Re: DIPLOMACY: Memetic Morphing

Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Mon, 16 Nov 1998 21:15:15 -0600

Patrick Wilken wrote:
> Do you honestly believe living through war makes you live any sort of
> better life? My grandmother and mother lived through the World War II in
> camps in Eastern Europe, my grandfather was shot fighting the Russians as a
> partisan. I can tell you they don't feel they lived a more "real" life
> because of it, and I would love to see you tell my grandmother to her face
> that watching TV would have helped her get out of her cocoon and better
> prepare her for the real world. Please do: I'll sell tickets...

I regret that the human emotional system seems to be designed so that high levels of stress are needed to really grow up. (Although sometimes this occurs automatically at age 40.) I don't know that I would recommend doing this deliberately, but quite a few people, including myself, report that emotional maturity began after their lives were threatened. Someday, undoubtedly, we'll bypass this trigger. But it is there.

There's an interesting Dilbert cartoon in which Dilbert thinks, "Sometimen I feel like I've been faking everything since fourth grade. I wonder if other people get that feeling." A few days after the crisis had passed, I realized I would never get that feeling again.

I don't romanticize it or try to explain it in philosophical terms. I wouldn't be the least bit surprised to find that it reduced to neurochemicals. So I don't want to hear ten thousand reasons why an ideal world wouldn't work that way.

--         Eliezer S. Yudkowsky

Disclaimer:  Unless otherwise specified, I'm not telling you
everything I think I know.