Deception (or truth elision) in communication

To communicate, we often must ignore the truth or falsity of a statement, our own or someone else’s.

I believe it is an instinct to do this; that it is part of our instinct to communicate at all. Communication requires cooperation, an agreement to be agreeable enough to get the message through.

We might call ignoring truth or falsity in communication “truth elision” or “psychological elision.” Elision means to omit something. Psychological elision would mean omitting or not mentioning psychological truths.

We do a lot of truth elision to save time. In professional or group settings it is hard to communicate any other way because there is not enough time to be perfectly truthful and most people will not care. They just want to socialize and/or get the job done, not search for truth.

Most communication is like that. Most messages are not even superficially analyzed. Semiotics glide through our minds without any thought to their deep origins or interpretations. Truth and falsity are frequently elided.

Like all instincts, our instinct to cooperate by ignoring the truth or falsity of many statements can be misused to consciously deceive.

Indeed, we frequently deceive even ourselves by accepting our own statements as true when analysis would show they are not. One way we succeed in doing this to ourselves is by simply avoiding the analysis—analysis elision.

This is where a simple instinct starts to go bad. A basic need to cooperate on the signs and symbols of communication gets twisted into tricking people, deceiving them, even deceiving ourselves.

The way to see this most clearly and to stop doing it with at least one other person is FIML practice. One of my main goals for this website is to show how and why communication goes bad and how and why it harms us. At the same time, I present a practical way to fix the problem described—FIML.

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first posted DECEMBER 5, 2018

Microaggression and FIML

I have been seeing a lot of stuff about microaggression recently.

The term interests me because FIML is all about micro impressions.

When done with a caring partner, FIML is designed to correct mistaken impressions or interpretations that often derive from micro impressions and/or manifest as micro expressions.

Anyone who has done FIML for more than a few months surely must be aware that we create wrong impressions of even our most trusted partners frequently.

A wrong impression often snowballs, leading to a wrong interpretation that after festering can be much harder to correct than the original micro impression.

So between friends, and especially FIML partners, the perception of micro aggression can and should be noticed and dealt with immediately or as soon as possible. It is basic to FIML practice that even a single uncorrected wrong impression can lead to serious divisions between people.

In this sense, I heartily accept the idea of microaggression being a thing. In fact, I believe it is such a thing that it happens all the time, especially if you mean micro mis-impressions and not just microaggression.

But the term microaggression means something different from the above, though the central concepts are related. Wikipedia has this short definition of microaggression:

…the use of known social norms of behavior and/or expression that, while without conscious choice of the user, has the same effect as conscious, intended discrimination.

The main difference is “without conscious choice of the user.” FIML is all about being conscious. Both parties being conscious.

If I perceive something in your speech, demeanor, or behavior that makes me think that maybe you are disrespecting me or mad at me or or suspicious of me or something like that, then if you are my FIML partner I am basically required to ask you about it if there is time.

In FIML, the asking is done without prejudgement. I simply ask “what was in your mind when you made that expression or said those words or did that thing.” Your answer must be honest. If you don’t trust your partner to be honest, you can’t do FIML (though you can start trying and see if either or both of you changes).

If your partner answers honestly and you do not perceive an iota of what you thought was in their mind, that part of the event is finished. If when the person spoke or acted they had no nothing about doing what you thought they might be doing, you are done with it. You no longer have any right to further impute your thing onto them.

You can if you want, and this is encouraged, continue to discuss the matter. For example, you might say: “From your response, I can tell that you were not disrespecting me and I am delighted to find that out. That’s a huge relief for me because I have spent much of my life reacting to people who do that as if they were disrespecting me. It’s weird to hear that I am wrong in this case and it makes me wonder if I have been wrong in other cases.”

Then the two of you can discuss that. I know one person who frequently reacts to educated northeast American accents as being “imperious” or “arrogant” when they are not. (Don’t get me started on all the many phrases and attitudes in culture that wrongly limit speech and thus culture itself—“condescending,” “know-it-all,” “argumentative,” “imperious,” etc.)

So, if two friends are having problems between themselves with microaggression, they are prime candidates for FIML practice. Of course, any two friends who are having any problems with micro impressions (all friends all the time) are prime candidates for FIML. (You cannot but have these problems.)

