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An arm is stretched out with a well-groomed white mouse resting between the thumb and forefinger.John B. Calhoun Film 7.1
1970-72 / 38 minutes (edited version)
Producers: National Institute of Mental Health, Time-Life Broadcasting
Sound, color

Transcript

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[7-58* Color 1970-1972 Interview with Calhoun and Introduction of S102 Mice into Universes of Studies 122,123 CA 110 Minutes]

[58* Part 1 Color/Sound 1972, Fall Univ. 25, Study 102 McGraw-Hill Interview Scenes Include Last Survivors CA 5 minutes]

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[Narrator:] Two and a half years ago, we found Dr. John Calhoun knee-deep in mice,

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in the mouse heaven he designed for the National Institute of Mental Health’s Animal Center near Washington.

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Dr. Calhoun wanted to find out what would happen to a mouse colony

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given everything mice need except living space.

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The result was chilling.

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Two and a half years ago, more than two thousand mice were packed into Mouse City.

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Today, a tiny handful of survivors huddles in one corner of the city.

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Dr. Calhoun explains what the overcrowding did to Mouse City’s inhabitants.

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[Dr. Calhoun:] The last thousand animals born never learned to develop the social behaviors.

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They never learned to be aggressive, which is necessary in defense of home sites.

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They never learned to court; there was no mating.

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Being no mating, there were no progeny and the older animals uhh, whose behavior

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is already becoming disrupted, they eventually reach to, an age too old to reproduce.

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And so it was all left up to these last thousand or so, who we call the beautiful ones,

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because, not engaging in any stressful activity and only paying attention to themselves,

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they groomed themselves well so they look uh, very fine specimen.

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But from that point on, which was about the time that you were here two and a half years ago,

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this reproduction totally ceased and the animals have just aged and died.

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[Narrator:] At least one human group, the Ik tribe discovered in Africa by Dr. Colin Turnbull

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has gone through a similar, terrible process, according to Dr. Calhoun.

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[Dr. Calhoun:] Two conditions that they went through was that there was a decision on

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on the then-colonial government to make a wildlife preserve of this big valley

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which was their home, they’re hunter-gatherers.

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They were moved up onto the mountain side and gathered together in much higher density.

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Instead of being spread out in small groups, they were all placed in one place,

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and also required to engage in an entirely different way of life,

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in which their social roles, the whole...

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everything they'd learned how to do had no meaning.

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Under those conditions, the social behavior broke down.

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They began living, they still lived together

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but their activities were directed towards themselves.

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Everything you would think that’s human disappeared.

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[Narrator:] Perhaps the most chilling conclusion from his Mouse City studies, says Dr. Calhoun

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is that once this change in social behavior occurs, it apparently cannot be reversed.

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[Dr. Calhoun:] It's this fact of apparent irreversible phase shifts that gives some of us

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particular concern over the fate of the human situation.

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Because we see worldwide, the breaking down of social roles, the increase in contact

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will result in the breakdown of social roles, because there are too many people.

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This might lead to an overriding of our controls of our total culture and would be

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set into a process which would either fix us rigidly forever into some sort of

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global tribalism without any adaptation to change,

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or there would result, perhaps eventually, some decline very much like we’ve seen here,

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but postponed somewhat.

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[Narrator:] Dr. John B. Calhoun, with a very sobering look at a possible future for us.

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Bill Roberts from the National Institute of Mental Health Animal Center near Washington.

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[59* Part 1(CONTD) Color 1970 April 1 caUDN:892 Univ. 25, Study 102,

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Carl Coleman, Time-Life Interview, CA 30 Minutes]

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[Background sounds and voices]

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[Coleman:] Dr. Calhoun why do we have to make decisions now

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on our population control?

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[Dr. Calhoun:] Well, the population's a very interesting one.

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There’s a lot of talk about a population explosion.

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Well, there's no population explosion, at least not quite yet, and never has been,

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or you might say there's always been a population explosion.

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If we go back to about forty-thousand years ago, uhh there were perhaps

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four and a half million people on earth.

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It had been not...many fewer than this for the previous

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two million years of man's evolution.

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And then suddenly the numbers began to increase,

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and perhaps a little crude drawing here will uhh show this.

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These are in millions now.

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And this is one, ten, a hundred million, one billion, and we go up above here.

