RE: Silent memes

From: Keith Henson (
Date: Mon 07 Jul 2003 - 14:06:26 GMT

  • Next message: Richard Brodie: "RE: Silent memes"

    At 07:26 AM 06/07/03 -0700, Richard wrote:


    >Well, learning by silent example is just fine for passing on sophisticated
    >techniques to educated college undergraduates anyway. It's not immediately
    >apparent to me whether two decades of language use facilitated this silent
    >learning or not.

    (grin) might have actually gotten in the way.

    >Nevertheless, there's no reason remembered images of watching people perform
    >tasks couldn't be considered primordial nouns and verbs. It's a fascinating
    >line of inquiry. Thanks.

    Glad you like it.

    As Pete pointed out on this thread, it's the way immigrant non speakers of English learn a long list of complicated skills today.

    Another example: Long ago I was taught to make a particular kind of paper airplane, one with an actual airfoil that glides.

    I have in turn taught how to make them to hundreds of kids, every one of them by example, and if I have the chance, watching them make one and correcting them as they go.

    It would be much harder to explain how to fold paper this way verbally or in text, in fact, I have never tried. (Diagrams would be easier. I might have picked it up that way, just don't remember.)

    None the less, kids who learn this kind of airplane folding can and do pass it by example to other kids, demonstrating that they have been changed by the process. I.e., there is new information in their brains because (like the baseball example) you can test which ones of them have the meme
    (information) and which ones don't.

    I have never thought of memes as *requiring* verbal representations, though of course many do.

    Keith Henson

    PS. This is an example where the meme can definitely be "reverse engineered" from the product. Kids can unfold one, see exactly how it is made and make another one.

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