But microaggression as the word is being used today is not something FIML can deal with directly because it is

…the use of known social norms of behavior and/or expression that, while without conscious choice of the user, has the same effect as conscious, intended discrimination.

The important words here are “known social norms,” “without conscious choice” leading to “discrimination.”

I don’t know how to unpack that. From a FIML point of view, my guess is behaviors that could potentially be identified as “microaggression” according to that definition would be in the range of dozens per day per every person in the world. Maybe more.

An example many readers will remember is Michelle Obama reacting to a customer in Target asking her to hand them something they could not reach.

I tell this story – I mean, even as the first lady – during that wonderfully publicized trip I took to Target, not highly disguised, the only person who came up to me in the store was a woman who asked me to help her take something off a shelf.

If even the president’s wife can get something so ordinary so wrong, you can see the scope of the problem. In the same interview, the president himself mentioned being “mistaken for a waiter.”

Both later downplayed their comments because they had to. Microaggression is an inherently super-ambiguous term open to a multitude of interpretations every time it is used.

In FIML, we find that micro-mistakes are real and dangerous. They are not ignored but addressed immediately because they can be so serious. Relevantly, in my experience with FIML a great many micro-impressions that I form are simply dead wrong. Most of them are wrong. I can’t enter that as evidence because the world does not have enough FIML practitioners for me to do a study on it. However, I do suspect that a great many micro-impressions of or impressions of microaggression are wrong.

Many of us laughed or thought it was ridiculous for Michelle Obama to bristle at having a short person ask her for help because we all have been on one side or the other of an exchange like that and thought nothing of it. I have been mistaken for a store employee or construction worker more than once and never thought anything of it, except maybe to feel slightly flattered that someone thought I looked like I knew what I was doing.

Another problem with the notion of politicizing microaggression (because that is what the term is about) is whose microaggression against whom?

I have strabismus, lazy eye. Even though the condition has been surgically corrected, I still cannot maintain a direct friendly gaze for long periods of time. This means that many people are led to misinterpreting my micro expressions (I start to look down) as me being bored, tired, or not friendly when all that is happening is my eye is so tired it starts to blur and needs to look away.

I know this from years of experience and because some people tell me what they are thinking. One in twenty or twenty-five people have strabismus. Add in other eye conditions with similar problems and you will get much higher percentages. Add hearing problems, attention-deficit problems, autism problems, and so on and you can include most people in the world having difficulties with micro-expressions and how they are being interpreted by others.

If someone from a different culture or race or neighborhood interprets my strabismus as microaggression (boredom with them or condescension toward them rather than simple fatigue), they will get it all wrong. And there is little or nothing I can do about it.

I even tell people about strabismus sometimes. I explain what it does. They say they understand, but very few of them really do. Only very close friends or people who have similar eye problems understand well enough that it stops being an issue with them.

Moreover, strabismus and other eye problems can lead to problems with facial recognition. So the person in the store that asked Michelle Obama for help may have also had facial recognition problems. I have that problem, too, and I seriously doubt that I would recognize Michelle Obama if I saw her in Target.

So, sorry, I don’t have any really good answer to how to understand microaggression or deal with it. On a personal level with friends or FIML partners, micro-impressions are what we want to work with as much as we can. On a societal level, you can hardly do anything about it. A super-smart person might be able to become aware of a good many of the difficulties faced by people in the world, but even that person will miss many of them or misinterpret what they perceive even if they “know” the right thing to do.

At the abstract heart of the problem there is probably a measurement or resolution problem. Simply stated, no person can ever possibly do perfect microanalyses all the time in all situations with all people. Far from it. Thus, it is a sort of “reverse microaggression” to demand or expect that they can or will or should.

I suppose we can and should become more aware of how complex people are and how difficult it is to know even one other person well, or even to know yourself well. But nothing that I can think of will ever relieve us of the difficulty of dealing with the immense number of micro-impressions we all give and receive every minute of every day.

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first posted APRIL 8, 2015

UPDATE 3/24/21: Since I first posted this, the notion of reacting strongly to “systemic microaggression” has gained in popularity. Guys, that is a downward spiral into Hell. Misunderstanding micro impressions that way is to turn almost everything into “fighting words.”

Reporting bias confuses ABSOLUTE and RELATIVE risk reduction

See image below for a clear visualization of the difference between absolute and relative risk reduction. Absolute risk reduction generally provides the best information for making informed health decisions.

