Being Normal

The Principle of Normality: A normal person says what others say, but does what others do.


I found this via a Tweet by Paul Graham:

Very interesting point: Conformists conform separately in words and actions, and since conventional words are at odds with conventional actions, this thereby makes them hypocrites as well.

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5 comments, sorted by Click to highlight new comments since: Today at 5:43 AM

I cannot decide if I think the proposition doesn't slide into something of a No True Scotsman type fallacy.

I don't see why most of the weird people are not also just as susceptible to the same hypocrisy and dissonance as the normal person. I'm also a bit lost with regard to just what relative population sizes are needed to define who is or is not weird and who is or is not normal/conforming.

Conventional words and conventional actions are linked by conventional logic. To be sure, they are not perfectly aligned, as if they came from a perfect Bayesian reasoner, but they are definitely not "at odds", and conformists are not automatically hypocrites.

For example, the apparent disconnect between "there's a climate crisis" and "I'm going to fly to California" is resolved by conventional logic like "why should I cancel my only flight this year when other people fly much more than me?". In rationalist terms, this is a tit-for-tat strategy when other people are defecting, or hunting rabbit.

Love this classification of weird-person manifestations:

Manifestation #1: Saying Unconventional Things

Manifestation #2: Doing Unconventional Actions

Manifestation #3: The Integrity of Good

Manifestation #4: The Integrity of Evil

I wonder to what degree the manifestations #3 + #4 can only be determined in hindsight. 

Is manifestation #3 only limited to weird people? The way I was raised and in my extended social circle people say "we should stop global warming" and also actively try to minimize their negative impact. I never felt like anyone saw this as weird. Could the individual do more? Probably pretty much always. Does the average person have the information and capacity to determine what is the most effective way to reduce their environmental impact? Probably not, but that doesn't automatically mean hypocrisy.

The Principle of Normality still applies, but whether your actions and your talk agree seems to be entirely dependent on whether Normality in your frame of reference means being hypocritical or not. Therefore, this seems unrelated to whether you are weird or normal.