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And if we take a time scale here, an inverse log, we go back to a hundred thousand years ago.

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And we go back to, we’ll make this then to ten thousand years ago,

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to one thousand years ago, one thousand years ago.

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Then a hundred which is one-tenth, to one year, from sometime in the future.

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So these are in time, in thousands of years, and if we look at population growth

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in this way, starting back about forty thousand years ago..

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Population started at about here, has gone roughly on this direction.

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Now this is a rather complex curve, it’s the Von Foerster curve, but simply said, starting here

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at forty-thousand years ago, it took about twenty-thousand years umm about twenty-thousand years

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for the population to double.

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Then the next doubling required uhh about ten thousand years.

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Then each doubling, five thousand years to the next doubling, twenty-five hundred and so on.

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[Coleman:] What doubling are we in now, Doctor?

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[Dr. Calhoun:] We’re in the tenth doubling and the eleventh doubling.

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[Coleman:] Is that the final one?

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[Dr. Calhoun:] Well pretty near, it might be.

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The final doubling, starting shortly after the next uh way up here.

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We’re up in here, scale about right, uhh in which the world population might be of the order of...

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four and a half billion now, people, would require only twenty years to double.

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So starting from twenty thousand years for the first doubling up to about twenty years,

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if this historical process continues.

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So we’re back here a little ways from that, not very far from early in the next century.

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[Interviewer:] Can it be mathematically projected, Doctor, on a calendar year perhaps

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when the population reaches the point where it outstrips our natural resources,

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our power supplies, our food supplies.

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[Dr. Calhoun:] When you say mathematically this is what Von Foerster did...

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Projecting this age-old trend, not age-old, forty thousand years, rather short time.

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If this trend continued, you would have instantaneous doubling but we know

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that's impossible, and thus the critical question is that something is going to happen,

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that man will be different from the start of man.

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And this is where man started about forty thousand years ago as a cultural animal.

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Not as a biological animal, he went considerably back in time below that.

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But if beginning this new process where he quote, now is the only animal

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who could really control his numbers, that is to keep enlarging them,

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which is increasing his own potentiality by so doing.

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And this is continued until now we hit a critical point here, where this process can’t continue.

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And so from this time forty thousand years ago, to early in the next century,

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defines what we call man.

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And man ends at this point, 'cause there are a lot of bodies around,

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he’s going to have to be something quite different than what he has been historically.

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And so one thing that he could do and we’re certainly capable

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of doing it, is keep reproducing.

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So that’s one choice.

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And another choice that we have, early in the, which will have to be in effect

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by early in the next century, is if he can stabilize the population.

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One, he can keep going not very much longer.

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Above nine, well I haven’t got this, see.

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This would have been at nine billion, I haven’t quite gotten my figures here to double to nine billion.

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This is the end point if we, if the number of children per adults

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continues as it's been in the past,

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it would be about nine billion people at this point.

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If we begin slowing down so that the population can stabilize, which is the ecological model

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that we’ve tried to for wildlife management to maintain a stable population,

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then, with fewer children, we might keep the, at this level we have seven and a half billion.

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Another critical point here is how many adults.

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Ideally uhh, there should be, at this upper optimum,

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three and a half billion adults in order to make most effective

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the network of people communicating with people.

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However, if we go on the third, there's a third choice,

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and this is the population will begin slowly to decline.

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And if we go towards that goal, we would have at that point

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roughly about 6.3 billion total people.

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With less than, considerably less than two children per family.

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[Interviewer:] Doctor what do you think now of the stress of our environmental problems,

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trying to solve them?

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Should government, the politicians pay more attention to this problem, do you think?

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They’re all interlaced, it isn’t that simple.

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[Dr. Calhoun:] Well, the problem...the environment is just one problem,

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which we’re focused on now, and this may be a real trap because we only look at the

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physical, biological aspects of our surroundings.

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Where if we focused instead, on what is a much more essential comprehensive problem,

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and this is evolution and the designing of evolution.

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In fact, we like to say that, uhh, we are revolutionists here,

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but a particular kind of revolutionist that you could now spell differently.

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Now we all know what this symbol is. This is prescription, but uhh,

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[Sound of chalk writing on chalkboard]

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so we are concerned with the prescription for evolution of the design of the future,

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the design of evolution. So we’re revolutionists.

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[Murmuring in background]

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[Coleman:] Well doctor, why are we falling into a trap, paying so much attention to the environment?

