Thursday, March 17, 2016

"In the Real World..."

Thought for the day.
In the martial arts and self-defense, you hear a lot of crap about what will and won't work in the "real world." Everything is as real as it is, and no more. All things are what they are, and all only extrapolate so far. Written about all that before.

So everything happens in the real world, whether it's on the mat, in  a cage, around a poker table, over a chessboard, or in a mass holding cell. None of this is happening in the virtual world. (Yes, I know, you can play video versions of all of these, quit being cute and pay attention.)

Here's the thought. Instead of defining what the "real" world is, look at all the things we say aren't the real world and you notice that they all have the same things in common. When someone says, "that's not the real world," what they mean is a place or endeavor where:

  1. You know the rules and 
  2. The rules are the way the game is really played
Monopoly or chess-- everyone plays by the same rules and if you cheat you forfeit. But college grad goes into business, goes into his first negotiation and gets played--
College grad: "That wasn't fair! He lied!"
Boss: "Welcome to the real world."

This is a subconscious distinction for people. If it's predictable, it's not the real world. If it's predictable, it doesn't count. And of course it all does count, but only so far. I'm not arguing for the truth of this, mind you, just pleased to have found the words for a nearly universal unconscious distinction. 

This does have some implications.

Even in games with rules, things are never predictable, but the rules are there to limit the unpredictability. In a match, no matter the sport, you can't be sure what your opponent will do, but you can be pretty sure of what he won't do. The boxer won't kick, the the judoka won't punch you in the face, the fencer won't pull a gun.

We teach children through games with rules and the children are punished for cheating. Because we want them to grow up and not be cheaters. We want to condition them to believe that cheating is punished, because your brain equates punished with "doesn't work." This allows them to get along with other adults. This keeps people from screwing each other over. It also makes them patsies when someone else understands that the rules are artificial.

Yes. Artificial. Rules are not real, they are magical spells used to control the behavior of others. And like magic, rules only work on believers.

Because we start kids on rules and social conditioning so young, they all go into the real world carrying around a personal list of largely unconscious personal rules. Rules that control and limit their options, artificial restraints on behavior that can be used against them by anyone who doesn't share the same internal rules.

The fifth implication. The real world is the place where, often, cheating isn't punished, but rewarded. This is the elephant in the room. Cheating works. In the real world.

Unless someone better makes it not work.

20 comments:

Erik Kondo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Erik Kondo said...

Here is a blog story that is in essence all about behavioral rules.

My take is that the author doesn't feel that it is her responsibility it to communicate and enforce them. Thus, making it someone else's or society's responsibility.

I Didn't Say No — But It Was Still Rape
http://www.bustle.com/articles/135171-i-didnt-say-no-but-it-was-still-rape

Maija said...

Nice

Vaarok said...

This is particularly noticeable in serious driving- people will often get into a collision rather than the ditch because they're so used to staying between the lines.

Vaarok said...

This is particularly noticeable in serious driving- people will often get into a collision rather than the ditch because they're so used to staying between the lines.

Anonymous said...

"Even in games with rules, things are never predictable, but the rules are there to limit the unpredictability."

I'm not sure why you'd assume that all rules are put in place for the same reason; it seems like you're looking for an epigram and skipping past the work you need to do to check your own reasoning.

Even if we restrict ourselves to your frame of discussing things in terms of predictability, it's easy to think of situations where rules are put in place to increase unpredictability (weight classes in sports, because without them the suspense disappears fast).

And that's just what came immediately to mind.

I liked the post, but honestly it seems kind of sloppy when it takes so little effort to come up with a counter-example to your basic premise.

Anonymous said...

I would say weight classes decrease unpredictability, actually. Because with a huge weight disparity the fight could end in one round, two rounds, three - or even seconds into the start of the fight. And it would be hard to guess how much damage the smaller fighter will get in the course of the fight; he might be laid out for weeks/months, or he could get maimed, maybe he could die, etc. With those conditions, no one will want to fight and no one will want to watch.

With weight classes, you know both sides will be able to get back out of the ring/octagon/whatever with no lasting damage, and the fight will last a length of time that will provide entertainment to viewers so the money keeps pouring in.

The European Historical Combat Guild said...

Given that the post stars with thought of the day... not reasoned theory... ;) anyway.I'd also argue that weight classes and divisons make things more predictable. .. or more consistent... without it the prediction seems obviously until the upset happens the giant killer team.. or David beats goliath.. and then...
The human brain has evolved to predict and genrally it works quiet well... in part because things follow patterns... also here are layers or redundancy built in... but when it comes to overt prediction we are far from get. .. and human history is arguably the story of try to make life and the world more predictable... but really we do best when we become more adaptable... when we get stronger through stress... talibs antifragile.
Rules are scripts aren't they? On a level at least.
They are useful but one needs to know when they aren't... lies we tell children.attempting to make the complex simple?
It made me think if the story of spartan children where they had to steal to survive. If they got caught they got punished. Not for stealing but for getting caught. Or sas selection. If you break the rules they rtu you but the implicit suggestion is it not breaking the rules that gets you the boot but getting caught. Or my grandfather as a pow of the Japanese. He observed that most of the time the tough and best soldiers were not the best survivors... but he grew up in the east end through and after wwi where life was surviving.
Of course you need to know the rules to be able to break them...
Marc posted something about the skills that let you survive poverty aren't necessarily the ones to enable you to get out of it.
Now thats me thinking

Anonymous said...

"Because with a huge weight disparity the fight could end in one round, two rounds, three - or even seconds into the start of the fight."

...which also happens with weight classes. Do you think that all fights go to decision now?

