Law in Contemporary Society

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In order to get my “idea” to fit within the assigned limit/framework, I had to kill and re-work so many of my babies that the “formal” draft only vaguely communicates what I originally wanted to say. Hopefully, the contrast between the more formal draft (in the history) and this informal draft will illustrate my points that (1) Structure drives function, both in biology and in writing, (2) the current, formal format under which we’re working isn’t particularly conducive toward having substantive, collaborative, creative discussions, and (3) (trivially) the arrangement of ideas/words determines their meaning (on a conscious level). This is also still a work in progress.

Suppose We're Being Brainwashed

-- By AjKhandaker - 25 Feb 2010 Eben mentioned brainwashing last Thursday, which I think is a worthwhile lens through which to view the multiple functions his arguments have.

http://health.howstuffworks.com/brainwashing1.htm

Note that I’m not disagreeing with Eben’s ideas. I’m only noting that Eben's ideas can be taken at both their face value and at their functional value.

Further note that “brainwashing” has a negative connotation, whereas “radical persuasion” could be a more appropriate characterization.

But let us assume arguendo that we are being brainwashed by charismatic genius who (1) is highly motivated to alter our behavior, and who (2) has been doing this to second semester 1Ls for a long time.

http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2009/sep/01/story-all-ages-ku-alumnus-writes-childrens-book-jo/

I’m not just brownnosing, these are important characterizations. By charismatic I mean that he can make people feel what he is feeling and/or the way he wants them to feel, and by genius I mean his working memory is such that he can be aware of and process more things, faster, and in parallel, than most people. Combined with his age/experience advantage, an intimate understanding of human nature, and having had a long time to think about this class, I suggest to you that it’s possible that our unconscious motivations are being dominated/manipulated in ways of which we are not (and may never be) fully aware.

I suggest to you that if Eben is actively operating upon us on an unconscious level, it is odd and slightly ridiculous for us to ignore that fact and continue to write/operate within solely the “conscious” level.

Why these ideas? Emotional Functions and the Brainwashing Process

For clarity, the brainwashing process is broken into steps, though many steps can occur simultaneously:

First, we're isolated from the rest of the law school and all other institutions: Conlaw is transcendental nonsense, Property is theft, and the Criminals are us. The Tax System is a disgrace to the human race, and so forth.

Second, our identities are dismantled: The single, stable personality is a social construct/constraint that we maintain unconsciously, just as we often don't fully think about how we're primates, and just as we pretend our motivations for doing what we do are conscious.

(Why else does Eben keep talking about MultiplePersonalities? ? Again, I’m not disagreeing with the idea, and, incidentally, I’ve come to the same conclusion myself, though through other, stupider means)

Third, we're instilled with an enormous sense of guilt and shame for not having done enough with what we aren't even entitled to (there are people much smarter than we are who will never get a chance to go to law school, what would it be like for you if 40 million slaves lived in the US, I've told you all the things you're not going to do, the state condones violence every day, Joseph Stack is dead because no one is there to help him) to correct the injustices in the world.

Fourth, we "self-betray" by admitting, for example, that we’re guilty of being complacent about injustice and/or of wanting to join a law firm.

Fifth, we break down and unleash our anxiety by asking existential questions about what we’re doing in law school.

Finally we are “reconstructed” such that our ideas/beliefs/identities make us feel less guilty and uncomfortable.

Question

If we’re being persuaded at an unconscious level, if we are attempting to become more aware of our and other people's unconscious motivations, and if we are attempting to learn about how people function, then why are we being forced to operate only at the level of conscious, “rational” argumentation?

I suggest to you that our current method of rational argumentation is conducive neither toward having creative, substantive, collaborative discussions, nor toward effectively persuading people, but it is conducive toward writing transcendental nonsense.

Unconscious metaphors

The assignment, as I understand it, is that we're supposed to pick "an" idea that we've “had” and communicate it, in a linked chain, serially, clearly, and formally.

Although we’ve been told that metaphors often cause more problems than they are worth, the problem is that when we’re dealing with language, we are always dealing with metaphors: the only issue is whether we are conscious of them or not.

For example, the metaphor of “having ideas” is not conducive toward having ideas

Ideas do not simply pop out of nowhere for anyone to own them, even though it may sometimes feels that way, and when that happens it’s tempting to take credit for them.

