code.

The other mode is the mode (and strategy) adopted by the individual who intends to be and to remain dominant. It is an outlook of waging and winning battles for dominance. This is the climber with a “killer’s instinct”, prepared to joust for relative advantage and eager to dominate.

These modes are distinct mental and physiological states of being. …
In the present article, I want to extend and formalize the proposal of two modes of being by casting it within the physics paradigm of thermally induced transitions between two free-energy minima of different depths. My intention is to optimally capture the biological, metabolic and social dimensions of the problem with a minimalist model that is sufficiently realistic to explain non-trivial social phenomena.

Within this new picture, the individual’s intrinsic response function (response to external signals), realistically depends on the state (or mode of being) that the individual temporarily occupies and on the landscape of possibilities for given expenditures of metabolic energy.

The single-variable “free-energy” function that I will draw has a y-axis labelled “E”, which is excess metabolic energy expenditure that the individual needs to use in changing their circumstances on the road to transitioning between modes of being.  “E” is analogous to the so-called free energy in physics and chemistry. However, it is excess energy expenditure (or effort) and is therefore on a per-unit-of-time basis for the individual. It is a rate of energy expenditure. It is an “excess” rate because there is always a basal metabolic rate of energy expenditure simply to sustain the life of the inactive individual (beating heart, etc.).

In chemistry, one could be looking at transitions between two bonding configurations of a molecule. In physics, one could be modelling transitions between two orientations of a supermoment on a magnetic iron-oxide nanoparticle. In all cases, the x-axis (or variable) in the “free-energy” picture is a quantity that represents the “state” of the system (molecule, nanoparticle, individual animal) at a given instant.

I label the x-axis “S”, for “state”. In the chemistry example, “S” is a parameter that captures the molecular configuration (a bond angle or an inter-atomic separation). In the physics example, “S” is a parameter that captures the magnetic state of the nanoparticle, such as the angular orientation of the supermoment relative to the ambient magnetic field.

In the case of the individual in a dominance hierarchy, “S” is defined to capture the bio-metabolic state of the individual. For example, we could posit that “S” is the concentration in the blood of a neurohormonal substance that determinatively modulates animal behaviour and perception, which in turn can be interpreted to map onto a “mode of being” or some intermediate transitional mode. Several researchers and scientist reviewers have suggested that serotonin is a candidate to be this substance, but the details of the candidate substance(s) or metabolic quantities do not alter my model.

The possibility of transitions controlled by a modulating substance and occuring in a bimodal state-scape was envisioned for animal behaviour in the landmark 1988 article of Kravitz:6
Such compounds, therefore, can influence large areas of the nervous system in a way that parallels the manner in which transmitters, acting through second messengers, alter the properties of individual nerve or muscle cells: they bring the system (a cell for a transmitter or a circuit for a hormone) from one stable state to a second new stable state that now shows a changed response to selective stimulation. This is done by the alteration or sensitization of a logical set of component pieces that together modify the output of the system.
To continue, here is my picture of the excess metabolic rate versus the state variable value (E-vs-S) function. In fact, five different E-vs-S functions are represented for five different individuals in a dominance hierarchy, subjected to five corresponding different degrees of perceived dominance signaling from their social environment:

The curves “1” to “5” for the five different individuals are labelled in order of increasing dominance oppression perceived by the individual. In most circumstances (2, 3 and 4), there are two troughs (labelled “L” for “loser” and “W” for “winner”) in the E-vs-S functions, separated by a barrier maximum labeled “B”.

Here, L and W correspond to the “two modes of being” described above. L is the dominated mode, whereas W is the dominant mode.

At small values of S, such as small blood concentrations of serotonin, say, the individual naturally settles into the L-mode simply by minimizing its rate of excess metabolic energy expenditure. Moderate expenditures of excess metabolic energy do not allow the individual to escape the L-mode, as it simply relaxes back down to minimal expenditure after the temporary exertion.

Similarly, at large values of S the individual naturally settles into the W-mode by minimizing its rate of excess metabolic energy expenditure. Moderate expenditures of excess metabolic energy do not bring the individual into the L-mode.

