Jeremy Griffith

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Jeremy Griffith
Born 1945 (age 73–74)
Nationality Australian
Citizenship Australian
Alma mater University of Sydney
Occupation Biologist
Years active 1967-present
Organization World Transformation Movement
Known for Biological explanation of the human condition
Notable work Freedom: The End Of The Human Condition

Jeremy Griffith (born 1945) is an Australian biologist and author on the subject of the human condition. He first came to public attention for his attempts to find the Tasmanian tiger. He later became noted for his writings on the human condition and theories about human progress. He founded the World Transformation Movement to advance his ideas in 1983.

Early life

Griffith was educated at Tudor House School in New South Wales and the Geelong Grammar School in Victoria. Griffith described his schooling at Geelong Grammar, under the headmastership of the renowned Australian educator James Darling, as one of the important formative influences in his life.[1]

He first became known to the general public for his comprehensive search for surviving Tasmanian tigers or thylacines, the last known specimen of which died in captivity in 1936. The search was conducted from 1967 to 1973.[2] His search is considered the most intensive ever carried out,[3] and included exhaustive surveys along Tasmania's west coast;[2] installation of automatic camera stations; prompt investigations of claimed sightings;[4] and in 1972, the creation of the Thylacine Expeditionary Research Team with Dr Bob Brown, which concluded without finding any evidence of the thylacine's continuing existence.[3]

Writings on the human condition

A biology graduate of the University of Sydney, Griffith began writing on the human condition in 1975, publishing the first of his six books on the subject in 1988.[5] The best known of his publications, A Species In Denial (2003), became a bestseller in Australia and New Zealand.[6] Each of Griffith’s published works is grounded in his grand narrative explanation of human nature. His work is multi-disciplinary, drawing from the physical sciences, biology, anthropology, and primatology together with philosophy, psychology, and psychiatry. He cites thinkers drawn from varied backgrounds and eras, from Socrates, Plato, and Christ, through to more contemporary philosophers and scientists, such as Charles Darwin, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Eugene Marais, Louis Leakey, Laurens van der Post, and R.D. Laing.[1][7]

His biological works on the origins of human nature assert that "humans act angrily because of a battle between instinct and intellect".[8] The Templeton Prize winner and biologist Charles Birch, the New Zealand zoologist Professor John Edward Morton, the former president of the Canadian Psychiatric Association Professor Harry Prosen, and the Australian Everest mountaineer Tim Macartney-Snape have been among the long-standing proponents of Griffith’s ideas. Morton publicly defended Griffith when he and his ideas were attacked in the mid-1990s.[8] Griffith’s ideas have been criticised based on perceived problems with the empirical veracity of his anthropological writings, an objection that highlights his indebtedness to the writings of the African novelist Sir Laurens Van Der Post, and also the work of anthropologist Elizabeth Marshall Thomas.[9]

Griffith has persistently argued throughout his writings that the driving force in human evolution was increased nurturing of offspring, a process he calls 'love indoctrination'.[10] Griffith adopts a neo-Lamarckian view in which mother's model pro-social behaviour to offspring, with consequent behavioural changes resulting in 'soft' Lamarckian inheritance. Such behaviours will differentially proliferate if they are performed in the context of a social niche in which co-operative behaviour is favoured. Consequent to this genetic selection will stabilise changes that were initiated at the level of social behaviour. It is this process that he argues gave rise to the human moral sense. Evidence for this view is the reduced sexual dimorphism in the early stages of human evolution, and particularly the loss of the aggressive canine morphology evident across extant primate taxa. Griffith's theory postulates an intensification of maternal care, and associated increased prosocial behaviour of offspring, as being the distinguishing feature of the human lineage. His theory echoes that of Adrienne Zihlman, who postulated changes in patterns of subadult socialisation may have been impoprtant in the early stages of human evolution.[11] This view has been corroborated by recent fossil discoveries such as Ardipithecus ramidus where evidence for changes in mating and social systems, and possibly patterns of child socialisation, have been inferred from reduced canine and craniofacial morphology.[12]

