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Believe it or not ...

 
burt
 
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burt
Total Posts:  16399
Joined  17-12-2006
 
 
 
12 October 2019 13:19
 
Jb8989 - 12 October 2019 07:10 AM
burt - 11 October 2019 04:45 PM
Traces Elk - 11 October 2019 03:58 PM

Cultural attractor theory is a term you can search on the internet.

https://quod.lib.umich.edu/p/ptb/6959004.0009.013/—cultural-attractor-theory-and-explanation?rgn=mainview=fulltext

This may take you to the abstract, and there is a link on that page to a PDF version of the article and a DOI link so you can read it as a web page, too.

That article alone contains thousands of words and has a list of citations a yard long, and is probably as brief a summary as can be found. The abstract:

Cultural attractor theory (CAT) is a highly visible and audacious approach to studying human cultural evolution. However, the explanatory aims and some central explanatory concepts of CAT remain unclear. Here I remedy these problems. I provide a reconstruction of CAT that recasts it as a theory of forces. I then demonstrate how this reinterpretation of CAT has the resources to generate both cultural distribution and evolvability explanations. I conclude by examining the potential benefits and drawbacks of this reconstruction.

If anyone reading this understands it and can explain the explanation, he’s welcome to try. I’m not going to argue that ideas / culture do not evolve. Dawkins’ meme concept is what a lot of authors use as a unit of cultural transmission. Decades later, nobody’s the wiser. We write a small number of words, call the phrase a meme, and leave it at that. It’s supposed to refer to an idea or some distillation thereof. If someone says X is a meme, who can argue with that?

What you guys ought to do is focus on one or two memes and discuss those as examples showing cultural transmission of information, instead of name-dropping some grand theoretical framework with hundreds or thousands of authors. Preferably in a separate thread, but really, this thread is impossible to derail.

Memes are not at the forefront any more. There are basically three approaches to cultural evolution that are still going, although memetic can deal the simple models of the spread of simple ideas, products, etc., using analogies to information diffusion on graphs, for example. (1) The “standard” model, well developed (e.g., Richardson & Boyd, Bowles & Gintis, Henrich, etc., etc.) which looks to model the mechanisms of accurate transmission; (2) cultural attractor theory (Sperber, Scott-Philips, etc.), which asks why certain content gets transmitted with far greater than expected accuracy; (3) Worldview theory (Gabora), which takes individual worldview as the elements of cultural evolution (since, in the end, culture just is a coalition of individual worldview in some level of agreement). If you explore the literature you’ll find lots of work that’s been done in each of these three approaches.

What does it mean that some content is generated with more accuracy? You mean from a supply and and demand perspective? Because we rely on it, like medical or financial information?

Nope, rather that certain things are transmitted accurately and others get degraded. Most memes, for example, pass after a few generations of transmission. The sort of studies that are done are along the lines of transmission chains (a line of people is set up, a sentence or such is told to the first and they pass it on to the second and so on. Usually by the fifth or sixth iteration it’s already been changed. But certain stories, myths, etc., go from generation to generation accurately. The idea is that there are things about human psychology that favour certain sorts of tales over others.

 
burt
 
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burt
Total Posts:  16399
Joined  17-12-2006
 
 
 
12 October 2019 13:29
 
Traces Elk - 12 October 2019 09:14 AM
Jb8989 - 12 October 2019 07:10 AM
burt - 11 October 2019 04:45 PM

Memes are not at the forefront any more. There are basically three approaches to cultural evolution that are still going, although memetic can deal the simple models of the spread of simple ideas, products, etc., using analogies to information diffusion on graphs, for example. (1) The “standard” model, well developed (e.g., Richardson & Boyd, Bowles & Gintis, Henrich, etc., etc.) which looks to model the mechanisms of accurate transmission; (2) cultural attractor theory (Sperber, Scott-Philips, etc.), which asks why certain content gets transmitted with far greater than expected accuracy; (3) Worldview theory (Gabora), which takes individual worldview as the elements of cultural evolution (since, in the end, culture just is a coalition of individual worldview in some level of agreement). If you explore the literature you’ll find lots of work that’s been done in each of these three approaches.