Relative risk reduction and absolute risk reduction measures in the evaluation of clinical trial data are poorly understood by health professionals and the public. The absence of reported absolute risk reduction in COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials can lead to outcome reporting bias that affects the interpretation of vaccine efficacy. The present article uses clinical epidemiologic tools to critically appraise reports of efficacy in Pfzier/BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 mRNA vaccine clinical trials. 

Outcome Reporting Bias in COVID-19 mRNA Vaccine Clinical Trials

James Lindsay on pseudo-reality & totalitarianism

If you can understand what Lindsay is saying you will be able to understand what FIML practice is an why it is that way. What it does and roughly how it works.

Lindsay is basically describing the meso and macro levels of FIML practice. Basic FIML is the micro level of what he is saying. Core FIML practice informs and clarifies the meso and macro levels Lindsay refers to. (See Micro, meso, and macro levels of human understanding for more on this.)

At the level of the individual, Lindsay's term paralogic is analogous to idiolect mixed with idiosyncratic psychology. These are general concepts that apply to individuals. Lindsay's paramorality is analogous to idiosyncratic semiotics and idiosyncratic perception and the reasoning that arises therefrom.

(Malignant) narcissism is the individual level of totalitarianism; it and all other non-biological "personality disorders" spring from incommunicable idiosyncratic sensibilities in one way or another. FIML fixes the incommunicable part of that, thereby also fixing the disorder.

FIML is difficult because most people are deeply rooted in meso and macro "realities" at the expense of very legitimate and very real idiosyncratic sensibilities. The idiosyncratic individual is bound to or trapped within unsatisfying meso and macro "realities" (or worse, a Lindsayan pseudo-reality) because no one has shown them a better way and that causes suffering.

A lot of the "intellectual dark web" hovers at meso and macro levels around the individual, micro core that they do not know how to access.

Jordan Peterson does a lot of that. James Lindsay states it very clearly for meso and macro levels of totalitarianism.

The definition of anti-FIML

This is how our fights almost ALWAYS end: he won’t let go of the fight until I “ADMIT” that I am “lying” and/or an a-hole, or both.

He’ll go on endlessly trying to *force* me into “admitting” to being a “liar” simply because I don’t agree with his perception/perspective of what he *thinks* MY thoughts are. He assumes the worst of me in arguments always. He always thinks I’m conniving/manipulating/intentionally trying to hurt him. He wants to force ME to deny the very reality of MY OWN thinking and ideas. Because he THINKS he can read my mind/know exactly what I’m thinking/what my intentions are, IF I disagree with him (say that my intention/thought WASN’T ___) THEN, I am a LIAR. He says that I’m either not “self-aware” or a lying jerk if I refuse to back down on what my thinking/intentions are. Only I know my thoughts but the argument + verbal attacks won’t stop until I verbally deny my actual thoughts.

My (28F) BF demands I agree with HIS perception of MY thoughts/intentions/beliefs

This is a vivid description of what FIML protects against. Few people are as lost in their own mad world as the boyfriend described above yet all of us do stuff like that sometimes.

Science discovers we don’t know how to end conversations well

…When participants guessed at when their partner had wanted to stop talking, they were off by about 64 percent of the total conversation length.

That people fail so completely in judging when a conversation partner wishes to wrap things up “is an astounding and important finding,” says Thalia Wheatley, a social psychologist at Dartmouth College.

People Literally Don’t Know When to Shut Up—or Keep Talking, Science Confirms

I don’t mind saying that for FIML partners, this sort of thing is child’s play. Not only that, the self-reported accounts of when people wanted to end a conversation, are weak data points similar to self-reported food consumption.

In FIML, conversations rarely “end.” Like all topics, they remain open because conversations are themselves important topics of conversation. FIML partners are rarely stuck with wondering if they said too much or didn’t say enough or understood correctly or missed making a significant point because they can easily revisit any conversation and clear up any and all lingering thoughts about anything.

FIML proves to partners that the real meat of their interactions is the interactions themselves at whatever level is important to them; be that micro, meso, or macro levels.

Besides myself, few if any psychologists have studied live, dynamic interactive interpersonal material because like all people psychologists themselves have been trapped at an abstract level of understanding human psychology.

