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On Enjoying Disagreeable Company

47 Post author: Alicorn 26 May 2010 01:47AM

Bears resemblance to: Ureshiku Naritai; A Suite of Pragmatic Considerations In Favor of Niceness

In this comment, I mentioned that I can like people on purpose.  At the behest of the recipients of my presentation on how to do so, I've written up in post form my tips on the subject.  I have not included, and will not include, any specific real-life examples (everything below is made up), because I am concerned that people who I like on purpose will be upset to find that this is the case, in spite of the fact that the liking (once generated) is entirely sincere.  If anyone would find more concreteness helpful, I'm willing to come up with brief fictional stories to cover this gap.

It is useful to like people.  For one thing, if you have to be around them, liking them makes this far more pleasant.  For another, well, they can often tell, and if they know you to like them this will often be instrumentally useful to you.  As such, it's very handy to be able to like someone you want to like deliberately when it doesn't happen by itself.  There are three basic components to liking someone on purpose.  First, reduce salience of the disliked traits by separating, recasting, and downplaying them; second, increase salience of positive traits by identifying, investigating, and admiring them; and third, behave in such a way as to reap consistency effects.

1. Reduce salience of disliked traits.

Identify the traits you don't like about the person - this might be a handful of irksome habits or a list as long as your arm of deep character flaws, but make sure you know what they are.  Notice that however immense a set of characteristics you generate, it's not the entire person.  ("Everything!!!!" is not an acceptable entry in this step.)  No person can be fully described by a list of things you have noticed about them.  Note, accordingly, that you dislike these things about the person; but that this does not logically entail disliking the person.  Put the list in a "box" - separate from how you will eventually evaluate the person.

When the person exhibits a characteristic, habit, or tendency you have on your list (or, probably just to aggravate you, turns out to have a new one), be on your guard immediately for the fundamental attribution error.  It is especially insidious when you already dislike the person, and so it's important to compensate consciously and directly for its influence.  Elevate to conscious thought an "attribution story", in which you consider a circumstance - not a character trait - which would explain this most recent example of bad behavior.1  This should be the most likely story you can come up with that doesn't resort to grumbling about how dreadful the person is - that is, don't resort to "Well, maybe he was brainwashed by Martians, but sheesh, how likely is that?"  Better would be "I know she was up late last night, and she does look a bit tired," or "Maybe that three-hour phone call he ended just now was about something terribly stressful."

Reach a little farther if you don't have this kind of information - "I'd probably act that way if I were coming down with a cold; I wonder if she's sick?" is an acceptable speculation even absent the least sniffle.  If you can, it's also a good idea to ask (earnestly, curiously, respectfully, kindly!  not accusatively, rudely, intrusively, belligerently!) why the person did whatever they did.  Rest assured that if their psyche is fairly normal, an explanation exists in their minds that doesn't boil down to "I'm a lousy excuse for a person who intrinsically does evil things just because it is my nature."  (Note, however, that not everyone can produce verbal self-justifications on demand.)  Whether you believe them or not, make sure you are aware of at least one circumstance-based explanation for what they did.

Notice which situations elicit more of the disliked behaviors than others.  Everybody has situations that bring out the worst in them, and when the worst is already getting on your nerves, you should avoid as much as possible letting any extra bubble to the surface.  If you have influence of any kind over which roles this person plays in your life (or in general), confine them to those in which their worst habits are irrelevant, mitigated, or local advantages of some kind.  Do not ask for a ride to the airport from someone who terrifies you with their speeding; don't propose splitting dessert with someone whose selfishness drives you up the wall; don't assign the procrastinator an urgent task.  Do ask the speeder to make a quick run to the bank before it closes while you're (ever so inconveniently) stuck at home; do give the selfish person tasks where they work on commission; do give the procrastinator things to do that they'll interpret as ways to put off their other work.

2. Increase salience of positive traits.

Don't look at me like that.  There is something.  It's okay to grasp at straws a little to start.  You do not have to wait to like someone until you discover the millions of dollars they donate to mitigating existential risk or learn that their pseudonym is the name of your favorite musician.  You can like their cool haircut, or the way they phrased that one sentence the other week, or even their shoes.  You can appreciate that they've undergone more hardship than you (if they have, but be generous in interpreting "more" when comparing incommensurate difficulties) - even if you don't think they've handled it that well, well, it was hard.  You can acknowledge that they are better than you, or than baseline, or than any one person who you already like, at some skill or in some sphere of achievement.  You can think they did a good job of picking out their furniture, or loan them halo effect from a relative or friend of theirs who you think is okay.  There is something.

Learn more about the likable things you have discovered.  "Catch them in the act" of showing off one of these fine qualities.  As a corollary to the bit above about not putting them in roles that bring out their worst, try to put them in situations where they're at their best.  Set them up to succeed, both absolutely and in your eyes.  Speak to any available mutual friends about what more there is to like - learn how the person makes friends, what attracts people to them, what people get out of associating with them.  Solicit stories about the excellent deeds of the target person.  Collect material like you're a biographer terrified of being sued for libel and dreading coming in under page count: you need to know all the nice things there are to know.

It is absolutely essential throughout this process to cultivate admiration, not jealousy.  Jealousy and resentment are absolutely counterproductive, while admiration and respect - however grudging - are steps in the right direction.  Additionally, you are trying to use  these features of the person.  It will not further your goals if you discount their importance in the grand scheme of things.  Do not think, "She has such pretty hair, why does she get such pretty hair when she doesn't deserve it since she's such an awful person?  Grrr!"  Instead, "She has such pretty hair.  It's gorgeous to look at and that makes her nice to have around.  I wonder if she has time to teach me how to do my hair like that."  Or instead of: "Sure, he can speak Latin, but what the hell use is Latin?  Does he think we're going to be invaded by legionaries and need him to be a diplomat?" it would be more useful towards the project of liking to think, "Most people don't have the patience and dedication to learn any second language, and it only makes it harder to pick one where there aren't native speakers available to help teach the finer points.  I bet a lot of effort went into this."

3. Reap consistency effects.

Take care to be kind and considerate to the person.  The odds are pretty good that there is something they don't like about you (rubbing someone the wrong way is more often bidirectional than not).  If you can figure out what it is, and do less of it - at least around them - you will collect cognitive dissonance that you can use to nudge yourself to like the person.  I mean, otherwise, why would you go to the trouble of not tapping your fingers around them, or making sure to pronounce their complicated name correctly, or remembering what they're allergic to so you can avoid bringing in food suitable for everyone but them?  That's the sort of thing you do when you care how they feel, and if you care how they feel, you must like them at least a little.  (Note failure mode: if you discover that something you do annoys them, and you respond with resentment that they have such an unreasonable preference about such a deeply held part of your identity and how dare they!, you're doing it wrong.  The point isn't to completely make yourself over to be their ideal friend.  You don't have to do everything.  But do something.)

Seek to spend time around the person.  This should drop pretty naturally out of the above steps: you need to acquire all this information from somewhere, after all.  But seek their opinions on things, especially their areas of expertise and favorite topics; make small talk; ask after their projects, their interests, their loved ones; choose to hang out in rooms they occupy even if you never interact.  (Note failure mode: Don't do this if you can feel yourself hating them more every minute you spend together or if you find it stressful enough to inhibit the above mental exercises.  It is better to do more work on liking them from a distance if you are at this stage, then later move on to seeking to spend time with them.  Also, if you annoy them, don't do anything that could be characterized as pestering them or following them around.)

Try to learn something from the person - by example, if they aren't interested in teaching you, or directly, if they are.  It is possible to learn even from people who don't have significantly better skills than you.  If they tell stories about things they've done, you can learn from their mistakes; if they are worse than you at a skill but use an approach to it that you haven't tried, you can learn how to use it; if nothing else, they know things about themselves, and that information is highly useful for the project of liking them, as discussed above.  Put what you know about them into the context of their own perspective.

Note general failure mode: It would be fairly easy, using facsimiles of the strategy above, to develop smugness, self-righteousness, arrogance, and other unseemly attitudes.  Beware if your inner monologue begins to sound something like "He's gone and broken the sink again, but I'm too good and tolerant to be angry.  It wouldn't do any good to express my displeasure - after all, he can't take criticism, not that I judge him for this, of course.  I'll be sure to put a note on the faucet and call the plumber to cover for his failure to do so, rather than nagging him to do it, as I know he'd fly off the handle if I reminded him - it's just not everyone's gift to accept such things, as it is mine, and as I am doing, right now, with him, by not being upset..."

This monologuer does not like the sink-breaker.  This monologuer holds him in contempt, and thinks very highly of herself for keeping this contempt ostensibly private (although it's entirely possible that he can tell anyway).  She tolerates his company because it would be beneath her not to; she doesn't enjoy having him around because she realizes that he has useful insights on relevant topics or even because he's decorative in some way.  If you don't wind up really, genuinely, sincerely liking the person you set out to like, you are doing it wrong.  This is not a credit to your high-mindedness, and thinking it is will not help you win.

 

1 A good time to practice this habit is when in a car.  Make up stories about the traffic misbehaviors around you.  "The sun is so bright - she may not have seen me."  "That car sure looks old!  I probably wouldn't handle it even half as well, no wonder it keeps stalling."  "He's in a terrible hurry - I wonder if a relative of his is in trouble."  "Perhaps she's on her cellphone because she's a doctor, on call - it then would really be more dangerous on net if she didn't answer the thing while driving."  "He'd pull over if there were any place to do so, but there's no shoulder."  Of course any given one of these is probably not true.  But they make sense, and they are not about how everybody on the road is a maniac!  I stress that you are not to believe these stories.  You are merely to acknowledge that they are possibilities, to compensate for the deemphasis of hypotheses like this that the fundamental attribution error will prompt.

Comments (243)

Comment author: JRMayne 27 May 2010 04:58:59AM *  13 points [-]

I'm not sure I want to like more people all that much.

I have a generally cheerful disposition, and I have no trouble with civility toward those I dislike. There have been people who clearly disliked me whom I thought well of nonetheless; I've met me, and I recognize this particular combination of attributes isn't to everyone's taste.

But I've never had a situation where I wanted to make an effort to like someone who I didn't like. I think the goals here are typically anti-productive, assuming reasonable socialization skills and some pre-existing friends.

It is useful to like people. For one thing, if you have to be around them, liking >them makes this far more pleasant. For another, well, they can often tell, and if >they know you to like them this will often be instrumentally useful to you.

Let's take a look at these advantages:

  1. More pleasant. Yes, true. Point well taken.

  2. Puppeteering. OK, maybe a bit too harsh, but "instrumentally useful," sounds like that. I certainly want people to do lots of things, but I don't usually trade in on personal relationships quite that way.

Disadvantages:

  1. Personal rot. There are qualities in people that it is unwise to overlook, because the cognitive dissonance is so strong. "He's fun, except for the light stealing," is not going to lead to healthy thinking. This is inevitably corrupting.

If you're admiring something that's interesting but maybe not admirable, you're changing yourself in some way that might not be good.

  1. Failure to change people a little tiny bit. Yeah, your view toward the other human is unlikely to change them a lot if they're adults, because people are bad at learning or attempting to learn new modes of socialization. (This is doubtless why Alicorn's posts on these topics are popular; the deliberate reinvention and aiming of self is both impressive and interesting. And quite rare.) But a little change might be brought about through social cues that recreational puppy-stomping is frowned on.

  2. * A lot of effort that might be spent better elsewhere.* Overall effort's not fixed, so you might gain extra effort points by doing this, but there's still got to be a net loss.

Premise rejection:

  1. People know more about themselves than you do. As far as experiences, yes, As far as who they are and what they are good at... maybe not.

Anyway, it's a very interesting post, much as I think it's a bad idea. I note that I was and remain a big fan of niceness in most circumstances and a big fan of the niceness post linked at the top of this one. I think this is dangerous step past that.

On a side note, I apologize for failing to honor the tone norm in this thread and addressing the post. For whatever reason, I found the post more interesting than the comment thread, which I gather was moved over from Gawker.

--JRM

Comment author: HughRistik 27 May 2010 05:41:34AM *  6 points [-]

I'll try to explain what I view as the advantages of liking people.

It's instrumentally useful to give people the perception that you like them: they are more likely to like you, and to want to cooperate with you. Probably the best way to give people the perception that you like them is to actually like them.

There are qualities in people that it is unwise to overlook, because the cognitive dissonance is so strong. "He's fun, except for the light stealing," is not going to lead to healthy thinking. This is inevitably corrupting.

Yes, I agree. As someone with high Agreeableness and Openness, I've been burned in the past for being too trusting of people. This tendency is why people with high Agreeableness need to learn certain skills (alluded to by SarahC, including a healthy amount of suspicion. Similarly, Disagreeable people may need to learn to be more trusting and open towards people. Otherwise, even though they might avoid getting burned, they might shortchange themselves on positive interactions and connections with people.

