Thursday, October 15, 2009

A good friend once told me that part of the role of government is to intervene in large-scale Prisoner's-Dilemma type situations. I think that's a fantastically succinct way to put it.

Being categorically against that kind of government intervention basically outs you as someone who thinks you have some sort of "right" to snitch in a prisoner's dilemma. Even if it's worse for everyone, yourself included, in the long run. In Dawkinsonian terms, you're a cheat. And not only does this make you a right smart asshole, but you're also supporting a completely unsustainable strategy.

Forget Fear says it pretty damn well:

In essence [some conservatives] want to be able to live completely without care or regard for the plight or wellbeing of anyone but themselves (and sometimes the immediate family unit), and not have to worry about anything that happens outside their immediate geographic area. The hypocrisy is, they seek to enforce this socioeconomic model on everyone else to create the circumstances for them to setup a “little house on the prairie” style life for themselves. They put the wants of themselves (the few) over the needs of everyone else (the many), and will tell you that 1 > 2, if they are the 1, and mathematics can be damned.

This may not be what conservatives openly advocate, however if you look at the end-result of their policies this is what they are trying to establish. It’s plain as day, and if you follow conservative socioeconomics through to their logical conclusion, the above-described is what you end up with. It’s immoral, it’s hypocritical, it’s illogical, and it’s just plain selfish.

So what should we do? What’s the answer? Simple: Care. Care about other people, about their experiences, their happiness, their well being, and their safety. This may sound overly idealistic, and maybe it is, but it’s the only solution to modern conservativism.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Working with the IAPS: Cute overload meets

The International Affective Picture System! IAPS for short.

These pictures, they make you feel things. In a standardized way.

See this guy here wanted to study emotion, so he got this set of pictures together and showed them to people, and he had them rate how good/bad the pictures made them feel, and also how intensely the pictures made them feel that way. And then he averaged these scores.

So now if I want to make you feel happy for the purposes of studying your brains, I can pull out an IAPS picture with a high happiness rating, like bunnies nibbling on cut flowers. The most intense happy pictures are pretty much softcore porn.

But if I want to make you feel unhappy, I can show you a picture of a pointed gun, or a starving child, or a dead kitty. And if I want to make you intensely unhappy, I can show you a mutilated face.

I have spent a lot of my time looking at emotional pictures lately.