Most past research about conversations has been conducted by linguists or sociologists. Psychologists who have studied conversations, on the other hand, have mostly used the research as a means of addressing other things, such as how people use words to persuade. A few studies have explored what phrases individuals say at the ends of conversations, but the focus has not been on when people choose to say them. “Psychology is just now waking up to the fact that this is a really interesting and fundamental social behavior,” Mastroianni says.

Lemme tell you guys, there is way more material in this area than when or how to stop talking. In fact, there is so much material, in many ways doing studies on isolated aspects of how people talk actually obscures the subject. This can happen because studies are conducted at a level of abstraction that is different from and much more simplistic than the real-world, real-time reality of dynamic interactions themselves.

We see this kind of mistake again and again in psychology: grand theories of the mind, taxonomies of personality disorders, cognitive reframing, and so forth. Experts peering at human psychology from above or through the abstract lens of scientific studies; when actual human psychology itself can best—and really only—be accessed by individual persons themselves working with a willing and similarly self-aware partner during real-world situations.

I am very much in favor of studies like the one above because they do provide general markers that most people can learn from. That said, the people who really must own the subject of psychology are people themselves. You do not need to wait for more studies to do FIML. You can start today and be well on your way in a few weeks. Plus it’s free and you don’t need a therapist.

Here’s an idea for Mastroianni or any other academic in a position to conduct psychological studies. Study FIML. Contact me for help or figure out how to do FIML on your own. Then teach it to, say, 20 couples and assess their progress over a year or more. Use whatever you like as a control group.

Years ago, I remember getting into lucid dreaming and lucid sleep well before these practices were widely known. I thought it was marvelous to be able to become lucid during sleep. I still do think that and also I am delighted that at some point lucidity became so common teenagers were doing it. I hope something similar will happen with FIML.

The basic FIML technique will become much easier when more people do it and understand how fundamental it is to good speaking and actualizing human potential. Once you understand what FIML is, you will see that you can’t really have a really good relationship with your SO without it.

As for ending conversations: from a FIML point of view it’s a little messy and rarely clearly determinable because all real exchanges are happening live and we almost never know exactly where we are, where we are going, or when our talk is over. From a FIML point of view, this is subject matter for active speech. Easy to handle and fun to play with a few times. There are thousands of reason one may want to end a conversation or take it up again. Or start a new one. A large benefit of FIML is far fewer afterthoughts and almost no feeling of being “stuck in some endless conversation that [you do] not want with no way to politely extricate [yourself].”

Notice how being “polite” is used in that phrase. Consider how much profound psychology lies just beneath that word.

Modern psychology is almost entirely the theory and treatment of the “self of the gaps”

The “self of the gaps” is the self that fills in the many gaps of understanding that occur during interpersonal communication.

These gaps can be small or large, but they are always there and there are many of them. Almost all people everywhere build their personalities on their need to fill these gaps.

They have been with you since you became conscious, You were raised on them. You can will yourself through them. Or theorize yourself over them. You can be confused by them or you can use them to confuse and control others. Malignant egos and narcissists thrive on gaps of understanding. Kinder people can be and often are devastated by them.

No one is free of them. Gaps arise frequently and can perdure for decades, whole lifetimes.

Communication gaps are filled with assumptions, illusions, wishful thinking, paranoia, emotionality, habit. When people visit a psychologist, a root cause is always going to be many painful gaps that have been internalized, reified, filled with wrong assumptions, make-believe.

The only way to correct a “self of the gaps” is FIML practice. Only FIML focuses precisely on real-time, real-world communication gaps and fixes them several orders of magnitude better than what they were.

I am in the weird position of knowing something really wonderful while also lacking a large enough public voice to share it widely. I do my best with this blog and hope more than a few people have learned and benefit from FIML, but it would be good if more would understand.

FIML or something similar has never been discovered before because it comes very close to violating a fundamental language instinct; the instinct to recoil at being questioned personally and quickly. Almost all people feel threatened, insulted, attacked when questioned quickly, especially if the question involves something we just said. More precisely: especially if the question involves “personal” contents of the working memory, out of which we just spoke. Doesn’t have to be anything bad in the working memory; it’s just that that information is close to home and almost never shared for itself.

FIML “comes close to violating” this instinct but it most assuredly does not actually do that. Instead, it assuages our tendency to fear being questioned. FIML is never a gotcha question. It is always a question that arises out of an explicit previously made agreement. Any FIML question can be truthfully answered, “I would rather not say.”

By doing FIML, malignant old gaps are gradually filled with truthful data while new gaps are much less likely to form or grow. FIML can be difficult to understand because it entails an entirely new way of looking at human psychology. By focusing on small segments of conversation (psychological morphemes) FIML enables partners to see and understand how their minds are actually working in real time.

This replaces the need to rely on external theories of psychology by just examining what is actually there.

PS: My SO and FIML partner came up with the term “self of the gaps” this morning.

A fundamental feature of spoken language that is too often ignored

A fundamental feature—a primitive—of all spoken communication is a back-and-forth exchange that details all reasonable particulars of a topic and what both speakers think about them.

Let’s call this feature of spoken communication “primitive conversational induction” or, more simply, “primitive back-and-forth.”

It is primitive because it is a fundamental feature of all spoken communication; it is a primary feature.

It is a kind of spoken mutual reasoning between partners about a topic while also sharing all avenues of reasoning with each other, including emotional, aesthetic, and other nonrational sensibilities.

This primitive feature cannot be ignored without bad consequences for both parties. It cannot be reduced, shortened, or avoided without bad psychological consequences.

In hierarchical relationships, the situational hierarch can decree that the matter is settled to their satisfaction and discussion is over. But that will not avoid bad consequences except in some cases where either or both parties are so bad at negotiating primitive back-and-forths, less confusion and suffering will result if they agree to stop talking.

An example of a primitive back-and-forth happened this morning.

An old chest-of-drawers from one room had been moved into a hallway to accommodate a new and much better chest-of-drawers. The discussion was about what to do with the old chest-of-drawers in the hallway.

If I had been asked to estimate my partner’s ideas about the chest-of-drawers before we had our primitive back-and-forth, I probably would have been very close to 100% correct. The same is true of her estimating my positions before we ever discussed the matter.

That does not mean, however, that we could have skipped the primitive back-and-forth because the only way we could both be sure of all positions is to speak about them openly in a sort of logical tree that includes both practical and nonrational considerations.

In fact, even if we had advanced technology that allowed us to see each other’s emotional states, we would still have had to have had the primitive back-and-forth. Such advanced tech might have helped us in some ways and it might have hindered us in others, but it could not have replaced the primitive back-and-forth because only that can exhaust the logical tree to the full satisfaction and full understanding of both partners.

You can find the need for primitive back-and-forths very often. They are very common. In ordinary life, we cannot always go into them, but with important friends we can and should go into them as often as possible. It costs a bit of energy to do that but pays both parties back with much better mutual understanding and much less unsettled second-guessing or after-thinking.

In macro, we can see the dangers of avoided primitive back-and-forths. American politics is riven with them. Our so-called “divided society” is divided because we avoid so many primitive back-and-forths. Facts are hidden, slow-walked, falsified, etc. just to win a battle as the nation loses the war.

This is actually understandable and to be expected. Primitive back-and-forths are somewhat difficult to do and, so far, we do not have a good term for them or an explicit common understanding of what they are and why we need to do them.

Rather than running from or trying to avoid the next primitive back-and-forth that arises in your life, get into it and do it well; do it fully to the satisfaction of both of you. If needed, explain to your partner what is happening and why you want to do something different about it and what it is you want to do.

Once the concept is grasped, it is not all that hard to do a successful primitive back-and-forth. I can all but guarantee its benefits will become clear to both partners after just a few tries.

The best way to proceed is share this concept and do it on something concrete, practical, and relatively minor like the chest-of-drawers described above. At some point, move carefully into more difficult subjects centered on deep subjective psychology.

UPDATE 2/15/21: As for the chest-of-drawers: I wanted them to stay in the hall for added storage and also had a minor emotional attachment to them because I had had them for so long. They are very cheap and poorly built but still look OK. My partner wanted to throw them out. We went back-and-forth on the matter for a good ten minutes and agreed to get something better and smaller for the hall. We left open whether to use the drawers for tools in the basement or discard them.

The advantage of going into this fully is we both traced each branch of the logical decision-tree wherever we wanted, which was actually quite interesting. We both made sure we understood each other well. Moreover, we gained more practice in fully going through a practical back-and-forth. The more we do this with simple, concrete things, the better we will be with complex or psychologically more significant things.