What does it mean that some content is generated with more accuracy? You mean from a supply and and demand perspective? Because we rely on it, like medical or financial information?

burt used the term transmission (of content), presumably referencing information-theoretic measures of accuracy. This means that to say anything substantive, we will specify some element of cultural content and how we assess accuracy of transmission with respect to that. Presumably, the researchers that burt is citing have selected examples and measures, but you’d have to read those authors to discover what they mean, and we might not always agree as to what constitutes an element of cultural content and then the information it in turn contains. This is pretty far from the meaty bits of rigorous information theory and you will probably just want to fast-forward to the conclusions about what sorts of content are transmitted and why it is passed along. I don’t think we are talking about scientific and technical content which is passed along by means of experiments that can be described and replicated or other observations and the methodology for obtaining them.

Almost right, except they haven’t yet gotten down to information measures. Rather some of the examples I’ve seen have to do with transmission of myths, fairy tales, dialect, or with forms of artistic presentation (e.g., which way the eyes look in a portrait) and so on. One example is word pronunciation where the explanation is that it’s simply easier to pronounce it one way than another and people tend to be lazy. To get a full idea one has to go through the literature (I have, a slog). There are some simple math models for probabilities of transmission so there is a scent of meat but the steak has yet to be served.

The knock on the Boyd-Richerson-Henrich approach is that they use the math developed for evolutionary population biology and have to assume that people are mindless transmitters of information. In other words, they can’t hand human creativity other than by tossing in random changes (not quite that bad, but still a problem for them).

 
burt
 
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burt
Total Posts:  16399
Joined  17-12-2006
 
 
 
12 October 2019 13:31
 
EN - 12 October 2019 09:41 AM

burt brought up Trump.  He is staging rallies, calling the impeachment inquiry “unconstitutional”. Article I, Section 2, Clause 5 specifically gives the House the sole power of impeachment.  Yet the crowds at his rallies lap it up when he attacks, and apparently nothing can shake the dedication of about 35-40% of the population.  Trump’s machine has so effectively packaged his position that some people CANNOT see it any other way. There is an accurate transmission of his message, but it is largely factually wrong.  Fox News is his propaganda machine, and many WILL NOT watch anything else.  Where does this fit in the whole cultural evolution discussion? Why do certain misguided and destructive ideas (slavery is our worst example) get so firmly entrenched that it literally takes war and generations of re-education to root them out?

That’s where the psychology comes in. Why are large numbers of people attracted to that line of bs?

 
nonverbal
 
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nonverbal
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12 October 2019 14:05
 
burt - 12 October 2019 01:31 PM
EN - 12 October 2019 09:41 AM

burt brought up Trump.  He is staging rallies, calling the impeachment inquiry “unconstitutional”. Article I, Section 2, Clause 5 specifically gives the House the sole power of impeachment.  Yet the crowds at his rallies lap it up when he attacks, and apparently nothing can shake the dedication of about 35-40% of the population.  Trump’s machine has so effectively packaged his position that some people CANNOT see it any other way. There is an accurate transmission of his message, but it is largely factually wrong.  Fox News is his propaganda machine, and many WILL NOT watch anything else.  Where does this fit in the whole cultural evolution discussion? Why do certain misguided and destructive ideas (slavery is our worst example) get so firmly entrenched that it literally takes war and generations of re-education to root them out?

That’s where the psychology comes in. Why are large numbers of people attracted to that line of bs?

Perhaps I’m unreasonably optimistic, but I doubt that actual dedication to Trump’s nonsense can be applied to 35-to-40 percent of the U.S. population. Usually, I’m pessimistic about these kinds of things. These days, though, I suspect most of that percentage includes quite a few people who accept what’s going on within the White House as being sadly necessary even if it’s often offensive. That is, America has lost much of its luster over the past few decades, and it may take some time for that simple fact to sink in.

 

 
 
Jb8989
 
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Jb8989
Total Posts:  6670
Joined  31-01-2012
 
 
 
12 October 2019 14:29
 
burt - 12 October 2019 01:19 PM
Jb8989 - 12 October 2019 07:10 AM
burt - 11 October 2019 04:45 PM
Traces Elk - 11 October 2019 03:58 PM

Cultural attractor theory is a term you can search on the internet.

https://quod.lib.umich.edu/p/ptb/6959004.0009.013/—cultural-attractor-theory-and-explanation?rgn=mainview=fulltext

This may take you to the abstract, and there is a link on that page to a PDF version of the article and a DOI link so you can read it as a web page, too.

