Mentomology: a new field? LO2662

Sun, 3 Sep 1995 11:10:58 -0400 (EDT)

This note is to propose a new field of study called "Mentomology". It is
the identification and classification of "Mindbugs". The name has been
chosen to be in line with the growing tendency to make computers and
people relatively compatible or congruent in sociotechnical systems.

So far twenty-five Mindbugs have been identified. They have been
tentatively distributed among four categories:

o Mindbugs of Misinterpretation: occurring where concepts are
misconstrued or misattributed, because of faulty interpretation

o Mindbugs of Clanthink: occurring where concepts are widely believed to
be correct, but which can be demonstrated to be wrong, based on empirical

o Mindbugs of Habit: occurring where certain types of behavior persist,
apparently without conscious thought

o Mindbugs of Error: just plain mistakes

Anyone interested in getting a copy of the 5-page document that names and
describes the 25 Mindbugs uncovered so far can receive a copy from me by
sending your mailing address to me--as long as my budget holds out. I will
not sell your mailing address to anyone.

If anyone wants to start a Mentomology Foundation, please let me know.

Here is an example Mindbug description.

Insensitivity to Conceptual Scale. Situations are not distinguished in
terms of the relevance of their conceptual scale to human cognitive
limitations, nor to the likely irrelevance of methods learned or
experienced that apply to ordinary situations, when faced with complex

Here is a second example Mindbug description.

Unawareness of Imputed Structure. It is frequently true that model
structure is smuggled into a model under construction by constructing it
based on a format that has a preassigned (inherent) type of structure,
such that a person using that particular format has already implicitly
imputed that structure to the specific model, without considering the
model structure independently of the prototype chosen. Many modelers do
not consider the development of model structure to be a formal step in the
process of model development. Instead they bypass that step altogether,
intuitively imputing a structure to the model without specific awareness
that they are doing so.


"General principles are really operative in nature." "Truth crushed to earth shall rise again." --C. S. Peirce (born Cambridge, Mass., 1839)