RE: Teleology etc.

From: Vincent Campbell (
Date: Tue Aug 14 2001 - 15:12:45 BST

  • Next message: Kenneth Van Oost: "Re: Callouses and Kings"

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    From: Vincent Campbell <>
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    Subject: RE: Teleology etc.
    Date: Tue, 14 Aug 2001 15:12:45 +0100
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    The 100th monkey thing is a myth, because it deomstrably isn't true. Other
    populations of monkeys did not suddenly start performing the same behaviour
    once 100 of the original population did, in fact no populations started the
    behaviour at all.

    Primates have good capacities for imitation, but they are finite, and there
    are finite periods within with species can learn. I saw a TV programme
    (perhaps de Waal's book mentions it also but it's gathering dust on my
    bookshelf at the moment) where this was shown with a female chimp who had
    moved troops. She had learnt, as a youth, to crack a particular kind of nut
    with a stone that her new troop couldn't crack. When she cracked these nuts
    almost the entire troop would watch her. But long observation showed that
    only the youngsters were learning how to do break nuts at all (by copious
    watching of parents and other adults), older members of the troop could note
    develop new skills.

    In this kind of context, the notion that suddenly troops of monkeys many
    miles apart, with no contact could suddenly start utilising such a behaviour
    is ludicrous. It's also unfounded, having been checked out by several
    researchers. I believe I read about this somewhere.. either in Shermer's
    'Why People Believe Weird Things' or 'The Skeptic' magazine. I'll try and
    track it down.


    > ----------
    > From: Kenneth Van Oost
    > Reply To:
    > Sent: Saturday, August 11, 2001 11:38 am
    > To:
    > Subject: Re: Teleology etc.
    > Hi Chris,
    > You wrote,
    > > Sorry, I'm the culprit for introducing that into the discussion.
    > > How would this 100th monkey story differ from the blue tits and milk
    > bottle
    > > thingy? These notions becoming a part of the collective consciousness,
    > wrong > as they may be, are fair game in this forum. Frans de Waal talks
    > about the
    > > 100th monkey stuff in his book _The Ape and the Sushi Master_ (2001,
    > Basic
    > > Books, New York). What is it about these ideas that is so appealing?
    > << How can you be so sure that those stories are wrong !?
    > You have no prove that a mecanism drives the birds and the monkeys
    > or not !
    > It is still a mystery, all the reasoning is highly hypothetical.
    > It is IMO not a " prove" that a nearby scientific application says it has
    > to be wrong because its prove shows it that way, that it is wrong !! The
    > prove it will have is just circumstancial.
    > It must be proven, either way !!
    > And maybe further investigation into what makes those ideas so appea-
    > ling will turn out to be the tenet of what memetics is all about !!
    > Regards,
    > Kenneth
    > ===============================================================
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