Interdum stultus opportuna loquitur...

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

RantRant: And Now ...

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... for something completely different...

In the none-too-distant past, I have read a bunch of stuff about the likelihood of the ability of 'shared consciousness': that is, the ability of a geographically remote sub-population to acquire - as if by telepathy - an innovation which has been discovered by another sub-population.

I am aware, for example, that in one experiment blindworms were taught to be scared of the colour yellow (by submitting them to a choice in which red = food; yellow = electric shock). When these blindowrms were chopped up and fed to OTHER blindworms, these other blindworms seemed to 'digest' the information as well. Furthermore, subsequent research purported to show that blindworms in locations that had nothing to do with the intial research, also showed this new aversion to yellow.

Let me say right off the bat, that I have not ever reviewed the original research - so I have no idea about the merits of the research methodology in this case.

But one piece of research whose methodology is sound, is the study of the Koshima Monkeys... in which a 'meme' seemed to develop in the indigenous population once a certain threshold had been reached, but more importantly that the same 'meme' spread to a geographically dislocated group (on another island, with no contact between islands).

this was the source of the so-called '100th Monkey Hypothesis' by which an idea will gain 'traction' so long as enough people believe in it.

I am a firm believer in some form of 'collective consciousness', even though that consciousness has not yet managed to do the world a favour and help Dick Cheney's heart in its quest for freedom.

{As we know, Dick Cheney's heart has been trying to free itself from the moral culpability of providing 'aid and comfort' to an enemy of mankind. After decades of helping to keep alive the meat-bag that carries Cheney's suppurating soul, his heart woke up to itself and decided to quit... but the doctors won't let it.}

In fact it's the Cheneys of the world that I am particularly interested in, when I consider the "100th Monkey Syndrome"... what if the first 99 monkeys believe something that is inherently evil? Is it possible for a collective consciousness to accept as valid, something which is morally reprehensible? Can a collective consciousness be 'swayed' by an idea that has negartive net utility?

This is something that is never made clear in the discussion of the 100th Monkey stuff. It is assumed that since the original observation was something that increased utility (washing sand off of sweet potatoes) that this 'interconnectedness of everything' is a positive thing. But what if the other 99 monkeys also believed that it was OK to gas Jews, Poofs, Retards and Gypsies? What if they believed that the Holocaust didn't happen? What if they believed that George Bush had half a clue about foreign policy?

As someone once said... aye, there's the rub.

Humans are by and large very stupid herd animals, despite what you hear on the telly (present company excepted, of course). If you can get a decent chunk of the herd to believe in some idea ('Lebensraum', 'Germana', or 'operation Iraqi Freedom'), maybe that eventually resutls in a new 'meme' in human consciousness.

Does the propensity to generate a new meme vary with the degree of belief? In other words, does this '100th Monkey Syndrome' require a thousand, or a million, or a billion monkeys, if 90% of the monkeys are only weak adherents? or is it literally just 'weight of numbers'?

Obviously, what is desirable is for the system to require on'y GOOD mems to develop, and only when large numbers of the population are genuinely interested. So those flabby-armed, fat, sweaty "gotta git me a whole bunch o' Jeeesus" types that populate Republican conventions wouldn't count, because they have no idea what the fuck they mean when they say they're 'conservative'.

And likewise, anyone who shows any interest in mainstream political parties would get a weight of azero in any meme.

Frankly, my opes aren't high.