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Comment author: ChristianKl 15 August 2017 08:10:09PM 0 points [-]

I think what you meant is probably that Trump says things that lead people to be mislead on the things that actually matter (as judged by you) and that he’s not actually a great example of saying the “truest” things, in this strange but important sense.

I don't think the issue of whether or not Trump was invited by Last Week Tonight is an issue that "actually matters".

But lets go to an issue that matters. "Do vaccines cause autism" It's factually wrong but I also think that a majority of Trump followers don't. The demographics of vaccine denailism is not equivalent with Trumps supporters.

If you take a Trump belief like "exercise is bad for your health" it's even more clear. That's not the kind of lie that someone who simply wants to do persuasion tells. It's also a very strange lie to tell for a person who learned their persuasion skills from Tony Robbins.

Comment author: jimmy 15 August 2017 08:40:12PM 0 points [-]

I'm not sure I follow all the details of what you're saying, but it seems like your main point is along the lines of "That's no the kind of lie that someone who simply wants to do persuasion tells", and with that I completely agree.

Comment author: Bound_up 13 August 2017 01:14:54AM 0 points [-]

We're mostly on the same page, really.

Much of what I've said applies to politics with large electorates, where the default case is that you can't effectively teach new concepts and people don't want to learn them, anyway.

In small groups, by all means, there are times when it's a very powerful move to try and teach people. There are even times, in all arenas, where saying "I'm better than you" is a useful move, you just don't want to be limited to that one move.

I also strongly value being honest and known to be honest. I find "you're the best" statements to be acceptable insofar as the other person KNOWS what I mean and is not deceived in any way. The key insight here is that the explicit meaning of the words is not the real meaning of a statement in many contexts. Don't ask what the words of a sentence mean, ask what it means for someone to say those words in this situation, in other words. "You're the best" doesn't actually mean "I would bet money on you against Muhammad Ali," and nobody thinks it does, which is why it doesn't communicate any false information. It doesn't communicate ANY information about how the world works, nor does it try to; it's more like the verbal equivalent of a shot of caffeine

Comment author: jimmy 15 August 2017 06:26:31PM *  0 points [-]

Ah, I didn't realize you were focused on large scale politics and figured you were using it as merely one example.

I'm not so sure I agree on that completely. Certainly it's more in that direction, and you aren't going to be able to explain complex models to large electorates, and I don't have time to coherently express my reasoning here, but it certainly appears to me that teaching is possible on the margin and that this strategy still works on larger scales with more of those inherent limitations.

I agree that "you're the best" isn't dishonest so long as the person knows what you mean. My point wasn't about honesty so much as whether you want to dilute your message. I should be clear that it doesn't always apply here and I don't claim to have the full answer about exactly how to do it, but I have found value in avoiding certain types of these "honest literal-untruths" or whatever you'd like to call them. In cases where one might want to say "you got this!" as normal encouragement, abstaining from normal encouragement makes it easier to convey real confidence in the person when you know for a fact that they can do it. Both have value, but I do feel like the latter is often undervalued while the former is overvalued.

Comment author: Bound_up 15 August 2017 12:49:18AM 0 points [-]

I'm actually just starting to look into hypnosis a bit. I found a blog by an LW person at https://cognitiveengineer.blogspot.com/

You have any recommendations? I'm getting enough to tell there's something interesting being described, but not enough to get it quite down pat.

Comment author: jimmy 15 August 2017 06:11:02PM 0 points [-]

After this post of yours I think you might be really interesting to talk to on the subject. Let me know if you want to chat sometime (I'm that LW person mentioned).

Comment author: ChristianKl 14 August 2017 08:39:59PM *  0 points [-]

I'm at the moment at my 7th seminar of Chris Mulzer who's trained by Richard Bandler. Scott Adams suggest that Trump learned hypnosis from Tony Robbins who was also trained by Richard Bandler.

I understand the kind of lie that Bandler and his students tell and the intellectual groundwork behind them and what those people want to communicate. To me Trump doesn't pattern match with that. It rather pattern matches with psychopath based on a model I build from people who actually have a clinical diagnosis in psychopathy.

I'm trying to pinpoint that difference. Unfortunately, that isn't easy. Especially with an audience that's doesn't have a good mental model about how a hypnotist like Richard Bandler lies.

