1968, Intelligent Life and the Lunar Landing

by Courtenay Barnett

It was 1968.

I had been sent to a Catholic High School and had a number of Jesuits from the Boston area of the US as teachers. One striking contrast between the older and the younger ones, as a general rule, was that the older Jesuits saw the sun shining on most everything that US foreign policy represented, inclusive of the Vietnam warbeing embraced as a necessityto stop the spread of Communism. The younger Jesuits were far less sanguine and told/taught us totally different lessons about the US use of napalm and agent orange and educatedus on the horrors of war. That was the time that was.

About then I heard of aplanned space trip destined for the moon. So surreptitiously in 1969I journeyed to the Kennedy Space Centreand slipped on to Apollo 11 (unbeknown to anyone but some select family members and some close friends). I promised myself to remain in contact and fortuitously was able to access a duplicate communications system on board, obviously placed as a back-upin the eventuality of a failure of the main devices.

When we landed Neilhopped off first and Buzz followed while I stealthily exited via a hatch. At first I thought of returning with the flight, but with the communication device and the opportunity to explore the Moon I decided to remain with the firm knowledge that what man had accomplished mankind would repeat and I could eventually on a Russian or Chinese or even some other American flight return to Earth at a later date.

As the years wore on I kept asking if warfare had ended on Earth and each time the same negative response came in reply. “Why do you keep asking?” my brother eventuallyinquired.

“Well,ever since man landed on the moon it seemed obvious to me that not only the astronauts’ minds, but those of every other sentient being on planet Earth would have come then to the stark realisation that we are actuallyall ‘earthlings’ and homo sapiensliving on one planet. So, with that knowledge, I assumed that the lunar landing wouldhave jolted all the inhabitants of the green and blue planet into immediately accepting that it madefar more sense to bond together as one, and weigh the prospects of invading Martians or any other alien species likely to threaten us earthlings, than expend energies fighting each other.”

Sadly, all the news I received from 1968 until anno domini 2017 has been about repeated belligerence and armed conflicts between nations and groups on Earth. We, as a species,despitethe lunar landing simply never learntanything by way of aspirations for tranquility andactualising the liberating feeling offreedom from war. Finally, after all these years, I have had to accept that not in my lifetime will there be a realisation of quietude in the human condition on Earth. Having enjoyed these several years here on the Moon, I am now planning my return to planet earth to face the unpleasant discords which constitute earthly existence.

Now that I am safely back on terra firma, on the planet of my birth, there has been opportunity to reassess the human condition. This I do, so my fellow humans inform me, with the most advanced intellect possessed among all the vertebrates and invertebrates. Yet, in reflecting on this assertion, I note that other species kill for food to eat; we kill for sport, assertion of manhood and various other reasons amounting to the infliction of gratuitous violence on our fellow beings. The numbers whodo this is reflected amongst many humans and is accompanied by the technological capabilities to deliver death and destruction ranging from hand held guns all the way up to nuclear bombs which can assure annihilation of us as a species. Incredible, when you think of it,that we are so smart that we actually have developed weapons that can assure the ending of our existence as a species. So sophisticated we are that the world’s most advanced nation, the United States of America, has a special Amendment in its Constitution making it a lawful right to bear arms. Therefore, as of legal right the weapons used for the various types of killing just mentioned has been elevated to a position of jurisprudential significance that assures that when a decision is made to launch an attack of mass murder it remains a legal right to obtain the necessary weaponry so to attack. Of course, we are also cultivated significantly above other mammals, vertebrates and lesser animals thatafter the event we have the cognitive superiority to call the attack a crime. We then uphold the attacker’s (if he is still alive) right to another Constitutional safeguard of a trial before his peers. Then, if convicted, the death sentence or multiple life sentences might be the legal penalty. We, of course, are logical in all our doings. A single life sentence is insufficient, for when one is completed there still remain 49 others as a justified measure for the severity of the crime of gunning down 50 faultless human beings who just happened to get in the way of the bullets that the shooter, exercising his Constitutional right, had decided to discharge. Now, the weapons of mass destruction takes our intellectual superiority to totally astounding heights in full confirmation that unlike horses or donkeys ours is par excellence – the crème de la crème above all other known cognitive capacities. We have reached a stage where, again, America can destroy human existence many times over. Thus, rationally, if the level has been reached (which it long since has) of having in hand the weapons capability to destroy human life in its totality one time over, then the added ten or twenty fold that all nuclear weapons combined can now accomplish seems then equally as logical as the multiple life sentences imposed on the mass shooter, as increasing numbers of nuclear weapons keep being produced. The only difference is that nations now possess the capacity with WMDs that a single mass shooter could only dream of having desired to destroy not just some, butall of humankind. Indeed, farexceeding a paltry 50 after so many rounds fired. Believe it or not, I have just described what we actually are doing as a species which calls ourselves intelligent with intelligence on a higher plane than all other species inhabiting planet Earth.

Truth be told, since we landed on the moon we seem to think that there are other planets that we can live on so we search for something which sustains life as we know it here on Earth. Not surprisingly so, for as we head towards self-inflicted annihilation as a species, those of us having the material wherewithal already have an exit ticket to Mars and are already booked knowing what is pending.

