Mythical thinking

By the way, great job on the behelit myth. I think you’ve hit something central that carries through from the myth of becoming a vampire through the “sociopath’s journey”. If true, this would explain the worship of snakes (symbolism of shedding one’s skin and being reborn). And I know when I put it like that it seems to downgrade that insight in some way, but that’s not my intent, because it really was a brilliant piece of work. Good job on you for hitting the core principle. Really. I do mean that.

Donovan Greene

I didn’t think it seemed to downgrade it. Frankly, I’m just glad it doesn’t strike you as complete nonsense. It is really hard to trust in these intuitions that I don’t really understand.

The frightening thing about edenism is how much of the mythos seems to be built on intuitions. Frightening, but also incredibly interesting. If correct, the implications are just as astonishing about our method of inquiry as they are about our conclusions.

Good point about the intuitionismnastics. It is weird, but I think overdue. After all, the brain is a complex beast, and the scientific method is just about the least efficient method for learning about it. For drawing conclusions with greater certainty, sure, the scientific method is great. But exploratory research? Like trying to haul lumber with a smart car.

I think it is worth trying to figure out how this nonsense seems to work. This is just a starter post to get me thinking about the question.

Myths, in particular, seem to be a high-IQ version of what Steve Sailer calls “getting the joke”. They depend on motifs shared between the speaker and the listener, which support the creation of a more abstract motif. This motif-building is characteristic of high literature. Myths seem to share a lot in common with comedy, particularly having a quality (sometimes) that I can only verbalize as “more true than truth”. That is, they don’t have to be strictly correct in the details to feel true in form, and the truth can often be reconstructed from the compressed, mythical form back into its proper form.

Example joke: If you look close, you can see the white guy in the back who writes all the stuff on Wikipedia.

“Getting” the joke or “getting” the myth seems to have a lot in common with “getting” women. When a woman makes a statement, she usually isn’t talking about the thing she’s talking about. On the other hand, what she’s talking about is probably only one or two steps removed from what she actually said. I think that might be why women place so much emphasis on a man’s sense of humor, and what he finds funny.

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21 Responses to Mythical thinking

  1. Edenist whackjob says:

    Tex is a brilliant guy. But I think we risk descending into mental illness if we assume the premise “Tex is right about everything” (as I’ve seen multiple times).

    Instead, see what he says as plausible alternate realities, which we need to test with the scientific method. Tex’s mind generates massive clouds of possibility. We need to condense a few regions of that into droplets of actual truth.

    Otherwise, they (his visions) will just be some kind of semi-fictive cloudy daydream half-realities.

    I mean, if he is right about half the stuff he talks about, that should be enough cause for just about anyone to drop everything they are doing and run for the hills (or at least dedicate their lives to finding out the truth). Instead we sit around and consume his writings as half-entertainment, half-what-if-he’s-right?. There’s a thing for that kind of entertainment already, and that thing is science fiction.

    Generating possibilities is cool. But we ought to take things seriously, too.

    Less Wrong is a good place to browse for rationality methods that are legit but are still psychotic enough to appeal to the Thal psyche (ie all the talk of AIs and such): http://lesswrong.com/

  2. Edenist whackjob says:

    ‘Myths, in particular, seem to be a high-IQ version of what Steve Sailer calls “getting the joke”. They depend on motifs shared between the speaker and the listener, which support the creation of a more abstract motif. This motif-building is characteristic of high literature. Myths seem to share a lot in common with comedy, particularly having a quality (sometimes) that I can only verbalize as “more true than truth”. That is, they don’t have to be strictly correct in the details to feel true in form, and the truth can often be reconstructed from the compressed, mythical form back into its proper form.’

    It’s a way of saying “we both can relate to living in this reality-tunnel I am describing”, then formalizing that into a virtual reality for more exploration. But be careful of believing “eternal high school” is the LITERAL TRUTH. Literal in the same way as “the can of tomato is on the counter-top”. To the Thal-brain, there seems to be this vast middle-ground between “literal truth” and “absurd, does not compute”.

    Also, this seems relevant: http://www.catb.org/jargon/html/H/ha-ha-only-serious.html

    ‘On the other hand, what she’s talking about is probably only one or two steps removed from what she actually said. I think that might be why women place so much emphasis on a man’s sense of humor, and what he finds funny.’

    A lot of the time, they don’t know what they are talking about, their mouths are just being moved by their word-centers. Or they are trying to navigate around some topic without triggering the ole amygdala. Apply reality-testing and uncover the truth. Form a hypothesis about what she’s really talking about, then go poke that (by eg asking for clarification or asking socratic questions about it). Use an act of will to use formal, rational thinking (System 2, Kahnemann) not crystallized spergitelligence (System 1) which is prone to overfitting patterns and assumption to the communication.

    • Aeoli Pera says:

      >It’s a way of saying “we both can relate to living in this reality-tunnel I am describing”, then formalizing that into a virtual reality for more exploration. But be careful of believing “eternal high school” is the LITERAL TRUTH. Literal in the same way as “the can of tomato is on the counter-top”. To the Thal-brain, there seems to be this vast middle-ground between “literal truth” and “absurd, does not compute”.

      The I wouldn’t characterize it as “vast”. It’s more that, having grasped some basic truths about the nature of certainty and probability, we are simply more comfortable than most within the DMZ.

      >Use an act of will to use formal, rational thinking (System 2, Kahnemann) not crystallized spergitelligence (System 1) which is prone to overfitting patterns and assumption to the communication.

      I think this is just the way thals think when they are children and adolescents, and some of them and never grow out of this because their development is arrested or they are too dysgenic to develop into anything.

      • Edenist whackjob says:

        “The I wouldn’t characterize it as “vast”. It’s more that, having grasped some basic truths about the nature of certainty and probability, we are simply more comfortable than most within the DMZ.”

        Not so sure about that. Melons seems more inclined to think in probabilities, as a poker player would. Thals are just dreamy in their cognitive style.

        Melon: that might be true, but the probability is low
        Thal: wow, that could be true, I’ll write a post on it

        “I think this is just the way thals think when they are children and adolescents, and some of them and never grow out of this because their development is arrested or they are too dysgenic to develop into anything.”

        Interesting. System 2 development as a sign of maturity. I also think it has to do with testosterone.

        • Aeoli Pera says:

          >Not so sure about that. Melons seems more inclined to think in probabilities, as a poker player would. Thals are just dreamy in their cognitive style.

          My thought is that it’s the same stuff on the bottom (gray matter), so the dreamy unconscious quality of thal thinking (when they think in probabilistic terms) is simply due to location in the brain. Most of the gray matter is massed near the visual processing center, whereas most of the gray matter in melons is massed near the abstract, reductionist center and the motor/sensory cortices (hence they think like men of action, act like men of thought).

          And thank you for that link to hacker humor, that was very interesting stuff. As far as thals go, hackers seem to be the high-IQ contingent who tend to be high-functioning (even though they would probably laugh at that). I think those sorts of humor indicate a person who is making sense of the vagaries of communication, culture, and socializing, in a very strange and roundabout way.

      • Edenist whackjob says:

        “My thought is that it’s the same stuff on the bottom (gray matter), so the dreamy unconscious quality of thal thinking (when they think in probabilistic terms) is simply due to location in the brain. Most of the gray matter is massed near the visual processing center, whereas most of the gray matter in melons is massed near the abstract, reductionist center and the motor/sensory cortices (hence they think like men of action, act like men of thought).”

        That’s very well put. Thanks for that.

        If we assume the brain is plastic, does this mean we could develop superpowers by using eg neurofeedback? Superpowers as in “being able to act thal or melon as a conscious choice”.

        Speaking of Melon emulation (or maybe I am enough Melon to classify this as native processing), I have a mental trick for getting instant comfort with people. It involves looking upon as a person as their mother would. And also straining some kind of mental muscle which I can’t really describe. But anyway, when pulled off, one really, really likes and cares for the other person, and they can tell.

        I discovered this earlier this year and was able to do it consistently for a week or so. Ever since, it’s like my brain is avoiding realizing that I can do that. It literally avoids the thought whenever I try to think it.

        It would be scary to go around doing that all of the time. Maybe Bill Clinton does?

        “And thank you for that link to hacker humor, that was very interesting stuff. As far as thals go, hackers seem to be the high-IQ contingent who tend to be high-functioning (even though they would probably laugh at that). I think those sorts of humor indicate a person who is making sense of the vagaries of communication, culture, and socializing, in a very strange and roundabout way.”

        The same people are likely to like koans (not in the Koanic sense), absurd humor, recursion, xkcd, and that “Gödel, Escher, Bach” tome. ESR is a good example, I think, although he is not a pure example of the archetype (ie the firearms, AGW-denial and sex stuff is a different thing).

    • Heaviside says:

      You must be a TM, because you keep bringing up things that irritate me:

      Robert Anton Wilson’s concept of “reality tunnels” is really terrible. I think every quasi-philosophical idea RAW ever had was a very bad idea. Personally, I read the whole Illuminatus Trilogy all the way to end and I think it was a series of mediocre books not worth re-reading. Wilson was a very thorough nihilist in Heidegger’s sense. He was so thorough he even opposed the use of the word “to be”.

      LessWrong sucks, for other reasons.

      Both RAW and LW I think foretell a coming post-post-modern transhumanist Western Buddhist ultra-liberalism, with both hippy-dippy and autistic programmer flavours of nihilistic metaphysics.

      “Grok” just rubs me the wrong way. I don’t like “unpack” because it assumes a reductionist understanding of ideas.

      I can go into all of this in more detail if you want.

      • Edenist whackjob says:

        “I can go into all of this in more detail if you want.”

        Sure.

      • Heaviside says:

        “But the goal is as necessarily fixed for knowledge as the serial progression ; it is the point where knowledge no longer needs to go beyond itself, where knowledge finds itself, where Notion corresponds to object and object to Notion. Hence the progress towards this goal is also unhalting, and short of it no satisfaction is to be found at any of the stations on the way. Whatever is confined within the limits of a natural life cannot by its own effort go beyond its immediate existence; but it isdriven beyond it by something else, and this uprooting entails its death. Consciousness, however, is explicitly the Notion of itself. Hence it is something that goes beyond limits, and since these limits are its own, it is something that goes beyond itself. With the positing of a single particular the beyond is also estab­lished for consciousness, even if it is only alongside the limited object as in the case of spatial intuition. Thus consciousness suffers this violence at its own hands: it spoils its own limited satisfaction. When consciousness feels this violence, its anxiety may well make it retreat from the truth, and strive to hold on to what it is in danger of losing. But it can find no peace…

        …its fear of the truth may lead con­sciousness to hide, from itself and others, behind the pretension that its burning zeal for truth makes it difficult or even imposs­ible to find any other truth but the unique truth of vanity­ — that of being at any rate cleverer than any thoughts that one gets by oneself or from others. This conceit which understands how to belittle every truth, in order to turn back into itself and gloat over its own understanding, which knows how to dissolve every thought and always find the same barren Ego instead of any content — this is a satisfaction which we must leave to itself, for it flees from the universal, and seeks only to be for itself.”

        R.A.W. doesn’t care about how anything is. He only cares about how we can manipulate our subjective experience of the world “for fun and profit”. That is why he prefers to think about it in “scientific”-pragmatic terms. He is a transhumanist who wants to render even ideas and beliefs manipulable, instead of just physical organs and moods, and further fragment the subject. He doesn’t want to make the “fall” of actually believing something and being wrong. Nothing human remains here.

        Just look at this link:

        http://www.rawilson.com/trigger1.html

        “This book does not claim that you “create your own reality” in the sense of total (but mysteriously unconscious) psychokinesis. If a car hits you and puts you in the hospital, I do not believe this is because you “really wanted” to be hit by a car, or that you “needed” to be hit by a car, as two popular New Age bromides have it. The theory of transactional psychology, which is the source of my favorite models and metaphors, merely says that, once you have been hit by a car, the meaning of the experience depends entirely on you and the results depend partly on you (and partly on your doctors).”

        How can he can he talk about a hypothetical where a car hit someone? After all, if dogmatic beliefs are always wrong, then someone in this hypothetical situation must not be capable of dogmatically believing that they were hit by a car. Of course, this paragraph just shows that he feels compelled to offer some kind of concession to so-called “common sense,” i.e., that there are certain things that are simply facts, and which are not beliefs. This is the real problem. This is standard idiot thinking: other people have beliefs, whereas I merely have access to the facts.

        This may not be what he had in mind when he wrote down his ideas, but there is a transition between what a writer has in mind and what is recorded. If a writer does not encapsulate everything he had in mind in his writings, then his writings will necessarily be incomplete and flawed. Most ideas become incomplete when they are recorded because that is their intrinsic nature. The act of writing reveals problems to readers that are not apparent to the writer, given that these writings represent an objective side of a subjective ideation. When the objective side is seen to be incomplete it shows up the subjective side as also necessarily incomplete. The idea becomes external to itself and sees itself as fragmentary.

      • Edenist whackjob says:

        @Heaviside: I sense there is something very important in your writing, something I need to understand. I just need to digest it better. Kudos for your patience in trying to explain it to me.

        If I am correct, your main “thing” that you go on about is the distinction between complete and incomplete knowledge, and how we can in fact attain complete knowledge. Is that correct?

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