Mind Control and Me

byPatrick10y21st Mar 200934 comments


Reading Eliezer Yudkowsky's works have always inspired an insidious feeling in me, sort of a cross between righteousness, contempt, the fun you get from understanding something new and gravitas. It's a feeling that I have found to be pleasurable, or at least addictive enough to go through all of his OB posts,  and the feeling makes me less skeptical and more obedient than I normally would be. For instance, in an act of uncharacteristic generosity, I decided to make a charitable donation on Eliezer's advice.

Now this is probably a good idea, because the charity is probably going to help guys like me later on in life and of course it's the Right Thing to Do. But the bottom line is that I did something I normally wouldn't have because Eliezer told me to. My sociopathic selfishness was acting as canary in the mine of my psyche.

Now this could be because Eliezer has creepy mind control powers, but I get similar feelings when reading other people, such as George Orwell, Richard Stallman or Paul Graham. I even have a friend who can inspire that insidious feeling in me. So it's a personal problem, one that I'm not sure I want to remove, but I would like to understand it better.

There are probably buttons being pushed by the style and the sort of ideas in the work that help to create the feeling, and I'll probably try to go over an essay or two and dissect it. However, I'd like to know who and at what times, if anyone at all, I should let create such feelings in me. Can I trust anyone that much, even if they aren't aware that they're doing it?

I don't know if anyone else here has similar brain overrides, or if I'm just crazy, but it's possible that such brain overrides could be understood much more thoroughly and induced in more people.  So what are the ethics of mind control (for want of a better term) and how much effort should we put in to stopping such feelings from occuring?



Edit Mar 22: Decided to remove the cryonics example due to factual inaccuracies.