The Medea Hypothesis: All Life is Suicidal

If you really look at the history of life on this planet, you see a lot of biologically-produced catastrophes. Where do they come from? From life itself. 

The Medea Hypothesis: All Life is Suicidal

I think all life is suicidal.  I thought up something tongue-in-cheek I call the Medea Hypothesis. Medea, Jason’s wife, was probably the worst mother in Greek History.  She murdered her children because of Jason’s infidelities.  Jason was probably not very good at anything, apparently, except making women fall in love with him.  He was good at that. 


He wasn’t much of a captain, he wasn’t a fighter.  The Gaia Hypothesis suggests that Mother Gaia, who is the Greek Mother, will sustain life, keeps life going. The kernel of that hypothesis is that life makes the world better for itself.  Through the regulation of a number of systems, life is increasing habitability.  It’s kind of like the scenario in which I’m at a hotel before I leave I paint the walls and I put in a better stereo system, or something.  I’m making the place better for having been there. 

That’s really what the Gaia Hypothesis suggests, whereas, if you really look at the history of life on this planet, you see a lot of biologically-produced catastrophes.  And that’s really what Medea is suggesting, that life is the global warming that starts the process, but the killing comes from the hydrogen sulfide, and where does that come from? That comes from microbes, from life itself.  So, life is the bullet if the gun itself is the volcano. 

In Their Own Words is recorded in Big Think's studio.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Your body’s full of stuff you no longer need. Here's a list.

Evolution doesn't clean up after itself very well.

Image source: Decade3d-anatomy online via Shutterstock
Surprising Science
  • An evolutionary biologist got people swapping ideas about our lingering vestigia.
  • Basically, this is the stuff that served some evolutionary purpose at some point, but now is kind of, well, extra.
  • Here are the six traits that inaugurated the fun.
Keep reading Show less

Godzilla vs. Kong: A morphologist chooses the real winner

Ultimately, this is a fight between a giant reptile and a giant primate.

Surprising Science

The 2021 film “Godzilla vs. Kong" pits the two most iconic movie monsters of all time against each other. And fans are now picking sides.

Keep reading Show less

How do you tell reality from a deepfake?

The more you see them, the better you get at spotting the signs.

ROB LEVER/AFP via Getty Images
Technology & Innovation
  • The number of deepfake videos online has been increasing at an estimated annual rate of about 900%.
  • Technology advances have made it increasingly easy to produce them, which has raised questions about how best to prevent malicious misuse.
  • It's been suggested that the best way to inoculate people against the danger of deepfakes is through exposure and raising awareness.
  • Keep reading Show less
    Surprising Science

    Ancient cave artists were getting high on hypoxia

    A new study says the reason cave paintings are in such remote caverns was the artists' search for transcendence.

    Quantcast