Towards that destructive end we have the excuse to ravage this planet, keep cutting down trees, expand our population, poison the rivers and the seas and destroy the ozone layer. Practise blowing up each other doesn’t really matter much anymore;besides, it keeps the rich in power and the wealth where others can’t get toit.

The dream of establishing a colony somewhere ‘Out There’ wherepeoplelike you or I aren’t allowed on it is the great dream of a new paradise pending and is the professed long term goal.

This all sounds abit bleak;but since 1968 predicting the place we are in now would have been called bleak too.

And all accomplished with the use and application of a superior intellect. Don’t forget that. Just think about it.

Courtenay Barnett is a graduate of London University. His areas of study were economics, political science and international law. He has been a practising lawyer for over thirty years, has been arrested for defending his views, has beensubjected to death threats, and has argued public interest and human rights cases.

Business Skylab Conference

By Richard John Stapleton

(Editor’s Note: This fictional business case invented and written by me was first published in Managing Creatively: Action Learning in Action by University Press of America in 1976; it was reprinted in The Entrepreneur: Concepts and Cases on Creativity in Business by University Press of America in 1985; and it was reprinted again in Business Voyages: Mental Maps, Scripts, Schemata, and Tools for Discovering and Co-Constructing Your Own Business Worlds by Effective Learning Publications in 2008 and 2012.

(This case was prepared as a basis for group discussion, not to serve as an example of right or wrong business behavior.

(Feel free to forward, share, reprint, or otherwise disseminate this post any way you see fit.)

A secret conference was held in the secret Earth Sciences Skylab in 1974 for the purpose of studying business phenomena on Earth. The Carter Foundation for Higher Education funded the conference as a follow-up to the 1958 Gosden and Harper reports on the quality of business education.

The 1958 Gosden and Harper research was funded by the Carter Foundation to assess the quality of education provided by Schools of Business in United States colleges and universities. The 1958 reports criticized business schools for being too descriptive in nature, for not emphasizing scientific research methodologies, and for generally fostering a low level of academic achievement. The reports accused the business schools of merely reporting what business was doing and not developing new innovations for improving business.

During the 1960’s the study of business became heavily endowed with mathematical and behavioral concepts from the fields of mathematics and social science. Concepts and techniques from the fields of engineering and computer science were also applied to business phenomena and problems in business schools during the period. Many courses in business schools were taught by PhD’s in psychology, sociology, mathematics, and statistics and, in many instances, there were only small differences in teaching methodologies and contents of courses taught in Schools of Business and courses taught in Schools of Arts and Sciences. In some instances, actual business phenomena were completely left out of business courses. During the 1970’s many business scholars and businessmen began to wonder if business courses had not become overly theoretical and too neglectful of actual business phenomena. Many business courses had been structured using courses in mathematics or sociology or psychology or industrial engineering as models. The teaching/learning methodologies of laboratory sciences, such as botany and zoology, had not been generally used as models because of the difficulty of placing business phenomena under microscopes for observation. This difficulty was overcome, however, with the completion of the Skylab Observatory.

The Skylab Observatory

The Skylab observatory is a satellite that was secretly placed in orbit around Earth in 1971. Work on the observatory was completed in late 1972. The observatory is large enough to accommodate groups of up to twenty people for as long as two weeks. From the Skylab Observatory it is possible for groups of humans to observe humans, business and military practices, and general events on Earth in varying degrees of detail using a specially developed telescope, technically a macroscope, which has not only X-ray power, i.e., the capability to see through roofs of buildings and filing cabinets, but also the power to transmit and receive sound between the satellite and any human at any discrete point on Earth, via laser beams which travel along light waves from the macroscope to points of concern on Earth. The Skylab is available for research by various scientific and research groups from Earth for the purpose of improving the quality of life on Earth. The US government provided funding for the construction of the satellite. Operating expenses for the satellite are provided through revenues received from various groups that lease and use the satellite. The Carter Foundation provided funds for the secret business study in 1973 or 1974.

Professors, managers, accountants, salesmen, and promising business students were selected for the membership of the 1973 or 1974 business Skylab conference by a select panel. The members of the conference represented a cross section of cultural, regional, economic, sexual, and ethnic backgrounds.

Quarters on the Skylab were not spacious but were comfortable. The quality of food served by the Skylab food services staff was excellent, and the Skylab was well stocked with beverages of all types. Retro-rockets were attached to bags of garbage and waste for disposal. The rockets slowed the disgorged bags so that they re-entered Earth’s atmosphere and were incinerated.

Study sessions began at 8:00 a.m., US CST, and continued until noon. The sessions resumed at 1:00 p.m. and continued until 5:00 p.m. Cocktails were served at 6:00 p.m. and dinner was served at 8:00 p.m. The conference members usually chatted over drinks or coffee or read until 10:00 or 11:00 p.m. and retired shortly thereafter.

Structuring the Conference

There was considerable discussion regarding how the conference sessions should be structured. Some members argued that someone should take charge of the group and be responsible for pointing out relevant aspects or points. Others argued that since they were all adults, and most were professionals, that they should discuss aspects and points on a democratic basis with each member’s opinion being weighted equally. There was also considerable discussion as to what was relevant for study. The Skylab technological breakthrough made it possible for the group to study firsthand almost any business phenomenon on Earth. Since it was obviously not possible to study all phenomena on Earth during the two-week period of the conference, what should they select to study, of all the phenomena at their disposal? Naturally, the interests of the group varied according to past experience, ability, and skill; therefore, what should be selected depended upon who would do the selecting.

