It suddenly occurred to me why I cannot understand conventions given that I am such a superb pattern recognizer. They are patterns, contrary to what I've always believed.
On the inside of a convention is a set of arbitrary things, all glued together to form that one convention. They are not patterns, these things, but instead rituals, lists, and even bouncer technologies designed to reenforce the convention and protect it from outside influences.
On the outside, the convention is repeatable in the correct circumstance. It is one of very many possible things to do in teh circumstance, and those who know and use the convention will opt for it as if by rote. The convention is repeated, and in association with the appropriate initial state more than likely, but it is a human association that is present. Where some so called convention smight once have been driven by good will or by need or by function, they are as often as not merely associated in teh present with there stimulant. Fromt eh outside, this association is an arbitrary one, and often the conveyeors of the convention cannot explain it - often they don't even seem aware that conventions are being used. Things are just ebing done right, or as they always have been.
A pattern it is not something that repeats itself. We don't think of cause and effect as a pattern any more than arbitrary association sare patterns. They are related causally. I might be pushed into saying htat this is a sort of thing that is like a pattern is several ways. More significantly to me however is that causal relations and conventional relations are not patterned in certain significant ways.
We look into space for signs of intelligent life. The signs include patterns carried on signal media. We have the quasar, an galactic object that emits a constant pulse. This is not a sign of intelligent life. Niether are the many objects out there that omit this interesting feature. We take as a sign of life, of sentient life, only a pattern that although perahps repetitive, could originate without thought and behind that without mathematics. The patterns must show change, and yet carry a sufficient part of the patterns to show that they are intended. If our space occupying brethren were to send only conventions and never patterns, we would not easy bring forth the hypothesis that they even existed. Here is the example. Let's say that from here on in we assume that all signals coming from our sun are conventions rather than merely physically caused. We would do so if we could explain everything about solar physics and still end up with patterns where none were needed. But let's say we do not have this explanation yet - we dont, after all. To assume an intelligence behind arbitrary signals (physical happenings can be signals, or merely a medium for them) would be to wonder through all of hte information we were receiving (and missing) and start to arbitrarily ascribe (if we cared to try to understand) meanings with each (if we could isolate into single pieces, again, perahps arbitrarily) signal.
This is in some sense a description of what new born babies might be doing when hearing language. But it is hypothesized and experiments and have concurred to some extent already, that children are born with the arbitrary divisions pre-mapped. They don't have to make the assumptions randomly. But without a genetic predisposition to understand sun emissions (hey, perhaps we do have this), we are at sea in a random pool of possible meaning / convention pairings.
Now somehow, people around me get some of these pairings. Perhaps they do it randomly and some are more lucky than others. SOme people since really good at it, and with htem I'd sya they know something about learning conventions. Thishas always led me to believe that convetnions must be patterned. If one had to know as many things as there were conventions in order to learn them, that would seem hopeless for me to beign hypothesizing about I could just hypothesize about the conventions directly. So I don't do this. Perhaps erroneously.
But a pattern contains more informatio nthan a repetition or constant association on the outside and arbitrarily glued together bits on the inside (the inside is the knowledge, and the outside are the observable bits). Sure people will answer about what a given convention is. They get a little annoyed when youask too many times, but in general they will share, or not share if the bouncer part dictates.
To believe that the repetitions of people indicate intelligence isn't obvious anymore than the presence of sun spots - also a repeatable event - is. To believe that the inside of the convetions are patterns that are not displayed is again too much infrastructure. Without being observable, a pattern isn't learnable.
So there are no observable patterns in teh use of conventions. Well, there are if you begin to stereotype people in association with the what seem arbitrary behaoviours they engage in. Then patterns start to show up.
The key element of a pattern is that the pattern becomes predictable. When a convetion might be used may be predictable if you note the stimulant and it's associated response. That conventions are human made, and human acted on, means that there are as many exceptions to the convention as not. This makes the timing unpredictable - unlike sunspots.
Conventions then are something people are inculcated into knowing, or they are left out of knowing. We judge each other strongly by the use or absense of key convetions.
I have been trying to learn by pattern recogntion something that is learne donly by apprenticeship. Ooops. Perhaps I will not be able to learn these things at all.
Or perhaps I should relax and use them - I amy already know them.