Re: Predator avoidance and memes

Robert G. Grimes (
Wed, 05 Nov 1997 15:26:48 -0500

Date: Wed, 05 Nov 1997 15:26:48 -0500
From: "Robert G. Grimes" <>
Subject: Re: Predator avoidance and memes

Mark Mills wrote:

> My friend told me that under attack, our
> brains attempt to simulate the predator's perspective, perhaps to
> anticipate attack and avoiding the danger. During the attack, our
> brains
> are rapidly jumping between our personal perspective and a simulation
> of
> what the predator sees. Thus, we experience reality through the eyes
> of
> the predator for brief moments.
> Snip

I would be interested in where this material came from as I've never
heard of it previously. Certainly there would be defense mechanisms for
reaction on lower, almost vestigial, levels, i.e., initial freezing of
action, common in animal species, so that motion would not provide
stimulus needed by other animals (some cannot "see" prey not in motion
or in species specific motion), fight or flee response (stimulation of
adrenals, resulting rapid heart beat, restriction of peripheral
circulation to minimize blood loss, i.e., other reactions similar to
shock - especially after a wound, etc.)

Personally, I've witnessed much surgery in operation theaters including
very extensive operations removing large organs, etc., and normally am
unaffected by such. But the other day while on a phone call, the caller
suddenly described an extensive wound she had received from the kick of
a horse and the different levels of suturing required. I had an
immediate response, sphincter contraction (I'll let you guess which one)
and a sudden rush like an electric shock over my body, a really solid
identification reaction to the words as if they were things!

I was quite startled at the physical reaction when I normally would not
have this at the "real thing," but I remembered previous experiences of
where early exposure to threats and such had raised my threshold yet,
later, a long time after a period of non exposure, sudden re-exposure
brought unexpected responses. For example, I've flown a lot, including
acrobatics, etc., and also as a youngster worked for a period as a
lineman doing high climbing with gaffs, etc., and was never afraid of
heights. Yet, years later, when stepping out suddenly on the side of a
mountain and finding an unguarded drop of thousands of feet right in
front of me, I immediately shrank back against the mountain, glued
there, almost terrified from the sudden exposure to that view and
possible danger. I had never experienced fear of heights previously and
it took a period of adjustment to recover. Similarly, if one has long
experience of successfully speaking before groups followed by a long
period absent of such exposure, it is often surprising to find oneself
experiencing something similar to "stage fright" and it is doubly scary
when it is unexpected.

The idea of "seeing through the predator's eyes," however, appears very
controversial in my experience and reading so I would be interested in
the sources. We are deluged lately with very unscientific data
presented in very scholarly terminology that is quite misleading.

A recent example, I heard a radio program recently where the author of a
new book on Nikola Tesla was being interviewed. It was a coincidence as
I had just purchased a book of Tesla's writings (over a hundred years
old - 1894) and Tesla was sort of a childhood hero of mine as I had an
electronics background and had wound Tesla coils as a youngster
experimenting with electricity. As I heard the gentleman interviewed
and the hostess's responses and questions, I was astounded. He was
advocating that Tesla had some kind of secret and miraculous inventions
that had been sealed from the public by capitalists (J.P. Morgan, et al)
and the author's knowledge of science was ghastly. I could tell
immediately that he had never been in a laboratory and knew nothing
about physics, etc. (he talked quite a bit about the "ether," as if
Michelson-Morley had never existed). Then I found that there is a "new
wave," mystical, pseudo-scientific, conspiracy group who attribute all
sorts of powers to Tesla and this was the audience to whom the book was
directed. Just absolute nonsense but they mingled in "quarks" and such
terms in the discussion in a manner that suggested they were informed.
It was fascinating as none of them had a clue to modern physics except
apparently some cursory reading of pop literature about it.

This is a more often experienced thing nowadays when one finds people
exposed to all types of media and whose vocabulary, ability to use key
words, etc., is impressive but whose exposure to extensional experience
is extremely limited. Interestingly, they themselves appear not to be
aware of their superficial experience but confuse "words with facts. "
Thus, they have a very high "verbal I.Q." but a very low "performance
I.Q." This appears to me to be increasing all the time with the greater
exposure to television and more "verbal education" as compared to
"skills," i.e., lectures, reading, etc. but no "hands on" laboratory or
performance training. Apparently this is one of the "dangers of the
modern age."

> This feature of our 'fight-flight' instinct often leads the victim of
> attack to have great confusion about their identity. They remember
> experiencing the attack from the perspective of the attacker and often
> have a feeling that they somehow participated in the attack. This is
> particularly true of victims of incest, people who often have high
> ability to empathize with their attacker.

Again, this seems to relate to some very controversial ideas about abuse
and "recovered memories," etc., plus theories where the victim becomes a
perpetrator in later life. It is true that child-abuse victims
frequently become perpetrators in adult life but, to many, this is not
considered a confusion of identify but simply the result of a long
"teaching" experience, usually by a sick but close family member at a
very early and vulnerable age. Usually it is associated with sexual
feelings and thus the victim is "initiated" into abnormal practices
which they have identifed with the sexual urge. This is frequent when
the victim is exposed at tender ages when they are inexperienced and,
thus, "learn" from abnormal experience.I do think it is quite likely (as
has often been mentioned) that there is a great deal of subliminal
connection to hereditary aggressive propensity of humans and the later
sublimation or redirection of these unconscious "urges" or "faculties"
in occupations (law enforcement, armed forces, sports participation and
in spectator viewing of sports, etc.). Personally, I'd rather folks
satisfy these urges watching boxing as a couch potato rather than taking
up random violence!

It is intriguing to speculate on how much of early phylogenetic
development affects us (low order, thalamic thinking, reptilian brain,
etc. areas of our nervous system) in modern life and how it might be
"triggered" by unexpected stimuli.

Obviously, you "tipped by conversation box over" with this interesting
subject and
thanks for this stimulating topic. I would be interested in the source
of those theories related by your friend as I simply may have missed

Enjoyed the post...



Bob Grimes Jacksonville, Florida

Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore....."

=============================================================== 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: