[ExI] "Animal-monitoring modules"?

hkhenson hkhenson at rogers.com
Sat Sep 29 16:28:17 UTC 2007

At 09:15 PM 9/28/2007, Mike wrote:
>I am also more familiar with a minivan's normal behavior than an
>elephant.  If the situation were reversed, I would imagine that
>familiarity with elephants would lead to an expectation of their
>behavior that would attenuate the fear response compared to the
>initial fright incurred by seeing the ruthless beast of minivan
>senselessly trample one of my tribe members and not even bother to eat
>I think the point here is that understanding lets us model behavior
>and reinforce that model to make predictions.  As long as the
>confidence in the prediction is high enough, the threat value tends to
>go down.  I believe this includes animals.  In that case, however, a
>high amount of model reinforcement is required to reliably predict
>that a particular dog is not going to bite because its tail is

The point of the original post was about detecting/paying attention 
to animals being more likely to happen than noticing a minivan.  It 
is analogous to the ease with which we learn to fear snakes and 
spiders and the relative difficulty we have in learning to fear light 
sockets or cars.

>Perhaps we can minimize the threat of social systems if we had better
>models for understanding them?

I have produced a model, the short form being that detection of bleak 
times a-coming turns up the gain in individuals (and thus the 
population as a whole) for xenophobic, often religious, memes.  This 
evolved mechanism is still with us in times of machine guns and 
nuclear weapons.  It should account (in some measure) for most if not all wars.

It lays out specific predictions for where wars will happen and how 
to avoid wars.

Unfortunately the basic mechanism (lower population growth than 
economic growth) to keep humans out of war mode isn't an easy task.

Though the Chinese seem to have done it, I can't see Islamic, 
particularly Arab culture going this way.  (Though in fact, Iran has 
reached replacement fertility.)


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