July 2, 2015

Mark Zuckerberg
1 Hacker Way
Menlo Park, CA 94025
650 543 4800

Dear Mark Zuckerberg:
You have expressed an interest in whether there is a fundamental mathematical law underlying human social relationships governing who we are and all we care about.  There is.  Let me steer you to it and to the evidence.  I ask for nothing but be advised this is neither easy nor obvious.  If it were it would not be much fun so be prepared to put in significant effort. 

Begin with an ancient city in Mesopotamia.  For the citizens that city does govern their relationships and all they care about.  And every one of those cities ultimately fell, destroying those things.  That failure follows a strict mathematical principle.  Look at the first graph of the first attachment.  Gruesome though it is, you can see that as a civilization ages its chance of survial goes down in strict progression.  Are we talking?  If so, think a moment.  Were the chance of collapse due to outside factors it would be independent of age and the line would be horizontal.  Were it due to internal factors the less resilient would fail early and those that survived would be the more resilient, resistant to collapse; the line would go up.  The line goes down totally defying every expectation of common knowledge.  If the crucial factor, and there can be but one, is neither inside nor outside the population it must be the very fact of an urban population.

So if you have an urban population, does it in fact collapse?  It certainly does in mice.  Look at the second graph. 

A man named Calhoun put some mice in a cage with all the space, food and nesting material they wanted and counted them regularly.  For a time the population grew as one would expect.  But then growth slowed until on a day, while the population had still been increasing the day before, all births stopped.  This is a fundamental principle of mammalian life (and more besides.)  The city fails because the population, or a key component, dies out.

That is the essence of it.  You will find more reference at


Take a few hours or a day or two and pour over it.  This is what you are looking for.  Do not hire some “expert” to explain it to you.  What you would be paying for is his knowledge.  It is vanishingly unlikely that he already knows; he will reject it out of hand.  You will have wasted you money and your chance. 

The single exception is the brilliant Professor Robin Fox.  He has just published a chapter, no. 19 “Marry in or Die Out” in the new textbook Handbook on Evolution and Society, available from Amazon.  His chapter makes it clear and is readable and authoritative.  Of course I am available for any amount of discussion for free. 

The second attachment is a paper I published a couple of years ago.  It isn’t on the internet but I have permission to send it.  It goes a bit more into the mathematical issues, which are of so much interest to you.  I have a couple more presentations which would interest you, but you have enough to think about for a while.  Best wishes.


M. Linton Herbert MD

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