RE: Rumsfeld Says He May Drop New Office of Influence

From: Scott Chase (
Date: Sat Mar 09 2002 - 23:46:26 GMT

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    Subject: RE: Rumsfeld Says He May Drop New Office of Influence
    Date: Sat, 09 Mar 2002 18:46:26 -0500
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    >From: Vincent Campbell <>
    >To: "''" <>
    >Subject: RE: Rumsfeld Says He May Drop New Office of Influence
    >Date: Fri, 8 Mar 2002 12:34:11 -0000
    > <I would like to get away from our personal opinions on issues and
    >look at
    > > the formation of those ideas/memes. As I said before we, as a culture,
    > > have
    > > developed the notion that text is stable. Why?>
    > >
    > I didn't say that either, but it is_more_stable than oral
    > <It can be clearly demonstrated that language, use and meanings
    >change over remarkably short periods of time. Also history is written,
    >usually by the victors, some time after the events and often hides as many
    >truths as it portrays.
    > > The thing that we text-based societies miss in deriding the accuracy of
    > > oral society's historical accounts is that is that remembering exactly
    > > important, it is a cultural feature.>
    > >
    > The problem of oral history is simply one of fidelity of
    >transmission across many individuals over long periods of time. Of course
    >meaning and interpretation change over time in relation to a written text,
    >but the text retains fidelity for a lot longer than does oral
    >To give an example, Homer's work reflects oral traditions of ancient
    >but already by the time the odyssey and iliad were written down, elements
    >the events they supposedly recounted (the war against Troy and the return
    >journey of Odysseus) had probably been embellished over time (given the
    >centuries gap between events, tale, and writing of it). Whilst
    >interpretations of those stories may have changed countless times since
    >then, the text has remained largely unchanged (allowing for the not
    >insignificant changes in translation).
    > >
    > <In the groups that I have associated with, the old people tell the
    > > and then check the retelling for errors. Only a group member who can
    > > retell
    > > a story faithfully gets to be the 'custodian' of that story. It's not
    > > simple of course Vincent, but don't get the idea that orality is like a
    > > trans-millennial Chinese whisper.>
    > >
    > But that's exactly what it is.
    > >> You don't think accounts passed down from person to person
    > >>oral communication are subjective?
    > <I think that the stories were subjective in the first place>
    > So?
    > <I should have said that there was a belief common to ALL
    > > nations and language-groups that the country 'owned' the people rather
    > > than
    > > the other way around. Therefore, even if some conflict did occur, it was
    > > not over territory as, even if did 'win', the country wouldn't 'know'
    > > I can't describe this facet much better than this without going into a
    > > long
    > > treatment of the subject and it may well be so foreign to your
    > > understandings as to be misunderstood anyway.
    > >
    > > My main point is still the question of whether territoriality and
    > > possessiveness is natural/genetic or nurture/memetic.>>
    > >
    > I think you're conflating territoriality as a social concept (e.g.
    >nationalism), with territoriality as a reality of natural selection (i.e
    >competition for, and defending of resources). Think about it this way-
    >you're sitting in a restaurant about to tuck into your favourite food when
    >someone walks in, comes right up to you and picks up your plate and walks
    >off with it. That initial feeling- 'hey, that's my food!'- that's the
    >territoriality I'm on about.
    > In some societies this kind of response is extrapolated out to
    >levels of families, villages, nations etc., in others it isn't, but
    >kind of society one's in, it's an inherent trait in individuals.
    > Another example might be conceptions of personal space (instead of
    >stealing your food, the stranger comes and sits right next to you, despite
    >there being plenty of empty tables in the restaurant- what's your initial
    What if a stranger sat next to you, bumping you over in your booth, grabbed
    your sandwich and started eating it and started making passes at your
    significant other?
    > Socio-cultural factors may enhance, surpress or distort such things
    >but, IMHO they don't create them.
    I'm conflicted on the nature/nurture thingy. I'm trying to avoid the Scylla
    and Charybdis of biological and cultural determinism. Richard Lerner talks
    about both determinisms in his book _Final Solutions_ and offers the
    alternative of developmental contextualism. I'm not totally sure of how
    valid his views are.

    One way of looking at it is that a single genotype will exhibit a range of
    outcomes depending on the range of environments encountered during
    development and that a single environment will result in a range of outcomes
    depending on the genotype of the organism. I guess its *much* more
    complicated than this though. Lerner talks of a *fusion* of genotype and

    John Wilkins has spoken of developmental systems theory (DST), so maybe he
    can offer some guidance...

    I also got the gist that the Nazi's were hardcore biological determinists
    where they felt eliminating inferior genotypes was the way to perfection
    while communists were hardcore environmental determinists (shades of
    Lysenko?) and felt that social re-education, no matter how harsh or deadly,
    was the way to perfection. I'm probably not remembering this entirely

    I don't think Lerner was equating sociobiologists and Nazis but was offering
    some biologically deterministic parallelism nonetheless. He really lays into
    the topic of Nobel prize winning ethologist Konrad Lorenz's checkered Nazi
    past and his analogy comparing certain humans to a cancerous growth.

    I'm probably a tad more sympathetic to sociobiology/ep than those on the
    intellectual Left and may come down a *little* less critically than Gould
    and his buddies, but I still look at sociobiological (and memetic) notions
    quite cautiously.

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