"And it would be hard to guess how much damage the smaller fighter will get in the course of the fight; he might be laid out for weeks/months, or he could get maimed, maybe he could die, etc."

That's arguing for more unpredictability.

"With weight classes, you know both sides will be able to get back out of the ring/octagon/whatever with no lasting damage"

That's just totally false.

"and the fight will last a length of time that will provide entertainment to viewers so the money keeps pouring in."

Also totally false. You don't know whether a match will end early, and every so often you'll have someone go on a Rousey-esque streak where they finish fights very early several times in a row.

In general, there seems to be a problem where people aren't that familiar with games in general, and so they aren't aware of how silly the claim "rules are there to limit unpredictability" is when you consider how many rules exist to dampen the Matthew effect and thus increase unpredictability. Why? Because Parker Bros don't sell as much if you always know that you're gonna lose their game.

Rory said...

No reason to get spun up.
Some rules are put in for safety. Many are put in to make it more exciting for the audience. Weight classes do both. If I was being pedantic, I could point out that in the heavy weight division, you know the winner will be a heavy weight, but in the open division the winner will only _probably_ be the heavyweight. More predictable.
In sports that have a relatively wide repertoire of technique (I'm most familiar with judo, obviously), weight classes decrease the number of techniques I can expect. The things that work on someone your size are pretty much the same regardless of the size. The things that give you a chance against different sizes tend to come from other parts of the judo curriculum, which increases the number of things you have to be familiar with.
The best modern example is Royce Gracie in the early UFCs-- 80 kg. When there are very few rules, size becomes one variable among many. As restrictions increase, the range within each variable become more significant.
Anonymous is right-- that's not the sole reason people create rules. Sometimes it's just to make the show better; sometimes for safety. But this is all an aside from the main point.

gurume said...

Jack Slack has a nice article about cheating at the highest levels of MMA, I thought people might find it interesting:

http://fightland.vice.com/blog/if-youre-not-cheating-youre-not-trying-bending-the-rules-in-mma

Josh K. said...
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Josh K. said...
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Josh K. said...

There are natural laws and mental constructs.

Gravity is.

A 55 mph speed limit is only so if we want it to be so.

We call them both laws. They are not the same.

The Law of gravity has consequence inherent to it. You can defy it using other natural laws and principles, but consequence and risk are always their if you mess up.

Driving over an imposed 55 mph speed limit only has a negative consequence, if someone else wants it to and is willing to enforce one.

Cheating has an implied negative moral (construct of the mind) connotation that not following the law (a rule) is bad.

But was the Wright Brothers Cheating gravity when they made the first airplane?

If we do something a certain way, is it cheating if we find or discover a better way?

Perspective.

Now groups develop etiquette, rules, policies or laws, depending on how we want to label them, on how the members are expected to act and treat their follow members. This is so that the members can trust and now what to expect when dealing with other within the group.

So, if the former statement is true, is cheating (not following made up social rules) a viable long term strategy or is it only effective for short-term gain? Does it depend on what your goals are?

I think if your goal is to live with in a group, using it's economy of scale to make you life easier, then cheating in this context is viable only in the short-term, until trust is lost.

If it's to live outside of any one group, then cheating could be maintain for longer or until someone stops them permanently in some fashion.

The European Historical Combat Guild said...

And the definition of cheating changes... being a personal and social construct.
We attach the negative value of "cheating" to a percieved advantage gained by others who have used that against "us". of course when "we" are doing it is insight, problem solving, technological progress etc.

Tam McCracken said...

-even what's 'real' is a construct, or a context defined by experience and expectations. People who train in martial arts and fighting sports equate the real world with experiences of violence encounters outside the ring, the dojo, the (fill in the blank). People who train in, and pursue, spiritual contexts will define what is 'real' based in the depth of spiritual and emotional connectivity they feel with their expression of the divine...
hmmmm...

Ymar Sakar said...

"If you aren't cheating, you aren't trying", a saying in some military sub cultures.

Which means, in war, shoot the guy in the back if it benefits your side. Why not.

This goes up against the Lawfare culture, the Treason parties inside the gates, and the barbarians who have their own rules, of course. So it's more of a cultural conflict on top of a physical one.

George Stokoe said...

hi Rory,
I'd like to comment on your interesting side point that magic only works on believers.
In my opinion, it's a problem of meaning. If a magician does "x" spell and "y" happens, what's there to say "y" wouldn't have happened anyway? Nothing really, except whatever meaning the magician reads into "the coincidence."
This isn't me being cynical. Magic *isn't* free of mysticism. Magic isn't science, but science doesn't explain everything. Science explains why certain things exist in relation to others, from a sub atomic level to an astronomical level. But it doesn't explain why anything exists at all (rather than nothing exists.) Why anything exists at all is a knotty mystical or religious problem.
Sending off for a cheap mail order spell kit or going to church to pray are both parts of the same craving!
George

George Stokoe said...

Oops sorry Rory, I re-read your blog and it's clear that I took it out of context. You meant magic only works on third parties if they, the target, believe in it? (Not if the magician themself is a believer, which is what I mis read your blog to mean?) Certainly there are curses, binding spells, love spells like that in history but they would have been done without the targets knowledge.( For good reason- otherwise you would have been drowned as a witch!)

The European Historical Combat Guild said...

There is magic as a notion that springs up to explain things we don't understand... then there is magic is things that we claim to understand and use to cotrol things that we would otherwise not be able to control. We could also claim as magic actions and events that are possible but normally outside of experience because the person doing the feat truly believes... we can then have he psychosomatic magic where we convince our selves of something... and others who manipulate us...
On a level spells and prayer work in a similar way to self talk visualisation etc they work with the wiring of our brains and bodies and we then explain them in certain ways...