A winning fight, requiring expenditure of metabolic energy up to the barrier value (L to B) can allow an individual to cross over from the L-mode into the W-mode. Likewise, a losing fight that requires metabolic energy expenditure from W to B can push an individual out of the W-mode and into the L-mode.

Some individuals (curve-1 in the figure) cannot escape the W-mode that, for them, is the only stable mode. This shape of E-vs-S curve occurs for individuals that get constant re-enforcement of their high “dominant” societal status, and that are not subjected to threatening hierarchical oppression. An example would be a high-status government or industry leader that is always accompanied by a small army of ego-boosting sycophants.

Similarly, some individuals (curve-5 in the figure) cannot escape the L-mode that, for them, is the only stable mode. This shape of E-vs-S curve occurs for individuals that are constantly reminded of their low “dominanted” societal status, and that are subjected to threatening hierarchical oppression. An example would be a forced coal-mine worker or a prisoner of war in a forced-labour camp.

Importantly, however, the degree “dominance oppression” that determines the shape of the E-vs-S curve for a given individual is subjective rather than objective. It is the “perceived dominance signaling” from the individual’s environment. As noted above, the said signaling includes both positive and negative social feedback, and includes both aggression and rewards from the dominance hierarchy.

Therefore, a low-social-class individual can be in a stable W-mode although this will be rare, on a population basis at a given time, and so on. Put another way, on a time basis for a given individual, such a given low-social-class individual will, through the metabolic expenditures of interacting, spend most of their time in the L-mode but some of their time in the W-mode. And these outcomes are similar but inversed for high-social-class individuals.

The said “perceived dominance signaling” that determines the shape of the E-vs-S curve for a given individual plays a central role. Let’s simply call it “H”, for the sake of convenience. H is analogous to the ambient constant magnetic field experienced by the nanoparticle in our physics example, and it is analogous to a uniaxial stress (pressure) experienced by the molecule in our chemistry example.

In our case of an individual in a dominance hierarchy, H can be defined as H = fp.Mp − fn.Mn, where the first term is the product of the occurrence frequency (fp) of positive signals and the average magnitude (Mp) of a positive signal. The second term is the product of the occurrence frequency (fn) of negative signals and the average magnitude (Mn) of a negative signal. A signal is a social feedback, such as a facial expression or a look, or an interaction in the dominance hierarchy, including aggressions and rewards.

H has a value that is measured on a certain sensitivity or measurement time (ts) of the individual. The value of H is not sensitive to environmental changes that occur within times smaller than ts, and H may vary in time on timescales larger than ts. The sensitivity time, ts, is the integration time for establishing a long-term memory that modulates perception. For adult humans, it can be as short as days and as long as years. In other words, the frequencies (fp and fn) of signals in the above formula are determined on the time window ts, where fp and fn are necessarily (much) larger than 1/ts.

All this to say that social environmental changes occurring on a timescale larger than ts can change an individual’s E-vs-S curve that in turn determines both (a) the relative amount of time the individual spends in either the L-mode or the W-mode, and (b) the kinetics of the individual’s transitions between the L-mode and S-mode. See below.

The picture I have described so far gives a statistical-mechanics view, based on animal metabolism of a social animal in a dominance hierarchy, to explain an individual’s inertia regarding personality, perception and behavioural changes, and provides a model for an individual’s transitions between the dominated and dominant modes of being, as follows.

If we define a correct “temperature” of the system, then the model will give quantitative predictions for time spent in each mode and kinetics of transitions between modes.

By analogy with the systems in physics and chemistry to which free-energy barrier-crossing theory applies, we can define “temperature” as follows. Let the temperature, T, of an individual in a dominance hierarchy be the mean magnitude of the rate of spontaneous excess metabolic energy expenditure, which is self-generated by the individual (same units as E). This is the rate at which the individual expends metabolic energy to act in the world, beyond just being alive.

Key predictions follow. Let E(L) be the E-value at the bottom of the L-trough, E(W) be the E-value at the bottom of the W-trough, and E(B) be the E-value at the barrier maximum (see figure). And write the natural exponential function (of x) as “exp[x]”.

