Re: Mutant swarms and copying fidelity

From: Keith Henson (
Date: Thu 05 May 2005 - 04:03:17 GMT

  • Next message: Scott Chase: "Re: Mutant swarms and copying fidelity"

    At 08:18 PM 04/05/05 -0700, Scott Chase wrote:


    >How much of culture is actually in printed form?

    Most of it I would say.

    >Linguistic evolution is important, yes, and maybe
    >partly dependent on innate cognitive modules, but
    >didn't culture precede the advented of printing?

    Absolutely. If you take only the start of rock chipping, and that's surely not the beginning, culture got going 2.65 million years before printing.

    >the advent of printing, was non-printed culture

    I would say so.

    >The reason I ask is that I'm thinking in terms of
    >Bloch's argument against linguistically based culture
    >in his _How They Think We Think_. Much could be
    >non-linguistic and not address by the word string you
    >and Keith are looking at (regardless of the advent of

    Being an engineer who works with bits and bytes every day, I have to think about it this way.

    Human memory forms at the rate of a few bits per second. Totalling over a life that amounts to about 140 Mbytes. But the vast majority of the cultural elements are shared, as for example knowledge about game rules, or which way to turn a faucet. In fact, if it is *not* shared it isn't an element of culture or a meme anyway. So the byte count of human culture(s) in minds would at most be a human memory increased by some factor to account for the cultural element that are not universal x the number of cultures depreciated by the high overlap between them (there are only so many ways of starting a fire for example.)

    Of course virtually all current cultural information is in print not to mention all the cultural information from the past that has not been accessed for so long that it is no longer in human memory.

    >There's lots that words cannot address conceptually as
    >Bloch points out and transformation of cultural
    >content may occur due to the sender taking something
    >out of procedural memory and putting it into
    >declarative memory using words then the receiver
    >intepreting those words which then get stored
    >eventually as procedural memory (or
    >implicit-explicit-----explicit-implicit). Sounds like
    >a barrier for replicationists to cross to me.

    In support of your view re verbal, it turned out that it didn't make much difference if you talked or not showing someone how to chip spear heads out of rock.

    It did turn out to be *awful* hard for people to get good at it speaking or not.


    Keith Henson

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