RE: astrology-talk behaviour

Gatherer, D. (
Thu, 20 May 1999 12:58:00 +0200

Date: Thu, 20 May 1999 12:58:00 +0200
From: "Gatherer, D. (Derek)" <>
Subject: RE: astrology-talk behaviour
To: "''" <>

Also try the following (I mean as a thought experiment)

Stimulus: 'What is your star sign?'
Response: 'Goodbye' (but repeat stimulus with next partner)

Here the module (a la Minsky) is one which takes any previous stimuli and
simply 'tries them out'.

Another variant...

Stimulus: 'What is your star sign?'
Response: 'Heard that before. Goodbye' (do not repeat stimulus with next

Here the module is one which takes previous stimuli and repeats them only if
they are novel.

One might speculate (without being too extravagant) that the second variant
would have to be subsequent in evolutionary history to the first, as an
organism would first have to gain the capacity to repeat any stimuli before
it could learn to repeat only novel ones.

There may be situations where the inclination to try out novelty may be
naturally selected, eg. novel food sources etc. This may be a genetic
effect which drives cultural novelty-oriented behaviour.

Note that the 2 halves of the game can evolve strategies independently,

Stimulus: 'What is your star sign?'
Response: 'Do you really believe such things?'

This immediately shifts the game onto another tack. Conversational
situations are difficult to analyse in a game theoretical way because the
actual game can change in a flash, as above.

So what can we say about astrology talk behaviour? Is there really a game
on here with evolutionary stable strategies etc, or is it all just Dunbarian

The reason I think it might be the latter is that one can substitute 'What
is your star sign?' with 'What about those Bangladeshi leg-spinners?' and it
doesn't actually make much difference.


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