An emotionally Agreeable person applying cognitive cynicism, and an emotionally Disagreeable person applying cognitive openness, could have the same estimates of people's trustworthiness; they are just coming from different routes.

Anyway, it's a very interesting post, much as I think it's a bad idea. I note that I was and remain a big fan of niceness in most circumstances and a big fan of the niceness post linked at the top of this one. I think this is dangerous step past that.

Well, the best way to be nice is probably to genuinely like people. I agree with you that adopting such an attitude has risks; I just think that if you can mitigate those risks, an attitude of Agreeableness combined with some cognitive caution towards people and their motives, is a powerful combination in our society.

Comment author: cousin_it 27 May 2010 08:29:36PM *  5 points [-]

It's instrumentally useful to give people the perception that you like them

Hmm. I've found that it's most effective to give people the perception that you're having fun and not judging them. The best way to give a perception like that is to actually have fun and conceal any snap judgments you make. This tactic doesn't seem to have the downsides of liking the wrong people.

Comment author: Alicorn 27 May 2010 05:20:34AM 8 points [-]

Puppeteering. OK, maybe a bit too harsh, but "instrumentally useful," sounds like that. I certainly want people to do lots of things, but I don't usually trade in on personal relationships quite that way.

It is useful to me that my family buys me Christmas presents. This is because, every year, I receive items that it is good for me to have. This in no way diminishes the warmth, affection, and sincerity of the gifts. Similarly, the fact that it is useful to like people need not diminish the warmth, affection, and sincerity of that liking.

There are qualities in people that it is unwise to overlook, because the cognitive dissonance is so strong. "He's fun, except for the light stealing," is not going to lead to healthy thinking. This is inevitably corrupting.

I don't think you should overlook dangerous qualities. For instance, I know a guy who is basically diagnoseably psychotic. He is great to have as a friend because he supplies good music recommendations and has encyclopedic knowledge of the intricacies of D&D rules and how to break them, but I do not want him to know where I live. The fact that he will never get my address if I can help it doesn't prevent me from liking and appreciating his good qualities. (Incidentally, I don't like this guy "on purpose". He's quite amusing enough to be liked naturally. But I still wouldn't have him over for tea.)

Failure to change people a little tiny bit. Yeah, your view toward the other human is unlikely to change them a lot if they're adults, because people are bad at learning or attempting to learn new modes of socialization.

Liking people is not counterproductive to changing their changeable behaviors. If I like someone, and they're busily hoisting themselves by their own puppy-stomping petard, I will do my best to help them improve themselves. This is in their interests, which I will care about furthering because I like them. If someone I don't like is practicing net negative behaviors, I'm inclined to stand back and watch them go up in flames as the backlash hits. Do you have any stories about helping folks you don't like to be better people that you couldn't have managed if you'd liked them?

Comment author: JRMayne 27 May 2010 03:19:41PM 4 points [-]
  1. The usefulness may not reduce the sincerity of the liking, but it certainly reduces the depth. If Steve gives me stuff, and I like him because of that usefulness, and then Steve stops giving me stuff... JRM no more like Steve. Viewing friendships as exchanges isn't evil or wrong, but if it's usefulness that's the prime driver, that's a different sort of friendship than one I really want.

  2. There are qualities that are troublesome that aren't physically dangerous. Affiliating yourself mentally with people who don't care so much about the truth is likely to rub off. I'd like to think of myself as a particularly resilient and incorruptible person, but there's a certain necessary diligence to retain that self-view (which I believe is related to actual resilience and incorruptibility.)

  3. On liking people not being counterproductive to changing behaviors: You might be right. I was considering the (perhaps) increased willingness to tolerate troublesome behavior and the reward function of friendships coming to those who are troublesome in some serious way. It may depend on the people involved. Or I might just be wrong.

  4. I think when we look at petty problems to determine dislikes (She likes the mundane and stupid American Idol, while I like the brilliant and intellectual Top Chef), that is indeed counterproductive. But most of the limited number of people I take an active dislike to.... I don't want to try to be their friends. At all. And I think the world is a better place for my lack of trying.

  5. I think the more serious and common error is to put up with malfeasing people past the point it's reasonable. I also think people tend to trust statements from others overmuch, even when that person has a track record of untrustworthiness. For most, a post on "Staying Away From Hazardous Humans You Like," would be more beneficial.

--JRM

Comment author: Alicorn 27 May 2010 05:41:13PM 1 point [-]
  1. I don't think this necessarily follows. If Steve stops giving you stuff, he's still the guy who gave you stuff; you can still value him for the generosity/skill at picking out gifts/thoughtfulness/etc. that he exhibited then; and you can still think kindly of him whenever you use something he gave you.

  2. Can you go into more detail on how these things may rub off?

  3. :)

  4. I don't think you should be friends with everyone. But if you find that you do want to be friends with someone, it's good to be able to.

  5. I believe or disbelieve or am suspicious of statements by others for reasons other than how much I like them. (I do factor in my model of how much they like me, as I believe people are less likely to lie to people they like; but this doesn't affect their epistemic hygiene, their background knowledge, their skills at rationality, or their susceptibility to fallacy.)

Comment author: JoshuaZ 27 May 2010 05:46:42PM 1 point [-]

(I do factor in my model of how much they like me, as I believe people are less likely to lie to people they like; but this doesn't affect their epistemic hygiene, their background knowledge, their skills at rationality, or their susceptibility to fallacy.)

I could conceive of situations where friends would be more likely to lie than strangers. A friend may lie about their actions if they care about your opinion of them and not care as much about the stranger's opinion of them.

However, it may very well be that people who I like practice better epistemic hygiene. Indeed, I've found simply being around people who are more careful thinkers forces one to switch into a more careful thinking mode, because if you don't, they'll tear you into little tiny pieces. However, that probably doesn't matter that much since detailed interaction can probably get you a better idea of how the person thinks more than this rough heuristic.

Comment author: JoshuaZ 26 May 2010 02:16:49AM *  10 points [-]

I've noticed that I sometimes have this problem. However, there's a bright side that makes it slightly easier: I've found that generally if I have a pragmatic reason to enjoy someone's company that's generally some major positive trait (e.g. only expert on a certain topic around me, is a better chess player than anyone else around, is the only other Go player around, etc.) This provides a positive trait to start with.

The whole thing about the understanding that other humans have circumstances that help explain actions also is something that's been nagging at the back of my mind for a while as somewhat similar. The phrasing here about using it to actively assume that people had good reasons for their behavior made it click more. There's an old tradition in Judaism about trying to assume that people mean well and when one sees something negative one should assume extenuating circumstances not apparent to you. This idea was heavily promoted by among other people the Chofetz Chaim (he was a major Rabbi living around 1900). Sometimes this sort of view was pushed to points where something is just actively anti-rational (ridiculously contrived stories are sometimes told to Orthodox kids to inculcate this point). This also results in some very bad attitudes in the ultra-Orthodox population about not willing to accept that someone did something wrong even when there's heavy evidence (curiously this attitude occurs primarily with people of very high status). This leads to a general worry here: is the effort to try to think of explanatory circumstances here possibly against good rational thinking? In particular, there seems to be a problem if one tries to deal with the fundamental attribution error only when they are people you have a reason to try and like. This seems to easily lead to tribalism. (And again, using the comparison to Orthodox Judaism, these sorts of assumptions are essentially never applied to people outside the fold).

Comment author: cousin_it 26 May 2010 03:00:11AM *  2 points [-]

This is interesting. Not knowing much about Judaism, I want to ask: do those "ridiculously contrived stories" teach you to be in denial even when a fellow tribe member does something wrong to you, or is it only about wrongs done to other people?

Comment author: JoshuaZ 26 May 2010 03:14:51AM *  6 points [-]

It varies. These stories as commonly told seem to actually focus more on what would be here labeled as ritual rather than moral law more than anything else. (For example one such story is about a man is seen buying bacon at a store but it turns out he was buying it because his wife is pregnant and had a craving.) Empirically when this sort of heuristic is applied in the real world it applies generally when there are actual victims but the one engaging in the bad behavior in question is of high status (frequently either a rich philanthropist or a Rabbi) and the victims are either of low status (for example, converts, potential converts, children, mamzerim (Edit: They are a technical class of bastards who are somewhat discriminated against in ultra-orthodox settings)) or the victims are an abstract collection (frequently the government if it is say tax fraud).

It might help to give two recent concrete examples. Leib Tropper is an ultra-Orthodox Rabbi who it turned out was sexually exploiting women whose conversion he was supervising. Despite the existence of actual recorded phone conversations being circulated, repeated denial of any wrong-doing was a common refrain in the ultra-Orthodox world. Similarly, during the ongoing Rubashkin scandal with Agriprocessors, much of the Orthodox community has decided that they really aren't guilty or are not guilty of anything that major. The stories in this case they've decided to tell are conspiratorial and portray the US federal prosecutors as somewhat similar to the government of Czarist Russia.

Comment author: xamdam 26 May 2010 05:45:44PM *  1 point [-]

Nice to see a fellow yeshiva bochur here ;)

I agree with your concerns about corrupting your rationality via this exercise. Even if it's instrumentally a benefit. I would require some proof that this is a good thing. I would use this in limited situation where the "lack of like" is probably due to accidental factors that do not really reflect on the the person.

To mention another famous Rabbinical story, a talmudic rabbi had a wife who, ahem, was kind of evil and always did the opposite of request. His son suggested to ask her to cook the said rabbi's Least Favorite food in order to get what he really wanted. The Rabbi was excited by the idea at first (I guess he hasn't thought of it??) but then commented that they should not do this because of "limdu lashonam dvar sheker" - "their tongues have learnt to speak falsely", so lying instrumentally will lead to further corruption, as I understand this.

BTW the original injunction of "Dan lekaf zchus" - "benefit of doubt" in approximate translation - comes from Ethics of the Fathers, and I believe one of the major commenters (R.Yonah IIRC) suggested, essentially, giving heavy weight to the prior: if the person is generally good you should try to explain an apparently bad act, and vice versa! you should explain an apparently good act of a bad person UNfavorably. Pretty sane thought.

Comment author: JoshuaZ 26 May 2010 06:13:57PM *  5 points [-]

BTW the original injunction of "Dan lekaf zchus" - "benefit of doubt" in approximate translation - comes from Ethics of the Fathers, and I believe one of the major commenters (R.Yonah IIRC) suggested, essentially, giving heavy weight to the prior: if the person is generally good you should try to explain an apparently bad act, and vice versa! you should explain an apparently good act of a bad person UNfavorably. Pretty sane thought.

I'm not sure. One can see how this goes wrong in Talmudic contexts. For example, there are a lot midrashim that explain away apparently good behavior by Esau and Ishmael, and there are a lot of midrashim that explain away or try to justify apparently bad or deceptive behavior by Jacob. Yet, a simple reading of the Biblical text shows that what is actually happening is that these just aren't 1 dimensional characters. So this general tendency can be actively distorting.

Edit: For others reading, midrashim are a classical Jewish set of stories generally told in an interconnected fashion to fill in apparent gaps in the Biblical stories.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 26 May 2010 05:56:57AM 0 points [-]

I just ran across an interview with Patti Newbold applying the idea of assuming the best to marriage (with some caveats about not assuming the best when one is seriously mistreated).

Comment author: Leafy 26 May 2010 08:31:13AM 9 points [-]

I read your last section ("Note general failure mode: ...") with amusement as I have found myself following almost the exact train of thought several times recently.

It was an appreciated, although unpleasant, kick-in-the-teeth to realise that my thought process actually belied negative aspects to my character rather than positive ones.

Could I ask for advice then on reversing this situation? What internal monologue, or indeed actions, should be ideally followed based on a situation identical to the one given in the article.

Comment author: Alicorn 26 May 2010 06:09:05PM 2 points [-]

I'd advise redoing the entire process, carefully and methodically. Note that the monologue I wrote doesn't include a single mention of the person's positive traits; it doesn't come up with a story to excuse the person's irksome behavior; and the behavior of the monologuer is not conducive to reaping cognitive dissonance, because she has a complete explanation in mind for why she's doing as she does (she is high-minded and tolerant and good) that doesn't involve liking the person. This means that if you get to that monologue, the steps I outline didn't "stick".

Comment author: Vive-ut-Vivas 28 May 2010 07:09:51PM 6 points [-]

I don't have much to add, but in the spirit of Why Our Kind Can't Cooperate, I want to state that I've found this post very insightful and very useful. Thanks for posting!

Being able to pick out positive traits in people that you might otherwise not be able to stand will help you win in several ways: 1) You'll enjoy life more; 2) You'll get more people on your side; 3) You'll have more access to different modes of thought which, while they may be wrong, can help strengthen the foundations of your own ideas.

