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Comment author: Friendly-HI 11 August 2011 05:53:38PM *  3 points [-]

I didn't catch your comment for a long time, because it wasn't in response to my own and thus didn't light up the red message symbol. Just stumbled over it by accident, so here's my response a mere 1,5 months later:

I feel next to no conflict or friction between my rational and my emotional self, whether I'm on my own or with company. I radically adhere and submit to the guiding principle that "if it is true, I want to believe it and if it is false, I want to reject it". So if I happen to have some kind of innate feeling or intuition about some objective topic, I immediately catch it and just kill it off as best I can (usually pretty good) in favor of a rational analysis. But these days I usually don't have many of these "emotional preconceptions" left anyway. Over the years I buried so many of my favorite emotional preconceptions about every imaginable topic in favor of what appears to be "the truth", that the act of giving up some idiotic emotion about a serious topic in favor of a better model hardly stings at all anymore. It feels quite good to let go actually, it's a kind of progress I thoroughly welcome. Often I really don't have any discernible emotion one way or another, even towards highly contentious and controversial topics.

Now if I am in the company of other non-Bayesian people (especially women, with whom the whole point of interaction usually isn't information-related but purely emotional anyway), I put my rational machinery to rest and just let my instincts flow without paying too much attention to how rational everything I (or they) say is. That's because enjoying human company is first and foremost about exchanging emotion, not information or rational argument. (Although I have to admit that it always feels like a shocking slap in the face, if suddenly it turns out that she believes in astrology et al. I have to admit that a brain failure of that magnitude kills my libido faster than the kick of a horse). So yes, my red "light bulb" that says "irrational/unproven belief" still gets triggered a lot in typical conversations with the average Joe and Joy, but not every instance justifies the break of rapport in favor of starting an argument. Actually I realize that I tend to argue much more often with guys (maybe because arguing can be a way to establish social status) than with girls, where I often just skip the logical loopholes and inconsistencies in favor of maintaining rapport.

Come to think of it, that is actually a rather rational strategy, given my heterosexual utility-function ;)

If I am interested in improving or expanding my mental model of reality on the other hand, I crank up my "bias & rationality" machinery and have a careful in-depth conversation with someone who is up to the task.

If I'm doing something irrational like procrastinating or playing a game instead of furthering my goals, then often the rationality module kicks in and says I'm a bum wasting my precious (though hopefully unlimited) life-time. Often I can't (or raher don't want to) stop having fun however, so I just gently smother the rational voice in my head with a pillow and score a new record time in Dirt 3 instead. I suppose that's roughly the highest peak of conflict between my emotional needs and rational goals - but unfortunately, especially when it comes to hedonistic procrastination, the rational component doesn't put up much of a fight, which is certainly less than optimal.

Actually, I'm procrastinating right now instead of studying Psychology, so farewell.

In conclusion: It seems we aren't all that different, except that for some reason you seem to have some kind of problem with the "conflict" between your rationality and your emotions, which is something I don't really care about. The important thing is that I can use my rationality when I actually need it, not that I constantly use my rationality to smother every single possibly irrational emotion at every given opportunity. So where is your particular problem and why is any of this important again?

Comment author: SRStarin 19 August 2011 07:43:13PM 0 points [-]

I agree, it seems we're pretty similar in this arena. I think maybe I just feel more negative emotion about, as you put it, hedonistic procrastination than you do. Those are the times I feel the most unpleasant conflict. I should just stop procrastinating, I guess. I'm working on that, getting better about it. Anyway, I don't need to go into too much detail on this side topic. Thanks for the reply.

Comment author: SRStarin 01 July 2011 10:54:20PM *  2 points [-]

Part of me wants to write: "You're a brave and forthright person, and I admire you for it."

Another part of me, which I think is motivated by your honesty, reads that and says I should write: "I just wrote that because I want you to like me, and it reads like it might get an upvote (after LW acceptance subprocess runs consciously), proving someone else likes me, too."

When I'm alone, alert and unoccupied, those two parts (there may be more, I don't know) are always bickering. Thing 1 decides some feeling or idea is good, or correct, or sincere, and Thing 2 almost always has to come back and say why my conclusion is based entirely in bias or rationalization. I think this is why I try not to be alone, alert and unoccupied very often.

