18 Funding a Lifelong Passion

For Jim, his research ‘was the background behind everything I did, my ultimate purpose behind Jim's Mowing'. Through all the years, Jim never lost sight of his goal: funding his research. And in late 2005 he finally had money to spare. I asked if it was tough having to wait twenty-four years.

‘I thought about it every day,' he replied simply. Since then Jim has spent several million dollars conducting studies that have helped develop his theory of what makes civilisations rise and fall, with exciting discoveries that could help improve mental health.

Jim's theory, summarised

His basic idea is that human societies, and all of human history, can be best understood in terms of evolutionary biology. To explain it, Jim first decribed ‘slow' and ‘fast' life history strategy as follows.

Slow life history strategy

Animals in a limited-food environment have to plan for the future by searching out food supplies even when not hungry (the animal equivalent of ‘work'). They must drive away competitors for food, and with less food available they become less social, at the extreme defending an exclusive territory. Another way of looking at this is they become more ‘impersonal' in their attitudes, oriented to defending a piece of land rather than bonding with other animals.

They do not tend to breed until they have secured territory, because without it they would have little chance of successfully raising young, and when young are born they spend a great deal of ...

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