This actually does work. I tested it out in my day job, which requires regular interaction with people whose company I do not usually like, and found myself almost enjoying it! We shouldn't be afraid to like people, and to enjoy ourselves, for fear of actually becoming like them. If you make the effort to be friendly to that disagreeable person and find something pleasant about them, you're not making their disagreeable qualities pleasant (and thereby running the risk of adopting them yourself). So, don't be afraid to be nice, and by extension, to tolerate tolerance. This is a lesson I'm still struggling to learn.

Comment author: DuncanS 26 May 2010 11:05:01PM 6 points [-]

I liked this post - particularly the way it leads you to critique your own inner thought life. I do have some of these habits - particularly noticing interesting or admirable characteristics in people who might be difficult in other ways.

But I do disagree with the idea of making excuses for the other person. Certainly we should be rational enough to realise we don't know exactly why the other person is ignoring me, or driving like a moron, or not showing any consideration to anyone. Perhaps they have an excuse for it, but probably they don't. And in most of the really difficult cases that we all have to put up with, there is no realistic excuse. The boss really is a control freak. The mother in law really is being unreasonable. Making excuses seems to me to be an answer that doesn't work.

What I tend to do instead is stay away from "That person is" declarations. For example, "That person is thoughtless." "That person is completely unreasonable." "That person is pointless, feckless, undeserving." Whatever. Just don't say it to yourself. It's always an oversimplification anyway, and it leads straight to disliking people. Use a richer classification and understanding scheme instead.

Suppose somebody is driving recklessly. You can say "They're a reckless maniac", and you'll dislike them. Or you can say "They're driving really recklessly." And then imagine their state of mind. They are having fun. They're enjoying themselves. I can understand that. Of course I believe it's the wrong thing to do, but I can see why they're doing it. And in that process, I'm no longer disliking them for it. I'm understanding what it's like to be them, and actually it's not too bad.

And that seems to generally work. Mother in law is mean to me? Why is that? Does she have an idealised husband for her daughter in her mind - who is a rather different man? Is she disappointed that this never happened? Is she acting out her own disappointments in her own marriage? (My real mother in law is nothing like this) Does she have notions of what a husband ought to do that I don't fit? I'm not making excuses here - just looking for what's really going on in her head when she reacts as she does. It's a better level of understanding than you get from just labelling her mean. You get to appreciate why she acts like that. And you're beyond disliking them for it - you're trying to see them as they see themselves.

You can even be quite ruthless. "That car sure looks old! That correlates with low income, and lower intelligence - it may not be driven as well as most. Give it slightly more attention and space. That one has a dent in it - they may not be such a good driver." You're trying to gain knowledge, and that's a process where the emotional positive is gaining understanding, not in finding a positive category to put them into. And this is perfectly compatible with meeting that driver later, finding out how they see themselves, you, and their place in the world, and liking them for it.

Comment author: stcredzero 30 May 2010 04:45:10PM 4 points [-]

That car sure looks old! That correlates with low income, and lower intelligence

Insufficient data, though perhaps a reasonable heuristic. Many people do this, despite being able to afford a more expensive car. Why? Driving an older model high-end car is a good way to avoid the attention of thieves, while retaining a lot of utility. My 14 year old Mercedes has a feature set comparable to a recent model Corolla, but thieves will pay more attention to the Corolla. A car is also a bad place to put one's money. It's much better to buy a cheaper car and invest the difference.

Comment author: DuncanS 30 May 2010 06:10:33PM *  2 points [-]

I find it easy to agree with this as I've owned quite a few old cars myself (mostly by keeping a newer car for a long time). It really is just a heuristic. It's not even a heavily weighted heuristic for me - I take much more notice of driving errors like wandering across lane dividers than the age of the vehicle. But driving is probably the most dangerous thing I do and it's worth taking as much statistical advantage as I can get....

Comment author: stcredzero 30 May 2010 06:37:51PM *  0 points [-]

Right. It's not like the false positives are going to bite you in that context. False negatives might be pretty serious.

Comment author: Jowibou 30 May 2010 06:08:01PM *  2 points [-]

That car sure looks old! That correlates with low income, and lower intelligence.

I know plenty of very smart people who have old crummy cars that get them from A to B and act as pretty effective countersignals.

Comment author: loqi 26 May 2010 08:26:07AM 6 points [-]

These are useful skills to apply to everyone, if you're at all concerned with being "fair" to people. But intentionally selective application of them just strikes me as throwing epistemic hygiene concerns to the wind. Liking the target had better be important.

Comment author: Kutta 26 May 2010 09:31:28AM 4 points [-]

Fair point. The logical reply to this issue would be a detailed account how to select candidates and precisely when to apply the techniques, although the differences of individuals' utility functions make it harder to convey useful advice. Perhaps Alicorn did good by presenting only the techniques, leaving us the task of weighing instrumental benefits/costs and risks of epistemic distortion.

Comment author: JanetK 26 May 2010 10:50:03AM 11 points [-]

It is my impression that people generally have an epistemic distortion already and Alicorn's advice would help them overcome it. When we justify our own actions, we place a weight on circumstances and give ourselves a fair benefit of the doubt. When we look for the reasons for other people's actions we often do not know, care to know or just plain care about what the circumstances were. No benefit of the doubt here. Reversing this bias seems a good and healthy thing to do. Judge others as you would judge yourself may sound simple but it takes the sort of persistence that Alicorn outlines.

Comment author: realitygrill 26 May 2010 02:59:01PM 0 points [-]

The FAE is an epistemic distortion both ways (as I interpret it). Actively inducing a liking of someone appears to be shoving the lever in the other direction, replacing one bias with another.

Comment author: Kaj_Sotala 26 May 2010 09:56:47PM 6 points [-]

These techniques don't seem to be in conflict with epistemic hygiene or epistemic rationality to me. They're modifying emotions, not knowledge.

Comment author: loqi 28 May 2010 07:31:44AM 3 points [-]

I was talking about the means, whereby one alters one's "search priorities" when seeking to understand situations involving the target. This sort of selective perception may not be a direct corruption of existing knowledge, but it still constitutes an attention bias akin to privileging a hypothesis.

I agree that the emotional aspect isn't relevant to my concern, though I could imagine having instrumental qualms somewhat analogous to the above.

Comment author: HughRistik 26 May 2010 10:58:28PM 5 points [-]

On an on-topic note, I really liked this post. I can confirm that being able to like people is instrumentally useful. Due to high Agreeableness and Openness, I like everyone by default. It's difficulty for me to explain how I do this, because it's probably done through my personality hardware. I have to try to not like people. But I'll see if I can think of any ways to articulate my cognition on this subject.

Comment author: [deleted] 27 May 2010 01:02:37AM *  6 points [-]

I'm the same way, in fact.

Sometimes I've deliberately amplified my dislike of people just so I can assert values of my own. I do that by noticing small irritations and internally vocalizing them -- "Man, I hate how Billy Bob takes so long to get moving. He's always double-checking every little thing. I prefer to be a little less anal-retentive." You start by noticing that you're irritably tapping your foot, and then you work it up into a whole worldview.

I do this intentionally because I've often found myself unhappy in some people's company, even when I think I like them, and the unhappiness becomes much more tolerable if I think of it as a reasonable response to irritating behavior, as opposed to a nameless flaw in myself. (Example: my parents often got under my skin. Complaining about them to friends, and believing myself justifiably irritated, made it a lot more bearable.) Irritation is actually a "high" emotion -- irritation, as well as elation, is a symptom of mania -- and in fact I've found that irritation is almost an opposite of unhappiness. It's also a cognitive emotion of a sort. Irritation is expressing your own opinions in contrast to other people's, which is something we high-Agreableness folks need to encourage in ourselves, to avoid being wimps and pushovers.

So, I'd expect, if you wanted to go the opposite direction, you'd do what I do by default -- don't vocalize the irritation. Don't regard yourself as being entitled to irritation; it's a mosquito bite, which will stop itching if you don't think about it. Billy Bob must be so slow and careful because he has a good reason for it.

Make yourself "small." That's the best metaphor I can find for it. (Actually a Pirkei Avot metaphor, as I recall.) If you're "big" then you perceive other people constantly bumping into you and intruding on your personal space, but if you're "small" then nothing anybody can do is a personal insult or irritation, any more than a bird can bump into a fly. (I'm actually trying to make myself "big," because smallness, aka humility, has its disadvantages.)

Comment author: kodos96 26 May 2010 11:56:17PM 2 points [-]

On an on-topic note

Sorry, that's not allowed on this thread ;)

Comment author: rwallace 26 May 2010 09:44:08AM 5 points [-]

I would be interested in fictional examples of when you might use this technique and how you might go about using it.

Comment author: Alicorn 26 May 2010 06:48:02PM 22 points [-]

Okay, sure.

I move to a new town. I look and look and look for apartments, most of which are out of my price range, and finally find one that I can afford. Turns out, I can't stand my landlady. I have to pay her my rent in person, if I want anything in the place fixed I have to go through her, and if I have an issue with a neighbor that doesn't warrant calling the cops, I have to deal with her. Even if I wanted to move again so soon, it's been established that it's damn hard to find a place in this town - it'd take months, during which I'd have to interact with the landlady several times. It would be far more convenient and pleasant if I liked her.

So what don't I like about the landlady? Let's say she has a strong accent from her country of origin that I find challenging to understand; she's paranoid about people paying rent late and usually wants it early; she hires a plumber who leaves debris all over the place whenever he makes a repair; and she has an evil cat, which has bitten me. (Note that I made all these things up before coming up with stories about them.)

The accent represents the difficulty of learning a foreign language. I don't speak a second language at all - I've forgotten most of what I learned in school. It is hard, and must have been very threatening for her to move here, but she did it anyway. The rent - she's probably been stiffed a few times. It is, after all, a relatively cheap apartment - her tenants are likely to be less able to afford regular payments than some, and she's operating on small profit margins. The plumber is probably cheaper than his competition. And maybe she picked up the evil cat as a stray (a generous act) and its aggression is a holdover from life on the streets. Maybe it bites her too but she forgives it because she loves animals.

Now I know she knows more languages than me, and have reason to suspect that she's careful with money and kind to animals. There we have groundwork. I can ask longtime tenants to tell me (nice) stories about her and gather information about other nice traits she has - suppose I learn that she supports some relatives back in the old country, that she's good at crochet, and that she volunteers some weekends with the Humane Society (whence, it turns out, her cat. Maybe the cat was considered unadoptable because of the biting and she saved it from being put down.)

Now I have a far more well-rounded picture of the landlady than my initial one. I can start acting in ways that are consistent with liking her: I take special care to pay my rent a bit early each month, I offer to let her use my place as the show apartment, I note her birthday and get her a skein of yarn, I donate fifteen dollars to the Humane Society (with or without telling her, as long as I'm doing it because I know she'd approve), and I don't pick any fights with my neighbors that she'd have to deal with.

Comment author: rwallace 28 May 2010 01:07:27AM 2 points [-]

Thanks! Okay, that's pretty clear now, makes sense.

Comment author: mattnewport 26 May 2010 06:31:45PM 0 points [-]

Me too. I have tried to think of a situation where I might find this useful and have drawn a blank. I have not had any problem in my professional life working reasonably productively with people who I do not particularly like and in my personal life I can't see why I would want to make myself like someone who I didn't 'naturally' like.

Comment author: LauraABJ 26 May 2010 03:27:58PM 26 points [-]

Dear Tech Support, Might I suggest that the entire Silas-Alicorn debate be moved to some meta-section. It has taken over the comments section of an instrumentally useful post, and may be preventing topical discussion.

Comment author: Maelin 26 May 2010 07:56:56PM 22 points [-]

Can somebody nonpartisan give us the Cliff's Notes of the whole mess? I tried reading it. Then I tried skimming it. It seems to rely on some whole pre-existing unpleasant dynamic between several commenters of which I am currently blissfully unaware, and it also looks quite seriously dull.

It also looks pretty damn childish, despite having lots of fun mature-sounding rationalist words. A silly playground arguments is still a silly playground argument.

Are we really going to do this kind of thing on LessWrong now? Nothing is going to turn away non-committed members quite like a huge load of tedious, irrelevent drama on a front page post. I myself am, at this moment, feeling a moderate urge to say "welp, looks like LW has gone to shit now, oh well, thanks internet drama," and I've been lurking here since the OB days.

It would take a lot of evidence to convince me that this shitstorm is going to end up being productive.

Comment author: mattnewport 26 May 2010 08:00:07PM 8 points [-]

It also looks pretty damn childish, despite having lots of fun mature-sounding rationalist words. A silly playground arguments is still a silly playground argument.

Agreed. Post-grad vocabulary, pre-school behaviour.