When I'm around other people, Thing 2 mostly shuts up, only butting in if Thing 1 is getting carried away with pleasing people, or bragging, or lying (i.e. making the truth sound more exciting), etc. I like Thing 2 quite a lot at those times.

When I'm tired or have a drink, Thing 1 and Thing 2 both go to sleep before the rest of my cognition does.

When I'm occupied, there is sometimes some bickering if I'm occupied at a game, or a blog, or something that's not useful, but it's not too bad. It sometimes gets to be enough that I'll do something useful to stop the conflict.

So, that's my Usual Live Life subroutine. It's kind of bleak because Thing 2 insisted I write it this way, but I do manage to be happy, entertained, challenged, or deeply thoughtful most of the time.

So, why write this in response to the OP? Because my first internal response to the OP was "That's a lot like me!" And then I read Friendly-HI's response and I thought "That's a lot like me!" And this bugged me. So, I thought I'd try to describe from an internal, process-oriented perspective how my days go by, and see whether that clicks more with one of you than the other (or anyone else who wants to chime in).

Comment author: SRStarin 28 April 2011 01:05:12AM 1 point [-]

Been waiting for this! But I have a funeral to attend in North Carolina the day before and can't get back in time. Blech!

In response to Learned Blankness
Comment author: mstevens 19 April 2011 01:06:56PM 2 points [-]

I am fascinated by the "bad with computers" kind of learned helplessness.

It gives me a strong feeling there's some very deep cultural thing going on, but so far I've failed to work out what it is.

One theory I have is that it's some sort of arts/sciences split. but we also observe scientists who are bad with their computers.

In response to comment by mstevens on Learned Blankness
Comment author: SRStarin 19 April 2011 03:00:49PM 7 points [-]

The people I know who think of themselves as "bad with computers" are generally worried that they are going to destroy hardware, software, or data files if they make a mistake. They know enough to know that, in the abstract, they really can do severe damage with a few button pushes, but they don't know precisely where the danger areas lie. It's an area in which people have a strong incentive to pretend to know very little so they can more easily convince knowledgeable friends and relatives to help them.

My mother is one such person, and one thing that has helped her a lot was for me to set up an admin account on her laptop and to explain how she should always use her non-admin account, but the admin account would pop up when she needs those privileges. It's a flag for her that, if she doesn't get asked for her admin password, the most harm she can do is delete files, and even those might be recoverable.

In response to Learned Blankness
Comment author: Johnicholas 19 April 2011 01:49:58AM 1 point [-]

Do you think that this behavior (learned helplessness, learned blankness) might have non-obvious benefits? For example, could too much independence be aggressive - or conversely, could dependence be a way to bring about beneficial social relations?

Comment author: SRStarin 19 April 2011 02:34:38PM 2 points [-]

It's a reasonable question to ask. Division of labor is certainly a major way a society improves both individual and societal efficiency. This can work all the way down to one-on-one relationships. A married couple often finds ways that each member of the partnership can most efficiently contribute to running a household.

But I think there is a conceptual distance between knowing you're not as good at something as a person with whom you have a good relationship and thinking you can't approach the knowledge that the other person possesses. my husband does almost all the cooking in our house, largely because he enjoys it and I do not. But sometimes I need to cook, so it pays for me to learn some of what he does in his cooking for those unforeseen times when I need to cook a family meal.

Comment author: Risto_Saarelma 04 April 2011 01:03:01PM 30 points [-]

My friend, Tony, does prop work in Hollywood. Before he was big and famous, he would sell jewelry and such at Ren Faires and the like. One day I'm there, shooting the shit with him, when a guy comes up and looks at some of the crystals that Tony is selling. he finally zeroes in on one and gets all gaga over the bit of quartz. He informs Tony that he's never seen such a strong power crystal. Tony tells him it a piece of quartz. The buyer maintains it is an amazing power crystal and demands to know the price. Tony looks him over for a second, then says "If it's just a piece of quartz, it's $15. If it's a power crystal, it's $150. Which is is?" The buyer actually looked a bit sheepish as he said quietly "quartz", gave Tony his money and wandered off. I wonder if he thought he got the better of Tony.

-- genesplicer on Something Awful Forums, via

Comment author: SRStarin 11 April 2011 01:02:59PM 3 points [-]

Meh. Tony ruined that guy's role-playing fun at a Ren Faire. People pretend to believe all kinds of silly stuff at a Ren Faire.

Last year my husband and I went to Ren Faire dressed as monks, pushing our daughter, dressed as a baby dragon, around in a stroller. (We got lots of comments about vows of celibacy.) We bought our daughter a little flower-shaped hair pin when we were there, after asking what would look best on a dragon. What Tony did would have been like the salesperson saying "That's not a dragon."

Comment author: rwallace 31 March 2011 11:37:46AM 2 points [-]

Hmm. Thinking about it a little more myself, it seems to me the social is much more important than the material in this regard. In other words, someone who secretly commits a crime and gains great material benefit therefrom, but will be punished if ever caught, is likely to feel guilty. But if the crime is known and approved of by his social circle - even if that's only a gang or terrorist group - and even if he gained no material benefit, he's much less likely to feel guilty (until and unless that social circle is broken and he finds himself in prison).

Comment author: SRStarin 01 April 2011 06:57:22PM 8 points [-]

Maybe this is a big reason why recidivism of imprisoned people is so high. After committing a crime, they get removed from the society in which they'd experience guilt and placed in with people who've done similar things. Or worse things.

So the guy who's in prison for selling a kilo of cannabis hears the stories of a hardened home robber, and absorbs the robber's ability to rob guilt-free.

Hmm, so, considering the way guilt really plays out with modern adults, I don't think guilt is much more than a conditioned response of submission learned in childhood. It feels bad to be forced to be submissive, and we internalize that bad feeling as a conditioned response to doing something we know is bad.

Comment author: anon895 15 March 2011 05:54:34PM -1 points [-]

Inherent flaws of moral codes based on non-deterministic ideas of free will aside, I don't think I've ever seen a version of that argument where the two sides admitted that they were using different definitions of "be homosexual".

Comment author: SRStarin 16 March 2011 12:06:36AM 1 point [-]

I have. I've was a member of a Bible club at work for a year. I wasn't Christian, but I chose to participate in the club.

Some folks in that club said they had no problem at all with the person who is attracted to the same sex. The problem lay in the conceit that the homosexual's purpose and burden in life was to either overcome their sexual proclivities or to forgo sex altogether, giving their life to God in some other way than marriage and procreation.

So, the anti-gay stance was that it's a sin to act homosexually.

To be inside a homosexual brain is to feel trapped and even somewhat absent from reality until one acts on, or at least admits and attempts to embrace, this cognitive process that values the sexes in a way fundamentally different from the norm for one's gender. I admit that "being homosexual" is, for me, a facet of my mind that I can't change, and those fundamentalists I talked to admitted to understanding that state of mind, but that the sin lies only in seducing another man (being seduced by another man is seducing him, just to clear that up), and that is what makes a person homosexual.

In response to comment by Dorikka on Positive Thinking
Comment author: Swimmer963 07 March 2011 02:28:46AM 0 points [-]

Also for me, going to church and ish-following the principles of Christianity was a means to an end ("I want something to hold me accountable to being a better person") whereas trying to become more rational has less of a well-defined end.

Comment author: SRStarin 07 March 2011 03:55:16PM 2 points [-]

One potential end for rationality is "I want to be able to hold myself accountable for being a better person." I'm not currently able to do that entirely, but I think I'm getting better, in part through participating in the LW community.

I go to church to help me be accountable to my daughter. The church we attend is gay-friendly and supports a family of two men and a baby. Some churches are filled with bitter people always looking to criticize each other, usually behind their backs. You're lucky to be part of a positive church community. I am, too.

Comment author: Swimmer963 07 March 2011 01:31:18AM 0 points [-]

Is it sad that I just had to Google IMHO to figure out what you meant? Also, it's funny that you like the first stanza, because I started with the last three lines and sort of built backwards from there.

Comment author: SRStarin 07 March 2011 01:39:50AM 0 points [-]

No, not sad. I had to google IMHO the first time I saw it. It's just too useful an acronym not to use, though, now that I know it. (I do think it's sad that spell-checks still fail to recognize "google.")

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