Re: Questions 25, 28 & 32 Challenged

From: Harnad, Stevan (
Date: Wed May 21 1997 - 16:42:51 BST

> From: King, SL <>
> Question 25: I don't understand why information is something
> which reduces your uncertainty, surely a lie could make you
> feel more certain about something, but you wouldn't be any
> more informed than you were before you were told the lie, in
> fact you'd be less informed really (wouldn't you?)

    (25) What is information?
    a. any message that makes you feel informed
    b. any message that makes you feel informed when the sender meant you
    to feel informed
    c. ***anything that reduces your uncertainty
    d. anything that reduces your uncertainty when the sender meant to
    reduce your uncertainty
    e. none of the above

It's not your FEELING of uncertainty! It would be information even if
you were not a person and felt nothing: It is the uncertainty about what
output is "correct."

The critical thing for information transmission is that there are
several different possibilities for action, each with a certain
probability. With the 6-button sandwich machine, there are 6
possibilities, with probablity 1/6 for each, so an uncertainty of 5/6.

This means you have a one in six chance of getting lunch. But
if you are told that the number is even (and that is TRUE), then
your uncertainty goes down from 5/6 to 2/3. You have been informed
in that you can now get lunch one time out of three.

It makes no difference how you FEEL about the probability: If
you said "I don't believe this, but will bet that way anyway" your
probability of lunch would still go up.

> Question 28: Why isn't remembering how you found out the
> answer to the question an example of procedural memory?

    (28) Which of the following is an example of procedural memory?
    a. short-term memory
    b. remembering how you found out the answer to this question
    c. remembering when you found out the answer to this question
    d. remembering where you found out the answer to this question
    e. ***none of the above

This is not a trivial question: Procedural memory is indeed the memory
for how to do something: ride a bike, play a computer game, tie
your shoes, do long division. That's all procedural memory. You remember
how to do it, but you probably don't know how you know how! You've
forgotten the episodes, all those times you tried riding a bike and
failed, and then how you gradually began to be able to do it.

Now if you understand that clearly, then the word "how" will not
lure you automatically into a reply that something is procedural when
it is not (as above):

The "How" in "How do you feel?" has nothing to do with procedural

The "How" in "How did you know that?" is not procedural either (if I
overheard someone say it, that has nothing to do with knowing a
procedure. That's just an episodic memory for a piece of semantic
knowledge ("knowing that").

It's very important that the concept of Knowing-How vs. Knowing-That
is understood, so that even if the word "how" appears in the sentence,
you understand the difference well enough to see that it is not really
about know-how in the procedural sense at all.

Now I can tell you how you found out the answer to this question
(if you did!): It was from reading the textbook and lecture notes
and hearing the lecture. Those are all just episodes. You didn't
learn any procedure. You learned some declarative/semantic fact. and
the "how" is just about how you know that fact, not about how you DO
something, which it would have to be if it were procedural memory rather
than declarative/semantic memory.

The only one who can explain how, from hearing lectures and reading
books, people come to know certain things, is a cognitive modeler who
is trying to explain the mind!

> **Question 32: I thought echoic and iconic memories were
> short term!!!??
> Thanks Sabrina

You're right, and the question has been junked:

*This question is dropped. (No correct answer)
*(32) Which of the following are short-term memories:
*a. ***episodic memory
*b. echoic memory
*c. iconic memory
*d. digit span
*e. all the above

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