Noticing the 5-second mindkill

post by shminux · 2013-03-28T05:58:50.447Z · score: 14 (19 votes) · LW · GW · Legacy · 14 comments

I've been reading news and a headline popped out at me:

Some Conservative backbenchers stirred up controversy in the House of Commons Tuesday when they accused their own party of preventing them from speaking out in Parliament.

(For the US audience, the Canadian (and British) House of Commons is like the House of Representatives, only with less democracy.)

My first thought: how dare the Prime Minister muzzles democratically elected MPs!

(For the US audience, the Prime Minister in a majority government has the power of the President and the majority leaders in both chambers combined, and much much more. "MP" (Member of Parliament) is the equivalent of a "Rep." Backbenchers are the reps who don't get a portfolio in the administration. Indeed, basically no separation of the legislative power from the executive. As I said, less democracy. Blame the Brits.)

Then I keep reading:

Warawa [the MP in question] did not specify the topic, but it’s widely believed that he wanted to bring up his motion calling on parliamentarians to condemn sex-selective abortion.

My next thought: oh, good on the Prime Minister to prevent that crazy lunatic from pushing his pro-life agenda!

And finally, my third thought: WTF did just happen? I changed my mind 180 degrees instantly because I disagree with the person's opinion, even though the original issue didn't go away. Mindkill in action. Had he been trying to promote, say, legalization of marijuana instead, I would have been twice as indignant about the evil PM. 

Now, I do notice this sometimes (often when reading something on LW), but probably not every time it happens to me. I want to notice it more often.

So, I'm asking people to give your own (hopefully non-political) examples of noticing your instant about-face and hopefully some experience in recognizing it more reliably.

 

14 comments

Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by Error · 2013-03-28T21:41:12.741Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I haven't noticed an instant mindkill, but I did recently read a political diatribe from someone batshit insane, and observed how it seemed to feel less batshit insane as I went along, even though intellectually I didn't think it was any less crazy.

I think it was related to the "accept by default" model of human idea-absorbtion, which I forget the name of.

comment by Luke_A_Somers · 2013-03-28T14:00:37.206Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The funny thing is, I went the other way. I read the first line thinking, "Bet they were hogging the floor." And then the second line seemed to rule that out.

Even at the object level, it's not clear whether I want him talking about this or not. If the PM wants him quiet, he might be estimating that it's not a good time, so from a purely adversarial point of view I want it out there. Also, sex-selective abortion is kind of iffy. A good debate on the subject could be a good thing all around.

Anyway, I don't have any good examples. I can remember it happening, but can't remember when.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-03-29T00:29:23.544Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I notice that in myself about once a month, but I can't think of any concrete example off hand.

comment by ikrase · 2013-03-28T21:33:03.692Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I think that I do this. For me, though, it's sometimes the 5-Second Improbable Unsustainable Middle Ground, even for things which the evidence does not support a middle ground.

comment by ChristianKl · 2013-04-12T10:48:58.342Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

My next thought: oh, good on the Prime Minister to prevent that crazy lunatic from pushing his pro-life agenda!

It's actually not clear that someone who condemns sex-selective abortion is doing so for pro-life reasons. He could just as well do so because he thinks upper class white people who don't do sex-selective abortion are morally superior to immigrants who do sex-selective abortions. Those bad immigrants who don't adopt white upper class values when they move to the UK should be punished.

Your US political background mind killed you in a way where you might not even understand what the conflict was about.

The status quo in the UK is that sex-selective abortion is illegal but that it's hard to enforce forbidding abortion based on that motivation.

In the US the Supreme Court ruled abortion in a way that prevent lawmakers to treat different cases of abortion differently. In Europe that's not the case. Nearly all EU law gives some weight to the interest of a unborn child. For a good utilitarian there no good reason to avoid doing so. The question here is whether the interests of a parent to have a son instead having a daughter outweigh the interest of the unborn to be born.

The UK prime minister also doesn't push to change UK law in a way to make sex-selective abortion legal.

