Pop Goes the Weasel: The Secret Meanings of Nursery Rhymes by Albert Jack

By Albert Jack

From the overseas bestselling writer of Red Herrings and White Elephants—a curious consultant to the hidden histories of vintage nursery rhymes.

Who was once Mary fairly opposite, or Georgie Porgie? How may possibly hello Diddle Diddle supply a vital astronomy lesson? Do Jack and Jill really signify the execution of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette? And if Ring round the Rosie isn’t concerning the plague, then what's it relatively about?

This ebook is a unusual, curious, and infrequently sordid examine the reality in the back of well known nursery rhymes that uncovers the unusual stories that encouraged them—from Viking raids to political riot to smuggling slaves to freedom.

Read Albert Jack's posts at the Penguin Blog.

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For a given amount WHY DOES CULTURE INCREASE HUMAN ADAPTABILITY? 43 of time and effort, the better an individual’s initial guess, the better on average its final performance. Now, imagine that the environment varies, so that different behaviors are optimal in different environments. Organisms who cannot imitate must start with whatever initial guess is provided by their genotype. They can then learn and improve their behavior. However, when they die, these improvements die with them, and their offspring must begin again at the genetically given initial guess.

When this probability is high, knowing the state of the environment in one generation tells little about the state of the environment in the next generation. In contrast, when the probability of switching is low, the environment in the next generation is likely to be the same as the environment this generation. There are two behaviors available to the organism: one best in wet conditions and the other in dry conditions. There also are two genotypes—learners and imitators. Learners figure out whether the current environment is wet or dry and always adopt the appropriate behavior.

77–100). New York: Academic Press. Galef, B. G. 1988. Imitation in animals: History, definition, and interpretation of data from the psychological laboratory. In: Social learning: A biopsychological approach, T. Zentall & B. G. Galef, eds. (pp. 1–28). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erbaum. Hauser, M. 1988. Invention and social tranmission: New data from wild vervet monkeys. In: Machiavellian intelligence: Social expertise and the evolution of intellect in monkeys, apes, and hen, R. W. Byrne & A. Whitten, eds.

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