Comment author: SilasBarta 26 May 2010 08:08:22PM -2 points [-]

I don't disagree. My goal in all of this is to make it so that Alicorn and I don't have to treat each other like enemies anymore -- so she can reply to my comments, and I to hers. To end this drama, in other words. And that really is the long and short of it.

For various reasons I'm having trouble understanding, Alicorn is committed to not relaxing her shunning of me. I consider this inconsistent of her and unproductive, for much the same reasons you give.

I would love for the hostility to end too, because it's pretty stupid that people can't publicly reply to each other on a message board. They should try to resolve past difference. ("You first" doesn't count as trying, IMHO.) It's not that I have a reason why I want to reply to Alicorns comments specifically; it's just that the whole charade of having to take circuitous routes to posting because of the presence of the other is just ... stupid.

If Alicorn and a mediator want to come to a (private, online) bargaining table so we can understand and settle our differences, great! That would take the talk off the main, and eliminate the basis for me calling Alicorn inconsistent.

Finding a mediator is the easy part. Getting my committment to such talks is easy too. All that's left is ...

Comment author: cupholder 26 May 2010 09:16:14PM 4 points [-]

My goal in all of this is to make it so that Alicorn and I don't have to treat each other like enemies anymore -- so she can reply to my comments, and I to hers.

I would love for the hostility to end too, because it's pretty stupid that people can't publicly reply to each other on a message board.

I suspect I'll regret getting sucked into this topic, but curiosity forces me to ask: if you think Alicorn is acting unreasonably, why not just resume replying to her comments as and when you want? She doesn't have any special editor/moderator powers to prevent you from doing so, as far as I can tell.

Comment author: SilasBarta 26 May 2010 09:21:33PM 1 point [-]

Why don't you ask all the other people who have been criticizing me what they think of this advice? Or check out the last time I tried that.

Comment author: cupholder 26 May 2010 09:31:36PM 0 points [-]

Why don't you ask all the other people who have been criticizing me what they think of this advice?

I don't (at least, not yet) have much interest in what they think of this advice, although I am curious about what they did when you tried it. So if you have a link to what happened 'last time,' I'll check it out.

Comment author: SilasBarta 26 May 2010 09:39:34PM 1 point [-]

I made my previous comment because of the unfortunate tendency in this discussion for several people to give me contradictory "obvious" advice, and rather than justifying contradictory positions to each of them, I've been content to just point out the kafkaesque standards I'm being held to.

As for the 'last time', I've linked this several times, but here you go. Notice how unpunished the good deeds go.

Comment author: cupholder 26 May 2010 10:01:41PM *  1 point [-]

I made my previous comment because of the unfortunate tendency in this discussion for several people to give me contradictory "obvious" advice, and rather than justifying contradictory positions to each of them, I've been content to just point out the kafkaesque standards I'm being held to.

OK.

As for the 'last time', I've linked this several times,

I wasn't around for the past iterations of this discussion, and I haven't read the entirety of its latest iteration under this top-level post, so I probably missed it. If you're fed up with people prompting you to link it, I'm sorry; I hadn't realized you'd been repeatedly prompted to link it.

but here you go. Notice how unpunished the good deeds go.

Reading.

Edit - I've now read the thread, and I have some thoughts, but they're not urgent and I get the feeling you're not much interested in advice/rationalizations of advice, so I'll bite my tongue.

Comment author: SilasBarta 26 May 2010 09:40:11PM 4 points [-]

Futilely request rational explanation for downmod.

Comment author: Bo102010 27 May 2010 01:29:58AM 12 points [-]

Quit posting on this subject. Please. I didn't downvote you, but I will downvote any more posts on the topic by anyone.

Comment author: Violet 26 May 2010 08:39:16PM 3 points [-]

The whole affair smells quite a lot like harassment and someone not being content when asked to stop.

Comment author: SilasBarta 26 May 2010 08:56:57PM *  2 points [-]

Who not being content when asked to stop? Me, or Alicorn?

First link:

[Alicorn:] Since at least one person seems to agree with you, I'm genuinely curious now. Assuming I'm correct in detecting sarcasm there, can you elaborate?

[Me:] [No, because ...]

[Alicorn:] [Do it anyway.]

Later, in the second link:

[Alicorn:] Let me clarify: you think I'm immature, almost constantly in error, you won't explain my failures in enough [!] detail for me to make use of the information even when I ask, [!] [emphasis added]


It's clear to me that what's going on is:

1) Alicorn wanted me to explain something to her that had a lot of emotional significance.

2) I refused.

3) Alicorn kept asking.

4) Finally finding herself on the receiving end in one of these situations, she seeks to "get back" by withholding her replies from me.

But I'm sure there are other interpretations. In any case, whatever you might say of me at least Alicorn was being "excessively persistent" when asked to stop ... well, at least by the standards she expects out of everyone else.

Comment author: cousin_it 26 May 2010 03:45:15PM 1 point [-]

Seconded.

Comment author: CronoDAS 26 May 2010 08:47:27PM 1 point [-]

Thirded.

Comment author: Kaj_Sotala 26 May 2010 10:20:16PM 1 point [-]

Fourthed.

Comment author: Bindbreaker 27 May 2010 08:59:33PM 1 point [-]

Fifthed.

Comment deleted 26 May 2010 06:16:58PM [-]
Comment author: JoshuaZ 26 May 2010 06:21:37PM 8 points [-]

Ok. I've just downvoted you for at this point borderline trolling. There are lot of people here who aren't Alicorn. I'm not going to bother discussing your claim that Alicorn didn't benefit from this since there's already enough people wasting time on that in your main subthread. So I'll simply note that I am at least one person who found Alicorn's post very useful. I've used a technique much like what Alicorn layed out here but she makes multiple points that a) allow me to consciously understand what I'm doing better and b) to improve on some aspects of that technique.

Since there are 30 upvotes for the post, I'm pretty sure that multiple other people found this useful (it is possible that some of those votes are due to perceived status but given the anonymous nature of upvoting it seems unlikely that more than a few of them are).

Please stop damaging the signal to noise ratio.

Comment author: Matt_Stein 26 May 2010 02:57:15PM 3 points [-]

That footnote about working on excusing the behavior of "bad drivers"* is good advice in general, and should probably be taught in driver's ed. I imagine if it was actually followed, incidences of road rage would plummet.

It's my goal to one day be able to do this most minor irritations, and to be able "to let what does not matter truly slide", or at least to the extent that I'm able.

*(I had to go back and add those quotes after I realized that without them I was doing exactly the opposite of that advice)

Comment author: pnrjulius 22 April 2012 03:48:44PM 2 points [-]

I know that this is the sort of question you'd precisely expect from someone whose mental defenses were resisting the exercise, but it's still a valid possibility, prior probability ~1%: What if you suspect the person you're dealing with is actually a sociopath?

Learning to like a sociopath is actually extremely DANGEROUS---it opens you up to be exploited. Most people are not sociopaths of course, and if someone cuts you off in traffic it makes a lot more sense to attribute that to ordinary carelessness rather than extraordinary malice.

But in the particular case I'm thinking of, this acquaintance of mine has already destroyed the reputation of one of my friends, and accused me of perjury in an official university hearing. Once he called me up out of the blue in order to complain about my body odor. Meanwhile, he appears capable of lying without any effort---several times I've found out that things he said were untrue when at the time they seemed completely sincere. He has exactly the sort of superficial charm that high-functioning sociopaths do, and most people like him when they first see him. I even liked him at first, until I saw that he was deceiving and manipulating people.

All of this strikes me as sufficient evidence to conclude that there is a good chance (P ~ 60%?) that he is actually a sociopath, in which case learning to like him is exactly the wrong thing to do.

Comment author: TheOtherDave 22 April 2012 04:24:28PM 4 points [-]

I would say the most useful thing is to learn to protect myself from being exploited by sociopaths, whether I like them or not. After all, many sociopaths are genuinely likeable; I might find myself liking them without doing any of the work Alicorn discusses here. If I can do that, then liking them doesn't make them more dangerous to me than not liking them.

Comment author: pnrjulius 23 April 2012 04:22:16PM 0 points [-]

How do you protect yourself against a sociopath while still liking them? Also, how can you LIKE someone you know is a sociopath?

Comment author: TheOtherDave 23 April 2012 04:56:16PM 1 point [-]

Assuming you meant that as a literal question...

I protect myself from a sociopath the same way I protect myself from a non-sociopath whose interests require that they act against mine: by determining their threat capacity, making my best guesses as to their likely strategies, deciding on a strategy to counter them, and implementing that strategy.

Whether I like them or not is in-principle-irrelevant, although of course it might affect my ability to do those things.

I like someone I know is a sociopath more or less the same way I like someone I don't know is a sociopath: by unconsciously deciding that a social alliance with them would be cost-effective. (Or, in more conventional terms: "I dunno, I like who I like.")

Comment author: pnrjulius 30 April 2012 03:07:06PM 1 point [-]

Your definition of "like" is apparently radically different from mine.

I could very well form an alliance with a sociopath, if necessary for some greater goal. But liking someone, as I use the word, requires you to actually respect that person and their character, and believe that the ends they seek are (basically, reasonably) worth seeking. It requires you to trust them, to engage with them without fear that at any moment they might exploit you.

I believe it was SMBC that said it best: "The enemy of my enemy is not my friend, he is my ally. The difference is you don't invite your allies out for ice cream."

So on my meaning, it is impossible to like someone you know is a sociopath; and furthermore if you like someone who is a sociopath and you don't know, you are opening yourself up to be exploited. I guess you folks are free to use some other definition of "like" that doesn't require trust or respect... but surely this is not the standard definition?

Comment author: TheOtherDave 30 April 2012 03:29:15PM *  1 point [-]

With respect to sociopaths, I mostly agree that knowing that someone is a sociopath pretty much precludes my being able to engage with them without fear of being exploited. (It doesn't preclude my ability to respect them, or to consider the ends they seek worth seeking, or to trust them in certain ways.)

With respect to the meaning of "like", I frequently find myself liking people on brief acquaintance, long before I know very much about them, their character, what ends they seek, or their trustworthiness in any particular context. And it's not uncommon for me to lose respect for someone I like while continuing to like them.

As far as I can tell from observation, other people frequently have similar experiences, and frequently use the word "like" to refer to those experiences, much as I do. So I'm fairly confident that it's the usage you describe here that's nonstandard. But I could be wrong, or it might be a regional/subcultural thing.

For example, if a friend says "I met George at a party last night; I liked him" do you really understand your friend to mean that they know enough about George to make a reliable judgment about George's character and whether it merits respect, what ends George seeks and whether those ends are worth seeking, and George's trustworthiness? I would not understand them to mean that at all.

Comment author: TwistingFingers 22 April 2012 04:47:28PM 0 points [-]

I thought people like Tsundere?

Comment author: CuSithBell 22 April 2012 05:32:22PM 0 points [-]

All of this strikes me as sufficient evidence to conclude that there is a good chance (P ~ 60%?) that he is actually a sociopath, in which case learning to like him is exactly the wrong thing to do.

If this person is not "actually a sociopath", would learning to like him be the right thing to do?

Comment author: pnrjulius 23 April 2012 04:21:24PM 0 points [-]

Yes, if he's not actually a sociopath, it's probably worth learning to like him.

But the odds of him being a sociopath are high enough that the expected utility doesn't point that way at all. The disutility of being exploited by a sociopath is far worse than the opportunity cost of not liking this one person.

Comment author: CuSithBell 23 April 2012 04:47:12PM 0 points [-]

It sounds like the reason you'd want to not like him if he's a sociopath is that then he'd probably exploit you - but don't you already know that he'll exploit you anyway?

Comment author: realitygrill 27 May 2010 05:02:35PM *  2 points [-]

It may be useful to catalogue our responses by our respective big 5 factor psychological profiles. I have some tentative hypotheses in mind, particularly that Openness mitigates dislike of a person. (I'm off to retake the test)

EDIT: Thanks all. Do you mind adding your individual reactions to the top-level post in your replies?

Comment author: Cyan 07 June 2010 12:44:16AM 1 point [-]

O0 C6 E5 A63 N37

My low Openness score is probably due to the fact that I feel like I haven't generated any truly original thoughts in a long time.

Comment author: simplicio 30 May 2010 05:22:05PM *  1 point [-]

Ditto for me as for RobinZ.

Openness: 84

Conscientiousness: 41

Extraversion: 31

Agreeableness: 90

Neuroticism: 27

I would seem to support realitygrill's idea, as I have a hard time disliking even people whom I know I ought to dislike.

Comment author: realitygrill 30 May 2010 08:15:58PM 0 points [-]

This is encouraging (I have the same feeling), but I have no idea what I am supposed to do with the idea. Obviously, first try to find people who would falsify it, but then what?

