Re: Aunger vs. Pinker on Galton

From: Kate Distin (
Date: Sat 23 Apr 2005 - 11:48:35 GMT

  • Next message: Kate Distin: "Re: reading a book"

    Scott Chase wrote:
    > --- Bill Spight <> wrote:
    >>Hebb's work still stands up. It's classic.
    > He talks about reading books too. He was saying that
    > one might read something like a mysstery novel once.
    > But after finishing it how likely are you to want to
    > go and re-read it again?
    > More germane to hat I posted in reply to Kate, if you
    > do only read it once and aren't motivated to re-read
    > it and you tell a friend about it, have you replicated
    > its content or have you transformed and/or re-created
    > it? From what I vaguely recall of Bartlett people tend
    > to mess upp the story a tad here and there in the
    > retelling and when the story gts passed down a line of
    > people who haven't read it first hand what will
    > happen? At the end of say 10 people in succession,
    > could we say that the content has been replicated or
    > transformed?

     From a memetic point of view it could be described thus: certain media are better for transmitting certain sorts of information. The human brain (memory plus spoken language in this case) is not great for passing on the enormous amount of information contained in a whole novel. So the information runs the risk of being replicated only partially, and with far a greater probability of mutation, than if that information had been replicated via a photocopier, say.

    > Maybe vivid sexual element might attract
    > to our innate erotic modular stuff and get passed on
    > with more fidelity.

    Right - not only the medium but also the replicator's content can influence its copying fidelity.

    > Compare the process of someone reading the latest
    > bodice ripping romamce novel and passing serial
    > retelling from memory down the line through a series
    > of ten people. Compare this process to someone burning
    > a friend's CD and then lending the copy for a friend
    > to burn from. At the end of ten people, what would the
    > quality of the serial digital reproduction be like
    > compared to the serial retelling of the story in the
    > book?

    Again, to a certain extent it would depend on the medium. If the CD-burning machinery were poor quality in all of the ten cases then the end product would be reflect that. On the other hand we'd probably expect the verbal retelling to be even less effective than that - depending on how simple/clear/compelling the content of the original story was.


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