RE: MR Evidence

From: Vincent Campbell (
Date: Tue Aug 14 2001 - 13:18:26 BST

  • Next message: Vincent Campbell: "RE: MR Evidence"

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    From: Vincent Campbell <>
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    Subject: RE: MR Evidence
    Date: Tue, 14 Aug 2001 13:18:26 +0100
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    This is nothing more than the 100th Monkey myth writ large.

    If successive generations of rats consistently improved their performance on
    the water exit test since 1920, surely by now the rate of improvement would
    be such that any rat should be able to complete the task without error by
    now. Is this what more recent versions of this test show? Or, like so many
    other forms of test (e.g. for paranormal phenomena like telepathy) have the
    true believers moved on to other forms of test, now that those initial tests
    have been debunked?

    The Bird pecking bottle tops is a particularly specious example. Nobody
    even particularly noticed this trend until it was widespread, and is a
    remarkably simple trick for birds to learn spontaneously, so trying to
    pretend it occured in a particular place first and spread by some weird
    force is as ridiculous as the re-writing of history referred to in the
    Boston newspaper article Wade posted recently.


    > ----------
    > From: Dace
    > Reply To:
    > Sent: Tuesday, August 7, 2001 8:30 pm
    > To:
    > Subject: MR Evidence
    > > > From: <>
    > > > > > Genes determine eye color. This is a well-established fact.
    > > > > > What's *not* established is that they determine the structure and
    > > > > > functions of the eye. In neo-Darwinian biology, genes play very
    > > > > > much the same role as the ether in Newtonian astronomy. Rather
    > > > > > than accept the existence of action-at-a-distance, astronomers
    > > > > > posited an ether across which waves of gravity could propagate
    > > > > > like waves on the ocean. Now the same thing has happened in
    > > > > > biology. We have trouble accepting the possibility that
    > > > > > influences are exerted over a distance (in this case across time
    > > > > > instead of space). So we invent a germ-plasm which mechanically
    > > > > > induces the formation of the body. While genes do indeed play an
    > > > > > important role in the activities of the organism, the genetic
    > > > > > program is as mythical as the lumineferous ether.
    > > > > >
    > > > > Actually, the mythical thing is the idea that there is a cold
    > > > > morphic resonential wind blowing through the halls of history that
    > > > > contains the shape of things to come. The argument ad ignorantium
    > > > > (we haven't proven the exact linkage of genes with ocular structure
    > > > > in every particular yet, so it must be due to something else someone
    > > > > dreamed up) was listed as a logical fallacy by the greeks 2500 years
    > > > > ago, and the passage of time has not led to any successful
    > > > > re-evaluation of its status as a logical error.
    > > >
    > > > It's not just that the "exact linkage of genes with ocular structure"
    > > > hasn't yet been worked out but that no linkage whatsoever has been
    > > > worked out. Nobody has the slightest idea how genes could produce eyes
    > > > or any other organic structure all the way down to protein.
    > > >
    > > > That's not to say that the argument for resonance-based memory is
    > > > based entirely on a critique of gene-based memory.
    > > >
    > > Actually, since there is no evidence that one can present that
    > > unequivocally corroborates MR, its proponents have been reduced
    > > to impotently attacking all other alternatives, especially those for
    > > which reams of corroborative evidence exists.
    > Let's begin with the rats.
    > In 1920 William McDougall of Harvard began training rats to learn to
    > escape
    > from a water maze by choosing the correct exit. While the brightly lit
    > exit
    > would give them an electric shock, when they picked the dimly-lit exit,
    > they
    > got out undisturbed. McDougall found that the first generation of rats
    > had
    > to endure 165 shocks before getting the message. But by the 30th
    > generation, only 20 transgressions were necessary to persuade the rats of
    > the error in their way. (McDougall, 1938. British Journal of Psychology
    > 28:321-345.)
    > McDougall assumed the rats were passing on acquired characteristics.
    > Wishing to disprove this "Lamarckian" (and Darwinian) interpretation of
    > the
    > data, F. A. E. Crew replicated the experiment in Edinburgh. Right from
    > the
    > get-go, Crew's rats needed only 25 errors to learn their lesson, as if
    > picking up where the Harvard rats had left off. (Crew, 1936. Journal of
    > Genetics 33:61-101.)
    > In Melbourne, W. E. Agar found the same effect. His trials went on for
    > over
    > twenty years, and even when he tested control subjects that weren't
    > descended from trained rats, they still showed improvement over the
    > performance of previous generations. So it couldn't have been coming from
    > their parents. (Agar, 1954. Journal of Experimental Biology 31:307-321.)
    > Acquired traits have often been observed to pass
    > throughout a species with no known means of direct transfer from
    > individual
    > to individual. For instance, in England in the 20s a small bird known as
    > the blue tit learned to open milk bottles at doorsteps. When one bird
    > learned the trick, others in the area learned it by simple imitation. But
    > the blue tit doesn't fly more than a few miles, and this habit spread to
    > several widely disparate areas in England by 1935 and continued popping up
    > in faraway places throughout the forties, including Scandinavia and
    > Holland.
    > The habit appeared independently at least 89 times in the British Isles,
    > and
    > the spread of the habit accelerated as time went on. (Fisher and Hinde,
    > 1949. British Birds 42:347-357.) Milk bottles practically disappeared in
    > Holland during the war, and by the time they returned all the birds that
    > had
    > been opening them before the war could not have survived to see their
    > return. Yet the habit rapidly returned when the bottles were
    > re-introduced
    > in 1947. According to Sheldrake's model, the more a new trait is
    > practiced
    > by the members of a given species, the more likely other individuals will
    > pick it up through resonance.
    > Arden Mahlberg, a psychologist, carried out a test of the ability to learn
    > Morse Code. He had one group of subjects learn actual Morse Code, while
    > another had to learn a newly-invented code that closely resembled it. He
    > found that subjects were able to learn the actual code far more rapidly
    > than
    > the alternative, and he interpreted this as evidence that the subjects
    > were
    > resonating with the millions of people who had already learned Morse code.
    > Each time he replicated the experiment, he found that the difference in
    > learning time between Morse code and the new one progressively decreased.
    > This might mean that the initial results were false. But the fact that
    > the
    > decrease was progressive suggests that the morphic resonance of the new
    > code
    > was becoming progressively stronger as more and more students learned it.
    > (Mahlberg, 1987. Journal of Analytical Psychology 32:23-34.)
    > Countless people have learned to type on the QWERTY keyboard. If morphic
    > resonance is real, we should expect people to learn this layout more
    > readily
    > than random layouts. This is indeed the case. Even the alphabetical
    > layout, which should be easier to learn, is often harder to learn, though
    > in
    > a few experiments it was equally easy to learn as the QWERTY layout.
    > (Norman and Fisher, 1982. Human Factors 24:509-519.) (Hirsch, 1970.
    > Journal
    > of Applied Psychology 54:484-490.)
    > This is just a small sampling. There's a lot more, including an
    > experiment
    > Sheldrake conducted recently demonstrating that crossword puzzles are
    > easier
    > to solve when lots of other people have already solved them. Many more
    > experiments on the drawing board could easily be carried out with a little
    > funding.
    > Ted Dace
    > ===============================================================
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    > Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
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