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The purpose of this paper is to present the case for an analysis of communication at the supra-individual level as a means of rendering the understanding of learning and…
The purpose of this paper is to present the case for an analysis of communication at the supra-individual level as a means of rendering the understanding of learning and acting tractable. The paper introduces a method of analysis of redundancy to achieve this.
The paper argues for a supra-individual approach to acting, learning, and understanding against focusing on an individual or quasi-transcendental “observer”. The argument is outlined in four steps: first, articulation of the dynamics of the communication system; second, consideration of the redundancies of expectations within communication; third, the computation of anticipation which enables the authors to model meaning processing; and fourth the feedback of meaning processing on information processing can be measured as redundancy. Anticipated future states can reflexively drive reconstructions in meaning-processing systems.
The social system can be considered as a symbolic order of coordination mechanisms. Reflexive agency can access this order and partake in it. However, expectations and their structures do not “exist”, but remain uncertain with the status of hypotheses. Historical embodiment in intentional action is structurally coupled to the order of expectations. The historical instantiations condition and enable the further development of the expectations as a retention mechanism.
The modelling and measurement of meaning processing in terms of inversion of the arrow of time and the generation of redundancy provide extensions to the mathematical theory of communication.
Very much more might be done to improve the quality of our food supplies by the great organisations that exist for the avowed object of furthering the interests of traders in foodstuffs. It is no exaggeration to say that these organisations claim, and rightly claim, to speak in the aggregate on behalf of great commercial interests involving the means of livelihood of thousands of people and the most profitable disposal of millions of money. The information that they possess as to certain trade methods and requirements is necessarily unique. Apart from the commercial knowledge they possess, these organisations have funds at their command which enable them to obtain the best professional opinions on any subjects connected with the trades they represent. Their members are frequently to be found occupying positions of responsibility as the elected representatives of their fellow‐citizens on municipal councils and other public bodies, where the administration of the Food Laws and prosecutions under the Food and Drugs Acts are often under discussion. Such organisations, then, are in a position to afford an unlimited amount of valuable help by assisting to put down fraud in connection with our food supply. The dosing of foods with harmful drugs is, of course, only a part of a very much larger subject. It is, however, typical. Assuming the danger to public health that arises from the treatment of foods with harmful preservatives, the continued use of such substances cannot but be in the long run as harmful to the best interests of the traders as it is actually dangerous to public health. The trade organisations to which reference has been made might very well extend their sphere of usefulness by making it their business to seriously consider this and similar questions in the interests of public health, as well as in their own best interests. It is surely not open to doubt that a great organisation, numbering hundreds, and perhaps thousands of members, has such a membership because individual traders find it to their interest, as do people in all walks of life, to act more or less in common for the general advantage ; and, further, that it would not be to the benefit of individual members that their connection with the organisation should terminate owing to their own wrong‐doing. The executives of such trade organisations hold a sufficiently strong position to enable them to bring strong pressure to bear on those who are acting in a way that is contrary to the interests of the public generally, and of honest traders in particular, by adulterating or misbranding the food products that they gain their living by selling. It should also be plain that such trade organisations could go a long way towards solving many of the very vexed questions that arise whenever food standards and limits, for example, form the subject of discussion. These problems are not easy to deal with. The difficulties in connection with them are many and great; but such problems, however difficult of solution, are still not insoluble, and an important step towards their solution would be taken if co‐operation between those who are acting in the interests of hygienic science and those who are acting in the interests of trade could be brought about. If this could be accomplished the unedifying spectacle of alleged trade interests and the demands of public health being brought, as is so often the case, into sharp conflict, would be less frequent, and there can be no doubt that general benefit would result.