Comment author: jimmy 15 August 2017 06:09:12PM 0 points [-]

I totally agree that he doesn't look like "trained hypnotist that thinks things through and has a nuanced plan for what he's trying to communicate". Looking at Trump and concluding "don't worry guys, get him in a private room and he'll drop the act and explain exactly how this all makes sense" would be a mistake.

At the same time, what he's doing is effective, and largely for similar reasons. The important difference is that you can't really trust him to be doing anything other than emotional gradient following, and he's a reason to get serious and step up your game to make sure that important things aren't underrepresented, rather than to sit back and trust that things are in the hands of an expert.

Comment author: ChristianKl 12 August 2017 08:40:12PM 1 point [-]

I don't think it's the same thing. Trump's speech leads to people adopting wrong beliefs.

There are many issues where Trump lies about an issue where the truth would be simple to explain and be understood by average people. When Trump tells the public that John Stewart invited Trump multiple times when John Stewart did no such thing it might be "emotionally true" in the sense that people who watch Trump want to emotionally belief.

Trump tells lies that are wrong on a very simple factual level and lead to people believing simple factual falsehoods.

The post has more to do with lies that other politicians tell. Berny Sanders for example said in on of the debates that America is the richest country on earth. There are countries with a richer per capita GDP but that's besides the point that Sanders made for the debate.

Comment author: jimmy 15 August 2017 05:58:11PM 0 points [-]

You don’t think it’s the same thing as what Trump is doing, or the same thing that Scott Adams is referring to when he says trump is doing it?

There are a bunch of things that are getting mixed up here. Clearly Trump tells lies that lead to people believing simple factual falsehoods. That much doesn’t even contradict that main thesis here, and it also applies to anyone that believed Bernie when he said that America is the richest country on earth.

I think what you meant is probably that Trump says things that lead people to be mislead on the things that actually matter (as judged by you) and that he’s not actually a great example of saying the “truest” things, in this strange but important sense. I actually agree with you there too, though I think I blame Trump less for this than you do because I think he’s legitimately bad at figuring out what is true and so when he might say something about vaccines causing autism, for example, it’s more about him being genuinely wrong than knowing the right answer and maliciously lying about it. Hanlon’s razor, basically.

Additionally, I think you’d argue that Trump isn’t doesn’t seem to care enough about the truth and is reckless in that way, and I’d probably agree with you there too. None of this challenges Adam’s main point here though, which is that Trump’s messages, despite being easily fact-checked as false, contain (other) things which Trump does not actively disbelieve and are evaluated as both important and true by his followers - even if Christian (or Jimmy, or anyone else) thinks that those things are false as well.

It’s important to look at how people respond to proof that his statements don’t pass the fact checks. If they feel betrayed by trump or if there’s cognitive disonnance induced, then your criticism is valid and it’s simple lying and pandering to wishful thinking. If, on the other hand, you get “lol, don’t care” then you’re missing the point and aren’t actually addressing what they think is important and true. I see both in Trump’s followers, but the interesting part is that I see far more of the latter than I have with any other politician. In other words, I think Adams has a point.

Comment author: jimmy 12 August 2017 06:38:17PM 3 points [-]

This is really cool stuff and I think you're hitting on some important things. I think you're basically right in most of it, and yes, this is what Scott Adams is talking about when he says that trump says things that are "emotionally true" even if it "doesn't pass the fact checks".

I have a few minor quibbles though.

What do people hear when you explain concepts they cannot understand? If I had to guess, very often they interpret this as an attack on their social standing, as an attempt by the speaker to establish themselves as a figure of superior ability, to whom they should defer. You sound uppity, cold, out-of-touch, maybe nerdy or socially inept. So, then...if you're socially capable, you don't say those things. You give up.

Yes, they take it as an attack on their social standing. It is very hard to communicate new concepts without positioning yourself as someone who might have something to teach, and that requires your audience to position themselves as someone who might have something to learn. This gets ten times harder when the thing you have to teach isn’t just something about a topic they’ve never thought about before, but something they feel confident about and would feel dumb being wrong on. Notice, for example, how people refer to Scott Adams as the “sex hypnotism guy”, try to twist his words and ask why he’s supporting a “master liar”, and do other things in attempts to sleazily discredit him instead of just letting people laugh at him for being an idiot that believes in voodoo hypnotism or beating him on the object level and giving more persuasive arguments. You’re absolutely right when you suggest that people might take it as a threat to their status.

Here’s where I think you go wrong:

You don’t come off as “socially inept” unless you also come across like you’re unaware of what you’re doing or are doing it on accident. When it is clear that you understand what you’re doing and are doing it intentionally, it comes off as intimidating, and if you do the rest of it right, not in a bad way.

In the cases that count, what you do is use their (limited) vocabulary to build a picture that they cannot comprehend/violates the beliefs they’re attached to, and leave them with it to do what they want. Yes, they will still often take it as an assault on their status and a claim of “I am better than you”, so you want to make really really sure that you aren’t motivated in part by an attempt to make them look bad, but rather to teach them/to give them a chance to teach you (which requires you putting out your model so that they can show you what’s wrong with it). Since, if you’re doing this right, you aren’t claiming to be better than them, any “I’m better than you” feelings will be entirely internally generated and they’ll know this. That’s why it will feel intimidating to them, but not in a bad way. When they are the ones saying “I think he’s better than me” and you are the one saying “no, really, I’m not. I just know this one thing and I’m telling you so that you can know this one thing too” (and meaning it), then that is a very good outcome given the situation. That’s not to say some people won’t try to pin their feelings on you anyway, but they don’t have to stick, and not everyone will.

Basically, the trick is to use their vocabulary to point out contradictions and keep inviting them into that cognitive dissonance while not at all pushing them in or actively implying that you’re better than them. If you do it right, they’ll realize that you’re right, that you know something they don’t, and that you won’t think any less of them for saying “huh, never thought of that” nor that you think it’s your position to be giving out approval or disapproval. I really do admire people who can put their ego aside and learn things, and I aspire to be that way myself. When that comes across correctly, I generally don’t have problems explaining weird/potentially threatening concepts to people.

Yes, even when you do a good job people will react hostilely to you, try to misrepresent you, and try to paint you as someone who thinks they’re better than everyone else. And yes, if you don’t have the time/energy/ability to deal with this, the right answer is to not do this. Personally, while I understand the justification for saying things like “you’re the best!” and while this insight you conveyed has also caused me to move in that direction, I would still be very cautious about how you do that kind of thing. For one, I really value the ability to say “no, that dress doesn’t make your ass look far” and for it to be taken at face value and remove all anxiety, and for compliments to be undiluted in meaning when they come from me. More relevant to the point at hand though, if you aren’t careful you might end up telling them that you can’t threaten their status, and that would be a harmful lie. To speak metaphorically, if you can come off like clifford the big red dog, that’s a really good thing. It means people can feel safe around you because the idea of you turning on them just doesn’t occur to them in the first place. However, if you can’t pull off “I am a ridiculously oversized predator with fangs the size of your head, and you’re not afraid of me because you trust me”, it is not a worthwhile compromise to defang yourself, let your muscles atrophy, and let them keep you in a cage so that they no longer fear you.

If that is the choice at hand, I think it’s better to be fairly quiet and just not really engage with those types, because at least then there’s the option for them to ask why you’re so quiet and you can give them the honest answer that you didn’t think they wanted to hear what you would have to say - and that gives them the chance to decide that they do.

When you do have the time/energy/ability to deal with it, that hostility is a feature, not a bug. It’s peacocking and inviting shit tests, in PUA terms. Heck, look at how much that hostility “got in the way of” Trump’s political campaign so far.

Comment author: Lumifer 10 August 2017 02:52:25PM 0 points [-]

Tautologies are trivially true, I don't know why you think that people forget that.

if you make up your mind about whether spiders are dangerous and conclude that they are not, then you stop jumping from spiders

So, the easy way to treat any phobia is merely to "make up your mind"? Methinks it's considerably more complicated than that.

Comment author: jimmy 11 August 2017 05:57:39PM *  0 points [-]

People don’t forget “tautologies are trivially true”, they forget the “persuasion works through your reasoning process, not around it” because the logically necessary implications sometimes seem “absurd”. ("So, the easy way to treat any phobia is merely to "make up your mind"? Methinks it's considerably more complicated than that.")

While tautological statements can’t rule out any logical possibilities, they’re important because they do rule out logical impossibilities. If you try to say “that’s tautological, therefore it’s trivial and meaningless” then you’re gonna end up saying silly stuff like “So, you’re a bachelor. Are you also married?”, for example.

“Solving phobias is about making up your mind” is tautologically true. Nowhere did I say anything about the complexity of doing so, but it’s tautologically true. A phobia is “an extreme or irrational fear of or aversion to something”. This requires both a fear and conflicting judgement that the fear isn’t rational. If you fall in the lion cage, for example, fear is just a rational response to danger. If you don’t have a conflicted mind (i.e. you’ve “made up your mind”), you don’t have a phobia - just a rational fear or no fear.

If you let yourself believe false and logically impossible things like “solving phobias is not about making up one’s mind” then you’re going to end up fooling yourself into silly thing like failing to notice that “systematic desensitization” is merely an attempt to help someone makeup their mind by providing evidence a bit at a time in a safe context and hoping that it shows what you want it to show and convinces the part of the mind that perceives danger. If you fool yourself into thinking the logically impossible “not about making up your mind”, then you don’t notice the possibility of other ways of bringing about coherence, which are often better and quicker ways of doing things.

For example, a few months ago I was having this same conversation with a friend who also felt like “getting over irrational fears” was more than just “making up her mind”. Fortunately she also had what she considered to be an irrational fear of heights and I had a rock wall tall enough to scare her, so I could show her. I pointed out the holes in her “my mind is made up” logic until she could no longer hold that view, then helped her make up her mind by asking her what, exactly, she was afraid might happen and whether she could know she was safe from that outcome or whether she needed the fear. We spent a few minutes to go through a few possibilities and then covered the rest with a catch-all. After bouldering on her own later, she told me that she hadn’t realized that she was afraid even while bouldering, but that the difference jumped out at her now that the fear was gone. That was exactly “just making up her mind”, both from my perspective and hers. It was actually pretty damn simple too, even though “making up her mind” necessarily took more than an instant because there were several questions she had to think about and answer first.

In other cases it becomes even quicker and does look like a snap decision. I had another friend, for example, whose needle phobia spontaneously disappeared after having an unrelated experience with me that convinced her to accept that I’m right when I say things can be that easy. If we broaden to scope to other things you might find “more complicated than merely making up one’s mind”, then I can give a few other examples of things that felt like the inside like “just making a snap decision” and having results that match.

“Making up your mind” can be complicated sometimes, but it can also be simple. And remembering what it’s about helps keep it simple so you can end up the kind of person who doesn’t jump at [theoretically potentially poisonous creature who is nevertheless unlikely to hurt you] without ever working on that problem in particular.

Comment author: Screwtape 08 August 2017 09:20:29PM 0 points [-]

Reality is Plastic ordered. I'll be sure to put a review up somewhere once I've received/read/experimented with it. I'll likely check out the youtube videos as well, though video is far from my favourite format to learn things from. If I get really good results out of it maybe I'll take a shot at condensing the abstraction somewhere, though that seems a long shot at the moment.

My own blog was more about my attempts to figure out what's really going on as explained to "myself a couple years ago", so I didn't bother summarizing anything that I didn't feel was "new" or hard to get from what was already out there.

Ah, I get what you mean about your blog. Yeah, those diary-esque recordings can be really helpful to the person making them or the person in a similair place while being sometimes useless for anyone else.

I'm the first to admit that people who hand wave away the scary bits with "hypnosis can't do that" are dangerously wrong/lying, but it hypnosis is still a far cry from scalable/arbitrarily aimable mind control.

See, that's one of those things I keep looping around to. Even assuming I take hypnotists at their word that hypnotism is far from arbitrary mind control (which I do, for the record, though I have to at least think about the possibility) there's a whole lot of power involved in even basic possibilities. Facebook's news feed or a slick TV commercial exert a level of mental influence that already makes me uncomfortable. If hypnotism is potent enough to be useful, then I have to assume it's potent enough to be harmful.

By "damage you can do" do you mean the sort of damage you can do with a handgun (intentional and directed) or the sort of damage you can do with a sedan (accidental and as often hurting yourself) or some third thing? (I recognize my examples aren't great, but hopefully the work enough that you understand the question. If not I can try and rephrase.)

And thank you for taking the time to give direction!

Comment author: jimmy 10 August 2017 06:19:39PM *  0 points [-]

At this point I have to mention that I think this is going to be more difficult than you expect, and that I wouldn’t be surprised if you, in particular, aren’t going to immediately get as much encouraging results as you’re hoping for. That’s not to say it wouldn’t be a very worthwhile journey, but I think it might require more things overturned than you currently expect.

I could certainly be wrong, of course, and I’m only gauging from these few comments. Maybe you get impressive results right away. That certainly happens, and I hope you do. I just want to make sure that if that doesn’t happen, you’re prepared to interpret it correctly.

By "damage you can do" do you mean the sort of damage you can do with a handgun (intentional and directed) or the sort of damage you can do with a sedan (accidental and as often hurting yourself) or some third thing? (I recognize my examples aren't great, but hopefully the work enough that you understand the question. If not I can try and rephrase.)


False memories would probably be the most obvious example of accidental damage, but there are other ways too. I know someone, for example, who was given somewhat of an eating disorder by a well-intentioned but ethically and therapeutically clueless ‘tist.

On the intentional side of things, the same girl was sexually assaulted by a hypnotist who abused her trust and used his hypnotic “in” to persuade her to meet him in person and then tried to bury the memories of the sexual assault. It’s pretty freaky stuff, given that he was successful on the first part and partially successful on the second, but thankfully she’s pretty much alright on both fronts now.

Comment author: Lumifer 08 August 2017 06:14:32PM 0 points [-]

Ah, so a "reasoning process" is basically everything that the mind does?

If you suddenly notice a spider near you and jump away, that was the result of a "reasoning process" because the output (the jump) implied that in your model of the world spiders are scary?

If so, your original quote

you influence people through their (perhaps implicit) reasoning processes

looks quite trivial: you influence people though changing what's happening inside their mind -- well, of course.

Comment author: jimmy 10 August 2017 07:21:14AM 0 points [-]

It is nearly tautological, yes, but it's also true, and people seem to forget that. "The Dark Arts" do not belong in the same category as involuntary drug/hormone injections. If you treat tautologies as if they're false then you're gonna end up making mistakes.

For example, with the spider thing, this "trivial" insight implies that if you make up your mind about whether spiders are dangerous and conclude that they are not, then you stop jumping from spiders. This is indeed what I find, and I also find that most people don't find this to be "obvious" and are rather surprised instead when they see it happen.

Comment author: Screwtape 02 August 2017 03:30:31PM 0 points [-]

Your suggestion that hypnotism is intrinsically better learned in person makes a lot of sense to me, so maybe the reason there aren't that many written how-to guides is because capable hypnotists recognize that and try and push would-be students towards in-person lessons. Unfortunately, I'm rural enough that getting in-person training is somewhat troublesome.

Have you read "Reality Is Plastic"? I haven't, though I have read two books on the subject which both had the same problem of spending almost all their wordcount on details too advanced of where my skills were at and not enough wordcount in the basics. "Popular" doesn't equal "useful" unfortunately :\ (You'd think this would be one area, like marketing, where you could equate popularity with author skill, but oh well.) If you have read it and think it would be useful, I'll likely pick it up.

Comment author: jimmy 09 August 2017 06:27:11PM *  0 points [-]

Hypnotism is definitely something you have to see done and do it yourself. I didn't do any in person trainings, but since I cut my teeth with text hypnosis and found someone a couple years ahead of me to function as a mentor/peer, I was still had the opportunity to see what it looks like when it works, try doing it myself, and then get detailed feedback after the fact. I don't necessarily think you have to have anyone in the "instructor" role if you've read enough, but you can't really expect books to be enough in the same way you wouldn't expect books to be able to teach you to ride a bike without falling every time for the first dozen times.

I'll echo what Christian said below about emotional control and add to it a bit. I think it's really hard to emphasize how big a deal that part is. When you're telling people stuff that are normally outside the window of what is accepted as possible (any hypnotic phenomena, for example), they have to be able to rest on the fact that you know it's possible, because if it were just them they'd rule it out immediately. If you're showing self doubt, they'll jump to the conclusion "he doesn't really believe it but he's 'trying' to see what happens if he says it" and since you don't really seem to believe it they're going to have a hard time seeing it as something that can be real. If you actually know it's something they can do (because you've done it yourself and you've helped others do it too) and you can accurately model what has been stopping them, then it's easy to have that "unshakable confidence" and to know what needs to be said.

That's why the simple scripts and beginner stuff contained in Reality Is Plastic is going to have limited applications. "Just doing the basics" requires that you have the background abilities to congruently perform the actions described, but I have read it, the content does work when done right in the right context(s), and it seems to be exactly what you're looking for.

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