Author Topic: A Brief Unverifiable History in Pictures  (Read 9243 times)

Kai

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Re: A Brief Unverifiable History in Pictures
« Reply #30 on: September 06, 2009, 05:52:35 pm »

this got me thinking that the origin of the lie could stem simply from putting the needs of the self over the needs of the species. 

the irony being that preserving the self does preserve the species (assuming the self procreates).  but it also alters the species - in favor of the liar.

anyhow, maybe this has all been covered ad nauseum, but thanks for giving me something new to think about today. 

Recently I learned the two cardinal sins of animal behavior study:

1. Anthropomorphism - ascribing human characters to non human organisms

2. "For the good of the species" - assuming the behavior of an individual in some way is meant to benefit a vague metapopulation of individuals.

The reason the first is bad is obvious. The second is equally wrong; unless you are talking in particular about non-human altruism, organisms don't act towards anyone's benefit but their own, and certainly not to a vague metapopulation of individuals within roughly the same lineage (a species).
If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water. --Loren Eisley, The Immense Journey

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Re: A Brief Unverifiable History in Pictures
« Reply #31 on: September 06, 2009, 06:13:32 pm »
thanks for pointing that out - i think i was mixing premises - as i was operating under the assumption that only humans lie, and instead of "for the good of the species" i should have said "for the good of the tribe"

"he was a smart feller who felt smart"

Kai

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Re: A Brief Unverifiable History in Pictures
« Reply #32 on: September 06, 2009, 07:24:49 pm »
thanks for pointing that out - i think i was mixing premises - as i was operating under the assumption that only humans lie, and instead of "for the good of the species" i should have said "for the good of the tribe"



some thoughts about false advertising.

Take the sneaker males, for example. Here we have a species of fish where there are two male morphotypes in the population. There's a larger size male, the normal one, and theres the small, camoflagued male, called the sneaker male. When other males are guarding a nest site, fighting among each other, the sneaker males come in and drop their sperm on the eggs, thus fertilizing some of them. Both ways exist, cause both ways end up working. If the sneaker male didn't exist the population would probably continue. If the sneaker male existed in high numbers then the population would probably go extinct, since the sneaker males don't make nests, they only exploit them.

In other words, for false advertising (and other forms of "lying") to be sustained in a population, there must be enough individuals that do not exploit this method. If too many people were big time liers, then society would fall apart. There have to be enough honest (or some would say, stupid or gullible) people to sustain the batch of liers out there. Populations with high numbers of false advertisers would be selected against, simply because those societies would fall apart. Therefore, over the long term honesty would be conserved as a value for the majority of the population.
If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water. --Loren Eisley, The Immense Journey

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Re: A Brief Unverifiable History in Pictures
« Reply #33 on: September 06, 2009, 07:44:27 pm »
isn't your example an Anthropomorphism?

but, to run with your metaphor:

the chicken/egg here is that, without the truth, there can be no lie (or vice versa?)

and, in some cases, the lie can become the truth

edit:
after thinking some more, i think we've pointed out there are different types of lying.  for the purposes of discussion, i'll call them deceptive and protective.  (although i'm not exactly happy with those labels, because, after all, all lies are deceptive, right?).

but i would call my example protective lying in that i haven't taken advantage of anyone else's work.  whereas your example is a more "evil" kind of lying - hmm - maybe offensive and defensive lying would be better terms (but now i can't stop thinking about john madden   :argh!:).


« Last Edit: September 06, 2009, 07:50:21 pm by rong »
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Kai

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Re: A Brief Unverifiable History in Pictures
« Reply #34 on: September 06, 2009, 09:55:30 pm »
isn't your example an Anthropomorphism?

but, to run with your metaphor:

the chicken/egg here is that, without the truth, there can be no lie (or vice versa?)

and, in some cases, the lie can become the truth

edit:
after thinking some more, i think we've pointed out there are different types of lying.  for the purposes of discussion, i'll call them deceptive and protective.  (although i'm not exactly happy with those labels, because, after all, all lies are deceptive, right?).

but i would call my example protective lying in that i haven't taken advantage of anyone else's work.  whereas your example is a more "evil" kind of lying - hmm - maybe offensive and defensive lying would be better terms (but now i can't stop thinking about john madden   :argh!:).




Its not an anthropomorphism because I didn't ascribe human characters to non humans (note "lying", in quotes). "Cheating" is more often used to describe this sort of behavior; I guess you could use a long phrase to describe it, but cheating is faster. Non-conscious deception maybe?

A better way to say it would be, without some sort of established behavior shared by most of the population, there can't be a strong antithesis to that behavior. In other words, if there is no valuing of aesthetics, there won't be distaste for "bad aesthetics". Cf. Tao Te Ching, Chapter 2.
If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water. --Loren Eisley, The Immense Journey

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Re: A Brief Unverifiable History in Pictures
« Reply #35 on: September 06, 2009, 10:34:06 pm »
i would argue that cheating and lying are both types of deception and now we have to decide whether to stick to talking about lying or broaden the scope to include deception. 