That article alone contains thousands of words and has a list of citations a yard long, and is probably as brief a summary as can be found. The abstract:

Cultural attractor theory (CAT) is a highly visible and audacious approach to studying human cultural evolution. However, the explanatory aims and some central explanatory concepts of CAT remain unclear. Here I remedy these problems. I provide a reconstruction of CAT that recasts it as a theory of forces. I then demonstrate how this reinterpretation of CAT has the resources to generate both cultural distribution and evolvability explanations. I conclude by examining the potential benefits and drawbacks of this reconstruction.

If anyone reading this understands it and can explain the explanation, he’s welcome to try. I’m not going to argue that ideas / culture do not evolve. Dawkins’ meme concept is what a lot of authors use as a unit of cultural transmission. Decades later, nobody’s the wiser. We write a small number of words, call the phrase a meme, and leave it at that. It’s supposed to refer to an idea or some distillation thereof. If someone says X is a meme, who can argue with that?

What you guys ought to do is focus on one or two memes and discuss those as examples showing cultural transmission of information, instead of name-dropping some grand theoretical framework with hundreds or thousands of authors. Preferably in a separate thread, but really, this thread is impossible to derail.

Memes are not at the forefront any more. There are basically three approaches to cultural evolution that are still going, although memetic can deal the simple models of the spread of simple ideas, products, etc., using analogies to information diffusion on graphs, for example. (1) The “standard” model, well developed (e.g., Richardson & Boyd, Bowles & Gintis, Henrich, etc., etc.) which looks to model the mechanisms of accurate transmission; (2) cultural attractor theory (Sperber, Scott-Philips, etc.), which asks why certain content gets transmitted with far greater than expected accuracy; (3) Worldview theory (Gabora), which takes individual worldview as the elements of cultural evolution (since, in the end, culture just is a coalition of individual worldview in some level of agreement). If you explore the literature you’ll find lots of work that’s been done in each of these three approaches.

What does it mean that some content is generated with more accuracy? You mean from a supply and and demand perspective? Because we rely on it, like medical or financial information?

Nope, rather that certain things are transmitted accurately and others get degraded. Most memes, for example, pass after a few generations of transmission. The sort of studies that are done are along the lines of transmission chains (a line of people is set up, a sentence or such is told to the first and they pass it on to the second and so on. Usually by the fifth or sixth iteration it’s already been changed. But certain stories, myths, etc., go from generation to generation accurately. The idea is that there are things about human psychology that favour certain sorts of tales over others.

Interesting. I bet there’s themes.

 
 
EN
 
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EN
Total Posts:  22647
Joined  11-03-2007
 
 
 
12 October 2019 14:39
 
burt - 12 October 2019 01:31 PM
EN - 12 October 2019 09:41 AM

burt brought up Trump.  He is staging rallies, calling the impeachment inquiry “unconstitutional”. Article I, Section 2, Clause 5 specifically gives the House the sole power of impeachment.  Yet the crowds at his rallies lap it up when he attacks, and apparently nothing can shake the dedication of about 35-40% of the population.  Trump’s machine has so effectively packaged his position that some people CANNOT see it any other way. There is an accurate transmission of his message, but it is largely factually wrong.  Fox News is his propaganda machine, and many WILL NOT watch anything else.  Where does this fit in the whole cultural evolution discussion? Why do certain misguided and destructive ideas (slavery is our worst example) get so firmly entrenched that it literally takes war and generations of re-education to root them out?

That’s where the psychology comes in. Why are large numbers of people attracted to that line of bs?

Fear? Lack of understanding? Anger?  All the above?

 
Jb8989
 
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Jb8989
Total Posts:  6670
Joined  31-01-2012
 
 
 
12 October 2019 14:48
 
Traces Elk - 12 October 2019 10:51 AM
Jb8989 - 12 October 2019 10:17 AM
Traces Elk - 12 October 2019 09:14 AM
Jb8989 - 12 October 2019 07:10 AM
burt - 11 October 2019 04:45 PM

Memes are not at the forefront any more. There are basically three approaches to cultural evolution that are still going, although memetic can deal the simple models of the spread of simple ideas, products, etc., using analogies to information diffusion on graphs, for example. (1) The “standard” model, well developed (e.g., Richardson & Boyd, Bowles & Gintis, Henrich, etc., etc.) which looks to model the mechanisms of accurate transmission; (2) cultural attractor theory (Sperber, Scott-Philips, etc.), which asks why certain content gets transmitted with far greater than expected accuracy; (3) Worldview theory (Gabora), which takes individual worldview as the elements of cultural evolution (since, in the end, culture just is a coalition of individual worldview in some level of agreement). If you explore the literature you’ll find lots of work that’s been done in each of these three approaches.

