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Comments by phil rimmer

Go to: Morality without 'Free Will'

phil rimmer's Avatar Jump to comment 1006 by phil rimmer


maybe your using the cop and collared was pure coincidence.

I wanted to associate with what you had written, though I changed the scenario a little for illustrative purposes, mostly by expansion. Sorry for not tagging.

The issue is that the thoughts (and "choices" in the quote was intended to stand for the thoughts of future choices) you are able to think at any given instance are constrained by circumstance, more often by social circumstance and most by people actively seeking to constrain those thoughts of yours.

The poor can dream (think) of banquets as well as the rich, perhaps better. Free will has nothing to do with an ability to carry through an action. But circumstance can alter your ability to carry through a thought. Few or no thoughts with no clear self-mooted choices is a state of not being able to exercise free will.

By collared I meant not to draw attention to a lack of physical ability to carry through an action but rather the effect of duress on the ability to think about things at all. Of course, he is free to think about his lunchtime menu choices, but, unless he is a psychopath he will not when threatened with a stick. Indeed if you wanted to chance your arm at what he actually was thinking about, you'd stand a pretty good chance of mind-reading him at that point.

I apologise if choosing "choice" has misled us into discussing what we can do when I intended to discuss what we can think at any given time.

Tue, 21 Aug 2012 22:06:33 UTC | #951126

Go to: Classroom Clashes: Teaching evolution

phil rimmer's Avatar Jump to comment 237 by phil rimmer


I think that they were implying that the very same liability has had certain advantages.

They certainly were. It is possibly the very reason we have such a rich culture. In 1976 Richard Dawkins tried to illustrate how evolution would apply to any good enough replicator. He (just for his argument) coined the term Meme being a unit of cultural exchange (an idea to you and me) copied with good enough fidelity from brain to brain where these things live. People argue that the copying isn't faithful enough and will go wrong rapidly, so the parallel with gene behaviour will break down. Victoria Horner's work suggests that for certain types of Meme (mechanical skills and expressions) the copying could be very faithful indeed.

Please report back from the Rabbis. I'll be interested in their views.

My general point though was that metaphors brought together with religious faith (believing true without evidence) equals poison.

Tue, 21 Aug 2012 08:07:32 UTC | #951107

Go to: Morality without 'Free Will'

phil rimmer's Avatar Jump to comment 1004 by phil rimmer

Just to make that last comment work a little harder for my case-

Someone is pointing a gun at you. Your thoughts about lunch are no longer yours to have. The gunman has pretty tight control of what you think about. (It could be your boss asking for that long overdue report.) He is freer to think about lunch and what he'll do in the next five minutes. Free-ness of will is always contingent upon social context.

Tue, 21 Aug 2012 07:13:45 UTC | #951104

Go to: Morality without 'Free Will'

phil rimmer's Avatar Jump to comment 1003 by phil rimmer

The thoughts you have in a room on your own are more clearly your own than the thoughts you have in a room with say a passive woman who may at that moment remind you of all the woman who have laughed at you in the past, which in turn are more clearly your own thoughts than those when you two are joined by a guy with a stick who tells you he will hit you with it if you touch her.

We are more or less suggestible. Our brains, particularly when young, are highly permeable to the thoughts of others. It is how culture happens.

We are both ourselves and partially a reflection of our social context. It is the "libertarian" error that all virtues and vices and all other such qualities accrue to the individual alone. This is a fanciful simplification truest perhaps for the psychopath.

"Freer will" is the only meaningful term joining those two words.

Oh and the bully has more acceptable choices than the bullied, the cop more than the collared.

Mon, 20 Aug 2012 23:17:32 UTC | #951089

Go to: Simply ... should I read the bible?

phil rimmer's Avatar Jump to comment 53 by phil rimmer

Comment 52 by logicophilosophicus

Well I screwed that up didn't I! Apologies for the complete misapprehension of your position. The rest of my piece wasn't sufficiently on topic to merit unpicking.

The schools were the thing (shopping malls merely justified zombies.....never mind). I am absolutely not one for prosecuting thought crime, though, I'd be banged up tomorrow else.