"Having” ideas is not a useful metaphor if our actual goal is to collaboratively create useful ideas. Better metaphors for "having" more creative ideas are “foraging” and “combining/experimenting.”

The metaphor of a chained link is not conducive toward having creative ideas or substantive discussions.

Instead of chained links, why not Legos? If we want to generate lots of ideas, why isn't our format to (1) create a common set of ideas and/or a common vocabulary (2) to play with the permutations of those ideas, and (3) add the best permutations to our vocabulary? Isn't that the way to have a constructive conversation?

The metaphor of serial processing versus (the metaphor of jokes as a metaphor for parallel processing)

The present “serial” format constrains what can be expressed in such a way so as to preclude us from “having” or communicating creative ideas. If you can't see my face and hear my tone of voice at the same time, then you won't get the joke. Likewise, by limiting ourselves to a serial, "chain-linked" papers, we're limiting ourselves to only certain kinds of "jokes" that can be told.

I fully understand that we're training to be lawyers and not comedians.

But "Jokes of the proper kind, properly told, can do more to enlighten questions of politics, philosophy, and literature than any number of dull arguments." -Isaac Asimov

Jokes are often about surprises and violating expectations anyway. If our expectations/predictions of the future haven't changed after hearing a "dull argument" that fits within the rationalizations we already have, have we really "learned" anything, or are we just rearranging our prejudices? The joke isn’t funny once I’ve explained it to you, consciously. This is important.

The whole is greater than the sum of its parts

If you think serial processing is conducive to communicating creative ideas, then you’re assuming that the whole is equal to the sum of its parts, and you still haven’t understood the joke.

Suppose we have 30 interconnected things happening simultaneously. If we isolate one thing and assume that the whole is equivalent to the sum of its parts, we will usually just “lie” like we've often done on the 10-20 page nonsense essays we've been trained to write since middle school, solely in order to fulfill the assignment.

And we all realize this on some level (consciously or unconsciously): how can you write a constructive, non-wheel-reinventing paper about, say, "religion" without talking about neuroscience, education, status, "human nature," law and politics, the Internet, the fact that we are inexperienced 1L’s who don’t know anything, everything else that’s been said about religion, etc.?

And because we all realize that it's incredibly difficult to say everything all at once, and talking about “one thing” is usually to just lie anyway, our solution is often to say "nothing." We'll often just write a whole lot of transcendental nonsense.

So if we ask people to write about “an” idea they’ve “had” about "one" thing, we're often going to get a whole lot of nothing (See: traditional law journals.) This isn't out of "stupidity" or "laziness": it is a likely result of the structure within which they are being forced to operate.

Structure is function, or at least structure drives function

Our papers are supposed to be closed, neat, certain, and un-emotional (1) with a well-defined idea, (2) for which we must have an outline, and (3) they must be parsimoniously written. However, real life is open-ended, messy, highly emotional, unconscious, and uncertain.

So we shouldn't be surprised if our outlines and the "links" we make between ideas in our formal drafts seem highly contrived/dishonest.

It is the arrangement of words that determine what they say. Likewise, forcing ideas into the pre-defined format creates an unnecessary amount of transcendental nonsense and dishonesty.

Operating upon the unconscious

Are we trying to create an argument that even a lazy idiot could follow? And if so, on what level should the argument be followed? How do people really think, and how should this influence the way we write?

I could play the game and give you a conscious argument: Privacy time has been over for awhile, because anyone with enough time and motivation can learn a ridiculous amount about anyone else. And since anything we do (or don't do) communicates an insane amount of information about us, it stands to reason that as technology improves and decreases the effort necessary to learn about other people from their actions, it will become increasingly obvious that our notions of "privacy" have been mostly "psychological" and not "actual."

And that is a form of persuasion on one level…but that’s also an example of na´ve persuasion.

But there’s more than one way to skin that puppy.

I could also give you the unconnected pieces of a hilarious puzzle, and then wait until you fall asleep.

Or I could try to get you to close your eyes for a minute, relax, let your brain go into alpha, and then go talk to someone.

Far be it from me to deprive you of an aha! moment by telling you what I’m telling you.

Other operators upon the unconscious

There were once good reasons to ignore the unconscious. For one, "The unconscious" could mean many different things. For another, "If you can't do anything with it, then you can't do anything with it." -Eben Moglen

But we CAN do things with the unconscious now, and they are being done to us, whether we realize it or not.