(i don't want to argue about whether your example was an anthropomorphism, that is, unless you do)

- - - - -

dang - as i was re-reading this thread to try to remember what it was, initially, that sparked my interest in the first place, i see i missed a reply from fictionpuss.

i'm not familiar with "the tragedy of the commons" so i'll have to look into that.

instead of cutting and pasting and responding piecemeal, i'll just say that i think we agree, to a certain extent (on whatever it is we agree on, i'm not exactly sure . . .)

i'm sure what you say about long term aquaintences is true.  the most dangerous part about someone discovering your morel patch is if they pick ALL the morels, they won't grow back next year.

that, combined with what you say about the "united political force" being unstoppable and lying becoming the path of least resistance, leads me to think that trust plays an important enough role to warrant inclusion in the discussion.

----

my apologies if this reponse is overly fragmented - this is the fragmented part of my day. (so it seems fragmented to me . . .)

 
"he was a smart feller who felt smart"

Kai

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Re: A Brief Unverifiable History in Pictures
« Reply #36 on: September 07, 2009, 01:42:07 am »
tragedy of the commons refers to common property where no one has the responsibility of caretaker, therefore no one takes care of it. It comes from the common areas of villages in Europe that were shared in use by everyone in the village.

These days it usually refers to broader resources, such as the global airmass, freshwater, groundwater, the oceans, parks and the like. The solution to a tragedy of the commons is to allocate a person or group of people as caretakers with specific rules and regulations as to use. As long as the resource remains common and no one takes care of it, it will continue to be misused and damaged.

Also, your thing about morels is generally false. Mushrooms are the fruiting bodies, while the vegetative body is the mycelium, the network of hairlike cells that lies underneath and within the substrate. It's like picking an apple; as long as the conditions are good the mycelium will survive to the next year. Otherwise yes, I agree. As Tom Montag's Ben Zen said, "take what you need, leave some for seed".
« Last Edit: September 07, 2009, 01:52:38 am by Kai »
If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water. --Loren Eisley, The Immense Journey

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Re: A Brief Unverifiable History in Pictures
« Reply #37 on: September 07, 2009, 08:42:16 pm »
i think my hangover has subsided enough so i can think about this again.

thanks for correcting me about the morels - i feel better about finding some someday, now.

kai, would i be correct to say that you believe "the lie" is akin to a mutation that proved evolutionarily beneficial and, therefore, stuck around?  i find the combination of examples from nature and the trap of anthropomorphism a little perplexing, but the examples from nature keep forcing me to think in terms of evolution.

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Kai

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Re: A Brief Unverifiable History in Pictures
« Reply #38 on: September 08, 2009, 12:35:49 am »
i think my hangover has subsided enough so i can think about this again.

thanks for correcting me about the morels - i feel better about finding some someday, now.

kai, would i be correct to say that you believe "the lie" is akin to a mutation that proved evolutionarily beneficial and, therefore, stuck around?  i find the combination of examples from nature and the trap of anthropomorphism a little perplexing, but the examples from nature keep forcing me to think in terms of evolution.



Morphological and behavioral deception based in genotype and not learned behavior would have to be beneficial or at LEAST not incur significant fitness costs, or it wouldn't stick around.
If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water. --Loren Eisley, The Immense Journey

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Re: A Brief Unverifiable History in Pictures
« Reply #39 on: September 08, 2009, 01:20:52 pm »
so, do we agree that the same can be said for lying?

although, now that i think about it, maybe there is some sort of law of natural selection applicable to lies. 

i would equate non-beneficial morphological and behavior selection to lies that didn't work.

i.e. it's not beneficial to claim that stop-signs are green, so that lie doesn't work.

so, then, is there a way to usefully classify lies?  could the terms of classification be used to construct known beneficial lies?
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Re: A Brief Unverifiable History in Pictures
« Reply #40 on: September 08, 2009, 04:08:42 pm »
so, do we agree that the same can be said for lying?

although, now that i think about it, maybe there is some sort of law of natural selection applicable to lies. 
Well what's your working definition of a 'lie'? A deliberate falsehood presented as truth? If so, it can only be deliberate once the individual has learned enough about its environment to be conscious of the distinction. As those factors change in different social groups, I think it might be tricky to attach it directly to natural selection.

Although the extent to which social group interactions is determined by the characteristics of the species is something I'm unclear upon - e.g. if you released human-raised lions into an otherwise lion-free environment, assuming they knew enough to survive, how many generations would it take them to form prides, or would they form something different?

i would equate non-beneficial morphological and behavior selection to lies that didn't work.

i.e. it's not beneficial to claim that stop-signs are green, so that lie doesn't work.

so, then, is there a way to usefully classify lies?  could the terms of classification be used to construct known beneficial lies?
The stop-sign example is easily discoverable - so that lie has a high-risk of being detected. There would have to be a big payoff expected (before the consequences of detection come into play) to make that a rational lie to make.

If you use "risk" and "payoff" as the two axis, then you could probably identify areas which are frequented by different groups of people - e.g. criminals might have medium-high risk vs. deliberately confusing terms/conditions used by large institutions which have low-risk because technically obfuscating the truth is not the same as telling a falsehood.

You could maybe use such a chart to determine whether to become a criminal or investment banker.

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Re: A Brief Unverifiable History in Pictures
« Reply #41 on: September 14, 2009, 04:35:36 am »
If you use "risk" and "payoff" as the two axis, then you could probably identify areas which are frequented by different groups of people - e.g. criminals might have medium-high risk vs. deliberately confusing terms/conditions used by large institutions which have low-risk because technically obfuscating the truth is not the same as telling a falsehood.

You could maybe use such a chart to determine whether to become a criminal or investment banker.

or a cult leader "man of the cloth"
"he was a smart feller who felt smart"