Sun, 19 Aug 2012 19:52:06 UTC | #951056

Go to: Simply ... should I read the bible?

phil rimmer's Avatar Jump to comment 45 by phil rimmer


A true Scotsman at last. We can be assured-

"Intelligent readers of the Bible, whatever their beliefs, understand it to be a composite text of history/legend plus wisdom/ethics, plus cosmogony/religion."

Not even a hint of being the word of God? It was a ladder you clever True Scotsfolk climbed up and could now discard. No hostages to fortune for you.

I'm glad for you to hide away up there out of harms way. But the "God's Word" Zombies are down here in the shopping malls and schools terrifying and infecting our kids. They call themselves True Scotsmen. You need to take up with them this degradation of your Brand. Your brand value is not our call.

Remember the usual number of our kids may be non too bright either. Until you get your priorities right, there will be brains aplenty for the GWZs to feed off. This is what we care for. Our priorities are clear.

But you don't care I suspect. The GWZ's brains maybe rotten but for you their heart is in the right place. And that is truly all you care for.

Sun, 19 Aug 2012 12:18:43 UTC | #951037

Go to: Classroom Clashes: Teaching evolution

phil rimmer's Avatar Jump to comment 234 by phil rimmer

Comment 228 by Rob W.

The Garden of Eden story in Genesis is a great illustration of the plasticity and exploitation of metaphor..

As a teen I wrote a poem once of an overprotected toddler playing with a ball in the garden watched by his mother from the kitchen window as she does the washing. She's told him not to kick the ball too hard. He does though and it goes over the fence and outside. We see both their thoughts as the ball arcs up and over. We see realisations form in each of their minds. For the toddler, gosh there's a big wide world outside, I never knew, what can it be like? For mum, I've lost him! He's noticed the big wide world. He'll be gone like that ball. But if I tell him off maybe...?

The Jewish tradition latterly has been pretty benign over this story but of course the Catholic Magisterium couldn't pass up the brutal stick, the unshakeable mind-forged manacle of Original Sin (the concept perhaps itself deserving of its own name.) The Jewish tradition cashed in the original sin / corrupted descendants idea early to declare the Jewish people "chosen" and thus absolved. (See "Views of the Rabbis" first paragraph.)

My poem, though quite possibly a sin against the art form, remains untangled with wars in the Middle East (religious hyper traditionalists, especially those chosen by God, care little for diplomatic compromise). It contributed nothing to my friend's Catholic mother, dying, terrified that she has done insufficient to absolve her pre-birth guilt and that Hell awaited her.

Sat, 18 Aug 2012 12:20:57 UTC | #950996

Go to: Classroom Clashes: Teaching evolution

phil rimmer's Avatar Jump to comment 233 by phil rimmer

But present your metaphors as fact to a vulnerable person...

Rob, that is not pointed at you, btw. It looks bad. Sorry. "One's metaphors" would have been better.

Sat, 18 Aug 2012 10:32:47 UTC | #950994

Go to: Classroom Clashes: Teaching evolution

phil rimmer's Avatar Jump to comment 232 by phil rimmer

Comment 230 by Rob W.

I'm just saying it wouldn't be such a force for evil if it weren't misused so much.

I think Steve and achromat have covered the need for being sure about what we know. We can only have confidence in things we can demonstrate with evidence and reason. I have proposed that one of the worst things anyone can do is assert a thing true without evidence. A common failing for humans is taking things on authority. We are wired for it, especially as children- (For others this is the monthly Victoria Horner link.)

Even against their better judgement human children believe a grown up rather than the evidence of their own eyes. As adults they are wired pretty much for keeps, and the harm has been done.

If religion had the humility of art this site and all of us would pack up and go back to our lives, doing physics, painting pictures, raising kids. But religion evolved within our culture for one thing, it designed itself (sic) to manage people. It is at heart political. It is the perfect tool for exploiters to take control of vast quantities of minds. It has drawn to itself a comprehensive set of (tired, old) just so stories and aphoristic "wisdom" (after Genisis read Gilgamesh) rules and regulations, carrots and sticks to disable minds and turn over control to the few.

This was once a good thing. Before 600BC it probably did more to create large wealthy cohesive cultures able to administer the agrarian revolution, division of labour and city states. But come the axial age when much of the stuff of religions took on a properly independent existence, art, politics, philosophy, science, ethics, religion itself, as a know-it-all integrated system for living became increasingly a profound detriment to our flourishing, a horribly accessible panel in the back of our heads still granting control to the unscrupulous even when we started to know better. Once you have the habit of wiring children to wire children you have a problem.

