Nature wants us to match wits

Via UncommonDescent, a spider develops fiendishly clever strategies for catching and eating another spider.

One group of jumping spiders, Portia, lures female spiders of another species (Eurytattus) to their deaths by mimicking the way a courting male spider shakes her nest and then attacking. They also attack web-building spiders by mimicking the tug on the web of a trapped insect, adjusting its tug to the size of the spider it plans to devour. More remarkably, if these strategies don’t work on a particular web spider, another of Portia’s tricks is to shake the whole web so it moves as if a gust of wind had hit it. This acts as a smokescreen for the vibration Portia makes as it crawls into the target spider’s web. In laboratory experiments, Jackson found that Portia will try different plucking methods, speeds and patterns until it finds just the right combination to fool each individual web spider it hunts — essentially learning on the job.

These strategies are EXPENSIVE. The usual explanation of life as an energy-saving strategy is precisely wrong. Life never saves energy. Only environmentalists pretend to save energy, and end up using coal instead of hydropower.

More importantly, these tricks point to a natural drive to learn, and a natural pleasure in learning. We enjoy matching wits with a worthy competitor.

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Entertainment applies for sure to all the ‘intelligent’ critters from octopuses to mammals. When we’re not in immediate survival mode, we love to watch stuff happening. Entertainment merges smoothly into education. Watching somebody else catch a caterpillar or hammer a nail isn’t especially interesting; but when the catch misses or the hammer hits a thumb, it becomes entertainment AND education. Smart design, connecting pleasure to learning.

Failure and frustration are EXACTLY the moments when learning can happen. Experiential education, when done properly, creates intentional moments of frustration as doors for learning. Watching entertainment is waiting for failure. When we see a racecar crashing or an outfielder missing the catch or an actor jumbling up a word, we laugh cruelly and start thinking about how the process SHOULD have been done. Learning starts with the rhythm of harsh laughter.

Science as conventionally performed ELIMINATES these moments of failure. Experiments that fail to support the grantor’s delusional theory are discarded. Methods and data are dishonestly shaped and manipulated to reinforce orthodoxy and agreement, thus completely evading every opportunity for harsh laughter/learning.

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When we’re not in immediate survival mode leads to another conclusion. Psychopaths in general, and Deepstate in particular, THRIVE on forcing victims into immediate survival mode. Rules change every minute. Urgent emergency piles on urgent emergency piles on urgent emergency. Learning is impossible when psychopaths are in charge. Learning requires enough stability to distinguish constants from variables. If you never get a chance to create a baseline of normalcy and success, you can’t tell the difference between success and failure.

Learning also requires enough leisure to stand back and watch entertainment. Since 1975, and even more since 1990, USA has been totally paralyzed by Deepstate. We work desperately and UNSTEADILY to pay our debts, and we constantly wait for the next jackboot STOMP. Unsurprisingly we haven’t been learning anything. If this seems like a dubious correlation, think about the Middle Ages in Europe when psychopathic aristocrats ruled exactly like modern Deepstate.

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