Date: Fri, 17 Sep 1999 16:40:39 EDT
Subject: Re: implied or inferred memes
In a message dated 9/12/99 7:15:45 AM Central Daylight Time,
> I was thinking the other day about how Darwin and 'Wallace?' (I think that
> was the other fellow) both more less simultaneously came up with the meme
> for evolution. For them to both come up with this meme they both had to
> have had a lot of the same background and certainly they were both British
> biologist exposed to a lot of the same ideas.
> This got me thinking about Susan Blackmore's description of birds that were
> pecking open bottles of cream. According to her, this was not a meme
> because the birds did obtain the information by imitating other birds but
> simply by learning it on their own.
> This caused me wonder what we would have called it if the one the things
> that was necessary for the birds to learn how to peck open cream bottles
> observation of other birds pecking things other than cream bottles.
Correct me if I am wrong, I don't have my copy of MM real handy. But I think
that Blackmore called this "social learning" if I am correct, and she
distinguished it from true imitation. In social learning there already
exists a complex behavior (either operantly conditioned or instinctively
"hard wired") and the organism simply learns a new application of that same
behavior through seeing another. A bird see another bird pecking a cream
bottle. There is no imitation because both birds already know how to peck
for food. The second only receives information of another place to apply
that behavior through observation. The rest proceeds through the usual
interaction between instinctive behavior and operant conditioning.
At least that is how I think she meant that. She was drawing a distinction
between social learning and true imitation and was showing how they were two
significantly different things.
If am misrepresenting any of this, please let me know. I am doing this
solely from memory.
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