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[Dr. Calhoun:] Well. We are in an environmental crisis, there’s no question about it.

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The concern of the government in this question is good.

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The even greater concern, particularly at the college level and

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the environmental teach-ins that are underway during April of this year

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are extremely good movements, but they may be a very deathly trap.

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For this reason, that is, if we can focus just on the good environment,

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the biological environment, the physical environment, we will miss a great deal of what man is or could be.

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With a concern for increasing human potentiality, and again we like to say

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we’d like to put mental human capacity back in environmental.

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And this is what we’re all about...

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and we could set a trap, see.

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The trap we’re setting here is we’re looking at the environment on the

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strictly biological model and not a man-future evolutionary-directed model.

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If we can develop a stable population in which everything becomes fixed,

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it’ll be unchanging over time, and now we’ll be back in a global tribal situation.

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Sure we might survive for millions of years, but we aren’t going anywhere,

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we’re like the lungfish in Lake Manyara, who in this same situation,

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they’ve handled it very effectively.

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Whenever stresses come along, they encapsulate themselves in a mud ball

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and wait out the dry period and then come back when the environment

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is back in a suitable condition.

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So we could become lungfish and evolution would essentially end.

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[Coleman:] What is government or what should government be doing now?

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Is it aware of this problem in your opinion, are we doing enough?

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We’re doing very little, aren’t we?

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[Dr. Calhoun:] I think there’s not, I don’t think it's necessarily leveled at the government.

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I think this is a, whatever comment that could be made here is one of general awareness,

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of becoming involved in the design of evolution,

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the prescription for further evolution.

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We have to have a long-time perspective, both in the past and the future,

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and where we may go.

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And that, that the issue, the big crisis now, is not when we think of environment

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relating to number of people.

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It's not number of people.

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It's people times capacities of the average individual or the total human capacity.

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Now if we, we can choose, now is the time for choosing a goal.

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And this in part relates to numbers.

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But it also pertains to whether we are going to select, from what has been

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the definition of man for the last forty thousand years,

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some aspect of this, one of these is what we call human potentiality,

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the capacities of the average individual to understand, to develop new insights,

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to communicate with his fellows more effectively.

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If that is a major overriding goal and is selected, and we select,

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and one of the necessities for that is maintaining a changing environment,

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which includes the numbers, and the only way to do that now is to decrease numbers.

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So that if we choose the goal of gradually going into declining population,

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with increasing human potentiality, we’re now at 1970.

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The critical point is about seventy-five years from now.

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There's tremendous time lag in social change.

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I mean it's been only a very short time since the Supreme Court ruling for integration

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and we’ve made lots of strides in some ways and very little in others.

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But this is a much, much more drastic change,

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and if you’re going to change numbers towards declining population,

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the whole attitude of people’s values, the decisions, have to be made in a very short time.

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We’ve got, let’s say fifteen years, or to 1984.

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So in essence if we, we have about fifteen years of grace or opportunity

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that this crisis presents to us,

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in which we can change our whole value system, or not change the value system

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but change the mechanism for changing the value system.

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It’s a meta-process.

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If we don’t do it within this time, we will probably be at, we will go into 1984...

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[Coleman:] George Orwell. [Dr. Calhoun:] in the Orwellian sense.

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So this is why it's critical.

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It’s the most, by this time, right now is the most critical time since sometime

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before when man made this discovery

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which probably took him about fifteen thousand years

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to learn how to discover a new kind of space, a conceptual world of ideas

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and progressive development of ideas.

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So that in the early primitive hunter group they had about fifteen thousand years

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to solve their impasse of when they were stuck by the carrying capacity of environment.

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The physical environment.

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Now we’re also stuck with a similar problem and have about fifteen years.

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So it's quite a burden.

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And the future, the entire future of evolution depends on the next fifteen years.

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The people here now, who are involved now...

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which is critical and uh, it’s a question of involvement.

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I’m an ecologist, ecologist/psychologist, however hybrid, and it’s a question of

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environment with involvement in the total environment of physical and social,

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that is the crucial question in our studies here

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which we use mice and rats and other animals for.

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And that’s where we bring into focus our research, is on the question of involvement.

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And they’re bitten up and the one that's bitten fails to run away.

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There's one type of..

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[Interviewer:] Okay doctor.

