Inherited knowledge

Some months ago, during the middle of winter, I was sitting on the floor playing with my then roughly five month year old son when my wife came in from outside and stuck her icy hands on me. Mucking around, I pretended to cry, and the next thing my son bursts into tears, something he rarely does if he’s not hungry. Now as far as I can recall he’d never seen anyone else cry up to this point in his life, and we were mystified how he knew that it was an event to be upset about.

So I was looking at this article in The Economist about how our knowledge of facial expressions is likely inherited not learned, and was surprised to see that Charles Darwin had done something similar.

Darwin also believed babies are born able to recognise the facial expressions of others. His first child had suddenly assumed a melancholy expression in an experiment where the maid pretended to weep, even though the boy had apparently never before witnessed another person crying. This, Darwin thought, suggested that his son could not have learned that crying is linked to sadness and must have somehow inherited the knowledge.

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8 Responses to Inherited knowledge

  1. Rod says:

    As your son gets older you will see alot of this – I was a monkey bar freak at primary school (now I’m a fat bastard) – my daughter is the same now. not in terms of strength or co-ordination so much as willingness to try things

  2. plz look up (www.theherm.org) human energy renewable measurment…. pass it on thx jb

  3. roni mellon says:

    no offense, he didnt have to see anyone else cry, he himself had cried in the past, and knew why he cried. not a case of inheirited knowledge, learned behavior. Children that age do not have the ability to store long term memory, however, at that age they cry often, so it is a short term memory. just a guess, love to hear anyones rebuttal, im always open to anyones ideas and never discount anything, otherwise i would be walking on water

  4. Don says:

    Inherited knowledge, although controversial, is a proven fact. The only question is the methodology of the knowledge transfer. (genetic vs energy based)

    Consciousness itself is the act of accessing knowledge and knowledge is basically a memory of an understanding.

    A simple way to observe inherited knowledge is in a cats “meow”. The cat has 32 crying sounds. (all of which have been defined by researchers) The “mee” sound means “hello. I’m a friend”. The “Ow” sound means “please respect my rights”. These 32 sounds represent a great deal of knowledge but none of it was learned in the cats present lifetime.

    Human language is yet another example. Humans only learn 10% of the info needed to speak. Basically, they “learn” how to convert known concepts into words. The concepts themselves are not learned in the humans lifetime. They require detailed knowledge of other concepts which require knowledge of still other concepts and represent 90% of the info needed to speak. According to linguists, if we had to learn our language from the ground up, it would take half a lifetime of intensive study.

    Another peculiar fact, it has been proven conclusively that many people are able to recall events from a prior life. This is so controversial that many would not bother to seriously study the phenomenon. Nevertheless, the quality and quantity of evidence available can only be described as solid proof of the reality of the phenomenon.

    • roni mellon says:

      you dont give our brain enough credit, its not inherited knowledge, learned behavior on a sub conscience level. a baby is capable of learning on a far larger scale than when they become adults, its just that the part of the brain that holds long term memories does not completely develop until around two or three years old, thats why we cant remember before then. plus everything is open to interpretation, if it was inherited knowledge it would not be open to interpretation, everyone would eventually think and believe the same things. go back to the drawing board, you are just believing what you want to believe.

  5. Zach Brown says:

    Actually, I think you may have just scared your son by pretending to cry, especially if you did this in a loud, animated way that he had never witnessed before. I think little kids are usually very sensitive to things around them.

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