What You Are Inside Only Matters Because of What It Makes You Do

David Wong, 6 Harsh Truths That Will Make You a Better Person. Published in Cracked.com

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My complaint about the article is that it has the same problem as most self-help advice. When you read it, it sounds intelligent, you nod your head, it makes sense. You might even think to yourself "Yeah, I'm going to really change now!"

But as everyone whose tried to improve himself knows, it's difficult to change your behavior (and thoughts) on a basis consistent enough to really make a long-lasting difference.

22Multiheaded7y This article greatly annoyed me because of how it tells people to do the correct practical things (Develop skills! Be persistent and grind! Help people!) yet gives atrocious and shallow reasons for it - and then Wong says how if people criticize him they haven't heard the message. No, David, you can give people correct directions and still be a huge jerk promoting an awful worldview! He basically shows NO understanding of what makes one attractive to people (especially romantically) and what gives you a feeling of self-worth and self-respect. What you "are" does in fact matter - both to yourself and to others! - outside of your actions; they just reveal and signal your qualities. If you don't do anything good, it's a sign of something being broken about you, but just mechanically bartering some product of your labour for friendship, affection and status cannot work - if your life is in a rut, it's because of some deeper issues and you've got to resolve those first and foremost. This masochistic imperative to "Work harder and quit whining" might sound all serious and mature, but does not in fact has the power to make you a "better person"; rather, you'll know you've changed for the better when you can achieve more stuff and don't feel miserable. I wanted to write a short comment illustrating how this article might be the mirror opposite of some unfortunate ideas in the "Seduction community" - it's "forget all else and GIVE to people, to obtain affection and self-worth" versus "forget all else and TAKE from people, to obtain affection and self-worth" - and how, for a self-actualized person, needs, one's own and others', should dictate the taking and giving, not some primitive framework of barter or conquest - but I predictably got too lazy to extend it :)
8ChristianKl7y It a misleading claim. Studying of how parents influence their kids generally conclude that "being" of the parent is more important than what they specifically do with the kids. From the article: The author of the article doesn't seem to understand that there such a thing as good listening. If a girl tell you about some problem in her life it can be more effective to empathize with the girl than to go and solve the problem. If something says "It's what's on the inside that matters!" a much better response would be ask: What makes you think that your inside is so much better than the inside of other people?

Rationality Quotes January 2013

by katydee 7y2nd Jan 20131 min read604 comments


Happy New Year! Here's the latest and greatest installment of rationality quotes. Remember:

  • Please post all quotes separately, so that they can be voted up/down separately.  (If they are strongly related, reply to your own comments.  If strongly ordered, then go ahead and post them together.)
  • Do not quote yourself
  • Do not quote comments/posts on LessWrong or Overcoming Bias
  • No more than 5 quotes per person per monthly thread, please