Re: Fwd: Familiar images make false impressions

From: Scott Chase (
Date: Thu Jun 21 2001 - 23:48:48 BST

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    From: "Scott Chase" <>
    Subject: Re: Fwd: Familiar images make false impressions
    Date: Thu, 21 Jun 2001 18:48:48 -0400
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    >From: "Wade T.Smith" <>
    >To: "memetics list" <>
    >Subject: Re: Fwd: Familiar images make false impressions
    >Date: Thu, 21 Jun 2001 11:22:17 -0400
    >On 06/21/01 10:31, Philip Jonkers said this-
    > >Both are simple to remember and easy to replicate reliably
    >They also fit well with other diagrams and descriptions we've seen in
    >many other places - the growth of a plant, the metamorphosis of insects,
    >the orbits of the planets (themselves made simpler by making them
    >It is not, quite, possible to make the layered clouds of possible
    >locations of an electron, the quantum reality, simple in the same way as
    >the orbital circles, but, it is not an impossible image to spread, (now
    >that the technology of image-making has become household), and in fact,
    >it is rather attractive.
    >It should also be not impossible to spread (via museum exhibit and
    >textbook upgrades) a more accurate representation of early hominids, and
    >I think this is already progressing. The local museum of science has just
    >put in a new, loping and tail-waving T. Rex model, replacing the old,
    >upright one which greeted every visitor.
    >One of the weaknesses of the conference (or perhaps one of the weaknesses
    >of the little that I attended and thus witnessed) was the acceptance of
    >the famous images, without a concerted effort to make, through new
    >images, an attempt at more simple and easily grasped explanations of
    >complex discoveries and mechanisms.
    >At its core, evolution has extremely understandable structures and
    >mechanisms - it's a series of surviving algorithms, after all. Fractals
    >are likewise extremely understandable and brilliantly evocative as
    >images, and have cornered a small market of public interest.
    >But it is true that images lead us to other knowledges and interests with
    >strong force, and we are visually based for knowledge acquisition.
    >Regardless of what we hear, we need to look to know what's making the
    >Sontag, for all her brilliance (and I do think she is brilliant), happy
    >that 'words' lie at the end of the knowledge rainbow, is perhaps too
    >close to them to realize that these are seen things, these words, and the
    >pot of gold must be apprehended and touched.
    I'm surprised nobody has mentioned two images that have made their rounds in
    depictions of evolution, the first being Haeckel's illustrations of
    vertebrate embryos developing in parallel (ala ontogeny recapitulating
    phylogeny) and the second being the infamous "march of progress" depiction
    of mankind's (sic) evolution. Gould discusses both. Haeckel's distortions
    are discussed by Gould in the essay "Abscheulich! (Atrocious!)" (_Natural
    History_, March 2000, p. 42-49). The "march of progress" is highlighted in
    Gould's book _Wonderful Life_ (1989. WW Norton & Company, New York, p.

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