Posts

Comments

Comment by pj_eby on Formative Youth · 2009-02-25T04:43:09.000Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Hm. I wonder if you acquired any other implicit assumptions from superhero ideals. Like some of the ones that I found in myself, and described here: Everything I Needed To Know About Life, I Learned From Supervillains. For example, might you have acquired a bias towards doing the "impossible"? I know I did.

Comment by pj_eby on Informers and Persuaders · 2009-02-11T17:53:58.000Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

There seems to be an implicit idea here that being a persuader is a bad thing.

But even the informer is persuading people of something.

After all, to communicate at all, you MUST induce some sort of state transition in the recipient's brain.

And both the informers and the persuaders in your presentation are attempting to induce such a state transition; they differ only in what state they're attempting to induce, who they're trying to induce it in, or how effective they're willing to be at inducing that transition.

If the informer is uncertain and wishes to convey that uncertainty, great! Then they should use every available persuasive tool to persuade people to be uncertain! (As opposed to half-heartedly persuading them to be certain.)

However, if they are NOT uncertain, but are instead just trying to be "fair" or "evenhanded", then they're wasting their time on status-signalling.

Of course, it doesn't feel like status signaling, it just feels like it would be "unfair" of them to "trick" people into agreeing... because people should just "rationally" end up agreeing with them, not be persuaded.

In other words, the problem is viewing persuasion as evil from the outset... which then leads to conscientious (i.e. low-status!) people bending over backwards not to do it.

Thus, only high-status people end up persuading. And those who persuade, end up high-status. I expect that this isn't a coincidence: persuasion works better from high-status to low-status, and low status probably inhibits persuasive ability (under the guise of being "fair" or "not manipulative"). In order to become more effective at persuasion, I had to de-inhibit myself from assuming status in places where I didn't previously have it.

So, my suggestion: if you're in the least bit worried about whether you should use every possible tool of persuasion at your disposal... don't. It's merely an indication that you haven't updated your self-perception of status!

(Mind you, it's best to go the opposite way when taking information IN... because high status also inhibits the intake of contrary information.)

Comment by pj_eby on In Praise of Boredom · 2009-01-18T18:40:37.000Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

You can't just be "intelligent over and over", because discovery and insight are essentially random processes. You can't just find insight, you have to look for it, in the same way that evolution searches the option space.

Yes, you can always have better heuristics or search algorithms. But those heuristics are not themselves intelligence. And there are always new heuristics to discover...

So, I don't think mere insight into the process of intelligence would allow you to be bored, since the things to be discovered by intelligence would still be "out there" rather than "in here", if you get my drift. And it's those subjects of discovery that are the intended targets of novelty and interest, anyway.

Comment by pj_eby on Serious Stories · 2009-01-10T00:35:25.000Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

It is important to note that while emotions are triggered by relative perceptions, they are not themselves relative -- and what they are triggered by can be changed.

Tony Robbins tells an interesting story of how a class he was teaching kept being interrupted by a train thundering past (this was before he made enough money to be booked in nicer venues). After he and the class had been annoyed by it for a while, he announced a new rule: when the train passes, it's time to celebrate!

They then proceeded to cheer and whoop and jump up and down like crazy people every time the train passed... and everybody smiled and laughed and had a good time.

Not all emotional engineering is this trivial, I'll admit -- but it hardly requires a transhuman Power to do.

Physical pain and torture, I'll agree with you on: let's get that stuff out of the genome right quick. But emotional pain is something we already have the tools to get rid of. Really, status-quo bias is the only thing keeping us from virtually wiping out emotional suffering within a single generation.

Comment by pj_eby on Emotional Involvement · 2009-01-07T06:09:31.000Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I'm surprised you think that removing negative emotions would remove depth from life.

In my personal experience, eliminating negative emotional responses increases the depth of life experience, because of the richer opportunity to experience positive emotions in the same circumstance.

Comment by pj_eby on Which Parts Are "Me"? · 2008-10-24T03:46:00.000Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

It's not a one-way street; with proper technique (e.g. NLP anchoring and reframing methods, to name just a couple) you can change the cached "meaning" of a certain class of events so that they have pretty much any emotional content you choose.

Granted, my personal experiences run in the direction of modifying "negative" things to be positive, and I haven't had much call for keeping around any negative feelings.

Truth is, your concern about losing the negative feelings is irrational... probably based on a science fictional ideal of "not being as human" if you lose the negative emotions. I used to be bothered by that, but then I got rid of the negative emotion I associated with getting rid of negative emotions. ;-)

Seriously, though, you need to distinguish between suppression or detachment/disassociation of a negative emotion, and not having it in the first place. It's like Spock vs the Dali Lama: big difference. At the point where you merely disidentify from an emotion, it's a step backwards.

What's necessary is to detach the emotional "tags" from with the experience - specifically, your brain's cached predictions of the future that will arise from a given situation. By updating the cached prediction, you can update the emotional response. Reframing, RET, "The Work" and other questioning techniques work by postulating interpretations that become a basis for an imagined alternative prediction, while techniques like anchoring, doyletics, EFT, et al operate directly on the emotional tags by disrupting the response or mixing it with non-specific state.

Whatever the technique, it should be empirically tested before and after use; with myself and my clients I have them notice their automatic feeling response to a chosen test stimulus (a remembered or imagined situation), and then compare it after applying different techniques. If the technique works, the stimulus should produce a new -- and usually unexpected -- response. (If you're not surprising yourself, then how could you say anything's changed about your brain? Interestingly, this also points to a separation in the brain between reflective modelling and active modelling of behavior: if your reflective model of yourself weren't separate, your behavior could never surprise you!)

Anyway, I read your blog with much interest; on occasion it has been helpful in my work as a "mind hacking instructor". Personally, it was also very helpful to read your thoughts about the lack of "meaning" labels on things, as at one point I semi-accidentally deleted my own sense of "meaning"... and it took a while to update myself to see that "meaningless" does not equal "bad, pointless, hopeless, despair." These sorts of cached thoughts (like "you're less human if you don't feel bad things") can be particularly insidious. ;-)

By the way, do consider that thinking you need negative emotions is a lot like thinking that you need death in order to fully experience life. We only need negative emotions to survive long enough to achieve some semblance of rationality, and the more of them I personally get rid of, the more time and opportunity I have to experience positive feelings.

Dissociation or suppression, on the other hand, does indeed lead to disconnection from all emotions, and less "humanity". So don't do that. Simply delete non-useful emotional responses, so that they don't arise in response to the stimulus, rather than waiting for them to first arise, and only then detaching from them.