We are not the thought police here (well most aren't). What gets you high is your own business. (Thrills don't equate to truth, though, they equate to an evolutionary history, that gave us these thrills often for quite other reasons.) But present your metaphors as fact to a vulnerable person and that's abuse in my book. More to the point understanding the abusive potential of religion and how widely the abuse extends you should be standing with us against the theocracies of the middle east and the potentially impending one in the US. Look how fiercely they fight for control of children's minds.

All the elements of religion are quite safe when disassembled. Brought together they can go critical. You must be aware of this and, hopefully, work to render it safe.

Sat, 18 Aug 2012 09:36:04 UTC | #950993

Go to: Classroom Clashes: Teaching evolution

phil rimmer's Avatar Jump to comment 222 by phil rimmer

Comment 221 by Rob W.

It's just that there are factual ways of talking about truth, and then there's that other stuff that's more subjective and personal.

So....not that keen on truth when there is a comfier internal, metaphorical "truth".?

I can understand that, though I find it icky. But please don't imagine in your solipsism that your metaphorical truths have any necessary relevance to anyone else (and be warned, its often easy to lead the suggestible away from having their own thoughts.) If you want to express these things express them in art. A poem say. That's how we discover our common humanity, our metaphorical overlaps.

Art never pretends to know but simply evokes telling experiences. Religion, however, insists on a truth in its metaphors (when its not insisting on a truth absolutely).

The most degrading thing to our wonderful cumulative human adventure is people professing a truth without evidence. Art reveals (or not). Religion, though, poisons everything simply by lacking Art's humility.

Fri, 17 Aug 2012 11:59:42 UTC | #950939

Go to: Does Religion = Superstition? G-D Forbid!

phil rimmer's Avatar Jump to comment 29 by phil rimmer

Comment 26 by Rob W.

I still think that the intellectual heritage and the traditional heritage are part of the same package deal.

You can't use words so loosely and hope to clarify the situation. Its not a "package deal". I proposed that there were pre or extra-cultural drivers (elements that could not be thought of in any way as a part of a culture itself, to whit, a scattered, reviled people..i.e. something has been done to them) which resulted in two entirely divergent cultural responses. Their common cause is not the culture. Divergent means that they were once not distinguishable, but that does not mean that one cultural tradition caused another only that they had a common cause.

Pale Christians often claim the Enlightenment was a product of Christian thinking because many at the time were Christians......Well of course they were....but even at the time they were mostly dissenters or non orthodox, dismantling the dogma, merely unsure of how far they needed to go. The drive was always specifically anti hyper tradition and pro the simple power of truth. Christianity did not bring about the Enlightenment, partially or wholly dissenting Christians did.

The two strands of Jewish heritage are the self protection of blind hyper-tradition grouping and the self protection of knowing better than others. One is the evil twin of the other. The relationship is non-cultural for all the nostalgia involved.

Fri, 17 Aug 2012 11:43:48 UTC | #950938

Go to: Classroom Clashes: Teaching evolution

phil rimmer's Avatar Jump to comment 220 by phil rimmer

Comment 219 by Rob W.

I get high worshiping G-d. Does that mean that G-d exists? Who knows? Who cares?

With your love of getting high, its clear you have no love of the actual truth.

Fri, 17 Aug 2012 08:53:50 UTC | #950928

Go to: Does Religion = Superstition? G-D Forbid!

phil rimmer's Avatar Jump to comment 22 by phil rimmer

Jewish culture for me is bound up in the diasporic heritage of being a reviled people. They are a "people" as much held together by outside pressures as by an internal glue.

For some the glue is the thing and the hyper traditions surrounding identity prevail as a predominantly self protective act. For geographically rootless others self preservation is achieved with the acquisition of portable wealth. The real gold here, of course, is the disproportionate acquisition of skills and learning.

Elsewhere I have talked about how the excellence of individuals is enabled by the excellence of their cultures. Cultures do vary wildly in their nurturing ability.

The Jewish intellectual cultural heritage and the hyper tradition heritage are quite separate in my view. They both form on the substrate of the diasporic, reviled people as reactive strategies.

One has given us extraordinary value.

Fri, 17 Aug 2012 08:21:51 UTC | #950923

Go to: Refuting supernatural

phil rimmer's Avatar Jump to comment 183 by phil rimmer

Comment 181 by Akaei

We can neither determine nor agree on what "supernatural" (nor "natural") means.

But for the sake of having an argument we can choose a definition of both that is reasonable (e.g. supernatural-scientifically unlawful etc.). The problem as you outline is ever finding evidence that proves a phenomenon actually falls into the supernatural category (c.f. irreducible complexity). We could agree meaning, but we can't determine what is.

Comment 182 by Schrodinger's Cat

'The supernatural' is really an utterly meaningless term.

It can have a precise meaning if we so choose, and can take part in philosophical discussions about induction and our merely Bayesian bias in favour of the (scientific) lawful nature of things. (In the primitive mind, spirits are intended to be lawful. This would be excluded from my "philosophical supernaturalism".) As a scientific term, however, it is utterly useless.

In common parlance "supernatural" has the full explanatory intention of science. Its just a simple fail.

Fri, 17 Aug 2012 07:33:22 UTC | #950922

Go to: Refuting supernatural

phil rimmer's Avatar Jump to comment 180 by phil rimmer

There is a perfectly good word here, inadequately defined at present, that we could once and for all define into a useful existence.


obeying natural laws

natural laws

self and mutually consistent models of observable behaviour that are reliably predictive of the general or specific character of observed behaviour.



not obeying natural laws.

where observed behaviour can never be modelled, consistent with natural law, so as to be predictive, specifically or generally.

The religious seek to make their "supernatural" entirely natural. This definition is not for them except when a supernatural agent is fickle. "Mysterious ways", an un-analysable mind, are supernatural. The unobserved is a matter of complete indifference unless it forms part of or is an output from our modelling process of observed things.

Supernatural occurrences are, if truly as defined above, of course, entirely outside the scope of science, immune to direct proof like "irreducible complexity". and beyond the aid of inductive reasoning. They may be disproved by any viable natural explanation. Yet one day we may observe such a thing, the appearance of a 500 foot tall Arthur Emmett (gym teacher) every evening at 6-30pm, turned painfully inside out by 6-32pm, every day for 700 years.

This “supernatural” reminds us that induction is a pragmatic tool only.

Tue, 14 Aug 2012 08:04:47 UTC | #950779

Go to: Translating the British

phil rimmer's Avatar Jump to comment 40 by phil rimmer

Comment 39 by Anvil

Cheers, Anvil!

And with Jameson still raised, Cheers to Danny Boyle. And whilst we're here, Cheers too to Welfare State International sadly gone.

Individuals, individually, are not rational. Our brains are wired and work merely on the basis of statistically weighted coincidences. We owe it to our deep (collective) historical culture to being able to think logically and communicate rationally. Cultures invented the mind tools that allowed our unique if modest elevation amongst the species.

Today all cultures are not equal. Not all cultures equally nurture the talent they harbour. We musn't be so prissy as to not notice which culture does this well and which does not. .

Mon, 13 Aug 2012 22:36:03 UTC | #950762

Go to: Translating the British

phil rimmer's Avatar Jump to comment 31 by phil rimmer

One day, when we grow up. I can't bear chauvinism. I feel like we're going backwards. But I do respect the dedication, work ethics and spirit of the athletes. If you want to cheer, cheer for them, not for the fecken 'flag'.

I certainly can't bear "My country right or wrong." But an awful lot of people in say Europe (chauvinism alert!) have a much more critical view of their own country than that. We have grown up a lot. Reasonable thinking fixes this problem of support "right or wrong". And that is the only problem of nation states. It would be overly simplistic to claim that for instance educated minds are so necessarily bamboozled.

Cultures produce the results. Its not just athletes. Its the trainers Its the whole infra structure of facilities and money and collective intention to approve and support its expenditure and effort.

Mon, 13 Aug 2012 08:05:19 UTC | #950733

Go to: Translating the British

phil rimmer's Avatar Jump to comment 26 by phil rimmer

I, for one, am delighted that there are a rich variety of cultures in the world. These cultures have a loose bidirectional causality with nationhood, which helps (only just) preserve a degree of distinctness. National stereotypes hold sufficient truths to make jokes about them funny, and more importantly drive cultural evolution.

