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la_fenkis
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26 Dec 2019, 3:01 pm

Found this interesting.

https://www.ribbonfarm.com/2015/05/07/w ... acredness/

Quote:

On March 12, 1928, the St. Francis Dam, just north of Los Angeles, California, failed catastrophically and sent a wave of water through the valley that caused the gruesome deaths of hundreds of people. No one had predicted the disaster, but after an investigation, it was decided that the dam was built on inadequate soil; the disaster was, in theory, predictable – after the fact. People thought they had control over a massive force (the water), but their control turned out to be illusory.

Considering political and social disasters like the famines of the Great Leap Forward in China or the French Revolution, a similar explanation for the resulting piles of bodies seems apt: social forces over which humans thought they had control (in the sense of being able to coordinate with each other for well-being and sustenance) turned out not to be under their control. No one ever sees it coming, but after the fact everyone is anxious to demonstrate how inevitable it was. If mass violence and destruction seem impossible in our time, consider that everyone who was about to experience revolution felt pretty much the same way. Even the revolutionaries themselves often think they have little chance of success until the revolution is already underway.

Why the surprise? Why does a phenomenon so seemingly inevitable in hindsight go unforeseen? Just as the water in the St. Francis Dam was slowly, imperceptibly undermining the stability of the dam in the weeks preceding the catastrophic failure, the private opinion upon which the success of a revolution depends goes unobserved. It is difficult for anyone to gauge the true popularity of either an incumbent government or the revolutionary opposition, because of a phenomenon Timur Kuran calls preference falsification (in his book Private Truths, Public Lies: The Social Consequences of Preference Falsification – a concept briefly mentioned in an earlier installment).

Preference falsification is an information theory term for the tendency for people to express a public preference that is different from their private, interior preference. For various reasons, certain preferences may not be publicly acceptable to express; they may be punished by execution, or labor camps, or exile, or social exclusion, or at the very least suspicion and a risk of some of these things. When people do not express their true preferences, they are deprived of the opportunity to coordinate with each other to create a more preferable outcome for both. Preference falsification is not just a political phenomenon, but a product of our dual nature, experiencing ourselves on the one hand from the privileged first-person perspective, and on the other hand from the imagined perspective of others. Pretending to have different preferences than one really does may be necessary to maintain a sense of safety, social belonging, and status.

People’s expressed, public preferences are a function of both their interior preferences and the perceived acceptability of revealing them; other people’s expressed preferences serve as a guide for measuring acceptability. So people’s expressed preferences are in part a function of other people’s expressed preferences. Under certain circumstances, when the distribution of preferences is right, a domino effect may be begun by a single dissenter, toppling the status quo of preference falsification. One dissenter may embolden others, and then together with them give the impression that it is acceptable for others to express their true preferences. On the other hand, people whose preferences are satisfied by the status quo may find it wise to begin to falsify their preferences when a revolution begins to look imminent.

Kuran’s primary examples of the preference falsification dynamic are revolutions and counter-revolutions, revolutionaries unseating the old order, then the revolutionaries themselves being unseated, as in Russia, Iran, and Eastern Europe. One repeating feature of regime change is that even as an old preference falsification equilibrium collapses, a new one is erected in its place. For a nearer and fresher example, consider the case of gay marriage in the United States. Gay marriage is a very new issue; there was little support for it in the 1990s, and it was almost unthinkable in the 1980s. Until 2003, it was constitutional for states to criminally prohibit gay sex. Gays experienced the opposite of legal protection, and their social status was poor. Many gay people engaged in preference falsification by hiding their sexuality (i.e., stayed in the closet), and many straight people felt socially obligated to denigrate gays even though they might have secretly preferred not to.

But then the balance of opinion shifted very quickly. The debate on gay marriage is now over, and a new preference falsification regime is in place. Just as there used to be serious social consequences for being openly gay or supporting gay rights, there are now serious social consequences for expressing an opinion against gay marriage (and this applies retroactively to opinions expressed in the time before the current preference falsification equilibrium was in place, as Brendan Eich found out). Defenders of this new order argue that expressing a preference against gay marriage is harmful, and that the moral and social harms vastly outweigh any restriction on expression, especially since no good people really want to express that anyway. This may be true. The important point is that it functions as a new sacredness, something that is so important that we agree not to examine it too closely, and to only speak of it in respectful, ideologically correct terms. But it is disturbing to watch a new sacredness be born, no matter how benign it seems, because like the water locked up for now in a dam, the path it might take in the future is inscrutable and hard to control.

