I'm not actually a dimensional traveller. This is a writing exercise.
"Sensory processing sensitivity (SPS) is a temperamental or personality trait involving 'an increased sensitivity of the central nervous system and a deeper cognitive processing of physical, social and emotional stimuli'", according to Wikipedia.
So what is my world like? Mostly I want to talk about how people communicate.
Communication is telepathy. You are not just saying words, you are putting thoughts and images into someone's head. With people being more sensitive, and processing what you say deeper/more-intensely, the rules of communication are more restrictive. Saying certain kind of things may require consent, rather than being assumed to be allowed by default.
There is a notion of being in-harmony while conversing which is what to you would look like a regular conversation. It requires sufficient-level-of-mutual-understanding.When there is sufficient level of lack-of-mutual-understanding, the conversation will fall back on a more robust algorithm, where one person will take the role of listener and another of sender. The listener's task is to form an accurate understanding of what the sender wants to express, as verified by the sender.The listener is not allowed to express opinions or ask questions (without asking for consent for that first). The listener is allowed to say "here is my understanding of what you said <....>, is this correct?".This continues until the sender is satisfied with the listener's level of understanding.At which point the listener and sender may switch roles, or continue in the same roles, or agree that they are in-harmony and return to an unstructed kind of conversation.
Why do it like this?Because understanding and expressing your mental-model in words is a delicate task. Someone with a high sensitivity would experience in as painful if someone interrupted them by injecting a conflicting mental model into their mind while they were trying to do that (which is what expressing a disagreement is).I suppose it might be harder to understand why being asked a question would interfere with a person's mental processes this way. Can I just say "different neural architecture" and leave it at that?Communication requires consent and you do not express your own opinions or disagreements unless the other person has consented to hearing them. You do not ask questions unless the other person has consented to hearing you questions.Your only task as a listener is to help the sender clarify their own understanding of what they want to say, as well as understanding it yourself.
People do talk "normally" as well, but the Primary Communication Algorithm always serves as fallback. When talking about more sensitive things, people would usually start with the Primary Communication Algorithm to being with.
People in this world who I've tried to teach the Primary Communication Algorithm usually don't see the point of it. Which I understand, if your neural structure is more robust and doesn't require protection. You can talk more freely.Some people feel it's restrictive (when I explain the idea to them). From my perspective, the standard way you talk is muddled, with you trying to perform the tasks of understanding, querying, expressing disagreements, and verifying someone's mental model all at once. Though, it seems to work for you, so I can only be impressed with your cognitive resilience.Also, actually using The Algorithm is really fluid for people from my world (that is, highly sensitive people who are experienced in it and have been using it all their life).
Sensory processing sensitivity is a trade-off, and the upside of the trade-off is the ability for deeper understanding. I do not feel that the people of this world fully or sufficiently understand me, or even understand what I mean what I say that I want to be deeply understood. I am trying to make my peace with that.
I suppose it might be harder to understand why being asked a question would interfere with a person's mental processes this way. Can I just say "different neural architecture" and leave it at that?
One reason this happens for me is if the RAM demands of both models combined exceed what I have available. This is especially likely to happen if I am still working out my model, and maybe started that conversation hoping to recruit more RAM from the other person so we could work it out together. If they instead provide a sufficiently different model that has RAM demands all its own, I can either dismiss it out of hand or I can wipe out my existing model.
Not all questions or disagreements eat RAM. Someone noticing an implication of the model and testing it against real world data they have and I don't is an incredibly valuable service, especially if it leads to changes that make the model more correct (which could be described as pointing out flaws). But it needs to be done in a RAM-sparing rather than RAM-eating kind of way.
That seems... to match my experience more or less. Thank you for sharing you perspective!
I am curious if you see yourself as someone with higher sensory processing sensitive that average (if you find sort of distinction useful).
oh yeah, my audio processing was ~normal as a teenager, excruciatingly sensitive in my 20s, and I have now worked it down to merely very-high-normal. Touch also seems more intense for me than for other people. I think of my visual sensitivity as normal but no one seems to enjoy greyscale on their screens as much as I do so maybe I'm underestimating that too..
Can you say more about the World of Highly Sensitive Rationalists alluded to in the title? How is it to live in that world? What daily challenges does it have? How do people cooperate in bigger groups? What kind of problems does its judicial system deal with?
Sharing positive emotions is considered a public-good, some people who are unusually happy about something make a video on local-equivalent-of-Youtube, except it's less surface-level like videos of smiling babies or kittens (though we have those too), the focus is on authenticity and depth-of-understanding. A person would describe their mental state, background context and their experience in detail so that the viewers could deeply process what it feels like to be that person and share in their mindstate/emotions.
More attention is paid to creating environments (homes, offices, outdoors environments) that feel good to in, this kind of background sensory input affects us more.
Noise reduction and noise protection are also considered more important.
People who are significantly more sensitive than average (or sensitive in unusual ways) sometimes live rather sheltered lives to avoid sensory overload. There are exercises and training to help them cope better.
People who are less sensitive than average are considered valuable in jobs where you have to deal with negative-input (such as medical-professionals who deal with people in a lot of physical pain; or people who deal with people who behave physically or emotionally aggressively due to mental illness).
I guess causing excess distress, noise, or distraction is an offense by law there. How is that handled? How does the court process work? I guess police is organized more like the original Metropolitan Police by Peelian principles?
Police? We have enforcers, their job is to create an incentive structure that discourages defecting. If violence happens in real life instead of just counterfactual-worlds then clearly something has gone very wrong, there is no way that is game-theoretic-optimal (though it does happen, but it would considered an extraordinary event).
