Who is biologist Jeremy Griffith?
Jeremy Griffith has dedicated his life to bringing a fully accountable, biological explanation to the dilemma of the human condition.
The Australian biologist Jeremy Griffith has dedicated his life to bringing fully accountable, biological explanation to the dilemma of the human condition — how do we explain our species’ extraordinary capacity for what has been called ‘good’ and ‘evil’. While it’s undeniable that humans are capable of great love and empathy, we also have an unspeakable history of greed, hatred, rape, torture, murder and war; a propensity for deeds so shocking and overwhelming that the eternal question of ‘Why?’ has seemed depressingly inexplicable. Even in our everyday behaviour, why, when the ideals of life are to be cooperative, selfless and loving, are we so ruthlessly competitive and selfish that human life has become all but unbearable and our planet near destroyed? How could we humans possibly be considered good when all the evidence seems to unequivocally indicate that we are a deeply flawed, bad, even ‘evil’ species?
For most people, trying to think about this ultimate of questions of whether we humans are fundamentally good or not has been an unbearably self-confronting exercise. Indeed, the issue of the human condition has been so depressing for virtually all humans that only a rare few individuals have been sound and secure enough in self to go anywhere near what the human condition really is. Nurtured by a sheltered upbringing in the Australian bush (countryside), Jeremy is one of those rare few. His soundness and resulting extraordinary integrity and thus clarity of thought, coupled with his training in biology, has enabled him to successfully grapple with this most foreboding of all subjects of the human condition and produce the breakthrough, human-behaviour-demystifying-and-ameliorating explanation of it.
Born on 1st December 1945 and raised on a sheep station (ranch) in rural New South Wales, Australia, Jeremy was educated at Geelong Grammar School in Victoria, a school whose visionary approach to education has produced such notable alumni as Rupert Murdoch and HRH The Prince of Wales. He gained first class honours in biology in the state matriculation exams and in 1965 began a science degree at the University of New England in northern New South Wales. While there, Jeremy played representative rugby union football, making the 1966 trials for the national team, the Wallabies.
Deferring his studies in 1967, Jeremy hitchhiked to Tasmania (with his dog Loaf), determined to save the Thylacine — the Tasmanian Tiger — from extinction. Setting off with only a trail bike to carry Loaf, his pack and himself, he began by searching all the remaining wilderness areas for evidence of the Tiger’s survival. The search was to last for more than six years — the most thorough investigation ever into the plight of the Tasmanian Tiger — and by its conclusion he and his co-worker James Malley had attracted significant support and a Thylacine Research Centre had been established. Bob Brown, who went on to develop the Australian Conservation Movement and become a Federal Member of Parliament, donated his time and income for a year to support the Centre, which had two field units in operation and camera monitors that Jeremy invented in all likely wilderness areas. Sadly Jeremy concluded the ‘Tiger’ was extinct. His findings were internationally reported, with articles appearing in the American Museum of Natural History’s journal, Natural History, and Australian Geographic. His search also featured in an episode of the national television series A Big Country. In the official report of the search, Bob Brown said of Jeremy’s ‘Uncompromising drive’ to save the thylacine, that ‘the future ease with which anyone shall be able to assess the thylacine’s history and survival states in full and clear perspective will be due to him’. (To read the magazine articles and a more detailed account of the search, visit Jeremy Griffith’s Remarkable Search for the Tasmanian Tiger.)
In 1971 Jeremy completed his Bachelor of Science degree in zoology at the University of Sydney and the following year, in the same self-sufficient spirit with which he had undertaken the ‘Tiger’ search, he began manufacturing furniture to his own simple and natural designs. His idea was to make table tops from bark-to-bark slabs of timber, so Jeremy hitchhiked to the north coast of NSW where such slabs were available. He made his first table top by carting a slab in a wheelbarrow four kilometres from the sawmill to a joinery where it could be planed. The business grew and in late 1973 he was joined by one of his brothers.
By 1976 they had saved enough to buy a 54 hectare property, on which they built an immense pole-framed workshop. Their unique furniture received much critical acclaim, including an article titled ‘Craft as a Successful Livelihood’ published in Craft Australia (1978). The highly successful furniture manufacturing business employed some 45 people and was a major tourist attraction when, in 1991 Jeremy sold his share in the business. (Read more about Jeremy’s Griffith Tablecraft furniture.)
The creativity Jeremy expressed in his natural furniture designs has been a hallmark throughout all of his life. Jeremy is an accomplished artist and on the rare occasions he is not working, Jeremy is thinking about a human-condition-free future for the human race, or creating useful tools for, and beautiful unpretentious, natural works of art to adorn, that wonderful new world. (Read more about Jeremy Griffith’s artwork.)
An upbringing nurtured with real, unconditional love (yes, it is to the nurturing from Jeremy’s mother — and the absence of oppressive egocentricity in his father — that we really owe his world-saving insights into the human condition) in the sheltered isolation of the Australian bush left Jeremy deeply troubled and perplexed by all the selfishness, competitiveness, aggression, dishonesty and indifference on one hand, and all the suffering on the other hand, that he inevitably encountered in the wider world when he grew up. In time, he realised that trying to save animals from extinction or trying to build ideal furniture wasn’t going to make a difference to the extraordinary imperfection in human life and that he would have to get to the bottom of the issue of this seeming complete wrongness of human behaviour, which is the issue of the human condition.
And so it was while building his furniture business that Jeremy first began to write down his ever developing thoughts about the problem of the human condition. Indeed, since 1975 Jeremy has spent the first, often pre-dawn, hours of each day thinking and writing about the human condition, the result of that dedication being his numerous articles and books about the human condition: in particular his 1983 submissions to Nature and New Scientist magazines (which were rejected, with the then editor of Nature, John Maddox, telling Jeremy that his starting point teleological argument that there is an underlying order in nature ‘is wrong’ — teleology is increasingly being accepted as true); Free: The End Of The Human Condition (published in 1988); Beyond The Human Condition (1991); A Species In Denial (2003), which was a bestseller in Australia and New Zealand; The Human Condition Documentary Proposal (2004); The Great Exodus: From the horror and darkness of the human condition (2006); Freedom Expanded (2009); The Book of Real Answers to Everything! (2011), and in 2016, his summa masterpiece book, FREEDOM: The End Of The Human Condition, and its condensation, Transform Your Life And Save The World.
In 2017, Jeremy commenced work on the Freedom Essay Series, an ongoing collection of essays (and videos) designed to help WTM subscribers access all the main subjects covered in FREEDOM in wonderfully illustrated bite-sized portions. In 2020 he wrote How Laurens Van Der Post Saved The World, and helped produce the introductory booklet, THE Interview. (All published works are freely available to be read or printed.)
In 1992, Jeremy visited Africa as part of the international launch of Beyond The Human Condition, and whilst there he was invited to visit a number of primate field studies in Kenya and Burundi where he was able to gain first-hand observations of the behaviour of several primate species.
Jeremy’s books have attracted the support of such eminent scientists in the field as Australia’s Templeton Prize-winning biologist Professor Charles Birch, New Zealand’s then foremost zoologist Professor John Morton, former President of the Canadian Psychiatric Association Professor Harry Prosen, and other distinguished thinkers such as Sir Laurens van der Post. A proposal to make a documentary about the human condition, The Human Condition Documentary Proposal, which Jeremy wrote the synopses for, received over 100 endorsements from many of the world’s leading scientists and thinkers, including professors Stephen Hawking and Nobel Laureate Charles H. Townes.
But while Jeremy’s work has attracted praise and received impressive commendations from some exceptional thinkers able to acknowledge his insights, he has also had to withstand the cynicism, indifference and even persecution that humans’ historic resistance to engaging the subject of the human condition produces.
It was soon after he began writing that Jeremy realised that not only was the scientific establishment failing its responsibility to address the issue of the human condition, but that, like the rest of humanity, it was treating the whole issue as an anathema. As a result, in 1983 Jeremy established a non-profit organisation dedicated to promoting analysis of the human condition, now called the World Transformation Movement (WTM). So fearful, however, has humanity been of the issue of the human condition that a vicious campaign was launched in 1995 to try to shut down Jeremy’s work and bring the WTM into disrepute, which Jeremy, along with fellow WTM Patron, renowned mountaineer and twice-honoured Order of Australia recipient Tim Macartney-Snape and the other supporters of the WTM, determinedly resisted — the result of which was the then biggest defamation case in Australia’s history, against the two biggest, left-wing (described by Jeremy as dogmatic, pseudo idealistic, ‘let’s pretend there’s no human condition that has to be solved and the world should just be ideal’, dishonest) media organisations in Australia, including its national public broadcaster. In 2010 — after 15 long years — Jeremy and Tim were vindicated, enabling Jeremy to concentrate solely on producing new works such as FREEDOM: The End Of The Human Condition, his summa masterpiece.
For further insights into Jeremy Griffith’s ability to grapple with and solve the human condition, you can read more in his Biographical Profile on the World Transformation Movement’s website.