End of Day Thoughts 2020-9-9

Unconscious and conscious are used to mediate the notion of meaning—we want meaning to being fixed and stable, so we claim to not understand what was meant. This is a convenient fiction, because it’s partially true, we generally don’t have a very strong understanding of what caused us to say something until we introspect. But it hides something deeper—we say thing to get things done, and the idea that our thoughts correspond to an assumed model in our heads. People are embarrassed when that model is shown not exist—for instance when they go back and forth on an idea it is assumed that their model is “weak” or non-existent because it contains a contradiction (or doesn’t address an observation at all). We thus assume the person is communicating with some ulterior motive. My guess would be that culture has selected for this consistency, because in order to coordinate around a narrative we need to believe that it will be passed between people under high resolution. This is obviously not always the case—cue 10,000 Chinese military stories of clever and subtle deceptions.

The point is simple though—we’re always communicating for effect. The idea of a singular model is very strong, but it obviously doesn’t hold. We communicate a totally different stable, continuous stream of information to our friends vs. our parents vs. our partners. The point is to be stable, not to be true, and people use this bandwidth to get things done, which is really the main evolutionary pressure on language.

The Paradox of Confidence — Big Dog Mindset. People who are sure of themselves are comfortable admitting not knowing and not being up to a task. This can be very advantageous and even help one achieve higher status. Yet, if it is employed by someone too lowly or in the wrong direction (e.g. moral ambiguity among puritans) then it will duly punished. In other words, it is means of a class warfare—to be used by social climbers who understand the class they are aiming at well.


Fallacy of the commons — if I’m nice I can expect others to be nice the same way.

What actually happens — if I’m nice, I attract people who like that kind of niceness.

And sometimes those people will try to snuff out every other part of me as inauthentic.

Growing up without knowledge of the war was the hardest thing—constantly defending yourself against heroes because you were bad. Because there was no war—why were you starting a fight? It was a battle not to start one, against tinder and matches.

The trouble with signaling—people aren’t really that Machiavellian, but if you try to understand signaling you end-up thinking they are, because you assume all meaning is consciously intentional in your explanation. Signaling, like everything else, is created by a process of natural selection. And natural selection takes advantage of every level of behavior, because it works automatically.

Scheduling as a lifestyle can be good. Scheduling as an activity is bad.

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