A lot of the things you mention are less a matter of law and more of a "if you do it people will just interact/do-business with someone else", like if a city allows public advertisements people would just move elsewhere, why would anyone want to live in place like that.
There are people who can watch a video or a recording of someone talking and tell if that is emotional-violence (though that can be context-dependent, and it's important to be mindful of that). I mean, most of us can tell, we have emotional-self-defence training and self-responsibility training, but some people have a job to be objective/precise about converting implicit-meaning into explicit-meaning.
Something like this is sometimes recommended in marriage courses for dealing with disagreements. The idea is to keep emotions cool and ensure people are understanding what each other are saying.
"I speak while you listen and cannot comment or ask questions without consent" is completely doomed as a widespread mode of communication, not because people find it restrictive (though they do, of course), but because of how it interacts with the way that human speech reveals power dynamics. Speaking while others listen to you without being able to comment is an instinctively high-status behavior, it's a complete power move on the other person if this is just a 2-person conversation. It's like maintaining too strong eye contact with your friend, it creates social tension because there is disagreeming about the relative status of the participants. This means that during every part of the algorithm that the other person is talking, you need to squash down an instinct that says "this dude is trying to say he's higher status than me". This might well be possible for very weird people like lesswrong readers, but I don't think it will ever be possible at any large scale.
I don't think that's even always true in this world?
And people take turns, it's not really different status-wise then taking turns giving backrubs or massaging each other feet or something?
Just being present and listening to someone without comment means I have lower status that person... what? If anything it is an honor to be able to help a person in that way, people in my world understand that.
If I though that someone was exploiting the Algorithm to deliberately say things for the purpose of making me uncomfortable instead of just saying uncomfortable things as a side effect of desire to be understood I would notice because we are good at noticing patterns and we have training in dealing with unreasonable people just to prevent an occasional sociapath (yes we do get those) from exploiting us. And I would bring how I feel about that person's behavior up when it was my turn and if it didn't help I would note my level-of-confidence of that person being a bad-agent and stop talking to them. (and if enough people agreed that that person was a bad-agent most people would stop interacting with them and those who did interact with them would treat them as untrustworthy).
I am extremely supportive of a move to more turn-taking and higher variance in contribution to a conversation, and allowing larger quantums of thought in general. However in a world where people already believe talking is higher status than listening (which is definitely true in most if not all cultures I'm familiar with, with exceptions that don't apply here), saying it's an honor to be the listener doesn't counter the point, it reinforces it. The same way saying "It's an honor to kiss the king's feet" wouldn't make you feel higher status relative to the king.
Sure. I'm trying demonstrate why it's not considered low-status in my world, not claiming that anyone should feel this way in this world (though some people might already do?) The communication norms are the way they are for a reason, and I'm not arguing with that.
Also therapists aren't considered low-status and listening is their job? Though I wish they were better at listening in this world.
Maybe a better way to phrase my point is this:
I think the behaviors around speaking order, tone, dominance hierarchies, laughing, eye contact and that sort of thing are built into us by evolution at deep psychological levels, and any conversational norms for everyday speech that try to go against the grain of that programming will fail and bring misery to people.
But I'm on Lesswrong, so I obviously sympathize with the general goal here, and if a friend requested to speak with them in this way I'd try it out to see how it feels.
You're right that naively or dismissively trying to go against the grain ain't gonna work and that it's an important thing to check, but it's not actually necessary to go against the grain to adopt this conversational style.
"My brain is tuned for deeper cognitive processing than yours, so you, the listener are not allowed to express opinions or ask questions (without asking for consent for that first). Understand?"
"I have a hard time handling conflicting mental models, which is why I haven't been able to keep up productively with these kinds of conversations. Would it be okay with you if we took bigger turns listening and put off objections and conflicting input until a bit later so that I can make space for them in my mind?"
The former no doubt gives you the kind of bristles you worry about, but I doubt the latter does. The proposal of "you listen to me" on its own is a status bid, but the symmetric proposal of "we listen to each other" isn't, and justifying it as enabling your desire to process their input is actually a status boost for them.
I can contribute a data point to this. A long time ago, a friend of mine studied and lived with a Yup'ik tribe in Alaska. She told me that in their meetings, it was a strong cultural norm to be absolutely silent while the speaker speaks, no matter who they are, until they say the word for "done", even if the person pauses for several minutes. The only exception to this norm was when an elder tells someone younger that they are done, using the exact same word. So I guess the better translation would be "I am/you are done". She told me that this was normally used for guidance/instruction.
People are able to cope when there is a explicit chair of speech such as in some parlamentary systems. "Completely doomed" seems to me to be a bit of a hyberbole.
Balancing whether the discussion is painful for the HSP or "annoying instinct squash down" for the low sensitivity person, if the discussion wants to include all it is unlikely to let the HSP carry most of the inconvenience of the discussion. Off course what tends to happen is that the way that majority feels high comfort in dealing with is selected even if it means sidelining a couple of oddballs. But at some point peoples dislike for chilling effects might overcome convenience.
Sounds like a variant of Rogerian therapy, where people switch roles after delivering a message.
"Commuication requires consent". There's a road sign on the highway that strongly, strongly, disagrees.
Yes that is indeed the problem, thank you for noticing!
Even in this world you can't just put any kind of message up on a billboard, or say anything you want out loud, some messages are considered harmful or disturbing. Imagine a world where this is true but more so