How could one (and should one) convert someone from pseudoscience? 2015-10-05T11:53:21.478Z · score: 10 (11 votes)


Comment by vilx on Welcome to Less Wrong! (7th thread, December 2014) · 2015-03-08T22:19:11.253Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Hmm... I've given it some thought (more to come later, for sure), but there's already one thing I've found this theory useful for. There have been times when I've caught myself doing/desiring things that I should not do/desire. I then asked myself the question - so why do I do/desire this thing? What pleasure/pain motivates me here? Answers to these questions were not immediately available, but after some time doing introspection, I've come up with them. After that it was a simple matter of changing these motivators to rid myself of the unwanted behavior.

So... yes, I think it can be used for predicting stuff (like, "if I change X, then behavior Y will also change"). Now, the information needed for these predictions is hard to come by (but not impossible!). Essentially you need to know/guess what a person is thinking/feeling. But once you have that, you can predict what they will do and how to influence them.

What's your opinion on this?

Comment by vilx on Welcome to Less Wrong! (7th thread, December 2014) · 2015-03-08T15:46:36.305Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Ahh, I see. Thank you! This is exactly what I was looking for! :) Back to thinking. :)

Comment by vilx on Welcome to Less Wrong! (7th thread, December 2014) · 2015-03-08T14:05:45.023Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Hello folks! I'm new to your site here and still trying to get my bearings. :) The navigation is pretty nonstandard, hence somewhat confusing to me. I found this website from a link my friend posted on a Facebook discussion we had. Since then I've got one question that keeps bugging me, so I decided to ask it here. As I understand, this thread (is this the equivalent of a forum thread?) is a good place to do it. :)

The question is this: I've got a theory which seems (to me) so simple and obvious and able to explain all human behavior that I'm surprised that it hasn't been already accepted as the golden standard. In fact, when browsing Wikipeda it seems there are dozens different competing theories about human motivation, and some of the more popular ones (like the one that Daniel Pink is promoting) are really skirting around the truth (according to my theory). So, obviously I'm full of doubts about how correct I am. There must be something I'm missing here.

Furthermore the idea isn't exactly mine - it's just a slightly modified (or maybe not even modified, depending how you look at it) totally classical idea dating back to Freud himself. I tried to find counterexamples on this site but couldn't find any that I couldn't explain with my theory.

So, the theory is this: humans will always choose to do the action which they think will bring them most pleasure/least pain. As I said - totally classical. The "modification" however is the "they think" part. We cannot see into the future so we cannot choose with absolute certainty the actions what will bring us the maximum enjoyment. Instead we try to predict the likely outcomes of our choices - and quite often we get it totally wrong. Many times every day, in fact.

The reasons for getting it wrong are many. We don't have complete information (or our memory didn't recall it in time; or recalled it incorrectly); we value consequences that arrive sooner as more important than those that arrive later; we can only correlate a limited number of items (memory limitation); etc.

Also we don't only take external things into account but also try to predict our own emotions, because those are quite real pleasure/pain sources too. For example, when I decide to organize my desk, I do it because I anticipate the sense of accomplishment and order (everything in its place and a place for everything) when I've completed the task.

But at the end of the day when all is said and done, the decision mechanism will just sum up all the predicted positive outcomes (and their magnitudes) and all the negative ones, and choose the option with the greatest value.

And this way I've so far been able to explain any example I've come across. Now, if this was the truth, I'm sure there wouldn't be such an eternal debate over it and there wouldn't be so many other competing theories. So where is my mistake? Can anyone come up with a counterexample that I won't be able to explain with my theory?