Re: DIPLOMACY: Memetic Morphing

Anders Sandberg (
17 Nov 1998 13:55:38 +0100

"Eliezer S. Yudkowsky" <> writes:

> I regret that the human emotional system seems to be designed so that high
> levels of stress are needed to really grow up.

There is no evidence for this, at least in the usual sense of "growing up" (i.e. developing adult mental abilities, an adult personality). If you mean "breaking down self-serving bias" it is also not obvious that stress is the best way of doing it.

> 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.

Emotional maturity is tricky to define. A lot of pessimists claim they are realists; are they emotionally mature? But I think you have a point in that life threatening experiences can have positive effects, possibly by dissolving various previous imprints. Of course, we have a sample bias since the people who get positive effects tend to speak more about it than the people who got bad results.

> 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.

Dilbert really is a surprising source of wisdom sometimes.

> 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.

I'm working on it :-) There is an interesting section about this matter (as a lot of other >H-relevant stuff) in Austin's _Zen and the Brain_ (I'm getting tired of referring to it all the time, but even if you disagree with his conclusions it is a good review of the neuropsychology of unusual mental states with a nice bibliography).

Anders Sandberg                                      Towards Ascension!                  
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