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Tagged with Human Nature

Harj Taggar on the human motives in conversations

Harj Taggar writes about our motives while having “idea” conversations. Read his essay here.

My summary —

We may think that the goal of a conversation is getting closer to the truth. But in reality, human nature often “gets in the way”.

With family you may avoid going for the truth in order to protect the relationship. Something similar happens with a meek person — who agrees with everyone so they’ll be liked. Politicians also need to be liked, but they may be more skilled in adding some truism to the conversation (to try to sound profound).

Then there is the chronic debater, who tries to win the argument at all costs. “They care what you think about them, but their identity is wrapped up in seeming smart rather than being liked.”

Finally, there are people “who care only about figuring out if you believe the same things they do”. The worst variation of this is people who act as “You’re either with us, or against us”. But it could just be people who (strongly) prefer to be around others who think like them.

In a nutshell — besides seeking the truth, one should also accounts for the urge of being liked, sounding smart, winning, and good old tribalism.

José Luis Ricón on death and the Stockholm syndrome

While discussing the stories we tell ourselves about death, José Luis Ricón Fernández de la Puente points out a very striking phenomenon:

Eric: What do you think about the cultural problem around lifespan extension? Many people are aversed to extending lifespan. Do you think that that‘s something that will just get over as we get closer to the technology? What do you think about the cultural resistance there? Because I think that‘s holding a lot of people back now for maybe working on it, maybe having more money, more government funding.

Aubrey de Grey calls this cultural resistance the “pro-death trance”. He argues that because aging and death is so prevalent — for all of our history, we haven‘t been able to get over it — we have developed this idea that it is actually OK.

It‘s like a Stockholm syndrome of some kind. You think that the bad thing is actually good. We begin to think, “Maybe it‘s good to have death (or aging). That‘s what‘s bring meaning to our lives.”

It seems to me that this psychological phenomenon is much more common within our lives than we realize.

I would say the same thing happens not only with death (or kidnapping as in the original Stockholm syndrome) but also with tragedies (like diseases or accidents) and also parenthood.

I guess there is something about the mean-making machine in our heads that makes us twist the miseries we face in life into something “good” — or even desirable.