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[Dr. Calhoun:] And this is one of the types of lack of involvement,

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of total withdrawal from the reality of the environment,

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that’s compatible with that species.

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[Interviewer:] Right. Twenty-four hundred mice in this enclosure?

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[Dr. Calhoun:] There’s something of the order, we don’t know exactly what it is now.

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It’s between twenty-two hundred and twenty-five hundred mice,

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that is bodies, moving bodies.

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But there are really only uhh about a hundred and fifty mice in here.

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Real mice, that is mice who are in the social sphere.

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All the others have been rejected in one way or another.

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[Interviewer:] What’s happened…

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[Dr. Calhoun:] …reproductive behavior's completely inhibited.

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It’s inhibited because the la…it's inhibited because the last few hundred...

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maintained them as juveniles and although they are now adults uh they no longer

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engage in aggressive behavior or in reproductive behavior.

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And we call them the beautiful ones because they are so excellent physically,

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they are unstressed.

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Now I see one down here.

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Most of these live in the apartment houses and rarely come out, but I see one

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who's taken temporary refuge in one of the nesting material supply cans.

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I’ll go over and pull him out, so that you can see what a beautiful specimen this animal is.

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[Interviewer:] But as far as the mouse is concerned he’s a nothing?

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[Dr. Calhoun:] He’s a total nothing.

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[Calhoun climbs into the enclosure.]

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Now here he is lying, in the uh...you going?

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[Interviewer:] Go ahead doctor.

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[Dr. Calhoun:] Here he is lying in the can.

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It’s a place of temporary retreat.

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He’s colored very few, practically no wounds, he’s in excellent physical shape.

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He has two or three nicks but compared to most of the animals, he’s in excellent shape.

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And these animals from previous study shows that they are, are unstressed.

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They’re just not here insofar as involvement.

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[Interviewer:] You started this experiment with just a few mice

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some twenty months ago...apparently you’ve been able to dissect some?

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Have you noticed any changes in tissue?

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[Dr. Calhoun:] Well the major thing..
[Interviewer:] The stress.

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[Dr. Calhoun:] The major thing, well certain classes of these for instance,

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comparing these males on the floor here who are withdrawn.

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They are highly stressed animals but the stress comes from each other

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because of the peculiar violence that they exhibit.

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Which leaves them as this animal, withhis tail all chewed up, but they do it to each other.

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He's a highly stressed individual.

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On the other hand, the beautiful one which I just showed you,

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are are very, extremely unstressed.

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We run the, Dr. Julius Axelrod has run the assay of the enzyme which converts

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noradrenaline to adrenaline as the basis for this.

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On the other hand, we’ve been removing females from other populations just terminated

00:22:39 - 00:22:46
and looking at their uteri, and for animals up to a year of age who’ve come up in the latter history

00:22:46 - 00:22:51
of the colonies there’s essentially no evidence of conceiving.

00:22:51 - 00:22:56
So they’ve, at this stage, this is part ofthe over-living phenomenon.

00:22:56 - 00:23:01
And it's these individuals who are not conceiving are the ones which are not stressed.

00:23:01 - 00:23:04
They’re the beautiful ones who lack involvement.

00:23:04 - 00:23:10
So that’s the uh, the essential story of what’s going on in our studies.

00:23:10 - 00:23:13
[Interviewer:] Have you been surprised Doctor, about the results of this,

00:23:13 - 00:23:15
what you’ve learned so far?

00:23:15 - 00:23:19
Some twenty months ago did you think all these things were going to happen?

00:23:19 - 00:23:23
[Dr. Calhoun:] Well, I had a slightly different hypothesis

00:23:23 - 00:23:27
which held true only in the early stages,

00:23:27 - 00:23:34
and this was that the larger the space the uh, smaller the ultimate population density.

00:23:34 - 00:23:36
That’s proved not to be true,

00:23:36 - 00:23:41
but a second aspect of that hypothesis was that the larger the space with reference to

00:23:41 - 00:23:44
number of colonizers, the slower it would get started.

00:23:44 - 00:23:50
This has been true because the essential analogy here is that when there are few animals

00:23:50 - 00:23:57
as in this particular universe, a male, any mouse when he was out would rarely meet another.

00:23:57 - 00:24:03
Therefore, he identified with all of his physical environment.