It was finally decided that the group would try to devote equal time to phenomena in the business functions of production, marketing, finance, control, transportation, and service. A number of organizations and humans in each of the functional areas were selected for observation. The process used was very unstructured.

The Skylab macroscope could be focused so as to observe the whole of a continent, a nation, a state, a county, or a human, or data, depending on the level of desired generality or specificity. Sounds, or dialogues, could also be tuned in or out at will. Needless to say, the scientific and technological principles upon which the Skylab macroscope were based were incomprehensible and, by and large, uninteresting to the conference members. They were only concerned with using the giant microscope, and, as they used it, they felt much the same awe, elation, and euphoria they felt when they got their first bicycle, or computer. The conference members came to refer to the microscope adjusting device as “the zoomer”, and would blurt out “zoom the zoomer in there a little closer,” and “zoom up the zoomer a little bit.”

Some of the professors in the group hoped to use the Skylab macroscope to, at long last, and once and for all, develop “a general theory of business” and make business a “science.” Observing business phenomena through the macroscope as botanists and zoologists observed biological specimens under microscopes on Earth, and classifying and categorizing phenomena by shape, size, type, function, etc. was one objective; the primary objective, however, at least in the minds of the least skeptical, was to develop a general principle which could explain, in advance, the outcomes of business specimens and phenomena.

Purpose of the Conference

No unanimous consensus was reached regarding the purpose of the conference, whether it was for the purpose of developing general theory, merely observing phenomena, developing technical skills, or developing insight or awareness. Each member seemed to have his own truth on this question. The group finally decided that only a few individuals should control the zoomer and select for the group appropriate phenomena and levels of generality or specificity.

It was decided that relatively small social groupings and levels of business activity would be observed because of the time factor. It was also decided, once phenomena were zoomed into focus, that each member of the group had the right to interpret the data according to his own lights and offer opinions, analyses, suggestions, prognoses, etc. to the group as he chose. Disagreement existed on this point. Many felt, since some of the group members were older and wiser than other members, the younger and less experienced members should ask for permission to talk up and that, for the most part, the younger members should listen to what the older and wiser members had to say. Some of the older and wiser members agreed with some of the younger members that the best way to learn is by taking action and suffering the consequences, and that, since independently talking in groups and trying to influence the group is a form of taking action, and since no drastic harm would result from errors, the younger members should have the same right to try to influence the group as the older members. Various members felt that the more correct views would ultimately dominate anyway, regardless of who initiated the view. Views that were badly off the beam, it was generally felt, if the discussions were open, full, and frank, would be shot down. So an open communication process was used, although some members did complain that the process was unprofessional and unfair.

Results of the Conference

In the process of living together and engaging in detailed discussions while viewing phenomena intensively and extensively, most of the members began to feel or sense changes taking place in the way they saw the world. Seeing different phenomena and hearing different opinions regarding phenomena changed their perceptions. A general discussion regarding the results and significance of the conference was conducted on the last day of the conference. Much of that discussion is presented below. The letters of the alphabet are used to identify various conference members, the majority of whom preferred to remain anonymous.

Professor J, an assistant professor of accounting from a private college in the Northwest:

I must say, I have enjoyed this conference. This Skylab is a real technological miracle. The food was great. And I must say I owe the select panel a real note of thanks for selecting me to be a member. However, I must say that I do not think the conference did much good. What have I learned? I think we should have spent more time going over specific points. We should have stuck to each point until everybody understood it before going on the next one. And you should use tests to prove that everyone understands your points before you move on.

Professor D, an associate professor of marketing from a state college in Northern California:

What? If we had taken the time to take tests, we couldn’t have seen half as many phenomena? And what points should we have been tested on? I can’t say that any of them stuck out enough to be important enough to take a test on.

Mr. R, the chief executive officer of a major corporation:

What do you think we ought to do in industry? Give our employees a test ever so often to see if they deserve a raise or a promotion?

Professor J:Ӭ

No, but I know in accounting you can’t do it like that. I remember one time when I was teaching a course using a Harvard casebook in accounting. I finally threw the damn cases away, and then I taught them some accounting.

Mr. R:

We’d be in a hell of a shape in industry if all our people knew was some accounting.

Dean C, from a School of Business in a small western university:

Gentlemen, please, this is not going to get us anywhere. We all know that accounting is a very valuable tool for use in business; we also know it takes more than that in business.

Professor J:

Just look at the starting salaries of accounting majors. Why we’ve had girls making $40,000 a year in two to three years after graduation. What are the marketing majors, management majors, and finance majors going to do when they get out? They’re not going to start out as managers. You’ve got to learn to do something specific. You’ve got to be willing to work.

Professor L, an associate professor of management from the Northeast:

Do all accounting majors start out with high salaries? What percentage of accounting majors actually stay in accounting after they graduate? It’s so boring and tedious many people get out of it. How creative is accounting? These are questions that concern me.

