if you're specific about why it is less frustrating

This is a fact about you, not about "should". If "should" is part of the world, you shouldn't remove it from your map just because you find other people frustrating.

and effective solutions are more visible.

One common, often effective strategy is to tell people they should do the thing.

if you can't figure it out, be honest about it "I have no idea why he does X"

The correct response to meeting a child murderer is "No, Stop! You should not do that!", not "Please explain why you are killing that child." (also physical force)

This is a fact about you, not about "should". If "should" is part of the world, you shouldn't remove it from your map just because you find other people frustrating.

It's not about having conveniently blank maps. It's about having more precise maps.

I realize that you won't be able to see this as obviously true, but I want you to at least understand what my claim is: after fleshing out the map with specific details, your emotional approach to the problem changes and you become aware of new possible actions without removing any old acti... (read more)

-2DSherron7y"Should" is not part of any logically possible territory, in the moral sense at least. Objective morality is meaningless, and subjective morality reduces to preferences. It's a distinctly human invention, and it's meaning shifts as the user desires. Moral obligations are great for social interactions, but they don't reflect anything deeper than an extension of tribal politics. Saying "you should x" (in the moral sense of the word) is just equivalent to saying "I would prefer you to x", but with bonus social pressure. Just because it is sometimes effective to try and impose a moral obligation does not mean that it is always, or even usually, the case that doing so is the most effective method available. Thinking about the actual cause of the behavior, and responding to that, will be far, far more effective. Next time you meet a child murderer, you just go and keep on telling him he shouldn't do that. I, on the other hand, will actually do things that might prevent him from killing children. This includes physical restraint, murder, and, perhaps most importantly, asking why he kills children. If he responds "I have to sacrifice them to the magical alien unicorns or they'll kill my family" then I can explain to him that the magical alien unicorns dont't exist and solve the problem. Or I can threaten his family myself, which might for many reasons be more reliable than physical solutions. If he has empathy I can talk about how the parents must feel, or the kids themselves. If he has self-preservation instincts then I can point out the risks for getting caught. In the end, maybe he just values dead children in the same way I value children continuing to live, and my only choice is to fight him. But probably that's not the case, and if I don't ask/observe to figure out what his motivations are I'll never know how to stop him when physical force is no option.

Bad Concepts Repository

by moridinamael 1 min read27th Jun 2013204 comments


We recently established a successful Useful Concepts Repository.  It got me thinking about all the useless or actively harmful concepts I had carried around for in some cases most of my life before seeing them for what they were.  Then it occurred to me that I probably still have some poisonous concepts lurking in my mind, and I thought creating this thread might be one way to discover what they are.

I'll start us off with one simple example:  The Bohr model of the atom as it is taught in school is a dangerous thing to keep in your head for too long.  I graduated from high school believing that it was basically a correct physical representation of atoms.  (And I went to a *good* high school.)  Some may say that the Bohr model serves a useful role as a lie-to-children to bridge understanding to the true physics, but if so, why do so many adults still think atoms look like concentric circular orbits of electrons around a nucleus?  

There's one hallmark of truly bad concepts: they actively work against correct induction.  Thinking in terms of the Bohr model actively prevents you from understanding molecular bonding and, really, everything about how an atom can serve as a functional piece of a real thing like a protein or a diamond.

Bad concepts don't have to be scientific.  Religion is held to be a pretty harmful concept around here.  There are certain political theories which might qualify, except I expect that one man's harmful political concept is another man's core value system, so as usual we should probably stay away from politics.  But I welcome input as fuzzy as common folk advice you receive that turned out to be really costly.