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2013-03-28T17:25:35.876Z · score: 0 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Indeed, basically no separation of the legislative power from the executive. As I said, less democracy.

...the separation of powers and democracy are two distinct things. I don't see why you think less of the former means less of the latter.

comment by shminux · 2013-03-28T19:23:56.478Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

True. However, I did not mean any specific model of democracy in its technical sense, but rather the disparity in leverage your elected representative has vs another district, which affects the original definition:

all eligible citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives

By that metric you can compare different democratic models, and the British-style parliamentary model results in a larger disparity of real power between elected members and hence between their districts and hence between people living in different locales than an American-style democracy. But that's way off topic.

comment by Fadeway · 2013-03-28T10:07:31.531Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I discovered this issue for myself by reading a similar article, and going through the same process, but with my third thought being "does that guy [the Prime Minister in this story] really believe this thing that I believe [in this case, pro-choice]?" I think he's bad because he broke the rules, then I forgive him because he's on my side, then for one reason on another I start to wonder if he really is on my side...and notice that I'm trying to decide whether to blame him for breaking the rules or not. (I think this is because I myself use irony a lot, so often when I hear a statement that is in some way ambiguous or silly, I reflexively ask myself if it is sincere or sarcasm, even in a situation where irony would be unacceptable/unthinkable, as is the case with a public statement)

I'm not sure how many times this happened to me before I noticed, but nowadays I just think "broke the rules, -10 points even though I like this guy", and then, "oh and he agrees with me, gotta increase his score for that".

comment by John_Maxwell (John_Maxwell_IV) · 2013-03-28T08:54:45.812Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

"Politics is war by other means." Typically people are in favor of the rules of politics when the rules favor their side and against those rules when they disfavor their side. Fortunately, they mostly tend to play by the rules even when they're disfavored by them.

comment by Kawoomba · 2013-03-28T06:35:54.496Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Mindkill? It's allowed to change your mind given new information. While the original issue doesn't go away, it doesn't need to be considered in isolation.

Consider this example:

"Your terminally ill aunt disowns her own children - your beloved cousins - over some trivial spat."

How dare she! (Situation A.)

"Your terminally ill aunt disowns her own children - your beloved cousins - over some trivial spat. Oh, did I mention, it's you who'll get the considerable inheritance!"

Oh, that's kinda nice! (Situation A+B.)

The point being, at that latter point you don't have to consider A in isolation anymore, even though that 'issue' is still present, it's now only one consideration in a greater whole, and changing your opinion as new information becomes available can just as well be an update, no mindkill.

Even though you still may object to some courses of action on principle, not all such principles need be equally sacred. In your example, 'democratically elected MPs should be allowed to speak their mind' can possibly be outweighed by 'it's (more) important not to allow populist pandering that threatens to take away important civil liberties' without committing any error in reasoning.

comment by SilasBarta · 2013-03-28T06:47:09.443Z · score: 11 (11 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think the problem was changing views on new evidence, or even doing it selfishly. I think the problem shminux is referring to is that of deftly, instantly reframing the entire situation, backstory and everything, to make the new view more plausible.

It's related to that bias/failure mode (forget its name) of thinking that positive traits are all correlated -- that if advocate's position A is good, everything about it must be good, or something to that effect.

comment by shminux · 2013-03-28T06:57:25.425Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

deftly, instantly reframing the entire situation, backstory and everything, to make the new view more plausible.

Yes.

It's related to that bias/failure mode (forget its name) of thinking that positive traits are all correlated -- that if advocate's position A is good, everything about it must be good, or something to that effect.

You probably mean the halo effect, though I don't think that would quite explain what happened.

comment by Cyan · 2013-03-28T19:06:35.560Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Halo effect.

comment by Kawoomba · 2013-03-28T06:51:52.493Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

that if advocate's position A is good, everything about it must be good

If you're valuing e.g. the right to choose really, really highly, then nearly any course of action that supports it may indeed be considered to be good in context, even if you'd object to it in isolation. Killing versus killing to depose of an 'evil'/misunderstood dictator.