Mr. Z, a business student from Oregon:

My god, is the relevant question today, after we have been up here for two weeks, and after having been funded and given access to the most sophisticated learning equipment available, the relative rank of salary offers of different business majors? I think not. The relevant question is what have we learned!

The student’s comment somewhat set the group aback and a short silence ensued. Shortly, Professor W, one of the more distinguished and experienced of the professors, began to slowly and deliberately speak. As he spoke, his eyes seemed to turn inward, as if seeing phenomena inside his own head.

Gentlemen, I have been watching these phenomena down on Earth very carefully from the first day. I have not spoken up very much in the discussions. I have been listening and giving the rest of you a chance to get involved and express yourselves. I am now convinced, based on my observations and statistical tests, that I have a theory, a tentative, beginning theory, at the very least, which will put us on the sure road to the development of a science of business, which so many of us have so diligently and so fervently studied, researched and lobbied for so long. As we observed the business specimens down on Earth through this magnificent macroscope, I observed, and, I think, clearly observed, except for the smog over Los Angeles, the quintessential relationship.

Professor W then fell silent, and the group shuffled in their seats and whispered and smirked to one another. Professor W then continued in his slow, deliberate, ponderous tone, still seeming to be observing something inside his own head.

Professor W:

Gentlemen, I don’t know whether any of you noticed it, but what the business phenomena on Earth were doing . . . were organizing themselves in…in systems . . . for the purpose of surviving!

With that, Professor W opened his eyes and looked intently at various members of the group. Most of the group looked around. Finally, Professor T, an assistant professor recently graduated from a doctoral program from a university in the Midwest, spoke up.

Professor T:

What you are talking about, Professor W, is the systems concept. The system concept has been around for a long time, and it’s all well and good. But what good is it going to do a businessman to know humans organize themselves in systems for purposes of survival?

Mr. B. the owner of a chain of restaurants in the Midwest:

I don’t think it would do me a damn bit of good. Hell, it’s common sense anyway.

Professor W:

But it won’t be, Mr. B., if I can prove it statistically. I am convinced I can use multiple regression coupled with forty-degree-rotated analysis of variance in three-dimension space so as to establish, without question, a ninety-five percent confidence level. Also, I am sure my work will add to the existing store of knowledge and be supported by the prior work of Blatz, Johnson, Preen, Garber, Lammon, and Templeton. Not to mention the work of such pioneers as Halpert, McMellon, Constellona, and, of course, the original, Holmitz.

Mr. X, one of Professor W’s graduate students:

I am familiar with the work of Johnson, Preen, and Constellona, and I agree with you, Professor W. Your work will be a major contribution.

Mr. B:

Who gives a damn? What I am interested in is something I can use to improve my profits, provide more benefits for my employees, and provide better service to my customers. You don’t have to tell me I want to survive. Using all those statistics may be okay to prove your points, but I can’t see what good it does.

Mr. D, a young engineer, rapidly moving up the ranks of a heavily technologized company in a heavily technologized industry:

I don’t use advanced statistics or mathematics in my work, although I do have a heavy math and stat background. To me, the value of advanced statistics and math lies in the fact it is rigorous and trains you to think logically.

Mr. R, the manager of a large wholesale hardware company in the Northeast:

I had some math and statistics in college, and I barely passed the courses. It was hard. I never use anything more mathematically sophisticated in my work now than simple tabulations of numbers. I add, subtract, multiply, and divide and that’s about it. Frankly, I think it was okay that I took math and stat in college, but I don’t think it is doing me any particular good now. I don’t think my mind became one bit more logical because of taking the courses. Furthermore, I am not even sure you need a logical mind to succeed in business. I think this is true of all managers, even college administrators.

Mr. X: the student:

Chester I. Barnard also said that.

Mr. R:

Who on Earth, or in heaven’s name, is Chester I. Bernard?

Mr. X:

You mean you never even heard of Chester I. Barnard! Why he wrote Functions of the Executive. And besides that he was president of the New Jersey Bell Telephone Company. He’s one of the most brilliant managers in history. I can’t believe you haven’t heard of Chester I. Barnard!!

Mr. R:

Why should I have heard of him? The woods are full of brilliant managers. I think William T. Stevens, the President of the New Oakers Feed and Seed Company, is one of the most brilliant managers in history. Have you ever heard of William T. Stevens, Mr. X?

Mr. X:

How could I have heard of some non-entity like William T. Stevens? Professor Graham never mentioned him in my history of management course. And I know he wasn’t mentioned because I take good notes, and I’ve got a photographic mind. I’ve got a 3.66 grade point average.

Dean C:

Gentlemen, we’re getting off the track again. Here it is the last day of our extra-terrestrial learning experience, and what do we talk about? Accounting salaries and who said what. It seems to me there must be something more than this that we have gained from our course here in outer space.

Professor P, a professor of finance from a state college in the Southwest.

It seems to me I have gained a great deal from the conference in terms of increased awareness and knowledge of business phenomena. By virtue of observing these phenomena through the macroscope, I believe I understand the business environment better and will be more comfortable in it when we get back down to Earth. I feel I got more out of the learning experience than I would have gotten out of it had we disconnected the zoomer and spent our time solely listening to, reading, and memorizing published literature or working algorithmic puzzles estranged from actual business phenomena.

