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The line goes:

personal memory -> shared herd memory -> external persistent shared memory -> abstracted external shared memory.

Each is a superclass of the previous one, and the differentiator - as I said - is that once memory is externalised, face to face transmission is no longer required, and it also becomes possible to symbolically abstract, summarise, model and share experience without having to living it personally.

That's a difference in kind, not a difference in degree. It took humans a long time to invent it, but once it was invented it made a lot of other things possible, including brain tools like computers, which not only store information outside of individual experience, but can leverage innate intelligence in novel ways.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Nov 25th, 2013 at 07:04:08 AM EST
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In addition, it means that when aggressive males manage to kill themselves off, their cultural influence does not die with them, but persists and can be relearned by future generations. Which means we're worse off than baboons.

Specifically, I'm thinking of the theory that European post-WWII Social Democracy is a consequence of two world wars in 30 years decimating the male minitaristic elite. But the effect of that did not survive the coming of age (1980s) of the generation born after WWII (1950s), because they could learn toxic culture from the "classic" writings of dead people.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Nov 25th, 2013 at 07:10:54 AM EST
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The corollary is that you don't change culture by persuading individuals, you persuade individuals by changing culture.
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Nov 25th, 2013 at 07:32:59 AM EST
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And what likely happened after WW II was that there was insufficient change in the underlying culture. Likely insufficient account was taken of the ability of the females and older generations of males to transmit the negative cultural traits that were attenuated in their expression after WW II by the reduction of living males in the 20-40 year old age group. So when more normal population demographics reappeared so did the traits that had led to them being skewed in the first place.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Nov 25th, 2013 at 07:54:35 PM EST
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