The decision of the Wolverhampton Stipendiary in the case of “Skim‐milk Cheese” is, at any rate, clearly put. It is a trial case, and, like most trial cases, the reasons for the judgment have to be based upon first principles of common‐sense, occasionally aided, but more often complicated, by already existing laws, which apply more or less to the case under discussion. The weak point in this particular case is the law which has just come into force, in which cheese is defined as the substance “usually known as cheese” by the public and any others interested in cheese. This reliance upon the popular fancy reads almost like our Government's war policy and “the man in the street,” and is a shining example of a trustful belief in the average common‐sense. Unfortunately, the general public have no direct voice in a police court, and so the “usually known as cheese” phrase is translated according to the fancy and taste of the officials and defending solicitors who may happen to be concerned with any particular case. Not having the general public to consult, the officials in this case had a war of dictionaries which would have gladdened the heart of Dr. JOHNSON; and the outcome of much travail was the following definition: cheese is “ coagulated milk or curd pressed into a solid mass.” So far so good, but immediately a second definition question cropped up—namely, What is “milk?”—and it is at this point that the mistake occurred. There is no legal definition of new milk, but it has been decided, and is accepted without dispute, that the single word “milk” means an article of well‐recognised general properties, and which has a lower limit of composition below which it ceases to be correctly described by the one word “milk,” and has to be called “skim‐milk,” “separated milk,” “ milk and water,” or other distinguishing names. The lower limits of fat and solids‐not‐fat are recognised universally by reputable public analysts, but there has been no upper limit of fat fixed. Therefore, by the very definition quoted by the stipendiary, an article made from “skim‐milk” is not cheese, for “skim‐milk” is not “milk.” The argument that Stilton cheese is not cheese because there is too much fat would not hold, for there is no legal upper limit for fat; but if it did hold, it does not matter, for it can be, and is, sold as “Stilton” cheese, without any hardship to anyone. The last suggestion made by the stipendiary would, if carried out, afford some protection to the general public against their being cheated when they buy cheese. This suggestion is that the Board of Agriculture, who by the Act of 1899 have the legal power, should determine a lower limit of fat which can be present in cheese made from milk; but, as we have repeatedly pointed out, it is by the adoption of the Control system that such questions can alone be settled to the advantage of the producer of genuine articles and to that of the public.
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IN the October number of THE BRITISH FOOD JOURNAL, while disclaiming any intention of supporting or opposing any political party or any section of politicians, we stated our opinion that the fiscal policy which has been outlined before the country by Mr. CHAMBERLAIN is eminently one which requires to be put to the test of experiment and which cannot be profitably argued about upon theoretical bases. In connection with the allegation that by following the policy of leaving our doors open to those who shut their own doors in our faces, we are able to obtain goods at less expense than would be the case under other conditions, we pointed out that it would be well for the public to consider whether that which is so cheap may not also, to a great extent, be particularly nasty. The desirability of considering the nature and quality of so‐called “ cheap ” foods, supplied to us by various countriies without restriction, does not, as yet, appear to have entered the heads of those who have made matter for political controversy out of what is, in reality, a scientific question. The facts are not sufficiently known, or, in consequence of the proverbial carelessness of our generation, are not clearly appreciated. And yet, as it seems to us, some of those facts are of paramount importance to those who desire to study the subject in a calm and scientific manner and outside the region of political turmoil. What do we get from the various countries whose producers and merchants are free to “dump” their goods in this country without the restrictive influence of duty payments? Great Britain has made it known to all the world that “Rubbish may be Shot Here,” and we venture to say that the fullest advantage has been taken, and is taken, of the permission. From America, France, Germany, Italy, Holland, and Belgium, in fact from every producing country—including now even Russia and Siberia, we get inferior or scientifically‐adulterated articles which are sold to the public “ cheap.” Milk and butter scientifically adulterated, or produced under improper conditions in such a way that their composition becomes the same as physically‐adulterated products, condensed “milk” minus cream, cheese practically devoid of fat, or “ filled ” (as it is called) with margarine, all reach us in enormous quantities from most of our near and dear neighbours. Butter and certain wines and beers, loaded with injurious ‘ preservative” chemicals and the sale of which is prohibited in the country of production, are sent to the easily‐entered British “dumping‐ground” for the delectation of its confiding inhabitants. “Tinned” foods prepared from raw materials of inferior character or of more than questionable origin, are copiously unloaded on our shores to feed our complaisant population,—instead of being consigned to the refuse destructors which should be their proper destination; while, every now and then, when something worse than usual has been supplied, representative specimens of this delectable class of preparation are proved to have caused outbreaks of violent illness—those so‐called ptomaine poisonings which, of late years, have increased in number and in virulence to so distinctly alarming an extent. Flour made from diseased or damaged grain, or itself “ sick ” or damaged, and so “ processed ” as to mask its real condition; flour, again, adulterated with other and inferior meals, are “ goods ” supplied to us in ample amount for the benefit of those whose mainstay is some form of bread or flour‐food. The list might be continued literally ad nauseam.