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Arousal and Indecency

I've been thinking of a psychological/physiological model of decency/indecency today, which would remove the moral and ethical arguments from debate and reduce it to a discussion of personal liberty.

Here's what I've got so far:

Certain stimuli (which I will call Type A) have a physiological effect on the human body which creates a state of arousal (in the psychological sense) chiefly characterised by increase in heart rate.

In most people the arousal response is involuntary, but it represents a significant and subjectively noticeable difference from the basal state. (it gets your attention and distracts you).

These involuntary stimuli include loud noises, bright lights, strong odors, as well as parts of the naked human body, certain smells (such as certain amines) and the sight of blood.

The arousal reaction can also be a conditioned response to stimuli such as arbitary words.

Since the effect on the person receiving the Type A stimuli is involuntary arousal, this means that whatever is generating the stimuli has a measure of control over the body of the simulated person.

Millsian liberty for individuals is founded on the freedom to think, the harm principle ("act as you wish without harming others") and freedom of association.

In order to satisfy Millsian liberty one would have to be able to consent to receiving or withhold consent to receiving Type A stimulus, as the sudden introduction of Type A stimulus would hijack the body of the individual and interfere with their ability to think freely.

Loss of liberty is considered harm for the individual.

Therefore consent must be obtained from those present before performing actions that generate Type A stimuli.

This means that the Type A stimuli themselves lose their moral dimension - they aren't evil or dirty or bad per-se. It's the consent of the audience which becomes crucial.

On the internet it's easy to obtain consent - a simple "do you wish to continue" link is all that is necessary (provided the viewer is able to make such a choice).

It's a little harder to do in the world of absolute reality. Maybe an artificial reality layer to block out unwanted stimuli might do the trick?

Comments

( 19 comments — Leave a comment )
17catherines
May. 21st, 2009 08:22 am (UTC)
I think you are on shaky ground...

For your argument to work in real life, there needs to be an objective, generally accepted notion of what is considered stimulating, as everyone is affected slightly differently by different stimuli, and some people quite significantly differently. If I am dressed in a fairly normal way, I can't be responsible for the reactions of every single person I walk past on the street - if someone happens to have a thing for exposed knees or elbows or wrists or ankles, I may be taking away some part of his or her freedom if he or she reacts to this - but it's taking away a hell of a lot more of mine if I need to be covered neck to toe regardless of the weather just in case I run across this person, as this restricts my movement, and potentially my ability to be outside in non-climate-controlled areas.

Actually, I am deeply uncomfortable with your argument, because it isn't far away from the arguments of scholars, theologians and/or lawmakers who have held women responsible for the actions of those who attack them, who have required them to cover up in public so that men will not be tempted, and who will still attempt to use what a victim of assault was wearing as evidence that she wanted that kind of attention.

I know that is not the argument you are trying to make, but your argument has been taken to those extremes in the past.

Yes, humans are naturally affected or aroused by some stimuli, but I don't think that completely abrogates our ability to think, and it certainly doesn't justify obnoxious actions.

Mind you, I wouldn't mind an artificial reality layer to block out the unwanted stimuli of the excessively loud and unpleasant alleged music played by the delinquents next door...
thekit
May. 21st, 2009 10:21 am (UTC)
I chose the physiological reaction that psychology describes technically as arousal because it was objective. You could wire up a sample of the population and determine if a given stimulus was Type A or not. This can be aggregated for say 95% of people in a given community, or handled individually. Being Type A doesn't make a stimulus unacceptable in and of itself.

I chose Consent as the major test for the whether something (the transaction of giving and receiving stimulus) was acceptable because that sets up a dialogue between the emitter and the receiver of the stimulus. If that dialogue is not present, then and only then is the act of giving and receiving Type A stimulus unacceptable. This focus on the dialogue is a direct reversal to the philosophies, theologies and legal precepts which lead to the obnoxious actions of the religious right, organisations such as the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and the obscenity laws which have curtailed the individual liberty and group liberty of women the throughout history. (I can expand on how this focus on consent is a reversal of stimulus emitter focused policies if needed.)

Only today, with the emergence of technologies such as the internet, augmented reality and natural feature extraction can such dialogue be implemented in real life.

Prior to this the only way to establish consent was to section off areas of the physical space and make all those who entered a fenced territory abide by the same social laws. This can unfortunately lead to what Mill called the tyranny of the masses, where individual liberty was curtailed not by a government but by mass opinion.