Professor J:

All we did was look at stuff through that so-called zoomer and talk, and most of the time what was talked about was pure BS. You’ve got to make specific points. I always cover specific points in my classes. You learn generalities by studying specifics. You can’t just let anybody talk up whenever she wants to.

Mr. R:

But don’t you think we studied specific phenomena through the macroscope? I don’t see how we could have been any more specific about what we saw.

Professor J:

It’s not the same. We have not developed any “generally accepted business principles,” like we have in accounting.

Mr. R.:

I wonder how generally accepted your accounting principles are. Seems I read about some CPA firm being sued here lately because of being unclear on what to do. If your principles are so generally accepted, why do these suits happen?

Professor J:

We’ve got an accounting standards board working on that. We’ve got five men we’ve paying over $50,000 a year each to, just to improve our standards.

Mr. B:

Your standards must be in pretty bad shape if it is going to cost you that much to fix them up. For $10,000 I can hire a consulting firm to set standards throughout my whole chain, using time and motion study.

Professor J:

We’re not talking about the same kind of standards.

Professor Y, a full professor of financial management from a prestigious university in a large Midwestern city:

In my opinion, the behavior that is being exhibited here today is unprofessional. The real test of worthwhile knowledge is whether hypothesized generalizations can be tested and proved correct, through rigorous, deductive means. This is true in all science. In this sense, then, it would seem to be relatively straightforward that the proper course upon which we should proceed is first to identify the significant variables from the full range of variables which are manifest which must then be related, one to another, in such a way as to form a mechanism for reaching policies which are germane to the realities which confront us. To this end, and only to this end, I suggest that much more time and energy must be devoted to not only identifying the significant variables but also to isolating those points of connection and intersection which illuminate true cause-effect meaning for the discernment and application of the truly enlightened, professional mind.

Mr. L, Professor Y’s protégé, and one of the brightest graduate students at Professor Y’s university:

I agree with you, Professor Y. Not only have you just enunciated the shelf principle discovered by Howard but you have integrated it with the latest work of Means and Proctor. If you can now reconcile with your present synthesis the work of Lester, you will have extended the frontier. I am sure of it.

Professor P:

Haven’t you read any of Karl Popper’s work? I suggest you read Popper’s The Open Society and Its Enemies. I am convinced Popper is right when he says that the foundation of all science is the inductive method and not the deductive method. You observe phenomena in all fields and you establish generalizations based on your observations. According to Popper, and I agree with him, you cannot prove such generalizations to be true. All you can do is prove them to be false. If, after some period of trying to prove them false, you are unable to prove them false, then the generalizations are still not proved true. All they are are unfalsified generalizations. Most of what we have that commonly passes for general truth, scientific or otherwise, is not truth, but, in effect, unfalsified opinion, which hopefully was developed from observing concrete phenomena.

Mr. R:

I can buy that. One good thing about this approach is that we did get to see real phenomena through the macroscope. Whatever opinions I now have regarding similar phenomena are, at least, based on observing concrete phenomena. It seems to me that is better than hearing about, or reading about, things second hand.

Professor L:

It seems to me what we may be saying is that we are choosing the lesser of evils. What we have accomplished with the Business Skylab is not necessarily the best, but it may have fewer drawbacks than other alternatives, e.g., math problems or literature absorption unapplied to actual business phenomena.

Dean D:

Now I don’t think you can say that! Mathematics is rigorous and their study challenges the logical and intellectual powers of the student. This has primary value, regardless of business phenomena. As for literature, what do you propose? That we re-discover the truths that are already in the literature every generation. That would be a tremendous waste of time.

Professor P:

But there is no truth in the literature, at least not absolute truth. What passes for truth should be continually challenged by the actual facts confronting various generations.

Dean D:

What do you mean by that?

Professor P:

I mean if we, students, simply accept what is recorded in the literature as truth we will not continue to grow.

Dean D:

What do you mean grow?

Professor P:

I mean become larger in all sorts of ways–skills, awarenesses, improved abilities to relate to others, more appreciation of beauty, more comprehension of large, complex, even philosophical problems. To grow requires an open mind.

Professor D, an associate professor of business education from Utah:

I’m not too competent in philosophy, but one thing seems plainly clear to me after looking at all those business specimens through the macroscope: there are precious few general business principles. Most of the specimens simply made up their particular principles as they went along. Assuming we did develop some scientific business principles, how could we force the specimens to use them?

The discussion continued in the above spirit for the rest of the day without any definite resolutions being agreed upon or adopted by the professionals and non-professionals present. All of the conference members, professionals and non-professionals, filled out teacher evaluation forms at the end of the day. The conference coordinator was very pleased that the conference was rated as a 4.7398 conference. The maximum score possible is 5.000 and the average is 3.4251. Thus the conference was highly successful.

The next day, most of the Business Skylab Conference members were happy to be boarding the space shuttle for the trip back down to Earth. On the other hand, two professors, one dean, one of the business people, and two of the graduate students regretted having to go back down to Earth so soon.

Some of the conference members felt uneasy back down on Earth from time to time when they looked up at the sky.

