Conformist transmission

in science •  13 days ago


Long ago, before the creation of the world about 5 billion years ago, in an unlimited space there was an extremely nonequilibrium system of many substances and a big explosion occurred - the point of bifurcation. After that, the system became more complicated, passed many fluctuations, they led to another extremely disequilibrium situation and subsequent fracture points (bifurcations).

The only through feature was a rather strange thing. For some reason, each time the complication was due precisely to the mechanism of obtaining, storing and transmitting information. In an inanimate nature, this process strangely depends on whether the system is open or closed.

The latter has always sought from the ordering of the elements of the system to chaos or the cessation of the accumulation, storage and transmission of information. Another matter is open non-equilibrium systems. Here every time after the chaos there was a process of self-organization of the system, it passed through the points of bifurcation and became more complicated, storing, accumulating and transmitting information. In micro- and megamore began to appear objects with an increasingly complex structure and, consequently, the amount of information, which is a measure of the orderliness of the elements of the system, began to increase.

This continued until the self-organization of systems did not lead to an evolutionary explosion - the simplest ancient organisms appeared. They received a significant advantage over non-living objects, they had DNA. It stored an incredibly large amount of information, the process of its accumulation took place, organisms became more complex and a super efficient transmission occurred during reproduction. Through adaptation to the environment, an evolutionary process has begun, aimed at making the systems more complex and finding a more efficient way of storing, storing and transmitting information.

The next explosion, which opens up new possibilities, occurred when natural selection led to the appearance of a creature poorly adapted to life in the wild with two curvatures of the spine in the cervical and lumbar regions, weak front paws.

This ugly creature, unsuitable for life under severe conditions, had free forelimbs attached to the brain via nerve cells. The more he developed fine motor skills, the more he used the brain, from which he began to swell, to produce ideas, abstract reasoning. The freak turned into a man and began to create cultural phenomena, a new, more perfect way of accumulating, storing and transmitting information in addition to the genetic code, there was another big explosion.

A lot of cultures that, despite being in open systems side by side with others, in some strange way persisted in time, evolved through conformist transmission.

Immediately a rather complicated question arises. The cultural transfer of experience, knowledge, and labor skills took place directly from father to son, from mother to daughter. If this process went mechanically, then mistakes would inevitably accumulate in it and it would be impossible to find a group with the same cultural characteristics. But this is completely wrong. Experience shows that the social environment through conformist transmission just eliminates errors in the transfer of cultural information and preserves the integrity of culture in each local group.

An example is the ancient Wushu techniques in China. Those directions that developed in closed family clans changed greatly over time and it is quite rare to see now a preserved tradition in a fairly long time period. Another thing monasteries - Shaolin and Wudang.

There practice of Wushu passed from antiquity through time in an unchanged state due to social transfer, all fluctuations were strikingly cut off.How do people living in a group behave the same way, adhere to the same moral values ​​and believe the same things, while people living in different groups tend to think and behave differently?

How are beliefs and values ​​communicated in social groups to different forms of social learning?

Why do cultural differences create boundaries between groups that often persist for long periods of time?

If the conformist transmission strengthens the dominant cultural traditions, then with a sharp change in the environment, it must contribute to the old traditions and reduce the ability to adapt the group. But in fact the conformist transmission just strengthens the group's adaptation to a rapidly changing environment, reinforcing new cultural traditions. How?

The Department of Anthropology, University of California, Los Angeles, California, Joe Henrich and Robert Boyd tried to answer these questions in the article "The Evolution of Conformist Transmission and the Emergence of Between-Group Differences". They created a mathematical computer model and investigated the relationship between environmental changes, conformist transmission, social learning and evolution.

Imagine a group of people with the same cultural tradition, but the social environment (war, emigrants, natural disasters, economic crisis, etc.) has changed dramatically. Numerous fluctuations begin in response to changes in the environment. They are expressed in the fact that different members of the group react differently to the challenges of life.

The more differences between different reactions (fluctuations), the more nonequilibrium becomes the social system of self-organization.

Its elements - people begin to see the reaction of each other and there is a choice through a fluctuation, whose reaction is the most effective and adaptive begins to spread throughout the social space. First, a lot of different streams are formed, people in each of them, repeat the actions of others. Gradually there is a choice of the most effective reaction, it starts to dominate, other flows - to go out.

At a certain point, a fracture occurs, it is usually called the bifurcation point after Ilya Prigozhin, a Nobel laureate. If the system had two directions of effective solutions for developing adaptation to environmental change. If there were more than two such directions, and in economic, social and political processes, as a rule, there are many options for choosing a system, then this break point is called polyfurcation.

So, for example, the Kremlin propaganda is intensely talking about the invasion of emigrants to Western Europe, which must destroy the European culture. For illiterate and uneducated people in Russia, this is a statement of the myth "Moscow-Third Rome" about the exclusivity of the Russian people and its sacred mission - to seize everything around, to establish their own order. Any weakening of neighboring territories is perceived as an elevation of the Kremlin and gives hope for capture and enslavement. The population in the hope of robbery closes its eyes to its plight, and rushes to its very often meaningless and inefficient work to bring a moment of glittering glory and boundless happiness closer.

This deception is possible for two reasons: most people, to my great regret, live in different beliefs, in which facts simply do not penetrate. And the fact is that in the third generation emigrants almost completely absorb local cultural traditions, and in the fourth generation, as a rule, there are only genetic differences with local residents. Cultural differences disappear altogether.

And the reason for this process is the conformist transfer.

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i find this very interesting. i think in terms of fiction generally. this article makes my head swim in fictional ideas. i see a time lapse of two parallel family histories. Open, closed, conformist non-conformist....all flashing through the centuries. Thank you for that!