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Re: Re: [xmca] Princeton University's obituary for George A. Miller

I'm with you David, seems an absurdity to call this kind of memory
"simulation" and treating it as the ugly stepchild of memory.

It seems like instead of focusing on the brute force of remembering
individual facts (which I can't do well either!), it is "simulation" that
makes the world go round. A kind of poesis of the mind that lies behind
everything from mathematics to music to history to God. (note there is a
James Goss who is a lurker in these parts - but may be driving
cross-country with wife and kid right now - who has done some really
interesting work on schizophrenia as a kind of going awry of the poetic

Seems like there are very interesting connections to be made in this regard
between Vygotsky and Levi-Strauss. But perhaps for another time.

Back to putting things in boxes. (thanks to writing, I don't have to
remember what is inside of each of box. But finding the one I want on the
other end is a different question. Maybe I would be better off if I had to
design some kind of simulation that would order the boxes in some such way,
maybe a color coding?, to be loaded on the truck so that when they come off
the truck, they would be in order of desired locations. Writing helps, but
it can also be a crutch that we rely on at the expense of other types of
possibly more productive thinking. Seems like a mistake to treat writing as
"higher." But note I throw this all in parentheses in order to try to
contain the can of worms / much ink spilled of that argument which I have
no interest engaging with).


On Fri, Jul 27, 2012 at 2:31 PM, kellogg <kellogg59@hanmail.net> wrote:

>   When I was in elementary school, I loathed the time-tables, and I was
> always looking for signs of intelligent life in them. So for example I
> derived inexplicable delight from the discovery that multiples of ten were
> just the mulitplier with a zero stuck on the end 3 x 10 is just 30), that
> multiples of five were half of their multiples of ten (3 x 5 is 15), that
> muliplies of eleven were just the multiplier redux, in both the tens place
> and the ones (33). Binet would call this a simulation of memory; it's a
> function that LOOKS like memory pheonotypically but it's structurally more
> like thinking.
> It was with fiendish delight that I discovered a rule of nine. When you
> want to mutiply You just take the mutiplier, subtract one, and put it in
> the tens place and then figure out what yo.u need to add to that number to
> make nine and put that in the ones (e.g. if you want to mutiply 3 x 9 you
> take one from three and start with 2 in the tens place, and then choose
> seven for the ones, because 2 + 7 = 9). To tell you the truth, I still use
> this rule (because one of the things about these simulations is that they
> obviate the need for brute memory, and mine is lousy).
> Now, the other rules had reasons which were pretty transparent once you
> figured out how the decimal system works. But it was many years before I
> understood why the rule of nine works. Even then, I think my explanation,
> which I must have arrived at some time in high school, had to do with a
> "simulation"; I had the idea that nine was a kind of "imperfect ten" and
> that the ones column was basically a count of how many imperfect tens you
> had, just as the ones column in the rule of eleven was basically a count of
> how much supererogation you had got.
> You can see why Binet loathed simulation (it played havoc with his memory
> tests) and why Vygotsky loved it (it was a precise, conscious understanding
> of the foibles that cultural signs tools of have, and it also vastly
> improved memory beyond the natural limits that Miller precisely stipulated,
> of which Vygotsky was already vaguely conscious). Above all, it's an
> expression of a little boy's dislike of arbitrariness and desire to know
> why things are the way they are.
> That's precisely what Zipf didn't ask himself. Zipf doesn't really tell us
> WHY frequent things are shorter; he just assumes that minds are lazy and
> like to do things the easy way. I think Vygotsky found that that is really
> only true for elementary functions; the power of cultural signs are such
> that not only is there no real incentive for doing things the easy way and
> in fact sometimes there is a big premium on complexity and prolixity.
> But not, Mike reminds me, on xmca and I promised to write about James.
> Yes, Miller loved him, and we know Vygotsky was very taken, when he was
> young, with "Varieites of Religious Experience". But James himself HATED
> James--he wanted to give up psychology altogether and become a religious
> philosopher, and that is eventually exaclty what he did.
> So Vygotsky considers him kind of a turncoat, and he has nothing but scorn
> for James idea that you can solve the whole problem of free will by just
> saying that when you are able to raise your hand (they used Searle's
> example long before Searle did) it's not the case that spiritual energy is
> actually lifting meat off the desk; instead, you appeal to God and God
> helps you do it. Yes, that's the way things may look from the outside; a
> miracle. But it sure doesn't feel like a miracle, does it?
> I understand LSV's frustration, Mike. I struggled through both volumes of
> James' "introduction to Psychology" waiting for this answer, and I was very
> disappointed when he delivered it at the very end of the second volume.
> It's why I was very amused at the old joke that Will's brother was a
> brilliant psychologist, but Henry's brother just wrote fiction (which I
> think I learned from your intro to Bronfenbrenner).
> I was also a little disappointed with the Richardson article, by the way.
> Richardson is taking terrific liberties with Vizenor.  Vizenor spent
> significant chunks of his life doing exactly what Mike Cole does on off
> days in San Diego, working with kids, families with fetal alcohol syndrome
> problems, and trying to get kids through school. He is from Minnesota, like
> me, and he also went to China to teach roughly the same time I did. I don't
> think Vizenor's novelistic work contradicts this either, although I may be
> wrong.
> David Kellogg
> Hankuk University of Foreign Studies
> <kellogg59@hanmail.net>
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Gregory A. Thompson, Ph.D.
Sanford I. Berman Post-Doctoral Scholar
Laboratory of Comparative Human Cognition
Department of Communication
University of California, San Diego
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