Curiosity Over Pride (FYI: To comment, send an e-mail to

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Monkey Business

Listen to this


Thai said...

To read your comments

Thai said...

My wife says this story reminds her of Tom Sawyer

"He had discovered a great law of human action, without knowing it -- namely, that in order to make a man or a boy covet a thing, it is only necessary to make the thing difficult to attain."

-- Mark Twain

From Tom Sawyer

Debra said...

Sorry to be such a "rain on your parade", negative person, Thai, but this post is STILL nevertheless right in keeping with the scientific materialism I keep right on knocking here, and which you tell me is definitely out of fashion.
The gist of it is to... simplify the question of economics, in an oversimplification of Darwinian theory, so that it becomes a simple question of... power plays, and what we call "rapport de force" over here. You will notice that the scientist is uncomfortable with the idea of labeling behavior a... "protection racket". (Is that what I'm engaging in with my children, a.. protection racket ??) A definitely ideologically biased way of referring to the behavior in question.
To me, the obvious point is, as I keep screaming over there in the jungle... we are mystified and obnubilated by our symbols and numbers, and this is playing out in the stock market, by the way.
But... reducing the economic question to the limited scope that the interviewer has in this interview is, once again, reductionist thought.
An interesting point that is NOT raised in this experiment is... the reaction of the new skilled monkeys towards the... TRANSMISSION of their new skills. WHO will they choose to transmit these skills to ? Will these skills ultimately enrich the group as a whole ?
Lots of questions. Too bad focusing on such... reductionist things (like comparing them to OUR behavior, for example...) gets in OUR way.

Street Dog said...


You keep reminding Street Dog of his youth in the Deep South. Street Dog's incisive canine intuition tells him that you have a primal desire to be groomed by your friends, family, and patients for your communal hard work and specialized skills. Street Dog is perplexed why Debra doesn't embrace the ideas of her partner in misanthropy, ol' Sam Clemens.


Street Dog likes the rain and a parade. Street Dog finds reductionism useful to better understand people, civilization, life, economics, everything. Street Dog finds that a holistic view compliments a reductionist view. One without the other, leaves one with an inferior view. Street Dog believes there is an epidemic of pseudoscience with uncontrolled bias, dubious interpretation of data, and other expected human folly. Holism is particularly susceptible to pseudoscience and is thus inappropriately deemphasized in proportion to reductionism. To counterbalance the yawn-inducing tone of this post, Street Dog would like to finish with this tune from the 80's.

Tom Sawyer

Debra said...

Street Dog...
I think that your presence on this blog is going to throw a loop into the Thai-Debra duo, where we both end up wandering in endless neon lit corridors, spouting out the same thing at each other, in a different language.
We will have to invent another unit of measure BIGGER than the light year in order to be able to render the distance between... Tom Sawyer in YOUR link and Tom Sawyer in the.. book(s) (which I never read all the way through, mea culpa, yeah I am a (pseudo) intellectual, not the real McCoy).
Sam's eyes would be bugging out of his head after having his ears busted by these incredibly... EARNEST young men (why is it that engagé songs manage to be so.. boring, no matter which language they are sung in ?).
While holistic approaches may seem pseudo to you, they are no MORE pseudo than the reductionist science that Thai occasionally sticks down for our benefit, BUT NOT VERY OFTEN since I get on his case about it, and he KNOWS what kind of a reaction he will get. And to be fair, Thai is REALLY NOT into any kind of reductionist thinking.
A more careful reading of your comment, Street Dog, suggests that we are not using reductionist in the same way. When YOU say holistic and reductionist I say... global and.. DETAIL. Reductionist thinking does NOT pay attention to detail, and is sloppy at accurately observing what it purports to describe.
Street Dog... Debra does NOT embrace Samuel Clemen's thinking because...
When she is not a dog.. (sorry it was ME first who said that...) she is a.. cat.
While I have many... cynical (not... REALISTIC) traits, I do not like cynicism at all.

Street Dog said...

For Deb the missionary

One Safe Place

Street Dog said...

Street Dog would not like to disrupt the ebb and flow of this blog. Street Dog gracefully bows out.

Thai said...

Rush- wow, that is a blast from the past!

Re: praise

Don't we all?

But fwiw, I think you may be confusing a desire for praise with my sense of duty, which I freely admit is quite strong, and a frustration the collective seems to be moving in.

I completely agree this post is a ho hum so no offense (it should have been a comment but I have been lazy on posts of late).

... I am sorry to see you go. We think more alike than many I have read on the blogs so your voice will be missed.

Be well

Please feel free to come back whenever you want as I am not sure what duality Deb is talking about, at least as it relates to the collective.

Re: reductionism vs. holism

It is always both, though I do tend to share Street Dog's disdain for what often appears to be a lot more pseudo science in the holism group than the reductionist group.

However I do think the massive computational power of today's computers is partially leveling this playing field- whatever did the social science do before the invention of the computer?

Dink said...

"Is that what I'm engaging in with my children, a.. protection racket ??"

Maternal outrage at the suggestion that her feelings aren't genuine. But the mind-blowing concept from The Selfish Gene (and evolutionary biology in general) is that our species would have never spent the energy making "feelings" if it didn't serve the benefit of the genes. And the little vervet monkeys would not have hierarchies if it didn't serve the benefit of the genes.

Wicked genes, using feelings to manipulate us into doing their bidding! But on the flip side we should be grateful to them for our existence. A little gratitude, a little subversion... humans are in a weird situation.

"would not like to disrupt the ebb and flow of this blog"

Ridiculous. Deb needs at least three people to fight with. Her blood-thirst is frightening.

"whatever did the social science do before the invention of the computer?"

Invent really odd theories. Do nasty experiments on undergrads in university basements. Get frustrated and change majors.

Debra said...

My God, what did I say ?
Whimper, whimper...
I thought we were all having a good time in the saloon, weren't we ?
I think it's great there are more people in the saloon, that was my point. (How could y'all get the idea that I particularly ENJOYED wandering around in neon lit corridors with Thai (no offense, Thai...)
Bloodthirsty ? Snort.
I haven't even broken out my (tiger's) claws on this blog.
I've missed something here. What's going (what went ?) on ?

Debra said...

Geez, you guys really are not going to get down on me just because I don't BELIEVE in the computer the way you do ?...

Debra said...

Rereading ME, I can kind of see where you might have gotten the idea that I was getting on your case, Street Dog, but... I wasn't. (i.e. "throw a loop")
Remember... I've lived in France for over thirty years now, and do not speak English on a daily basis at all, so.. I'm kind of evolving in a parallel universe from y'all, and besides, sometimes I take words and do funny things to them...
If I say pretty please, and grovel on my hands and knees, will you come back ? ;-)

Thai said...

I am not one who in general watches animal porn, but I got this in my inbox tonight as I was about to head to work and somehow it reminded me of Street Dog's hygiene.

Thai said...

Deb, only with computers could "holism" examinations like this ever be created.

Dink said...

"If I say pretty please, and grovel on my hands and knees, will you come back ? ;-)"

Must...resist....tacky double-entendre....joke....

"My God, what did I say ?"

Please don't upset yourself or feel rejected. People wander in and out of saloons when thirst hits. Thirst works in different cycles for different people.

"I got this in my inbox tonight as I was about to head to work"

Hmmm. Thai's thirst has led him to make some strange net-fellows ;)

Dink said...

I liked the 7 Sins color maps. I liked the comments, too. Such as "it looks like the best predictor of sin is living by a body of water" ;) There were many good critical thinkers in the comment section which pleased me too.

Debra said...

Hmmm.. I think the seven deadly sins map is... FUN, not science. The comments were funny. But... these maps do not really tell me anything that I would care to interpret.
Liked the bat stuff. Interesting how WE are still so hung up about lots of stuff, as could be seen in the comments section. (By the way... I wouldn't exactly call this animal porn, Thai, but maybe I'm being a little stuffy for y'all.)
And I maintain that I turned Street Dog off, and am sorry for "scaring" him away.
When I was little I was an incorrigible tomboy, and I beat my little brother into a pulp whenever he messed with me. (Of course when he got bigger, older and stronger I ended up regretting this, and the story changed...) (Incidentally I don't beat anyone into a pulp anymore...)
I like... sparring. It's fun.

The Most Fabulous Objects In The World

  • Hitchhiker's Guide To The Universe trilogy
  • Lord of the Rings trilogy
  • Flight of the Conchords
  • Time Bandits