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Comment author: Algernoq 25 May 2014 04:09:15PM *  7 points [-]

Unfortunately, psychology terms/traits are difficult to quantify, e.g. I can't know someone is "10% narcissistic" in the same way I know a glass of water is "10% full". I agree, different people have different levels of narcissism.

To test my narcissism detection mechanism, I will look at how narcissistic the main characters of a few other popular books are. This is a better test than looking for narcissism in other characters in HPMOR (where the most-frequently-observed character is the most narcissistic). The evidence against narcissism is the opposite of the traits listed: average or low sense of self-importance, primarily interested in others, goals are usually about others, many relationships, etc.

  1. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen: Grandiose? No -- Elizabeth has no expectation of becoming Queen or even, initially, of marrying a very rich man. Self-obsessed? No -- Elizabeth is concerned for her sisters' welfare as much as she is for her own. Troubles with normal relationships? No -- she has social contacts appropriate for her era and standing. Furious if criticized? No -- she reacts to criticism with thoughtful calm in public, followed by private reflection. Fantasies of unbound success, power, etc.? No -- she wants to marry a good man and live happily etc.
  2. The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien: Grandiose? No -- Frodo longs to remain in the Shire, at peace. Self-obsessed? No -- Frodo takes the Ring for the good of other people, and resists the urge to use it himself. Troubles with normal relationships? No -- Frodo is well-liked by the Fellowship and many friends attend his going-away party. Requires extreme admiration for everything? No -- Frodo is OK with being subservient to Gandalf. etc.
  3. Watchmen by Alan Moore: Grandiose? No -- Dan Dreiberg (Nite Owl) retired from crime-fighting and lives quietly. Self-obsessed? Probably not -- While Dreiberg lives alone, he goes out of his way to help Rorschach and Laurie. Troubles with normal relationships? Maybe -- Dreiberg lives alone, and it's not clear what he does with his time outside of the events of the story. Fantasies of unbound success, power, etc? No -- Dreiberg is not seeking more power, and only reactivates his crime-fighting gear when driven to it by the events of the story. Feels entitled? No -- is frustrated but doesn't complain much at all when Dr. Manhattan takes Laurie to Mars.

From these negative results I conclude that my narcissism detector is working adequately.

Comment author: scav 02 June 2014 09:46:14AM 3 points [-]

Hmm. Would I be wildly wrong in describing Mrs Bennett (Elizabeth's mother) as a terrible narcissist though? In which case Elizabeth should be more likely to be a narcissist herself, or a people-pleaser? Maybe she got lucky, because she's hardly either. Although her sisters, well...

Good fiction often rings true to real life, but it's no more than a bit of fun to analyse it as though it were a case study of something that actually happened. Still, I'm not against fun. I bet it was fun for Jane Austen to write the character of Mr Collins. Let's see your science explain him ;)

Comment author: scav 12 March 2014 04:33:40PM 5 points [-]

"I have frequently detected myself in such kind of mistakes," said Elinor, "in a total misapprehension of character in some point or other: fancying people so much more gay or grave, or ingenious or stupid than they really are, and I can hardly tell why or in what the deception originated. Sometimes one is guided by what they say of themselves, and very frequently by what other people say of them, without giving oneself time to deliberate and judge."

Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility

Comment author: CCC 08 March 2014 04:47:52AM 4 points [-]

Honestly, I'm surprised that there aren't more posts tagged 'longevity' on this site. Cryonics is wildly popular here, as a way to continue one's existence in the future, after one's physical body gives out; however, simply surviving long enough for someone to invent a cure for aging seems to be another way to solve the same problem and, moreover, one which can be worked concurrently with cryonics.

Comment author: scav 10 March 2014 01:36:17PM 3 points [-]

Also, nobody knows whether people currently being cryonically preserved by current methods can ever be thawed and healed or uploaded into an emulator. It would suck to die and get frozen a year before they realise they were doing it all wrong.

In response to comment by scav on White Lies
Comment author: tristanhaze 11 February 2014 05:18:32AM *  -2 points [-]

'It's like, if you're going to stab me in the back, is it better if it's with a white knife?'

It's not like that at all! 'Deceive' isn't a dirty word - i.e. it doesn't automatically mean something that is bad to do. 'Stabbing in the back', on the other hand, seems to. 'He kindly deceived me' may sound odd, but not at all self-contradictory like 'He kindly stabbed me in the back' (metaphorical meaning intended, of course). It seems perfectly reasonable to me to think that deception is sometimes a very decent, kind, considerate practice to engage in. The idea that it's automatically bad seems childish to me.

In response to comment by tristanhaze on White Lies
Comment author: scav 11 February 2014 09:34:01AM 1 point [-]

It's automatically hazardous to give someone a false map of the world. If you do it knowingly you have the responsibility to make sure no harm comes of it. Even if you take that responsibility seriously, and are competent to do so, taking it secretly without consent is an ethical problem.

My take on this:

  • Few people take that responsibility seriously or are competent to do so, or are even aware that it exists.
  • Most of the time people's intuitions about minor well-intended deceptions are sufficient to avoid trouble.
  • If you call someone a liar, that has a strong negative connotation and social implications for good reason. We didn't evolve the capacity for deception primarily to hold surprise birthday parties for each other.

There are no dirty words, but there are inaccurate ones. Use with care.

In response to comment by scav on White Lies
Comment author: Benquo 10 February 2014 02:05:54PM -1 points [-]

To clarify: regardless of whether you'll get something out of someone later, all else equal it's better to do things that satisfy their preferences than things that don't.

In response to comment by Benquo on White Lies
Comment author: scav 11 February 2014 09:20:01AM 1 point [-]

Which is why I said it was kind. It's still not necessarily a reasonable expectation.

Anyway, the hypothetical preference to be lied to is a bit suspicious, epistemologically. Let's distinguish it from a preference to never hear of anything you don't like, which is on its face unrealistic.

How would you experience getting your preference to be lied to without thereby knowing the unpleasant truth that you wanted to avoid? You want to know but you want to pretend the other person doesn't know that you know? It's a bit crazy.

How would you safely determine that someone prefers to be lied to, without exposing them to the truth they might not want? This isn't trivial: if you lie to someone who doesn't prefer it, I hope we can agree that's worse than the other way round.

In response to comment by scav on White Lies
Comment author: Benquo 08 February 2014 06:14:30PM -1 points [-]

Because she would have preferred to be lied to, I guess.

In response to comment by Benquo on White Lies
Comment author: scav 09 February 2014 04:31:08PM 0 points [-]

That's kind. But not all our preferences are reasonable expectations.

Anyway, maybe I weight things differently or it was a very short sucky play, but the downsides are still pretty compelling.

In response to comment by scav on White Lies
Comment author: Strange7 09 February 2014 07:42:23AM 1 point [-]

You're mixing metaphors. A stab in the back is better with a smaller knife, deliberately aimed at a non-vital area.

In response to comment by Strange7 on White Lies
Comment author: scav 09 February 2014 04:28:01PM 1 point [-]

It's a dodgy metaphor at best anyway, but 'point' taken. :)

In response to White Lies
Comment author: scav 08 February 2014 05:38:32PM 3 points [-]

The breakup was a good thing for other reasons, but I still regret not lying to her about what I thought of the play.

Why? Best case scenario is she keeps taking you to unenjoyable plays until you find you have to end the relationship yourself anyway or finally tell her the truth. Out of all the things in a relationship whose end was "a good thing for other reasons", one argument about whether a play was any good seems like a trivial thing to regret.

I can't favour lies as such. I am however on board with people honestly communicating the connotation that they care how you feel at the expense of the denotational literal meaning of their words.

In lies, the intention is not to soften but to deceive. So I don't even like the phrase "white lie". It's like, if you're going to stab me in the back, is it better if it's with a white knife?

Comment author: James_Miller 29 December 2013 05:49:19PM 3 points [-]

It made his life more interesting, and helped him socialize with classmates who believed in Santa.

Comment author: scav 07 January 2014 11:56:10AM 5 points [-]

I'm not going to criticise your decision, especially with regard to the social situation at school, which I can't speculate about. But I doubt it's more interesting to believe in the weird collection of junk memes that Santa Claus has become.

Maybe it's just me, but I think the truth is always more interesting, because there's aways more detail in it. Fake things are ultimately very boring; you poke at them a bit and there's nothing there. Flying reindeer are just pictures of approximately deer-like animals (usually more like red deer) positioned above the ground. Real reindeer are pretty amazing.

Comment author: fowlertm 14 December 2013 01:37:21AM 0 points [-]

Thanks to everyone. I was winging it with the biblical phrasing, only because I thought it added a little style to the piece overall.

Comment author: scav 16 December 2013 03:33:33PM 0 points [-]

Congratulations - now you are less wrong about that ;)

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