Re: poly: Why Oldies Stations?

From: CurtAdams <>
Date: Fri Apr 03 1998 - 21:10:51 PST

In a message dated 4/3/98 11:14:19 AM, wrote:

>Curt Adams writes:
>>How about plain 'ol diminishing returns? After having evaluated
>>dozens of food styles, hundreds of restaurants, and thousands of
>>dishes, my expected gain from evaluating a new possibility is far
>>less than it was when I was just starting out.
>This is reasonable in principle, but I find it hard to see this
>explaining why do people so dramatically front-load their exploration,
>instead of spreading it out over their lives. Why don't kids just
>listen to their parent's oldies station, to start out with already
>filtered stuff?, and then slowly explore other options.

The short answer is that their preferences may well not resemble
their parents. Music is a fairly idosyncratic thing. Food is less
so, and with food people often do start with their parents' preferences
and branch out. Unfortunately I picked a mediocre example; music
is tied up with fashion/ group identification and so isn't just a
matter of diminishing returns. I thought of it because in my case
it has been; I buy far fewer CD than I used to partially because
I already have more good ones than I can listen to anyway.

Career choice might be a better example of a diminishing returns
situation. As we explore different careers, we learn about the
potential rewards from each; but good information is hard to get.
It's often hard to know how one will do without actually doing it.
The cost of exploring a new career, however, remains high. So a
rational approach would be to noodle around until one finds a fairly
good one; at that point you should then stick to it.

Career brings up another reason for decreased plasticity with age:
less potential gain. If you find a way to improve your life, you
can only use it as long as you live. The less your life expectancy,
the less the potential gain from any new discovery.

(re loss of plasticity from completing sexual selection)

>I'm glad you mentioned this; I realized I forgot to add it on the way
>home last night. But then the interesting question is what is it
>exactly about being up one the latest food and music fashions that
>makes a mate attractive? Does it signal that one is socially connected
>and hence popular, and hence likely to have other attractive qualities?

If somebody has done some studies on the values of such cues in
human sexual selection, it would be news to me, and I'd be very
interested in the results.

Generally speaking, sexual selection elements don't have to have any
value other than being sexual selection elements. Sometimes they
do, sometimes they don't; and sometimes they're downright counter-
productive. Certainly fashionable behavior as a signal of popularity
and good connections makes a very plausible hypothesis, but demonstrating
it would be a real bear.

A while back on the extropians list I pointed out that fashion/art as
horizontally transmitted sexual selection elements have drastic
effects on the payoff matrix between interacting strangers. Since
they allow trades with major benefits to both parties, they
increase the potential benefits to cooperation. That interaction
could speed the spread of fashion sexual selection through a population;
in addition to the usual benefits from carrying sexual selection
elements, you get an additional benefit of increased cooperation.
Of course, demonstrating this would be a real bear too :-(
Received on Sat Apr 4 05:12:20 1998

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