Re: Modes of Transmission

From: Joe Dees (
Date: Fri Jan 18 2002 - 07:41:36 GMT

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    > Fri, 18 Jan 2002 02:16:49 -0500
    > "Philip Jonkers" <> Re: Modes of TransmissionReply-To:
    >>It looks like you are listing media of communication,
    >at least with regard to
    >>the transmission of ideas.
    >>Some very basic questions are:
    >>1. WHAT is the replicator or WHAT are the replicators
    >>2. HOW does the replicator (or replicators) replicate
    >>3. WHY do some replicators replicate more than others
    >>Questions 1 and 2 seem to be getting mixed together
    >in recent threads, though
    >>I have not read everything.
    >>In answering question 1, there seem to be three very
    >broad classes under
    >> A. Internal phenomena that might be called ideas
    >and/or memories and/or
    >>internal behaviors,
    >I guess this class includes, what is referred to as
    >`meaning', on the list.
    >> B. External behaviors, typically visible,
    >audible, tangible, etc. with
    >>the unaided senses
    >> C. Artifacts.
    >>All of A, B, and C are identified by way of
    >abstractions, as discussed in
    >>this excerpt from my paper Units, Events, and
    >Dynamics in the Evolutionary
    >>Epidemiology of ideas
    >It looks like you're in the memes-are-everywhere
    >camp too. Cool... I expected no different though.
    >>" Many of the conceptual and analytical tools used to
    >consider thought
    >>contagions also pertain to the various other kinds of
    >cultural replicators,
    >>though often with modification. Still, the
    >similarities allow for scientists
    >>to study a range of different kinds of cultural
    >replicators. As with memory
    >>items, one still needs abstractions to consider two
    >behaviors or two
    >>artifacts "the same." That means that one still needs
    >to use abstractions to
    >>view behaviors or artifacts as replicators. For
    >example, it takes an
    >>abstraction to say that two people both
    >performed "the same" behavior of
    >>tying a shoe. One does not mean that hands followed
    >the exact same
    >>trajectories over time, since no two people's hands
    >are exactly identical.
    >>Some hands have fewer than five digits, others have
    >extra digits, while still
    >>others have arthritic joints. Even for a single
    >individual, the trajectories
    >>followed in tying a shoe can vary dramatically, while
    >the physiological state
    >>of the hands and body also change from moment to
    >moment and year to year.
    >>What one calls "the behavior" of tying a shoe is
    >recognized more for the
    >>outcome of a secure bow made by one person than the
    >specific behavior leading
    >>to that result. People also learn different ways of
    >tying a shoe:
    >>single-handedly or left-handedly, while others learn
    >to tie bows that have
    >>slight topological differences such as a clockwise or
    >counterclockwise twist.
    >>Compounding the diversity is the huge variety of
    >shoes and shoe laces. A very
    >>young child needs a certain amount of experiential
    >learning just to know that
    >>a shoe-tying behavior is happening. Cultural
    >replication can only happen with
    >>respect to an abstraction, whether it involves
    >internal memory items or
    >>external behaviors and artifacts or any combination
    >of them.
    >>While a behavior such as tying a shoe is not itself a
    >thought contagion, the
    >>knowledge of how to tie a shoe with a bow does spread
    >as a thought contagion.
    >>The ease of untying a slip knot such as a bow would
    >have given people
    >>incentive to learn the knowledge of how to tie a bow
    >from other people seen
    >>doing it. As that knowledge spread in adults, parents
    >had motives for
    >>inculcating the knowledge into their children: doing
    >so saved them from
    >>having to dig terrible knots out of their children's
    >shoelaces or from
    >>dealing with shoes falling off of their children or
    >from always having to
    >>help the children with their shoes.
    >>When artifacts are viewed as replicators, most
    >involve brains at some point
    >>in the causal pathway to forming new "copies." Bows
    >tied in shoelaces do not
    >>replicate themselves, and they are usually not even
    >used for clues about how
    >>to tie shoelaces. Instead, bows result from behaviors
    >that result from stored
    >>knowledge, with the behaviors playing an essential
    >role in communicating the
    >>knowledge from brain to brain. The bow as an artifact
    >helps call attention to
    >>the fact that there is a useful bow-tying behavior
    >and knowledge of how to
    >>tie a bow. The artifacts of bows, the behavior of
    >tying bows, and the
    >>knowledge of how to tie a bow all depend upon each
    >other for propagation.
    >>They all depend on the persistence of memory for
    >preservation, as the bows
    >>and the behaviors of tying them usually remain
    >dormant while people sleep
    >>with their shoes off and untied. " END QUOTE
    >Nice and clear quote, I like it...
    >>In regard to ideas as replicators, the general
    >question 2 of how the
    >>replicators replicate includes both the media of
    >communication and other
    >>behavioral specifics. Under media of communication,
    >you do indeed have such
    >>things as showing, saying, writing, and picturing.
    >With respect to idea
    >>transmission, artifacts and behaviors can be media of
    >communication. Along
    >>with showing, saying, writing, and picturing, one
    >might add signing (as in
    >>sign language), and even some exotic, futuristic
    >methods involving
    >>micro-neurosurgery. If we could learn from osmosis, I
    >would add that one too
    >>--Aaron Lynch
    >What is the difference between showing and picturing?
    >I can't picture that... Well, we can already
    >learn from osmosis since a branch of biology
    >probably is dedicated to just doing that. Do you mean
    >to learn mediated by osmosis in a cheating and
    >lazy kind of way in which you acquire
    >knowledge without investing the good old blood, sweat
    >& tears?
    >Sorry Aaron for being
    >such a hair splitter, I guess it comes with the
    >territory (computational science).
    It's the difference between showing someone how to use a camera (to communicate the how-too-take-a-picture meme) and showing someone a picture of a camera if one hasn't one handy (to communicate the recognize-a-camera-of-this-type meme).
    >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)

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    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)

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