CHAPTER 1 – INTRODUCTION | REINDEER | NETWORKS
The most comprehensive account of the St. Matthew Island reindeer was written by David R. Klein of the Alaska Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit at the University of Alaska. He attributes the reindeer collapse to overconsumption as well as an extremely harsh winter in 1963–1964. See “The Introduction, Increase, and Crash of Reindeer on St. Matthew Island,” Journal of Wildlife Management 32, no. 2 (1968): 350–367. A more recent review of the lichen in the area is provided in Stephen S. Talbot, Sandra Looman Talbot, John W. Thomson, and Wilfred B. Schofield, “Lichens from St. Matthew and St. Paul Islands, Bering Sea, Alaska,” Bryologist 104, no. 1 (2001): 47–58.
There has been some recent debate among scientists as to which had a greater impact, the weather or the reindeer population, but the general consensus continues to be that the reindeer over-consumed and overshot their environment. For a contrary viewpoint, see the November–December 2009 article in Weatherwise, “What Killed the Reindeer of Saint Matthew Island?,” by David Klein, John Walsh, and Martha Shulski.
Robert F. Bruner states in Deals from Hell: M&A Lessons That Rise above the Ashes that only 13 percent of the 501 companies listed in the NYSE in 1925 still existed in 2004 (Hoboken, N.J.: Wiley, 2005), 1–2. That number is almost certainly lower now.
It should come as no surprise that Darwin plays a central role in most of the theory throughout this book. One of Darwin’s most important points is often either misunderstood or completely ignored. He made it very clear that there is no such thing as “good or bad” when it comes to evolution, stating that “there is a frequently recurring struggle for existence, it follows that any being, if it vary however slightly in any manner profitable to itself, under the complex and sometimes varying conditions of life, will have a better chance of surviving, and thus be naturally selected.” See The Origin of Species: 150th Anniversary Edition (New York: Penguin, 2003), p. 29. People often mistake this thought as a reason to believe that Mother Nature has a hand in what we humans define as progress. Stephen Jay Gould eloquently explained this in Full House: The Spread of Excellence from Plato to Darwin (New York: Harmony Books, 1996), p. 63: “Evolution, to us, is a linear series of creatures getting bigger, fancier, or at least better adapted to local environments.” But “natural selection talks only about adaption to changing local environments…no feature of such local adaptation should yield any expectation of general progress.” Gould also noted that written in Darwin’s personal journal were the words “never say higher or lower.”