I still want to know where the disagreeable LW-ers are. Come out, come out, wherever you are!

Comment author: pjeby 06 June 2010 10:11:54PM 4 points [-]

I still want to know where the disagreeable LW-ers are. Come out, come out, wherever you are!

Apparently, I'm one: O59-C0-E37-A0-N80 - i.e. I have zero agreeability and conscientiousness.

But, being such a disagreeable person, I'm inclined to dispute the validity of the test. ;-)

After all, it directly asks you about traits, with questions that are pretty obviously correlated with the results. It therefore seems to be a test of your opinions about yourself, rather than being an actual test of yourself.

Comment author: Blueberry 07 June 2010 12:53:50AM 1 point [-]

After all, it directly asks you about traits, with questions that are pretty obviously correlated with the results. It therefore seems to be a test of your opinions about yourself, rather than being an actual test of yourself.

I've yet to see a test that avoids this problem. I really don't understand why tests like this and the Aspergers one, which will obviously vary dramatically with your moods, are considered to have any meaning at all.

Comment author: cupholder 07 June 2010 02:43:55AM *  2 points [-]

Psychologists tend to treat a test as having meaning when it has some form of 'validity', 'validity' being the catch-all name for the different ways a psychologist might assess if a test looks meaningful. For example, some Big Five personality scores correlate with things like job performance, suggesting predictive validity. Whether this kind of validation can prove that a test has meaning will hinge on what you feel it means for a test to have meaning.

Comment author: ata 07 June 2010 04:42:33AM 2 points [-]

Whether this kind of validation can prove that a test has meaning will hinge on what you feel it means for a test to have meaning.

In that case we should probably taboo "meaning" (in this context) and talk directly about whatever it is we want a test to do — make clinically useful predictions, carve reality along its natural joints, etc.

Comment author: realitygrill 17 June 2010 02:01:30AM 0 points [-]

Strangely enough, I'd only considered the 'validity' side - basically are the categories used universal? Somehow missed how biased self-reporting might be.

Comment author: simplicio 30 May 2010 08:17:48PM 1 point [-]

I still want to know where the disagreeable LW-ers are.

Come out, come out, wherever you are... you wankers!

Comment author: AdeleneDawner 31 May 2010 01:04:34AM *  3 points [-]

It occurs to me that disagreeable folks might be less inclined to do the work of finding the test when there's no apparent benefit to them in doing so.

Here it is.

Oh, and:

  • Openness: 76

  • Conscientiousness: 8

  • Extraversion: 2

  • Agreeableness: 32

  • Neuroticism: 11

EDIT: Thanks all. Do you mind adding your individual reactions to the top-level post in your replies?

I doubt I'll actually ever use this advice, though it sounds like it would work if I did. It's pretty rare for me to actually dislike people (though it is common for me to think that interacting with people wouldn't be worth the effort), and when I do find myself disliking someone, it's usually a pretty reliable sign that I should limit my contact with them. (E.g., the only co-worker that I disliked at my last job - on the basis that she seemed to be near-sociopathicly self-centered - was caught stealing from another co-worker when invited to a party that co-worker was hosting, and was fired from the job for stealing money from one of our volunteers' pocketbooks.)

It may be noteworthy that my method of socializing is based more on openness - learning where the other person is coming from, having conversations about mutually interesting topics - rather than agreeableness, and I neither like nor dislike most of the people I consider friends.

Comment author: arundelo 31 May 2010 04:57:25AM *  0 points [-]

Thanks!

  • Openness to Experience/Intellect 53
  • Conscientiousness 58
  • Extraversion 5
  • Agreeableness 32
  • Neuroticism 9

(Some of these results surprised me [to the extent that I put stock in this particular test].)

Comment author: RobinZ 28 May 2010 11:51:24PM *  0 points [-]

According to the first test I found (which was short, so big error bars):

Openness: 35
Conscientiousness: 1
Extraversion: 83
Agreeableness: 79
Neuroticism: 84

...it is weird seeing how extraverted I appear, knowing I was homeschooled with few social outlets growing up.

Comment author: realitygrill 28 May 2010 09:36:27PM 0 points [-]

Openness: 80 Conscientiousness: 1 Extraversion: 12 Agreeableness: 14 Neuroticism: 32

Hm, I remember my Openness, Conscientiousness, and (especially) Neuroticism being higher... bit distracted this time around.

Anybody else disagreeable on LW?

Comment author: Vive-ut-Vivas 28 May 2010 07:32:19PM 0 points [-]

I think your hypothesis is right. I just took the test now:

Openness: 84 Conscientiousness: 13 Extraversion: 95 Agreeableness: 63 Neuroticism: 93

Not that I thought the test I took was particularly accurate, but as ballpark figures they mostly make sense.

Comment author: [deleted] 27 May 2010 05:38:26PM 0 points [-]

me: Openness: 84 Conscientiousness: 41 Extraversion: 15 Agreeableness: 74 Neuroticism: 84

Comment author: Nanani 27 May 2010 12:33:46AM 2 points [-]

Forgive me if this has been adressed elsewhere, but doesn't the knowledge that you are -trying- to like them get in the way of success? You will always know that you are liking them on purpose and applying these techniques to make yourself like them, so how do you avoid this knowledge breaking the desired effect?

Comment author: Blueberry 27 May 2010 03:28:05AM 1 point [-]

Why would that knowledge be a problem? Do cars stop working when you know how they work? Do you stop enjoying sex when you use birth control?

In fact, it's more likely to be the other way. You know that you're putting in the effort to like them, so your mind will backwards rationalize that to conclude that they must be worth liking (or you wouldn't put in the effort).

Comment author: stcredzero 30 May 2010 04:56:47PM 2 points [-]

Do you stop enjoying sex when you use birth control?

I stop enjoying sex when the other person isn't really aroused. The mechanisms for detecting affect evolved before language and abstract cognition. There is good reason to believe that it takes a whole lot of effort to alter or falsify them. These mechanisms are tools, we are stuck with them, so it behooves us to use them optimally. I think trying to like someone is suboptimal.

Someone trying to like me is like a rapid-onset smile. Someone who simply likes me is like a slow-onset smile.

Instead of trying to like things because it's instrumentally useful, I think it's far better to strive for optimal instrumentality from one's liking.

The former would be like learning about a genre of music because it's popular. The latter is like delving into a genre of music because one finds it moving. Great things come out of the latter. Mediocrity comes out of the former.

(Underlying this debate is the erroneous notion of the "blank slate." Our emotions are not a blank slate. They are a finely tuned processing and guidance mechanism, just not tuned for our present circumstances.)

Comment author: Jowibou 30 May 2010 06:04:18PM 0 points [-]

Instead of trying to like things because it's instrumentally useful, I think it's far better to strive for optimal instrumentality from one's liking.

Ideally wouldn't this be a loop, rather than either/or?

Comment author: JoshuaZ 27 May 2010 03:48:36AM 2 points [-]

Why would that knowledge be a problem? Do cars stop working when you know how they work?

That isn't a good analogy. Many humans have trouble actively trying to change their own emotional or belief states. The analogy that might be more appropriate is trying to deceive oneself into believing a false statement. I don't think that the analogy quite holds either liking someone is much closer to an emotional setting. It is thus closer to someone say deliberately conditioning themselves in some way. Even if you know, you are doing it, you can still use fairly primitive conditioning. But Nanani's question is one that still requires some response: the car analogy is not sufficient.

Comment author: realitygrill 26 May 2010 03:34:54AM 2 points [-]

I find it very hard to actually dislike any particular person in a concrete sense. Abstractly, a trait or a group? Sure. Otherwise, "tout comprendre c'est tout pardonner", right? I might actually lean too far in this direction.. my mind immediately jumps to defend perceived faults by inventing possible reasons for them.

However, I've never been able to cultivate admiration, just grudging respect.

Having a whole project around liking someone seems like too much effort to me. Why do it? I'm more likely to find a less perception-based solution. (I am loathe to change my perceptions for instrumental reasons. It may also be partly that I score very low on Agreeability, and don't particularly value social harmony.)

Perhaps I've already sidestepped most of the disutilities? I can't think of anyone I actually truly dislike. It's an interesting (and impressive) exercise, but I don't see it as very relevant to my own life. Something like how I trained myself not to be ticklish when I was young.

Comment author: apophenia 26 May 2010 12:47:31PM 1 point [-]

How did you train yourself not to be ticklish? My life would benefit if I weren't ticklish.

Comment author: realitygrill 26 May 2010 09:27:18PM 9 points [-]

Story, then tl;dr follows -

Tickling was a major weapon amongst kids I played with back when I was in elementary school (along with pinching, but only girls did that). I had the notion that "this would never do!" and "I have to worry about this all the time!" Somehow that got it in my head to try to desensitize myself to tickling.

I'd heard that it was impossible to tickle yourself, and after TRYING it, I took a guess: maybe it was because you already knew where and how you were going to be tickled?

Iteration 1: Quickly tickle myself by randomly flailing my arms at various places on my body. No dice.

Iteration 2: Notice that I'd synchronized my arms in the first iteration. Tried desynch-ing them. Still no good.

Iteration 3: Tried also using a feather in one hand. Nope.

Iteration 4: Closed my eyes in the process. I could feel the ticklish feeling!

Iteration 5: Did all of the above in an extremely dark, closed closet. Worked!

After I figured this out, I repeated the process a few times while gradually slowing down the speed of tickling. I've been non-ticklish since then. Caveats: some sensitivity has come back in my feet; less so around my stomach; I do not recall how ticklish I was before this desensitization.


tl;dr - I sat in a dark closet, with a feather in my hand, closed my eyes, and proceeded to flail my arms/fingers randomly at myself

Comment author: apophenia 28 May 2010 06:41:39AM 1 point [-]

Like RichardKennaway, I can already tickle myself on Iteration 1. I'm not sure I would normally want to try this method, since my initial goal is not to be tickled as I find it unpleasant. (I can't sit through a massage either because it tickles.) In the interest of self-experimentation, I'll give it a go. Richard, as a control could you stand in a dark closet and lift your shirt for ten minutes? I am at least half kidding.

Comment author: realitygrill 02 June 2010 11:25:34PM 0 points [-]

I wish I had a better suggestion besides, "try going very very slowly at first - maybe just one finger." I mean, surely you can touch yourself without bursting out laughing?

Comment author: RichardKennaway 26 May 2010 01:46:33PM *  2 points [-]

Seconded. I'd like to hear this as well. I am ticklish enough to be able to tickle myself, popularly supposed to be impossible.

Comment author: oliverbeatson 26 May 2010 03:47:57PM 4 points [-]

Alternative title: How not to be a protagonist in Atlas Shrugged.

To clarify, I liked the post.

Comment author: SilasBarta 26 May 2010 02:32:14AM *  -1 points [-]

ETA: Why haven't you applied this advice to me?

Comment author: Larks 26 May 2010 09:53:06PM *  17 points [-]

I hope you’ll all forgive the pedantry, but it seems clearly laying out the argument might be the best way to avoid a flame war that isn’t making anyone look good, or encouraging rationality particularly. If this post is downvoted, I'd suggest we leave the topic.

NB: I don’t know enough of the history to judge who is more/less right/wrong between Alicorn and SilasBarta, and even if I could, probably wouldn’t say. I solely intend to attempt to clarify what SilasBarta meant.

Summary of what I take to be SilasBarta's argument:

  • SilasBarta replying to Alicorn causes Alicorn psychological damage because Alicorn dislikes SilasBarta.
  • If Alicorn did not dislike SilasBarta, Alicorn would not incur psychological damage when SilasBarta replied to her.
  • There are advantages to Alicorn of being able to freely discuss with SilasBarta.
  • If Alicorn did not dislike SilasBarta, these advantages would outweigh the costs (e.g. time taken reading his replies).
  • Alicorn doesn’t get any benefit from disliking SilasBarta.
  • Hence it would be beneficial for Alicorn to cease disliking SilasBarta.
  • Alicorn is (as reasonable an approximation as a human fairly expect to be) rational.
  • Hence if something would be beneficial for Alicorn to do, she would do it.
  • Hence if Alicorn could stop disliking SilasBarta, she would do so/would have done so.
  • Alicorn has not ceased disliking SilasBarta, and does not appear to be doing so.
  • 11) Hence Alicorn does not have a general method for stopping disliking people.

Possible counter-arguments:

  • Alicorn’s method relies on focusing on positive aspects; SilasBarta has no/too few positive aspects for this to work.
  • SilasBarta’s comments have no interest to Alicorn.
  • Alicorn has better things to be doing with her time than building a good relationship with SilasBarta.
  • Alicorn thinks there are lower-hanging fruit than SilasBarta.
  • To start liking SilasBarta would signal that her threats weren’t credible.
  • Alicorn’s method has to be used before a deep dislike has set in.
  • SilasBarta is undermining her attempts by posting comments about her, which she finds upsetting. In this situation, containment (e.g. asking him not to reply to her) is better than cure (creating a positive relationship).
  • Alicorn rarely gets to see SilasBarta at what she would consider ‘his best’ – she is most aware of his posts about her, which she doesn’t enjoy.
  • Alicorn thinks SilasBarta is very rational, and thus attributes his acts to him, rather than his environment.

Edit: list formatting.

Comment author: Kaj_Sotala 26 May 2010 02:39:15AM 6 points [-]

Downvoted for needlessly snarky tone, especially when you already have a history of causing negative emotional reactions in Alicorn and from the tone it seems like you're trying to cause more. A neutral "why haven't you applied this advice to me?" would have been a reasonable query.

Comment author: SilasBarta 26 May 2010 02:43:26AM *  1 point [-]

A neutral "why haven't you applied this advice to me?" would have been a reasonable query.

No, it wouldn't have been, but let's try that just so you're convinced.

ETA:

you already have a history of causing negative emotional reactions in Alicorn and from the tone it seems like you're trying to cause more.

When someone, to the best of my knowledge, isn't practicing remotely close to what she preaches (and I've held silent on the first several times she preached this), and claims special insight on it, my obligation to point this out overrides most other obligations. That, and nothing else, motivates my comment.

ETA2: And before you suggest another brilliant idea like, "At least you should have kept this to PM": no, Alicorn's made pretty clear that's not an option either.

Comment author: kodos96 26 May 2010 02:58:44AM 10 points [-]

She's not necessarily failing to practice what she preaches.... after all, she never said that it's a good idea to like everyone, only that it's possible to like someone intentionally, and that this can be instrumentally useful in some circumstances. It's entirely possible, however, that she simply has no desire to like you - on purpose or otherwise.

Comment author: jimrandomh 26 May 2010 05:16:02AM *  22 points [-]

EDIT: I've reconsidered this, and what I wrote here is unfair to SilasBarta. What really happened here, I think, is that Alicorn's actions inadvertantly set up a feedback loop, which no one understood well enough to shut down before it blew up here. In this post, I chided Silas for not recognizing and disarming that feedback loop - but the truth is, there were plenty of people, including both Alicorn and myself, who could've repaired the situation with a little more awareness, and this comment really didn't help.

And to clarify - what started this whole thing was Alicorn asking Silas not to respond to any of her comments, which was a strange and hostile thing to ask. In this comment, I interpreted that request by rounding it to the nearest non-strange request, which more than I thought. Unfortunately, when asked to clarify, Alicorn clarified it as literally "don't reply to comments", rather than "don't try to initiate conversations", as she should have.

Original comment below:

Ok, this has gotten painful to watch, and since no one has explained it properly, I feel I ought to overcome the bystander effect and step in. SilasBarta, you have dramatically misunderstood what is happening here. You are flagrantly violating a social norm that you do not seem to understand. Alicorn has acted in a way that is fully determined by your behavior towards her, and anyone else would do the same in her place.

When you speak someone's name and know that they can hear you, you are, in effect, attempting to summon them. It effectively forces them to listen; if in public, they may need to step in to defend their reputation, and if in private they know they're specifically being addressed. Attempts to initiate conversation are a social primitive; neurotypicals track a statistical overview of the nature, frequency, and response given to conversations with each person, and expect each other to do the same.

If you attempt to initiate conversation with someone, they give you a negative response, and you knew or should have known that they would give you a negative response, then you are pestering them. By "negative response", I mean visible irritation, anger, or an attempt to push you out of their sphere of attention without using a pretext. If you repeatedly pester someone who has specifically asked you not to, and you don't have a sufficiently suitable and important pretext, then you are harrassing them. Pestering someone is frowned upon. Harrassing someone is frowned upon, and can also be illegal if it either carries an implied threat or is sufficiently flagrant. Also, our culture assigns additional penalty points for this if you are male and the person you're harrassing is female.

So here is the story, as I understand it. After an interaction that did not go well, Alicorn asked you not to reply to her comments. This means "don't pester me" (or more succinctly, "go away"). This is one of a small number of standard messages which all neurotypicals expect each other to be able to recognize reliably and to pick out of subtext. You continued to participate in conversations Alicorn was involved in, by responding to other commenters, but every time you did so you spoke Alicorn's name, even when you had no pretext for doing so. You interpreted her request in a literal-minded but incorrect way; you failed to generalize from "don't respond to my comments" to "don't try to pull me into a conversation with you by any means".

Comment author: Blueberry 26 May 2010 02:30:45PM *  12 points [-]

I'm curious now about this community's perceptions of a person A's requests for a person B not to reply to A's comments. (Note: I'm using letters A and B because this isn't about the particular situation or the individuals in question, and I don't want the individuals' identities to distract from the issue here.)

I posted a comment stating that it wasn't reasonable to ask someone not to reply, which got downvoted. I'm assuming this got downvoted because people disagree.

One person replied stating that A's original request was not to avoid replying to any of A's comments, but to stop making comments that specifically single A out. However, this was not B's interpretation of the request. B seems to think, possibly incorrectly, that A asked B not to reply to any of A's comments on LW.

For people who think this is a reasonable request, here's a hypothetical: suppose C and D are enrolled in a philosophy class together. C and D have an unpleasant interaction, and C requests that D not raise her hand in class and participate in class discussion after C has made a comment. Do people agree that this would be an unreasonable request, unlike, say, "please don't call or email me"? If so, why is a request to not reply to someone's LW comments substantially different?

Comment author: jimrandomh 26 May 2010 03:03:48PM 0 points [-]

In a classroom setting, the right to ask people to leave or to not participate is reserved exlusively for the professor; a student could not ask another student to shut up without the teacher's express consent. On a blog, however, no such authority exists, so anyone can make such requests - but only in response to breaking certain social norms without a good excuse.

Comment author: Blueberry 26 May 2010 03:23:33PM 4 points [-]

On a blog, however, no such authority exists

Well, blogs do have administrators, who hold a similar authority. I believe Eliezer has banned several people from LW for making only poor quality or trollish posts, for instance.

anyone can make such requests - but only in response to breaking certain social norms without a good excuse.

Well, yes, anyone can make such requests, just like I can request that LW commentors refrain from using the word "the" because I find it incredibly offensive. The point is that it isn't a reasonable request. If someone's violated enough of the community norms to be banned, that's a matter for the administrator, but that's different than an individual requesting "please don't reply to my comments in a public discussion forum" as if it were comparable to "please don't email or call me."

Comment author: RichardKennaway 26 May 2010 02:51:44PM 0 points [-]

suppose C and D are enrolled in a philosophy class together. C and D have an unpleasant interaction, and C requests that D not raise her hand in class and participate in class discussion after C has made a comment. Do people agree that this would be an unreasonable request

It depends on whether D's intention in responding to a comment of C is to contribute to the class discussion or to needle C.

Comment author: Blueberry 26 May 2010 03:05:11PM *  4 points [-]

No, the request we're talking about is "don't comment at all in reply to my comments."

Edited to fix link.

ETA: Also see here

Comment author: Larks 26 May 2010 12:31:47PM 6 points [-]

Upvoted for the good explanation of the social norm of name-speaking; not necessarily because of the criticism of SilasBarta.

Comment author: Blueberry 26 May 2010 05:48:49AM 6 points [-]

After an interaction that did not go well, Alicorn asked you not to reply to her comments. This means "don't pester me" (or more succinctly, "go away"). This is one of a small number of standard messages which all neurotypicals expect each other to be able to recognize reliably and to pick out of subtext.

Ok, that's ridiculous. Comments on LW are part of a large group discussion. A person can tell someone else to stop bugging them or emailing them or calling them, but it is not reasonable to ask someone to not make public comments on LW. No one has the right to do that, any more than I have the right to say "stop using the Internet; it bugs me."

Comment author: jimrandomh 26 May 2010 06:12:23AM -1 points [-]

A person can tell someone else to stop bugging them or emailing them or calling them, but it is not reasonable to ask someone to not make public comments on LW.

True, but that's not the request that was made. She asked him to stop making comments which specifically single her out.

Comment author: SilasBarta 26 May 2010 03:10:27PM 4 points [-]

Sorry, jimrandomh, but you are flatly wrong here, and this misunderstanding underpins your entire criticism. Alicorn has asked that I not post any comments as a reply to hers, even if they don't single her out, and even if they involve asking others not to mod her down because of the context of her comment! See here, and here.

Now, please revise your diplomatic comments in light of this new information.

(The funniest part is how Alicorn keeps appealing to her own non-neurotypicality, despite my being the only one accused of missing something due to non-NT. Go fig.)

Comment author: jimrandomh 26 May 2010 07:13:28PM 1 point [-]

The most accurate phrasing of the intended meaning of Alicorn's request is the one I wrote in my first post: "do not try to pull me into a conversation with you by any means". A direct reply does that; it singles out the author of the parent, to a degree that depends on how easily someone else could step in and take their place in the conversation. Non-reply comments also do that if they name her; she didn't explicitly say that wasn't allowed, but "leave me the fuck alone" should've covered it.

Comment author: SilasBarta 26 May 2010 07:23:34PM *  1 point [-]

The most accurate phrasing of the intended meaning of Alicorn's request is the one I wrote in my first post: "do not try to pull me into a conversation with you by any means".

Except that I stated what I took the request to mean, and she agreed with that. And "do no try to pull me into a conversation ..." just ain't part of it. Take, for example, this comment and this one. Off limits? Well, Alicorn certainly reserves the right to make such comments on my top-level posts. And it doesn't obligate her to respond directly.

So you still appear very confused about the topic you're opining on so strongly and confidently.

A direct reply does that;

Not even close: see here, another major example of Alicorn saying what is and is not okay. The comment I made, though nested under her comment, does not in any way draw her into a conversation, because it is a remark about someone else. It is not addressed to her, but to the group in general, regarding a different poster. Still off limits, for some reason.

Is it starting to dawn on you how you've misinterpreted Alicorn's past demands, and why you should maybe withdraw your misconception -rounded, "noble" criticism of me from earlier?

Comment author: RobinZ 26 May 2010 08:17:31PM 2 points [-]

A direct reply does that;

Not even close: see here, another major example of Alicorn saying what is and is not okay. The comment I made, though nested under her comment, does not in any way draw her into a conversation, because it is a remark about someone else. It is not addressed to her, but to the group in general, regarding a different poster. Still off limits, for some reason.

I see two problems with your selected case.

First, you appeared to violate the stated version of the rule. You need a better reason just to create that appearance than wanting to make a jocular remark.

Second, jocular remarks are drawing people into conversations - they're probably the number-one way to draw someone into a conversation. People joke around with people that they like, and Alicorn does not like you.

Comment author: SilasBarta 26 May 2010 03:38:58PM *  4 points [-]

Alicorn has acted in a way that is fully determined by your behavior towards her, and anyone else would do the same in her place.

No, everyone else who's voiced an opinion on this has said that they would never ask someone what Alicorn has asked of me: that I never post a reply to her comments, even if it's not directed at her.

When you speak someone's name and know that they can hear you, you are, in effect, attempting to summon them. ... If you attempt to initiate conversation with someone, they give you a negative response, and you knew or should have known that they would give you a negative response, then you are pestering them.

I think that's a large part of why I didn't do any of that in the original comment, just in the version that Kaj asked me to post instead! Who should I listen to here, you or Kaj? Which is the real neurotypical standard that I violated?

So here is the story, as I understand it. After an interaction that did not go well, Alicorn asked you not to reply to her comments. This means "don't pester me" (or more succinctly, "go away").

No, as I said in my other reply to you, this isn't Alicorn's request at all. It's:

-Don't post any comments nested under Alicorn's, irrespective of content or who the comment is directed at.
-Don't PM Alicorn, even and especially if it's something she would want to know but prefer not be said publicly. (?)
-But posting comments in reply to top-level posts is okay, because Alicorn wants to do so on my top-level posts.

You continued to participate in conversations Alicorn was involved in, by responding to other commenters, but every time you did so you spoke Alicorn's name, even when you had no pretext for doing so.

Which comments are you talking about? Be specific. I don't recall violating what Alicorn's request actually was until this conversation, and even then, it wasn't until I substituted my comment for what Kaj asked me to say, and I warned of this at the time!

You interpreted her request in a literal-minded but incorrect way; you failed to generalize from "don't respond to my comments" to "don't try to pull me into a conversation with you by any means".

That's certainly the narrative you want to put on it, sure, but if you actually look at the history of what exactly she asked for (including the very specific clarificaitons), your interpretation is mistaken.