It is perhaps a trivial observation that our consciousness is just a manifestation of absurdly complex underlying brain functions.

It is also perhaps a trivial observation that what people want and what they say they want are completely different. We can’t ignore the tough, complex questions about our brains/behavior by hiding underneath transcendental nonsense anymore, because doing so is the functional equivalent of burying our heads in the sand.

Neuromarketing – Subliminal messaging is alive and well, and as marketers learn more about the brain, we will be increasingly manipulated in ways of which we may not be aware.

Neuropolitics – See: Win-Stay, Lose-Shift. http://nobelprize.org/educational_games/medicine/split-brain/

(I’m not endorsing this idea, I just think it’s worth thinking about): http://neuropolitics.org/Conservative-Left-Brain-Liberal-Right-Brain.htm

http://neuropolitics.org/defaultfeb08.asp

Emotional and Linguistic Prosody (within the legal profession?): http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0008759

Neurocinema

Ideas about creative ideas

I think an honest, blog-like writing style is more conducive toward having substantive, collaborative discussions about ideas than the formal writing style we’ve been assigned. We criticize Plato, because “no one talks like that,” but aren’t we guilty of the same thing? Where’s the subtext (and isn’t that usually the real point)?

We will improve our technical writing and expertise in other places, where blog-like writing won’t fly at all. But this is the last place we should be writing that way. If we are attempting to rid our writing/thinking of transcendental nonsense, there are perhaps better ways to do that.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pygmalion_effect

(1) It is the advantage of small networks that more complicated ideas can be transmitted and communicated. In large networks, the simpler, easier-to-copy-and-transmit ideas win, which is just one more reason the national discourse on serious issues is so unbelievably stupid. We shouldn’t throw away that advantage by having simplified, formalized arguments.

(2) A perhaps counterintuitive and rather Taoist idea that it took me a long time to figure out, is that if you want to have good ideas, you have to give away your ideas.

(3) We have to be unafraid to have “stupid” or “wrong” ideas. You can often combine a stupid idea with three other stupid ideas or two good ones, and come out with a brilliant idea. Or you can delete something from an idea to make it work, or take an idea from a domain in which it is stupid and apply it years later to a domain in which it works ingeniously. As lawyers, we will be problem-solvers, no?

--++Storytelling (4) It is easy to forget that we evolved under a tradition of shared, oral storytelling, not only to transmit ideas, but also experiences.

(5) We remember stories better, partially because the value and purpose of information is encoded into the transmission of the information itself.

(Buyology – Martin Lindstrom: marketers know that we remember information that is written into a story, Coke and American Idol, for example. In Your Brain is (Almost) Perfect by Read Montague, he talks about information and values in a way I think is useful)

When you’re told a great story, you put yourself in the shoes of an agent, who has goals and intentions, and you see how he gets his Holy Grail while also achieving what he really, unconsciously wants. The Holy Grail, the explicitly stated, conscious goal, is never the real goal.

The most financially successful stories of our time appeal to our unconscious motivations in a disgustingly satisfying way.

If we are trying to become better lawyers, we will need to continually improve our understanding as to the real, sub textual, underlying motivations of why people/clients do what they do (as opposed to their stated, conscious motivations) so we can tell better stories and craft better experiences for ourselves and our clients.

Employment

“If a man does only what is required of him, he is a slave. If a man does more than is required of him, he is a free man.”

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100203084254.htm

We are also excellent at filling the “roles” we assign to ourselves.

http://vhil.stanford.edu/projects/index.html Nick Yee: http://www.glennbeck.com/downloads/proteus.pdf

In terms of perspective, many of the people who spoke at the Private Sector Career Symposium today all seemed pretty happy/successful, so I don’t know that Eben’s way, don’t be an employee, is the only way.

Win-stay, Lose-shift

Satisficing is an example of a win-stay, lose-shift strategy and/or the pleasure/pain principle. Why should I abandon my beliefs/ideas so long as they are working well enough?

(When things have going well, we instinctively "elect" conservatives because we believe they will preserve and defend the "status quo", and when things are going poorly, we are instinctively more amenable to “electing” liberals. The irony is that if we really wanted to preserve the value of the status quo, we would keep doing what we were doing and continue electing liberals.)

Modern conservatism at the societal level is a systematic/(innate cognitive) error, because there is no accounting for the differential. By attempting to preserve and sustain our old position, we fail to adapt and paradoxically lose what we had.

