Dragonflies Play Dead, So Do Our Masters

Animal behavior can be extremely intelligent, even in insects. Being an animal means being intelligent. (I was once nearly pushed off a mountainside by a giant sheep which looked innocent, cuddly, thoroughly unawares and stupid enough, until it deliberately, smartly, shoved me downslope.)

A study from the University of Zurich, published in the journal Ecology, reveals that the moorland hawker dragonfly plunges at high speed, a risky maneuver, and then pretends to drop dead, upside down, to escape aggressive males (sometimes, the hovering male inspecting the belle from above, is not fooled, though…) There are instances of other animals faking their own deaths to avoid being killed, for example opossums, who look thoroughly disgusting, foaming at the mouth, as if they had a terrible disease (the disgusted predator, not wanting to catch something, generally walks away).  

I see, therefore I think. And I think playing dead works.

Playing dead is a well documented strategy (even in dragonflies). Yet, this is the only study of female animals faking deaths to avoid mating. 

Researcher Rassin Khelifa was collecting insect eggs in the Swiss Alps, something he had done for ten years, when he noticed that a female dragonfly would fake her own death by falling from the sky and then lie motionless on the ground until the male dragonfly leaves the area.

“While I was waiting at a pond near Arosa, at about 2,000 meter elevation,” he wrote, “I witnessed a dragonfly dive to the ground while being pursued by another dragonfly… the individual that crashed was a female, and that she was lying motionless and upside down on the ground. Upside down is an atypical posture for a dragonfly. The male hovered above the female for a couple seconds and then left. I expected that the female could be unconscious or even dead after her crash landing, but she surprised me by flying away quickly as I approached. The question arose: Did she just trick that male? Did she fake death to avoid male harassment? If so, this would be the first record of sexual death feigning in odonates.”

This is when the philosophical method has kicked in: the mind has one example, a single example, and builds a (putative scientific) theory from it. We know that’s how the visual system itself works (the visual system is mostly stimulated by itself: information from the eyes is less than 10%!)

The human mind is a philosopher.

After making this initial revelation, Khelifa spent the next few months documenting instances where a female dragonfly would crash-land and play dead while being pursued by a male dragonfly. He observed that when female dragonflies arrived at the pond where male dragonflies were “constantly patrolling looking for a mate”, the females would be intercepted mid-air. After copulating nearby, the male dragonfly would fly away, leaving the female unprotected while she laid her eggs.

In 86 percent of cases that Khelifa observed, the females would crash to the ground and fake their deaths. “Those that kept flying were all intercepted by a male but if they were motionless, 77.7 percent of the dragonflies were successful in deceiving the coercive male,” he wrote.

This behavior could have resulted from exaptation, a term in evolutionary biology to describe a trait that has been co-opted for a use other than the one for which natural selection has built it. “Since death feigning already exists in the behavioral repertoire of dragonflies, females of the moorland hawker expanded the use of this anti-predatory function to avoid male coercion,” Khelifa wrote. “On the other hand, the origin of this exaptation is probably sexual conflict where each sex adopts reproductive strategies that best serve its own survival and reproductive success.”

Plummeting to their fake deaths appears to help female dragonflies survive longer and produce more offspring by avoiding coercion. “Sexual death feigning is one of the rarest behaviors in nature, and due to its scarcity, it has received little attention in behavioral ecology. Currently, it is restricted only to arthropods. It would be interesting to know whether this scarcity is true or just an artifact related to the lack of behavioral investigations or difficulty in detecting this behavior.”

***

Playing Dead, and Playing Dumb: How Plutos Rule:

Thus, when I argue that human history is much subtle and infused with human will and machination than official history has it, remember the dragonflies! If they can be so smart, so can we!

My Machivellian philosophy and vision of history extends in many dimensions. Not just Islam, plutocracy, democracy, civilization, and the evil nature of the best humanism. Fortunately, it is gaining credence.

