I apologize in advance. This is not a very good post. Still posting it though.
Bounded cognition is a term taken from Stephen Hsu.
I was thinking about why people regularly get offended when I state certain sorts of facts. A good example is “I’m a strange person”. Every aspie knows how this conversation goes:
One might wonder why some with Asperger want so much to “fit in”. It is so that a person with Asperger is seen by most normal people as “different”, even though many of those normal people will violently deny this when confronted (“There’s nothing wrong with you!”).
Straight talk about Asperger syndrome
More examples: “A is probably going to happen”, “I might be able to accomplish B and I might not”. After thinking over a few examples, I realized that all of them rely on probabilistic reasoning about distributions. But most people are incapable of elementary probabilistic reasoning.
When I was a kid, I remember having a revelation that I immediately expressed to my dad. “Hey dad, I guess there’s always either a 0% chance that something is going to happen, or 100%, because it’s either going to happen or it’s not!” My dad congratulated me for being clever, despite the fact that I was 100% wrong. I eventually grew out of this belief when I got interested in probability. But this is how most people think about the future.
The reason people object at statements of this sort is that they see it as an emotional expression of personal identification. “I’m a strange person” means “I identify as a strange person, so that’s how I’m going to act on purpose now”. This is a gross violation of social mores! It is much worse than declaring oneself a rebel or outcast, because although these are low-class forms of self identity they are still an acceptable part of the culture. “Strange” is by nature an unacceptable identity because if it were acceptable, it wouldn’t be strange.
People see these as identity statements rather than descriptions partly because they believe “identity” and “personality” are something you put on like a shirt, then take it off when it suits you to do so. Thus, when a person is at work he wears a “business identity” where he thinks of himself as highly productive and motivated to succeed. But after work he might think of himself as lazy and directionless, and see no contradiction in this. This is only half of the phenomenon.
The other half is an assumption buried deep inside of people that attitude is the difference between success and failure in what they choose to do. This is mostly true in social situations, where success is defined by the opinions of others. Other people care a great deal about what they think is the right attitude. Human survival and reproduction is primarily acquired by insulating oneself from nature by climbing the social hierarchy. This does not require statistical reasoning. But the fact is that in many endeavors there are a lot of circumstances other than attitude that matter- materials available, concrete skills, fluid intelligence, etc. Because most people are extraverts, they choose not to pursue tasks where these things matter.
This means that people take a mental shortcut. First, they decide whether something is possible or not. Then if they decide to do it, they commit to believing they will be successful with 100% certainty. This is a way of influencing their attitude to be more confident. They completely skip the step where you’re supposed to try estimating the odds that you’ll be successful. Then if they fail, they look back and say “oh, it looks like it was completely impossible because X happened.” You can point out that they might have had a 70% chance of succeeding at the start, but they’ll just shout you down and say “NO! X happened and that’s why I failed! It couldn’t have been different because we know for sure, 100%, that X would have happened and screwed the whole thing up!”
That’s why all extraverts believe in fate and destiny by default- they don’t have mental categories for plausibility when they plan for the future. Hence such Americanisms as “You can do anything you put your mind to.” You can tell they don’t really believe this because they never reconsider this attitude after failing- the blame always gets placed on the situation being “impossible”. It never seems to bother people when they switch from believing something is 100% certain to 0%. Yesterday the worker’s revolution was inevitable, today “communism just doesn’t work”. They don’t even miss a beat.
So that’s why people are so intent on creating false confidence. It’s just a survival strategy. Maybe that’s why insecurity is such a common theme in art and psychology.
Neurolinguistic programming is just a generalized and weaponized form of this sort of bravado. NLP requires a person to buy in to what they’re hearing, and there’s an assumed belief that it’s a good idea to believe lies in order to put on a more confident identity, like putting on a more expensive shirt to impress people with how much money you must have.
So every time you make a probabilistic statement, you are basically calling their bluff. Hence the violent response.