Re: continuity of self [ was META: Sept. 11 and Singularity]

From: Cliff Stabbert (
Date: Tue Sep 17 2002 - 00:47:08 MDT

Monday, September 16, 2002, 10:24:28 AM, Eliezer S. Yudkowsky wrote:

ESY> Cliff Stabbert wrote:
CS> BG> The "hundredth monkey" effect posited by New Agers for some
CS> BG> time, has yet to be observed en masse..
CS> I hadn't heard of this, so I have just received some education via
CS> Google. Of course in human societies such effects (including,
CS> e.g., "Rubik's" Cube being close-to-simultaneously invented/
CS> discovered by various parties) can be explained in a number of
CS> other ways.

ESY> Google harder. The "hundredth monkey" effect is a known urban
ESY> legend that started as a distortion of real research done on the
ESY> origin and spread of potato-washing behavior among macaques on
ESY> the Japanese island of Koshima.
ESY> One genius, a juvenile female, developed the habit of carrying
ESY> sweet potatos in water to wash off the dirt; from there it spread
ESY> to other children, who taught it to their parents (shades of the
ESY> Internet revolution). The idea that other monkeys on other
ESY> islands spontaneously picked up the idea is pure fabrication.

Right, I caught that. But one or more of the pages I saw used this
fabrication as "support" for the idea of some sort of morphogenetic
idea field type thingamajig (sorry, my vocab is gone, and the concept
was handwavingly vague) -- and I was making the point that at least in
the case of human invention, there is no need to invoke such mystical
explanations. (And of course, even /if/ monkeys on other islands
"spontaneously" started using the same method that could simply be due
to having their own local genius.)


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