Because of our status quo bias, real change is painful. Everyone hates and/or ignores the radical when times are good for them, because it just seems like the radical is trying to take away the good things people have…thus we have the "opiate of the masses" view of religion, etc., the idea being that if you can keep people obliviously happy, then they won’t bother to ask tough questions, and you can keep them “enslaved.”

Happiness and Creativity

Yes, guilt and cynicism/pessimism can cause people to shift, which may be what we want if we don’t want moral sleepiness about the innumerable injustices in the world…but I don’t think that’s the only way to skin that donkey.

Without being a na´ve Pollyanna about it, happiness is healthier, more attractive, and more useful both for our individual wellbeing and for the wellbeing of the people around us.

http://instruct1.cit.cornell.edu/courses/psych101/HappinessIntroPsy.ppt http://faculty.smu.edu/jkazez/mol09/The%20pursuit%20of%20happiness.ppt

So we must adopt the awkward, slightly complicated position that “I am very happy…and everything must change drastically!”

We are all, let’s say, 99.5% genetically identical. So it may be more useful to look at a person and say, holy shit this person is just like me! instead of saying, for example, “I would never kill someone, because I am above that sort of thing.”

http://www.livescience.com/culture/happy-mood-try-new-things-100210.html

Dalai Lama’s Ethics for the New Millennium

We will play the same way we practice…

Two-way feedback loop between positive emotions and wellbeing…

Forgive the ellipses…

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AjKhandakerFirstPaper 3 - 13 Jan 2012 - Main.IanSullivan
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META TOPICPARENT name="FirstPaper2010"
 In order to get my “idea” to fit within the assigned limit/framework, I had to kill and re-work so many of my babies that the “formal” draft only vaguely communicates what I originally wanted to say. Hopefully, the contrast between the more formal draft (in the history) and this informal draft will illustrate my points that (1) Structure drives function, both in biology and in writing, (2) the current, formal format under which we’re working isn’t particularly conducive toward having substantive, collaborative, creative discussions, and (3) (trivially) the arrangement of ideas/words determines their meaning (on a conscious level). This is also still a work in progress.

AjKhandakerFirstPaper 2 - 28 Feb 2010 - Main.DRussellKraft
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Added:
>
>
META TOPICPARENT name="FirstPaper"
 In order to get my “idea” to fit within the assigned limit/framework, I had to kill and re-work so many of my babies that the “formal” draft only vaguely communicates what I originally wanted to say. Hopefully, the contrast between the more formal draft (in the history) and this informal draft will illustrate my points that (1) Structure drives function, both in biology and in writing, (2) the current, formal format under which we’re working isn’t particularly conducive toward having substantive, collaborative, creative discussions, and (3) (trivially) the arrangement of ideas/words determines their meaning (on a conscious level). This is also still a work in progress.

AjKhandakerFirstPaper 1 - 27 Feb 2010 - Main.AjKhandaker
Line: 1 to 1
Added:
>
>
In order to get my “idea” to fit within the assigned limit/framework, I had to kill and re-work so many of my babies that the “formal” draft only vaguely communicates what I originally wanted to say. Hopefully, the contrast between the more formal draft (in the history) and this informal draft will illustrate my points that (1) Structure drives function, both in biology and in writing, (2) the current, formal format under which we’re working isn’t particularly conducive toward having substantive, collaborative, creative discussions, and (3) (trivially) the arrangement of ideas/words determines their meaning (on a conscious level). This is also still a work in progress.

Suppose We're Being Brainwashed

-- By AjKhandaker - 25 Feb 2010 Eben mentioned brainwashing last Thursday, which I think is a worthwhile lens through which to view the multiple functions his arguments have.

http://health.howstuffworks.com/brainwashing1.htm

Note that I’m not disagreeing with Eben’s ideas. I’m only noting that Eben's ideas can be taken at both their face value and at their functional value.

Further note that “brainwashing” has a negative connotation, whereas “radical persuasion” could be a more appropriate characterization.

But let us assume arguendo that we are being brainwashed by charismatic genius who (1) is highly motivated to alter our behavior, and who (2) has been doing this to second semester 1Ls for a long time.

http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2009/sep/01/story-all-ages-ku-alumnus-writes-childrens-book-jo/

I’m not just brownnosing, these are important characterizations. By charismatic I mean that he can make people feel what he is feeling and/or the way he wants them to feel, and by genius I mean his working memory is such that he can be aware of and process more things, faster, and in parallel, than most people. Combined with his age/experience advantage, an intimate understanding of human nature, and having had a long time to think about this class, I suggest to you that it’s possible that our unconscious motivations are being dominated/manipulated in ways of which we are not (and may never be) fully aware.

