The Fear Factor
As I suspected might happen, everybody has taken away the wrong lesson — and I daresay “perverse” lesson — from the recently published West Coast research on the role of fear in maintaining equilibrium in ecosystems, as reported in Nature Communications, (“Fear of large carnivores causes trophic cascade“). What they should have taken away is the insight that subjective states — moods, emotions, feelings — are an integral part of the environment, and not that “fear is good” or that we’ve discovered a “surprising new weapon in the war against raccoons“.
To be fair, though, the research only focussed on the fear factor. There are other moods just as vital — even more vital. And I have no doubt, too, that some social Darwinist types are going to exploit such research for a justification for the “culture of fear” or the calculated political uses of public anxiety, or for a rationalisation of the social value of predatory or vulture capitalism, and not just the continuation of the war psychosis against “Nature” (but also against “human nature”).
The lesson that should be learned from this is that you can’t mask feelings or emotions behind a facade of indifference or nonchalance. They have an effective reality despite all such pretense that extends beyond the boundary of the body. They are an integral part of the total milieu.
But for human life, love is far more effective than fear.