And while I'm believably non-NT, I think I can safely guess there wasn't a lot of nobility in your intent to reply to this comment -- not when anything I could have done would have given you a pretense to build yourself up by pointing out the "obvious" error on my part.

Comment author: Kaj_Sotala 26 May 2010 10:11:24PM *  3 points [-]

I think that's a large part of why I didn't do any of that in the original comment, just in the version that Kaj asked me to post instead! Who should I listen to here, you or Kaj? Which is the real neurotypical standard that I violated?

For the record: I wasn't fully aware of the history and magnitude of this conflict, and I didn't realize Alicorn had specifically asked for you to not reply to her at all.

Regardless, as I remember, both versions of the comment were (are) addressed to Alicorn. It was just more implicit in the first one ("I know someone this advice hasn't been applied to" or something along those lines, I think), but it was still pointing out that Alicorn hadn't applied the technique to you. Therefore it was referencing her, just as strongly as if you'd mentioned her.

Comment author: Alicorn 26 May 2010 05:18:53AM 1 point [-]

To be fair, I'm not a neurotypical and have advertised this on the Internet.

Comment author: RobinZ 26 May 2010 03:47:17PM 3 points [-]

I think jimrandomh may be mistaken in selecting "neurotypical" as the relevant criterion - the correlated criterion of "well-socialized" may be nearer the mark.

Comment author: SilasBarta 26 May 2010 04:01:00PM *  1 point [-]

Good point; that terminology would do a better job of hiding the dissonance in scolding me for my autistic errors, even as Alicorn alone gets the sympathy for being non-NT. Make sure to tell Jim!

Comment author: RobinZ 26 May 2010 04:06:49PM 3 points [-]

"Well-socialized", like "real number", is a perniciously misleading term.

Comment author: Blueberry 26 May 2010 10:35:45PM 0 points [-]

Why?

Comment author: RobinZ 27 May 2010 03:29:38AM 2 points [-]

Because society is not particularly well optimized, the implication of goodness in the modifier "well" is deceptive - a well-socialized person is quite likely to be tribalistic and repressed, for example.

Comment author: xamdam 26 May 2010 05:26:49PM 1 point [-]

I think the point was that Silas is and he should have responded appropriately. Personally I think NT issue is irrelevant here unless the person receiving the message is not NT, in which case not getting it is a somewhat valid excuse.

Since you advertised it, which "bucket" are you in? My son is on the spectrum, somewhat high functioning, so potential development branches are of personal interest.

Comment author: Alicorn 26 May 2010 05:32:09PM 3 points [-]

I have an Asperger's diagnosis. People who know me in person and know the details of autism symptoms find it entirely credible. People who wouldn't know an autie from any other neuroatypicality are surprised when I tell them (I'm high functioning and have decent social heuristics, and in the minds of the completely uninformed, autism = retardation plus rocking and hand flapping).

Comment author: SilasBarta 26 May 2010 05:31:37PM 1 point [-]

Show of hands: who thinks I'm neurotypical?

Comment author: xamdam 26 May 2010 05:54:53PM 2 points [-]

My hand is horizontal; I think Jim's assumption is that you are. If you are credibly not, and feel you did not get Alicorn's signal due to this you should say so - I think it will create an good case to smoke some peace pipes. Personally, I like you both and wish to see this settled.

Comment author: SilasBarta 26 May 2010 06:06:25PM -1 points [-]

I think it will create an good case to smoke some peace pipes

Sorry, that ship has already sailed. Alicorn's not interested until first I follow a divaesque list of demands, including "justifying the [probably fake] psychological stress" of having to deal with me, the same stress that somehow manages to disappear when higher-status members do the exact same things she doesn't like.

Comment author: jimrandomh 26 May 2010 06:07:23PM 1 point [-]

Actually, my assumption was that he isn't, although this was not based on any strong evidence.

Comment author: SilasBarta 26 May 2010 06:14:13PM *  -2 points [-]

Whoa, when was evidence a pre-requisite for you to post strongly about something? Since two minutes ago?

I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that you put full credence in Alicorn's self-serving, unverifiable claim to having been diagnosed with Asberger's, despite her infamous, "Why not just meet women on the internet?" line ... am I right?

And yet the very basis for your criticism of me was that I'm making a non-NT-characteristic mistake in interpreting a social situation? Did your arguments come before or after your conclusion?

Comment author: SilasBarta 26 May 2010 06:59:22PM -3 points [-]

psst! I'm still waiting for you to revise this comment in light of the demonstrable misconceptions you grounded it on.

Though if retracting some of your bold, noble statements would cost you a little status here and there, I just want to let you know, I completely understand why you wouldn't want to step down from your position on the bandwagon. That's just a decision you have to make between you and your god (or Omega, as the case may be).

Comment author: Kaj_Sotala 26 May 2010 03:29:34AM 0 points [-]

Much better, thank you. Changed my downvote to an upvote.

Comment author: SilasBarta 26 May 2010 03:35:58AM -1 points [-]

Thanks, but keep in mind I can't even reply to this comment, where she tries to explain herself, as she will consider it an atrocity (much like terrorism is an atrocity), simply because she categorically demands that I not post a reply to any of her comments.

Considering that we talk about things other than "the history of Alicorn and Silas" on LW, and that I occasionally have good reason to reply to her comments, this gets to be very inconvenient, very quickly.

I hope it's starting to become obvious why refusal to apply her own advice seems rather inconsistent and unbecoming of someone who would offer such advice.

Comment author: Tyrrell_McAllister 26 May 2010 03:39:16AM 2 points [-]

she will consider it an atrocity (much like terrorism is an atrocity)

Can you substantiate this claim about what she considers to be morally equivalent better than you did in this conversation?

Comment author: SilasBarta 26 May 2010 03:41:30AM 0 points [-]

Re-read my comment above and note what it does and does not allege; and if "Alicorn deems violation of her demands to be an atrocity" is a reasonable characterization of where she stands.

Comment author: Tyrrell_McAllister 26 May 2010 04:07:33AM *  3 points [-]

The narrowest way that I can read your comment is as follows:

"There is badness level x such that Alicorn calls any act with badness level at least x an 'atrocity'. Alicorn thinks that responding to her would have badness level at least x and that terrorism also meets or surpasses this level."

Is that, and no more, all that you meant to imply? You intended no implication that Alicorn considers responding to her and terrorism to be anything remotely close to morally equivalent? Do you believe that terrorism is a representative example of the kinds of acts that Alicorn believes are worse than x? If not, why did you choose that example?

And did she actually use the word "atrocity" to describe your responding to her?

Comment author: SilasBarta 26 May 2010 04:22:22AM 1 point [-]

1) When paraphrasing others' views, it's not necessary that they have used the exact words before that you use in the paraphrase. That's what makes it a paraphrase.

The question that matters is: are her actions consistent with classifying my (unapproved) replies to her as an atrocity? I say yes. For one thing, she brooks no excuse whatsoever for violating her demands, even when it goes against her interests. One time:

-She says it's okay to post replies to her top level comments, but not by PM.
-I realize that one such "okay" comment would cause her to lose face, so I say it by PM.
-She accepts that it would cause her to lose face, but that PMing her was just as bad, but would have been okay if I said it publicly.

2) I invoke terrorism to emphasize her over-the-top responses to minor offenses (as she ignores them in others). (And also to remove the sting from the word, but that's a different story.)

Comment author: Tyrrell_McAllister 26 May 2010 04:48:11AM *  2 points [-]

1) When paraphrasing others' views, it's not necessary that they have used the exact words before that you use in the paraphrase. That's what makes it a paraphrase.

Then it sounds like "atrocity" is a prime candidate for tabooing. You made a step towards unpacking "atrocity" by saying that "she brooks no excuse whatsoever for violating her demands".

But your evidence does not show that she brooks no excuse. It shows only that saving her face is an insufficient excuse. Saving her face sounds like a pretty small payoff for getting a PM, at least on a scale that includes terrorism. Therefore, the fact that saving face is an insufficient excuse is weak evidence for the claim that all excuses are insufficient. (Suppose you knew that there was a carbon monoxide leak in her room, and you could only tell her by PM. Do you really think that she would be upset with you if you did?)

2) I invoke terrorism to emphasize her over-the-top responses to minor offenses (as she ignores them in others). (And also to remove the sting from the word, but that's a different story.)

But, I gather, you did not mean to imply that her moral evaluation of these "minor offenses" is actually equivalent to her moral evaluation to terrorism. Is that right?

Comment author: kodos96 26 May 2010 03:47:50AM *  1 point [-]

Once again, how is it that she's failing to apply her own advice? Several people now have offered a retort to this claim - either rebut it, or stop making the claim.

Comment author: SilasBarta 26 May 2010 03:50:07AM *  -1 points [-]

I did rebut those retorts. Now, respond to those rebuttals, or stop making the same claim (and starting an information cascade).

Comment author: kodos96 26 May 2010 03:54:34AM 0 points [-]

No, you just explained why it would be instrumentally useful to YOU for her to intentionally like you.

Comment author: SilasBarta 26 May 2010 04:01:06AM 2 points [-]

No, she clearly gains from being able to post impersonal replies nested under my comments -- just as she gains from making posts replying to my top-level posts, even though I could revoke this privilege, and she would be obligated, by symmetry, to honor it.

So, even if she really, truly doesn't care about having to avoid my comments, and even she doesn't get "peripheral psychological" damage from seeing the existence of my comments (which, truth be told, she probably doesn't), then this state only exists because of diplomacy on my part -- not from following the advice in this article.

Comment author: Alicorn 26 May 2010 03:00:55AM *  -3 points [-]

A story for curious onlookers:

On March 25 I received a PM from Morendil. Its full text follows.

Hi Alicorn,

Silas has asked me to inquire with you if you would now be "able to return to dialogue with (him)". This comment of yours was the trigger for thinking the question was timely.

After an hour or so of dithering, I've decided to grant the request, on limited terms: I've promised to ask you a question, and that is all.

Please feel free to answer me, or not answer as you see fit. Please feel free to provide any message you'd like me to pass back to Silas, or not. I will not relay anything back unless you ask me explicitly.

My motivations are, mainly, curiosity as to what's going on, and a desire to be a cooperator when asked for help explicitly.

I hope my decision causes no future ill feelings between us, though I accept full responsibility if it does.

I replied:

First of all, you've engendered no ill will for yourself; I can understand why you chose to relay the message.

However, I need more information before I can proceed. Specifically, I need to know how said dialogue would take place (format, presence of third parties, time, topic, ostensible goal of the conversation); I need to know something about Silas's motivations for making this attempt (because he finds it annoying to coexist on LW with someone who won't talk to him? because he looks at it as a challenge? because he finds me scintillating and admirable and regrets not being able to bask in my company? because he wants to look magnanimous and charismatic upon publicly interacting with me again?); and I need to know whether it's going to take the form of "Silas said X and Y and acknowledges why this led to shunning but is sorry now and wants to apologize" or the form "gosh, hasn't it been long enough, won't Alicorn just let bygones be bygones already?" The latter form of "reconciliation" is neither useful nor, as a general heuristic, safe, and I won't undertake it. I could likely be persuaded to receive an attempt at the other, although the answers to the other questions would have to be satisfactory. (Kindly don't prime him with my specific examples, as they're rather obviously connotatively tagged and they lose a lot of informative power if he doesn't come up with them himself.)

One thing to note is that nothing in that comment is new since I stopped talking to Silas. I stopped talking to him in spite of the fact that I was reasonably sure I could make myself like him, simply because I judged the tradeoff to be not worth it. Liking somebody on purpose is time-consuming and hard. In order to reverse the decision, it has to be shown both that it was worth trying to like him at the time, and that it is additionally worth the cost of reversal now in the form of a weakened consistency effect the next time I'm invited to return to talking to someone I've previously written off. (Note that I may be forced to rely on this exact consistency effect if, for example, I'm ever abused by a loved one and manage to leave once and am then pressured to return. It is not trivial for me to have a self-image of someone who stays gone after leaving.)

Morendil's reply (including a minor edit he clarified in a separate message):

Thanks for replying. I'm now feeling nearly discharged of the obligation I've taken on voluntarily: it seems to me that I've delivered the key message I've been asked to get across, i.e. that Silas would like to be at least able to offer peace talks.

As I said earlier, I intend to pass nothing back that you don't explicitly ask me to, and I prefer to err on the safe side and look for something in quotes with a request from you along the lines of "tell Silas the following". (And again, replying is optional.)

Ideally, this would be something that I can pass back to Silas such that from that point on, the two of you can either continue with the status quo or negotiate further on mutually agreeable terms. I have no burning desire to see this go one way or the other; I do have a preference for being a go-between only so long as necessary.

