IQ & Bateson segue to PW

Scott Holmes (sholmes@NETCOM.COM)
Tue, 1 Nov 1994 12:42:40 -0800

seeing in these racists messages is a form of ritual. ML brought up
Bateson's concept of Learning II. It is a bit more subtle than Pavlovian
conditioning but is based on three components: stimulous, response and
reinforcement. In _Mind and Nature_, Bateson illustrates the process:
"Of these three, the second is the reinforcement of the first, and the
third is reinforcement of the second. Response by learner reinforces the
stimulous provided by teacher". Of the kind of things learned at this
level, he lists dependency, courage, passive-aggressive behavior and
fatalism. I suspect that basic religious attitudes/ideas are also learned
at this level as well as "racist attitudes".

For Bateson, ritual straddles the boundary between religion and
magic. He considered magic to be a degenerate form of religion (rather
than religion developing from magic). In _Angels Fear_, he discusses the
case of totemic rituals. When employed for the purpose of attracting animals
previous to a hunt, the ritual is a form of magic; when employed for the
purpose of developing empathy between the hunter and animal, the ritual is

Now, consider posting e-mail as ritual: When employed in the "normal"
(for this list at least) manner, it's purpose is to bring us all closer
to understanding and communicating ideas amongst the each other. I
think there is a strong religious-like element here in that few if any
of us have a complete understanding of the actual mechanisms involved but
we have faith that our posts will go through and be communicated to each
other and that our ideas will be understood (I'm getting a bit dubious
about this one, though). In the case of the "racist posts" what I think is
happening is an attempt to convince the posters that what they post is
"truth". This is related to that chestnut "I read it somewhere so it must
be true". The more often this stuff gets published and discussed the
truer it becomes.

I suspect the mechanism of Learning II is also very closely related to
the development of warlike tendencies (segue). This is the basis for my
claim that "primitive warfare" is possible without requiring that such is
a natural condition of humanity. What is natural to humanity is the
effectiveness of "Learning II". Susceptibility to Learning II is only
indirectly related to "intelligence" as measured by IQ. Thus, it is
possible for someone to be brilliant in one field and be an ignorant
bigotted fool in another area.

----------- There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, ----------------
Scott Holmes <> Informix 4GL Applications
---------------- Than are dreamt of in your philosophy. ------------------------