I am sure we all have done many primitive back-and-forths. I am also sure that most people much of the time try to avoid lengthy ones because they can be irritating or seem more involved than warranted. I think it is a mistake to routinely do this because primitive back-and-forths build and strengthen primitive conversational trust between partners.

If primitive conversational trust is not flourishing in a relationship, the relationship will weaken. Weakened trust will only grow weaker if it continues to be ignored. Weakened (or never having been strengthened) primitive conversational trust makes important discussions much harder to do. Like anything else, good speaking & listening habits have to be practiced often. They are best strengthened on simple, concrete matters that are conspicuously clear to both partners like the chest-of-drawers.

I think the objective mechanics of why primitive back-and-forths can be difficult is they make demands on the working memory.

The cat-like nature of interpersonal conversation

Two people converse with each other.

Their thoughts, words, reasons for speaking and listening are like a small herd of cats, maybe 8-15 cats each.

Your cats sort of follow you and my cats sort of follow me. As we converse it’s like we are walking together; down a road or in a field, wherever you like.

Our cats sort of follow us.

Each impetus to speak and each impetus to listen in whatever manner is a cat. Your thought-cats and my thought-cats wander around and intermingle with each other.

Basically, all psychologically meaningful interpersonal conversations are like that: a couple of small cat herds milling around and sort of going in the same general direction sort of together.

The semi-disciplined, semi-aimless nature of interpersonal speech is one of its primary characteristics. Ambiguity, imprecision, misspeaking and mishearing are also primary characteristics of interpersonal speech.

Where your cats are coming from and how they came to be with you is almost always a mystery to me; and same for you about my cats. Even if we try to be specific about a particular cat (a small speech act), it can be hard to explain and hard to understand the explanation; hard for both of us to be sure we both are understanding the same things about just that one cat.

That is a major reason people typically don’t try to understand particular cats. Spend time on one cat, the rest may wander off or we all forget where we were going. Moreover, even if we try hard, we may never get to shared understanding about just that one cat. We might even become exasperated, even angry with each other because the task is so difficult.

That’s a major problem and it distorts everything we think, feel, and believe.

It happens because we can’t control our cats very well, nor do we know all that much about them; even our own cats are typically very mysterious even to us. What is your actual impetus to speak at any moments? And how did you understand what you just heard? How long can you remember either one of those? What is all that stuff in your mind and how can you possibly convey it to someone else?

The difficulty of answering those questions all but forces us to abstract our conversations and our selves. That is what all cultures do. All languages do that. Instead of appreciating how ambiguous and indeterminable our minds and conversations really are, we make up abstract roles for each other and our selves. And thus is born the illusion of human psychology. The illusion that we can know each other and our selves through abstractions while ignoring the realities of our herds of cats, which over time can become very large.

Say what you like, but when we stop conversing with each other, chances are that some of your cats will follow me and some of my cats will follow you. Also very likely is some of both of our cats will have wandered off and some new ones will have joined us.

Powerful analysis of the Capitol shooting; will surely be controversial

This video asks was the shooting staged, was it real? I am posting this video because no matter what you may conclude for yourself, the proposition that it was a staged is worth considering.

Below is an embed of the video on Bitchute. This is a direct link to the Bitchute vid.

Everything Wrong With the Capitol Shooting In 21 Minutes Or Less

The link below “…has been removed for violating YouTube’s Terms of Service”.

Everything Wrong With the Capitol Shooting In 21 Minutes Or Less

After watching the video, please be sure to go to the comment section of CTH for many points of view on this analysis. Sad to say, if YT takes it down it’s probably true. If YT leaves it up, it could be a trap to discredit conservatives. My take is the other side uses aggressive fakery so often—fake FISA, fake collusion, fake impeachments, fake news, etc.—it’s best we do not shrink from full discussion of all important events.

UPDATE: I am on my second viewing of the video. A very big tell is you can see starting at 6:09 that the gun when fired is not even pointing at the victim. To make viewing easier, click “settings” and slow the speed to .75 or lower.

Patrick Byrne describes more of why post election plans flopped

He also tells an interesting side-story (below) about Trump being threatened through Melania; JFK’ed if he won the second term.

