The Illusion of Truth

Veritasium: If you repeat something enough times, it comes to feel good and true.

See also

Light-based media

Bartle’s Taxonomy

What Type of Player are You?

Bartle's player types

Extra Credits: Bartle’s Taxonomy was the earliest attempt to break down player psychology in a multiplayer environment. Richard Bartle, who created the first MUD in 1978, interviewed the players of his games about why they played. Their responses fit into four categories, which we now call Achievers, Explorers, Socializers, and Killers. Achievers focus on in-game goals like getting high scores or collecting gold. Explorers seek to discover new locations on the map or new ways to use the mechanics. Socializers come to meet people, often organizing guilds or collecting on social forums. Killers seek to dominate other players, usually by killing them in PvP. Bartle went further than creating these four categories, however: he also mapped them to a graph with Action-Interaction on one axis and Player-World on the other. This simple graph helps developers evaluate new content: what category does it fall into, and therefore what type of gameplay does it encourage?

Part too looks at how to get a mix of player types →

The Buddha Dordenma statue in Thimphu
Humans and other animals

“You need to think about death for five minutes every day”

“It is this thing, this fear of death, this fear of dying before we have accomplished what we want or seen our children grow. This is what is troubling you.”

Advice given to a western traveller by Karma Ura, director of the Centre for Bhutan Studies.

“Rich people in the West, they have not touched dead bodies, fresh wounds, rotten things. This is a problem. This is the human condition. We have to be ready for the moment we cease to exist.”

BBC Travel: Bhutan’s dark secret to happiness, by Eric Weiner, a self-described “recovering malcontent and philosophical traveler”.

Rachel Levit
Humans and other animals

The Moral Bucket List

David Brooks in his New York Times column:

It occurred to me that there were two sets of virtues, the résumé virtues and the eulogy virtues. The résumé virtues are the skills you bring to the marketplace. The eulogy virtues are the ones that are talked about at your funeral — whether you were kind, brave, honest or faithful. Were you capable of deep love?

We all know that the eulogy virtues are more important than the résumé ones. But our culture and our educational systems spend more time teaching the skills and strategies you need for career success than the qualities you need to radiate that sort of inner light. Many of us are clearer on how to build an external career than on how to build inner character.

I came to the conclusion that wonderful people are made, not born — that the people I admired had achieved an unfakeable inner virtue, built slowly from specific moral and spiritual accomplishments.

If we wanted to be gimmicky, we could say these accomplishments amounted to a moral bucket list, the experiences one should have on the way toward the richest possible inner life. Here, quickly, are some of them:

  • The humility shift: “…all the people I’ve ever deeply admired are profoundly honest about their own weaknesses.”
  • Self-defeat: “…character is built during the confrontation with your own weakness.”
  • The dependency leap: “We all need redemptive assistance from outside. Character is defined by how deeply rooted you are.”
  • Energized love: Dorothy Day — “No human creature could receive or contain so vast a flood of love and joy as I often felt after the birth of my child. With this came the need to worship, to adore.”
  • The call within the call: “We all go into professions for many reasons: money, status, security. But some people have experiences that turn a career into a calling.”
  • The conscience leap: “In most lives there’s a moment when people strip away all the branding and status symbols, all the prestige that goes with having gone to a certain school or been born into a certain family. They leap out beyond the utilitarian logic and crash through the barriers of their fears.”

Although I’ve excerpted much more than I usually would from this column, you should absolutely read it in its entirety:
David Brooks — The Moral Bucket List


This Is Why You Overshop in Ikea

How IKEA gets us to buy more than we need, explained by TIME writer Josh Sanburn.

IKEA “When the question is why do we have so much stuff, one reason is because we can,” says Annie Leonard, executive director of the environmental group Greenpeace USA and the creator of The Story of Stuff, an animated video about excessive consumerism. “For a huge percentage of this country, there is no longer an economic obstacle to having the illusion of luxury. It’s just that this stuff is so cheap.”

The Story of Stuff →

You Are Not So Smart
Humans and other animals

How we naturally think vs. the scientific method

In the most recent You Are Not So Smart podcast, host David McRaney broadcasts a 2014 lecture he gave at DragonCon about ‘just-so stories’, contrasting how we naturally think with the more formal scientific method.

“Throughout all of our history we kept falling into this giant hole of stupid, and the only way we could climb out of that hole was to create a tool by which we could do that climbing. That tool is of course the scientific method. Without it we get into a lot of trouble, because this is the way we naturally think:

“You have a emotion or an intuition and then you form a biased conclusion (I’m sure you’ve seen this on Facebook before). Then you seek supporting evidence through motivated reasoning, you stop when you think you’ve found enough evidence. That’s actually called in psychology the ‘make-sense stopping rule’. You only question the disconfirmatory evidence; everything else passes through. You argue for your conclusion with logical fallacies and then you feel smug. And then you repeat all that if you get challenged and you avoid all challenges.

