Thursday, June 28, 2007

Tools and Answers

Answers satisfy curiosity. Tools get things done. It's interesting that it is answers, not truth, that satisfies curiosity- people can know things, and cease to question them, that are not true. Tools are more concrete, more 'real'. They get things done and you can tell whether something is done or undone most of the time.

I have far more tools than I do answers.

Daniel commented on the last post:

"I don't think this is correct. You also have to account for the fact that most of the ways you can die are either really painful, embarrassing, degrading, or some combination of the three. Other confounding factors include the effect a person's death will have on others, and how to determine who actually is a true believer."

This is where actions versus rationalizations are a tool. Where prediction is used to winnow reasons from excuses.

The result of dying can be a finite amount of pain; embarassment; degradation; pain and suffering for friends and family (also finite); and/or infinite bliss.

How you act towards avoiding or seeking death will be based on a measure of of two basic factors: How likely you think the outcome is and how much you value it.

If someone were to truly believe in an infinite post-mortem paradise and still avoided death for one or all of the factors that Daniel lists, that could only mean that the person valued momentary and mortal dignity and lack of pain over complete eternal freedom from pain and (presumably exalted) status in paradise.

Do the math. The choices here are not made based on value but on level of belief. We all believe in embarrassment, it's one of the deepest beliefs in the oldest part of our brains, a fear that the tribe could cast us out- but even the people who have been taught their whole life about the certainity of heaven and believe it utterly haven't convinced the chattering monkey that lives in the back of their brain. And that chattering monkey is as much, if not more, you than the any of your spoken beliefs.

Point one- Very common in martial arts. You can practice your down block, turn and strike for years, but somewhere in the back of your mind is a chattering monkey who has already decided, "Bullshit, I'm screeching, running and flailing- that's worked for millenia!"

Point two- Religion is a hot button and that made this a poor example, easy to confuse the subject with the substance- almost the exact opposite of the point. The post is about using predictability to measure sub-conscious value. If an inmate talks shit and makes threats behind a cell door but, the second you open it says, "Sorry, sarge, I wasn't talking about you." You know more about his heart than his words will tell you. If you notice that someone is nice in proportion to the attractiveness of the person he is talking to, you know that being nice is of lower value than what he might get by being nice.

This is extremely practical, almost mathematical in it's precision: people do what they value, therefore what they value is what they do, NOT what they say they value.

1 comment:

Mac said...

And this is why random actors get overlooked so often - their style covers their substance and most people will accept style because it fit their comfort level better.