The World Transformation Movement

The World Transformation Movement was founded by Griffith in 1983, as the Centre for Humanity’s Adulthood, an organisation dedicated to developing and promoting understanding of the human condition. It was incorporated in 1990 with Griffith and his colleague mountaineer Tim Macartney-Snape among its founding directors and became a registered charity in New South Wales in 1991 known as the Foundation for Humanity’s Adulthood. In 2009, the organisation became the World Transformation Movement.[13]

In 1995, Griffith, Macartney-Snape and the Foundation for Humanity’s Adulthood (as the World Transformation Movement was then known) were the subject of an Australian Broadcasting Corporation Four Corners program[14] and a Sydney Morning Herald newspaper article, in which it was alleged that Macartney-Snape used speaking appearances at schools to promote the World Transformation Movement, which was described as a cult. The publications became the subject of long running defamation actions in the NSW Supreme Court and were found to be defamatory.[15][16] In 2007, the ABC was ordered to pay Macartney-Snape almost $500,000 in damages, and with costs the payout was expected to exceed $1 million.[16] The proceedings against the Herald were resolved when it published an apology to the Foundation for Humanity’s Adulthood (World Transformation Movement) in 2009.[17] Although Griffith was not awarded damages in relation to the Four Corners broadcast, on appeal in 2010 the NSW Court of Appeal found what was said of Griffith was untrue.[18]

Selected bibliography


  1. 1.0 1.1 Griffith, Jeremy (2003). A Species in Denial. WTM Publishing & Communications Pty Ltd. p. 528. ISBN 978-1-74129-001-1.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 Griffith, Jeremy (December 1972). "The Search for the Tasmanian Tiger". Natural History. American Museum of Natural History (81): 70–77.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 Park, Andy (July 1986). "Tasmanian Tiger- Extinct or merely elusive?". Australian Geographic. 1 (3): 66–83.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Robert Paddle (2000). The Last Tasmanian Tiger: The History and Extinction of the Thylacine. Cambridge University Press. p. 197. ISBN 0-521-53154-3.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Griffith, Jeremy (1988). Free: The End of the Human Condition. WTM Publishing & Communications Pty Ltd. p. 228. ISBN 0-7316-0495-4.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Griffith, Jeremy (1991). Beyond the Human Condition. WTM Publishing & Communications Pty Ltd. p. 203. ISBN 978-0-646-03994-7.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. 8.0 8.1 Fray, Peter. "7 Days: Religion". The Sydney Morning Herald. The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 10 October 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Clark, Gary. 'Biologist Jeremy Griffith examines where the human race is headed', The Sydney Morning Herald, October 13, 2014.
  10. Griffith, Jeremy 'Free: The End of the Human Condition| year= 1988, WTM Publishing & Communications Pty Ltd.
  11. Zihlman A. 1978. Women and Evolution, Part II: Subsistence and Social Organization among Early Hominids. Signs 4.
  12. Clark, G.; Henneberg, M. 'The life history of Ardipithecus ramidus: a heterochronic model of sexual and social maturation'. Anthropological Review, Volume 78, Issue 2 (Jun 2015).
  13. "Description of the WTM". World Transformation Movement. Retrieved 10 October 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. Luck, Geoffrey (November 2012). "The Hubris of Four Corners". Quadrant. LVI (11). Retrieved 6 March 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. Kux, Y.C. (29 September 2005). "Jeremy Griffith & Ors v John Fairfax Publications Pty Ltd and David Millikan". Gazette of Law & Journalism.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. 16.0 16.1 Drummond, Andrew (1 August 2008). "Half-million payout for ABC defamation". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 10 October 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. "Apology". The Sydney Morning Herald. 6 June 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. "Court of Appeal overturns finding of truth regarding biologist Jeremy Griffith's treatise on the human condition". The Australian. 16 December 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>