Danny Boyle's rag bag account of mongrel quirky, creative, self-deprecating (British) us (with the occasional embarrassing dual tendencies to pomposity and fart jokes) was lovely to see. It is possible to identify positively with cultures. (Depending on context I secretly wish for the Epicurean culture of the French, experts surely at the living of lives, and then at other times I hanker for the rather impressive Spartan cultural competence of the Germans...)

Success (in whatever) we can take as success for our "way of doing things". This is functional (rather than hollow) jingoism. I am happy and interested to hear of the success of other cultures. They should crow their successes. Cultures are entirely what imbue individuals with the capacity for and opportunity to employ reason in our individual daily lives (no libertarian I). I think it is false political correctness not to acknowledge a pride in a culture when it has delivered well.

The fantastic success of the likes of Grenada and Jamaica (click the by population and GDP options) should thrill us all and then give us pause to contemplate our own version of success and its significance.

Our sense of national/group identity is somewhat like our sense of aesthetics, an evolutionary gift that seems superficially spurious. But it grants a sense of value and emotional engagement for action. Both can be honed and refined and should be. As we have seen time and again at these Olympics we can set the barriers of our otherness at a height that optimises both our competitve thrills during and our amity after the competition.

Sun, 12 Aug 2012 13:33:16 UTC | #950715

Go to: Highly Religious People Are Less Motivated by Compassion Than Are Non-Believers

phil rimmer's Avatar Jump to comment 59 by phil rimmer

I think this also links in with the idea that low empathy types often need to have the social aspects of their lives systemised. High discipline religious dogma will appeal particularly, with its comprehensive, up to the minute look up table of who's in and who's out, priests issuing their weekly executive summaries of current concerns and the like.

High empathy types can have their own problems that can be quite as harmful, but that is another matter.

Low empathy types who stumble into or seek out rational modes of systemising will often have empathic-like behaviours. They can do the moral calculus better than many.

Empathy-Systemising theory

Thu, 09 Aug 2012 17:01:17 UTC | #950565

Go to: Celebrating Curiosity on Twitter

phil rimmer's Avatar Jump to comment 47 by phil rimmer

Comment 45 by Schrodinger's Cat

I can make automatic voluntary contributions towards my pension....why can't I make a targeted monthly contribution towards 'science' ?

It "steals" from the tax take and puts it into fickle (non expert) hands. Seeing the bolstered science sector the government will properly re-balance the reduced available tax spend in the manner their experts advise. The net result will be merely to inject uncertainty into the system due to government inertia in any future re-balancing.

I have good confidence in the experts who divide up the science cake and shout on our behalf against other programs. What we need simply are more pro-science governments to change the balance in its favour, to recognise the value of that particular long term investment.

Taxed money that underwrites the risks of government investment however may achieve a genuinely net positive result as far as I can see. Science can be risky and thrilling especially when you have some skin in the game and betting on the space race rather than a horse race might displace leisure money rather usefully...

Wed, 08 Aug 2012 09:11:49 UTC | #950514

Go to: Celebrating Curiosity on Twitter

phil rimmer's Avatar Jump to comment 44 by phil rimmer

Comment 43 by Schrodinger's Cat

Charity IS a bad idea in most instances. Civilised societies should reliably cater for all predictable internal needs. Stressed governments will allow charities to take up their rightful strain given the chance and once the slippage starts, it becomes difficult to return to the previous proper provision..

So no charities, I think. No science directed National Lotteries, either. But the risks and expense of Curiosity made me wonder if licensing a public betting/lottery hybrid on the outcomes of high risk science might provide a means of providing effective or supplementary insurance for appropriate ventures. (The scheme rewards a lucky few greatly and a greater number moderately as usual, selecting appropriately from their selection of being in the "mission success" or fail groups with their different prize funds. An agreed percentage from the funds in the event of failure only, is returned to the licensed Franchiser e.g. NASA for Curiosity) This might have the benign effect of encouraging governments to fund higher risk, higher reward science projects. It might also increase the excitement around the culmination of these ventures.

There would be a lot to get right and most ventures mightn't qualify, having insufficiently definable outcomes by due dates. The question in the UK is- administered by Camelot, Ladbrokes or Lloyds?