Then the average time, t(L), spent by the individual in the L-mode before transitioning to the W-mode is given by this simple formula:

t(L)  =  t(TLW)   exp[ (E(B) − E(L)) / T ]

where t(TLW) is the average time between temperature events (of average magnitude T) that constitute attempts to crossover into the W-mode.

The corresponding formula for the average residence time in the W-mode of being is:

t(W)  =  t(TWL)  exp[ (E(B) − E(W)) / T ]

where t(TWL) is the average time between temperature events (of average magnitude T) that constitute attempts to cause cross-over into the L-mode. Here, 1/t(TLW) and 1/t(TWL) are the so-called attempt frequencies of free-energy barrier-crossing theory.

The ratio of residence times is independent of E(B):

t(L)/t(W)  =  (t(TLW)/t(TWL))  exp[ (E(W) − E(L)) / T ]

The latter equation can be tested experimentally, since all the quantities are times and rates of energy expenditure that can be measured.

The above equations may be the first physics equations that predict average residence times of individuals in given L and W metabolic states (modes of being), and that describe the underlying statistical mechanics of animal transitions between the two modes of being.

My model predicts how an individual embedded in a class (characterized by “H”) within a dominance hierarchy is confined to react to their environment to adopt a mode of being. Is your E(L) larger or smaller than your E(W)…? Dominants have E(W) < E(L), whereas dominated individuals have E(L) < E(W), assuming t(TLW) = t(TWL). Arguably, the single number that best characterizes the main coarse features of the individual’s true personality is the dimensionless ratio E(L)/E(W), which largely results from the individual’s environment (H).

The model shows how the dominance hierarchy creates two kinds of individuals that predominantly reside either in the L or W (dominated or dominant) modes of being. In this way, the animal’s intrinsic bio-chemical response to environmental signals provides a foundational mechanism for creating a stable dominance hierarchy, irrespective of the individual health consequences of an individual’s mode of being.

Dominance hierarchies are highly successful from an evolutionary perspective, such that social organization and individual metabolic reaction mechanisms would have co-evolved to be inseparable.
For humans, therefore, while complex institutions, technology and resource extraction efficiency theoretically permit individual emancipation, nonetheless the human animal cannot escape its intrinsic socio-bio-metabolic nature. Dominance hierarchy rules.7,8
  1. A Theory of Chronic Pain – A social and evolutionary theory of human disease and chronic pain”, by Denis Rancourt, Dissident Voice, December 26, 2011. []
  2. Self-Image-Incongruence Theory of Individual Health”, by Denis Rancourt, Dissident Voice, October 26, 2014. []
  3. “Stress and the brain: individual variability and the inverted-U”, by R.M. Sapolsky, Nature Neuroscience, October 2015, vol. 18, no. 10, pages 1344-1346. And see: “The Influence of Social Hierarchy on Primate Health”, by R.M. Sapolsky, Science, 29 April 2005, vol. 308, pages 648-652. []
  4. Cancer Arises from Stress-induced Breakdown of Tissue Homeostasis. Part 1: Context of Cancer Research”, by Denis Rancourt, Dissident Voice, December 4, 2015. []
  5. Social Animals have Two Modes of Being”, by Denis Rancourt, Dissident Voice, July 2, 2018. []
  6. Hormonal Control of Behavior: Amines and the Biasing of Behavioral Output in Lobsters”, by Edward A. Kravitz, Science, 30 September 1988, vol. 241, pages 1775-1781. []
  7. Cause of USA Meltdown and Collapse of Civil Rights”, by Denis Rancourt, Dissident Voice, September 7, 2017. []
  8. Humanity against People. Nature of the maturing geographical and global Western class conflict of Trump and Macron”, by Denis Rancourt, Dissident Voice, December 16, 2018. []

Denis G. Rancourt is a former tenured full professor of physics at the University of Ottawa, Canada. He is a researcher for the Ontario Civil Liberties Association. He has published more than 100 articles in leading scientific journals, on physics and environmental science. He is the author of the book Hierarchy and Free Expression in the Fight Against Racism. Read other articles by Denis.