I am rat? Not.

by Yule Heibel on February 5, 2008

Just a pointer to an earlier entry of mine, Victoria Proxemics (April 8, 2007), where I discuss Edward T. Hall’s work a bit, and speculate on Calhoun’s 1960s-era rat experiments. I had to recall the latter because of my entry from Feb.4, 2008, Concrete Plans. So once again, from Victoria Proxemics, just to reiterate that we we are not rats, here areEdward Hall’s comment on the rats:

The sink [in Calhoun’s rat experiment] was reached when the population density was approximately double that which had been observed to produce a maximum of stress in the wild rat colony. The term “density” must be expanded beyond simple ratio of individuals to available space. Except in the most extreme cases, density alone seldom causes stress in animals. [emphasis added] (The Hidden Dimension, p.24)

And there’s the crux, no? “Except in the most extreme cases, density alone seldom causes stress in animals.” It all depends, according to Hall (see my entry, referenced above), on the amenities. If they are good, density is not a cause of social breakdown. Period.

Another quote by Hall that deserves reprinting is this:

Go out and take photographs of different people doing the same thing and then study that. See what you get then is pattern recognition. If you don’t get pattern recognition, you can just forget it. This is the whole thing with cultural differences. It has to do with patterns. (…)

(…) If we can get away from theoretical paradigms and focus more on what is really going on with people, we will be doing well. I have two models that I used originally. One is the linguistics model, that is, descriptive linguistics. And the other one is animal behavior. Both involve paying close attention to what is happening right under our nose. There is no way to get answers unless you immerse yourself in a situation and pay close attention. From this, the validity and integrity of patterns is experienced. In other words, the pattern can live and become apart of you.

The main thing that marks my methodology is that I really do use myself as a control. I pay very close attention to myself, my feelings because then I have a base. And it is not intellectual. (source)

Pattern recognition. Way before William Gibson, kids. Hall really knew what he was doing.

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