(no subject)

From: Derek Gatherer (gatherer@biotech.ufl.org)
Date: Thu Oct 04 2001 - 18:56:37 BST

  • Next message: Wade T.Smith: "RE: Thesis: Memes are DNA-Slaves"

    Received: by alpheratz.cpm.aca.mmu.ac.uk id TAA00484 (8.6.9/5.3[ref pg@gmsl.co.uk] for cpm.aca.mmu.ac.uk from fmb-bounces@mmu.ac.uk); Thu, 4 Oct 2001 19:01:11 +0100
    Date: Thu, 4 Oct 2001 12:56:37 -0500 (EST)
    From: "Derek Gatherer" <gatherer@biotech.ufl.org>
    Message-Id: <200110041756.MAA11085@snipe.biotech.ufl.org>
    Re: Memes inside brains
    Content-Type: text
    Sender: fmb-bounces@mmu.ac.uk
    Precedence: bulk
    Reply-To: memetics@mmu.ac.uk
    Apparently-To: memetics-outgoing@alpheratz.cpm.aca.mmu.ac.uk

    When one attempts a mathematical deduction, one applies the mathematical
    rules inside one's brain to solve the problem at hand. Surely the rules,
    which are memes, must be inside the mathematician's brain in order to
    warrant a successful solution to the problem without consulting some master.

    What you propose is really a variant of the situation Houghton uses (the shopping list problem)
     - see the reference list of my reply to the commentaries on my second last
    JoM paper for a reference to this. Houghton actually uses this thought
    experiment to demonstrate that we do not store such things internally.
    Adapting this to your situation, imagine a methematician who could only
    solve the equation with difficulty. He struggles to write the next line,
    and is forced to consult a book. As soon as he has consulted the book, he
    says 'of course!', realising he knew the next line all along. Once he has
    written it is seems obvious. A few lines later the same problem arises.
    Despite wracking his brains, he is stuck. so he goes back to the book - and
    again he mutter 'of course - how is it possible I didn't remember that'
    and so on. The production of cultural artefacts is not simply a matter of
    storage of the information needed to make them in some kind of neural
    media. The brain is obviosuly more subtle, and less relaible, than any
    computer-software running chip.

    I know how to use binomial theorems to calculate the probability that
    2 or more people in a room of 60 people share the same birthday. but don't
    ask me to do it without consulting a book. I know perfectly well how to do
    it - I just need a little reminder to get me started. The formulae aren't
    really stored in my head, because I can't just pull them out at will. But
    then how is it that a brief glimpse of the right page in my stats book will
    bring it all flooding back??? They are sort of stored and sort of not stored.

    This situation is so common in all kinds of human activities that it completely
    precludes all attempts to establish any quantitative science of measuring
    what is stored in peoples heads (which is what the internalist memeticists
    seem to want to be able to do.)

    This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
    Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
    For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing)
    see: http://www.cpm.mmu.ac.uk/jom-emit

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Thu Oct 04 2001 - 19:06:29 BST