Social forces can have powerful, dangerous, unforeseen effects. The social force that I have been calling sacredness is one of the most powerful. As indicated in the title, it can be weaponized and turned against humans. It can be an engine of cooperation, or a destructive plague, and often displays both natures at once. It travels through many channels, via all forms of speech or human communication, and it operates at many scales. Its language is symbol, entangling map with territory, fusing the word spoken with the thing signified.

Preference falsification is a mechanism by which sacredness can operate. But sacredness is not limited to causing people to lie; it can actually change their underlying, interior, private preferences. We might call the process of weeding and shaping individual preferences “preference husbandry.” This can be performed either by the individual himself, or by social forces acting on him.

How does sacredness operate, and what are its tendencies? Here I will outline thirteen observations about sacredness warfare:

1. “Sacredness binds and blinds.” This is Jonathan Haidt’s mantra from The Righteous Mind, suggesting that sacredness has an emotional component that encourages social bonding and protective outrage, as well as a cognitive component that induces “blindness” – to counterarguments, or to the humanity of heretics.

2. Sacredness implies an in-group and an out-group. In-group members are perceivers of the sacredness (or competent pretenders); out-group members are non-perceivers, heretics, enemies of the group.

3. Sacredness offers belonging to the in-group, but threatens exile for violations of sacredness or insufficient piety.

4. Sacred values must be signaled as valuable in a sufficiently costly manner that sincerity is assured (or a believable public demonstration of sincerity, which anyway has the same effect on both members and outsiders).

5. Ritual energizes the maintenance of sacredness and its power, a costly signal displayed to all (sincere believers or otherwise).

6. Attacking rival sacrednesses or heretics provides evidence of sincerity or commitment to the sacredness. Attacking other believers for insufficient piety will do if heretics are not available.

7. A sacredness battle is won when expressing contradictory or disrespectful thoughts is effectively prohibited by a preference falsification equilibrium; people must either learn to feel the new sacredness, or pretend to.

8. But even as individual battles may be won, new challengers will appear; something that remains sacred for a long time has likely happened upon (evolved, that is to say) defenses against potential rival sacrednesses.

9. Genuinely perceiving sacredness is probably the most reliable, believable way to signal respect for the sacredness and stay in the in-group.

10. Most people are capable, to a limited degree, of altering their perception of sacredness based on social cues; that is, something that is sincerely experienced as sacred, may years later be come to be experienced as silly or mundane, or, more commonly, as evil or vile.

11. Irony and sincerity are not mutually exclusive; it is difficult to measure the components of each in an action.

12. Anything attacking or threatening a preference falsification equilibrium usually wants to replace it with a different preference falsification equilibrium.

13. The new order brought about by a change in sacredness may make everyone worse off than before, and it is impossible to predict its effects before the fact.

The Egregore

Sacredness may perhaps be best understood, by our peculiarly constructed human minds, with reference to egregores – autonomous psychic entities made up of, and influencing, the thoughts of a group of people. Egregoric entities, whether gods or demons or dictators at the center of a cult of personality, are powerful entities, even as they are imaginary – wholly created by and consisting of thoughts, speech, and behaviors. The human mind is a powerful entity, and becomes more powerful in coordination with others. To say that an “imaginary” entity, existing only in human minds, has agency, is not much stranger than suggesting that humans themselves, inscrutable piles of preferences that we are, have agency. Agency is no more than “a quick and dirty way of contextualizing the temporal activities of entropy climbers,” as St. Rev puts it.

Multiplying entities in this way helps make salient how unknowable these entities are – how little we know about the outcomes of social policy and change ahead of time, and how little we can know about them even after the fact. Here be dragons.

:endquote

The article continues to elaborate.



domineekee
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26 Dec 2019, 6:57 pm

la_fenkis wrote:
6. Attacking rival sacrednesses or heretics provides evidence of sincerity or commitment to the sacredness. Attacking other believers for insufficient piety will do if heretics are not available.

7. A sacredness battle is won when expressing contradictory or disrespectful thoughts is effectively prohibited by a preference falsification equilibrium; people must either learn to feel the new sacredness, or pretend to.


Reminded me of this.

Quote:
"At that time, the great Buddhist monasteries in a certain part of India were being challenged by Hindu pandits.The Hindu pandits were coming to the monasteries and teaching, and the monks were rapidly turning into Hindus. It was a tremendous catastrophe. So Padmasambhava was asked to come. Those who invited him said, "we cxan't seem to match those Hindu pandits intellectually, so please save us by performing some magic for us. Maybe that is the only solution".
Padmasambhava came to live in one of the monasteries. One day, he produced an earthquake by pointing his trident in the direction of the Hindu pandits. There were landslides, and five hundred Hindu pandits were destroyed. What do you make of that?"


Crazy Wisdom - Shambala publications - Chogyam Trungpa

https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=9iYtDQAAQBAJ&pg



la_fenkis
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30 Dec 2019, 2:33 pm

domineekee wrote:
Reminded me of this.


Is it the idea that it's an instance where a supernatural force worshiped by a particular religion enacts violence on the followers of another religion? That it's literal warfare being carried out by sacred entities?

To paraphrase the quote you presented as something more in keeping with what I see this as saying: "We cried out for our deity [pundit] to come to our temple [daytime talk show] and defend our faith from heretics [argue down the opposition]. They did so and demonstrated to us new magics [arguments] that could defeat the heretics [win debates]!"

I tend to associate this kind of stuff with things like ardent atheist/scientist people ridiculing flat-earth believers. There's little reason to engage in the behavior except signal values to other people or if one genuinely thinks that ridicule will bring about change in its target. And when the individual doesn't have the ability to do it themselves they can call on the great Neil deGrasse Tyson to smash the unbelievers.

The issue about gender identities seems to fit pretty well into the thinking of this article too. It doesn't seem like society has totally settled into a new equilibrium that takes self-determination of gender to be sacred but it's definitely heading that way as evidenced by the increasingly harsh consequences for people voicing dissenting opinions.



shlaifu
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02 Jan 2020, 8:05 pm

la_fenkis wrote:
domineekee wrote:
Reminded me of this.


Is it the idea that it's an instance where a supernatural force worshiped by a particular religion enacts violence on the followers of another religion? That it's literal warfare being carried out by sacred entities?

To paraphrase the quote you presented as something more in keeping with what I see this as saying: "We cried out for our deity [pundit] to come to our temple [daytime talk show] and defend our faith from heretics [argue down the opposition]. They did so and demonstrated to us new magics [arguments] that could defeat the heretics [win debates]!"

I tend to associate this kind of stuff with things like ardent atheist/scientist people ridiculing flat-earth believers. There's little reason to engage in the behavior except signal values to other people or if one genuinely thinks that ridicule will bring about change in its target. And when the individual doesn't have the ability to do it themselves they can call on the great Neil deGrasse Tyson to smash the unbelievers.

The issue about gender identities seems to fit pretty well into the thinking of this article too. It doesn't seem like society has totally settled into a new equilibrium that takes self-determination of gender to be sacred but it's definitely heading that way as evidenced by the increasingly harsh consequences for people voicing dissenting opinions.


flat earth theory is however a bad example, because it is a belief mixed with a bad scientific argument. there is a certain ridiculousness in its attempts to use its bad scientific argument to justify the belief. The scientific scepticism runs empty, as the flat earther blatantly reveals his bad science, rather than trying to hide it.
Gender self identification is a much better example, because it hasn't been mathematically disqualified in antiquity.


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la_fenkis
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03 Jan 2020, 1:39 pm

shlaifu wrote:
flat earth theory is however a bad example, because it is a belief mixed with a bad scientific argument. there is a certain ridiculousness in its attempts to use its bad scientific argument to justify the belief. The scientific scepticism runs empty, as the flat earther blatantly reveals his bad science, rather than trying to hide it.


I continue to see it as a good example. If you attempt to assess the validity of their belief from a perspective that adheres to scientific beliefs, the tenets of the scientific method, and the large intertext that's been built up by the followers of those tenets then you'll see it as a bit ridiculous. Sure. I would argue, however, that the "science" of the flat-earth movement is a veneer that's grown up around the belief as a way of immunizing its followers from conversion away from the belief.