I suggest to you that if Eben is actively operating upon us on an unconscious level, it is odd and slightly ridiculous for us to ignore that fact and continue to write/operate within solely the “conscious” level.

Why these ideas? Emotional Functions and the Brainwashing Process

For clarity, the brainwashing process is broken into steps, though many steps can occur simultaneously:

First, we're isolated from the rest of the law school and all other institutions: Conlaw is transcendental nonsense, Property is theft, and the Criminals are us. The Tax System is a disgrace to the human race, and so forth.

Second, our identities are dismantled: The single, stable personality is a social construct/constraint that we maintain unconsciously, just as we often don't fully think about how we're primates, and just as we pretend our motivations for doing what we do are conscious.

(Why else does Eben keep talking about MultiplePersonalities? ? Again, I’m not disagreeing with the idea, and, incidentally, I’ve come to the same conclusion myself, though through other, stupider means)

Third, we're instilled with an enormous sense of guilt and shame for not having done enough with what we aren't even entitled to (there are people much smarter than we are who will never get a chance to go to law school, what would it be like for you if 40 million slaves lived in the US, I've told you all the things you're not going to do, the state condones violence every day, Joseph Stack is dead because no one is there to help him) to correct the injustices in the world.

Fourth, we "self-betray" by admitting, for example, that we’re guilty of being complacent about injustice and/or of wanting to join a law firm.

Fifth, we break down and unleash our anxiety by asking existential questions about what we’re doing in law school.

Finally we are “reconstructed” such that our ideas/beliefs/identities make us feel less guilty and uncomfortable.

Question

If we’re being persuaded at an unconscious level, if we are attempting to become more aware of our and other people's unconscious motivations, and if we are attempting to learn about how people function, then why are we being forced to operate only at the level of conscious, “rational” argumentation?

I suggest to you that our current method of rational argumentation is conducive neither toward having creative, substantive, collaborative discussions, nor toward effectively persuading people, but it is conducive toward writing transcendental nonsense.

Unconscious metaphors

The assignment, as I understand it, is that we're supposed to pick "an" idea that we've “had” and communicate it, in a linked chain, serially, clearly, and formally.

Although we’ve been told that metaphors often cause more problems than they are worth, the problem is that when we’re dealing with language, we are always dealing with metaphors: the only issue is whether we are conscious of them or not.

For example, the metaphor of “having ideas” is not conducive toward having ideas

Ideas do not simply pop out of nowhere for anyone to own them, even though it may sometimes feels that way, and when that happens it’s tempting to take credit for them.

"Having” ideas is not a useful metaphor if our actual goal is to collaboratively create useful ideas. Better metaphors for "having" more creative ideas are “foraging” and “combining/experimenting.”

The metaphor of a chained link is not conducive toward having creative ideas or substantive discussions.

Instead of chained links, why not Legos? If we want to generate lots of ideas, why isn't our format to (1) create a common set of ideas and/or a common vocabulary (2) to play with the permutations of those ideas, and (3) add the best permutations to our vocabulary? Isn't that the way to have a constructive conversation?

The metaphor of serial processing versus (the metaphor of jokes as a metaphor for parallel processing)

The present “serial” format constrains what can be expressed in such a way so as to preclude us from “having” or communicating creative ideas. If you can't see my face and hear my tone of voice at the same time, then you won't get the joke. Likewise, by limiting ourselves to a serial, "chain-linked" papers, we're limiting ourselves to only certain kinds of "jokes" that can be told.

I fully understand that we're training to be lawyers and not comedians.

But "Jokes of the proper kind, properly told, can do more to enlighten questions of politics, philosophy, and literature than any number of dull arguments." -Isaac Asimov

Jokes are often about surprises and violating expectations anyway. If our expectations/predictions of the future haven't changed after hearing a "dull argument" that fits within the rationalizations we already have, have we really "learned" anything, or are we just rearranging our prejudices? The joke isn’t funny once I’ve explained it to you, consciously. This is important.