…I was told something by someone very much in Trump’s inner circle. What I was told was this: Melania had been warned by a government official that if Trump served another term he would be JFK’ed. It may even have been someone in the Secret Service itself, in a “We will not be able to protect him” sense. The threat included another family member as well, per the telling. I find it hard to believe that anyone in the Secret Service itself would ever say that, but the source of the information to me had otherwise been blemishless, and the claim was that whoever (perhaps Secret Service, perhaps someone else) had said this to Melania, it was someone from whom such a claim would be taken seriously. Melania was begging Donald not to fight, and simply to concede and get out of Washington with his family.

How DJT Lost the White House, Chapter 4: The Christmas Doldrums (December 23- noon January 6)

I doubt I am the only one who has had the clear realization that elites—or anyone with any status compared to someone else—can be extremely narrowly confined within the beliefs and mores of their immediate community. Be that supervisors versus workers; white collar versus blue; or the super-rich versus everyone else, people in higher places can be completely blind to what is really happening around them.

Nations, such as this one, fall due to that blindness. The Russian elite of the early 20th Century barely perceived the danger that was fast approaching. And even when they did, they were not prepared to act decisively.

Byrne describes how the January 6 DC rally became an example of just that sort of blindness. It’s a sad chapter to read in the decline and fall of USA, but important nevertheless.

UPDATE Related: They’re admitting it: TIME Mag: “Trump Was Right. There WAS A Conspiracy”… “Well-Funded Cabal, Powerful People Changing Laws, Steering Media And Controlling The Flow Of Information.”

Poor precision in communication distorts motives

And distorted motives warp human interactions, which in turn degrade individual psychology.

There is no way around it—the ways almost all people communicate are much cruder than their brains are capable of.

And that is the cause of most of what we now call (non-biological) “mental health” problems.

Here is an example: I want to say something very complex to my primary care doctor. I can give her the gist in a minute or two but I do not want to have that go on my medical record.

So I ask her if I can start a discussion that she will promise to keep off my record.

She says, “I’ll think about it.”

A week later I get a letter from her nurse saying she is not willing to do what I asked.

No reason why was given. Do rules prevent her from doing that? I have heard of doctors allowing patients to keep some concerns off the record, but who knows what the reality is? Do you?

If I insist, will that go on my record? Did what I asked in the first place go on my record? My doctor is trapped within or is voluntarily following some guideline that is most decidedly not in my best interests.

This same sort of thing can happen interpersonally. If I raise a topic that is psychologically important to me with even a close friend, I have to wonder will they understand? Will they allow me to expand the subject over a few weeks or months or longer? Will my initial statements change our friendship?

The basic problem is how do you discuss complex psychological subjects with others?

One of my friends works in alternative health care. She knows what I want to bring up with my doctor and admits that even in her professional setting where patients have an hour to open up, there is not enough time.

Back to my primary care doctor. I saw her again a year later and she asked if I remembered her. I said, “Of course I remember you.” She said no more and neither of us raised the off-the-record topic. An intern was with her.

I wonder what she thinks of me. Did she interpret my slightly nervous behavior when I first asked as a “sign” of something? Does she think I am volatile or bipolar or just nuts? (I am not.)

I am 100% sure that she cannot possibly know what I wanted to bring up with her. In this case, I have all of the information and I want to give it to her but she cannot or will not allow that unless my initial fumblings toward a complex subject are made public.

Even a  close friend could find themselves in a similar position. And I wonder if I have done that myself to someone. Most people most of the time are not able to scale those walls that divide us.

On either side of the wall is a complex person capable of complex understanding, but one or both persons cannot scale the wall. My doctor is smart enough to have become an MD and yet I cannot tell her about a complex medical condition that is of great importance to me.

I know that I do not want to open the subject and risk a shallow public label (a common hindrance to many potential communications). I honestly do not know what my doctor is thinking. Maybe I will try again the next time I see her.

EDIT 12/16/2020: I didn’t try again. After much thought, I decided to switch doctors. And I will not bring this subject up with my new doctor. It’s a sad reality that trying at all ruined (in my mind) my relationship with my first doctor and convinced me that the topic is not one I can discuss with any medical professional in a professional setting and maybe in any setting.

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first posted OCTOBER 10, 2017

Error correction

While reading David Deutsch’s The Beginning of Infinity, I came across the following sentence:

What is needed is a system that takes for granted that errors will occur, but corrects them once they do—a case of ‘problems are inevitable, but they are soluble’ at the lowest level of information-processing emergence. (p. 141)

This statement comes from the chapter “The Jump to Universality,” in which Deutsch argues that “error correction is essential in processes of potentially unlimited length.”

Error correction is fundamental to FIML practice. In fact, the nuts-and-bolts of FIML practice could be described as being little more than a method for correcting errors “at the lowest level of information-processing” during interpersonal communication. This level is “the lowest” because FIML deals primarily with very short segments of speech/communication. In many posts, we have called these segments “psychological morphemes” or the “smallest speech/communication error” we can reliably identify and agree upon with our partner.

If you try to tackle bigger errors—though this can be done sometimes—you frequently run into the problem of your subject becoming too vague or ill-defined to be rationally discussable.

I haven’t read enough of Deutsch’s book to be sure of what he means by “universality,” but I do think (at this point) that FIML is universal in the sense that it will clear up interpersonal communication errors between any two qualified partners. “Qualified” here means that partners care about each other, want to optimize their relationship, and have enough time to do FIML practice.

We all demand that our computers be error-free, that buildings and bridges be constructed without error, that science work with error-free data as much as possible. But when it comes to communication with the person we care about most, do we even talk about wanting a method of error correction, let alone actually using one?

You can’t correct big errors if you have no method for correcting errors that occur “at the lowest level of information-processing,” to use Deutsch’s phrase. Once you can correct errors at this level, you will find that you and your partner are much better able to tackle bigger questions/errors/complexes. This happens because having the ability to reliably do small error-correcting gives you the capacity to discuss bigger issues without getting lost in a thicket of small mistakes.

Your ability to talk to each other becomes “universal” in the sense that you can tackle any subject together and are not tethered to static ideas and assumptions about what either of you really “means.” As mentioned many times on these pages, FIML does not tell you how to think or what to believe. In this sense, it is a universal system that allows you and your partner to explore existence in any way you choose.

To use Deutsch’s words again, “error correction is essential in processes of potentially unlimited length.” Your relationship with your partner can and should be a “processes of potentially unlimited” growth, and error correction is essential to that process.

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first posted FEBRUARY 10, 2013

The psychological value of micro-feedback

Normally, we get very little detailed psychological micro-feedback.

This is especially true of psychological micro-feedback in real-time real-life situations. Psychologically, such situations are the most important for mental and emotional growth.

Real-life psychological micro-feedback (PMF) happens whenever someone reacts to one of our acts of communication.

Most PMF reactions are not detailed because an explanation rarely accompanies them and even if there is an explanation it is almost certainly not going to include the real details of the actual communication act itself.

Rather than provide detailed PMF, almost all humans almost all the time provide only opaque responses based on their own guesswork, or presuppositions.

If there is any detail in the feedback it is almost always of a general nature that completely excludes the actual act of communication itself.

This happens because humans almost always process and use language at the phrasal level and normally never provide PMF in real-time during real-life situations.

Real-time real-life is where human psychology really lives.

By always avoiding real-time real-life PMF and follow-up analysis, humans are forced to rely on general categories and ideas to understand themselves and others. It is not possible to do this and gain a deep understanding of human psychology.

When we ignore detail in any other area of human endeavor—musical and scientific instrumentation, microscopy, art, science, engineering, etc.—we get poor results that are almost always surpassed by results that are based on greater detail.

FIML practice corrects the problem of poor detail in the study of human psychology by emphasizing the use of real-time real-life PMF.

By doing this, FIML greatly improves communication while also upgrading the general psychology of participating partners.

One of the hardest aspects of doing FIML practice is overcoming the ubiquitous human habit of fundamentally never wanting real-time real-life PMF that is open to conscious analysis and correction.

This habit can be overcome by partners’ making an explicit prior agreement to do it.

FIML is like tuning a guitar, calibrating a scale, using a good compass, caring for a fine instrument.

We expect and demand very fine detail in almost all areas of our lives, save what we say and how we hear what others say.

I do not believe anyone can achieve a deep understanding of human psychology without having a way to perceive and analyze PMF in real-time real-life. To date, I know of no other way to do this but FIML.

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first posted MAY 13, 2016