Why won’t people people just lie?

Other than a very small segment of the population, everyone will lie.

Existing societal pressures for the maintenance of relationships (being nice) and manipulating for position (playing politics) will still exist.

Lying is certainly a desirable characteristic of the emergent system. As Emily Dickenson said, “The truth must dazzle gradually.” Were interpersonal opinions simply released uncensored on a large scale, it is easily conceivable that someone on the edge of suicide might find their worst fears confirmed and take their own life.

I have a computational theory of identity formation that I am interested in working on, but I don’t want to focus on developing it until I’ve attempted to deal with the resource allocation problems that prevent it from being applied.

To understand it in brief, begin by considering egg salad sandwiches:

There was a study recently that used egg salad sandwiches. Participants were prompted about their childhood memories concerning specific foods. The researchers recorded their memories and when the participants were invited back three weeks later they lied and told half of them that they had reported getting sick on egg salad as children. Of those who were lied to, half fabricated a false memory supporting the statement by the researcher so that they now remembered getting sick on egg salad as a child.

The researchers then contacted the participants four months later as a part of what the participants were told was an entirely other study. The participants were left in a room with access to a variety of sandwiches and the people who were convinced that they were sickened by egg salad as a child consumed half as much egg salad as those who either were not lied to or were not convinced.

Cialdini reports a similar finding involving petitions and yard signs in the consistency chapter of Influence.

The important point is that the human perceptual system is much more malleable than it is considered to be in the general population. Most people, when reading of things such as placebo effects, think of them in terms of gullible people making a mistake rather than a fundamental statement on the malleability of cognitive processes.

There is a cultural narrative about the nature of perception. When children mature they are given feedback about their perceptions and how to evaluate them. Consider the concept of “temptation” which is a desire based on an errant perception. What are the methods people employ for dealing with temptations?

The dominant narrative which encourages overconfidence is supported in many people by a fallacious assumption of homogeneity in the populations to which a person draws their identity. To get a sense of this, try going to a church one Sunday and telling everyone you’re a Christian and pay attention to the additional characteristics they assume are true for you.

A system which distributes the actual opinions of people should, over time, begin to erode the illusion of homogeneity. As this happens emotional and professional standing can be more precisely linked to actual salient characteristics. In other words, the granularity of characteristics used for creating the predictive models that drive behavior will increase.

There’s another level having to do with the formation of identity and projections of acceptable behavior in the allocation of mental resources — essentially recognizing that human progress is a result solely of human thought and the mechanism of identity maintenance is fundamental to all thought and thus must be taken into account when designing research systems. In short, people can’t just be turned on and off like tools and how they think about themselves will affect their creative processes. Creativity is contextual to the capabilities, interests and experiences of the creator. Intrinsically-motivated producers with easy access to the resources for satisfying low-Maslow needs should generate higher complexity and complete work.

The idea is very rough right now and will take a few months to work out. I’m not going to even consider it until the Ideapool software is written. The idea essentially governs it’s own creation since it suggests that, as an idea that taxes my capacity to conceptualize, I can’t work on it effectively while worrying about anything else of any complexity.

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