I said:

You may tell Silas the following:

I am tentatively willing to engage, preliminarily through a go-between, whom it is your responsibility to find and keep interested if Morendil declines to continue providing the service. This exchange's continuation is dependent on satisfactory explanations from you through the go-between about your motives for wanting to resume being on speaking terms with me, and a summary of why it ought to be considered worth both my time and some undesirable peripheral psychological effects.

Apart from a mis-addressing of the passing on of this message, I heard nothing more on the topic from anyone thereafter.

Comment author: xamdam 26 May 2010 05:09:35PM 2 points [-]

Not enough context - where is the fight itself?

Comment author: Alicorn 26 May 2010 05:34:34PM 2 points [-]

There was an extended series of interactions, not all of which I can remember well enough to dig up via search; the bit where I told him to leave me alone is here.

Comment author: Tyrrell_McAllister 26 May 2010 02:58:22AM 2 points [-]

Evidently, she doesn't think that it would be instrumentally useful to like you. Perhaps you can sympathize, since you don't seem to think that it would be instrumentally useful to like her.

Comment author: SilasBarta 26 May 2010 03:26:00AM *  2 points [-]

Yes, but at least I want to lift off the albatross of having to avoid replying her comments (and her mine) even when it adds to the discussion and is not specifically directed at her. The advice she's given in this article (and past ones) show she believes herself to be an expert on this, but won't take even this reasonable step.

Comment author: Mass_Driver 26 May 2010 02:04:47PM 9 points [-]

Yes, but at least I want to lift off the albatross of having to avoid replying her comments (and her mine) even when it adds to the discussion.

In my opinion, you are a poor judge of when a reply to Alicorn's comments will add to a discussion. Your judgment seems to me to be biased strongly in favor of deciding to reply to Alicorn's comments so as to highlight what you see as their shortcomings, possibly because you wish to lower her status. Thus, what you see as a useful contribution might be seen by others as the latest in a series of unwarranted snarky put-downs.

Therefore, if your primary desire is to discuss general issues that Alicorn also contributes to, you should take great pains to make it clear that you are not attempting to interact with Alicorn, much less disparage her. Concretely, this means that you would:

(1) not address Alicorn in the second person (2) not state or imply that Alicorn's posts are worthless or nearly worthless (3) not ask, directly or indirectly, what Alicorn's opinion on a subject is

but would instead

(4) make assertions about an abstract topic, using the third person (5) use polite phrases like "no offense," "nothing personal," or "in my opinion" (6) ask for the opinion of other LW commenters in general or for the opinion of specific named LWers who you get along with.

Comment author: JoshuaZ 26 May 2010 03:04:59PM *  10 points [-]

Minor note- the phrases "nothing personal" and "no offense" can often have the exact opposite of the intended result. Tthey can come across as condescending and very often when people use them they really are trying to be offensive, although they may not realize it. (A relevant quote from me from about 10 years ago "No offense, but the only thing saving that argument from being completely stupid is that sections of it are incoherent." (Yes, I'd like to think I don't say things like that now)). And "in my opinion" is very rarely useful unless the point being made is that one is a subject matter expert. It also personalizes things unnecessarily in the same way that the 2nd person does, just to a lesser extent.

Comment author: SilasBarta 26 May 2010 09:37:03PM *  2 points [-]

In my opinion, you are a poor judge of when a reply to Alicorn's comments will add to a discussion. Your judgment seems to me to be biased strongly in favor of deciding to reply to Alicorn's comments so as to highlight what you see as their shortcomings, possibly because you wish to lower her status.

It probably appears that way because in all the cases since ~Nov '09 when I have a substantive reply to an Alicorn comment, I just don't make it because of this ban. So all the remaining ones you see will be less engaging and productive. Hey -- maybe we should lift that ban ... oh, wait.

Therefore, if your primary desire is to discuss general issues that Alicorn also contributes to, you should take great pains to make it clear that you are not attempting to interact with Alicorn, much less disparage her.

I feel I have already demonstrated mastery of this in such comments as these. I don't see how any reasonable person would find those offensive, even as they violate your extensive standards.

As for your (1) to (4) -- yeah, that's an inconvenient, ridiculous set of hoops to jump through, which is why I want to get to the root of our disagreement, and eliminate the need to have to walk through a minefield to exchange ideas. Why doesn't Alicorn want the same? You tell me.

Comment author: Mass_Driver 27 May 2010 04:17:15AM 1 point [-]

I am not going to vote on or address the content of this post because, in my opinion, it engages in doublespeak and straw-manning. I have a blanket policy of not responding to such tactics on an Internet forum. I am extremely unlikely to make further public comments on the Alicorn-SilasBarta dispute(s).

Comment author: Tyrrell_McAllister 26 May 2010 03:35:42AM 5 points [-]

The advice she's given in this article (and past ones) show she believes herself to be an expert on this, but won't take even this reasonable step.

She is not claiming to be an expert on recognizing when it would be good to like someone. Here is her claim of knowledge:

As such, it's very handy to be able to like someone you want to like deliberately when it doesn't happen by itself. There are three basic components to liking someone on purpose. . . .

There is really no contradiction or hypocrisy here unless you are someone whom she wants to like deliberately.

Comment author: SilasBarta 26 May 2010 03:43:41AM *  1 point [-]

It's not necessary that I be someone she wants to like; the advice is just as relevant for canceling out dislike. And the extensive demands she makes out of that dislike suggest she doesn't actually use this advise in at least one clear case where the dislike is having severe consequences.

Seriously, if the mere sight of a comment of mine replying to her -- no matter what it says, no matter how impersonal -- causes "undesirable peripheral psychological effects", effects that must be elaborately justified by others in order for her to consider enduring them ... you fill in the blank.

Comment author: Tyrrell_McAllister 26 May 2010 04:31:32AM 6 points [-]

It's not necessary that I be someone she wants to like; the advice is just as relevant for canceling out dislike.

Granted, her advice is also relevant to canceling out dislike of someone whom you've already decided that you don't want to dislike. But since she evidently has not made that decision with regard to you, it wouldn't be appropriate for her to use her advice in this case. The relationship that you two have is not in a state where her advice is relevant. If Alicorn started writing posts about when one ought to like someone, then your criticisms would be relevant.

But her advice here is just not relevant to cases where one has decided that one really ought to dislike the other person.

Comment author: SilasBarta 26 May 2010 04:40:51AM -3 points [-]

I have already provided more than enough reasons why, by her own actions, she reveals that she believes she loses significantly (note those psychological stresses) by not counteracting her hatred. When you start addressing those points, you'll have a case.

As it stands, Alicorn speaks as if from a different world than the one any named witness has seen her in.

Comment author: Tyrrell_McAllister 26 May 2010 04:55:11AM 4 points [-]

I have already provided more than enough reasons why, by her own actions, she reveals that she believes she loses significantly (note those psychological stresses) by not counteracting her hatred. When you start addressing those points, you'll have a case.

Such a case would be for the claim that she ought not to like you. But I never made that claim, and I have no desire to make such a case. I like you and I think that she should, too.

But her wrong decision to dislike you does not imply that she is unqualified to give the advice in the OP, because the advice in the OP doesn't concern the question of when one ought to dislike someone. The OP concerns the question of what to do after you have decided, by whatever means, that you ought not dislike someone whom you dislike.

Comment author: SilasBarta 26 May 2010 05:01:39AM -2 points [-]

Haven't I shown that, by any reasonable measure -- like the psychological stresses she claims (questionably) to get from merely noticing my comments -- Alicorn ought to try to reverse this dislike, by her very own values?

Given that she does not apply the advice she gives here to this very real-world scenario, and I'm the only one so far with a name to go on record stating the impacts of these heuristics of engagement ...

Comment author: wedrifid 26 May 2010 09:01:58AM 7 points [-]

I too have observed a certain ironic discordance between some of Alicorn's top level posts (including the luminosity series) and her observable behavior.

Comment author: Tyrrell_McAllister 26 May 2010 05:11:24AM 7 points [-]

Do you get the distinction between (1) knowing how to do something, and (2) knowing when you ought to do that thing?

If you do get the distinction, do you recognize that Alicorn's OP is entirely about (1), while your criticisms are entirely about (2)?

Comment author: kodos96 26 May 2010 04:18:01AM 9 points [-]

Seriously, if the mere sight of a comment of mine replying to her -- no matter what it says, no matter how impersonal

Look, I don't claim to know the entire history of Silas v Alicorn... but I think you would have a much easier time making your case if the comments you made in this very thread hadn't been so unnecessarily antagonistic.

Comment author: SilasBarta 26 May 2010 04:26:10AM 1 point [-]

Alright, so having been convinced I have something important to add, you decide that whatever I did to get you to that point was inappropriate. Fair enough.

But tell me, where would be the appropriate place to point out that this Alicorn is completely different from the one I've come to know? As far as possible from where she promotes her deep wisdom? Or near?

Comment author: kodos96 26 May 2010 04:45:06AM 1 point [-]

I honestly have no idea what you're trying to say here.

Comment author: SilasBarta 26 May 2010 04:48:08AM -2 points [-]

Rhetorical question: Is here the best place to bring up the failures of her advice?

Non-rhetorical question.If I have evidence that suggests Alicorn acts completely differently than implied by this article, what is the best way to go about it, that would have (potentially) convinced you of its merit?

Comment author: kodos96 26 May 2010 05:10:06AM *  7 points [-]

Rhetorical question: Is here the best place to bring up the failures of her advice?

I'm not sure how this question is rhetorical, since it seems to have a perfectly straightforward answer: here would be a perfectly suitable place to bring up failures of her advice, if such failures actually existed.

We've made this point so many times now I feel silly even typing it again, but maybe one more time will do it: her advice has not failed. She wrote an article about how to go about intentionally liking someone. The fact that she's chosen not to intentionally like you is not evidence that she is incapable of doing so in other cases, nor that the advice may not be useful to others.

Non-rhetorical question.If I have evidence that suggests Alicorn acts completely differently than implied by this article, what is the best way to go about it, that would have (potentially) convinced you of its merit?

Since she makes no claims about when or under what circumstances she makes use of the described method, the only thing I read the article to imply about her behavior is that she has had, on at least one occasion, some success in applying this method. So convincing me of the merit of the proposition that this is false would require documentary evidence of her entire life, exhaustively showing a complete absence of any instance of success with this method. Yes, that's a tall order, but you're the one who's trying to prove a negative.

Comment author: SilasBarta 26 May 2010 03:55:22AM *  -1 points [-]

Actually, there's one more important thing I should add: I have conclusive evidence that Alicorn has much to gain from getting over this dislike, by her very own standards. I can prove this by showing that she enjoys my posting, and wishes to reply to -- and even provoke -- my posting, just so long as she knows it's not me. That shows a critical failure to apply her advice when could actually do some good, or at least a failure to recognize a set of heuristics that correctly indicate when the advice should be used.

So why is Alicorn's advice particularly insightful on this subject?

Comment author: JanetK 26 May 2010 11:37:24AM *  14 points [-]

I do not know you and I do not know Alicorn. I do not know who I would have the most sympathy for if I did know both of you. I find this whole discussion off topic. Alicorn gave some advice and I find the advice interesting whether she follows it or not, whether she even believes it or not.

It is very good advice (if and only if you may want from time to time to like someone that you have come to dislike). I personally have tried to develop ways to not start to dislike people in the first place and not worry about whether liking them is to my advantage. However, it has not always been the case that I could like someone and it was sometimes to my disadvantage - so I appreciate the advice.

I suggest that you judge the advice and not the person who gave it. The 'others of us' are not interested in this fight.

Comment author: loqi 26 May 2010 07:32:19AM 29 points [-]

One possible reason Alicorn hasn't applied her technique to you is that it simply isn't powerful enough to overcome your unpleasantness. FWIW, I perceive you as a lot less civil than the LW norm, you seem possessed of a snarky combativeness. You also appear to have a tendency of fixating on personal annoyances and justifying your focus with concerns and observations that pop out of nowhere, context-wise.

In this case, your supposed insight into what would really be best for Alicorn plays that role. And then, having established this "lemma", you carry through to the conclusion that... Alicorn's behavior is inconsistent. Take a step back, and look at what you're saying. You're basically claiming to have reverse-engineered someone else's utility function, as the premise of an argument which concludes that they're being a hypocrite.

I hope you'll come to see this sort of behavior as embarrassing.

Comment author: aceofspades 23 April 2012 05:38:11PM 0 points [-]

"FWIW" == "For What It's Worth," to save a few person-minutes for other passive readers here.

Comment author: Tyrrell_McAllister 26 May 2010 04:10:24AM *  5 points [-]

So why is Alicorn's advice particularly insightful on this subject?

Again, because she's not giving advice on knowing when you ought to like someone. She's giving advice on what to do after you have decided that you ought to like someone, even though you don't like them automatically.

Comment author: John_Maxwell_IV 23 October 2012 08:03:11AM 0 points [-]