Re: Predator avoidance and memes

Ton Maas (
Sat, 8 Nov 1997 08:20:29 +0200

Message-Id: <v03102802b089b0eca2de@[]>
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Date: Sat, 8 Nov 1997 08:20:29 +0200
From: Ton Maas <>
Subject: Re: Predator avoidance and memes

Robert Grimes said:
>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."

Sorry for responding so late, but I was behind on my mail and only just
came accross this one. What a wonderful stories (mostly deleted here)!
Although I am very much with you on this - especially the onesided emphasis
on "feedback" (knowledge) over "calibration" (know-how and skill) in modern
education (both in school and via the media), there remain quite mysterious
aspects to individual intellectual growth. A famous case is the controversy
between Darwin (a scientist with a lot of hands on experience in the field)
and Butler, about which Gregory Bateson once commented that although
Butler's main experience with nature was probably limited to his own cat,
he nevertheless had a more profound understanding of it than Darwin. Now
*my* response to this would be that Butler obviously must have looked
*very* carefully, curiously and repeatedly at his cat, but I have no idea
of what really happened. I am tempted to say that real insight into the
fundamental fabric of life (or the human condition if you like) can
probably be derived from *any* intensively mastered skill, hence Zen
notions like the art of tea. My friend and colleague Frits Smeets enjoys to
paraphrase the old catholic catechism: "Why are we here on earth? We are
here on earth to achieve mastery. Mastery at what? Doesn't matter."



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