Monday, June 15, 2009

Science Vocab: Despotism

Today's science vocabulary word is DESPOTISM.
It is defined as absolute authority. A DESPOT ( noun) means one who oppressively rules others, as in an tyrannical or autocratic leader.
But in ecology, despotism is used to describe organisms (either individuals or populations) who consume important resources without regard to others or the future need for those resources. These organisms consume, consume, consume and leave little, if anything for others.
It's a word used in social studies that ecologists and evolutionary biologists have adopted to explain the evolution and maintenance of social behavior, cooperation, selfishness, and altruism in many animal species, including humans.
I like this word because it is a great way to name call people - greedy people, or rude people you encounter - who use up public resources without regard to others. For example, the person who eats up all of the shrimp cocktail at the happy hour or the person in your office who monopolizes the copy or fax machine and prevents others from getting work done.

image courtesy of Bluebuddies Gallery.

Greedy Smurf, a classic despot.

1 comment:

TJ said...

or the idiot at the beach who walls off the little creek that trickles to the ocean to make a wading pool for his kids. Sigh.