How is your mind different from everyone else's?

post by Kaj_Sotala · 2011-12-05T08:38:48.348Z · score: 31 (34 votes) · LW · GW · Legacy · 267 comments

Partially to help reduce the typical mind fallacy and partially because I'm curious, I'm thinking about writing either an essay or a book with plenty of examples about ways by which human minds differ. From commonly known and ordinary, like differences in sexual orientation, to the rare and seemingly impossible, like motion blindness.

To do this, I need to start collecting examples. In what ways does your mind differ from what you think is the norm for most people?

I'm particularly interested in differences - small or large - that you didn't realize for a long time, automatically assuming that everyone was like you in that regard. It can even be something as trivial as always having conceptualized the passing of years as a visual timeline, and then finding out that not everyone does so. I'm also interested in links to blog posts where people talk about their own mental peculiarities, even if you didn't write them yourself. Also books and academic articles that you might think could be relevant.

Some of the content that I'm thinking about including are cultural differences in various things as recounted in the WEIRD article, differences in sexual and romantic orientation (such as mono/poly), differences in the ability to recover from setbacks, extroversion vs. introversion in terms of gaining/losing energy from social activity, differences in visualization ability, various cognitive differences ranging from autism to synesthesia to an inability to hear music in particular, differences in moral intuitions, differences in the way people think (visual vs. verbal vs. conceptual vs. something that I'm not aware of yet), differences in thinking styles (social/rational, reflectivity vs. impulsiveness) and various odd brain damage cases.

If you find this project interesting, consider spreading the link to this post or resharing my Google Plus update about it. Also, if you don't want to reply in public, feel free to send me a private message.

267 comments

Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by prase · 2011-12-05T12:46:38.568Z · score: 19 (23 votes) · LW · GW

It can even be something as trivial as always having conceptualized the passing of years as a visual timeline, and then finding out that not everyone does so.

I visualise numbers in a strange way. All people with whom I have talked about this (there weren't many) said to visualise numbers on a line or a circle. My image, on the other hand, has many sharp turns. I have put it here. The round turns in the picture aren't visualised as such; instead when thinking about numbers lying there, the whole picture turns around to maintain orientation while keeping the curved sections straight.

comment by Kaj_Sotala · 2011-12-05T13:41:10.840Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Whoa, that's awesome.

That also made me realize that I, too, have several visualizations for numbers, all of which are perceived in slightly different ways. The visualizations for generic numbers as well as years mostly resemble sort of horizontal lines, though with many "layers", which I can't fully describe. The ones for hours in the day and months in a year are circles. Temperatures are a vertical line, with differing colors above and below 0 degrees Celsius.

The year timeline is probably the most interesting, as it has several regions: the 1990s look different from the 1980s or 2000s, but it's hard to describe exactly how. The 1980s are pretty dark in color, with the 1990s much lighter. At 2001 there's a kind of an association to images of 9/11 and the day when I heard about it. 2005-2006 has pictures of my siviilipalvelus period. Late 1930s up to 1945 have pictures of Europe and Germany, and 1945-1949 or so have pictures of Roswell/Area 51 and generic US Air Force bases. The time around 0 AD has pictures of the Mediterranean and Rome, while "the time of the dinosaurs" has pictures of the Earth from space. The future is kind of a grey fog. There are a bunch of other years with their own images as well.

There is a differing resolution in the timeline depending on how well I happen to know the period: for the 1990s and the WW2 period I can see each year separately, and they're clearly marked, while e.g. the 1950-1980 period is much more indistinct.

At various points the timeline seems to head in different directions: the 1990s are left-to-right, the 1940s are right-to-left, and 0 AD is down-to-up. I don't actually see the timeline making any sharp turns, however: the regions just gradually fade into each other.

comment by [deleted] · 2011-12-05T16:10:05.030Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

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comment by Cthulhoo · 2011-12-05T16:43:50.847Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Although the color matching is completely different from mine, it's interesting to know that this kind of trait is not totally uncommon. Any guess about what's originating it?

comment by Morendil · 2011-12-05T18:15:44.640Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

If you're like me, you played with cube blocks as a child with colored numbers on them. I wonder how we'd go about testing that hypothesis.

comment by Cthulhoo · 2011-12-05T18:48:31.128Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I honestly don't remember, but it's definitely a possibility. About testing this hypothesys... well we could create an army of baby clones and when they grow up we can still use them to conquer the world ;)

comment by [deleted] · 2011-12-05T16:51:30.563Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

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comment by Cthulhoo · 2011-12-05T13:52:26.445Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I also have colors associated to all kind of concepts: time periods, numbers, letters, tastes, music genres, even people.

E.g., my timeline is a ladder, where early universe era is dark blue, dinosaurs time is bright green, human prehistory is brown, 0 AD is yellow/orange and medieval times are light blue. Modern to contemporary era is detailed to a finer scale, e.g. the seventies are purple, the eighties are azure, nineties are yellow and 00s are white.

However, this is a very general thing: each time I recall some concept from my mind, my inner google also returns the color associated with it.

comment by dbaupp · 2011-12-05T23:47:02.171Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Does it fall under the category of synesthesia?

comment by Cthulhoo · 2011-12-06T09:15:57.150Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

You're probably right! I wasn't aware this was a known and reported condition.

comment by Normal_Anomaly · 2011-12-06T22:00:45.439Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I find this amazing. I have no visualization for numbers at all. I do have weak color associations, though:
0-black
1-red
2-blue
3-yellow
4-orange
5-brown
6-green
7-silver-gray
8-teal
9-blue-gray

The associations are stronger for 1-6 than 7-9, and usually only noticeable when appearing as groups of consecutive digits, eg 34. I don't actually perceive the numbers as being those colors when I see them on a page, but they have the colors in my mental imagery.

comment by Sarokrae · 2012-03-19T21:14:30.332Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I'm in an almost entirely similar place with number synaesthesia: absolutely no positional awareness for them, and colours for each digit. If I visualise a longer number I visualise the digits as being different colours.

Interestingly, I have the same colours as you for 1, 2 and 3, then:

4 - green 5 - pink 6 - light blue 7 - gold 8 - dark green 9 - dark orange 0 - grey/colourless.

Unlike you, all my colour associations are equally strong, and very usefully, even digits are cold colours, and odd digits warm colours.

I also have colour associations for some but not all letters (but English isn't my first language), and some but not all music notes. I suspect that these associations arose partly from the number colours, but I have no idea why "w" is the same green as "8", and "f" the colour for 5 and not 4.

comment by ESRogs · 2011-12-06T00:55:52.377Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It's interesting that you put history on there. I also have a history timeline that's separate from my generic number line, but I don't think I'd seen that mentioned before in what I'd read about spatial-sequence synesthesia (see my reply to jsalvatier).

At some point I realized I had a line like this for just about any sequence of things I've ever thought of. Besides the ones you've mentioned: days of the week, months of the year, grades in school, etc.

My sequence lines are not all totally unique though. For example, on the history timeline the years within a century just follow the pattern of the numbers from 1 to 100, and for me minutes/seconds and temperatures fall on the normal number line.

comment by prase · 2011-12-06T11:42:57.841Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I have lines for weekdays and months, but they are trivial (the mont sequence turns 90 degrees right in the middle of June, on 1st September, just before Christmas and on 1st January, forming a rectangle. The weekday line turns right before and after the weekend, so two weeks together make a rectangle.

My lines can also have a fractal substructure - if looking in a detail on a particular region, further turns appear, usually inherited from the general number line or another relevant line or part of it. This may not be compatible with the overall structure: for example, from greater distance the stretch from 1910 to 1920 is a straight line, but in detail, any single year has the "closed rectangle" structure, beginning and ending in the same point.

To help understanding the interplay of cultural bias and synesthesia, this is the hopefully full list of turns in my history line when looked at in detail (the probable cause for the turn - a historical event or other thing - is in parentheses)

  1. cca. 220 B.C. uncertain direction, perhaps multiple turns (Punic wars)
  2. 40 B.C. right (end of the Roman republic)
  3. 30 B.C. - 0 A.D. left 180° curved
  4. 0 A.D. or 14 A.D. right (beginning of millenium / death of Augustus; context dependent)
  5. during 1st century left curved
  6. cca. 70 A.D. uncertain, probably left - right - right (end of Claudian dynasty, destruction of Pompeii)
  7. 100 right (end of century)
  8. 110/114/120 left (generic number 20 / conquests of Traian)
  9. 130 left (generic number 30)
  10. 150 - 200 right curved (to return to previous direction?)
  11. cca. 330 uncertain (Christianity official in Rome)
  12. 476 right (fall of Rome)
  13. cca. 500 left (maintaining direction?)
  14. 6th-8th century right curved
  15. 880 left (generic number 80)
  16. 890 left (generic number 90)
  17. 900 right (generic number 100)
  18. 910 right (generic number 10)
  19. 920 left (generic number 20 / assassination of Wenceslaus I)
  20. 1000 right (end of millenium)
  21. 1300 uncertain
  22. 1310 balances the 1300 change
  23. cca. 1350 left and then curved right (battle of Crécy)
  24. 1410 right (generic number 10)
  25. 1415 45° left (execution of John Huss)
  26. 1420 45° left (generic number 20)
  27. 1420-1435 curved right (Hussite wars)
  28. 1492/1500 left, perhaps right-left-left series (discovery of the Americas / end of century; context dependent)
  29. 1526 right (battle of Mohács)
  30. 1530 left (restoring direction / generic number 30)
  31. cca. 1580 right
  32. 1618 / 1620 left (Thirty Years' War)
  33. 1700 right (end of century)
  34. 1789/1790 right (French revolution)
  35. 1800 left (end of century)
  36. around 1810 left-left (for uncertain reasons the generic number 20 and 30 turns are placed here; perhaps the second turn is 1813 because that's when the oldest surviving locomotive was built, but certainly it is before Waterloo)
  37. around 1830 curved right
  38. 1846-1850 curved left - right - right - curved left (revolutions of 1848)
  39. 1890 left, maybe preceded by right - left (generic number 90)
  40. 1900 right (end of century)
  41. 1910 right (generic number 10)
  42. 1914 left-right (World War I)
  43. 1918/1920 left (end of WWI / generic number 20)
  44. 1930 left (Great Depression)
  45. 1933 right (Nazis come to power)
  46. 1938-1940 curved left (WWII / generic number 30 moved here)
  47. 1945 uncertain (end of WWII, usually a month line is put here when looked at in a greater detail)
  48. 1956-1968 curved left - curved 180° right
  49. 1968/1970 left (Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia)
  50. 1990 uncertain (end of Cold War)
  51. 2000 right (end of millenium)
comment by ESRogs · 2011-12-09T02:53:39.285Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah, mine have that substructure-available-on-zoom too. It seems pretty clear that our brains are doing the same thing here. Out of curiosity, do you feel that you read more quickly or more slowly than others? I'm a very slow reader -- my silent reading speed is about on par with my reading-aloud speed, and I've sometimes wondered if this is connected at all to my tendency to visualize things, or is completely unrelated.

On the other hand, I think having a detailed timeline helps me to remember when events took place. I've noticed on movie rounds at pub trivia that I'm often able to make more use than some of my teammates of the year a movie was released, if that information was given, to rule out possible answers -- not because I know the exact dates of when many movies came out, but because if I'm familiar with the film at all, then I have a general sense of where it should go on my timeline. (Disclaimer: it's quite possible that this is all just confirmation bias on my part.)

comment by prase · 2011-12-09T11:33:07.694Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Out of curiosity, do you feel that you read more quickly or more slowly than others?

I have no idea how quickly others read. My silent reading is generally faster than reading aloud, but the speed depends on what I am reading and I am not sure how big the difference is.

comment by jsalvatier · 2011-12-05T16:15:15.214Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

One of the Seattle LessWrong meetup attenders described his mild synesthesia in the same way you've described and claimed he read a book about people having similar number lines (with cultural differences).

comment by ESRogs · 2011-12-06T00:43:06.648Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

It was these essays (The Visions of Sane Persons and Visualised Numerals), linked from the number form wikipedia article.

I think the cultural differences thing was just my conjecture, because the recorded number forms (as well as my own) often had turns at twelve and then subsequently at the decades, which led me to believe that they were probably based on the cadence of counting in English (one, two, three... ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen, fourteen... nineteen, twenty, twenty-one... twenty-nine, thirty, thirty-one, etc.). Whereas a Spanish speaker might be likely to develop a number form with a turn at 15 instead of 12, and a Chinese speaker to develop one with turns just at the decades.

comment by prase · 2011-12-05T16:25:54.984Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Suppose that you don't remember what book it was?

comment by jsalvatier · 2011-12-05T17:33:26.814Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I've asked him, and I'll post here when I hear back.

comment by prase · 2011-12-06T11:44:49.617Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks.

comment by Multiheaded · 2011-12-11T17:59:38.279Z · score: 15 (17 votes) · LW · GW

(Sorry if my English comes across as odd or bland; I'm tired and my feel for the language might be off.)

Here's a bit of a confession, because I feel like it.

I was diagnosed with encephalopathy of some kind when I was 19. Can't recall the specifics right now, but the gist of it is, I was born with brain damage. Due to that I've been suffering from a severe attention deficit, frequent emotional turbulence or periods of apathy, and rather unpleasant failures of willpower throughout my life, growing particularly troublesome around the last year of high school. I used to be rather disfunctional socially and emotionally, and found myself growing very nihilistic, neglectful and careless of myself and others.

I used to had a few good, true friends at school - despite being very introverted and getting tired of any company easily - but they all drifted away after graduation. Entering a state university and coping with most classes was trivially easy for me (my IQ is 135, and I simply enjoy reading up on a broad range of humanities on my own), but I flunked after my first year for three times in a row (due to hardly attending at all after the first month, neglecting to study for finals and failing to hand in papers). Didn't make any permanent acquaintances at uni, in part because of my prosopagnosia, in part because of my becoming rather callous to people.

As a child I had a great deal of empathy, but it hurt me, so my shell grew way too tough and I eventually started taking comfort in not caring for anyone; I frequently dreamed of my family/parents dying and me inheriting their small fortune, I lied to my parents habitually and took a sadistic kick of them being hurt by it, I hated the very thought of anyone being dependent of me and looking to me for aid, etc.

Then, in one winter week, things changed. I watched the anime series Neon Genesis Evangelion and my shell was utterly shattered. It was a moment of utter catharsis for me. My fears, shames and anxieties were all laid bare in Shinji, and in following his story I learned of a way to remake myself. During a month of internal strife, I reconsidered my core values and found a new sense of ethics. My social anxiety is also gone; whereas previously I was hesitant to initiate any social contact, now I'm unafraid to try, occasionally fail and lose status, yet learn and suffer virtually no embarrassment. I'm often seen as eccentric, to put it generously, but it's still a hell of a lot better than what I used to resign myself to.

That was about 3 years ago, and in that time I have reforged the bonds with my immediate family (some considerable issues remain, like fits of hysteria or times when I lie pathologically, but it's nothing like the giant cold-hearted deception on my part that it used to be). I also realized my bisexuality and got into a relationship with an awesome guy who's greatly creative and truly sympathetic of me. (it's long-distance sadly, we only met a couple of times so far, but the total contact and connection between us was the best thing that ever happened in my life). All that helped me get my life moving; I'm finally making an honest effort to get an education in a field I enjoy (social work). I still have a lot of issues, and I'm going to need more professional help with my condition, perhaps more medication too, but what I'm certain of is that NGE was a helping hand when I needed it most and expected it least. No wonder I became a rather obsessive fanboy :)

I was intending to write a bit more, but I'm falling asleep. Damn, this ramble is unlikely to earn me much karma, and I'm being way too forthcoming about myself. Eh, I wanted to confess about all that to people that are high-status in my eyes, so here you go.

comment by Kutta · 2011-12-17T23:59:12.503Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Evangelion

Maybe someone should do some study about that peculiar group of depressed and/or psychopathological people who were significantly mentally kicked by NGE. Of course it's all anecdotal right now, but I really have the impression (especially after spending some time at EvaGeeks... ) that NGE produces a recurring pattern of effect on a cluster of people, moreover, that effect is much more dramatic than what is usual in art.

comment by gwern · 2012-06-22T00:44:59.385Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

NGE produces a recurring pattern of effect on a cluster of people, moreover, that effect is much more dramatic than what is usual in art.

