Those wacky primates (was Re: MEMETICS: Politeness in Communicat

Michael Butler (
Thu, 16 Jan 1997 16:02:08 PST

David Musick wrote:
>Politeness is just a good way to open the minds of your audience.

Plus it keeps them from splitting open your head with a rock.

<big primate grin>

For me, the issue about politeness concerns the in-group/out-group
dynamics and dominance hierarchies in societies and their associated
components (human genome, memes). What is the intention of the
communication? Is "the meaning of the communication the response that
you get?" If not, _why_?

Before I get into arguments, I try to check _what my purpose_ is:

Is it to convert others? To reassure others? Or just to win arguments for the
endocrine-thalamic-cortical payoff and _self_-reassurance? (see also
Terror Management Theory...)

(po1) An exclusive emphasis on self-determination ("autonomy") can make
other primates uneasy. This may be related to the positied CG trait
mentioned earlier.

(po2) "Jackdaw epistemology" applies to primates. "What I know is
what every jackdaw knows". The simples metamodel: homogeneity. Aka
"it goes without saying."

(po3) If there are enough points of noncongruence, you're not
every other jackdaw--ergo you are a risk.

(po4) If you don't reassure them, sometimes primates reach for a rock.

(po5) a gedanken:
"I don't have to be polite if I'm right" -- hmm. This phrase seems to
mean different things when uttered by:
a despot,
a political commentator,
an investigative reporter,
a spouse arguing with "the other half",
a diplomat seeking an alternative to war,
a teenager,
the teenager's parent(s).

(po6) "what do you need a <personal fortune of six figures/cryo contract/
gun/personal spaceship/brain the size of jupiter/...> for?" IS an
impertinent question in a society of perfect individualists--BUT it's the
kind of question one family member asks another, often as polite
pressure to conform as well as justify; it's also a probing question with
the subtext "'are this person's values congruent enough to mine for me to
consider us to still be in the same tribe?"

I don't like it, but this seems to be some of what I'm thinking these

MMB, at but not for OCC