Thursday, September 6, 2007

384 385 386 387 Relational Summaries and 395 396 CHINDOGU: Pre-adaptation: Premonitions for coping with future environments?

Message no. 384[Branch from no. 375] Posted by Thomas Culhane (1311520071) on Friday, February 16, 2007 3:40pm Subject: Re: Relational Summary

Good point Dana! I'd be curious about how you and the others have used these fantasy spaces to cope with "the real world" and whether or not you think fantasy is most useful in overstimulating or understimulating environments!

Message no. 385[Branch from no. 376] Posted by Thomas Culhane (1311520071) on Friday, February 16, 2007 3:44pm Subject: Re: Chapter1- relational summary

Great stuff Patrice! Your summary shows something that the eclectic model describes -- each of us has a different sensitivity to our environment.

I was intrigued by your quotes about the lawn and how much Americans spend on keeping it up, though they don't use it. I will have alot to say about that topic later! Thanks for bringing it up!

Message no. 386[Branch from no. 378] Posted by Thomas Culhane (1311520071) on Friday, February 16, 2007 3:46pm Subject: MAKING A DIFFERENCE

Hi Patricia -- Great questions! I will address them at length in time, as the answers are the most important in this course as far as I'm concerned. Thanks for asking. Some of the solutions are suggested by chapter 14, but we won't wait to get there. It is almost 1 am now though, so forgive me if I put off the ideas I have until another night!

Message no. 387[Branch from no. 379] Posted by Thomas Culhane (1311520071) on Friday, February 16, 2007 3:49pm Subject: Re: Chapter 2

You raise some great issues Dana, and you write beautifully! I will address the ideas you bring up soon. Please write more -- remember I need at least three quotes from the book chapters (with page numbers) and at least three links to outside sources for the relational summaries okay? You write so well it would be a pleasure to read more of what you have to say!

Message no. 395[Branch from no. 392] Posted by Thomas Culhane (1311520071) on Saturday, February 17, 2007 3:26pm Subject: Re: Pre-adaptation: Premonitions for coping with future environments?

Great thoughts and questions Adrienne! Your story about the roller shoes is a good example of the old adage "necessity is the mother of invention" and in the case you bring up, Joe's behavior could partially be explained by our eclectic model -- "he comes home exhausted" so he copes by inventing an adaptation to the demands of his environment. He predicts that one day everyone will have such shoes and, Yes, the fact that his invention catches on and confirms his intuition shows a certain "self fulfilling prophecy". But in this case I would not call his invention a PRE-ADAPTATION. A preadaptation would be a case where Joe invents roller shoes FOR NO GOOD REASON AT ALL. In fact, pre-adaptations are even more mystifying when they occur when they seem to be "counter-adaptive" or MALADAPTIVE and yet we persist with them. The case would be where Joe works in an office sitting on his butt everyday and has no interest in using his feet for anything. But he can't help sketching weird inventions for no apparent purpose -- like Rube Goldberg devices (see and other implausible things... (the Japanese even have a special word for “useless inventions” – CHINDOGU; see

Joe gets obsessed with making roller shoes and tests them out for a few weeks. His neighbors think he is stupid and can’t see the purpose for the devices, which, besides, are dangerous – Joe falls and almost breaks his tail bone. His excitement for his invention fades because he has no need for them, and he prefers being a couch potato, which is far safer (at least until he dies of a heart attack!).

Then, one day, Joe loses his office job and his car, and his father in law offers him the job in the Deli to help him out. From then on it is as you described – he is exhausted and having trouble getting to work on time and getting all his work done. But all of sudden, Joe remembers his wacky invention, gathering dust in the closet, and realizes that his “useless” invention is the perfect thing to make his life better in his new environment. And the shoes catch on with everybody else.

THAT is a “Pre-adaptation”. We don’t know WHY or HOW some people doggedly pursue things that seem useless today that turn out to be life saving in a future unforeseen environment. It could be in the genes – there could be a “tinkerer” gene that keeps getting passed on because the benefits of raw “pure” research” are so beneficial and help so many people that it pays in the long run to have people around who seem crazy now, on the statistical chance that they might come up with something. For this reason there are awards like the Mcarthur Genius award which basically pay people to sit around and do whatever they like, with no strings attached. The assumption is that out of every 1,000 bad ideas one really good one will emerge.

The psychologist Rollo May wrote a great book called “The Courage to Create” which talks about where creativity may come from. It follows pretty much the eclectic model.

I just have a suspicion that some creativity might truly be “inspiration” – IN-SPIRIT-ATION – the spirit within -- that at times we MIGHT be “avatars” whose behavior is not under our own cultural, social or even genetic control, but that we may be behaving under the command of outside intelligences – “spirits”, or “sprites” if you will (which is where the word “inspired” comes from) who see more than we, and anticipate our future needs and environmental challenges. I HAVE NO PROOF FOR THIS OF COURSE! And it would be irresponsible for me to suggest that any of you take this seriously in a course that is not about straying from the models and theories that have been sanctioned by the academic establishment. But we do have, in our popular culture, if not our academic culture, a notion that we can become “enthusiastic” about things that seem to have no adaptive relationship to our current or past environments. The word “enthuse” comes from “en-theos” meaning “the god within”, and “enthusiasm” is like “inspiration” – it suggests that a greater intelligence is operating inside us and guiding us.

My intent it not to cross into the realm of religion, but to get you thinking about the limitations of models of reality that we use to explain behavior, and to challenge you to think of ways that new theories could be tested to expand our knowledge!

Thanks for sharing your great insights!

Message no. 396[Branch from no. 391] Posted by Thomas Culhane (1311520071) on Saturday, February 17, 2007 4:14pm Subject: Re: Chapter 2 -Varshawn

Interesting observations Varshawn -- I would challenge the notion that all fears are learned however! Classic studies with newly hatched chicks showed that they would run away from the shadow cast by a cardboard cutout if it was pointed in a direction that made it look like a hawk, but if turned around so it looked like a swallow the chick wasn't afraid. This showed that some phobias are genetically encoded. Many people have a genetic predisposition to be scared of snakes or spiders without ever having seen them, and have to learn NOT to be afraid. See:

The genes for imprinting and learned fear are being discovered:

Glad you are thinking about all these things!


I can't stress this enough!!! I want you all to get A's, and the way to do that is to pay attention to the requirements, okay? As I've written -- if you do all the relational chapter summaries in full, do the midterm and final projects and contribute substantive postings to class discussions (see my last email with the university requirements) YOU WILL GET AN A. No ifs and or buts. But if you don't follow those instructions I can't give out the A.

So remember folks -- err on the side of overkill -- quote, quote quote, discuss discuss discuss, link link link! Always think in threes or more!

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