Social awkwardness as an application of analysis paralysis

by Paperhopes 2 min read1st Oct 2019No comments


That day I was walking in the dull corridors of the university. I stumbled upon this research poster on Alpha Centauri, the kind which they only display in dull corridors. Shortly after, my double-PhD physics teacher (the kind they put in dull corridors) walked behind me saying "hi". Yes, a physics teacher saying "hi", play your suspension of disbelief card. I was taken by surprise and wondered about the reasons he had to greet me (usually he didn't), but I managed to remember I had to answer. I answered "hjwjv".

Later on, I tried wanting to say "hey" and a "hey" sound emanated from my vocal cord: the volition-and-body-movements-are-connected belief still paid rent.

As a thesis-angsted graduate student, I thought...Analysis Paralysis...

There seems to be profound reasoning behind oneself overboard paralytic social thinking: a consciousness of the incompressible whole that is such a concept as a person and, by extension, the induced exponential data processing from trying to scale this whole, the type of thinking that forbids any action. Analysis Paralysis.

Consider the brain: billions of neurones firing in what any derivative would consider an instantaneous lapse of time, capable of reason, technique, reflective thinking, of abstraction, of abstraction square. The current mathematical instruments are unable to model this complexity and the current humans will probably be unable to cognitively model those models between two lines of dialogue.

To “hjwjv” when you want to “hey” is to acknowledge in the other’s self this same bunch of dreads, dreams, sorrows, ambitions that define your own world; an empathetic awe realization of the hidden information singularizing into a slangish west Germanic greeting device. Unable to take into account the size of prior knowledge collapsing in a “hey”, the hardware crashes. Humbly, the shy acknowledges that the complexity of a mere conversation is beyond the scope of seizable magnitudes.

Now one might take this as proof of moral superiority. Only the social incompetent considers people as ends, not mere tools to his goals. Only he can conceptualize the deep true nature of a human-human relation. If the charismatic extravert seems to know, the shy him knows he does not. There is nothing to change about it.

But it doesn't work like this...

Putting aside the fact homo sapiens is a social animal and confronting your genes hasn't a good record in the dopamine/serotonin sector, shyness or social anxiety is detrimentally influencing on your rationality. Isolating any group from a larger population as always been the best way to form a closed spirituality, that is false beliefs. More so if the group in question is a unique mind. You may find yourself (or not, that's the real danger) holding a belief that, through no fault of your own (yeah you could have read more Lesswrong posts, but I mean...), is irrational. That's no big deal as long as you correct it when enough evidence of its shift w/t reality is collected. Except, a fair proportion of the evidence we gather comes from other human beings' mouth. By hiding yourself from social activity, you blind yourself to many pieces of evidence; your probabilities do not take the whole data into account.

Bayesian thinking is only a function, you need input, you need evidence.

Textual and audio-visual content can play this role to a certain extent, but they are jammed one-way traffic: No one to answer your questioning afterward and you need to toss away a lot of evidence that does not make any significant change to your beliefs before getting to some useful ones. Sometimes the content is mainly evidence about what your model predicts at 99% and none about those beliefs you give only 60% confidence in.

The rational shy or socially unfit should, by recognizing the wholeness of a person, see an opportunity to encounter with a great pool of evidence. The other one can then pinpoint evidence about beliefs you're unsure about: dialectic. The other can even have so much evidence about something that you end up stealing his belief. This kind of person is called an expert and this kind of interaction is called teaching. In terms of efficiency, it's hard to surpass.

This is why something like a comments section is sacred. Or an open source for the sake of it...

Shyness and social difficulties may result from a more realistic picture of human minds, but this picture also calls into action, into bayesian evidence collecting. It doesn't bring you anyhow closer to this far Alpha Centauri you are looking at in the stary night, there is simply a brick wall circumscribing your whole line of sight: it doesn't help you get there, but it puts things in perspective.