The Tragedy of Unpersuasive Power: The Convention on Biological Diversity as Exemplary

Joseph Henry Vogel


The complement to “The Tragedy of the Commons” is “The Tragedy of Unpersuasive Power.” A class of problems exists for which technical solutions go unheeded. Logic and evidence do not prevail. Nevertheless, the fallacies and rhetoric do make sense in the light of human evolution as eusocial: groupthink is the consequence of group selection. Exemplary of the class of problems is “access to genetic resources [and] the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources,” (ABS) of the 1993 United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). Capacious language in the 2010 Nagoya Protocol on ABS has immortalized contentious issues which could have been resolved through the economics of information, elaborated since 1992. The online discussion groups of the ABS Clearing House afford a natural experiment to test the tragedy. The solution is “delegated delegation” driven by a quest for legacy by the leadership.

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International Journal of Biology   ISSN 1916-9671(Print)   ISSN 1916-968X  (Online)   Email:

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