[Paleopsych] is evolutionary change stockpiled?
HowlBloom at aol.com
HowlBloom at aol.com
Wed Nov 24 08:19:41 UTC 2004
Paul--these are very interesting comments.
You're right that putting ideas in clear pictures helps us communicate and
critique them--helps us see what they really mean. You're right that it helps
us test them to see if what they mean holds up to scrutiny. I'm pushing for
this form of pictorial representation--from still images to flash animation-- as
a device with which to demystify the specialized languages of science. I'd
like to see animation used as a device to augment journal articles.
Re: "It is clear that an effective learning system needs to exercise more
resources to the learning itself than it does
to the "crystallized" stimulus-memory-response patterns which it learns."
This is a fascinating idea.
What are the elements of the learning system, as opposed to the final memory
(or the final process) the learning system leaves? One element of learning in
bacteria, beehives, human societies, and even human brains is
exploration--the dedication of a part of the crowd and its resources to doing things that may
seem purposeless and self-indulgent--like sightseeing, wandering, going off
into the wastelands to see what lies beyond, following wild--or solid--hunches,
following other insane impulses, playing, posturing, performing, creating,
Explorer bees posture, perform, and entertain in order to campaign--to
recruit the interest of the bored and listless, to convert those who've lost their
sense of "meaning", to give the masses the sense that the goal they've all been
missing is smack dab in the middle of the explorer's new discovery.
The dancing explorer bees, by the way, are a case in which Eshel Ben-Jacob's
sense of meaning meets the sort of meaning mystics and spiritual leaders talk
about. Meaning is a vision that guides us to something we can not see. It's
a sense of goal and structure that comes from a conviction that there's a pot
of gold just over the horizon, even if it's one that only others in our mob
will ever see--our children, their children, or those of us who die and enter an
afterlife of permanent reward or punishment.
Meaning is a geography-based, resources-based, inner-map-based, and
time-based thing. I suspect it's in part hippocampal--belonging to that part of the
brain that maps out things. It's also often a group-based thing, a collective
sense of conviction, a sense of something-larger than we are. That sense of
something larger than we are is an intoxicant...seemingly a hormonal kicker of
great power. It is also a way that superorganismic goals often tempt us
forward, seducing us to do what may mean death to us but life to the crowd of which
we're a part.
Groups that have this sort of lofty idealism are likely to do quite well and
reward their members handsomely. Those that don't are likely to disappear,
swallowed by groups of fervent idealists. That's assuming that the group has
thrown its weight behind a goal that's either realistic or that has enough
cohesive power to make the group unbeatable even if its ideas are dead wrong.
The Native Americans who believed in the Buffalo Dance threw themselves into
it with all they had. But the prediction of the Buffalo Dance's founder was
way off base. By sacrificing everything you had and dedicating all your
energies to buffalo dancing, you couldn't make the white man go away and force the
grasslands to come back, teeming with buffalo like the herds of old.
European idealists on the path of Manifest Destiny had been organized by
their ideals, by their predictions, and by their greed for a far longer time than
the poor buffalo dancers, who had just gotten the religion of new meaning
recently. The succession of beliefs the Europeans had pursued with fervor since
the days of Christianity's first triumph over pagan pluralism in 322 AD had had
1,400 years to organize men, women, tribes, nations, civilizations, science,
commerce, and technology. And they'd organized and given new techno-powers to
a very substantial horde.
The sense of meaning meshed into 1,400 years of history had built an
unbeatable army. The big horde swallowed the small.
Whoops, dinner is ready. Must run and swallow a relative of a buffalo--Howard
In a message dated 11/23/2004 7:48:29 AM Eastern Standard Time,
paul.werbos at verizon.net writes:
Good morning folks!
One reason I like Greg's books is that he -- like other good fictions writers
"puts it together." There are lots of verbal theories espoused in social
science, especially, which, when translated into a picture... don't translate.
And when ideas are translated into a picture... it tells us something we
wouldn't have seen
otherwise. That's a very important part of .. advancing our thought.
But, as with other compelling pieces of fiction, like Ayn Rand or most of the
we then may move on to ask which parts were real and essential, which were
interesting but uncertain,
and which were just props. We don't always know.
The core message that most of our DNA may be involved in a kind of
a kind of metagenetic system, is important ... and I think it is inescapable.
My views here are influenced heavily by what I have seen with intelligence in
neural network systems where,
for good or ill, I would claim to have tangible scientific knowledge a bit
more than others.
(I could elaborate but not this morning.)
It is clear that an effective learning system needs to exercise more
resources to the learning itself than it does
to the "crystallized" stimulus-memory-response patterns which it learns.
That's a general
sort of reality, and it would apply to genetic systems as well. Certainly
there are times when slow learning or adaptation
gets you killed. Thus there is a strong evolutionary advantage to having
systems which can adapt better.
Also... on the whole... life today seems to evolve faster than the life of
the preCambrian era.
It does indeed seem to have evolved an evolutionary capability. And then the
fraction provides strong confirmation of what we should have expected.
Good learning abilities do not come cheap. And that's something I could
elaborate on later.
What about stockpiling? That's a different question.
I would think of it more as maintaining a kind of sphere of variance...
analogous to what people would
do with... extended Kalman filtering or particle filtering or a system called
SEDP/TLRN (which is like particle filtering but more
There is a problem with stockpiling PIECES of a new state , when the
COMBINATION of pieces has never been tested together.
Greg's novels do discuss some of the problems that can occur, actually, in
settling down when the rate of deployment of
stockpiled variations rises very suddenly. There is a whole range of
plausible systems, ranging from
continuous deployment and testing of new ... phenotypes?.... to what Greg
But... I am not an evolutionary theorist, and the clock just came online...
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paleopsych at paleopsych.org
Author of The Lucifer Principle: A Scientific Expedition Into the Forces of
History and Global Brain: The Evolution of Mass Mind From The Big Bang to the
Visiting Scholar-Graduate Psychology Department, New York University; Core
Faculty Member, The Graduate Institute
Founder: International Paleopsychology Project; founding board member: Epic
of Evolution Society; founding board member, The Darwin Project; founder: The
Big Bang Tango Media Lab; member: New York Academy of Sciences, American
Association for the Advancement of Science, American Psychological Society, Academy
of Political Science, Human Behavior and Evolution Society, International
Society for Human Ethology; advisory board member: Youthactivism.org; executive
editor -- New Paradigm book series.
For information on The International Paleopsychology Project, see: www
for two chapters from
The Lucifer Principle: A Scientific Expedition Into the Forces of History,
For information on Global Brain: The Evolution of Mass Mind from the Big Bang
to the 21st Century, see www.howardbloom.net
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