The funny thing is, the more I research Evangelion - interview people, translate or transcribe obscure interviews and articles, etc. - the less I find any real depth to it but the more I admire Anno & co.'s intuitive skill with cinematography and improvisation.

comment by Kutta · 2012-06-22T08:53:38.255Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

What do you mean by real depth? In cinema, isn't skilled cinematography included in that? If I recall correctly, I've read from you somewhere that you think most of NGE's narrative/mythological background is an impromptu, leaky mess (which I mostly agree with), so you might mean that by lack of real depth, but that doesn't subtract much from NGE's overall success at thematic exposition, so I'm still not fully getting it.

comment by gwern · 2012-06-22T15:22:23.718Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

In cinema, isn't skilled cinematography included in that?

I'm not a cinema person, so I don't really know. I approach my anime from essentially a New Wave SF literary standpoint.

comment by Multiheaded · 2011-12-18T06:27:09.977Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah, I posted about my experience on the Evageeks forums once, and quite a few people expressed something similar in response.

comment by antigonus · 2011-12-18T00:48:40.967Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I don't imagine it would have nearly as much of an effect on people who aren't familiar with anime. But I would read that study in a heartbeat if it existed.

comment by Protagoras · 2011-12-05T14:55:12.596Z · score: 15 (17 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not sure how common or rare this is, but the visual images I recall are stunningly lacking in detail. For example, in the case of people, even with someone I know very well, it is rare for me to be able to report so much as their hair color on the basis of the mental image I call up when I try to think of them. I don't seem to have any unusual difficulty recognizing people, or any tendency to confuse my various mental images with one another, and the mental images don't seem incomplete until I start thinking about questions like how to describe them. I'm sure I would be completely useless to a police sketch artist if I were ever a witness to a crime.

comment by cata · 2011-12-05T21:05:13.378Z · score: 6 (8 votes) · LW · GW

I don't know if this is fair, because it's not me, but a family member of mine credibly claims to have no conscious visual memory. For example, when she drives down a highway which she has driven many times before, she doesn't automatically recognize the different parts of the highway as I do, without effort; she has to remember specific facts about where things are (like, I take exit 102 to get to place X, which is after a radio tower and then a curve) and then apply those facts to know where she is. She cannot picture her house in her head; she recognizes it by remembering salient features of its exterior. In contrast, her semantic memory and general cognitive ability is exceptional.

Some tasks, like playing games or solving problems that lean on visual and spatial imagination (e.g. the IQ test problems where you fold shapes up) are very difficult for her, although some of those can also be hacked around by remembering relationships (the dot is on the side clockwise from the square, etc.) According to her, she didn't even realize that other people had this capability in a different way until she was college-age or so.

Personally, I have what I think is above-average visual and spatial imagery -- I play chess and see the pieces moving in my head, I read fiction and imagine the settings and characters, and so on. I guess it takes all sorts.

comment by GuySrinivasan · 2011-12-07T16:53:38.085Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I have 5 distinct experiences of vision. They are each qualitatively very different.

  • Seeing - When my eyes are open, I see the world around me. I believe this is the standard sense "vision".
  • Static - When my eyes are closed, my visual field is mostly colored static, not very bright. Like static on old TVs, but definitely colored.
  • Eddies and Afterimage - I can create extremely limited pictures out of Static, nothing more complex than the union of a few very simple shapes. Blobs or occasionally lines.
  • Mental Imagery - Bright images as distinct as Seeing, but fleeting and not directly caused by photons.
  • Imagination - No visual change, but I "know" what the object looks like or how it is moving. If my coffee mug were to grow legs and walk away, aside from the visual phenomena I would know I was seeing my coffee mug growing legs and walking away and that that was really happening. Imagination is just the middle - the knowing what I am seeing, without any of the visual phenomena or the really-happening sense.

When my eyes are open, Static is still present, but in most cases my brain edits it out and reports only Seeing. When I am looking at a solid color or just paying careful attention it is clear Static is still present. I did not realize this before making an effort to investigate what I am actually Seeing.

Until I read Yvain's Generalizing from One Example post I believed that what I'm calling Imagination is what everyone did when they said they were visualizing. I only have Mental Imagery rarely: sometimes when on the boundary of sleeping and waking or after minutes of effort during meditation. These images are distinct and lasting enough to, say, read about half a line of text from a Mental Image of a page of a book. My memories of the experience of Mental Imagery and of the experience of images seen while dreaming seem to feel the same. I have not been able to focus on these long enough to tell if they have background Static, as paying much attention to them leads directly to their disappearance and the realization that I am now seeing Static and Eddies while looking at the back of my eyelids.

comment by [deleted] · 2011-12-08T00:06:53.471Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

"Static" might be visual snow. I have it, and in my case it's probably due to lots of staring at computer monitors over the years.

comment by GuySrinivasan · 2011-12-08T01:14:05.064Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

The description of visual noise on Wikipedia describes my "Static" fairly accurately.

comment by VincentYu · 2011-12-12T07:42:11.001Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Your descriptions of 'static' and 'eddies and afterimage' match my younger experiences, and I just realized that I no longer have these visual phenomena. I used to see them as vivid blue and red dots when I closed my eyes.

comment by [deleted] · 2011-12-05T17:21:09.976Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I do this too, but only for faces. I have detailed mental images of things like buildings and circuit diagrams, but I don't have good mental pictures of people's faces. I don't have too much trouble recognizing people (though I suspect I am below-average at it), but I can't visualize or describe anyone's face when I'm not near them.

Likewise, when I'm reading fiction, I don't have clear mental pictures of what the characters' faces look like.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2011-12-05T17:52:10.527Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I have very limited ability to visualize images or to imagine/remember sounds.

The weird thing is that sometimes with fiction, I'll feel as though I know what a character looks like, even though I can't visualize it. This is strong with Tolkien (the movie hobbits were wrong, wrong, wrong), while with Bujold, I simply have no idea what the characters look like. Having a sensory experience with fiction is so rare it seems like a miracle.

At the same time, if fiction has too few sensory cues, I'm apt to feel disconnected and uninterested. This is especially notable with military science fiction-- and it may be related to my having more problems with telling people apart if they're wearing uniforms.

I've wondered if what fiction people like has something to do with brainwave similarities between the author and the readers.

comment by bbleeker · 2011-12-06T19:47:11.021Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

The weird thing is that sometimes with fiction, I'll feel as though I know what a character looks like, even though I can't visualize it. This is strong with Tolkien (the movie hobbits were wrong, wrong, wrong

So they were, and Galadriel was even more wrong.

comment by [deleted] · 2011-12-05T21:21:54.418Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

It may be the reverse spirit of the post, but voted up for putting to words what I've best said as "I can't describe person X, but if you have them in a crowd I can find them."

comment by fiddlemath · 2011-12-05T17:23:23.539Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I have this too, though I've moderated it some by explicitly practicing the skill. I essentially never see people's faces when visualizing what they're doing, nor when I'm dreaming.

comment by [deleted] · 2011-12-05T17:29:56.500Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

How did you practice it?

comment by fiddlemath · 2011-12-06T04:09:17.960Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I'd already learned that, to be able to remember's people's names later, I had to make an actual effort to repeat their name to myself while I was looking at them. So, I then started consciously trying to notice details about people's appearance when I first met them - what's their hair color, what color are their eyes, what are they wearing and carrying. Eventually, this effort became a habit. Now, I usually do this automatically when I first meet someone, and I remember more of those details.

comment by [deleted] · 2011-12-06T04:50:15.320Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Thank you! I will try doing that from now on.

comment by [deleted] · 2011-12-07T07:58:02.467Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

As to what they're wearing and carrying, I'm practising to avoid relying on this too much now. I've gotten into trouble before by remembering people by what they're wearing when I'm introduced to them instead of by their faces. :/

comment by shokwave · 2011-12-05T09:11:49.399Z · score: 11 (11 votes) · LW · GW

I have abnormally good memory in some respects. Dates, time-passed-since, and sources are hard to remember, but stories, phrases, quotes, noteworthy or unexpected events, and some portions of conversations are accessible word-for-word years later - an example would be telling an amusing story to a friend who'd been the original source of the story, and using the same words they did to describe it to me years ago, which more than a little unsettled them.

As far as I can tell I have no feeling of this kind of memory as opposed to any other; it all feels constantly available, there's no 'lookup' or 'let me think' feeling at all. Up until recently I have never had the 'tip of the tongue' phenomenon (it's either available or not and I automatically know which without question), but I've been practicing trying to remember things I think I can't, and I think I've had this feeling once or twice.

comment by erratio · 2011-12-05T14:05:53.993Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

If I may ask: how old are you?

I used to have the same ability (and am still well above average) but it's lessened over the past 3 years or so. I've been trying to work out whether it's due to a) age (greater number of life experiences and/or memory naturally less good), b) studies (prioritising studied material over episodic memory), c) greater socialisation (I used to be fairly isolated, so it's possible that there were just fewer noteworthy things to remember), d) some other factor.

And relatedly: do you also have that sense of frustration when people keep repeating themselves over multiple conversations? It took me a long time to realise that they weren't doing it on purpose and that not everyone can remember what they've said to who in the past.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2011-12-05T16:41:52.099Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I can live with repetition over multiple conversations, but prefer it if the person will let me mention that I've heard and remember what they said.

What drives me crazy is the extent to which most people repeat themselves in the same conversation. I may not be doing anyone a favor by pointing this out-- but if you listen, you'll find that the real world sounds rather like Waiting for Godot, though the topics are more varied.

comment by TheOtherDave · 2011-12-05T17:07:41.636Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

I have concluded professionally that I am far more effective when I repeat myself often in conversations: I get more evidence later that the information I was conveying actually gets across.

I have yet to decide whether it's because people mostly don't understand and/or forget what I've said, so repeating myself increases the odds of a particular message getting across, or because people understand repetition to be an indicator of importance, or for some other reason.

It frustrates me, but I try to do what works rather than what I think ought to work.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2011-12-05T17:32:26.700Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

That's a good point. Do you have a way of telling whether what you're saying has registered, or do you use a heuristic that a certain number of repetitions is likely to work?

My impression is that a lot of repetition isn't strategic, it's nervousness (I think people are more likely to repeat themselves when they're looking for support and feel unsure of getting it) or making sure they get more time in the conversation.

comment by TheOtherDave · 2011-12-05T19:50:59.371Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I came to the conclusion that repetition is valuable by looking at how often, after giving a presentation in which I convey certain facts, the audience subsequently follows up in ways that make it clear that they neither retained the facts nor the awareness that I'd presented those facts. When I started making a point of repeating my key points several times during a presentation, tying it back to multiple different topics and multiple different questions, the incidence of that sort of followup question dropped.

That said, I haven't done a careful study, and I could easily be misattributing the result to the wrong cause. For that matter, I could easily be perceiving a result that isn't actually there. Humans make those sorts of errors all the time.

I agree that a lot of repetition is nervousness, and that a lot of it is an attempt to grab floor-time. (I'm not sure I'd call the latter nonstrategic.)

I also think a lot of repetition is an attempt to maintain control of the attention of the group. (As in:
A: "X"
B: "Y"
C: "NOT(Y)"
A: "X."

comment by TheOtherDave · 2011-12-08T17:34:35.829Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Looking back at this, it occurs to me that I may have misunderstood your question and thus answered a different one that you meant to ask. There are things that I take as real-time indications that what I've said has registered -- for example, being able to answer questions or to ask sensible ones -- and things that I take as indicators that it hasn't, such as asking questions I've already answered. When I'm talking to groups I often get neither, unless I've done enough prep to create exercises specifically intended to obtain them,

comment by MixedNuts · 2011-12-06T11:57:16.229Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

If the person you're talking to is distracted by another task or has a short attention span, they may appreciate repetition, for example if the person you're talking to is distracted by another task or has a short attention span. (I have accidentally sounded like this in LW comments before.)

comment by atucker · 2011-12-05T15:33:50.675Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Weird, I also used to be really good at this.

Specifically, I could recite funny scenes from Futurama episodes verbatum after watching them once. It's gotten worse.

comment by Curiouskid · 2011-12-07T02:08:00.515Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I had the same problem but with the of the second Harry Potter movie when I was in second grade. People got tired of listening to me on the road trip.

comment by shokwave · 2011-12-06T03:53:55.624Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Currently 22. The effect was present and seemingly unaffected moving from early school (no study) to final few years of school (lots of study) to university (some study) to current day (very little study). I've always been highly social, can't rule that out.

And yes! It's not quite as frustrating for me as it is for them, because I finish their stories for them, sometimes in the words they were going to use. I'm guilty of the same thing, though - I find it hard to remember which stories come from where. It's only once the person begins the story that the rest of the story becomes available.

comment by erratio · 2011-12-06T13:31:32.376Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Well, I'm 26, so if there's an age-related phenomenon going on you should be due to start experiencing it any day now ;)

comment by christina · 2012-02-06T02:47:35.149Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Actually, I used to have a similar ability as well, although that was primarily for life experiences + written material (came in handy on tests--read once-write anywhere, heh). It faded and largely disappeared sometime during high school. I feel I compensated fairly well afterward, so the loss doesn't bother me too much. Not that I wouldn't be interested if I found a way to get it back, though.

It seems different people may experience changes in this type of memory at different times. Maybe those adults who are considered to have really good memories just never had their childhood mnemonic abilities fade over time.

comment by [deleted] · 2011-12-05T09:32:41.684Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

That reminds me; while I tend to remember techniques and equations easily enough, my software has a bug where people with similar occupations and similar initials are easily confused with one another, even if they look very different from one another.

I think the classic example was the time I mistook Britney Spears for Beyonce.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2011-12-05T16:38:37.611Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

This may be more common than you think.

I know two women who are close friends and whose first names begin with the same uncommon letter. One is white, the other is black. One was plump, the other was slender (they've converged to some extent since, but I'm talking about a while ago). One has a loud voice, and the other a soft voice.

People would confuse them with each other.

comment by Logos01 · 2011-12-05T09:36:02.686Z · score: -2 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I think the classic example was the time I mistook Britney Spears for Beyonce.

-- is there really much of a difference? --
comment by [deleted] · 2011-12-05T13:31:39.018Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

.

comment by bentarm · 2011-12-05T13:56:28.943Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

How can a link to a video of one of two people show that there is a difference between them? Or usefully illustrate that difference.

My guess: you are claiming that Beyonce is a better singer than Britney Spears, but it could be any number of other things.

comment by [deleted] · 2011-12-05T15:13:17.659Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

.

comment by grouchymusicologist · 2011-12-05T16:25:40.557Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

an explosively better singer

That is awesomely put.

comment by [deleted] · 2011-12-05T16:28:33.085Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

.

comment by grouchymusicologist · 2011-12-05T18:01:17.763Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

I don't know that I have much to say about it. It would be hard to name an aspect of vocal technique or musicianship that Beyoncé doesn't do better than Britney. Beyoncé has a naturally beautiful voice and is in near-total control of every sound that comes out of her mouth -- flawless pitch, lots of different colors and effects. She also is an excellent musician and has ideas about how to perform a given song in a way that's engaging and effective. She has what singers call good "diction," i.e. clear pronunciation of words. I wouldn't even be tempted to say any of those things about Britney.

You might enjoy reading this blog post. A classical voice teacher was given some examples of heavy metal singing to review (from the point of view of vocal technique) for a metal blog. In addition to being interesting reading, I think a lot of people appreciated the point that many of the kinds of skills needed for good singing are constant across wildly different genres.

