Noticing something completely absurd about yourself

by diegocaleiro2 min read26th Nov 201324 comments


Personal Blog

I'm not sure this is something that can be consciously done, but in this post I want to prime you to consider whether something you do is really, totally, completely wacky and absurd. 

We have trained ourselves a lot to notice when we are wrong. We trained ourselves even more to notice when we are confused and to tell word confusion from substance confusion. 

But here is the tale of what happened to me today, and I don't think it qualifies as any of those:

I had a serious motivational problem yesterday, and got absolutely nothing done. So today I thought I should do things in a different manner, so as to decrease probability of two bad days in a row. One of the most effective things for me is going into the LW Study Hall (the password is in the group's description when you click this link). A very nice place to work that I recommend for everyone to check out, and do one or two pomo's every now and then.  

And I did, I gave myself ten minutes observing others working, and I noticed something remarkable: The property of the LW chat that causes me to be motivated is "Presence of long haired people". Yes.  Presence of people with a long hair. For weeks I had been trying to work out why it was efficient sometimes and not others. The most obvious initial alternative was that when there was a woman, I would feel more driven. I assumed that was the case. But I started getting false negatives and false positives. Today I finally came to terms with the fact. I am motivated by the presence of people whose hair goes to their shoulders. Women or Men. 

Now why did I not notice this before? Seems to me that basically it was such a far fetched hypothesis that I simply had no prior for it. In vain hopes of being rational, I would read about how we fear the twinge of starting, how to beat procrastination, and how to get things done, and valid as those were and are, they would never have given me a complete picture of the unbelievable things my brain thinks behind my back.

Maybe there is something similar taking place in your mind. Even if there isn't, just update with me on the fact that this is true at least for someone, and how there may be millions of other tiny absurd facts controlling people's actions way beyond the scope of imagination of any economist or psychologist.

I have now one more piece of understanding about what is it like to be me, about how to tame and steer my future behavior, and specially one more thing to tell people in awkward silence moments to break the ice and face the absurdity of reality. 

For obvious reasons, if you have long hair, I'd like to make an even stronger case for you to try to work and do pomos at the LW study hall. It's not only yourself that you'll be helping!  


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I am motivated by the presence of people whose hair goes to their shoulders. Women or Men.

You should work to the music videos of the 80s rock bands :-D

Hmm, I don't have this motivation, but I want to try this anyways.

Interesting. How did you manage to figure this out?

Grow long hair, become eternally motivated.

And carry a pocket mirror.

Has consciously noticing this changed how/if it works?

yes, it snowballed effect it. Now it became stronger·

I don't believe you / think you are wrong about this fact about yourself. It's too weird to be true.

Although I suppose that even if it wasn't true before, it will be at least partially true now...

Perhaps you should mention the password for the study hall?

It's "lw".

The password is also written in the google docs describing the chatroom and its rules.

Do some of your present day or childhood heroes happen to have long hair?

Perhaps not equally absurd, but I'm reflexively intimidated by obese people. Big, muscular people don't count and I'm quite big myself. Becoming conscious of this mostly dissolved the problem, though.

After thinking a bit what unusual triggers I have come to the conclusion that there are a lot of peculiarities but none that I'd call absurd. But then I wouldn't call your long hair 'fetish' absurd either. It is just a minor quirk you have not been aware of before. Or did I read something of your account wrong?

There are a lot of things related to food and weather and housing that can be surprising when you notice them.


  • I get headaches from a few triggers among them bad air and weather change, That was somewhat difficult to discover because of the multiple non regular components. But 'absurd'?

  • I can't stand any kind of sauce. I am quite peculiar with food in general, but that is a specific part that has a real physiological reaction component. It was easy to identify - but not so for my parents. And it surprises most people who I tell of.

What is the level of unusualness to count as 'absurd'?

I think I would not have considered it absurd if I was attracted to people with hair at shoulder length. But being motivated by it qualifies.

If you could not stand any kind of sauce when you didn't have a shower yet I would consider absurd.

If you got headaches from the air shifts only in Rome, that would be impressive.

So I guess absurdity is just a multiplicative component of "motivation" times "hair". If there are two associated factors but no seeming reason for it, then it is, quote: Absurd.

Long hair is a reasonably common fetish, with a good evolutionary justification (if someone has long, healthy hair you can be assured they've been healthy for a while).

Long hair is a reasonably common fetish, with a good evolutionary justification (if someone has long, healthy hair you can be assured they've been healthy for a while).

It does seem to be commonly fetishized, and at least one major fantasy novelist transparently has such a fetish based on his writing which may have also made it more common among geeks. But the health explanation seems like a bit of a just-so story. Plausible, but very hard to test. And we don't really have any evidence that this trait is genetic. Meanwhile, it is just as plausible that the fetishization occurs the same way many objects, clothings or the like become fetishized even when those things did not exist in our ancestral environment. No need to posit multiple mechanisms.

I thought the fantasy novelist was going to be Laurell Hamilton.

why would healthy people motivate me, that is the question that remains baffling.

The only-posited-after-the-fact explanation is that healthy people are more important to please (since you can get more out of allying with them, since they'll be around longer). Or in other words, they're worth more resources.

why would healthy people motivate me

Because it is a good heuristic to do what healthy people are doing? (Except when they are doing something stupid to costly signal their health.)

Does expressing it as "why would attractive people motivate me" make it less baffling?

sure it does, but it is also false. Unless my brain is literally overriding all other attractiveness information with this one thing. Hurley (the fat nonattractive character in Lost) would be more motivating to me than Jack (the hot main actor) or her

Andrew Looney von LoonieLabs ( great games for nerds by the way) has long hair fetish for example: