Experience of typical mind fallacy.

post by Elo · 2015-04-27T18:39:42.403Z · score: 2 (3 votes) · LW · GW · Legacy · 46 comments

following on from:

http://lesswrong.com/lw/dr/generalizing_from_one_example/

I am quite sure in my experience that at some point between the ages of 10-15 I concluded that; "no the rest of the world does not think like me, I think in an unusual way".

This idea disagrees with the typical mind fallacy (where people outwardly generalise to think everyone else has similar minds to their own).

I suspect I started with a typical mind model of the world but at some point it broke badly enough that I re-modelled on "I just think differently to most others".

I wanted to start a new discussion; rather than continuing on from one in 2009;

Where do your experiences lie in relation to typical minds?

46 comments

Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by Toggle · 2015-04-27T19:24:15.452Z · score: 16 (13 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I wouldn't be too surprised to learn that people are capable of independently thinking that they have highly atypical minds while simultaneously falling prey to the typical mind fallacy. In general, I expect myself to spend more time thinking about the overt things that make me feel unique, without necessarily being aware of the things that underlie those differences. With the TMF, it's the unexamined assumptions that get you.

comment by TheAncientGeek · 2015-04-28T09:02:43.221Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I wouldn't be too surprised to learn that people are capable of independently thinking that they have highly atypical minds while simultaneously falling prey to the typical mind fallacy

.... because knowing or believing that you have an atypical mind gives you almost no information about how everyone else is thinking.

comment by Toggle · 2015-04-28T13:33:47.301Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

And because the differences we notice and care about are the ones that provide satisfying explanations of prominent experiences, such as loneliness or frustration with others' behavior. A quality of the self that works 'behind the scenes', the kind that only comes up when we talk about the theory of the mind on a fairly high level, will not usually seem like a candidate for such explanations. For example, I've known I was smarter than average since childhood, but it took me until college to notice that I was color blind. And color blindness is fairly concrete- like, the relationship between categories and central examples is almost certainly different in my head than in the average guy on the street, but there's no real way of knowing.

(Or perhaps I'm falling prey to the typical mind fallacy, natch.)

comment by Gunnar_Zarncke · 2015-04-27T18:53:34.510Z · score: 8 (10 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Here a very subjective poll for this question.

[pollid:903]

And the same but disregarding IQ (which alone probably correlates with unusual-ness):

[pollid:904]

General note: I see suggestions for poll-like questions quite often in Discussion posts, but no poster goes forward and posts a poll. It is so easy: Just create an initial comment, click on Help and then Poll help for instructions.

comment by Good_Burning_Plastic · 2015-04-28T09:08:59.547Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

And the same but disregarding IQ (which alone probably correlates with unusual-ness):

I don't think those things can be separated that cleanly -- I suspect there are certain unusual features of my mind that my IQ helps me work around, and would be more evident if my IQ was closer to 100 all other things being equal.

comment by Silver_Swift · 2015-04-28T10:07:22.762Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

And conversely, some of the unusual-ness that can be attributed to IQ is only very indirectly caused by it. For instance, being able to work around some of the more common failure modes of the brain probably makes a significant portion of LessWrong more unusual than the average person and understanding most of the advice on this site requires at least some minimum level of mental processing power and ability to abstract.

comment by Gunnar_Zarncke · 2015-04-28T09:46:27.798Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Sure. They can't be separated. But the feeling of (a)typicality can't be quantified precisely either. This all is imprecise and only gains value from large numbers of respondents.

comment by ChaosMote · 2015-04-27T23:09:48.288Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

That was awesome - thank you for posting the poll! The results are quire intriguing (at N = 18, anyway - might change with more votes, I guess).

comment by Elo · 2015-04-30T01:51:56.784Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

N=50 we appear to be making a bell curve. Also no one thinks they are typical.

comment by Elo · 2015-04-28T00:08:59.822Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I predict the results to stay near to where they are (at N=20) however what this means for how we might better model people is unclear. (it might be reasonable to think this subset of population is in fact a collection of unusual thinkers but I would say its safe to assume that this is representative of most of the population in this case)

Do we need to start modelling people as more to ourselves (as we all seem to feel like we have unusual though processes) or less (as we might have unusual processes in different directions to each other)? would doing either make us more effective at life?

comment by ChaosMote · 2015-04-30T00:14:06.057Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Honestly, I suspect that the average person models others after themselves even if they consider themselves to be unusual. So this poll probably shouldn't be used as evidence to shift how similarly we model others to ourselves, one way or another.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-04-30T08:58:36.931Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

When I was in my teens, maybe even early 20s I thought I had a nearly maximally unusual mind - but with more experience with other people (especially in different social groups to mine) I gradually adjusted my views and now, mid 40s I rate myself only as "slightly unusual" in both poll categories.

It's also possible that my mind has changed toward "typicality" but my impression is that I've just developed better coping strategies to deal with situations that would have been a lot more difficult when I was younger.

comment by Elo · 2015-04-27T19:44:04.838Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

up until this point I never knew how. I was probably just about to look it up.

comment by fortyeridania · 2015-04-27T20:31:25.405Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think atypically, just like everyone else.

comment by someonewrongonthenet · 2015-04-28T19:46:13.770Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I was an atypical child with very noticeable unusual traits, yes, but as I've grown older I've "normal-ed out". If someone really gets to know me they might still be puzzled why there are certain normal-person things I cannot do and certain things I can do that most people can't, but for the most part I'm fairly close to baseline, with most of the deviation due to the hyper-WEIRD culture practically everyone on Lesswrong shares rather than unusual mental architecture. To the extent that my actual cognition is unusual, I consider most of the deviations from typicality to be a net negative.

I think the alienation and self-labelng of oneself as extremely atypical is paradoxically due to typical mind fallacy - when a person at first fails to accurately model other people and assumes others are like oneself, and then tries to figure out under what conditions would I behave like those people and do what they did, they very quickly start looking like fundamentally different aliens.

For example, people who are smart sometimes feel alienated from society because others around them are not able to respond appropriately to the nuanced conversational cues they are emitting. Others are unable to accurately express their feelings and thoughts and are generally more clumsy and fuzzy about everything. Others make bad decisions which they would not make if they understood what they did. The smart person attributes these differences to differences in intention and core mental architecture, rather than skill.

For example, picture a teacher of average cognitive ability worn down after a long day. He doesn't have sufficient mental control to keep his emotions in check. He also lacks the meta-cognitive ability to notice he is stressed. The gifted child asks a question he doesn't know the answer to, but the teacher lacks the meta-cognitive ability to realize that he doesn't know the answer and before he can stop it his brain just made something up. The child says "No, that doesn't make sense", and the teacher fails at social cues and takes it literally as "I didn't fully process what you just said" rather than a euphemism for "your explanation is not satisfying to me" and so they repeat themselves. Truth be told the teacher doesn't really know what it means for something to make sense, the way the gifted child does. The child sighs in frustration. The teacher feels resentful about that, but doesn't notice they feel resentful. Later on, when the child speaks out of turn the teacher snaps and gives them detention for interrupting. The teacher truly believes the detention was for interrupting.

The gifted child thinks to herself: "Even though I meant her no harm or disrespect, she has decided to find a small excuse to punish me after I questioned her knowledge. That teacher is punishing me because she thinks that children are not people, they do not have rights. She has status and she is willing to use it. Other human beings are conformist, they dislike those who question authority."

The ordinary child in the same situation would have thought, "Ugh, I didn't do anything really, what's her problem" and not analyzed the situation further. It's the same thought, but only the gifted child takes it to the logical conclusion that the teacher must be fundamentally alien to do such a thing. She'll project her mind upon the teacher, take the teacher's behavior, and then grossly miscalculate his intentions.

These would all be valid interpretations of the teacher's behavior if the teacher had the self-awareness of the child, but as it stands they are not actually true. The teacher and the child are identical in their basic cognitive infrastructure and share motivation and intention, it's just that the child just more self aware.

If the gifted child does not figure out how to accurately model the teacher, this will very quickly develop into "every single person except me and maybe that one other dude is absolutely batshit insane, and I am alone." Every knee jerk political reaction, every instance of blatant injustice, every bad decision, and every rationalization will feed this misconception further, when really differences in meta-cognitive ability are entirely to blame. They subsequently grow up to become contrarians and the word "typical" becomes vaguely insulting to them.

I listed intelligence because that's why I think lesswrongers think they are atypical at a far higher rate than could possibly be true, but another example: most college students might say that most people pressure others drink while simultaneously saying that they,themselves, would not pressure anyone to drink. They're looking at their own mental state, the behaviors of others, seeing a disparity, and concluding that others are mentally different. Like the gifted child, they are simply failing to model other people's failure to act the way that they would like to act, unable to realize that behavior isn't a direct reflection of internal state.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-04-28T20:14:43.178Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I understand that it's fighting the hypothetical, but

...she thinks that children are not people, they do not have rights. She has status and she is willing to use it. Other human beings are conformist, they dislike those who question authority.

all look like entirely correct conclusions to me :-)

the child just more self aware

The child is not only self aware, she is smarter and that affects a lot more things than just "meta-cognitive ability". The basic cognitive infrastructure is indeed the same (in most cases), but motivation and intention do not have to be the same at all, and that's even before we start to consider how different people think of the consequences of the same action...

comment by someonewrongonthenet · 2015-04-28T21:36:09.680Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The difference is, that if the teacher was aware of what he was doing, he wouldn't do it. And if the child wasn't aware of what she was doing, she would behave the same way. If the teacher had a little neurofeedback button that somehow would light up when he was upset, or rationalizing, being impulsive, or otherwise cuing him when he was not thinking the way he would like to think, his behavior would change (somewhat).

It's the difference between saying that someone with autism doesn't care about people vs. someone saying with autism cannot understand how other people are feeling, or saying someone with ADHD is lazy vs. they desperately want to work but can't control attention, or saying someone with face-blindness just doesn't care about faces. (That's what someone without those disorders would think first, since the behavior that the disordered person exhibits matches what they would do if they didn't care).

motivation and intention do not have to be the same at all

I agree, they don't have to be the same. I'm making the case that small instances of real difference, coupled with poor modeling of other people, enhances and exaggerates the perception that they are not the same, and that for smart people this is particularly bad because everyone around them is just kinda globally worse off on every dimension...and because of typical-mind fallacy the smart person will then assume everyone's just kinda alien and terrible in their intentions rather than just slightly worse at carrying intentions out.

When I'm dealing with someone I know well who is "normal' and I see behavior 6 happening in a situation where I would have done 2+3= behavior 5, I model the other person as accidentally doing 2x3=6. Under typical mind fallacy, I would assume that they had similar minds (2+3) but different behavior (5) and conclude that those people just don't care about equal signs I am so very alone and that's the trap to avoid.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-04-28T23:44:07.069Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The difference is, that if the teacher was aware of what he was doing, he wouldn't do it.

Eh, no, I don't think so. I'm not buying into the "if only people were more self-aware, they would be a lot nicer" theory. Especially with "it's not his fault, he just doesn't know any better" overtones.

because of typical-mind fallacy the smart person will then assume everyone's just kinda alien and terrible in their intentions rather than just slightly worse at carrying intentions out.

No, I still don't think so. A smart person should be able to figure out Hanlon's Razor. I don't know any smart kids who actually had the "all of them are as smart as me, just much more mean" attitude towards others.

I model the other person as accidentally doing 2x3=6.

That's a weird model. If it's "accidental", do you the predict that the next time it will be 4, or 7, or 11, or something random?

My usual starting model for other people is "What are their incentives? What are they trying to do to the best of their ability?" and only in the fairly rare cases of a major mismatch, I start to consider the possibilities that these people might be really clueless or really mean or something like that.

comment by someonewrongonthenet · 2015-04-29T04:50:34.106Z · score: 0 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I would predict they'll do whatever fails mode they've done in the past, or do the failures which i barely catch myself from doing.

Are you sure that you don't first look at the behavior and then calculate an incentive map? (Which obviously will fit rather well since it is post hoc?) ((Because that's the failure mode most people fall into))(((and doesn't your last paragraph depict a thought process which is the exact opposite of Hanlons razor?)))

comment by Lumifer · 2015-04-29T14:26:57.102Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Are you sure that you don't first look at the behavior and then calculate an incentive map?

Well, both. Normally I estimate (and update) the model(s) in the middle of an interaction. Before I have no data and have to fall back on priors, and after I have no need for a model.

Are you saying there are, um, methodological problems with this approach?

doesn't your last paragraph depict a thought process which is the exact opposite of Hanlons razor?

