Re: On 'information transmission'

Robert G. Grimes (
Thu, 04 Mar 1999 12:48:08 -0800

Date: Thu, 04 Mar 1999 12:48:08 -0800
From: "Robert G. Grimes" <>
Subject: Re: On 'information transmission'

Michael brought up pertinent and acceptable points which we have discussed
previously in different terminology when we discussed where the "meme resided." If
you will recall, it was pretty much accepted that the meme was extant, totally, only
in the mind - where it was a structure that was affected by the host's associative
network, i.e., the very essence of the reasons for the uniqueness and evolution of
the meme.

This is based on the same explanation as given by Michael, i.e., we "transmit"
tokens, abstractions or seeds that represent information in our own sensorium. The
person who "receives" the tokens "perceives the information" when the token is taken
into their sensorium (abstracted by their receptors and reconstructed or inflated
through the processes of their own associative network, i.e., further abstracted)
and, again, the perceived structure or information is essentially different (due to
the uniqueness of the individual sensoriums) because of the associative network in
the receivers mind.

Again, evolution is unavoidable but, fortunately for us, in the "recreation" of the
information from tokens transmitted, the resultant structure does resemble the
transmitter's information to, usually, and "acceptable" degree of fidelity. This
degree of fidelity is dependent upon many aspects, commonality of experiences,
education, language, etc., all further dependent upon the complexity of the
information being transmitted, the similarity of the resources in the receiver's
sensorium, and the skill of the transmitter in selecting appropriate "tokens" so
that the connotation (perception) of the receiver is of a high degree of fidelity to
the original in the transmitter's sensorium. All of this is why we sometimes have
to speak for so long, with so many words, to make sure that a simple point is

This recreation of data with some degree of fidelity from the abstractions or tokens
is the nature of "communication of information." On the other hand, "token
fidelity" represents the faithful reproduction of the symbolism representing the
information and, while it too is essential to some degree, it is readily apparent
that we only manage under the best of conditions to transmit a portion of the
original information. A handicap which does occasionally result in argumentation
and disagreement when we forget and confuse the "token" with the data or, in
Korzybski's words, "the map with the territory."

These are important principles which all of us have to refresh periodically as it is
at the heart of that ghostly image, "mutual comprehension," or understanding.



Michael Ashby wrote:

> Snip for brevity
> Information theory: "Information can be transmitted" [Sorry Mark, but you're
> wrong, and I'm wearing a fire-proof ego pouch!]
> Darwinian evolution: "The spread of beliefs and cultural traits is subject to
> the principles of Darwinian evolution"
> Cybernetics / systems theory: "Memetic hosts are black boxes that interact with
> their environments (including information transmissions to and from other
> hosts)"
> Scientific objectivism: "Subjective observation cannot be trusted"
> Behaviorism: "The most accurate way to obtain statistics to support theories
> about the probable contents of black boxes is to observe their behavior.."
> Please tell me why I'm wrong, what I missed, or why you think your ego is
> bigger than mine [humorphism; olde English: humourphism]


Bob Grimes Jacksonville, Florida

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

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

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