00:24:03 - 00:24:06
So his own ego boundaries extended out to include all of these things

00:24:06 - 00:24:09
which he was committed to,

00:24:09 - 00:24:14
and therefore, any other animal coming out and moving towards any portion of that

00:24:14 - 00:24:19
would elicit anxiety and therefore aggression.

00:24:19 - 00:24:24
And we have huge territories and this is a essential formulation of territoriality.

00:24:24 - 00:24:28
So that in the larger the space the more likely animals develop territoriality,

00:24:28 - 00:24:29
the more extreme.

00:24:29 - 00:24:39
And this did inhibit initial reproductive rate and so with a smaller, we have smaller

00:24:39 - 00:24:42
universes than this and they grew much faster.

00:24:42 - 00:24:43
They got started quicker.

00:24:43 - 00:24:50
So that’s another facet of this problem, so that gradually washed out beyond a certain level,

00:24:50 - 00:24:59
and uh then the population increased for a while, fairly rapidly, and then it hit this level at which animals

00:24:59 - 00:25:05
begin being rejected out into public space, as the males living on the floor here.

00:25:05 - 00:25:09
The females are rejected but they just don’t come out,

00:25:09 - 00:25:11
they stay back in the apartment houses.

00:25:11 - 00:25:15
[Coleman:] Doctor, one final question here, as a human…

00:25:15 - 00:25:18
[Murmuring]

00:25:18 - 00:25:22
Dr. Calhoun, as a human being, after going through this experiment,

00:25:22 - 00:25:24
what goes through your mind?

00:25:24 - 00:25:28
Are you worried about the future of mankind?

00:25:28 - 00:25:34
[Dr. Calhoun:] A pathological situation like this, uh gives us an understanding of what may be going on

00:25:34 - 00:25:39
in the human situation, and what might go on, and be catastrophic.

00:25:39 - 00:25:43
And what is really catastrophic and where the real fear is,

00:25:43 - 00:25:48
is on a level where the mice and man are extremely similar.

00:25:49 - 00:25:54
That is, the mice have programs, they're like little computers, uh,

00:25:54 - 00:25:59
and this is basically genetic with a much smaller element of learned behavior.

00:25:59 - 00:26:08
And too-high a contact rate disorganizes the program so that it gets washed out.

00:26:08 - 00:26:11
So it’s disconnected or it doesn’t express itself.

00:26:11 - 00:26:13
This is where you get the lack of involvement.

00:26:13 - 00:26:20
On a human level, we do have a much more complex brain, it does get programmed,

00:26:20 - 00:26:25
less by genetics, less by heredity than for the mice, much more cultural,

00:26:25 - 00:26:28
but it’s just as subject to being disorganized,

00:26:28 - 00:26:35
to having a program disorganized through inappropriate sequences of contact,

00:26:35 -- 00:26:37
too many contacts.

00:26:37 - 00:26:42
And so that we have this danger and part of the danger

00:26:42 - 00:26:46
is that we don’t have an adequate establishment.

00:26:46 - 00:26:48
Not a...

00:26:48 - 00:26:54
We’re now seeing, because the, quote, establishment doesn’t provide

00:26:54 - 00:26:57
all appropriate channels, we should destroy the establishment.

00:26:57 - 00:27:02
We need better establishment to allow interrelationships to protect us from too many contacts,

00:27:02 - 00:27:08
but to allow us for those contacts which we do engage in to be more meaningful

00:27:08 - 00:27:09
for our own lives,

00:27:09 - 00:27:15
and for, meaningful to others in a compassionate sense of each of us

00:27:15 - 00:27:19
being involved in helping the other to fulfill his role.

00:27:19 - 00:27:21
We’ll have many more roles,

00:27:21 - 00:27:25
and this is where the notion of compassion comes in,

00:27:25 - 00:27:31
in helping, each of us helping others to fulfill their programs for development.

00:27:31 - 00:27:39
And so, we’re at this peculiar stage where you’re highly optimistic, at the same time highly pessimistic,

00:27:39 - 00:27:48
and you wish to throw your weight, intellectual weight, to moving towards the optimistic side,

00:27:48 - 00:27:53
to opening up continuing evolution.

00:27:53 - 00:27:57
[7-60* Part 2 Color 1970, Jan. 27 to Feb. 17 UDN: 828 to 844

00:27:57 - 00:28:01
Introduction of Study 102 Male Mice into Halsey Marsden’s Study 12, CA 65 Minutes]

00:28:01 - 00:28:06
[60* Color 1970 Jan. 27; UDN: 828 12 Aggressive Males from Study 102 into

00:28:06 - 00:28:09
Univ. 12, Study 122 CA 15 Minutes]

00:28:09 - 00:28:37
[Mice are released from a box onto the center of the floor. They scramble around the area.]

00:28:37 - 00:28:52
[One mouse sits in the center of the universe while others sniff around him.]

00:28:52 - 00:29:01
[Mice are fighting one another.]

00:29:01 - 00:29:17
[A white mouse marked with red continues to be aggressive with every mouse he contacts.]

00:29:17 - 00:29:34
[Camera zooms out, showing mice scampering about the universe, seeming to pursue each other.]

00:29:34 - 00:29:59
[Some of the non-aggressive mice have retreated to secluded areas of the universe.]

00:29:59 - 00:30:30
[One black mouse is actively engaging every other mouse in the secluded areas.]

00:30:30 - 00:30:42
[A white mouse with red marking is sitting on top of a shelf where he is out of reach of the others.]

00:30:42 - 00:31:06
[Most mice have retreated from the center of the universe and are not making contact with each other.]

00:31:06 - 00:31:16
[Two mice are seen fighting.]

00:31:16 - 00:32:38
[They continue to fight, eventually drawing in one other.]

00:32:38 - 00:33:01
[The mouse who is sitting in his secluded area does not bother to come down while

00:33:01 - 00:33:50
the others fight right beneath him.]

00:33:50 - 00:35:26
[One of the mice attempts to contact one of the secluded mice but he runs away.]

00:35:26 - 00:35:44
[One of the secluded mice lives his habitat to look around.]

00:35:44 - 00:36:14
[No other mouse seems to be around while he searches.]

00:36:14 - 00:36:19
[He returns to his dwelling.]

00:36:19 - 00:36:23
[63* Color 1970 Jan. 29; UDN: 83012 Solitary Withdrawn Males from Study

00:36:23 - 00:36:29
102 into Univ. 13, Study 122 CA Minutes]

00:36:29 - 00:36:46
[Mice are dropped off into the center of another universe.]

00:36:46 - 00:37:36
[They all spread out and don’t make contact with the other mice they cross.]

00:37:36 - 00:38:30
[Some mice begin to make contact with each other and immediately get aggressive.]

00:38:30 - 00:39:30
[One black mouse begins to initiate aggressive contact with every mouse he encounters.]

00:39:30 - 00:39:56
[The aggressiveness begins to spread through the other mice.]

00:39:56 - 00:40:05
[Some of the other mice have already started finding areas to separate themselves while

00:40:05 - 00:40:23
the others continue to fight.]

00:40:23 - 00:41:06
[Every contact experience is aggressive at this point.]

00:41:06 - 00:41:13
[Time = 0924]

00:41:13 - 00:41:33
[The mice are fighting right in the center of the universe.]

00:41:33 - 00:41:53
[The mice have all began making aggressive contact with each other.]

00:41:53 - 00:42:04
[Some of the mice have been keeping themselves in seclusion while the others have

00:42:04 - 00:42:28
continued to fight.]

00:42:28 - 00:42:38

00:42:38 - 00:42:50
[One mouse chases another who doesn’t
seem to want to come in contact with him.]

00:42:50 - 00:42:56
[The mice have calmed down now they are further away from each other.]

00:42:56 - 00:43:22
[One mouse sits in his inhabitance eating the grain.]

00:43:22 - 00:43:25
[0936]

00:43:25 - 00:44:05
[A pair of mice continue to fight amongst themselves.]

00:44:05 - 00:44:18
[Roll 12 Univ. 13 0963]

00:44:18 - 00:44:34
[Only two mice remain in sight while the others are hiding.]

00:44:34 - 00:44:37
[End Scene 0963]

00:44:37 - 00:44:48
[Time 0679]

00:44:48 - 00:45:21
[One mouse roams the universe alone.]

00:45:21 - 00:46:14
[The doctor replaces the water container on the side of the mouse universe.]

00:46:14 - 00:46:26
[A second water container is added for the mice.]

00:46:26 - 00:46:39
[The doctor makes sure the water is coming out of the container properly.]

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