My emphasis on consent would be better served by augmented reality because then you could have geographical overlapping of different groups of people who consent to different things. For instance, you could choose to be topfree, and anybody who didn't want to see would see you wearing whatever they wanted to see. Your neighbors would be able to play loud music and you wouldn't be able to tell it from birdsong.

Without this technology your neighbors would have to ask you before cranking up their stereo - which, as you point out, becomes exponentially a more onerous task as the number of neighbours who can hear increases.

Edited at 2009-05-21 10:23 am (UTC)
deathbyshinies
May. 21st, 2009 12:59 pm (UTC)
OTOH... surely For instance, you could choose to be topfree, and anybody who didn't want to see would see you wearing whatever they wanted to see. would also work the other way. You can already download patches to make Lara Croft's clothes disappear: do you have any idea how much I don't want this happening in real life?
thekit
May. 21st, 2009 01:20 pm (UTC)
If a man was doing that today with his imagination, and you couldn't tell if he was, is it possible to stop him?

Likewise if you imagined punching a man in the face, and he couldn't tell that that mental image was what I term "Type A stimulus" for you, would it be possible to stop you?

In both cases the receiver of the stimulus is also the giver of the stimulus - the person who is doing the imagining gives themselves consent to view the mental image. This is part of their freedom of thought.

The person who is the subject of the fantasy is neither aware of the stimulus being sent nor able to receive it. They can only suspect it exists. If they are offended at the possibility of such things existing, then the offensive Type A stimulus is not coming from a specific person, but from an ontological belief.

this will require further study.
17catherines
May. 22nd, 2009 12:21 am (UTC)
What an unpleasant thought. And there's another freedom at issue here - the freedom to be seen as I choose to be seen. If I prefer to be modestly dressed, it's because I don't want people ogling my breasts instead of listening to what say - I recognise that people will imagine what they choose to imagine, but there's no way they need visual aids in the form of technology.
17catherines
May. 22nd, 2009 12:16 am (UTC)
I hope it's clear that I am quite interested in what you are trying to do, but I'm afraid I am constituionally incapable of ignoring the practical aspects of philosophies or theories.

It sounds like you are talking (effectively) about setting up individual contracts with everyone your actions might affect, to work out how best to preserve liberties of both. On the one hand, being as I am of the view that ethical actions require one to consider all the probable consequences of one's actions on all people involved before acting (as far as is humanly possible), I like the sound of this. As a theory, it's admirable.

Practically speaking though, I have my doubts about whether it could (or perhaps whether it would) be implemented in a way that wouldn't wind up being oppressive to some. To take the clothing example, the Victorians used to get all hot and bothered over a glimpse of ankle, because ankles were not usually seen in public. I suspect that if you went looking at 95% of a community in which women were traditionally covered, you'd get a similar result, simply because people have been conditioned that way. So I suspect that by this rule, you'd never get a change in dress code.

As for your filters, I wonder what effect they would have on society as a whole? I honestly don't know that it is a good idea to allow everyone to view the world only as they wish to see it. Not only do type A stimuli have practical uses, as deathbyshinies comments, but if we never see anything we don't expect or want to see, how are we going to learn and develop as humans? I would think this technology would tend more towards accentuating differences and divides between people and away from mutual understanding. And who sets my filters? What if I, as a parent, don't want my children to ever see two men kissing? Or people entering a church? Or people of a certain colour? Or beggars on the street? True, they can reset their filters as they reach adulthood, but if they've never had the experience of seeing people who might be differen to them growing up (or even the same as them in ways their parents don't approve of), what is that going to do to their development?

In all honesty, I think this technology would do more harm than good - better to go with the historically-tested route of attempting to decide rules of acceptable behaviour for society as a whole. I don't know that any society has ever got these rules right, but I far prefer a society where these things are mutually decided over one where everyone lives literally in his or her own little world.
thekit
May. 22nd, 2009 06:35 am (UTC)
You make very good points, so I'm going to answer your three replies 1, 2 and 3 as coherently as I can in this post.

While I don't kid myself that I'd ever be able to seduce you into supporting this social mechanism I propose, I am very grateful that you and deathbyshinies are spending your time and effort interrogating the implications of this social mechanism (and the technologies it may leverage) to see how it will impact our culture and cultures around the world.

