eight bits on Apr 11 2008, 06:40 AM, said:
The question of what confers advantage is a trickier one than it might first appear. When you write about "parlor ticks," you are comparing one hypothetical mode of communication with the medium you and I are using now. Compared to that, of course, all biological systems fall short.
From an engineering perspective, however, things look different. I have in mind a specific engineer, Richard Epstein, who wrote The Theory of Gambling and Statistical Logic.
Intuitively, we might compare communication channels along two dimensions: baud rate and reliability, say. But it has been understood since before World War II that there really is only one dimension: baud rate (how many bits I can move per unit time). Reliability depends on how the message is coded (how many bits I must move to ensure that one bit of source message is actually received at the destination).
It is a theorem that so long as the baud rate is positive (not zero - some bits move), then any message that can be sent at all can be sent using any channel with whatever reliability you choose (and no channel is 100%). You just code the message correctly to accommodate the channel. Grab a candy bar, because it will take a while with some channels. But with time, the message will get through.
We know that natural selection can exploit the coding theorem. There is a severe bottleneck between your retinas and central visual processors, the optic nerve. It is "slow" and "noisy," and yet a high resolution picture of the visual surround gets through in acceptably "real time" with high reliability. We do not yet know all the details, but we do understand that the feat depends on the sophisticated coding of information that passes through the channel.
So, suppose hypothetically that you and I both could really have an average 21% success rate on the 20% Zener card card task. Then it would be possible for us to exchange messages with the same reliability as we are doing right now. It would be much slower, and only "practical" for short messages, but it would work.
So, is there any selective advantage in having a highly reliable, low volume communications channel? We can debate that, but I am content to leave it as a question for now, that it is at least not obvious that the answer must be no.
This would look nothing like the comic book psi crap, nor the hoodwinkers', exploiters', and charlatans' signs and wonders. Instead, it would look like everything else in nature: just good enough to add a tiny fraction of a percent to the probability that I live long enough to have a child, whether or not I live a moment longer than that. Bloody business, natural selection is.
But, even havin them is still helpful...I mean..Usin telepathy, wouldnt be practical, if the person was right next to you, and if you used telepathy, only some of the message would get across...But, if you're out in the city, and a guy in a red pickup truck comes and kidnaps you, and you have no cell phone, no one saw you..You have nothing.....Havin the telepathy would help, because atleast some communication would get across...
And, I do believe, that if you didnt teach kids the concepts of "reality" then they would be able to do psi easier cause the biast that thse things dont exist wont be there...