The article quotes Kuran, whom it draws heavily upon:
"It has been observed that our beliefs are strongest when they have been mildly attacked, for then we have become aware of their vulnerability and learned how to counter criticisms. Prior exposure to mild objections thus produces resistance to later persuasion, which then blocks sharp changes in private knowledge and preferences. By implication, beliefs whose counterarguments were unthought are easier to change than ones whose counterarguments, while treated as unthinkable, have enjoyed at least some public exposure. When a revolution challenges many established beliefs, the ones to succumb first may thus be those that had enjoyed the greatest protection from public challenges."

It's no wonder that counters to the belief coming from a scientific origin would cause pseudo-scientific defenses to be constructed by its followers in order to insulate it from attack. To believers in science this defense is empty and is incapable of converting them. This is, as far as I can tell, exactly the kind of thing the article is addressing.

Science itself is a bit of an odd beast in the world of belief systems, having a small core of beliefs that support a varying set of peripheral beliefs, which are modified whenever they run up against an incongruity with what we're able to perceive about reality, i.e. when existing theories cannot account for evidence presented against it. The status of the various component beliefs can be seen in the way we term things laws, theories, hypotheses, conjecture, etc. One of the greatest strengths of science from the viewpoint of it being a belief system is that it encourages attacks to it and its followers go about reacting to them and reintegrating the system around them when existing beliefs don't provide for an effective defense.



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03 Jan 2020, 3:26 pm

Science Doesn't Handle Human Imagination Well; in Fact, the Scientific Method can Neither
Replicate this Inner Universe of one Human Being; or of Course Fully Measure one as the Inner Universe of Humanity;
Not even One Human Being is An Objective Entity to be Seen by other Eyes other than the Ugly thru Beauty of the Beholder
of Imagination Now.

And of course Abstract Constructs of Metaphors vary In Interpretation; Go to A Poet's Home or a Bible Writer's Home
Same And Find an Unlimited Number of Views of What is even Said as Metaphor is not Discrete Either for Measurement.

"Egregores": The Stories We Create; the Myths of Legends That Breathe on as Long as they are either Read/Heard/Seen for Enjoyment Or Force Fed in the Politics of Weapons to Subjugate And Control the Freedoms of Others; As yes
Per Jonathan Haidt, Conservatives Do Conserve Traditions most averse to Change in Literal Interpretations of
Stories that are still only one Interpretation and Subject to An Unlimited Number of Sects that sees Philosophy,
Politics, and Religion Different in the Next Breath of Life.

'It' (Egregores) isn't Rational; So it may not be Discretely Measured that way by Science.

The Only Way To Really Understand Humanity is Through Art; And at Best that is still a Stab in the DarK
to at least see a bit oF LiGHT in Order from The Chaos that is Just the Poetry of Life as is; Somehow Now
it all comes out and continues to Work in a Grander Scale of Rhyme than Reason as ironically That Stands to Reason
in Art over Science; Not Surprising at all that Art literally is 60 Percent of smART; Without This Human Intelligence
People fail to even understand what it means to be Human More Than Flesh and Blood Science; That's a Small Tree in Deed with No Fuller Forest of Understanding.

"Religion" Still Rules 'The Free World'; Yes, through Living Egregore Stories Like Jesus, Muhammad, Buddha, Lao Tzu,
Krishna, Shiva and all The Gang of Egregore Men That Still Live As HiStory as is; With a Spattering of HerStory
of Egregores too. Science Never Really Will Rule For those Who 'Think' It will more than Likely they are missing
60 Percent or So of Human Potential Intelligence to even Fully Be Human As Classically Evolved at Least.

Oh by The Way, Without Stories (Egregores) Human Societies and Even Small Tribes Fall Apart.

Without Stories (Egregores) Individuals Fall Apart too.

Story (Egregores) is Synonymous With Humanity; Without it Empty Shallow And Vapid (A Shell With No Real Soul)

Story is King and Queen; Yes, Egregores True too; Human Imagination is A Real Human Force that Science Will
Never Fully Measure Always Ruling our Life; As Even Neuroscience Suggests We Hallucinate Our Reality as We Breathe.

Amazing How Much Real Innate Essence of Power 'the Story' Gives Both The Individual And the Group as
Anyone may Create An Egregore of them self; But Not if they cannot See Further than a 12-inch Ruler.


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