Doesn't look like that to me. The opposite of Hanlon's Razor is "I don't understand her therefore she is trying to hurt me". I'm starting by trying to figure out what the person wants and only if I fail I start to consider that she might be clueless (as Hanlon's Razor would suggest) or mean (in case Hanlon's Razor is wrong here).

comment by Epictetus · 2015-04-29T02:00:52.649Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The gifted child asks a question he doesn't know the answer to, but the teacher lacks the meta-cognitive ability to realize that he doesn't know the answer and before he can stop it his brain just made something up.

Few people are willing to say "I don't know" when asked a question about a subject they're supposed to know. To sound smart, one can give a vague answer full of jargon, leaving the details as an exercise. I've also seen people complicate things, go off on a tangent, and then point out that they went off on a tangent and resume the lecture as though the question was never asked. Others just say "It's complicated" and leave it at that. The idea is to give a non-answer that sounds enough like an answer to quash further inquiry.

The point is that most people are lazy and just want to get through the day. The average teacher just wants to get through the lesson as smoothly as possible. The path of least resistance is to intimidate students into a passive role. It's not just teachers of average intelligence--even world-class scholars have done some extremely lazy things in the classroom.

A student who constantly asks questions or makes a game of trying to trip up the teacher can come to be seen as a problem to be dealt with, depending on the teacher's disposition.

comment by someonewrongonthenet · 2015-04-29T05:06:09.690Z · score: 0 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Right, I agree that this is the outcome. I juat think that no one wakes up in the morning and says "I'm going to skirt my job by intimidating students and BS-ing.

First they don't know the answer then they quickly rationalize under pressure, then they buy their own BS and honestly believe its an answer, then if they get called out they feel vaguely disrespected, and then the intimidation behavior comes out to defend against the disrespect. It's not Machiavellian, it's just brute human instincts reacting to one thing after another. A small child would act the same way on instinct. Later on you ask these people and they'll quite sincerely say they love being challenged.

comment by Epictetus · 2015-04-29T06:05:28.709Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I juat think that no one wakes up in the morning and says "I'm going to skirt my job by intimidating students and BS-ing.

I can assure you that some do. There comes a time when you notice that you can bring your laptop to class and assign group work while you surf the Web. No one calls you on it. You don't get summoned to some office and reprimanded. The students sit there and do as they're told. Then you realize how little oversight there really is. The students have been conditioned to obey authority, and the authority is YOU. Power corrupts. I ended up deciding I didn't want to be evil, even if that would mean a lot more work for me.

But I may just be overly cynical. Most teachers I've come across seem to care and genuinely want to see their students do well. I would hope that your explanation is more typical than mine.

comment by iarwain1 · 2015-04-27T23:54:55.774Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I've long known that I think very differently than most people around me. And my impression from talking to others is that lots of people think they are at least somewhat unusual in some ways of thinking. But I still often fall prey to the Typical Mind Fallacy in subtle ways.

Example: About a year ago I was working with a new employee. I asked her to take the Gallup StrengthsFinder test so that we could discuss more efficiently how best to use her talents. I looked carefully through the results and discovered that she actually enjoyed having numerous projects going on at once. This absolutely astonished me, but she confirmed that it was true. Until that point I hadn't realized that anyone could be like that, since it's so totally foreign to my personal disposition.

Another example: Until I got married, I didn't realize that people could actually find it relaxing to wash dishes or clean up a living room.

I think the general rule is that we (or at least I) tend to have a default assumption that others think like us at least on a fundamental level, and that they have fundamentally similar personalities. If we meet up with someone who has a different sort of mind / personality, we tend not to notice it unless it's really staring us in the face. If it's not staring us in the face but we notice differences in actions or attitudes, we tend to attribute the differences to surface causes rather than deep underlying differences in personality. Sometimes we might notice that something's wrong, but we either fail to notice that we're confused, or we notice but fail to attribute it to underlying differences. But if it's really staring us in the face - which it occasionally does - then we'll notice it.

Part of the problem is that I think it's actually true that for many fundamental aspects we are in fact more similar to others than we are different. The trick is being able to differentiate when we're similar and when we're different. Perhaps the key is just (a) noticing when we're slightly confused and then (b) getting our brains to raise a red flag saying, "hey, maybe this is a case of typical mind fallacy".

comment by Creutzer · 2015-04-28T05:16:18.560Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think the general rule is that we (or at least I) tend to have a default assumption that others think like us at least on a fundamental level, and that they have fundamentally similar personalities. If we meet up with someone who has a different sort of mind / personality, we tend not to notice it unless it's really staring us in the face.

I may be unusual, but I'm exactly the reverse of this. My default assumption is that other people are very different from me. When someone thinks and feels like me, I'm always surprised, and it takes some time to convince me that this is stable. I suspect I may be kind of hyper-aware to individual differences, since I've paid a lot of attention to this in recent time

comment by [deleted] · 2015-04-28T10:26:33.976Z · score: 1 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I tend to be the opposite, often failing at empathy because it just does not occur to me that the way to predict how others may feel would be to put myself in their shoes and ask me how I would feel. I agree the trick is find the exact limits of both heuristics.

I wonder why the opposite fallacy, the atypical one i.e. not putting myself in others shoes is not discussed as much here? Is it rarer?

comment by Baughn · 2015-04-27T20:18:47.316Z · score: 4 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I distinctly remember, at some point in my teens, realizing that other people sometimes thought like me and I could model their reactions as something more than inscrutable environmental hazards. So there's that.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-04-27T19:07:55.252Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I know my mind is atypical, but I still get moments like "Oh dear, why do they make such stupid advertisements... oh, right" X-)

comment by theowl · 2015-05-09T15:44:31.344Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Mind fallacy plays a greater role in how we interpret other people's thinking, like what is their framework for making decisions. Mind fallacy has us believe that everyone else has the same terminal values and goals.

For instance, I suffer from mind fallacy in the sense that my system 1 believes that everyone has the goal of having a very tidy and efficiently run household. As soon as the dishwasher has finished drying the clean dishes, I find it logical to then immediately put away the dishes to make room for any dirty dishes. Not promptly putting away dishes creates more work and wastes time because one will eventually have to put the dishes away anyhow, and delaying doing so will create the extra task of putting dirty dishes in sink, then transferring into dishwasher. Mind fallacy has me believe that everyone else sees how promptly putting away dishes is the ideal method and the one that should be done.

Mind fallacy has a role in how we interpret ambiguous social cues or sentences that are not uber precise. My boyfriend was once asked by his housemates if he is okay with sharing his bath towel. Due to his mental framework, he interpreted the question as 'In the rare instances that someone in the house is in need of a towel (like a guest coming over, laundry machine broke and towel is drenched in water), can we use yours?'. He interpreted the question in that way because of mind fallacy. According to his mental framework, people prefer using their own towels and it didn't occur to correctly interpret the question as, 'Is it okay we if we use your bath towel everyday instead of having our own?'

Mind fallacy leads to misunderstanding and misinterpretations because it causes us to assume that others share our same values. Even under mind fallacy, one can appreciate that people think differently and have a different method to accomplish goals, but mind fallacy has one assuming that the goal is the same.

comment by falenas108 · 2015-04-28T16:18:38.098Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think there are two important points I got from the typical mind fallacy. The first is the usually one, that people have different preferences and different ways of thinking. The second is that people have different experiences, and I shouldn't use my experiences with a certain subject as a model for everyone's. Perhaps this could be called the typical experience fallacy?

For example, I grew up in a reform Jew, and my experience from that was "Unpleasant to be forced to say things I don't agree with, but tolerant of differences." It wasn't until I talked with others about their experiences that I realized it ranged to anything from "Everyone must believe strictly in everything, any disagreements are signs of evil" of Orthodox to "God probably doesn't exist and we should do our best to help others" of humanistic chapters.

comment by Epictetus · 2015-04-28T13:26:56.585Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I noticed two currents along these lines in my life:

On the one hand, I had problems relating to people while growing up. I have the impression that during high school I was reasonably respected among those who knew me (I heard this from several sources), but it felt that there was some gap that I couldn't fathom how to cross.

On the other hand, over the years I've had multiple people swear to me that they knew someone else exactly like me, to the point where they claimed talking to me felt like talking to this other individual.

My conclusion is that my mind is unusual enough to be isolated, yet common enough to fit an identifiable mold and have several doppelgangers scattered about. No solace in being a special snowflake.

comment by Elo · 2015-04-30T01:59:56.721Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

whenever I have tried to chase up after people who say I remind them of someone "exactly like me" it seems to be more significantly physical appearance more than personality but the nearness on both levels was what made people say something. Nearness but also not very near. Yet to find someone particularly close of thinking.

comment by buybuydandavis · 2015-04-29T00:02:03.129Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Minds are clustered in mindspace.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-04-27T22:09:01.741Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I am quite sure in my experience that at some point between the ages of 10-15 I concluded that...