Richard John Stapleton, Editor & Publisher, Effective Learning Report, https://blog.effectivelearning.net/, 32 East Main Street, Statesboro, Georgia, October 27, 2017

A Synopsis of My Educational Background


by Richard John Stapleton

A great-grandfather of mine many times removed, the Reverend Doctor James Maury, a French Huguenot, taught four American presidents, Washington (a distant relative down the branches of my family tree), Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe, in a boarding school in Virginia.

A distant cousin, Matthew Fontaine Maury, was a West Point graduate, a commodore in the Civil War, fighting for the South, who published a book still in print, Physical Geography of the Seas. He was a founder of Virginia Tech, retiring as a professor of physics at Virginia Military Academy. Another distant cousin Dabney Herndon Maury, also a West Point graduate, a general in the Civil War fighting for the South, published a book titled, Recollections of a Southerner in the Mexican, Indian, and Civil Wars.

My great great grandfather Thomas Sanford Gathright, a Confederate draft dodger who opposed the South’s seceding from the Union, was the first president of Texas A & M University, recommended for his post by Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States of America.

My father’s uncle, Richard Gathright Maury, was a prominent lawyer in his time, the youngest district attorney in Harris County history, the county in which Houston just got flooded, who once served papers in person on a golf course in New York to John D. Rockefeller, indicting him and his Standard Oil Trust for violating Texas anti-trust laws, whose gravesite in Center, Texas, replete with a statue, is now a designated historical site recognized by the Texas Historical Society. As near as I can tell Richard Gathright Maury never went to school at all. Based on genealogical records produced for me by Frank Parker, a real estate developer and investor and a hobby genealogist, here in Statesboro, he was home schooled on a plantation in Mississippi and read law with a law firm to pass the bar exam.

His father, my great grandfather, Matthew Henry Maury, attended the University of Mississippi two years and was later killed by an African on a plantation in Mississippi, probably a freed slave, or the son of one.

My grandfather, Elbert Harry Coston, a Methodist minister, the son of Isom Alexander Coston, who was blind, according to my grandmother, Darlie Brown Walker Coston, whose father David Montgomery Walker was a cotton farmer and a wagon manufacturer, “never did a day’s work in his life. All he ever did was sit up on the front porch with his brothers and read.”

She said most of the work on the Coston farm near Palestine, Texas was done by Africans, freed slaves apparently, managed by her mother-in-law, Mattie Elizabeth Allen Coston, born on a ranch in Texas in 1854, shortly after Texas stopped pretending to be a nation and joined the Union as a mere state.

My mother told me in her last days in Willow Pond here in Statesboro that her grandfather Isom would swat each of his five boys on the rear one time with a razor strop when they came in for supper, telling them he didn’t know what they had done wrong that day but he knew they had been up to somethin’. She also said somebody had to read the whole newspaper to him every day.

My Coston grandfather took a few courses at East Texas State College before he became an ordained minister, becoming a minister according to my hard-working father so he wouldn’t ever have to work at all.

I lived with Moma and Snazzy, my maternal grandparents, for two years while I was working on my doctorate. My aunt Ted, Edna Mae Coston Thompson, at one point had Snazzy examined by a psychiatrist, thinking he was going insane. The psychiatrist said quite to the contrary he had the highest IQ of any man his age he had ever examined. This confirmed my judgment. Snazzy always seemed to understand anything. He had a personal library he had collected through the years containing a thousand or more books.

My mother Ida Belle Coston Stapleton took a few business courses at a Draughn’s Business College somewhere after she got out of high school. She told me shortly before she died here in Statesboro, at age 92, that she never made less than an A in school.

My father Richard Gathright Maury Stapleton took some courses in agronomy at Texas Tech before he dropped out to become a successful entrepreneur, having never taken a single business course or read a single business book, or a book of any kind after I was born, to my knowledge, except maybe an arcane treatise or two on Free Masonry, to become a third degree Scottish Rite Mason, as I understand it. He saw to it I became a DeMolay in high school but I never had any interest in that sort of thing.

All he ever read was the local newspaper, farm magazines, and the US News & World Report. He put me to work in his enterprises when I was eight years old.

I made mostly C’s in grade, junior, and high school, but did better in college. I was according to the Lubbock Avalanche Journal probably the youngest and smallest Class A high school starting quarterback in the US in 1953, at age thirteen, weighing 110 pounds, standing five feet three inches tall. I played basketball on an athletic scholarship at Hardin-Simmons University two years before transferring to Texas Tech College (now university).

I had a 3.0 in economics in undergraduate school but did better in the doctoral program, graduating with a 3.67 grade point average in a program that included all business disciplines in which A’s were not easy to come by. One of my classmates who became the dean of a business school graduated with a 3.0.

Despite scoring 840 on the Graduate Record Exam (GRE), at a time when 1000 was about average, Texas Tech accepted me provisionally into their doctoral program and gave me a part-time instructor position in economics that paid $3000 per academic year, enough for me to pay my way through the doctoral program and write my dissertation in three years.

The Office of Manpower Evaluation and Research of the US Department of Labor awarded me a $6500 grant to write my dissertation, An Analysis of Rural Manpower Migration Patterns in the South Plains Region of Texas.

Frank Parker traced all four of my grandparents back to Virginia before the American Revolutionary War, in which several ancestors fought. Their descendants, many of whom were cotton farmers, spread out from Virginia migrating into South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi, and New Mexico before winding up in the cotton country of Northwest Texas where I grew up.

