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Jeremy Griffith

About Jeremy Griffith

The Australian biologist Jeremy Griffith has dedicated his life to bringing fully accountable, biological explanation to the dilemma of the human conditionhow 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 Thylacinethe Tasmanian Tigerfrom 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 yearsthe most thorough investigation ever into the plight of the Tasmanian Tigerand 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. (Click here to read more about Griffith Tablecraft.)

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