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Thread: self-distancing and Sim tyranny

  1. #1
    schlemiel Faust's Avatar
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    self-distancing and Sim tyranny

    Inspired by this spiel on self-distancing. Adopting a detached perspective can help us make rational decisions, by dampening the emotional feedback. Stealing from another user on ycombinator:

    "Robert Sapolsky touches on this when discussing the effects of glucocorticoids on the prefrontal cortex. A stressed PFC is not an executive functioning PFC. When we're too close to an issue, we process with our periaqueductal gray (key in pain inhibition) and not with the part of our brain more adept at strategizing.

    These stress effects on frontal function also make us perseverative—in a rut, set in our ways, running on automatic, being habitual. We all know this—what do we typically do during a stressful time when something isn’t working? The same thing again, many more times, faster and more intensely—it becomes unimaginable that the usual isn’t working. This is precisely where the frontal cortex makes you do the harder but more correct thing—recognize that it’s time for a change. Except for a stressed frontal cortex, or one that’s been exposed to a lot of glucocorticoids. In rats, monkeys, and humans, stress weakens frontal connections with the hippocampus—essential for incorporating the new information that should prompt shifting to a new strategy—while strengthening frontal connections with more habitual brain circuits.

    R. Sapolsky, Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst 130 (2017).
    "

    The thought occurs to me that we could reach a level of detachment further than referencing ourselves in the 2nd person. Imagine for instance a Sim version of yourself, at your command. A completely separate entity viewable in isometric form on your monitor, though you can assume their virtual whims and desires and aspirations to be like your own. You can program them to perform both long-term and short-term tasks. Actions have realistic consequences.

    In what ways would your directives between common self-distancing, and those given to a Sim duplicate, diverge with regards to a) an emotionally turbulent issue, and b) long-term goals? Are you harsher on your Sim? Are you more adventurous in your self-investing out of curiosity? Assume you're aiming for emotional gratification for your Sim; you're not out to be cruel to them for the hell of it.

    The problem I think with this idea is the outcome of a Sim is so inconsequential that instructions wouldn't accurately reflect what we'd want for ourselves. However, the no-strings-attached nature of it opens up some possibilities.

    Alternatively if the whole Sim idea is stupid, how successful are you at self-distancing for emotionally charged decisions?
    "All my heroes are dead" - John Zorn

    "It's not selfish if you hate yourself"

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    Meae Musae Servus Hephaestus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Faust View Post
    The thought occurs to me that we could reach a level of detachment further than referencing ourselves in the 2nd person. Imagine for instance a Sim version of yourself, at your command. A completely separate entity viewable in isometric form on your monitor, though you can assume their virtual whims and desires and aspirations to be like your own. You can program them to perform both long-term and short-term tasks. Actions have realistic consequences.
    This is called "dissociation". It also arises from extreme stress. Or at least, that has been my experience.


    There is a similar form of thought that I've been pondering lately--variations on the bicameral mind, though I believe there are more than two houses. I remember when I was very young, pre-school age, I had a philosophical epiphany that people were not their bodies, but in their bodies, like brains in jars. Easy leap being brought up with the concept of a soul, but it was a stepping stone to developing a working theory of mind.

    I've come to believe that our bodies might be our "first pets". They are beasts we ride and direct, and the reason they sometimes seem willful or seem to have emotional responses that we do not (I doubt I'm the only one to have that experience) may well be because they have a mind (or minds) of their own.

    In this paradigm, our habits are what we've trained our bodies to do, much as we might train a dog to fetch slippers.
    Last edited by Hephaestus; 05-26-2019 at 09:54 PM.
    People think they understand their own mortality, even when that understanding has just changed.

    --Meditations on Uncertainty Vol ξ(x)

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    schlemiel Faust's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hephaestus
    have emotional responses that we do not
    That's an interesting way of putting it. Mind/body duality is a resilient idea.

    I think fear and self-preservation tangle the wires. If reason is slave to the passions, some passions aren't in the business of helping each other. You could argue the detached perspective ignores emotional toll, inflated or otherwise. It never matters, we take for granted it will just be resolved. We're bad biologically at turning off fear except through training.
    "All my heroes are dead" - John Zorn

    "It's not selfish if you hate yourself"

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    TJ TeresaJ's Avatar
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    The finger cannot touch itself.

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    Meae Musae Servus Hephaestus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TeresaJ View Post
    The finger cannot touch itself.
    Mine can. Must have been said by someone with less flexibility than me.
    People think they understand their own mortality, even when that understanding has just changed.

    --Meditations on Uncertainty Vol ξ(x)

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    TJ TeresaJ's Avatar
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    .......Sigh.

    Finger Fingertip

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    Meae Musae Servus Hephaestus's Avatar
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    If you don't say what you mean, don't be surprised when you aren't understood.

    My fingertips can touch themselves if I soak them in water long enough.
    People think they understand their own mortality, even when that understanding has just changed.

    --Meditations on Uncertainty Vol ξ(x)

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    Meae Musae Servus Hephaestus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Faust View Post
    That's an interesting way of putting it. Mind/body duality is a resilient idea.

    I think fear and self-preservation tangle the wires. If reason is slave to the passions, some passions aren't in the business of helping each other. You could argue the detached perspective ignores emotional toll, inflated or otherwise. It never matters, we take for granted it will just be resolved. We're bad biologically at turning off fear except through training.
    The feelings my body has aren't always fear and self-preservation based. But, those are definitely the moments when the experience is most likely to reach up and smack you in the face. Like jumping off a high dive the first time--of the season in my experience. If you give your body time to figure out what is going on, time to make it's own assessment, you can find yourself unable to move forward and make the jump. Hell, even the low dive can get short circuited if you don't just walk out and jump off. But, if you do just walk out and jump off, then your body realizes it's going to be okay the second and third time.

    Similarly, when doing something active, like skating, riding, bouldering--I've found that if you have a biff, especially one with an injury, it's important to get back and do it again ASAP, preferably the same day if you can, or body fear is going to get in the way.

    There's a funny version of it that many skaters run into--still in the realm of self-preservation mind you--on my old longboarding forum (RIP), noobs would frequently complain they were having a hard time learning to cross-step because their grip tape was too sticky. I always got a chuckle out of that because it was really easy to disprove. You just put the board in the grass, stand on it, then go through the motions. It's easy as hell when you aren't moving, but the moment you're rolling, your body thinks you're insane to even try.

    Spoiler: Cross-stepping tutorial


    I never mastered it, but I did master long distance pumping--being able to go uphill without taking your feet off the board is almost as cool!
    People think they understand their own mortality, even when that understanding has just changed.

    --Meditations on Uncertainty Vol ξ(x)

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