Re: Looking for a name.

Date: Wed 17 Mar 2004 - 10:23:46 GMT

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    In a message dated 3/8/2004 7:37:44 AM Central Standard Time, writes:

    > Subj: Re: Looking for a name.
    > Date: 3/8/2004 7:37:44 AM Central Standard Time
    > From:
    > Reply-to:
    > To:
    > At 10:07 AM 08/03/04 +0000, you wrote:
    > >I was trying to think of something germanic based on krieg, to no avail
    > >(war shank was as close as I could get with googlefish), but what about
    > >borrowing 'marshall/marshalling' with the obvious link to martial as well.
    > >So call it a marshalling response? (Got a nice God-root to boot). I always
    > >liked bellicose as a word too, but belly doesn't give you much to work
    > >with. You could do something like guerilla maybe? I'll shut up anyway.
    > So far one other person has suggested similar terms. I tend to favor the
    > more primitive "Ares" over Mars as the root, but "Aresophilia" would be
    > love of war which does not exactly cut it. In combination with Eros (in
    > the attraction sense) it might work, but so far no luck in forming a word.
    > >Cheers, Chris.
    > >
    > >Keith Henson wrote:
    > >
    > >>Stockholm Syndrome, more descriptively capture-bonding, is a
    > >>conditionally switched on evolved psychological trait humans have. See
    > >> for discussion re this
    > >>trait and the attention-reward mechanism (awkward terms, I know).
    > >
    > >Er, 'is'? A little bold there fella -- but I digress.
    > Article has been out there for year and a half, is widely indexed and over
    > 50k downloads. I started discussing this particular point of the article
    > with psychologists close to 5 years ago and never had one I have talked to
    > disagree on my categorization of Stockholm Syndrome as "a conditionally
    > switched on evolved psychological trait." The 100% response after
    > discussing what happened to our non-ancestors who did not socially reorient
    > toward their captors was, "Yeah, that's obvious." This was actually
    > disappointing since I like defending a thesis.
    > If you can see any holes in the argument for the origin of
    > SS/capture-bonding psychological trait I would love to see them.
    > Thanks for the name suggestion,
    > Keith Henson

    Hi Keith.

    I was one of those who sent you some compliments on your article, and the capture bonding hypothesis. It contained some innovative hypotheses that strike me as well-formed from within the theoretical framework of evolutionary psychology. However, I did not mean my comments to indicate that I considered the hypotheses you offer as being confirmed. There are all sorts of reasons people don't send all the critiques that come to mind. For one thing, writing it all out can easily amount to a paper in its own right, and perhaps even a longer paper.

    In the case of your 2002 paper, I did not specifically state a disagreement with your "categorization of Stockholm Syndrome as 'a conditionally switched on evolved psychological trait.'" However, merely not voicing a disagreement with it does not mean that I concurred with it. There are other hypotheses that you have not even addressed, let alone ruled out. For example, over the centuries, people who have pretended to sympathize with their captors may have more frequently lived to tell about it. They would then have re-told their stories and advice more often than did people who behaved less cooperatively and died. Those who live and eventually escape by stealth and deception might also feel particularly motivated to tell their stories to others so that they too can survive. And when someone does survive, many people want to know how they did it. The stories are also vivid and gripping, and promote more tellings and listenings for that fact as well. Emotionally loaded stories might also be more durably remembered, a matter that has been studied in recent decades in neurosciences. So there is reason to expect high transmissivity, receptivity, and longevity for any culturally transmitted ideas of how to survive in captivity. Some of these mechanisms of survival-linked transmission have been discussed in broader terms by various other evolutionary cultural replicator theorists ever since evolutionary cultural replicator theory came into being. To discover a few early citations, rev up your space telescope and peer way back through time to F. T. Cloak (1966, 1973 and other papers) and Pierre Auger's book L'homme Microscopique, (1952). The latter could even be said to use a certain "m-word," but I digress. (The past 30 yeas have generated additional works discussing evolutionary cultural replicator theory of survival-enhancing ideas, but I will leave the library research to you. Again, I am not trying to give anything like a full commentary on your paper or its topics.)

    Cognitive dissonance theories and other psychological theories might well explain why pretended sympathies with captors have been known to develop into ideological realignments, and without need for a captivity-specific genetic mechanism.

    In modern times, there has been widespread non-genetic propagation of ideas favoring cooperation with captors. Prior to September 11 of 2001, such ideas were even inculcated as standard policy for employees taken hostage on airborne jetliners. Indeed, this learned cooperation response was shown to be an exploitable weakness on that day.

    Again, I am not offering a full commentary on your paper. On the topic of captive bonding, as with a few others, I should clarify that I found your hypothesis interesting and well-deserving of publication. But I should add that you have not yet established your hypothesis as being the best available explanation for the phenomena it addresses. Working up some good empirical and quantitative tests is, as you already know, still another matter.

    Unless you can demonstrate that truth-contingent mechanisms of transmission are reflected in the web statistics, the figure of 50k is irrelevant, whether considered high or low. To get a sense of how you would even begin making a causal connection between the truth value of your paper's thesis and the numbers of times the html and pdf files have been transferred between computers, you might begin by looking at all the html crammed into the paper, with an eye to how each script, link, cookie, etc. affects the traffic. Then you would have to study a variety of behind the scenes web promotion activities done by Ian Pitchford and others at Are any of those activities truth contingent? Do they work better for creationists, for instance? Have you considered changes in how Google ranks pages, and how that process is manipulated? As with people not expressing disagreements with a paper, one should avoid rushing into inferences of scientific validity based on internet traffic. (Much more can be said about widespread and unwarranted conclusions being drawn from web links, traffic, publicity, citation counts, and so on. But that is not on top of my things to do list.)

    --Aaron Lynch

    Thought Contagion Science Page:

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