Subject: Re: Understanding Erik Naggum
From: Erik Naggum <>
Date: 06 Oct 2002 01:48:48 +0000
Newsgroups: comp.lang.lisp
Message-ID: <>

* Pascal Costanza
| I don't understand this question. Why do you need a measure?

  Because even though people may feel better and rate something very
  effective, a person who feels less well and rates it ineffective may in
  fact have done better according to more objective measures.  This is
  actually fairly obvious if you think about it.  People who feel well tend
  to make positive judgments and people who do not feel well tend to make
  negative judgments about the same facts.  Look at some of the people in
  this newsgroup, for instance.  Some people see mostly my contributions
  and ignore the noise of the idiotic flame wars.  Others see only the
  idiotic flame wars and ignore the noise of my other contributions.  Which
  is correct?  If I am responding technically and to the point but use a
  "cold" language, some people only feel the "cold" and go bananas without
  even seeing the technical contents.  (I think it is important to sort
  these people out.)

  People who feel stronger than they can handle intellectually actually
  tend to give wildly inaccurate, even erroneous, data about /everything/
  they feel about.  Please note that how much emotion we can handle and
  still keep thinking straight varies dramatically from person to person.
  However, people who need to feel good in order to accomplish anything at
  all have a very low threshold above which thinking clearly is not an
  option.  Data from these people would be completely useless without an
  external measure of the qualities they comment on.

  Take this "Oleg" character, for instance, who has a very firm image of
  what and who I am, and who seeks confirmation of this firm image and who
  rejects counter-evidence by laughing hard and claiming I am a fraud.  How
  did he arrive at his prejudicial view of another person?  Clearly, he is
  unable to deal intellectually with the emotional responses he has had and
  has to rationalize an image of another person that fits his emotions.
  This unintelligent process of vilification is found in the other cretins,
  too, and there is solid evidence that they do not respond to what I do,
  they respond to anything that they feel confirms their image of me and
  then they have to speak out.  Thus, their own negative prejudice causes
  them to act in such a way as to confirm it.  This is the same with all
  forms of such amazingly unintelligent prejudice and is most visible in
  racism, which is a recognized social ill.  Expression of racial hatred is
  illegal because it would disturb the peace and cause social unrest.  The
  same property applies to the retarded prejudice of Ray Blaak, Erann Gat,
  and Raffael Cavallero, who definitely disturb the peace and cause social
  unrest by posting their hate-filled prejudice.  They even think they are
  civil, and think it is non-inflammatory to describe people "objectively"
  in severely derogatory terms.  What would happen to these people if they
  had used exactly the same language about blacks?  Would they survive?
  Would anyone for a second doubt that they were engaged in hate crimes?

  The task of becoming able to function under the influence of emotions
  rests heavily upon all of us.  All but a small percentage of the adult
  population can handle it and are fully able to function and reason well
  whether they feel excellent, good, bad, or terrible.  People lose their
  parents, their jobs, their homes, and still function, often well.  People
  pull themselves together and act professionally in the face of the direst
  of straits.  However, some people cease to function normally when they
  are offended and immediately lose track of reasonable means to measure
  what they like or dislike.  People of this fickle mental stability are
  untrustworthy when reporting even simple facts, as they have already
  blown some largely irrelevant issues completely out of proportion.

  One way to describe mental illness is to regard out intellectual ability
  to deal with the flow of emotions and see that people function well and
  make correct decisions and produce predictable results when the flow of
  emotions is under a certain threshold, and lose it when it reachs that
  threshold, at which time their emotions produce more input to their
  decision-making than every other source of input.  At this point, they
  start to see things that do not exist but which /should/ have existed if
  the flow of emotions were an accurate signal.  This form of psychosis may
  be experienced by absolutely everyone under sufficient stress, but I have
  not found any evidence of it occuring from outside stress alone.  The
  "internal" stress produced by anger, moral indignation, reactions to
  unfairness and mistreatment, where the main emotional reaction is one of
  a serious conflict with what they expect and actually experience which
  in most people produce a massive desire to make the world understandable
  according to their pre-existing precept, but in some people, or under
  some conditions, cause them to become acutely aware of their surroundings
  with exceptional clarity.  You /really/ want this latter type in crises.

  But back to your question: The reason you need measures is mainly to
  adjust and monitor your ability to function and reason well under the
  influence of emotions.  If you lack an accuate method of measurement, you
  /will/ believe that what makes you feel good is also the most efficacious
  and what makes you feel bad the least, as the whole purpose of emotions
  is to provide instantaneous feedback on the effectiveness of what you do,
  but if you are in a situation for which you have not (been) trained and
  the effectiveness of each of the vast array of possible choices of action
  is unknown, you will primarily feel confused and uncertain and anything
  that restores a sense of being in control will /feel/ efficacious, but
  then the gravest danger is to assume that no other choice would have
  produced the exact same result.  People who fall into this trap are very
  hard to teach other ways of doing things, because they fear the sense of
  being out of control more than anything else.  That is why they chose the
  first action that sprang to mind and which made them feel good.  If these
  people are corrected, they are implicitly forced to return to a state of
  bewildered indecision and lack of efficacy with respect to their choice
  of action.  For some people, this state produces an acute interest in
  finding things out, but for most people it is painful and they want to
  get out of it as soon as possible.  I tend to assume that people will
  want to find out what went wrong when they revert to this state, and have
  an interest in debugging themselves when it happens.  This does not mean
  that what you find out will necessarily help solve the problem -- people
  are something simply broken and evil or both, but most things in physical
  reality are predictable enough that this can be a rewarding state of mind
  -- given sufficiently good methods of measurement of effectiveness.

Erik Naggum, Oslo, Norway

Act from reason, and failure makes you rethink and study harder.
Act from faith, and failure makes you blame someone and push harder.