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private_messaging comments on Things You Can't Countersignal - Less Wrong

51 Post author: Alicorn 19 February 2010 12:18AM

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Comment author: private_messaging 03 February 2015 03:57:54AM *  0 points [-]

That trades on information, even if you don't know it, that the speaker expects you to know. The speaker believes not only that they're not joining a cult but that it's obvious they're not, or at most clear after a moment's thought; otherwise it wouldn't be funny.

Well, if the speaker got a job at Google or McDonalds, it would be far more obvious that they're not joining a doomsday cult... yet it seems to me that they wouldn't be joking it's a doomsday cult out of the blue then. It's when it is a probable doomsday cult that you try to argue it isn't by hoping that others laugh along with you.

Comment author: Nornagest 03 February 2015 04:02:41AM *  0 points [-]

It's when it is a probable doomsday cult that you try to argue it isn't by hoping that others laugh along with you.

Not in my experience. If people are scared that they're doing something potentially life-ruining like joining a cult -- and my first college roommate did drop out to join an ashram, so I know whereof I speak -- they don't draw attention to it by joking about it. They argue, or they deflect, or they clam up.

I'd expect the number of people who joined doomsday cults and made jokes like Alicorn's to be approximately zero.

Comment author: private_messaging 03 February 2015 04:22:45AM *  1 point [-]

If people are scared that they're doing something potentially life-ruining

...

I'd expect the number of people who joined doomsday cults and made jokes like Alicorn's to be approximately zero.

I would be very surprised if this was true. My experience mirrors what Jiro said - people tend to joke about things that scare them. Of course, some would clam up (keep in mind that a clammed up individual may have joked about it before and the joke was not well received, or may be better able to evaluate the lack of humour in such jokes)

Comment author: Nornagest 03 February 2015 04:25:56AM *  0 points [-]

Okay, they joke about it. Just not the kind of joke that draws attention to the thing they're worried about; it'd be too close to home, like making a dead baby joke at a funeral. Jokes minimizing or exaggerating the situation -- a type of deflection -- are more likely; Kool-Aid jokes wouldn't be out of the question, for example.

Why the ellipsis?

Comment author: private_messaging 03 February 2015 05:11:18AM *  0 points [-]

Well, presumably one who's joining a doomsday cult is most worried about the doomsday (and would be relieved if it was just a bullshit doomsday cult). So wouldn't that be a case of jokes minimizing the situation as it exists in the speaker's mind? The reason that NORAD joke of yours is funny to either of us, is that we both believe it can actually cause an extreme catastrophe, which is uncomfortable for us. Why wouldn't a similar joke referencing a false doomsday not be funny to one who believes in said false belief as strongly as we believe in nuclear weapons?

Why the ellipsis?

To indicate that a part was omitted.