For example, the Egyptian ambassador to France, Ehab Badawi, a self-declared “moderate Muslim educated by Jesuits“, and was once punished by a Father for not having studied the Qur’an well! Ehab Badawi argues that the West is the main sponsor and enabler of terrorist Islam (he puts it a bit more diplomatically than me). Badawi says this: Western satellites carry TV channels which incite to evil interpretations of Islam, and make propaganda for the worst Islam madness. Thus, instead of accusing the Wahhabis from Saudi Arabia, the ambassador accuses the Western plutocrats (who launch and operate the Islam propaganda satellites).

I have explained that the rise of fundamentalist Islam was a deliberate ploy by US  and British plutocrats (more exactly, initially, oilmen). The de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia, the 31 year old Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, picked up a nearly three-quarter of a billion dollar yacht in south France last year (previously owned by Russian plutocrat). At the same time, he was imposing fierce austerity in Saudi Arabia. The Serene yacht was made in Italy.

Saudi Arabia is a dollar recycling machine which sends billions to Wall Street in a somewhat similar fashion to the European Central Bank sending 2.7 billion Euros a day to the world’s wealthiest entities. Smart. And when you ask the right questions, they play dead (that’s why I am censored by the New York Times).

Our masters and attending plutos would have to play dead, if one asked them the proper questions (fortunately for the plutocracy, in the USA, the democratic establishment is thoroughly pluto, and craftily replaced intelligent debate by racial and racist invectives, and other posing ways…)

The propaganda has been so intense, all values have been inverted. For example Paul Krugman is viewed as “left”, “liberal”, conscientious, an intellectual, look at him, like Obama, another deep thinker out of that shallow pond, he got a Noble.

Actually, as I have said for years, Krugman is nothing of the sort: he preaches disorienting venom. And this is now slowly starting to be understood by really deep thinkers. In light of what I said above about Muslim Fundamentalism (a plutocratic device), Krugman style thinking is just another plutocratic device. (And even the lukewarm critiques of the ilk of Sanders and Warren can be viewed as suspiciously mild posing…)

Similarly, in France, to block all changes, one accuses the National Front to be fascist. But surely the national Front is not causing the sinking of France? It was never in power. More generally, “populism” is accused of fascism (basically, following the model established in France, in the last thirty years, of calling the National Front, fascist and populist).

Meanwhile the European Union did its best to block in Turkey those who wanted to block Islamism (see Wall Street, above). Conclusion? The Sultan Erdogan has censored Wikipedia, blocked it, just as the New York Times blocks me. (It’s true that lies about Turkey, if outrageous enough, should be blocked; however, that should be done publicly, punctually, and debated. In a case like that, the state should be able to go to the Justice system, something that already exists for books. Worldwide.)

If the masters play brain-dead long enough, imposing their example, the brains of the rabble will atrophy, just as intended. Of course, to start with, a democracy with masters is a contradiction in adjecto. When one starts bad, and deny it, it can only get worse!

Patrice Ayme’

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2 Responses to “Dragonflies Play Dead, So Do Our Masters”

  1. picard578 Says:

    This is a paragraph from my article that I am planning to finish writing when I manage to find time to read Huntington (finally bought his “Clash of Civilizations”, yay!). I’d like your thoughts on it:

    Historically, Islamic civilization was not in the state of open war against the West only when it was impossible to do so due to Western military dominance. This dominance began to assert itself in the late 16th century AD, and lasts until today. Because of this, people who fail to take the long view of history have false impression of relative agressiveness of Islamic civilization compared to the Western one, and Islamic world appears as a victim.

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Good, thanks for showing me this. I agree with your main point: Western military achieved supremacy (beyong Grecian fire!) in the 16th century. A few fast remarks, I am extremely rushed:

      Muslims attacked on day one. Muhammad himself led a raid into the Roman empire before he even conquered Mecca (in 629 CE). Roman army stayed away from him.
      Initial Muslim successes were partly caused by their total violation of the basic rules of war established by Greeks, Persians, Romans and even Carthage in preceding millenium. They massacred all men in Syria, lest they be drafted.

      In the very long view of history, Literal Islam (Whahabbism, Salafism) is just a particularly hysterical version of Abrahamism, a religion. It’s not a civilization, whatever Harvard (Huttington) says about it… As far as I am concerned, right of return of full civilization on these lands is legal, necessary for survival of civilization.

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