|The old Trees of NYC|
Is propaganda only something that humans do?
For the purposes of this post, we will define propaganda as anything that deceives others.
That is, anything that advocates or nurtures a false sense of reality in others so as to lead a victim or victims into any behavioral pattern that is believed to be real, but in fact is actually unreal.
Additionally, we will expand that meaning to include activity in the environment, the ecosystem of the entire Earth.
This is not being done to denigrate the "natural" world around us, rather it is being done to show that many activities that take place deep within that realm we call nature are behaviors that are not "good," in the sense of Ecocosmology, so we need not define them as "good."
Most microbial life is helpful to other life, only about 1% being pathogenic or harmful to humans, who are composed mostly of microbial cells.
Our first example of propaganda usage is about Sacculina, a parasite:
When a female Sacculina is implanted in a male crab it will interfere with the crab's hormonal balance. This sterilizes it and changes the bodily layout of the crab to resemble that of a female crab ... The female Sacculina has even been known to cause the male crabs to perform mating gestures typical of female crabs ... The natural ability of regrowing a severed claw that is commonly used for defense purposes is lost after the infestation of Sacculina. Although all energy otherwise expended on reproduction is directed to the Sacculina, the crab develops a nurturing behavior typical of a female crab... The male Sacculina looks for a female Sacculina adult on the underside ... then implants himself ... and starts fertilizing ... The crab ... then cares for the eggs as if they were its own, having been rendered infertile by the parasite.(Wikipedia). Can there be any stronger deceit or propaganda than to deceive a male into thinking it is a biologically functioning female, robbing that male of reality?
Let's take a quick look at two other examples, beginning first with the protozoa Toxoplasma gondii:
If you take a lab rat who is 5,000 generations into being a lab rat, since the ancestor actually ran around in the real world, and you put some cat urine in one corner of their cage, they're going to move to the other side. Completely innate, hard-wired reaction to the smell of cats, the cat pheromones. But take a Toxo-infected rodent, and they're no longer afraid of the smell of cats. In fact they become attracted to it. The most damn amazing thing you can ever see, Toxo knows how to make cat urine smell attractive to rats. And rats go and check it out and that rat is now much more likely to wind up in the cat's stomach.(Hypothesis: Microbes Generate Toxins of Power). The acts of propaganda also take place in order to deceive plant species:
Phytopathogens can manipulate plant hormone signaling to access nutrients and counteract defense responses. Pseudomonas syringae produces coronatine, a toxin that mimics the plant hormone jasmonic acid isoleucine and promotes opening of stomata for bacterial entry, bacterial growth in the apoplast, systemic susceptibility, and disease symptoms. We examined the mechanisms underlying coronatine-mediated virulence and show that coronatine activates three homologous NAC transcription factor (TF) genes, ANAC019, ANAC055, and ANAC072, through direct activity of the TF, MYC2. Genetic characterization of NAC TF mutants demonstrates that these TFs mediate coronatine-induced stomatal reopening and bacterial propagation in both local and systemic tissues by inhibiting the accumulation of the key plant immune signal salicylic acid (SA). These NAC TFs exert this inhibitory effect by repressing ICS1 and activating BSMT1, genes involved in SA biosynthesis and metabolism, respectively. Thus, a signaling cascade by which coronatine confers its multiple virulence activities has been elucidated.(Cell - Host & Microbe). This is akin to war practices in the days of castles, with draw bridges and moats, in the sense that sometimes enemies would dress up like knights of that castle, then rushing toward the castle would give a secret signal that deceived the guards into lowering the draw bridge, allowing the adversary into the castle to wreak havoc.
What has been illustrated is that propaganda does not exist only in the human realm, and therefore brings the definition of "natural" to the table.
That debate takes place in both politics and law sometimes, so that what is "natural" ends up being defined as "anything that happens in nature."
We can see that there is a better definition of "natural", and that definition is The Tenets of Ecocosmology.
In other words, "natural" is that which perpetuates life forms which are not part of the process that would take away or impair the ability to comply with The Tenets of Ecocosmology on any planet.
Not only does the definition of "natural" require a sense of perpetuating all good life, but it also requires the sense of perpetuating that good life so that all good life may validly continue out into the cosmos as its planet's host star goes into deadly demise.
The next post in this series is here.
Video about microbes and microbial communication: