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More psychology mumbo-jumbo

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 04.16.21

1. Apparently there's a new mental heuristic that fails us in certain conditions in town!

[W]hen faced with a problem, people tend to select solutions that involve adding new elements rather than taking existing components away.

So in other words, when you're hunting for a solution, it takes a little extra cognitive load to consider subtractive solutions than just additive ones. People do it, but it's less likely to be the first thing they think of to try.

This makes intuitive sense to me: if you're adding something, you can think about the thing, and then glom it on like a graft to the existing situation. If you're subtracting something, you have to understand the entire system, and observe that it might work more efficiently without this impediment. You have to understand how the thing is situated within the system, and why it mucks it up.

It also matches my personal experience: it feels reasonable to take the existing set-up of a problem as your starting point, and look to see how to tweak/change/add to it. It takes an extra beat to consider removing something that might be impeding the situation. If you're writing something, your first impulse is to add more and more, to get your point across, and it is a later stage of editing or maturity when you can remove parts.

The article takes this as an individual mental bias, but it's obviously a group bias as well, for different reasons. It's much easier to add elements than subtract things, because every thing you might subtract is someone's pet thing. You can add to a curriculum all day long, but good luck arguing that cursive is not the most important skill for a 7 year old anymore.

2. This is not worth it's own post, but: it seemed to take me about half a year to accept that Trump was actually the fucking president. I had a memory of writing "How is this shithead still our president?!" nearly exactly four years ago.

And now, it's like he's a million miles away. Like he was packed into a silver capsule and launched into orbit, and in the sequel he's been mostly written out of the plot, but occasionally they show his face behind the glass look-out panel.

This is more a comment about the mental gymnastics it takes to get my dumb brain to believe that that shithead held the presidency, than anything else.



 

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Look here, Friend

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 04.15.21

The word "friend" is having a moment, and it keeps cracking me up. I hear it sometimes sarcastically, and sometimes genially, and I like both. I don't know what to call this part of speech, but it's like referring to someone right there, "Hi, friend," not like "my friends were at the party". Maybe the distinction is that it's being used in the 2nd person?

To me, it sounds lifted from daycare and small children settings, where the teachers used to constantly refer to classmates or the group collectively as friends. I'm very much enjoying it.

(There's no way this next part will work on paper, but it first caught my attention last fall, when the comedienne Karen Kilgariff was doing a bit. The premise was that she was thoroughly annoyed with someone making an outsized request, and she improvised: "Or, how about you go fuck yourself? There are all these options...I'll see you at the breakfast buffet, Friend." I've been remembering that whole line for months and just enjoying it so very much.)



 

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Check Ins, Reassurances, and Concerns, 4/14

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 04.14.21

This is intended to be our system for checking in on imaginary friends, so that we know whether or not to be concerned if you go offline for a while. There is no way it could function as that sentence implies, but it's still nice to have a thread.

Episode 75.



 

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Musings on feelings

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 04.14.21

Lately I have a theory that grief, anger, and reality form a sort of three legged stool, where each one affects the other two.  Specifically, I'm starting with a reality that you don't like and wish wasn't true - think climate change or a loved one with a terminal illness.  Or just a crappy thing that happened - someone did something and you feel a surge of anger in response. Or you read something in the news and it makes you sad.  You get some information, and you have a basic preference that it not be this way. 

The reality changes you, and/or you can choose to fight reality.  Grief and anger are those two experiences. Grief is what you feel when the reality is changing your interior landscape.  Anger is what you feel when you reject changing your interior landscape, and it's role as an emotion is to drive you to fight for change. (Ie you research medical options, you fight for political causes, you have an urge to yell or be bite back at the person who pissed you off, which hopefully you suppress because you're a grown-ass adult. But the anger emotion is tied to wanting to change the thing, or not wanting it to be permanent.)

So there's some degree of tension between grief and anger.  Grief is more about a stance of "it can't be changed, I have to get used to it" and anger is more about being revved up and wanting an outlet to go out and change the thing, or affect reality somehow.

There are a million scenarios that you can toss out that contradict this. "What about the grieving parent who starts a charity foundation?" etc etc. I'm just saying that the emotional responses live in the dumb brain, and the smart brain can make some observations about them that roughly hold up in many cases.

Where this came from is that I've heard (from various outlets) of therapists that say "anger is not a real emotion unless you're physically threatened, or your kid is. Otherwise it's a response that's happening super fast to cover something else up. We have to slow down your anger response so that you have a chance to feel the other thing - the sadness or whatever."   This is probably useful for people - slowing down your anger response and looking to see what else is going on is a good thing. But I don't actually think it's quite right.  I think anger over non-physical danger is a real thing, and you feel it when you reject what just happened and want to undo it or change it.

I've also heard that anger is depression turned outward, and depression is anger turned inward. That's closer to what I'm getting at, but I added value.

Lastly: maybe it's not a three-legged stool. See-saw? pair of cymbals? candle in the wind? idk.



 

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Very Sus

Posted by Ogged
on 04.13.21

The sheer quantity of absurdity in this thread of black people recounting the most ridiculous reason they've been stopped by the police is really something.

A lot of online communication is "this stinks, smell it!" and I apologize. It was news to me that this happens to black kids (not teens) with some regularity.



 

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Guest Post - Northern Ireland

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 04.13.21

Minivet writes: What has changed structurally for Northern Ireland post-Brexit? My naive search results suggest loyalist groups are pulling more shit out of anger over perceived declining consideration including but not limited to the institution of the sea border. But what's happening long-term? Are things just going to get worse and stay worse, e.g. more frequent violence, but not enough to blow up the Good Friday Agreement or prompt some new settlement?

Heebie's take: When will season 3 of Derry Girls come out, and is it wrong to understand Northern Ireland through that lens?



 

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