You are describing the same fallacy in reverse, to think that everybody thinks like you or that you think in an unusual way are both generalizations from one example.

comment by Elo · 2015-04-28T00:05:12.945Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

A valid point; although I never thought that everyone else were similar to each other; just that I never seemed to fit in the model that other people had. And they certainly weren't thinking as I was.

if this were a venn diagram I would imagine many slightly overlapping circles, rather than one around everyone else and one around me.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-04-28T03:25:37.861Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think the underlying flaw pointed out on the "Generalizing From One Example" fallacy you mentioned above is the premise that out of a specific example it is possible to conclude how others behave. If this is so, then if you conclude others think different, the same way, or different between themselves based on your own experience then you are going through the same false process I think.

comment by RichardKennaway · 2015-04-27T19:31:52.786Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Everyone thinks differently from most people, just as everyone lives a long way away from most people, everyone lives in a different culture to most people, everyone in history lived at a different time to most people, and so on.

Everyone who thinks they think differently from most people is right. Only a few of them are more different from most people than most people are from each other.

comment by DanielLC · 2015-04-27T19:29:14.409Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

There is a big difference between saying that you have an unusual mind, and answering every question of the form "what would a normal person think about X" with "I have no idea", rather than just using the only piece of evidence you have and giving what you think about X.

comment by OrphanWilde · 2015-05-07T20:13:58.858Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

From what I've seen, there are -probably- around a hundred mental types in the social strata I spend most of my time in, maybe two hundred on the high end. I'd hazard a guess that there are probably five hundred to a thousand mental types overall. I've encountered only a handful - four or five - minds I've not seen repeated, which I internally translate to "exceptionally rare". I've met exactly one person whose mind was remotely similar to my own; they had suffered brain damage, and I didn't know the person before to ascertain whether or not the similarity was a result of the brain damage or not.

comment by TheVoraciousObserver · 2015-04-28T23:48:20.740Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I guess I would draw a different conclusion than "I just think differently to most others". An equally valid hypothesis would be that you have a limited internal model of how other people think, and so can not intuitively grasp why they do what they do, or what they think about. This might even be a facet of a typical mind, considering how often communication (or the lack thereof) leads to relationship woes.

comment by buybuydandavis · 2015-04-29T00:00:24.592Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

If they thought just like him, his own mind would have always been a fine model of what others thought, as long as he had similar contextual knowledge.

comment by TheVoraciousObserver · 2015-04-29T00:25:13.382Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm not so sure. Do we even model ourselves correctly, most of the time? I think it's a faulty assumption to conclude we models themselves correctly. I suspect that there are frequent times we do not understand our own thoughts, or can not trace the origins of thoughts, at least not easily. At least, this is the case with myself. If this is the case, then if our own mental model of ourselves is incomplete or imperfect, our models of others should be at least as bad.

comment by buybuydandavis · 2015-04-29T01:37:03.487Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

You don't have to model you, you simply have to execute you.

"If I were in his place, what would I do?"

That's a very easy and natural thing for us to do. It's not a matter of understanding the code, you just have to run it.

comment by Creutzer · 2015-04-29T05:46:23.803Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm not sure this is so easy - people's self-simulations aren't that reliable, are they? Running a sandboxed version of yourself on a brain isn't so trivial.

comment by ChristianKl · 2015-04-28T13:38:06.592Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

There are two errors. The one is to think that other people think like you. The other is to think that other people are completely different from you.

You might think that you are much more intellectual in your decision making than most people but still be surprised if other people think the dress has a different color.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-04-28T10:23:48.405Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Of course, there is the opposite fallacy of thinking others are too different, as it prevents empathic thinking that is actually pretty useful. I mean it is a fairly central aspect of human interactions to, for example, if you worry what you are about to say may be perceived as offensive then consider if you in a similar situation would consider it so. This does not always work but works often enough well enough to make it fairly difficult to live life if you don't do this.

For what it worths, my typical mistake when I was young was precisely this opposite, atypical mind fallacy, I was unable to think empathically because it did not occur to me to predict how others feel based on how I would feel. A bit schizoid I guess.

The point is both typical mind and atypical mind are heuristics that work in some situations and blow up spectularly in some others.