I was working at a full time job in a Litton Industries electronics plant as a production control expediter and dispatcher and publishing my weekly newspaper the Wolfforth-Frenship Gazette when I took the GRE, having stayed up most of the night before the exam putting out the paper. I fell asleep several times taking the exam, not thinking it was important, just something I had to do to get into graduate school, filling in the remaining blanks for the various timed sections without reading the questions. I saw the exam proctor, the head of the psychology department at Texas Tech at the time, staring at me in amazement when I woke up from one of those naps.

Considering the GRE computerized grading system took off more points for questions answered wrong than for those left blank, I was lucky to have scored as high as 840.

I was hired at the associate professor rank after finishing my doctorate, skipping the assistant rank, at the University of Southwestern Louisiana after completing my doctorate in business administration, management science major, economics minor, at Texas Tech, becoming a full professor at age thirty-six at Georgia Southern College (now university), where I was the senior professor of the business school for about fifteen years, carrying the mace as the senior professor of the university for the spring graduation ceremony the year I retired in 2005.

I was the highest paid professor in the business school and maybe the second-highest-paid faculty member at Georgia Southern in 1970, behind Jim Oliver, in biology, maybe third after Fielding Russell, in English, when I started at age thirty, hired by President Pope Duncan.

My son, Jonathan Walker Stapleton, was the Star Student for our Congressional District in Georgia in 1990, scoring 1520 on the SAT back in the days when 1600 was the maximum score. He maxed the math part of the GRE when he finished his undergraduate degree at Rice University in Houston, Texas in 1994, almost maxing the verbal part.

He now invents and makes things in his home workshop and teaches physics and Earth sciences in a high school near Burlington, Vermont. Hunting and fishing and organic gardening in his spare time, in a beautiful environment, he is a smart son indeed.

He is the inventor and designer of Reptangles™, a plastic educational toy comprising twenty-four parts that snap together and pull apart to assemble into more than one hundred mathematically identifiable geometric shapes and symmetrical configurations, manufactured in China, licensed to, marketed, and distributed around Earth by the Fat Brain Toy Company, which was demonstrated on ABC’sGood Morning America.

Jonathan is married to Renee Doney Stapleton, MD, PhD, who teaches, researches, and practices pulmonary medicine at the University of Vermont. They have three children, Walker, Emmerson, and Orion, each of whom is learning well in and out of school.

According to Frank Parker’s data, one of my great great grandfathers William Anthony Stapleton, according to the 1850 US Census, was a farmer in Dale County, Alabama, owning twenty-one slaves. According to a first cousin, Stephen Carter, who got involved with genealogy, this great great grandfather made several trips to England, for reasons unknown, apparently doing business of some sort. According to Frank Parker, William Anthony Stapleton was relatively wealthy, since slaves at the time according to Frank were worth about $100,000 each in today’s money. According to Stephen Carter, who had his Stapleton mother’s DNA line searched using Ancestry.com, the Stapletons and Maurys in our family tree were descended from English, Irish, Scottish, and French nobility.

Here is a passage from my book Business Voyages, a family business bible, first published by me in 2011, pages 47-50. Read all about it free at https://www.amazon.com/Business-Voyages-Schemata-Discovering-Co-Constructing/dp/1413480810.

“In October 2009 I told and showed my friend Frank Parker a genealogist here in Statesboro, Georgia I had recently found proof on the Internet my grandmother Katharine Gathright Maury was related to Matthew Fontaine Maury, that one of her Maury ancestors taught four American presidents in Virginia, and she was descended from French Huguenots and the Randolphs of Virginia, starting with a family tree furnished me about 1985 by Mary Stapleton, wife of my uncle Matthew Henry Stapleton, that traced our Stapleton/ Maury line back four generations to James Woodville Maury and William Anthony Stapleton in 1850, that I used with Horace Randoph’s Updated Database at www.randolpharchives.org that traced Katharine Gathright Maury back to Abraham Maury in Virginia in 1758 that traced Abraham Maury through the Randolph line back to 17th century England, that I used with Some Descendants of Jean de la Fontaine in Bob Juch’s Kin Including 61,000 People at www.juch. org that traced the Maury line from Abraham Maury back to James Fontaine born in Barnstaple, Devonshire, England in 1686 to Guy de la Fontaine, Lord of Seville, born in 1400 in France and to Jean de la Fontaine born in 1375 in France.

“Frank then offered to use his computerized genealogical system to check out several people down my family tree. Among much else, he found Dick’s grandfather Matthew Henry Maury, age 25, in the 1880 US census living on a plantation in Kemper County, Mississippi with his wife Virginia John Gathright Maury, age 24, and children including Dick’s mother Katharine, infant, and her brother Richard, age 3, in one household and Dick’s great grandfather James Woodville Maury, age 59, living in another unusual household including his wife, Rachel Harris Maury, age 53, and a servant Milby, age 31, and her five young children, all named Maury. Included in another household on the plantation was Sarah Maury, age 55, listed as a mother and farmer, presumably the mother of Milby. Listed in another household was Aaron Maury, age 45, listed as a farmer, presumably the husband of Milby. Dick’s Maury grandfather and his great grandfather and their wives and children were listed as white and the rest of the Maurys on the census page were listed as black.