If you wanted me to comment on something more specific, let me know.

comment by [deleted] · 2011-12-05T18:16:31.735Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

.

comment by arundelo · 2011-12-06T15:23:20.754Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

You might enjoy Solange (Beyoncé's sister) covering "Stillness is the Move".

comment by [deleted] · 2011-12-06T18:04:57.056Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

.

comment by SilasBarta · 2011-12-05T22:05:18.150Z · score: 8 (10 votes) · LW · GW

A few things:

1) I seem to have a much better long-term memory than short-term memory. I always seem to be able to remember details of events long ago based on just small reminders. Yet in daily life I always find myself having to ask people to repeat an explanation or list becuase it just "vanishes" from my mind shortly after I hear it. I'm always having to stop and write stuff like that down.

2) I automatically try to "plug in" everything I learn into the rest of my understanding: see how it relates to other topics, what inconsistencies there might be, etc. This makes it easier for my to pass on understanding to others, as I just follow back the "inferential path" in my mind and then trace it out in the person I'm explaining it to.

It's led to frustration in that I've long assumed everyone else represents knowledge this way, so when they give bad explanations, it's because they're not even trying, but typically, it turns out they haven't connected the subject matter as deeply in their own mental representations. (Yes, I've talked about this before, didn't dig up the links.)

3) Whenever given some objective or criteria, I immediately think of how to fail it in the worst way possible. For example, if I'm told not to mention Bob's balding hair to him, I immediately think of the most horrible way to do so. (Naturally, I don't act on these ideas, but my mind sort of defaults to thinking about them to fill the empty space.)

Thanks for doing this, I've been wanting to gather this information as well, perhaps later come up with a standard checklist so people can find out what kinds of mentalities they have are abnormal.

comment by Antisuji · 2011-12-06T00:11:40.335Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I have a tendency that's possibly related to your #3: when someone makes a factual assertion I immediately consider its negation as a distinct possibility. That is, the negation becomes more available to me, and therefore in some sense more plausible. Else, why make the assertion in the first place?

comment by CronoDAS · 2011-12-22T10:53:31.990Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

This is actually a pretty good habit to get into when doing math. Lots of plausible-sounding conjectures actually do turn out to be false because math can allow for some pretty strange-seeming things. For example, you can have functions that are continuous everywhere but differentiable nowhere, or uncountable sets with length zero, or all kinds of other crazy things.

comment by Logos01 · 2011-12-05T08:58:44.415Z · score: 8 (10 votes) · LW · GW

I am:

  • Anhedonic
  • High-functioning autistic
  • Polyamorous
  • D/s (service-dominant & sexual sadist)

-- Amongst other things I am actually unable to "just allow" myself to feel things. If I lack a conscious avenue for expression of emotions, I find myself unable to do so: without a 'bridge' to cross from "in my head" to "the outside world", the sentiments or desires just don't have anywhere to go. Others have often given me advice targeted at getting me to "stop repressing my emotions", and these things have universally failed to recognize my issues in that regard. One of the things I will always be grateful to my ex-primary for was her ability to enable me to learn how to handle new situations and inputs that were markedly unfamiliar to me: if I did not have a -- for lack of a better term -- "subroutine" for a given situation, I would literally lock up and be unable to force myself through the situation, regardless of the amount of willpower. This could be as simple as opening up a new bank account, or as complex as getting myself a new date. (Caveat; this was not an anxiety response; but rather just... like trying to open a door when there's no light in the room and you can't feel the seams. I to this day lack the proper language to communicate the sensation.) I have never before encountered another individual with similar reactions to the world.

comment by Incorrect · 2011-12-05T14:42:15.802Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Perhaps it is because you are trying to do something which you do not consider an action (Is there a sequence post about this? I seem to remember reading something...). Rather than trying to "open up a new bank account" why not try to get in your car, drive to the bank, get out of your car, etc.

I often have the experience of feeling completely unable to do something but I can always break it down into concrete actions and then do those instead.

For example, sometimes I need to write a paper for school but feel it is impossible. So, instead I open a text document to begin my outline and ask myself what the first section should be about. Instead of trying to "do my paper" or "do my outline", I tried to do the steps that make up those actions.

I think this experience of feeling completely unable to do an abstract task is virtually universal for humans.

comment by Logos01 · 2011-12-05T15:14:41.569Z · score: 8 (10 votes) · LW · GW

Rather than trying to "open up a new bank account" why not try to get in your car, drive to the bank, get out of your car, etc. [...] I think this experience of feeling completely unable to do an abstract task is virtually universal for humans.

What you described is a very normal response to reducing the difficulty of a task in order to reduce the anxiety response to said task to manageable levels. It is, however, unhelpful to autists who only know the global task. If you ever work with an autistic child, it would help you to be aware that such a strategy would be counter-productive. An example of what I mean is that to a profoundly autistic child, the knowledge of how to tie one's right shoe does not and cannot translate into how to tie one's left shoe. He would have to be re-taught each individual step in the process as a separate and independent task, and then he would have to be manually taught how to assemble them into both the right-shoe and the left-shoe before he might be able to begin to extrapolate from those into other situations.

It's not, you see, that I didn't know the basic steps to each of these tasks. It's not even that I couldn't conceive of ways of simplifying them. It was that I had no "algorithm" by which to assemble them into a whole. I lack the language to properly explain this difficulty to someone who has not experienced, except to say this: it is not that I was "overwhelmed". It was... like being given a road-map and shown images of every important point along the route you should take to get to the destination, and then being given a car in a disassembled state. If you don't have the tools to put the car together, no matter how well you know "how to get there", you simply lack the means to do so. Breaking down the route further isn't going to help make that happen. You have to have the ability to traverse it at all.

I am frustrated by my lack of ability to elocute this notion. I apologize for my lack of clarity and/or communicative skill.

comment by Incorrect · 2011-12-05T15:25:41.325Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

I have been diagnosed with Asperger's but am very high functioning. There are definitely tasks I feel this way about; for example, sometimes I will feel completely unable to call people on the phone. Although I often have to plan my conversations in advance, I can usually accomplish such things by breaking them down into subtasks.

EDIT: Actually, on second thought I think I understand what you mean. If you asked me to "make a friend" or anything else that involved too complex a decision tree I would be unable to comply. END EDIT

It's not even that I couldn't conceive of ways of simplifying them.

So specifically what would happen if after simplifying the task of opening a bank account, you simply tried to follow the steps?

  1. Drive to the bank
  2. Walk to the back of the line
  3. Follow standard line procedure
  4. Say to the person at the counter "I would like to open a bank account" etc.

Would you be unable to come up with this list? Would you really be unable to complete the first step, driving to the bank? Would there be some interstice between steps in which you have a mental breakdown?

I realize you are saying you cannot complete the task as a whole, I am asking that if you tried to complete the individual steps of that task, at precisely what point would you fail?

comment by Logos01 · 2011-12-06T02:26:55.843Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

So specifically what would happen if after simplifying the task of opening a bank account, you simply tried to follow the steps?

I wouldn't get to step one.

Would you be unable to come up with this list?

Nah, that would be just fine. I'd done so more than once. Without the "whole" picture, it's like trying to put a jigsaw puzzle together when you can't see the whole picture and it has no apparent borders, and the pieces have all been repainted black. You know the pieces all go together. You know you have all the pieces. You just can't visualize how they all go together.

I am asking that if you tried to complete the individual steps of that task, at precisely what point would you fail?

There is an underlying assumption here that "breaking down the task" is intelligible on some level. This is why I tried to give, originally, the example of the fact that tying one's right shoe wouldn't translate to tying one's left shoe. The pieces are learned as a whole, and conceived of as a whole. Breaking it down into individual tasks just makes it more complex, not less. It's like tearing apart the jigsaw puzzle -- it has to be put back together again before you can actually see the image on the puzzle.

comment by erratio · 2011-12-05T14:11:03.530Z · score: 7 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Enjoyable shivers down the back of the spine

First I heard that it might not be universal was someone's comment here a few days ago. Not sure if it's a mental or physical difference though.

comment by jsalvatier · 2011-12-05T16:20:14.938Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I think that was my comment. My girlfriend gets these too but actually dislikes them, which I thought was interesting. It's also worth pointing out that that site is run by non-scientists and I haven't been able to find research on this topic.

comment by erratio · 2011-12-05T16:38:44.527Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

When I looked at some of the links from that page, I found it mildly weird how enjoyable some people find it, to the point of using it as a form of mood management and bemoaning the loss the of it. This leads me to believe that a) not everyone has the reaction (eg. some people on reddit thought they were being trolled), and b) it's highly varied in strength/frequency/pleasantness (eg. I have very few reliable triggers and it's not so great that I seek it out).

comment by argumzio · 2011-12-15T19:41:35.722Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I experience this during intense aesthetic events as in music, literature, or cinema. It is delightful.

comment by quentin · 2011-12-07T23:43:48.303Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Wow, I thought everyone got those.

Some from that list I would have imagined to be universal (who doesn't get shivers and tingles listening to Beethoven? seriously.), but these in particular are both incredibly accurate for myself and things that I figured were personal quirks:

Exposure to slow, accented, or unique speech patterns

Viewing educational or instructive videos or lectures

Watching another person complete a task, often in a diligent, attentive manner - examples would be filling out a form, writing a check, going through a purse or bag, inspecting an item closely, etc.

Sometimes I watch instructive videos on youtube, where the narrator has a slow, interesting voice and is methodically explaining how to do a mundane task, like... folding clothes. This gives me extremely pleasurable sensations, with a slight hint of shame for having such obviously wierd tastes. I'm glad to know I'm not a freak :D

A similar experience can be stimulated in most people with a device... it consists of dozen or so wire prongs that you massage your head with (The Octopus Tingling Head Massager, I'm completely serious)... the feeling it produces for me is similar to ASMR, and I've never had anyone tell me it didn't feel really good.

Also, "head orgasm" is a pretty accurate phrase for this too.

comment by Jayson_Virissimo · 2011-12-06T09:25:33.080Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I get shivers down my spine when I am in dangerous situations (like when I narrowly avoid a car accident or I hear a nearby gunshot I wasn't expecting), but they are not enjoyable.

comment by sixes_and_sevens · 2011-12-06T00:51:39.926Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I am genuinely shocked that this isn't a universal experience. I routinely experience this at dramatic or highly emotive points in cinema or television.

I assumed this was what people meant when they say that something "sends shivers down your spine". Although thinking about it, there's a similar but distinct and less pleasant experience (which I associate with the expression "like someone walking over your grave") that I also experience.

comment by lessdazed · 2011-12-08T00:26:08.755Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I used to get those, but haven't much since I turned 19 or so.

comment by lavalamp · 2011-12-08T00:02:13.397Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Wait, you mean this isn't just a figure of speech?

comment by Kaj_Sotala · 2011-12-06T09:44:04.915Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Wow.

I've had enjoyable shivers several times, but at first I was really puzzled to see that site: why make such a big deal out of it, any more than you'd make a big deal over feeling nice after having a cup of coffee or something? Then I followed the Reddit links and found that people were talking about it as a "head orgasm", and realized that apparently for some people it's a really strong experience, much stronger than it is for me. Fascinating.

comment by Jolima · 2011-12-05T23:07:26.180Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I've got this too and have learned how to do it more or less at will. This post from that same page ties the feeling to Seratonin release which seems to make sense. I haven't looked into it enough to say it's certainly true though.

comment by falenas108 · 2011-12-05T21:51:03.500Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Huh, interesting. I have this and knew that most people didn't, but never knew anything about it.

For me, it's usually triggered by either intense emotional or intelectual stimula, or a sudden relaxation or alteration of body position (e.g. going from hunched over to sitting up straight).

comment by eugman · 2011-12-06T00:40:42.811Z · score: 6 (8 votes) · LW · GW

One that I realized quite quickly, I have an uncomfortably strong level of empathy. Or more accurately, a strong discomfort towards emotional disharmony in others. The strongest is in strong arguments or social awkwardness. I can barely stand to watch those intentionally awkward scenes in sitcoms and movies.

I have a preternatural ability to see what others are trying to say. This comes out in two ways. One, if someone is talking to me, and they make an error, my brain will autotranslate. So if they said brother and meant father, I will hear what they meant. Sometimes I don't notice this translation until they point out an error they made. And then I'll be able to recall specifically what they said. The other way it comes out is I can spot miscommunication very easily. If two people are having a "who's on first" moment, I'll see exactly where the confusion is, and what needs to be said to fix it. It's awesome and weird.

Both of the previous items cause me to have a natural urge to resolve any conflict going on, trying to act as mediator.

Like some here, I think I have mild number synethesia. Mental math sometimes has a visual component, with numbers splitting and merging. Additionally, numbers...um....look a certain way. So the number 15 looks really 3-ish and really 5-ish. It's also a very sturdy, compact number (because it fits into 60 so well.) The lower numbers also have an aesthetic, usually based on how divisible they are or how common a divisor they are. So, 2,3,4,12,60 are all pretty but 31 or 57 are ugly. Higher numbers blur a bit for me. This may be a heuristic for how easily my mind manipulates those numbers.

Also, and with the main population I feel like an oddity for this, I derive significant pleasure from completing math problems. I imagine many others here do too.

comment by thejash · 2011-12-06T01:03:35.935Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I also had an uncomfortably strong level of empathy specifically towards people doing something that would make me uncomfortable, in a social sense. When I watched someone talking and embarrassing themselves in class for example, it felt like my insides were trying to escape my skin.

This actually went away after watching all of the seasons of The Office (the American version).

However, I'm pretty sure I feel an abnormally low amount of empathy for other emotional states in other people (both positive and negative, this was unaffected by watching The Office)

comment by Kaj_Sotala · 2011-12-06T09:51:23.122Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Finnish actually has a word for this feeling - myötähäpeä (a literal translation would be something like "co-shame" or "shared shame"). Me and some people I know have occasionally wondered if Americans generally experience it less, because American TV shows seem to have a tendency to produce enough myötähäpeä to make them unwatchable more frequently than shows from other countries do.

comment by Nornagest · 2011-12-06T19:34:29.188Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I'm American, and I feel that sense of embarrassment-by-proxy strongly enough to actively avoid a lot of the situational comedy that the US film and television industries produce. But that seems fairly unusual in this culture, if my social group and my perceptions of the American mainstream are anything to go by.

comment by Kaj_Sotala · 2011-12-07T14:38:09.790Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

One explanation - that actually seems a bit too obvious to me - is the uniquely strong individualism of American culture. In a more collective or family/group-based culture, feeling ashamed over somebody else embarrassing themselves is an entirely reasonable reaction. If someone belonged to your group, it would be your responsibility to look after them and make sure they don't embarrass themselves or otherwise fare badly. By embarrassing themselves, they would also be shaming you.

Of course, the characters in television shows don't belong to our family, but adaptation-executers not fitness maximizers.

comment by RomeoStevens · 2011-12-10T05:08:39.348Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I strangely find peep show watchable but curb your enthusiasm not watchable. Maybe the accents help me delineate.

comment by bbleeker · 2011-12-06T19:15:05.405Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

In Dutch we call it 'plaatsvervangende schaamte' - my dictionary translates that as 'vicarious shame', so English does have an expression for it, too. I think that the Dutch expression is clearer about you experiencing shame in place of the other person, who doesn't seem to feel any...

comment by wedrifid · 2011-12-06T10:59:57.067Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Me and some people I know have occasionally wondered if Americans generally experience it less, because American TV shows seem to have a tendency to produce enough myötähäpeä to make them unwatchable more frequently than shows from other countries do.

That's true, I've noticed it myself.

comment by DanielVarga · 2011-12-06T23:05:05.244Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I have this thing, too. It would be interesting to figure out if it is overrepresented in this community, and if yes, why. I googled and found this account, which basically says that it's simply empathy:

Vicarious Embarrassment: Awkward Moments Trigger Pain Centers in the Brain

I am not sure I can believe that.

comment by Prismattic · 2011-12-07T01:35:40.967Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I have this as well. I would not generally describe it as feeling like empathy from the inside.

comment by eugman · 2011-12-06T16:28:27.852Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I can say, as an American, I've never met another person who had to cover their ears or eyes during a show because of this sensation.

comment by bbleeker · 2011-12-06T19:17:54.282Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

In the Netherlands it's apparently quite rare too.

comment by eugman · 2011-12-07T11:04:23.283Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

It looks like I have to take back what I said. I was watching Moulin Rouge and a friend covered her eyes. It was the elephant room scene.

comment by eugman · 2011-12-06T01:20:56.880Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Have you found any negative consequences from this exposure therapy?

comment by thejash · 2011-12-06T01:35:22.429Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

None that I've noticed It's actually quite nice not to feel personally liable when other people are doing stupid things anymore.