Tue, 07 Aug 2012 22:44:47 UTC | #950507

Go to: Against All Gods

phil rimmer's Avatar Jump to comment 82 by phil rimmer

Schrodinger's Cat's Avatar Comment 79 by Schrodinger's Cat

It seems to me the ultimate paradox that 'the only way things can be ' leads inexorably to creatures who think there's something wrong with the only way things can be.

Being more concise-

You can't get to smart, self- and situation- aware creatures without those "awarenesses" dying. (As you say its the only way we know things can be so,) But...

I argue (mathematically!) that unhappiness and happiness, a feeling of strangeness and at-homeness will probably net to zero in the sum of lives and populations. These things, these states are only discernible in the contrast. Senses of value and worth only come with the palpable risk of loss. The inevitability that a sentient being will die and know it, I contend, imparts a negative bias to the thread that rebounds to the consolatory, with the reacquaintance with new life (for instance), back and forth. Taking this view, I don't believe the paradox you identify actually exists.

Net zero is a great principle. You just have to figure the scale at which it works then zoom in to find stuff. Its the only way we know to make something from(more or less!) nothing. Maths to the end.

Sun, 29 Jul 2012 15:26:07 UTC | #950285

Go to: Why Jehovah's Witnesses won't mourn the Aurora victims

phil rimmer's Avatar Jump to comment 16 by phil rimmer

Comment 15 by Premiseless

Hitch, in the Four Horsemen DVD was a perfect epitome of a character playing an incredulous role in life as a human. One almost got the sense ( from his subliminal actions|) he was above everyones role in the room, like some greek god looking on. It was his part in this which "changed the way I think". Till then I had acknowledged this intellectually but hardly known how to apply it personally. He acted out the godless man! The difference between knowledge and role model was conspired.

Hitch acted out the godless man!

I liked this much and just had to highlight it.

Sun, 29 Jul 2012 09:29:23 UTC | #950279

Go to: Against All Gods

phil rimmer's Avatar Jump to comment 61 by phil rimmer

It would be fascinating if Maariya could share with us where her knowledge on these matters come from. What church, what preacher, what TV channel or book?

Sat, 28 Jul 2012 19:21:36 UTC | #950238

Go to: Against All Gods

phil rimmer's Avatar Jump to comment 59 by phil rimmer

Comment 42 by Schrodinger's Cat

If one envisages an entire universe populated with suffering, struggling of countless universes populated with suffering, struggling does start to seem a bit remiss of the entirety of existence to just 'happen' to be that way.

The only way we know to make intelligent beings is to have them evolve. The only way we know that that can happen is through reproduction. We need to add in mortality to avoid a Malthusian resource catastrophe netting too few iterations of evolution. Enough iterations through dying though and we get smart enough to know we're going to die and so is everylivingthing else.

If we're smart and don't have a maker we'll be sad. Homeostasis principles and the need for perceptual contrast suggests we might be sad for half of the time averaged over a population of lives.

I'm saddish half the time. Happyish half. Ergo I didn't have a maker

Sat, 28 Jul 2012 18:40:11 UTC | #950236

Go to: Meme Theory, Zahavi's Handicap, and the Baldwin Effect

phil rimmer's Avatar Jump to comment 41 by phil rimmer

I think we're done here.

I'm sure not. Well, this thread may be, but the idea will run and run with all parties here I'm sure..

Though its not at all obvious there is probably quite a lot of agreement going on. I think memes behaving like classical gene theory may be just possible under very specific cultural conditions and with the smallest of meme elements, none of which we would recognise as an idea as such. I think at higher levels the process becomes much more complex and I think we are falling out over the semantics of the terms, which is understandable in an area which has yet to achieve the status of a scientific discipline.

Interestingly the simple maths of gene theory is having to accommodate other mechanisms... of lateral leakage for instance. Classical gene theory is now more of an educational aid and stepping stone to a more complete understanding. Personally, rather than feel gene theory a misdirection for "meme theory", I think there are still quite a few cross informing parallels to be teased out. Ideas are clearly "copied" and equally clearly "evolve" (rapidly and slowly) and die out.

