Re: New Memes Book

From: Bill Spight (
Date: Wed 06 Apr 2005 - 14:38:04 GMT

  • Next message: Scott Chase: "Re: New Memes Book"

    Dear Scott,

    > If
    > a group of people in a post-apocalyptic world were to
    > unearth a cache of aluminum bats and had no clue what
    > they were, what use might they put these things to?

    We already face similar problems, and not just in archaeology. There are many pre-industrial tools for which we do not know their use.

    > Much of what I've argued (I can't speak for Chris) is
    > that we have a hard time making inferences about
    > hidden information. Taking a *mild* behaviorist
    > approach, it's much easier to observe behavior, but
    > harder to know what's going on inside the head. Unlike
    > Skinner I have no problems with mental level
    > explanations, but see the limitations as he aptly
    > points out. Plus I really don't know how we can assume
    > a similarity at the mental level based on what we
    > observe at the behavioral level. Like "they" say,
    > there are many routes (internal processes) that we can
    > use to reach the same destination (overt behaviors).
    > Look at any major metropolis and the number of roads
    > people could take from various starting points to
    > reach a museum nd meet at a particular point at a
    > given time. Maybe not the best analogy, but I hope it
    > gets my point across.

    Similarity is a matter of degree. There was an unfortunately cruel anti-behaviorism experiment in which rats learned a maze. Then they were crippled so that they could only run in circles. They still could run the maze, showing that they had not simply learned behavioral responses.
    (As someone pointed out, rats can swim, so simply filling the maze with water would have provided a more humane way of proving the point.)

    Now, in a very real sense the rats learned the *same* thing, despite the fact that the neurological changes in each rat were almost certainly different.



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