If you're willing to generalize from one data point, I say go for it :)

If you DO go for it, note that most of the benefit came from watching the first two seasons, so if you don't experience any change after that, it probably isn't worth pursuing. Also, I watched it with a bunch of friends who all clearly enjoyed it, so that might be a good detail to replicate if possible.

Also if you try it, let me know how it turns out, I'm really curious.

comment by lavalamp · 2011-12-07T00:48:44.689Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I've seen the first two or three seasons, and it didn't cure me. :(

comment by lavalamp · 2011-12-07T00:44:40.027Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Your first three paragraphs describe me to a bizarrely high degree of accuracy.

comment by eugman · 2011-12-07T11:00:31.136Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Do the the dimples on the side of your face approximate the big dipper? We are a part of a cloning project run secretly by the government in the late 80's.

More seriously, are you an INTP? Does one of your parents have a severe mental illness? Is the other an electric engineer?

comment by lavalamp · 2011-12-07T14:14:43.399Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

INTP, yes. I think-- been a while since I took one of those tests, the P might be iffy. The rest doesn't match, although there is mental illness in the family tree-- just not that close to me. Unless you count religion, anyway.

comment by eugman · 2011-12-07T15:35:55.695Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Ok, just curious. One friend of mine is very similar in many regards and those were three of the biggest parallels in our lives. Technically he was INTJ, iffy on the J too.

Additionally, you would have been freaking out if all 3 had matched.

comment by [deleted] · 2011-12-06T03:20:42.195Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

.

comment by bbleeker · 2011-12-06T18:54:29.983Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks, I'll have to remember that. I'm the same as eugman in that respect.

comment by erratio · 2011-12-05T14:22:45.705Z · score: 6 (8 votes) · LW · GW

I am unable to take naps or fall asleep by accident. I have to be explicitly trying to sleep, and it usually takes at least half an hour to fall asleep. This holds even when I haven't slept for over a day and I'm exhausted - I still have to give myself permission, and the process is still not fast.

comment by komponisto · 2011-12-06T00:41:45.810Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

By contrast, I am unable to fall asleep except by accident.

comment by [deleted] · 2011-12-05T20:18:19.921Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I have basically the same thing, maybe a little less marked. Nap are pointless for me unless they last at least 90 minutes, because I'll spend the first half hour or so barely dozing. I can sometimes fall asleep more quickly, though, when extremely tired. ETA I have never fallen asleep by accident (once or twice I've noticed dozy sensations creeping up on me, but it's quite rare), and I'm an extremely light sleeper.

comment by vali · 2011-12-06T10:33:11.625Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I'm a very visual person. When I read books, my mind creates mental images and associates emotions with those images. If it's a really good book, the experience is very similar to dreaming. My conscious self is utterly submerged, and I live vicariously through the character. Six hours later (I'm a fast reader), the dream ends and I set the book down, and become myself again, and find I have visual slideshow of the entire book. I have never noticed a typo in a book. I remember virtually every fact about every book I've ever read, so long as it has some sort of narrative I can use to construct these images. So for example, I can read a history book once and never forget. I can look at a map, and navigate to anywhere on that map. I have an excellent sense of direction. I can close my eyes, and imagine myself anywhere I've been. I know it sounds like I have a photographic memory, but not really. If you gave me those tests where they show you a picture with a bunch of things, then ask you to repeat them back, I'd do pretty normally. My memory is average for details, excellent at the big picture.

I like to daydream. I have a bunch of different daydreams, and they function sort of like a screen saver for my brain. If I'm not doing anything mentally taxing, I turn on one and tune the world out. I can still remember as a child imagining all my stuffed animals as a council, sitting in a circle and doing something. Most involve a faceless, nameless protagonist who has some sort of magical powers. There are almost never meaningful relationships, and never names, in these daydreams. It's kinda creeps me out, what this fact says about me. These daydreams are very similar to what I experience when reading a book, in form if not content. These stories always involve some sort of enemy that needs defeating. Most run several years, until I get bored of them. I use them to help fall asleep. If anyone is interested, I could post one here.

I also have a really strong reaction to music. I can sit and listen to the same song on repeat for an hour, and I might as well be high, given how differently I think.

I mentioned earlier that books swallow me up, and spit me out later. I'm not capable of analysing anything I read critically the first time through. I have to go back and read it again, as an outside observer.

I have a bad habit of getting into emotional feedback loops. The need to control my emotions was what led to my current interest in rationality, and eventually here to Less Wrong. I would be a very different person if I hadn't needed to master my emotions at such a young age.

comment by erratio · 2011-12-06T13:53:27.651Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I like to daydream. I have a bunch of different daydreams, and they function sort of like a screen saver for my brain. If I'm not doing anything mentally taxing, I turn on one and tune the world out. I can still remember as a child imagining all my stuffed animals as a council, sitting in a circle and doing something. Most involve a faceless, nameless protagonist who has some sort of magical powers. There are almost never meaningful relationships, and never names, in these daydreams. It's kinda creeps me out, what this fact says about me. These daydreams are very similar to what I experience when reading a book, in form if not content. These stories always involve some sort of enemy that needs defeating. Most run several years, until I get bored of them. I use them to help fall asleep.

Hey, I have those too! I always assumed it was a natural outgrowth of normal kid fantasies (being a magical hero and facing evil, no meaningful relationships) that for some reason I just never gave up on. As I've gotten older I've noticed certain tendencies in the way my protagonist acts and relates to others that have given me insight into myself, and I've stopped using them as a sleep aid because sometimes the adventure was interesting enough that I would deliberately stay awake so I could keep generating the next part.

comment by vali · 2011-12-06T18:44:11.683Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Oftentimes, if I need to fall asleep I'll pick a really peaceful one. When I was younger, I had one where I was a full sized person in a world made entirely of legos, including tiny living lego people. I'd fall asleep, dreaming of building secret tunnels under the ocean, vast cities with towers a mile high, train tracks for the lego people that climbed mountains that rose above breathable atmosphere to reach secret veins of special legos. It was only during the day that floods, earthquakes and rival lego people threatened.

On a related note, I have such awesome ideas for a Minecraft mod.

comment by RomeoStevens · 2011-12-10T05:04:08.256Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

This makes me think that a website where people anonymously describe their fantasies/daydreams would be really interesting.

comment by Nornagest · 2011-12-06T19:22:25.097Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

There's a thread running through Methods of Rationality on the implications of patterning your developmental schema on the coming-of-age narrative typical of epic fantasy. (Haven't been able to isolate any specific examples there, but similar topics come up in "Formative Youth".) I'm pretty sure that sort of thing is very common among members of our particular tribe, and it's a topic that I'd love to see explored in more detail; unfortunately, no one I know of has ever approached it in depth, let alone with much rigor.

Might just be another holdover from the EEA, come to that; it's a lot easier to be a hero and save your social world when your social world consists of fifty-odd people, all of whom you know and maybe half a dozen of whom share your particular skillset. But hither lies a Just-So story.

comment by erratio · 2011-12-06T20:14:57.363Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

patterning your developmental schema on the coming-of-age narrative typical of epic fantasy.

I don't think I do that, there was never any doubt in my mind that it was just a story (eg. at several points over the years I've gotten bored of 'me' but not of the universe I've spent hours creating, and started following another character instead. Or introduced long timeskips so I don't have to narrate boring but necessary-to-my-current-plot events).

I'd say that if anything, I absorbed less from all the fantasy and sci fi tropes I read as a kid and teenager than most people. It never occurred to me as a kid that I should be modelling any part of my behaviour after the people in books.

comment by Crux · 2011-12-06T01:00:52.882Z · score: 5 (11 votes) · LW · GW

I would say that I'm completely and utterly neuro-typical. I don't have anything interesting to talk about. I don't visualize months as colors, my memory doesn't seem remarkable in any respect, my visual and bodily sensations aren't particularly dull or vivid, etc.

I have experienced some pretty extreme social anxiety many times in my life, but it always totally vanishes when I spend any length of time interacting with people (e.g., because a job requires me to). In fact, I tend to have this sort of attitude about most things. It's not really a matter of being fundamentally neurologically atypical; it's probably just something atypical about your lifestyle that makes you like that.

Is this guy physically atypical? Yeah of course. Most people aren't that strong or agile. It's pretty rare to walk past somebody who's at that level. But does that mean that he's fundamentally any different than most people? Probably not. He's no more remarkable than a dude who's super obese. They have different lifestyles, and it results in different looks and abilities.

I don't want to over-generalize my own experience, but I think there's plenty of truth in what I'm saying. I think there's way too much of an emphasis on being born all special and unique, and way too little on just how much control you have over your mental and physical abilities. I'm perhaps an astonishingly boring case when it comes to these kinds of threads, but it may well be because I wouldn't let an arbitrary mental abnormality stand longer than the duration in which I fail to introspect it.

I think there's a way over-emphasis on and exaggeration of mental oddities in communities like this, and I think it's for a very basic reason of social signaling. In a lot of ways, they function as backhanded compliments. Usually they come in packages of great disadvantages but also epic benefits. High-functioning autism comes to mind, where they claim to have various problems (social etc), but then also have a few super-powers. It's socially easier to sell your identity as a bundle of strengths and weaknesses than it is to stroll around claiming to be 100% awesome.

I don't really know anything about autism or Aspergers or anything, and I certainly don't want to insult anybody who really was born fundamentally neurologically atypical, but I think there's a huge social pitfall in communities like this, where people throw around labels like that way too recklessly. I've read countless posts on here that sounded as if they were bragging about their HF autism or even about how the LW community seems to have an abnormally high saturation of this neurological oddity.

It may be important to note that a lot of psychology seems to have a destructive, politically correct outlook on personality types etc. For example, the Myer-Briggs whatever seems to go out of its way to emphasize that no personality type is "better" than any other, and that they're all just different. Each of them has their advantages and disadvantages, just like a ton of the comments in this thread and others seem to imply.

Well I have a different outlook. I'm striving to be an unmitigated success in everything I care about. I don't want to have advantages and disadvantages; I want only the former. And I think it's possible, or at least much more possible than most people seem to act.

In summary, I think a lot of what passes as "neuro-atypical" is simply the result of various lifestyle factors. I see no reason why you can't simply change from being a visual thinker to a verbal one or whatever. Most discussions seem to make it seem like you just get to announce what kind of thinker you are or what your personality type is (introverted or whatever); way too little seem to discuss which personality types or mental oddities are good, which are bad, and how to switch between them.

Less Wrong perhaps does a lot better of a job on this than most, but still not very good.

comment by MixedNuts · 2011-12-06T11:44:58.325Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Just a reaction to being repeatedly told that being unusual in any way is evil and bad and horrible. Sort of like gay pride.

comment by Crux · 2011-12-07T04:28:34.084Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Good point. That must be a large factor as well.

comment by Nornagest · 2011-12-06T01:46:56.527Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

By way of disclaimer, I'm neurotypical, bar a childhood ADHD diagnosis that I'm quite skeptical about.

In any case, I agree that it's pretty common for Internet communities to place an unusual and perhaps undue emphasis on neurodiversity, possibly because of the subculture's generally high Openness (although other reasonable hypotheses exist); I did time on TV Tropes for a while, for example, and in its later years it got to be about as dismal a hive of self-congratulation as I could describe. I've heard the superpower analogy too, and I don't find it a whole lot more convincing than you seem to.

I don't think this is a signaling phenomenon, though, at least not primarily: a diagnosis carries certain sick-role implications that might be useful from a signaling perspective, and it might also further a desire to be seen as unique in some subcultures, but neither one seems to match the actual behavior involved. I think the explanation's simpler: a lot of bits have been spilled on how the Internet fosters self-reinforcing identity groups, and I think it'd be naive to suppose that this tendency doesn't extend to identity categories based on some kernel of neurodiversity. The broader culture's also gotten a lot more welcoming of small identity groups in recent decades; this might be what you're getting at with your mention of political correctness, although I'd definitely hesitate to use that term. And none of this is fundamentally a bad thing. It can lead to bad things, if it fosters fixation of destructive traits that might otherwise wash themselves out of the memetic ecosystem, but I don't think that's worth complaining about here; LW's always been fairly welcoming of self-improvement as an objective.

The rest comes down to a nature-versus-nurture debate, and this isn't really the place; but this thread, I'd say, is fairly harmless. It's not hugely useful from a theoretical perspective, being self-sampled, and in any case I don't really expect to find any unusual neurological correlates of rationality, but if an anecdote or two ends up being interesting or inspirational from a cognitive-science point of view I'd count it as a net positive.

comment by Crux · 2011-12-07T04:30:00.634Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I see what you're saying, and I guess I perhaps should have considered making a discussion post on the topic rather than throwing my rant in this thread.

comment by Kaj_Sotala · 2011-12-07T14:29:25.757Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I see no reason why you can't simply change from being a visual thinker to a verbal one or whatever.

At least to some extent, I would agree with this. But the first step in deciding to change is knowing that the change is possible and an alternative exists, which requires people to first know how they differ from others.

comment by Crux · 2011-12-07T18:12:44.036Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Agreed. There's nothing wrong with this thread, and without further information I can't prove that anybody who answered is committing any of the errors I outlined.

All in all, I probably should have considered starting a new thread on this topic instead of simply dropping my rant in here.

comment by Nisan · 2011-12-06T00:00:35.551Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

I often have familiar music playing in my head. I know it continues to play even when I'm not aware of it, because of the following evidence: Sometimes I observe playback of song S1, followed by a period of not being aware of any music, then observing playback of the unrelated song S2. And in hindsight, there is a point in S1 that is a natural segue into S2.

I'm sometimes unaware of my emotions. I didn't know this was possible until kinda recently.

I'm most comfortable with non-verbal thinking. When I think verbally I'm more rational (as opposed to intuitive), but am slower and tend to get lost in tangents. For this reason I used to regard the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis as obviously false. Now I consider it to be a confused question.

I experience ASMR only when a barber uses electric clippers on the back of my neck.

I get butterflies in my stomach when I'm in love and/or on rollercoasters. This is a physical sensation.

I'm under the impression that in male sexuality, sexual desire is supposed to be pleasant and empowering. I did not experience it that way until I tried certain recreational drugs.

Despite being a native English speaker, I perceive /ɪŋ/ as /iŋ/.

comment by Morendil · 2011-12-05T17:47:04.815Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

An almost trivial but (to me) interesting one: I'd be a great proofreader, typos just jump out at me. This appears to be unusual; most people just mentally paper over any mispellings they encounter. (Random web page turned up by a Google search for affirmations of this principle.)

As a tiny test, did you immediately spot the (ETA: more subtle) typo I deliberately inserted in the above paragraph?

comment by [deleted] · 2011-12-05T17:55:55.251Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

As a tiny test, did you immediately spot the typo I deliberately inserted in the above paragraph?

Hmph. I was seconds away from typing a snarky reply about it, but then you went and ruined my fun.

On a related note, I suspect that people are better at noticing typos in other people's writing compared to their own, possibly because they know what their own writing is supposed to say and have it somewhat memorized. However, this is unfounded speculation and generalizing from one example.

comment by Vaniver · 2011-12-05T23:40:45.420Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

On a related note, I suspect that people are better at noticing typos in other people's writing compared to their own, possibly because they know what their own writing is supposed to say and have it somewhat memorized. However, this is unfounded speculation and generalizing from one example.

This is a recognized effect called the Proofreader Illusion.

comment by Kaj_Sotala · 2011-12-05T20:11:59.051Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

If you hadn't mentioned it, I wouldn't have, and even then I had to read through your comment word-by-word to find it.

comment by bbleeker · 2011-12-06T19:29:18.164Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Me too.

comment by lavalamp · 2011-12-07T16:35:37.540Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I didn't consciously notice until you mentioned it, at which point my eyes focused directly on it.

comment by MinibearRex · 2011-12-05T20:09:34.300Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

As a tiny test, did you immediately spot the (ETA: more subtle) typo I deliberately inserted in the above paragraph?

