Re: Xtra!

Robert G. Grimes (
Fri, 11 Sep 1998 12:22:00 -0400

Date: Fri, 11 Sep 1998 12:22:00 -0400
From: "Robert G. Grimes" <>
Subject: Re: Xtra!


> In reply to Aaron:
> > No, I certainly do not think of the brain as an overgrown RAM.
> > I have not set out to propound a theory of how "memory
> > items" or "mnemons" are stored in the brain, nor do I have to.
> I think you do, because the mnemons have such a peculiar structure, ie.
> 'awareness of statement x', 'belief in statement x'. You are asking us
> to posit these things as instantiated memory items. You can't just
> walk away and say that you have no theory of psychology. You are
> making all sorts of statements with social psychological ramifications.
> In order to do this you have to have a psychological theory in which to
> ground them.

Snip for brevity...

Many of us think that memetics is a very good theory to posit as one of many
modern "psychological theories" and part of the evidence of its applicability is
its reception to those true "behaviorists," i.e., those psychologists who believe
that x will produce y behavior and will stake money on it, the "bottom line" on
it, as in education, training, marketing and sales and, then, test the behavioral
response. Psychological theories that "don't work," by which people cannot
"explain behavior and predict future behavior," don't accomplish nor explain very
much. Thus, collectively, we can contribute to the formulation of this
relatively new theory both by observations of where it does explain behavior and
by testing its ability to predict behavior with specific stimuli (memes).

There has has been quite a bit of explanation that appears to have "explanatory
coherence" but what must be done at the same time are the predictive tests. We
can talk all day long about how we can explain behavior but the true test of what
we are talking about is the predictive value in determining response to specific
signals (memetic, in this case) stimuli. It appears to me that his process is
in progress.

If cybernetics isn't one option in our arsenal then I'm really puzzled at the
auditory and optical devices being constructed to restore a degree of hearing
and vision to handicapped people. Work has been done on demonstrating (with
electrodes through cannuli into the brain) that digital information can both be
detected, interfaced and utilized for hearing and the newer work with CCDs
coupled to the optical nerve certainly appears very promising. It is certainly
more productive than any of the proliferation of semantic explanations we have
thus far produced.

So, let us get on with proposing, for example, procedures for testing memetic
mechanisms for enrollment, teaching, motivation, etc., for "viral" type and
other types of memes. I suspect that some of our current Urban Legend type spam
appeals on the internet could be used for very specific experiments to which
responses could be measured (if they haven't already demonstrated this) and
compared. Certainly there have been good memetic explanations of some of these.

But, if we are forced to cloak everything new into acceptable conformity with
previous, perhaps less effective, theories then I doubt that much can be
accomplished. Certainly they must be measured against the previous thinking. I,
personally, have little difficulty with describing certain types of
"disassociation" using the digital descriptions pertaining to "virtual machines"
where emulations can be carried on in the same computer, very similar to an alter
egos, one or more separate, relatively free running platforms (consciousness,
personality?) operating independently within a larger configuration, etc. Such
separately running platforms, utilizing similar resources, or sometimes the same
resources, cycled or multiphased so that they run independently of each other,
etc., may well be close to the neural explanation of some of our most difficult
to explain psychological phenomena, illnesses or symptoms... Some of Calvin's
work is strongly suggestive of such things to me...

So, we must be flexible and willing to free up and explore new concepts of
ancient neural terrain if we are to progress. It may be difficult for us to
experiment with different road maps but if we keep in mind that the map is not
the territory (sounds familiar) in any instance, it is much easier to posit new
explanations and test them accordingly to achieve "better maps."

Cordially and respectfully,


Bob Grimes Jacksonville, Florida

Man is not in control, but the man who knows he is not in control is more in control...

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

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