Interested in too many things - ethnomethodology, tools for thinking, cognitive psychology (learning, perception, memory), and design, etc, etc.


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To bring up a specific instance of this kind of problem: that lw post on open/active curiosity absolutely devastated my ability to think about curiosity for no less than a month. Every time I'd prompt myself to think about curiosity, my thoughts would flow toward the "open/active" concept shapes; I didn't know how to stop it (and I very much wanted to stop it. I was frustrated, found the shapes of to be misconfigured, a poor fit. I couldn't access my previous thought configurations on the topic, as they were temporarily overwritten). 

The only defense I found in the end was to stop prompting myself on the topic; it took about a month for the shapes to fade, for the forgetting to naturally occur. (I've long thought of Forgetting as an important skill in research; the ability to let wrong shapes fade away.)

While we're on the topic, I'll note that Logan-concepts, rare as they are, are WAY more likely (than Duncan-concepts, for example) to transfigure or hijack my thinking shapes. I'm not sure what's up with that yet. 

(Something something, the compression level at which Duncan talks about things is not really the compression level at which I like to think, and so the concepts can't really make a home there and stick? Something to do with a scope mismatch? Not feeling confident on these guesses, though.)

Reading this, I remembered my usual reaction to what you call "setting the zero-point", which serves as a pretty good defense spell. (I don’t normally think of it as a defense; it's just my go-to lens that I apply to most conversations that help me care about them at all). 

My reaction is to identify and name the thing that the person seems to care about that’s behind the setting the zero-point.  You could call it “Name The Value” (though "value" is kind of a loaded term, imo). 

(this move is also available when anyone is complaining about anything, which is super handy)

Generally, from there, there's an exploration of why the person cares about this thing in particular (really seeking to understand what it would be like to be a person who cares about such things) and then, after that, maybe I'll introduce some other values that I think are also worth considering within the original question, just to taste ‘em together. 

(You usually can't skip to introducing other values until the person feels heard on their underlying value. I mean, you can, but they'll probably feel bad, and people tend to clam up when they feel bad, which makes further conversation-of-the-type-I-want-to-have more difficult). 

Most importantly for me, this conversational move tends to shift us from speculation about the world (which often requires being able to recall facts and information, which I’m bad at) and into a realm that allows for in-the-moment observation: the realm of What People (Say They) Care About.

(Actually, it’s richer than just What People (Say They) Care About— it’s how people orient to the world; what people find salient; what kind of mental schemas they keep; what sort of mental complexity they operate at; etc. There’s a lot of cool stuff hidden behind what people say and how they say it.)

I like where your mind is at here, particularly that you’re gesturing at the want for vocabulary.

Further questions: 

Where does vocabulary even come from? How does it get made? What’s the process of creating new words for a field? Is observation actually dependent on having relevant vocabulary? What is a new concept made of?

What if you want to make progress in a new field that has no vocab yet? (How do you even know there's a place to explore if no vocab exists yet? How is it found?)

The link to the book in the first paragraph is broken, and it's not clear which book by Richards Heuer you're referring to - could you add the title?

I want to write up a more detailed post eventually, but the gist is that understanding Polyvagal Theory is an exceptional multiplier on all the charisma and social skill books you could read. It is the underlying *why* the tips and tricks work, what you should be aiming for, etc. It's the building block to make your own social skill tips and tricks from first principles. So,

First, watch this:

To really grok it, I recommend following with listening to the Polyvagal Podcast - start from the beginning.

For the rare written resource on the topic, here's a transcribed interview with Stephen Porges, the researcher who originally described polyvagal theory:

If you get this + attachment theory* you've got a good sense of how people work socially.

*I pointedly do not recommend Avoidant: How to Love (or Leave) and Avoidant Partner, as it's focused on just one attachment style, the dismissive-avoidant style. My favorite explanation might be from Stan Tatkin, in his audiobook Your Brain on Love. He has another book on attachment styles specifically, if you want to read with your eyes, called Wired for Love, though I haven't read it.

This is aligned with my thoughts on the importance of narratives, especially personal narratives.

The best therapists are experts at helping pull out your stories - they ask many, many questions and function as working memory, so you can better see the shapes of your stories and what levers exist to mold them differently.

(We have a word for those who tell stories - storyteller - but do we have a word for experts at pulling stories out of others?)