I caught it as soon as I was looking for it, but not the first time.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2011-12-05T17:55:21.927Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

It took me a couple of tries and some effort to find the typo.

comment by Luke_A_Somers · 2011-12-05T16:48:04.784Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

In one psychology experiment run by an acquaintance of mine, I was asked to dip a hand into ice water for an extended period and rate my discomfort level (the experiment also included groups which were lied to as to when they'd be told to remove their hand). I rated it as 2; days after the experiment, my acquaintance said that was abnormally low discomfort.

Similarly, in the hospital as I was recovering from peritonitis, the nurse was skeptical of my 1-10 pain rating of pi.

I guess it's just that I can remember how much things really hurt when they really hurt so my 10s are much closer to the real maximum pain than most peoples'. In that case it's not really my brain, but my mind?

comment by Nornagest · 2011-12-05T19:51:19.663Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

I'm a little surprised that those uncalibrated pain scales enjoy such wide use; with no obvious anchors, I'd expect people's subjective responses to them to vary quite a bit. Since this doesn't seem to be the case, I suppose most people are anchoring on something I'm not.

The last time I was asked for a pain rating (doctor's visit following trauma to an eardrum), I hemmed and hawed over it for a while and finally interpreted it as a quasi-logarithmic scale with 1 being the least perceptible discomfort definable as such. This seemed to confuse the nurse.

comment by JenniferRM · 2011-12-06T20:30:15.894Z · score: 14 (14 votes) · LW · GW

A friend of mine in college had a story about a dislocated elbow. The conversation was early in the diagnostic process, possibly over the phone:

Friend: "I have a dislocated elbow."
Nurse: "On a scale of one to ten what's your pain?"
Friend: "Seven."
Nurse: "Then you don't have a dislocated elbow. Those are very painful and people say ten when it happens."
Friend: "Kidney stones are a nine. I'm saving ten for something worse than that."
Nurse: "Oh... [stops to think] Then I guess you probably do have a dislocated elbow."

comment by TheOtherDave · 2011-12-06T21:34:08.158Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

My answer at one point (when I was in a rehab center recovering from a stroke) was something like "if 10 is, say, having a burning building collapse around me, this is a 3. Maybe a 2. I'm not sure... I've never had a burning building collapse around me, but I'd expect it sucks."

Eventually I calibrated my answers against the pain meds they were giving me and just started giving them numbers.

comment by Prismattic · 2011-12-07T02:13:04.602Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Based on this, I assumed the pain scale was something like

0 = I was unaware that receiving oral sex is part of the evaluation process, but thank you, nurse.
2 = The mild irritation of needing but being unable to sneeze.
4 = This is actually just ennui.
6 = The stupidity of your diagnosis would cause me to facepalm if my hands were not so badly burned at the moment.
8 = I've recently been smashed in the face with a cast-iron frying pan. How do you think I feel?...
10 = ...and now my eyes are leaking pimples on to my face as well. Dammit!

comment by radical_negative_one · 2011-12-06T04:18:03.500Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I was talking to a paramedic, who uses a 1-10 pain scale as part of his patient assessment. He said that it's common to have a patient reply "ten" and then the paramedic would say something like "When your wife gave birth to your child, that was a ten. Are you sure this is a ten?" after which the patient decides that the pain is actually more like a five.

comment by Prismattic · 2011-12-05T21:49:29.545Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Similarly, in the hospital as I was recovering from peritonitis, the nurse was skeptical of my 1-10 pain rating of pi.

I'd be skeptical too. There's no way your pain sensitivity is finely calibrated enough to give 3.14 as an answer, never mind 3.1415..... ;)

comment by Luke_A_Somers · 2011-12-06T06:24:48.671Z · score: 12 (12 votes) · LW · GW

Did I claim error bars? No, I didn't! pi is not intrinsically more precise a number than 1, 2, or 3!

comment by tgb · 2011-12-06T01:38:47.760Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

There's no way your pain sensitivity is finely calibrated enough to give 1.00 as an answer, let alone 1.0000.... ;)

comment by RichardKennaway · 2011-12-07T13:20:10.492Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

XKCD.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2011-12-09T04:13:48.354Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Hyperbole and a half

Pain chart that I've seen pain sufferers recommend.

comment by [deleted] · 2011-12-11T20:45:06.102Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

.

comment by Rubix · 2011-12-22T05:08:37.670Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

This one is the best I've seen so far.

comment by [deleted] · 2011-12-05T16:34:42.564Z · score: 5 (9 votes) · LW · GW

.

comment by RomeoStevens · 2011-12-10T05:26:34.921Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Would you be willing to try to figure out how you did this emotional expelling and describing what you think your process is? This sounds highly valuable.

comment by [deleted] · 2011-12-10T13:05:17.569Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

.

comment by mstevens · 2011-12-05T11:42:29.758Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

There's something about identifying syllables in the sounds of words that other people seem to automatically "get" which is a complete mystery to me. I normally cannot count syllables in words.

comment by fetidodor · 2011-12-08T07:55:33.154Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I've been in the collegiate environment for a while now and spent a lot of time around various people in academics, but I have consistently noticed a striking difference in people gifted in mathematics. I find that people with serious mathematical talent have an extremely propensity for thinking about mathematics. It's the most striking example of the sort of thing you're mentioning that I have ever come across. It's frequently given me the impression that mathematical talent is the academic talent that is most like athletics or sportsmanship in terms of just weird, unusually demonstrable performance characteristics.

It's difficult to be more specific than that, but when I started noticing this, it made me extremely interested in the sort of topic you're discussing. One of the ways this became apparent to me was when I realized that it wasn't just the difference between someone being stupid and smart, or something generic like that. I think at first I was disconcerted by this level of mathematical aptitude in some people, but then eventually after getting to know a lot of people like this I realized I could still hold my own with them, the aptitude wasn't some kind of signal for all around mental supremacy. I'm sure many people in my profession and people in various other areas of academia (biology, chemistry, all the engineering areas, philosophy, etc.) are just as "generically smart" as pure mathematicians, but when it comes to high level mathematics, it's astonishing what kind of massive gap you can observe between two people who are both "generically smart".

My personal intuition is that this really comes down to a brain wiring functionality that is peculiar to mathematical talent, since doing mathematics and doing proofs has such specific, strenuous requirements on serial logic processing, memory, symbolic representation, and so on. These constraints aren't that specific in nature, but they are much more about just doing ordinary things at a very high level of functionality. For example, mathematicians have to have a very high capability in learning new definitions and inserting them into their knowledge base, reminiscent of language, but it's essentially a task that all of us are able to do already, just not as well or as speedily. Hanging around mathematicians, you just start to get the feeling their minds are acting a lot more like computers than the rest of us, for example, just performing basic serial logic at an unusually high frequency.

comment by Swimmy · 2011-12-06T18:12:35.164Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

There's an interesting chapter in Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman! in which Feynman describes trying to see if he can count while doing other activities (he can't, for many of them). He finds that a friend can perform the task easily. Here is an excerpt.

comment by WrongBot · 2011-12-06T08:37:32.403Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

When I was younger I had a great deal of trouble recognizing facial expressions. For example, it was hard for me to tell whether someone was smiling or barely managing to hold back tears. I could usually figure out which was which from context, at least when the emotions involved were so different. With nuances like the difference between a smirk and a grin, I was completely unable to tell the difference. Ditto for picking up emotional content from intonation and vocal tone.

As a teenager I trained myself to recognize specific small details that reliably distinguish between otherwise similar-looking expressions; tightened muscles, gaze direction, shoulder height and angle, things like that.

I've been diagnosed with Asperger's, ADHD, and delayed sleep phase disorder.

comment by Normal_Anomaly · 2011-12-06T21:43:16.578Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

As a teenager I trained myself to recognize specific small details that reliably distinguish between otherwise similar-looking expressions; tightened muscles, gaze direction, shoulder height and angle, things like that.

Could you do a discussion post on this? It would really help me.

comment by WrongBot · 2011-12-06T23:10:04.399Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

That's something I've wanted to do for a while, and I've tried to start writing the post a couple times, but I've had a really hard time putting a lot of it into words. I'll give it another shot, though, interest is highly motivating.

comment by Crux · 2011-12-07T04:18:12.656Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I would also be very interested in a post on that topic.

comment by eugman · 2011-12-07T12:45:05.537Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Do you have an android device? This tool was useful for me personally. It only covers facial expressions for the fundamental emotions; however, I can now reliably notice the disgust response in people where I couldn't before.

comment by nerfhammer · 2011-12-19T08:16:06.049Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Check out Paul Ekman's books

comment by CronoDAS · 2011-12-06T02:03:51.827Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I frequently experience emotions as physical sensations. I can even physically locate them in my body sometimes. For example, I feel tend to feel sadness and sleepiness in my eyes and anger in my forehead. Sometimes I end up unable to figure out what emotion my current sensations correspond to. On a possibly related note, if I pay attention to what any given part of my body is feeling, after a while I start to feel some low-level pain in that spot. I try not to pay attention to my body very much as a result.

I get lost in books and such very easily, ending up almost totally oblivious to the world around me. I also read very quickly. And if I'm not keeping my brain occupied by something, I tend to either fall asleep or get very frustrated. It also causes me to be unaware of any pains or discomforts I'm feeling.

I often have trouble paying attention to what people are saying when they are talking to me and need to ask them to repeat what they are saying; my brain seems to interpret people's voices as background noise and I have trouble turning this off.

I often have a song of some kind playing in my head. I can play melodies by ear on the piano, but not harmonies, and I usually find that when I try to recall a memorized song I can only "hear" the singer and not any of the accompanying instruments.

Whenever I am in the process of inserting an earplug inside my right ear, it presses on a spot that causes me to feel an urge to cough. It happens every single time, and it doesn't have to be an earplug pressing the spot; an otoscope can also trigger the sensation.

I don't like the taste of most chocolate. I particularly dislike chocolate milk, chocolate ice cream, and chocolate cake.

comment by Normal_Anomaly · 2011-12-06T02:27:22.918Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Whenever I am in the process of inserting an earplug inside my right ear, it presses on a spot that causes me to feel an urge to cough. It happens every single time, and it doesn't have to be an earplug pressing the spot; an otoscope can also trigger the sensation.

Cool, I'm not the only person who has this!

comment by billswift · 2011-12-06T13:53:05.138Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

It happens to me too, but in my case I know what caused it. I had shingles in 2000 and have several facial scars and one small bump of scar tissue in my ear canal. The neuralgia associated with the scars has mostly faded, but it is fading more slowly on the scar in my ear, direct contact on the scar still triggers it and in that case gives me an urge to cough.

comment by [deleted] · 2011-12-06T02:11:10.694Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I get lost in books and such very easily, ending up almost totally oblivious to the world around me. I also read very quickly. And if I'm not keeping my brain occupied by something, I tend to either fall asleep or get very frustrated.

This also happens to me (well, not the getting frustrated part). I sometimes joke that if I ever start snoring it will be the end of my academic career.

comment by Crux · 2011-12-07T03:27:27.357Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I frequently experience emotions as physical sensations. I can even physically locate them in my body sometimes. For example, I feel tend to feel sadness and sleepiness in my eyes and anger in my forehead.

I get this too, and in fact have long speculated it to be the way that most people probably experience emotions. For example, I feel fear as a ripple through my chest with two distinct parameters. The larger the waves and the more they travel outward from the epicenter, the greater the perceived danger. And the further to the right or left of my chest the center of the splash, the more likely the alleged danger is coming from that side.

I have introspected plenty more where that came from, and have gotten confirmation from plenty of different people that their subjective experience of emotions is similar. This isn't common knowledge, but I assume that's only because of the difficulty of introspecting such fundamental mental facts. Most people have had this sort of mental phenomena on auto-ignore since they were in their single digits, so it's usually quite hard to dig up.

There must be a subjective experience constituting each emotion (or they wouldn't exist), and it generally seems to be a combination between (1) a comfortable or uncomfortable bodily sensation and (2) various other things that would take a while to explain.

comment by eugman · 2011-12-07T12:41:45.682Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I get this too, and in fact have long speculated it to be the way that most people probably experience emotions.

Relevant?

comment by Crux · 2011-12-07T18:17:20.631Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Yes. Thank you for the link.

comment by woodside · 2011-12-08T23:17:25.804Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I have an absolutely atrocious memory for specifics when it comes to interpersonal interactions. I have a very difficult time saying what a person did or said even later that day. What makes this strange is that I have an excellent memory for a more abstract accounting of people's abilities and can predict people's reactions to different situations with a high degree of accuracy. I deal with utilizing people very often in my job (military officer) and I am known and respected for being very good at putting the right team together for a situation and splitting tasks between people in the most efficient manner. I always have a high confidence model of what a person is capable of, how trustworthy they are, how much stress they can handle etc, but when I try to analyze where this opinion originates from I can never remember anything. Since studying rationality I've become somewhat skeptical of how accurate I actually am in this regard, but after many attempts to test my gut opinions about people I've concluded that whatever my brain is doing, even in the absence of any consciously accessible data, seems to work.

comment by arundelo · 2011-12-06T03:56:06.528Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Sometimes I have a visual experience that is very hard to describe. It happens when a person is talking to me and I've been looking at them without interruption for several minutes. (Maybe they need to be looking at me too; I can't remember.)

What happens is that the person starts to seem very close to me and very small, as though I had my face pressed up to the window of a dollhouse and they were inside it. This is not exactly what it is like, but it's the closest I can come to putting it into words.

If I look away, the effect stops, but it easily starts again when I look back at the person. I can't make it happen at will, but once it starts I can turn it on and off to a limited extent.

I first noticed this when I was 13 or so.

(I don't think this is quite the type of thing Kaj is most interested in, but it's the only peculiarity of my mind that hasn't already been mentioned in other responses to this post. Indeed, I've never heard of it anywhere, so if anyone has, please share!)

comment by quentin · 2011-12-08T03:46:09.894Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not sure if I experience the same thing, but it sounds similar.

It sometimes happens with peoples faces, more often with my laptop screen when I've been staring at it for a while. It is impossible to put into words... sort of like my sense of size becomes meaningless. Depth perception vanishes. Sometimes things seem very small, or very large, but that is not quite it. It is more like my brain doesn't know how to parse anything related to absolute size.

Sometimes when I'm trying to fall asleep, I'll experience it with very high intensity. Normally when I think of an object, it is in one of two ways. Either I'm modeling it in my head, in which case it seems roughly head-sized and located (where else) in my head. Alternatively I superimpose it on the environment, and I can roughly envision it at appropriate scale. So whatever part of my brain that is responsible for these tasks seemingly deactivates. It's really interesting in an abstract way, but its accompanied by mild nausea and vertigo.

comment by Crux · 2011-12-07T04:15:06.954Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Something similar happens to me. If I'm talking to somebody and staring them right in the eyes for more than like 90 seconds, my whole visual field seems to go totally haywire and I start seeing multiple, partial images of their face stacked on top of each other, rotated randomly, and bleeding into each other.

It's of course very difficult to explain what it looks like because of how unfamiliar the patterns are (and thus how hard it would be to remember them in high enough detail to draw or whatever), so a real explanation will most likely have to wait until there's technology available to simply scan my visual field onto a monitor, but it's something like what I wrote above.

Anyway, this only happens when I'm so intent on staring them down with absolutely no interruptions for so long that I end up totally overriding my natural inclination to dart my eyes around in the specific pattern designed to scan the room and form a good representation, so it seems like this phenomenon is simply the chaotic result of overriding the preset updating system for vision.

comment by Psychosmurf · 2011-12-05T22:43:47.132Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I experience numbers as being on a line that runs left to right, swerves to the left at some number, continues upwards, and then returns to running from left to right. My experience of temperatures, people's ages, and the days of months is similar, but with different patterns of where the turns are. However, I think it may actually go right to left somewhere in the millions, though I'm not sure. Negative numbers run to the left forever, as far as I can tell. Calendar years are slightly different, in that they take more rounded turns and seem to be capable of going in any direction. The months of the year are very different. They make a letter "D" curve with January at the top and December at the bottom, but the link between January and December seems to be "pinched" rather than connected by a straight line. Also, the days of the week have different shades, Monday-Friday are all slightly grayish, while Saturday and Sunday are bright.

I also experience the letters of the alphabet, numerals, punctuation marks, months, days of the week, and various mathematical symbols as having genders and personalities.

I seem to be unable to think without internal monologue and visualization both being active. Whenever I imagine something, my internal monologue is describing it, and whenever I think verbally I visualize what I'm "talking" about.

I have an exceptional memory for auditory information.

I am usually almost completely indifferent to adult suffering.

I can get lost in deep thought such that I may forget where I am or the time of day or what I'm doing, etc. In these episodes, it may be quite difficult to get my attention.

I can hardly look at an object or person without them having a strong influence on my line of thought.

I conceptualize manipulations of mathematical expressions as movements consisting of slides and "flips".

comment by Dreaded_Anomaly · 2011-12-05T22:37:48.824Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

A few relatively unusual things that come to mind:

People often make claims that even atheists have "God-shaped holes" that they need to fill. I have never felt this way, and I have no visceral understanding of what others mean when they say that they do feel such a thing. This also applies to related concepts, e.g. a search for "universal meaning," a religion-inspiring feeling that "there must be something greater out there," etc.

I'm somewhere in the middle of the introversion-extroversion scale. I enjoy socializing, but I still need time to myself in order to recharge mentally. Extroverts tend to see me as "one of them" at first, and then they become confused when I don't always want to go out and party.

I never went through the (seemingly typical) stage in childhood where one has a general dislike of/aversion to the other gender. I was friends with both boys and girls, more or less equally, since preschool if not earlier. (I myself am a straight male, to contextualize this for those curious.)

There was an interesting survey several years ago on Cosmic Variance about our mental images of time. I'll quote my response:

My main physical conceptions of time are in terms of years or weeks. Both involve spirals, although oriented differently.

For years, I think of them as a clockwise spiral going upwards, such that any two years make a complete circle when seen from “above.” For example, if I picture this year and then next year, it’s a circle where the bottom is January 2009, the left middle is Summer 2009, the top is Winter 2009-2010, the right middle is Summer 2010, etc. There’s definite seasonal imagery connected to this view. To try to demonstrate this, a diagram is -(:)-, where the -’s are summers and the .’s are winters. I often picture myself as being “on” a certain part of the spiral/circle, e.g. right now I’m coming up to the “top” of the 2009-2010 circle.

For weeks, I think of them as a spiral going to the right, so that if you look at it from the side, “days” are in the front and “nights” are in the back. I picture a week like this: |S|M|T|W|R|F|S| (often without the days labeled, but I put that there for clarity), where each day goes off to night and then loops around behind to connect to the next day in the morning.

I imagine any other timescale as just a long line going left to right.

There seems to be quite a range of mental images of time among people.

comment by MileyCyrus · 2011-12-06T06:42:07.111Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

People often make claims that even atheists have "God-shaped holes" that they need to fill. I have never felt this way, and I have no visceral understanding of what others mean when they say that they do feel such a thing

From the other side of the spectrum: I pray to a god I know doesn't exist, just because I feel a compulsion. Many atheists do not understand what the need to worship feels like. It's not about being scared of life and wanting a sky-daddy to comfort you. It's not about trying to outsource critical thinking. For some people, worshiping a god is just something you've got to do. Like taking a stretch after being cramped in an airplane.

comment by Postal_Scale · 2011-12-06T20:18:30.943Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Were you raised in a religious family?

comment by MixedNuts · 2011-12-06T20:38:37.637Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Data point: I do the same thing, and I wasn't.

comment by Postal_Scale · 2011-12-10T11:37:54.369Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Can you elucidate why, and indeed what it is you're actually doing when you pray/worship?

comment by MixedNuts · 2011-12-12T10:23:07.622Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Why: doing it feels good; not doing it feels bad. If I haven't prayed for a while, either I get listless, nervous, and irritable, or I haven't had the urge because I'm badly depressed.

What, from the outside: Being either alone or with other worshipers. Possibly using a focus (religious music, a picture, a rosary). Making a fixed set of gestures. Saying, whispering, or rattling off in my head prayers (usually a psalm, a mantra, or something outright silly like the alphabet). Sometimes, doing louder things like shouting, kneeling, jumping, dancing.

What, from the inside: As I pray, I start feeling relaxed (it feels deep, but actually doesn't last). Then, if I'm lucky, I'll start feeling a specific emotion - awe, reverence, loyalty, gratitude, things like that. I also sometimes feel it when looking at very beautiful things. I might also get strong feelings of joy, hence the shouting and dancing (psalm 117 is made of fun and party hats). Sometimes after praying for a long time I get visual illusions and auditory hallucinations, but that's just me.

comment by MileyCyrus · 2011-12-07T05:39:39.957Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I was. After reading Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids though, I suspect my god-shaped hole has more to do with genetics than how I was raised.

comment by sixes_and_sevens · 2011-12-05T21:06:22.031Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I've previously discussed "the beat" on here. Varying degrees of musicality seems to be a pretty pervasive theme in other comments and similar discussions.

Ooh. Here's one. I seem to have a faculty for formulating highly inappropriate or subversive responses to things. When asked "what's the most inappropriate personalised message to put on an easter egg?" I immediately come up with "lots of tiny swastikas spelling out 'fuck the police'". This is useful for comedic, literary and poetic purposes, and I can generally recognise other people who have the same faculty if I talk to them for a little while or appraise their work in any detail.

Staying on the subject of poetry, I also have an utterly fastidious and unrelenting need for perfect scansion in poetic verse. When I read or listen to the work of a poet or songwriter, I can generally tell if they have that same need. Over 160 years after his death, for example, I can tell that Edgar Allan Poe was driven to distraction by stray metric feet in the same way I am. If he wasn't, his work wouldn't be the way it is.

comment by Eneasz · 2011-12-05T22:50:53.312Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

When asked "what's the most inappropriate personalised message to put on an easter egg?" I immediately come up with "lots of tiny swastikas spelling out 'fuck the police'".

I don't understand. What's particularly special about that, that it counts as the most inappropriate personalized message? Why is it worse than, say, lots of tiny heroin needles spelling out "Your Child's Leukemia Is Hilarious!"

comment by sixes_and_sevens · 2011-12-06T00:19:52.779Z · score: 9 (11 votes) · LW · GW

I wouldn't claim the ability to produce the most inappropriate such message; simply a highly inappropriate one in response to that question, immediately and reflexively, whether I wanted to or not.

It is, however, superior to your suggestion for a number of reasons:

1) It's considerably more achievable to spell out a three simple-word message with no punctuation in recognisable swastikas on an easter egg than it is to spell out a five complex-word message with punctuation in recognisable heroin needles in the same medium.

2) Swastikas are an immediately recognisable and highly historically, socially and politically charged symbol in a way that needles simply are not. You'd have a hard time even getting people to recognise a pointy blob piped onto a piece of confectionery as a hypodermic needle, let alone conveying the idea that it was for the purpose of injecting heroin.

3) "Fuck the police" is also an existing politicised statement, primarily associated with black gangsta rap group N.W.A., but also a broad anarchist sentiment taken in isolation, while "Your Child's Leukemia Is Hilarious!" is simply a highly distasteful fabricated statement without any precedent impact. It makes people go "ew", unless they actually have a child with leukemia, in which case it's just grievously cruel.

4) It's composed of radically opposed concepts, instead of randomly disjoint ones. Swastikas and gangsta rap lyrics emphatically do not belong together. More generally, anarchist and fascist statements aren't the most cosy of bedfellows. Heroin needles and leukemia hilarity are just randomly thrown together. Mine is subversive in structure, whereas yours is just surreal.

5) It's generally punchier. People can interpret the components immediately, and then their brains encounter resistance as they try to put them together. You get a sudden "WTF!?" moment since it's easy to read but hard to understand. With the heroin needle leukemia hilarity suggestion, the reader is presented with two quite hard-to-interpret elements, so the confusion happens at the wrong point. It's hard to read, but easy to understand, and the payload isn't worth the cost of delivery. It's like a shaggy dog story as opposed to a snappy one-liner.

6) When someone says "Your Child's Leukemia Is Hilarious!" they're clearly just going for the most shocking and distateful ideas that they can think of, since very few people think terminal childhood illness is genuinely funny. Once you realise that, you dismiss it as kind of childish. But people do use swastikas as symbols of their allegiance to horrific ideals, and people do say "fuck the police" and mean it, because they have legitimate and complex issues with authority figures and social institutions. Taken independently they could be serious statements. Only in combination do they become a jokingly obtuse, clearly over-the-top gesture of intentional offensiveness.

Back to the broader point, I believe people with the faculty I am claiming to possess would instantly and intuitively find mine more entertaining than yours, because they will likey favour inappropriate humour.

comment by Eneasz · 2011-12-06T18:01:22.601Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Hm. Very well then. I suppose I'm just an old curmudgeon who doesn't understand inappropriate humor. At least it's better than puns.

comment by prase · 2011-12-06T15:54:57.944Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I probably share your sense of humor. But just two nitpicks:

It's composed of radically opposed concepts, instead of randomly disjoint ones.

Since the neo-Nazi activities are often illegal, the Nazis may quite easily say "fuck the police". I am not too familiar with the Nazi subculture, but (therefore?) I would be able to mistake the combination for a genuine expression of political opinion (not sure about that if they happened to be painted on an easter egg).

I believe people with the faculty I am claiming to possess would instantly and intuitively find mine more entertaining than yours

This sounds tautologically trivial, unless the faculty is defined more precisely than it was.

comment by sixes_and_sevens · 2011-12-06T16:13:28.348Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I've met (way) more than my fair share of anarcho-communists. They're real, fairly intelligent and reasonably well educated people who simultaneously hold what I believe to be radically opposed and mutually conflicting philosophies. The fact they exist doesn't make those philosophies any less radically opposed or mutually conflicting. It does make them kind of funny, though.

As regards the tautology claim, I'm not saying people who share my sense of humour will prefer things I also find funny. I'm saying that my sense of humour is informed by my tendency to spontaneously formulate inappropriate responses to situations. Impropriety is in many ways an aesthetic property, and other people with that tendency to formulate inappropriate responses to situations will have an aesthetic appreciation for it when they see it carried out by other people.

comment by prase · 2011-12-06T16:51:59.769Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I wasn't meaning that existence of Nazis fucking the police implies absence of contradiction in that action, but rather that "fuck the police" and swastika aren't necessarily immediately perceived as symbols of opposed ideologies. I know what a swastika symbolises, but as for "fuck the police", my internal ideology analyser returned a rather generic "political contrarian" label, under which Nazis can be classified without difficulty. Needless to say, I have no knowledge of gangsta rap.

(In a sense, putting two contradictory ideologies together makes them somewhat cancel each other and makes the whole thing less inappropriate. Combining two compatible symbols would have a stronger effect, as long as inappropriateness is the main goal.)

comment by sixes_and_sevens · 2011-12-06T18:06:13.906Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I think a distinction needs to be drawn between "inappropriate" and "shocking". Shock is about the magnitude of anticipated response, whereas impropriety is about things being out of place. They can go hand in hand (the most inappropriate things usually have a shocking aspect), but they don't quite work in the same way.

If you want to maximise shock, you transgress the biggest taboos you have available, but if you transgress too many at once it stops being shocking and starts being farcical. If you want to maximise impropriety, you need to provide something tailor-made to transgress the specific taboos of the situation you're in. By way of example, if a gynecologist wolf-whistles while giving a patient a pelvic exam, that's inappropriate. If he stabs her to death, that's shocking. If he chops her up into bits and feeds her to orphans working in his sweatshop that manufactures clubs for killing baby seals, that's farcical.

The contradictory nature of "fuck the police" in swastikas is somewhat farcical, making it irreverant about serious issues in a way that isn't as bluntly shocking. This is probably the "cancelling out" you mention. It could certainly be more shocking, but it's supposed to be out of place, not to generate a response of high magnitude.

comment by David_Gerard · 2011-12-22T10:21:26.656Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Since the neo-Nazi activities are often illegal, the Nazis may quite easily say "fuck the police".

You would probably be somewhat distressed by how many police are neo-Nazis and how tolerated they are by their fellows.

comment by wedrifid · 2011-12-22T11:32:50.438Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

You would probably be somewhat distressed by how many police are neo-Nazis and how tolerated they are by their fellows.

How many, how well, how many of the neo-Nazis who commit crimes are also neon-Nazi police and says who?

comment by CronoDAS · 2011-12-22T10:45:30.734Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I'm reminded of a scene in the novel Contact in which a character from Soviet Russia expresses his fondness for a button that reads "Pray for Sex". As he explains to the American main character: "In your county it is offensive in only one way, but in mine it is offensive in two different ways."

comment by SilasBarta · 2011-12-05T22:20:06.466Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Ooh. Here's one. I seem to have a faculty for formulating highly inappropriate or subversive responses to things. When asked "what's the most inappropriate personalised message to put on an easter egg?" I immediately come up with ....

That seems similar to my number 3. Glad I'm not alone!

comment by [deleted] · 2011-12-05T20:47:49.218Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

When I think about things, in addition to mental images and internal monlogue, I have very vivid tactile and kinesthetic sensations. For example, if you were to say "high-heeled shoes," I would only dimly picture a pair of heels, but I would immediately imagine how they would feel in my hand, how it would make the arch of my foot feel to wear them, and the emphatic stamping sensation of walking in them. It's the same even with abstract ideas; negative numbers feel a particular way in the pit of my stomach, and factoring feels like a physical process of disassembly.

comment by MinibearRex · 2011-12-05T20:17:11.962Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I have a weirdly good memory for things I hear said in conversation.

More interestingly, it took me many years to understand that I did not experience hunger in the same way as other people. I feel no physical sensations associated with it (nothing like a "hollow" feeling in the stomach, or rumblings, which are apparently more common symptoms). When I haven't eaten, I just find that my thoughts just keep turning towards food items. I have recurring thoughts of fruit, or something like that. When I was a kid, my parents didn't understand the way I was eating. I would never get seconds at meals. I would just eat whatever was on my plate originally, even if it was tiny, and then get up. A couple of hours later, I would be getting an apple from the refrigerator.

comment by [deleted] · 2011-12-06T04:40:24.431Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

.

comment by Antisuji · 2011-12-06T00:30:46.558Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I remember learning what hunger feels like; I was probably around 8 years old. It's not that I hadn't had those sensations before. I just hadn't consciously made the connection between the sensations and the amount of time since my last meal, thoughts of food, etc.

Incidentally, more recently I've refined my hunger-related sensations. In particular, when I'm under stress I often tense my abdominal muscles which can lead to[1] sensations that are similar to hunger pangs, with predictable results. Intentionally relaxing those muscles and paying closer attention lets me discern which sensations are due to hunger (low blood sugar or empty stomach) and which are due to stress.

[1] Though actually, I'm not sure if that's the correct causality.

comment by kilobug · 2011-12-05T18:23:11.276Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I think the most different part in my mind is how I value sensory inputs very lowly compared to most people. I do enjoy (some) food, but I don't care much about it as long as it's not something I really dislike. I prefer games which are more abstract (like pen&paper role-playing games) over more graphically shiny games. I do enjoy sex, but much less than other people seem to enjoy it, and I would definitely not do much efforts just for sex (relationship is a different issue, but it's not the sex I value in it). I prefer, by far, to read books rather than to watch TV. I value much more "internal" things (feelings, ideas, planning, knowing, understanding, ...) than I value "external" things.

