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AnnaSalamon comments on Ugh fields - Less Wrong

153 [deleted] 12 April 2010 05:06PM

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Comment author: AnnaSalamon 15 April 2010 12:22:01AM 7 points [-]

My experience is that ugh fields are invariably unfortunate in their effects. While it might indeed be useful to have a disgust reaction to candy or video games, the "ugh fields" seem not to be visceral disgust, but visceral, conditioned-pain-induced tendencies to cut off thought. Shadows you hide from in your own mind.

My experience is that the more ugh fields I can clear out, and the better I can get at not accumulating them, the more I can actually honestly think, can notice choices rather than just feeling stuck, and can find myself with energy to take on new projects. That is, there seems to be a general property of "having a clear mind" or "facing things" vs "hunkering down with willful tunnel vision lest I run into something painful", and allowing or clearing out an ugh field around an email or a broken conversation or whatever it is affects my overall state, not just that one area.

Comment author: pjeby 15 April 2010 12:42:16AM 5 points [-]

That is, there seems to be a general property of "having a clear mind" or "facing things" vs "hunkering down with willful tunnel vision lest I run into something painful",

Yep, that's pain or gain in a nutshell, and it's why I've said so very many times here that negative emotions cloud rational thinking in a way that positive emotions do not. And that, as soon as the negative emotions are out of the way, people tend to go, "Oh, I see what I should do now."

(The "ugh field" is a nice metaphor for describing those phenomena, though.)

Comment author: Nanani 15 April 2010 01:46:42AM 3 points [-]

While it might indeed be useful to have a disgust reaction to candy or video games, the "ugh fields" seem not to be visceral disgust, but visceral, conditioned-pain-induced tendencies to cut off thought.

In my experience, this only ever happens with a specific candy or game. For example, If I lose repeatedly and humiliatedly in an online game, I might develop an ugh field that ultimately prevents me from even thinking about popping on to play it, but the corresponding comfort activity is far more likely to be "play a different game" than "go study some math instead".

Comment author: Vladimir_Nesov 15 April 2010 09:40:51AM 1 point [-]

More generally, every bad phenomenon has fringe cases where it has positive instrumental value (unless it's an Unfriendly AI), but that doesn't invalidate the concept of bad phenomena.