“The unnatural way we think is that you have an emotion or intuition, but then you form a hypothesis and you have observation and experimentation to see if it confirms your hypothesis. Then you disconfirm it and if you disconfirm it well enough you can let other people replicate what you’ve done then you debate and you argue and everybody gets together and then based off everything you’ve learned you can form a theory and then you can feel smug.”

I’ve been perfectly guilty of this behaviour myself.

See also: How to sound smart in your TEDx talk

Use your words

The six forms of conflict common in movies

Scriptnotes is a podcast by John August and Craig Mazin about ‘screenwriting and things that are interesting to screenwriters’.

Scriptnotes #179: The Conflict Episode: Craig and John discuss conflict — why it’s bad in real life but essential in screenwriting. We define six forms of conflict common in movies, then look at ways to sustain conflict within a scene and throughout a story.

These are my brief notes from the episode, but I strongly recommend listening to the full podcast for more insights and discussion on this topic.

  1. Argument. A physical fight or verbal argument. “We have one word for both punching each other in the face and yelling at each other: They’re fighting.” These kinds of conflicts however are not often the most effective or impactful kind of conflict.
  2. Struggle against circumstance. “This can be as simple as ‘I’ve locked my keys in the car’ or ‘I’m freezing and I need to get warm.'” Man vs. nature, man vs. object, man getting laid-off by corporation. Eg. Castaway.
  3. Unfulfilled desire. An internal conflict: “I want something that I cannot have; how can I get it?” Eg. Rocky (and a lot of sports movies).
  4. Avoiding a negative outcome. “I have to break up with this person, I just don’t want to hurt his feelings.” Often used in comedies.
  5. Confusion. A lack of information puts your character in conflict with the world around you, eg. The Matrix or The Bourne Identity.
  6. Dilemma. You have to make a choice, but all the choices are bad. Eg. Sophie’s Choice. It can be a crisis point, but it’s hard to sustain over the course of a movie.
Humans and other animals

Some people lack the ability to get pleasure from music

NPR: Strange But True: Music Doesn’t Make Some People Happy

Some people lack the ability to get pleasure from music, researchers say, even though they enjoy food, sex and other great joys in life.

Psychologists at the University of Barcelona stumbled upon this while they were screening participants for a study by using responses to music to gauge emotion. They were surprised to find that music wasn’t important at all to about 5 percent of the people — they said they didn’t bob up and down to tunes they liked, didn’t get weepy, didn’t get chills. It was like they couldn’t feel the music at all.

Then they asked the participants to bring in music they liked. “The first surprise is that some of the participants had trouble bringing music from home,” says Josep Marco-Pallares, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Barcelona and senior author of the study. These people didn’t have any music — no MP3s, no CDs. No Spotify or Pandora.

I wonder if I might be in this 5%. I don’t have no music, but I definitely have a relatively small, narrow selection. What music I do like I tend not to play very often either. I listen to a lot of podcasts instead, or nothing at all when I need to concentrate. Most of my favourite music dates back to when I was a teenager and used to listen to a lot more.

I think music is something I listen to when I’m in a certain mood, not something that easily alters my mood.

Cassette icon designed by Jasmine Jones from the Noun Project

Humans and other animals

The trick to successful haggling

Psychologist Malia Mason, a professor at Columbia University’s business school, recruited volunteers to test a theory that assigning a precise value is a better haggling strategy than rounding your offer up (or down):

The study’s hard data will not be revealed until the paper is published this month, but the broad conclusion was unmistakable: people who offered or asked for precise amounts — including such arbitrary-seeming figures as $5,015 for a piece of jewelry as opposed to $5,000 — almost always wrung more concessions from the person on the other side of the table than those who opened with neater numbers. The reason, Mason believes, is that a precise number — rightly or wrongly — implies you’ve done your homework and know the actual value of the thing.

“It’s a powerful signal,” she says. “It suggests, ‘I know what I’m taking about.’” Even if the negotiations are protracted, a precise figure at least frames the discussion. “If you say you want $10 for something, the other party takes that to mean a range of $7 to $13. If you say you want $11, that range becomes $10 to $12. The initial figure exerts a kind of gravitational pull.”
Revealed: The One Big Secret to Successful Haggling

Humans and other animals, Life on the Internet

Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response and whispering videos

This Slate article on ASMR videos is fascinating.

The video I have just described is called “~♥~ Let me take care of you ~♥~,” and it has well over 50,000 views on YouTube. It is what is known as an ASMR role-play. ASMR stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, which refers to a particular combination of pleasurable physical and psychological affects experienced by a surprisingly large number of people when they hear things like soft whispering, quiet tapping, and gentle crinkling noises. If you search for “ASMR” on YouTube, you will find countless videos like this one.

I notice from a cursory glance at related YouTube videos that many seem to be binaural recordings, which makes perfect sense. And as per Rule 34(b), if it exists, there is a subreddit of it.