My other difference is that I tend to not visualize spatially things well (I prefer text over schema, I'm easily lost in a city, ...), but that comes from a birth defect that made me unable to see in 3d until I got a surgery at the age of 2.

comment by RomeoStevens · 2011-12-10T05:25:03.817Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I would say I'm similar but my low reactance to sensory input drives me to seek out extreme inputs (positive signed).

comment by Morendil · 2011-12-05T17:41:56.375Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

One of my hunches is that people differ much more than commonly thought on the accuracy and strength of face recognition, even outside of clinical prosopagnosia.

I'm very poor at this, tending both to not recognize people, but also to over-recognize; some days every stranger I cross makes me think of someone I know strongly enough that I almost break into a smile and start greeting them, and because of past embarrassing occasions I've developed compensations which now manifest as shyness.

I'm very bad at recognizing celebrities; I've often been out walking with my wife or with friends, and hear "Oh look, here goes X" where X is someone I saw too much of on TV. And I've totally missed them going by, and a second glance leaves me unconvinced it's actually X.

comment by [deleted] · 2011-12-05T18:02:26.477Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I'm very poor at this, tending both to not recognize people, but also to over-recognize

I do this so frequently that I have come to call it "rounding to the nearest cached person." Based on conversations with people I know (warning: anecdotal evidence), it seems to be a relatively common phenomenon. I agree with Nancy's prognosis that people vary a lot more than is commonly thought, which seems to explain this.

comment by Morendil · 2011-12-05T18:14:07.802Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

The kicker though, for me at least, is this: how many social conventions are built around an idea of how people commonly think - which in many cases is largely wrong?

For instance, using name tags at a social gathering will earn you my everlasting gratitude, especially if they would not normally be expected. So will encouraging people to look at them, and designing so that they remain visible at all times (large type helps).

There is a special spot reserved midway between Heaven and Hell (actually not, but you get the idea) for people who have the bright idea of providing name tags, then screw it up by printing them only on one side and putting them on lanyards where (in accordance with Murphy's Law) they systematically end up chestwards.

comment by SilasBarta · 2011-12-05T22:16:45.630Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

There is a special spot reserved midway between Heaven and Hell (actually not, but you get the idea) for people who have the bright idea of providing name tags, then screw it up by printing them only on one side and putting them on lanyards where (in accordance with Murphy's Law) they systematically end up chestwards.

Our badges at work are like this[1], and unfortunately, it has implications beyond not remembering names -- that makes it easy for an unauthorized person to go through the facility unchallenged by having the (uninformative, easily-faked) back side of the badge showing.

[1] Well, in that most people use them or something else that allows the badge to dangle and have the same problem.

comment by Emily · 2011-12-05T22:12:21.250Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

This is what I was going to post about. I am terrible at recognising faces. People I know well are fine, but even a quite good acquaintance in the wrong context can easily throw me completely. There are a very small handful of celebrities I can recognise by their faces. I recognise most people below the level of fairly-good-acquaintance by their voice, not their face. There have been many occasions on which I haven't realised I know someone, or have seen an actor in something else, till they speak.

It's also not quite that I remember the features but can't synthesise them into a face, which I think some people with this difficulty find -- I have real trouble remembering features, too. Half the time, if you ask me whether friend-so-and-so has dark or light hair, or is tall or short, I'll struggle to say for sure.

I think I'm relatively bad at reading facial expressions, too.

comment by Normal_Anomaly · 2011-12-06T00:33:16.515Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I have the same thing, with the added complication that I can't recognize voices either. I can remember people's hair color and approximate height, though.

comment by bbleeker · 2011-12-06T19:33:49.136Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I usually (fail to) recognize people as appropriate, but one time I failed to recognize my own sister, and another time I kissed a total stranger on the cheek, thinking he was a friend.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2011-12-05T17:53:47.363Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I believe that people vary much more than is commonly thought in just about every mental respect. Language is a way of conveying a sketch of shared experience.

comment by BenLowell · 2011-12-07T14:12:19.433Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I have difficulty recognizing emotions. I tend to categorize them as physical feelings, such as a certain tightness to the stomach, or between the ribs. I've come to associate these with commonly known emotions, since some of them correlate with thoughts making them easier to pinpoint, but sometimes I have specific feelings and I don't know if it is a known emotion or not.

It is pretty rare that I don't know what I'm feeling, but I have a record of the first time I felt intense jealousy/anger/stress, and I wrote about "hot skin, wide eyes, a burning feeling on my chest like a rash, and tightness between the shoulders" and my thoughts before I realized the name for what was happening.

comment by atucker · 2011-12-06T12:07:40.738Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I experience romantic longing as a warmth starting in my heart which radiates outwards depending on intensity. Normally it only gets to about my upper lungs, but sometimes it makes it through my torso and a little bit down the upper parts of my arms. It feels slightly pressurized, but is incredibly pleasant.

Connectedness feels similar to that, but cold and associated with blue, with weird sensations in which my head either feels floating, or my arms don't feel separate from the world. This is a very rare feeling to have much of, normally when it happens it only occupies a section of my heart.

comment by Crux · 2011-12-07T04:22:24.019Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

See this post. This sort of thing may be quite common. Emotions as bodily sensations etc.

comment by DanPeverley · 2011-12-06T01:55:38.893Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I have an incredibly poor memory regarding spatial relations. I still have to look where the night stand is by my bed is to avoid hitting it, and it's been there for more than a year now. I get lost constantly, I can memorize routes from point A to point B, but I can't extrapolate routes between points based on location, because I have no general idea of location outside of specific routes and landmarks. Given that my verbal and visual memory are superb, and that I can absorb relatively large amounts of information in short amounts of time for most things, my inability to get anywhere without a GPS or absurdly specific directions is met with disbelief and amazement on the part of those who know me. I experience very strong sensations when reading, not just visual but the other senses as well, but I imagine that's not too uncommon.

comment by Crux · 2011-12-07T02:57:59.728Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

This seems like a pretty good example of what I was talking about in my reply to the OP. You gave a significant disadvantage, but then a great advantage to even it out. As always, it's socially easier to sell an identity that's a well-balanced bundle of strengths and weaknesses than it is to go around claiming to be 100% awesome.

It may also be important to point out that with each pair, the drawback tends to be more mundane (clumsy, bad at socializing, etc.), and the benefit is usually something much more "majestic" (can't think of a good word for this, but it's usually something that has less to do with our "material" existence and more to do with philosophizing, thinking, and so on).

For the utility function of the speaker or his intended audience, the drawback tends to be much less damaging than the benefit is helpful (e.g., "who cares about my athletic ability? we live in a world dominated by intellectuals!"), but for the purpose of signaling, the pairs tend to sound as if they are related enough to balance each other out. In your comment, the disadvantage was "incredibly poor memory regarding spatial relations", and the advantage was "my verbal and visual memory are superb".

They sound like they balance each other out, but of course the point is that the former is a much more "base" incompetence, and the second is what's much more useful in this day and age--one dominated not by strong, sturdy hunter-gatherers or traditional farmers, but by physically clumsy academics and scientists.

To cut this short, I should close by saying that the test for whether or not you're engaged in destructive social signaling is simple: Are you disturbed by your "incredibly poor memory regarding spatial relations", or have you simply welcomed it as a part of your identity? Has your awareness of this fact impelled you to try to fix it, or have you let it linger uncontested?

For reference, if I personally had that problem, I would be reacting something like this: "WTF IS GOING ON?? I MUST FIX THIS." Or at the very least, I certainly wouldn't accept it as a fun aspect of my identity.

comment by DanPeverley · 2011-12-08T02:06:08.905Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

It is a royal pain in the ass, and I certainly don't view it as some sort of adorable quirk. It hinders my social life and occasionally makes me feel completely incompetent. Getting lost when you're on your own is one thing, but getting lost with a date is a completely different level of embarrassment. I'm not sure where you got the idea that I think this is some sort of "fun aspect" of my personality, it's a patch of uselessness in my brain which I have to work around all the time. The reason I pointed out some positive characteristics was because this was a thread about neural irregularities, and a person who had poor spatial memory and sucked in other areas too would just be stupid, not that interesting at all. Maybe I could have just talked about my spatial memory problems, I guess, but I thought that detail seemed pertinent. It wasn't like I spent very long talking about my positives, only 27 words out of 154 dealt with the positive characteristics mentioned. While signalling influences what we do, not everything is signalling by necessity. For instance, I could say that here, and in your earlier reply, you are attempting to set yourself apart from the group as a contrarian, attempting to score yourself some sweet, sweet internet status as a free thinker. Also, just for fun, some of the methods I am using to "FIX THIS" and their relative success.

1: Practice getting lost, find way back to set points. I intentionally leave one of my paths (GPS in my car in case I fail), and drive off into side streets, making essentially random turns. Then, I try to get back to my path. So far, I have had incredibly limited success with this method. I usually end up having to arbitrarily choose turns until I pop back onto the main road, but often even when I make it back without GPS assistance, it is not because I knew where I was, but because I got lucky. I haven't seen any real improvement in this area.

2: Map study. I look at maps of the area, identify main roads, and then try to get places. It doesn't work. While it's better than going blind, I end up missing most of the visual cues needed to get anywhere. I've had to use this method mostly in live fire situations when I couldn't get my GPS, and four times out of five I've had to pull over and call for directions. When I have a map with me, I can get there, but I'll make several wrong turns and have to return to the correct path multiple times.

3: Avoiding the problem through assistance. My GPS is wonderful. I love it so much, and it loves me. I can get places, and it is able to help even after I've ignored its sage advice and made an incorrect turn due to operator error or traffic factors. A passenger who knows where they are going is around equivalent in terms of usefulness. However, these only help me when I'm with other people or in a car. In situations where I am on foot and alone, I give myself significant amounts of time to get to my destinations, because I will probably get lost (Planning fallacy means I am occasionally late anyway).

By all means, suggest how I can fix this issue. I don't mean that in a passive aggressive way (maybe a little, I'm a bit annoyed), it'd be nice to hear some alternative strategies. I want to be awesome, smart is better than stupid in all areas, and I want to be better. I have changed things about myself before, but this trait is annoying and persistent.

comment by Crux · 2011-12-08T07:16:40.702Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

It is a royal pain in the ass, and I certainly don't view it as some sort of adorable quirk. It hinders my social life and occasionally makes me feel completely incompetent. Getting lost when you're on your own is one thing, but getting lost with a date is a completely different level of embarrassment. I'm not sure where you got the idea that I think this is some sort of "fun aspect" of my personality, it's a patch of uselessness in my brain which I have to work around all the time.

Well then you're probably not engaged in the sort of destructive social signaling I was talking about.

The reason I pointed out some positive characteristics was because this was a thread about neural irregularities, and a person who had poor spatial memory and sucked in other areas too would just be stupid, not that interesting at all.

I see.

Maybe I could have just talked about my spatial memory problems, I guess, but I thought that detail seemed pertinent. It wasn't like I spent very long talking about my positives, only 27 words out of 154 dealt with the positive characteristics mentioned.

I don't see how the word count is relevant.

While signalling influences what we do, not everything is signalling by necessity. For instance, I could say that here, and in your earlier reply, you are attempting to set yourself apart from the group as a contrarian, attempting to score yourself some sweet, sweet internet status as a free thinker.

Could be.

By all means, suggest how I can fix this issue. I don't mean that in a passive aggressive way (maybe a little, I'm a bit annoyed), it'd be nice to hear some alternative strategies. I want to be awesome, smart is better than stupid in all areas, and I want to be better. I have changed things about myself before, but this trait is annoying and persistent.

Because your direct attempts to fix the problem have consistently failed over a long period of time, I would suggest perhaps switching to a somewhat more indirect approach.

What about getting into some sport or activity that requires a strong memory of spatial relations, and then spend some time optimizing your diet and lifestyle for it?

(I may be able to offer more suggestions and ones of higher detail, but I would probably have to know more about your diet, exercise routine, whether you're any good at any sports, etc.)

comment by thejash · 2011-12-06T01:21:07.185Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I sometimes (every few weeks) hear a pretty loud, high pitched sound. It eventually (within a minute) fades. No idea if that is normal or not, but it just occurred to me that it might not be.

I read at about 1100 WPM. I had no idea that people sounded out words in their heads until about two years ago, when I was speed reading an article about speed reading and realized I was speed reading. I am curious how much faster it is possible to go? Can anyone here go significantly faster? I want to know if it's worth training further.

My memory of faces might be weird. The more familiar I am with a person, the less I can visualize what their face looks like. But, I CAN visually recall (pretty accurately) pictures of those same people. For example, I have no idea what my mom's face looks like if I think of it in the abstract, but I have a screenshot that I took while we were talking on skype a few weeks ago, and I can visualize that quite well, including the glasses she was wearing, her hair, and the quality of the webcam image.

I have VERY few memories of my life before I was 11. Probably 30. And no memories of my time before I was 6. Consequently I am quite interested in life logging :)

Once I passed out while I was getting a small amount of blood drawn. When I woke up, it felt like literally ten thousand years had passed. I still feel as if there was a gap there (This is not related to the above however, I've always had about the same small number of memories of childhood). That happened when I was about 17, I am 27 now.

The older I get, the slower time seems to go. I think this is partly environmental and NOT mental in that it also corresponds to less structure (the older I've gotten, the less structured my life has become to the point where now I am completely self-directed all day every day)

comment by arundelo · 2011-12-06T04:41:55.312Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

high pitched sound

Sounds like tinnitus. (I have this, but less often than you, and I wouldn't describe it as loud. A friend of mine has it constantly since he went to a loud rock concert as a boy.)

I have VERY few memories of my life before I was 11.

Wow.

When I was 8 or so I thought it was strange that I didn't have any memories from before I was about 4. Based on that, my interest in science and space travel, and my general weirdness, I decided that I was probably a space alien changeling. (Note: I no longer think this.)

comment by Alicorn · 2011-12-06T07:20:33.436Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

When I was 8 or so I thought it was strange that I didn't have any memories from before I was about 4. Based on that, my interest in science and space travel, and my general weirdness, I decided that I was probably a space alien changeling. (Note: I no longer think this.)

I have upvoted you for being cute.

comment by arundelo · 2011-12-06T22:09:37.306Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

(^_^)

comment by [deleted] · 2011-12-12T02:19:58.110Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

.

comment by thejash · 2011-12-06T14:43:33.392Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Yup, definitely tinnitus, thanks! My hearing isn't that great, so this is probably related.

comment by Desrtopa · 2011-12-06T04:43:50.834Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I read at about 1100 WPM. I had no idea that people sounded out words in their heads until about two years ago, when I was speed reading an article about speed reading and realized I was speed reading. I am curious how much faster it is possible to go? Can anyone here go significantly faster? I want to know if it's worth training further.

I talked to a person a few months ago who mentioned that her reading speed decreased noticeably from its very high starting point when she took speed reading lessons. It's only one data point, but it may be worth keeping in mind if you're thinking of training your ability.

How meaningful is it to assign a single number to your reading speed anyway? I would estimate that mine varies by at least a factor of ten or so depending on what I'm reading (I might top 1100 WPM at the high end, but only for very basic text.)

comment by shokwave · 2011-12-06T05:29:10.760Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

her reading speed decreased noticeably from its very high starting point when she took speed reading lessons

I experienced a visceral feeling of terror when reading this. I wasn't aware that just training could hurt innate skills (I assumed it required some sort of crushing corporate environment).

comment by thejash · 2011-12-06T14:39:43.340Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

It's not that meaningful to assign a single number, true. I gave my speed for "normal" text--comments, blogs, newspaper articles, "light" books (business/best-sellers), fiction (if I have to/feel like reading it quickly). When I read scientific papers, the speed drops considerably until I am used to the terms used in the field.

Thanks a lot for that comment though, I have less incentive to try training it further now... I am pretty surprised that anything could decrease significantly from trying to train it though. I would suspect other effects at work (like now she is reading a different kind of text, or had previously never measured herself, or the training was nonsense, etc). Any idea what caused the decrease?

comment by Kingreaper · 2011-12-13T16:00:53.935Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

One possible explanation is simply awareness.

If you naturally develop a technique, you may not be consciously aware of it at all. But take some training, and all of a sudden your conscious brain is butting in going "this is the way to do it".