The whole is greater than the sum of its parts

If you think serial processing is conducive to communicating creative ideas, then you’re assuming that the whole is equal to the sum of its parts, and you still haven’t understood the joke.

Suppose we have 30 interconnected things happening simultaneously. If we isolate one thing and assume that the whole is equivalent to the sum of its parts, we will usually just “lie” like we've often done on the 10-20 page nonsense essays we've been trained to write since middle school, solely in order to fulfill the assignment.

And we all realize this on some level (consciously or unconsciously): how can you write a constructive, non-wheel-reinventing paper about, say, "religion" without talking about neuroscience, education, status, "human nature," law and politics, the Internet, the fact that we are inexperienced 1L’s who don’t know anything, everything else that’s been said about religion, etc.?

And because we all realize that it's incredibly difficult to say everything all at once, and talking about “one thing” is usually to just lie anyway, our solution is often to say "nothing." We'll often just write a whole lot of transcendental nonsense.

So if we ask people to write about “an” idea they’ve “had” about "one" thing, we're often going to get a whole lot of nothing (See: traditional law journals.) This isn't out of "stupidity" or "laziness": it is a likely result of the structure within which they are being forced to operate.

Structure is function, or at least structure drives function

Our papers are supposed to be closed, neat, certain, and un-emotional (1) with a well-defined idea, (2) for which we must have an outline, and (3) they must be parsimoniously written. However, real life is open-ended, messy, highly emotional, unconscious, and uncertain.

So we shouldn't be surprised if our outlines and the "links" we make between ideas in our formal drafts seem highly contrived/dishonest.

It is the arrangement of words that determine what they say. Likewise, forcing ideas into the pre-defined format creates an unnecessary amount of transcendental nonsense and dishonesty.

Operating upon the unconscious

Are we trying to create an argument that even a lazy idiot could follow? And if so, on what level should the argument be followed? How do people really think, and how should this influence the way we write?

I could play the game and give you a conscious argument: Privacy time has been over for awhile, because anyone with enough time and motivation can learn a ridiculous amount about anyone else. And since anything we do (or don't do) communicates an insane amount of information about us, it stands to reason that as technology improves and decreases the effort necessary to learn about other people from their actions, it will become increasingly obvious that our notions of "privacy" have been mostly "psychological" and not "actual."

And that is a form of persuasion on one level…but that’s also an example of na´ve persuasion.

But there’s more than one way to skin that puppy.

I could also give you the unconnected pieces of a hilarious puzzle, and then wait until you fall asleep.

Or I could try to get you to close your eyes for a minute, relax, let your brain go into alpha, and then go talk to someone.

Far be it from me to deprive you of an aha! moment by telling you what I’m telling you.

Other operators upon the unconscious

There were once good reasons to ignore the unconscious. For one, "The unconscious" could mean many different things. For another, "If you can't do anything with it, then you can't do anything with it." -Eben Moglen

But we CAN do things with the unconscious now, and they are being done to us, whether we realize it or not.

It is perhaps a trivial observation that our consciousness is just a manifestation of absurdly complex underlying brain functions.

It is also perhaps a trivial observation that what people want and what they say they want are completely different. We can’t ignore the tough, complex questions about our brains/behavior by hiding underneath transcendental nonsense anymore, because doing so is the functional equivalent of burying our heads in the sand.

Neuromarketing – Subliminal messaging is alive and well, and as marketers learn more about the brain, we will be increasingly manipulated in ways of which we may not be aware.

Neuropolitics – See: Win-Stay, Lose-Shift. http://nobelprize.org/educational_games/medicine/split-brain/

(I’m not endorsing this idea, I just think it’s worth thinking about): http://neuropolitics.org/Conservative-Left-Brain-Liberal-Right-Brain.htm

http://neuropolitics.org/defaultfeb08.asp

Emotional and Linguistic Prosody (within the legal profession?): http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0008759

Neurocinema

Ideas about creative ideas

I think an honest, blog-like writing style is more conducive toward having substantive, collaborative discussions about ideas than the formal writing style we’ve been assigned. We criticize Plato, because “no one talks like that,” but aren’t we guilty of the same thing? Where’s the subtext (and isn’t that usually the real point)?

