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Re: VMs: Voynich and bee-dance

Praise the bees:
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Monday, November 29, 2004 12:18 PM
Subject: Re: VMs: Voynich and bee-dance

On Bee dancing I suggest The Honey Bee, by Gould and Gould (use abebooks
or whatever, it is out of print).

The notion that such dancing is composed of units is laughable.
 Impressive behaviour for us non-bees - quotidian stuff for bees; but
not language.


Nick Pelling wrote:

> Hi everyone,
> At 17:51 27/11/2004 +0100, J.Siemons wrote:
>> Came around this, from the University of Tilburg ,The Netherlands,
>> Oct 20,
>> Something with the VMS and insect language.....
>> http://arxiv.org/PS_cache/cs/pdf/0406/0406054.pdf
>> Wonder if I do understand a lot of it, Oh well.
> AIUI, Dr Paijmans' paper asks whether we can transcribe/notate bee
> dances so as to look for Zipf-Law-like behaviour, & hence to see
> whether it has language-like behaviour. Though the author doesn't
> actually follow this idea through, he/she feels sufficiently confident
> by the end to conclude that it doesn't.
> Despite citing Gabriel Landini, I think that Paijmans hasn't really
> learnt the overall lesson of the VMs' encounter with Zipf's Law, which
> is that its presence/absence is a weak correlative factor in areas of
> uncertain "languageness" (like the VMs), & not really solid enough
> ground to build a proof upon.
> Also, Paijmans clearly flags an information-centric bias (just like
> Gordon Rugg's), which is based on (what I would call) an innately
> positivistic view of communication, where a transmitted signal must be
> *certain* (ie perfectly quantized and perfectly precise, AKA "the map
> *is* the territory"). However, in the context of bee-dances, it is
> nonsensical to say that a single dance codes to...
>         5 cybernetic units (sic!) as to direction, 4 to 5 as to
>         distance and 2 to 3 as to the number of workers needed. This
> totals to about 12
>         bits, equivalent to a human language of 4000 phrases
> (signifiants with corresponding
>         signifi´es), needing less than a hundred words by human or
> english standards.
>         Put differently, a code of all possible combinations of only
> three characters would
>         cover the communication system of the honey bee dance. [p.3]
> This misses the key difference between real-world languages and
> computer science grammars: the former operates under conditions of
> uncertainty, the latter under conditions of certainty. Redundancy is
> built into the heart of human languages in order to overcome the
> mishearings & misinterpretations of real-life interpersonal
> communication, much like error-correcting codes: computer grammars
> (and, I guess, universal languages) operate in a different situation
> entirely. One might just as validly ask, if (as Shannon demonstrated)
> the sequential letter-to-letter predictability (ie, the negentropy) of
> English texts is so informationally low, why do we bother to
> transcribe using 26 letters?
> In fact, the key issue skirted by Paijmans' paper is how one should
> best transcribe bee choreography given that we don't actually
> understand how its mechanisms works - trying to recast the problem in
> terms of "information content" (in much the same way that Gordon Rugg
> does) is actually quite unhelpful.
> The analogy I'm trying to draw with the VMs should now be fairly clear
> - the "bee-dance" of Voynichese is something we all "understand", but
> transcribing it should ultimately only be a means to understanding the
> underlying mechanisms behind the behaviour.
> Cheers, .....Nick Pelling.....
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