And, well, your CPU is going to be less efficient than a well-optimised RPU (Reading Processing Unit)

comment by Desrtopa · 2011-12-06T14:46:51.428Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I can only speculate, but I would guess that the techniques she was taught in the speed reading class were less efficient than whatever she was already doing without thinking about it, so she regressed towards the average speed for a person with speed reading training, which was lower than where she started. She said that her reading speed decreased noticeably while reading similar text in similar situations, although of course it's possible that she was experiencing selective perception.

comment by [deleted] · 2011-12-06T03:52:52.100Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

.

comment by bbleeker · 2011-12-06T18:48:42.600Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Time seems to go faster the older I get, and from what I've heard, that goes for most people. My father is 85, and he says the acceleration just continues. I'd hoped the pace would stabilize, but apparently it doesn't. :(

comment by Kaj_Sotala · 2011-12-07T14:24:25.209Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

For me, the acceleration continued up to maybe age 20-23 or so, after which things have gotten really slow. Still not as slow as in early elementary school, say. But yesterday feels like a long time ago, I hardly even remember last week, and events that I know happened a year ago feel more like 2-3 years away. Events 2-3 years ago feel like they are memories belonging to another person.

comment by SilasBarta · 2011-12-07T19:11:43.215Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I have VERY few memories of my life before I was 11. Probably 30. And no memories of my time before I was 6. Consequently I am quite interested in life logging :)

I'm unusual in that I really think I remember very early moments. My earliest memories aren't of me being a kid, but of just, out of the blue, seeing grainy black/white static.

comment by saturn · 2011-12-06T00:23:14.547Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I'm stupid about 80% of the time.

comment by Alejandro1 · 2011-12-05T23:16:04.320Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not sure if this counts for what is asked: I have been told that when I speak I often repeat voicelessly the last bits of what I said (one or two words, perhaps) clearly enough to be lip-readable. I am completely unconscious of doing it.

comment by Nisan · 2011-12-06T00:02:20.308Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I know two people who used to do this quite audibly. It never occurred to me that they might have been unaware of it.

comment by Normal_Anomaly · 2011-12-05T22:14:01.183Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

When I'm deep in thought, I will sometimes have a short, convulsive shiver for no particular reason. It's strong enough to be visible to people nearby, and unnerving to some of them. I don't know if that counts as my mind, but it is weird.

I am very interested in my dreams, and make a point of remembering interesting facts about them whenever possible. I have vivid dreams with a wider range of sensations than anyone else I know, including: color, sound, texture, proprioception, sense of falling, the sensation of having something disgusting touching me (does anyone else get that as a distinct sensation?), realistic vomiting, occasional lucid dreams, and occasional metacognition during non-lucid dreaming. I don't have all of those in any given dream, but I have experienced most of them in the past year and all at least once.

When I have falling dreams, I (sometimes?) jackknife my actual body into the air such that it hits the mattress when my dream body lands and I wake up. I know this because I once woke up on purpose in the middle of falling and caught myself doing it.

comment by Dorikka · 2011-12-05T22:51:12.488Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Hmm. Particularly when I'm reading a really engaging fiction book, I feel like twitching and making two or three squeaky noises, always in escalating pitch.

comment by komponisto · 2011-12-05T22:03:15.198Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

One of my examples.

I plan to post more in one or more separate comments.

comment by Grognor · 2011-12-05T21:16:46.667Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I used to go around saying, "I am the only person I know of who does not believe he is unique."

(Always loved deliberate irony like that.)

It's true, though. I do not believe it likely, or even statistically possible, that I have thought any thoughts not thought by someone else, and this seems to be an uncommon (but not unique) thought.

I've also been obsessed with meta, and I thought this was uncommon as well until I started reading Hofstadter.

Does any of that count?

comment by Normal_Anomaly · 2011-12-05T21:52:57.060Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I'd like to say it does count, but it all describes me very well.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2011-12-05T17:43:49.056Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I'm fascinated by kinesthesia. I've put in some 30 years getting moved into my body. It would probably be more exact to say that I'm improving the connection between my conscious mind and my kinesthetic information, but "getting moved in" is how I think about it.

I think of myself as having a very good associative memory-- you talk about something, and there's a reasonable chance I can remember a magazine article I read 20 years ago that's related to it. However, when I've mentioned this, a fair number of people say they have it too.

My ear-mouth coordination is poor-- I'm bad at singing or imitating sounds.

I'm good at summarizing.

I'm fascinated by the inside of my head (details of how my experience works). Sometimes this pays off-- I discovered recently that some attention and movement problems were the result of my believing that I didn't to things fast enough, so I'd try to do them faster than I could get the sensory information I needed.

Psychetypes by Michael Malone is a rather theory based look at the Myers-Briggs personality types, with emphasis on how they perceive time and space. The general theme is that there are many ways of thinking and acting which add up to normal-to-excellent functioning, and they're more different from each other than you could imagine if you only look at your own experience.

While I'm not convinced that the Enneagram is a complete theory of personality, it's another good angle for looking at mental variation. The hypothesis is that everyone makes primary use of one of nine filters, though the others can come into play. I will say it explained some things to me when I realized I'm apt to use the search for perfection as a general way of looking at things.

comment by atucker · 2011-12-05T16:10:20.097Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

My visualization for aversions is that they emanate waves of pushiness.

I don't feel like they are pushing me away (unless they're active), but it looks like an invisible field which would push me should I try to interact with it.

Strength varies, probably with aversion strength.

comment by cousin_it · 2011-12-05T15:16:57.815Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I'm close to the mean in most respects, except that I seem to enjoy abstract thinking slightly more than average.

comment by Daniel_Burfoot · 2011-12-07T04:06:57.314Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I would say quite a bit more than average.

comment by mstevens · 2011-12-05T11:44:26.784Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I'm told by friends I have a mild case of Prosopagnosia.

comment by TheOtherDave · 2011-12-05T15:24:36.599Z · score: 18 (18 votes) · LW · GW

How wrong is it that I really want to append "...or maybe those were strangers. I'm not really sure." to this comment?

comment by mstevens · 2011-12-05T17:22:19.742Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

In particular I've been known to not recognise friends in very different clothes to what I'm used to even on moderately close inspection.

comment by Incorrect · 2011-12-05T14:50:54.084Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I suspect I have some impairment too as I often cannot distinguish characters in television shows if they have similar hair styles even when those around me can.

comment by [deleted] · 2011-12-18T17:59:27.987Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

What about the converse phenomenon, in which you have a particular quirk you think very rare, and try to hide it, and then one day you realize lots of other people have the same quirk?

comment by Kingreaper · 2011-12-13T16:07:48.948Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I suffer from a form of depression, which comes along with a symptom I call "brain-ache": it essentially consists of a sharp pain that feels as though it's internal to my brain (unlike headaches, which I also commonly get, which are focused in my skull).

Brain-ache is worsened by deliberate conscious thinking, and trying to focus on things, and it is generally accompanied by a "mental fog" which makes it hard for me to see my own thoughts, and therefore hard to think about anything complex.

I have a few other pecularities [photic sneeze reflex, I used to cough instead of crying (that was a conditioned reflex due to abuse) and occasional verbal tics] but most are relatively minor.

Oh, yes, I can have full conversations in my sleep, that I don't remember in the morning. This includes answering the phone. This is a recent symptom, probably due to my current medication.

comment by TheOtherDave · 2011-12-13T16:25:49.856Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Incidentally, the symptoms you describe as brain-ache are something I suffered rather severely during the first couple of months after my stroke, and in my case seemed to correlate pretty closely to dips in my blood pressure. (I was taking a whole lot of medication at the time to lower my blood pressure, often to the point of greying out.)

comment by Kingreaper · 2011-12-13T18:16:15.443Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks for the information, I might ask my GP about that possibility, and whether there are any options for finding out whether I'm having low-blood-pressure issues.

comment by [deleted] · 2011-12-07T05:34:53.245Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

how are you a beautiful and unique snowflake?
200 comments

An invitation to talk about myself? Yay!

First of all: complex machinery is universal.

As for me? I'm smart, curious, I get math, I'm good at teaching, and I try to reconcile all my knowledge with itself. These are probably normal for non-impaired, non-darkside people.

I can't think of anything transnormal.

comment by Rubix · 2011-12-22T05:20:11.548Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I was just remarking to a friend: when people respond to these things, I think they forget that the planet has seven billion people on it. What's actually being discussed is "I have this experience and have never heard of anyone else having it," which naturally leads to social proof presenting itself, and that can be useful for some situations. For other situations it can work like a horoscope.

comment by [deleted] · 2011-12-07T03:36:59.775Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Mild prosopagnosia -- I know it's not total, but it can be hard to tell where the line is because with people I know well, I have an abundance of other cues for determining their identity. Watching a film or TV show, I can keep the characters differentiated just fine, but it's hard to recognize actors across different performances (with a few exceptions).

I have very strong empathy if you go by the impact of others' emotions on me, and my ability to detect them; it's actually quite overwhelming. I've learned a few tricks for displaying it socially, but they only work at the best of times. This is probably related to my being autistic (I'm not sure how to describe my functional level -- it seems to be very high or very low, but seldom between). I also apply it broadly -- even plants routinely provoke an affective response..

I have intense, immersive visions and "spiritual" experiences from time to time; in the past, they gave me a lot of trouble, until I practiced ritual magic (note: I don't believe in anything literally supernatural) for a while and learned how to channel into comfortable realms of imagery.. This is probably related to me being diagnosed as schizotypal.

I'm a weird hybrid of introvert and extrovert: being without contact or space for long enough seem to be equally-draining and unpleasant experiences. I need plenty of both.

I'm synaesthetic: sound maps to bursts of colour, some sounds map to touch sensations, body language maps to colour/flavor combos that I perceive around the person, and concepts are...complicated. I basically seem to manipulate them as 3-dimensional surfaces of an n-dimensional object. Experiencing logical arguments (which are carried in but not solely determined by the words used) is a matter of trying to trace a continuous line between two points on different faces of the object, an unknown number of permutations away in 3-space. Gaps in the argument, my understanding, or the concepts involved will result in an inability to finish tracing that line. Finally, I can mentally simulate the texture of an object's surface just by looking at it.

I sometimes lose the ability to communicate verbally, or maintain balance, when stressed, exhausted, drugged or hungry.

I've been emotionally polyamorous as far back as I can remember.

My orientation seems to be undefined; I will often experience my attraction to others as specifically same-or-differently gendered after the fact, but it doesn't appear to be a primary criterion for evaluating initial attraction to others. Some nontrivial portion of my attraction just doesn't invoke gender at all, though I'm neither blind to it nor disinterested in it. At this point I have no social hangups about pursuing a partner of any gender; I also don't seem to have any inbuilt limits on how many partners I can feel for; only time and resource constraints seem to affect the size of my concurrent dating pool.

Odd quirk: I can't see stereograms, and am unaffected by some optical illusions. Despite this, I am very easily hypnotised, and quite susceptible to mind-altering substances.

Very hedonic, very intensely affected by my emotions except when there's a crisis (I can be overwhelmed with ennui, sadness, anxiety or frustration; it impairs my self-control but not reflectivity, which leads to frequent embarrassment) but seem to transform into a very rational, reflective, and controlled person when disaster strikes. It also kicks in when others are very emotional.

comment by Incorrect · 2011-12-05T17:13:59.307Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

When I listen to music without words, I still feel as if the melody expresses some sort of grammatical structure. Though, I am unable to introspect any particular meaning from this grammar.

comment by erratio · 2011-12-05T17:30:14.832Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I still feel as if the melody expresses some sort of grammatical structure

It does!. (Google Doc warning)

comment by TheOtherDave · 2011-12-05T15:34:58.008Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Nothing too exciting.

The easiest one is: sexually attracted to the two most popular genders. (Possibly to others as well; I don't know.)

In my twenties, I was involved in some lexical priming studies in which I seemed to be a radical outlier in terms of how long secondary meanings of words stayed activated as I processed a sentence... I was several sigmas out on the right-side tail of the results I saw. There's a pretty obvious just-so story to be told about the relationship between that and the ability to notice alternative interpretations of an utterance, which is something I'm unusually good at in my cohort.

I suffered pretty severe brain damage a few years ago and recovered from it... fully, as far as I can tell.

The last thing I can remember having the "Oh, other people do this too?" experience about was the photic sneeze reflex, which according to wikipedia is actually pretty common.

comment by Prismattic · 2012-02-08T03:52:12.801Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

This isn't really what the post asked about per se, but I'm just curious how common this is.... I occasionally have dreams that are not from my own perspective. I don't mean simply that I'm in some other place or time, but that I'm clearly not me in the dream, to the extent of sometimes being a different age or, occasionally, female. I've had dreams where the 1st-person perspective actually switches mid-dream. This even includessome occasions when this occurs because the first me (or not-me) has been killed.

Anybody else have that?

comment by arundelo · 2012-02-08T19:00:39.039Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I have all of these, except I don't remember ever dying in a dream.

comment by asr · 2012-02-08T03:56:38.359Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I've had third-person dreams. Like listening to a lecture or watching a play.

comment by pwno · 2011-12-11T04:11:03.134Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I think in far mode more than average.

comment by TheatreAddict · 2011-12-08T03:05:26.567Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I probably share this with many people, it's just that I haven't come into direct contact with anyone who shares this. I'm extremely right-brained. I'm an actor. I'm slightly introverted, but I do pretty well with people, I struggle in math and science.

Yet I want to be a scientist. Which is a fairly left-brained aspiration, I think. Especially the heavier sciences, like physics. I don't know if that's a realistic goal.

And that isn't really unusual, my mind is higly regular. It's just that I'm using my brain for things it's not as capable of as other people... This is beginning to sound like a disadvantage. But being right-brained isn't all bad. Coming up with creative ideas is nice and fun. :]

comment by Prismattic · 2011-12-07T02:58:54.768Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not sure if this is what you are looking for, because it is a developed bias as opposed to something congenital in my cognitive architecture, but...

When I was a child, I used to receive a lot of hand-me-down clothing from from a relative. Their family was better off than mine, but the age difference was just enough that their fairly-expensive clothing was suffiiciently out of style and a source of teasing for me through much of my childhood. Consequently, I have a bias against used goods. For example, I'd much rather buy a new Honda or Ford than a used Mercedes of equivalent value. The used luxury good would have to be A LOT more valuable than the new standard good before overcoming this preference.

Perhaps a separate discussion thread on idiosyncratic biases would be useful?

comment by bbleeker · 2011-12-06T20:08:48.584Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I experience something that may be perfectly normal, but I've often wondered if anyone else has it. When I imagine myself or someone else getting hurt, for example when reading about some accident, I often feel a strange, tingling sensation in my skin, especially the insides of my legs, usually starting at the thighs and going down farther if the sensation is stronger.

comment by tgb · 2011-12-07T02:24:17.884Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I get no feeling like this at all.

comment by Normal_Anomaly · 2011-12-06T21:39:56.227Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I get that too, but it moves around and sometimes hurts.

comment by mgooding · 2011-12-06T03:15:00.796Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I experience ASMR, but it's only ever been triggered by listening to, or rarely by thinking about, certain songs. None of the ASMR inducing videos people put on Youtube worked for me even remotely. I do feel a somewhat pleasant numb feeling in my throat sometimes though, which seems to get triggered by the same things that trigger most people's ASMR, like soft voices. Never heard of anyone else who experiences that one.

I also sometimes can feel a weird feeling on the bottom of my foot if I rub the bottom of the opposite foot against a hard surface, like the corner of my subwoofer.

comment by J_Taylor · 2011-12-05T20:28:36.155Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I do not know whether this is atypical. At the very least, I have never encountered anyone talking about it. However, my visual experience is almost always similar to, but less vibrant than, a monitor being degaussed.

comment by [deleted] · 2011-12-07T05:45:29.382Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

When? Like all the time. Is your vision always like gzauzzwzwzwzw? That would get difficult. Explain.

comment by TrE · 2011-12-05T18:26:04.604Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I always assumed (and still do this) that people do all sorts of things on purpose, having thought about what they do and why they do it. So I'm kinda paranoid. May be a mind projection fallacy, may be not.