What does it mean that some content is generated with more accuracy? You mean from a supply and and demand perspective? Because we rely on it, like medical or financial information?

burt used the term transmission (of content), presumably referencing information-theoretic measures of accuracy. This means that to say anything substantive, we will specify some element of cultural content and how we assess accuracy of transmission with respect to that. Presumably, the researchers that burt is citing have selected examples and measures, but you’d have to read those authors to discover what they mean, and we might not always agree as to what constitutes an element of cultural content and then the information it in turn contains. This is pretty far from the meaty bits of rigorous information theory and you will probably just want to fast-forward to the conclusions about what sorts of content are transmitted and why it is passed along. I don’t think we are talking about scientific and technical content which is passed along by means of experiments that can be described and replicated or other observations and the methodology for obtaining them.

So it’s like cultural context for receiving and giving everyday communication?

I once read where most people are blind to how something like 90% of communication (body and oral) is feelings-based opinions, but we actually operate under the belief that we’re dealing in facts everytime we open out mouths. So then one idea is the more “cultured” you can get, the more of an ability you have to communicate in social simplicities that transcend cultural divides.

I read somewhere that culture is “what’s left after you’ve forgotten everything else you set out deliberately to learn”. I doubt this will help. Anthropologists and maybe even sociologists used to try to figure out how to define culture, but I think that came a cropper, and they don’t do much of that any more. If we don’t have a definition of culture, we can’t be very definite about cultural context, either. I certainly don’t assume I know what you denote by it. I also don’t know how anybody figured out that 90% of communication is this or that. Maybe somebody thought that putting numbers in there would make that thought more impressive. I’m used to dealing with people who regularly try to cite data when they give an opinion, but if we don’t know the methodology, things get dim pretty quickly. So, if we read something once that said this or that,and we can’t say where we read it and why, there’s not much point in saying it, is there? At least I’ve quoted some words, and you can use a search engine to see if anyone famous said it.

A methodology for communication would look like something measuring tone, rate, rhythm, ergonomics and eye contact etc, in tandem with language. The words are historically the substance but they’re tempered literally by temperaments. There’s no such thing as diologue exclusive from emotion. Even the scientific method is subject to agenda, wants and needs. The stats that feed the data have “shoulds” that the experimenters are no doubt seeking or speculating. Purely objective experiments are only slightly more rare than nearly objective diologue. And if they weren’t subject to the culture driving their desires than the motivation would be moot.

 
 
Jb8989
 
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Jb8989
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12 October 2019 15:11
 
nonverbal - 11 October 2019 12:18 PM
Jb8989 - 11 October 2019 07:57 AM
Traces Elk - 10 October 2019 09:19 PM
Traces Elk - 10 October 2019 09:17 PM
Jb8989 - 10 October 2019 06:43 PM

Collective unconscious, cultural attactors, collective conscience, cultural cognitions.

They’re all trying to capture a social mind, of sorts.

Sounds like a kind of ad hoc substitute for all those folks who have given up believing in gods and still seek a powerful, disembodied force capable of battling evil in the world. I’m only half-serious, here: sometimes people develop coinages like this because they see themselves as BIg Thinkers. It all converges where folks like to make pronouncements they cannot definitively be shown wrong about, and so we are back to finding replacements for gods. It’s not philosophy, it’s not social science. What is it? it’s Ripley’s believe it or not!!

Maybe, but I think some of it plays. While neither agency or autonomy map onto group think, I think that Echo Chambers on the nasty political side of things and the collective conscience on the side of things where human decency should transcend theological artifacts, are good descriptions at times for how suggestible we are in droves.

Doesn’t a term like “Collective Unconscious” carry a good bit of woo baggage which blurs the verbal picture of associated items, well into the realm of the obscure?

Maybe the collective unconscious but so does the mind’s general unconscious. I think the issue is how well some culture’s people have individual thoughts that map that of the masses. Consciously not unconsciously.

[ Edited: 12 October 2019 15:16 by Jb8989]
 
 
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