It is worth remembering that brains evolved to manage movement. This is why when trying to validate the idea of memes we might do well to look at memes as movements first and the rich new neurobiology of mirror neurons made for copying exactly that.

Sat, 28 Jul 2012 12:49:47 UTC | #950217

Go to: Meme Theory, Zahavi's Handicap, and the Baldwin Effect

phil rimmer's Avatar Jump to comment 39 by phil rimmer

Comment 38 by Zeuglodon

RNA mutation rates per base pair per generation are a thousand times higher (up to 0.1%) than for DNA.

Mutation rates in genomes multiply up so at high base pair mutation rates genome size is limited to a catastrophic error rate limit.

I invoked RNA World soup replication. RNA is not in packages. Here's some modeling

In this simple model higher mutation rates are sustained the catastrophic threshold being at 1.5%. (the 13% mutation rates shown later are an error.) Clearly with yet simpler models higher mutation rates can be supported.

(Note that now very rapid evolution is possible and that though only 8% of one step mutations in the model are viable catalysts, 27% are helpers though individually they are non viable. The virtues of soup rather than cells!)

Here are the conclusions for the model with these numbers-

Very stable multi-(quasi)species systems evolves Interaction topology different from anything studied before. Variability increases with decreasing mutation rate speciation Ecosystem based “solution” only at lower mutation rates genotype-phenotype-interaction-spatial structure mutual dependent (and “make sense” in relation to each other) Evolved, niche dependent mutational landscape MOREOVER − − − > evolution of increasing sequence length.

The converse of the bold section is that higher mutation rates limit variability to one at the catastrophic limit.

Mirror neurons and the unwired brains of young humans can clearly approach the required levels of fidelity for suitably short rote-learned "memes". (Please view the Victoria Horner if you haven't yet). Mouthing of phonemes, drawing of shapes, emotional value insights (the smile of approval, mirrored and experienced) for added meme quality control, are arguably now true memetic transfers that form cultural machinery for the next level up. Other supportive and error correcting mechanisms come into play above this level of simplicity. The process becomes less clearly memetic outside of this very specific scenario.

Fri, 27 Jul 2012 16:08:15 UTC | #950163

Go to: e-petitions - UK death penalty to return?

phil rimmer's Avatar Jump to comment 19 by phil rimmer

What do you good people think about amputating a mass murderer's right hand?

I'd stuff sparrows down their throats until the beaks stuck out through the stomach walls.

Thu, 26 Jul 2012 17:03:35 UTC | #950113

Go to: e-petitions - UK death penalty to return?

phil rimmer's Avatar Jump to comment 17 by phil rimmer

Killing people for killing people?

The seriously mentally ill need to be in hospital, need treatment and most importantly need to be studied so we can treat them and lesser versions of them.

I have no time for moral panic over a few deaths when much larger quantities of avoidable mundane deaths exist.

Latest figures for murders and alcohol related deaths-

Going down...

Going up...

Killing people for killing people?

It would be nice to convincingly spread the idea that killing people is wrong.

Thu, 26 Jul 2012 15:15:10 UTC | #950104

Go to: Meme Theory, Zahavi's Handicap, and the Baldwin Effect

phil rimmer's Avatar Jump to comment 36 by phil rimmer

Comment 33 by OHooligan

E.E.Milne. What a perfect illustration of your points.

Most anglophones of a certain age knew you meant A.A.Milne. How did we know? Multiple noisy channels. Execute the chinese whisper routine down enough (not necessarily contemporaneous) channels and we will be able to extract useful information.

Brains are wired and memories encoded using the associative Hebbian mechanism, cells that fire together wire together, thus, combined with a simple Bayesian predictor, have the structure to become pattern maximising discriminators extracting the most likely information from those channels.

memes are the ideas that have what it takes to survive in their environment

This is the basis of a nice functional definition.

Comment 34 by Schrodinger's Cat

I like this very much. You are describing what I have liked to describe in the past as "cultural machines" the processes of which are wired into brains in the very earliest of years. These machines (cultural processes) are concerned with the precise packaging of information and its formal organising permitting amongst of things noisier channels.

Aphoristic knowledge is certainly what we aspire to. It is highly portable and robust.

It may be worth considering that aesthetics could be key to memetic robustness.

Thu, 26 Jul 2012 09:15:00 UTC | #950095