We will improve our technical writing and expertise in other places, where blog-like writing won’t fly at all. But this is the last place we should be writing that way. If we are attempting to rid our writing/thinking of transcendental nonsense, there are perhaps better ways to do that.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pygmalion_effect

(1) It is the advantage of small networks that more complicated ideas can be transmitted and communicated. In large networks, the simpler, easier-to-copy-and-transmit ideas win, which is just one more reason the national discourse on serious issues is so unbelievably stupid. We shouldn’t throw away that advantage by having simplified, formalized arguments.

(2) A perhaps counterintuitive and rather Taoist idea that it took me a long time to figure out, is that if you want to have good ideas, you have to give away your ideas.

(3) We have to be unafraid to have “stupid” or “wrong” ideas. You can often combine a stupid idea with three other stupid ideas or two good ones, and come out with a brilliant idea. Or you can delete something from an idea to make it work, or take an idea from a domain in which it is stupid and apply it years later to a domain in which it works ingeniously. As lawyers, we will be problem-solvers, no?

--++Storytelling (4) It is easy to forget that we evolved under a tradition of shared, oral storytelling, not only to transmit ideas, but also experiences.

(5) We remember stories better, partially because the value and purpose of information is encoded into the transmission of the information itself.

(Buyology – Martin Lindstrom: marketers know that we remember information that is written into a story, Coke and American Idol, for example. In Your Brain is (Almost) Perfect by Read Montague, he talks about information and values in a way I think is useful)

When you’re told a great story, you put yourself in the shoes of an agent, who has goals and intentions, and you see how he gets his Holy Grail while also achieving what he really, unconsciously wants. The Holy Grail, the explicitly stated, conscious goal, is never the real goal.

The most financially successful stories of our time appeal to our unconscious motivations in a disgustingly satisfying way.

If we are trying to become better lawyers, we will need to continually improve our understanding as to the real, sub textual, underlying motivations of why people/clients do what they do (as opposed to their stated, conscious motivations) so we can tell better stories and craft better experiences for ourselves and our clients.

Employment

“If a man does only what is required of him, he is a slave. If a man does more than is required of him, he is a free man.”

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100203084254.htm

We are also excellent at filling the “roles” we assign to ourselves.

http://vhil.stanford.edu/projects/index.html Nick Yee: http://www.glennbeck.com/downloads/proteus.pdf

In terms of perspective, many of the people who spoke at the Private Sector Career Symposium today all seemed pretty happy/successful, so I don’t know that Eben’s way, don’t be an employee, is the only way.

Win-stay, Lose-shift

Satisficing is an example of a win-stay, lose-shift strategy and/or the pleasure/pain principle. Why should I abandon my beliefs/ideas so long as they are working well enough?

(When things have going well, we instinctively "elect" conservatives because we believe they will preserve and defend the "status quo", and when things are going poorly, we are instinctively more amenable to “electing” liberals. The irony is that if we really wanted to preserve the value of the status quo, we would keep doing what we were doing and continue electing liberals.)

Modern conservatism at the societal level is a systematic/(innate cognitive) error, because there is no accounting for the differential. By attempting to preserve and sustain our old position, we fail to adapt and paradoxically lose what we had.

Because of our status quo bias, real change is painful. Everyone hates and/or ignores the radical when times are good for them, because it just seems like the radical is trying to take away the good things people have…thus we have the "opiate of the masses" view of religion, etc., the idea being that if you can keep people obliviously happy, then they won’t bother to ask tough questions, and you can keep them “enslaved.”

Happiness and Creativity

Yes, guilt and cynicism/pessimism can cause people to shift, which may be what we want if we don’t want moral sleepiness about the innumerable injustices in the world…but I don’t think that’s the only way to skin that donkey.

Without being a na´ve Pollyanna about it, happiness is healthier, more attractive, and more useful both for our individual wellbeing and for the wellbeing of the people around us.

http://instruct1.cit.cornell.edu/courses/psych101/HappinessIntroPsy.ppt http://faculty.smu.edu/jkazez/mol09/The%20pursuit%20of%20happiness.ppt

So we must adopt the awkward, slightly complicated position that “I am very happy…and everything must change drastically!”

We are all, let’s say, 99.5% genetically identical. So it may be more useful to look at a person and say, holy shit this person is just like me! instead of saying, for example, “I would never kill someone, because I am above that sort of thing.”

http://www.livescience.com/culture/happy-mood-try-new-things-100210.html

Dalai Lama’s Ethics for the New Millennium

We will play the same way we practice…

Two-way feedback loop between positive emotions and wellbeing…

Forgive the ellipses…


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