[Paleopsych] the grief-meter

Werbos, Dr. Paul J. paul.werbos at verizon.net
Sun Aug 29 17:14:54 UTC 2004

At 01:41 AM 8/29/2004 -0400, HowlBloom at aol.com wrote:
>In a message dated 8/28/2004 11:53:55 PM Eastern Standard Time, BMC273 writes:
>Mike Levine had a great show on Suitcase Nuclear bombs last Monday, did 
>you catch it? I think he said OBL had purchased 40 of these from Russia.
>hb: aha.  so you missed my art bell show appearance saturday night 
>discussing islam's nuclear threats for three hours.  i'd have liked your 
>opinion of it.
>As for the issue about who suffers more...men or women, my friend had a 
>good point - she said its true we all suffer as humans but dont the POOR 
>suffer more than the RICH? So there are differences...(I still think she 
>is right that women do suffer more then men in general). What do you think?
>hb: in his Progress Paradox, Glenn Eastbrook sums up the literature on 
>happiness and comes to the conclusion that no matter how rich you get, you 
>still manage to fill some internally driven quota of discontent and 
>misery.  I believe that Timothy Wilson in his book on the adaptive 
>subconscious also shows a lot of evidence that we have an internal 
>set-point for misery that manufactures miseries when we're in clover and 
>manufactures blessings when we are truly laid low.

There are very serious methodological problems (and even ethical or 
philosophical problems)
in how one measures or compares "happiness."

I am reminded of (another) Estabrook(s), who wrote a couple of books on 
hypnotism that
I found very interesting back in the early 60's. So far as I can tell, 
there are a lot
of acclaimed experts on the subject around who do not know many of the 
important things he had
found out 'way back then.

I remember, in particular, some curves describing how something like 95 
percent of pain is
"in the mind" -- is a secondary response based on what really amounts to fear.
A lot of what this Estabrook is tracking may be in that category.

Certainly, in intelligent systems, there are some very fundamental mechanisms
which tend to "normalize" fluctuations in happiness...
similar to the act of scaling variables to unit variance. It is interesting to
ask what this really means.

Part of what happens is a kind of dangerously off-course behavior, as people
magnify the importance of small things, when they (1) do not experience enough
variance in their lives; and (2) they are not "large-souled" enough to see
beyond the immediate direct personal experience in their own lives.

But... the realities of the human brain do deviate a bit from the simplest
rational models here. Many people do live for years in dark and lonely lives
where foods seem to lose their flavor and images their color... there are some
chronic mean calibration effects.

And also... many (not all) decisions we face today are not deep problematic 
esthetic issues,
but issues of survival or nonsurvival.

I suppose that what to do about transhumanism and machine intelligence is less
trivial. For some reason, the second issue feels more real to me.

Best of luck,

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