“Frank also found in the 1850 US census before the Civil War that Dick’s great grandfather William Anthony Stapleton was a farmer in Dale County, Alabama, owning twenty-one slaves. This family history was kept secret from Dick or he kept it secret from me. I would never have known about it had it not been for the Internet and Frank Parker’s genealogical skills in 2009. The slave owning was something not to be proud of and perhaps it should have been kept secret. I sometimes thought as a child Dick was a slave driver; now I know where he got the proclivity. If you Google Richard John Stapleton on the Internet you can find several Stapleton barons, lords and sirs that lived in England and Ireland through the centuries after 1215 and our Stapleton line could be descended from lesser sons of some of these families who migrated to America in search of their own lands and fortunes. An unanswered question is Ludowic Stapleton, father of William Anthony Stapleton, who may have immigrated to the US from Ireland or England.

“Life on the American frontier for most of my more recent ancestors as they fanned out in Virginia, South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, Oklahoma, or Texas was far from easy, secure, squeaky clean or pleasant much of the time. Many of them did not live long, and they were beset with all manner of problems on their farms, plantations and ranches–economic recessions and depressions, diseases of all sorts, psychological problems, hail, drought, sandstorms, hoof and mouth disease, slavery, the Civil War and much else. Dick thought his grandfather Matthew Henry Maury was killed by an African-American farm worker on a Mississippi plantation after the Civil War because Matthew insulted or made some sort of sexual advance toward the worker’s wife and he thought his mother was afterwards reared by her Gathright grandmother. He also said his Maury ancestors were either great or crazy. While his grandfather may or may not have been killed for this reason, his mother was not reared by her Gathright grandmother, at least not completely, although Dick did know something about what he was talking about. According to the 1900 US Census, Dick’s grandmother formerly Virginia John Gathright Maury now listed as age 40 had remarried Thornton Walters born in Illinois and was living in Brazoria, Texas in a reconstituted family consisting of 10 children, six named Maury including Dick’s mother Katharine now age 21 and four children named Walters ranging in age from 9 to 23. According to the 1910 US Census Virginia John Gathright Maury Walters, widowed, now age 50 was back in Lauderdale County, Mississippi listed as a patient in some sort of hospital or nursing home that included 24 other patients, all unrelated females ranging in age from 18 to 66.

“On Ida’s side of the family her favorite grandmother Mattie Elizabeth Allen Coston born in Texas about 1854 according to the 1870 US Census was living in a reconstituted family headed by John Doak married to Catharine Doak, presumably Mattie’s mother, including six children, four named Doak and two named Allen, Mattie and Robert. According to Ida at 90 years of age not many years ago at Willow Pond here in Statesboro, Georgia, Mattie “traveled all over” and had a good time at a ripe old age after her one and only Coston husband died of natural causes in East Texas.

“While some of Ida’s ancestors were intelligent, relatively well educated and successful professionally none to my knowledge equaled the intellectual achievements of some of Dick’s Maury ancestors. Quite possibly our Maury ancestor making the most significant contribution in American history was the Reverend Doctor James Maury who taught four American presidents, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and James Monroe, all instrumental in creating the US Constitution. The Reverend Doctor Maury taught classics, manners and morals, mathematics, literature, history, and geography in what was considered the best boarding school in Albemarle County,Virginia, attended by Thomas Jefferson who lived with the Reverend Maury and his family two years as a child (Wikipedia.org).”

I heard rumors of this growing up as a child, but I had no factual knowledge of it. In general in our family talking about ancestors was taboo. It was as if my parents had no knowledge of anyone in their families back past their parents. I always thought they had something to hide, which I suppose they did, slavery. They seemed shamed by their family history, either ashamed of what their ancestors did, or ashamed their social positions in their societies was generally lower than the social positions their ancestors had in their societies, having been declassed by the Civil War, with good riddance, in my opinion.

I did not have a happy childhood. It was as if my parents did not believe in having fun. All they did was work and keep a stiff upper lip. Children were supposed to be seen and not heard, but admired for their perfect manners and looks in the presence of company. There were all sorts of conflicts in the family. My mother detested her mother-in-law for bragging about her “blue-blooded ancestors.” My father thought everybody but him was lazy and worthless and he looked down his nose at them for this, including me. I learned to take care of myself, entertain myself inside my own head with my own auditory and visual constructions, and play football and basketball. We had relatively few I’m OK–You’re OK transactions at home or at work and very few positive strokes. I cannot remember being hugged by either of my parents as a child. Such was the social and psychological education and training they had received from their parents and grandparents through the generations.

One of the major conclusions of my book Born to Learn is that everything that happens happens by accident, as the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein pointed out in his book of propositions, Prototractatus, and therefore no one is to blame or praise for what happens.

One might think with a background like mine I ought to be rounded up and summarily shot for the sins of my ancestors; but I don’t think it was my fault. I did not make up the rules for how human affairs happen on Earth. They happen gradually and inexorably from generation to generation according to script messages passed to children from parents using all ego states, socially and psychologically, like runners passing a baton in a track race.

Read Born to Learn for more detail about ego states and script messages.

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Richard John Stapleton, Editor & Publisher, Effective Learning Report, www.effectivelearning.net