Re: reading a book

From: Scott Chase (
Date: Thu 05 May 2005 - 13:29:24 GMT

  • Next message: Chris Taylor: "Re: reading a book"

    --- Chris Taylor <> wrote:

    > There is of course deception across the board, but
    > what do we _mean_
    > exactly? An on-the-fly decision to deceive rather
    > than the ability to
    > deceive at all would seem to be an additional
    > criteion to apply,
    > otherwise mimicry and crypsis (visual, scent or
    > call-based) can be
    > included for a start; as could deception in mating
    > rituals such as
    > (iirc) the hanging fly's nuptual gift of a wrapped
    > (in a leaf, again
    > iirc) food morsel -- sometimes the wrap has _no gift
    > in it_ but by the
    > time the female unwraps (the lack of) it, the male
    > has had his wicked way...
    > I think there has to be some notion of a choice, or
    > at least a
    > theoretical option to be dishonest, that is beyond
    > even being
    > classifiable as epigenetic (in the sense of
    > emergent, cf. all the
    > hawk-dove game stuff). That means that one can only
    > 'deceive' in the
    > sense that (I assume) we mean it here if one can do
    > that on the fly (as
    > oppo to _by_ a fly :D ), which means that memes are
    > a _prerequisite_.
    > Ergo not much below primates should be doing this
    > stuff period.
    > There is another related thing here -- I saw a prog
    > a while ago that
    > showed a troop of chimps that were almost
    > exclusively wary of water
    > (they swim like bricks), but the ageing alpha male
    > was keeping the
    > hugely physically superior beta (a real thug of a
    > chimp) from ascending
    > by regularly going tromping up and down a local
    > shallow stream ("OMG he
    > must be a supersimian!"). Another form of deception
    > (i.e. a sin of
    > omission [of explanation that it is no big deal]
    > rather than
    > commission). Just for interest...
    Could we ask "What would Nicolo do?" Sure an orchid can deceive a wasp with its overall wasp-like form, but does the orchid have a "theory of mind" or does the wasp have a semblance of mind that can be deceived like possible in primates like humans and possibly chimps? The orchid has genes that have a theory of form as so-called hypotheses of how to look have been rejected in the past (paging Popper). The wasp has an innate theory of form as in looking for a female and the orchid tricks it by mimicking the look of a female wasp. The wasps also has a theory of how the female smell and the orchid deceptively produces pheromones. But this deception is not socially based. Could it be termed "Machiavellian"? The orchid has evolved via selection to exploit certain innate wasp behvioral quirks, but humans can assume that other humans will behave in certain ways because they extrapolte from their own behavior and that of others in the past and attribute psychological features (like having a mind" to others). Maybe chimps do this too. So we are taking bout different types of deception here. The scarlet kingsnake that mimics the coral snake isn't doing the same thing as the crafty and cunning Janus faced politician that deceives their voters, because it is known how voters will tend to act when certain propaganda is presented and crucial information is withheld.

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