In this response I will address the safety and desirablity aspects of augmented reality by proposing a new category of sensory stimuli which indicates the existence of a distressing entity without being distressing; then I will examine the ontological Type A emitters which deathbyshinies raised in a previous thread with respect to Millsian liberty; finally I'll examine the role of curiosity in education with respect to societal change.

Perhaps it would be best for me to propose a second category of sensory stimuli which I will call "Type B". Type B stimuli are stimuli which notify you of the existence of a Type A emitter (or of a dangerous object in the world, since dangerous objects can generally create type A emitters) but the Type B stimulus does not inherently trigger the physiological reactions (increased heart rate and other stress responses associated with psychological arousal) that characterise type A stimuli.

For example if somebody writes a LJ cut with the cut text "Contains cutting and self harm triggers" a person browsing sees the cut text as type b stimulus and has a very mild reaction. If they were to see the text behind the cut, they could have a type A reaction to something like the images that are in the top google hit for "emo cutter girl". Viewing these images causes a subjectively perceptible and objectively measurable response in most people, as the sight of blood sets the heart pounding.

Another example of type B is for me to simply tell you about a thing called "the pain series", and Type A stimulus is for me to show it to you.

Now, simply posting those images without a cut (if you will forgive the terrible, terrible pun) is tantamount to playing loud music - it is emitting Type A stimulus to somebody's friend list without their consent. Giving the option to not click on the link allows you to ascertain consent.

I believe that so long as people have been able to use tools and worn clothes, we have modified our perceptions of the environment and created our own little world to live in. Our houses have noiseproofing in the walls, and windows we can open. It's expected of our neighbours that they will play music loudly enough to be heard only if our window is open, and for us to be able to close the window and shut them out.

Under the old system of societal norms being enforced on a one-size-fits-all reality it's as if there are no windows to shut. The neighbors must either play music that is not Type A to us, or play it too quietly for us to hear. With augmented reality, we now have the ability to shut the window and place a type B stimulus on top of a type A stimulus.

I'm going to take a break for a snack and then return to the second part of this essay. In the interval, please enjoy this augmented reality demo.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lfp8id6bpDU

thekit
May. 22nd, 2009 07:04 am (UTC)
Even in a world full of type B emitters, it is still possible for a person to experience unwanted Type A stimulus because some type A emitters are ontological entities.

deathbyshinies cited the example of men undressing you with their imaginations and you mentioned that men would be better off without visual aids to that effect. The fact is that in that situation you haven't emitted any type A stimuli to the men involved, but they are receiving type A stimuli with the source being their own brains fixating on the existence of your concealed breasts. As such they consent to receiving the type A stimulus generated by their imaginations.

The discomfort you feel is the ontological angst that there exists these thoughts inside these men. You have no way to tell that these men are thinking these things, since they have not betrayed themselves yet. Here the type A stimulus you are feeling is not coming from these men in the example but from your brain thinking about the the existence of the thoughts in the heads of the men in the example. You do not consent to the stimulus, which you find distressing, so you may use various techniques to put it out of your mind or think of it without distress.

If you can't dismiss the "white bear" of unwanted thoughts then any thought which can cause type A stimulus has the potential to drive you insane, whether it is thoughts of the rampant patriarchy, your own mortality, germs or a Sartrian moment of existential angst.

More than that, if you are deprived liberty of thought, then you have lost Millsian liberty, and that is a harm to you. The ability to dismiss unwanted thoughts, though it is contrary to our biology is crucial to living a liberated life.

These things are real, but to handle them effectively you have to be able to handle them as type B stimulus, rather than face the damaging effects of type A.

I could add that photoshop and a camera phone can create images of anybody nude, and if you are a celebrity such photos are available widely. Just ask Sarah Palin. In order to continue her life as Governor of Alaska, she has to be able to convert the existence of those photos into type B factoids that she can tolerate without distress.


I'm going to take a photo of my PCR gel, and then return to the third part of this reply.

In the mean time, here's another augmented reality demo.

http://ge.ecomagination.com/smartgrid/

You print out a square on a piece of paper, and your computer replaces the square with a 3d landscape.

here's a youtube clip of it, if you don't have any paper.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=00FGtH5nkxM
17catherines
May. 22nd, 2009 07:29 am (UTC)
I don't think you are correct about it being ontological angst. It has very rarely occurred to me to think about whether someone else may be mentally undressing me, and in fact this has only occurred because their actions have made it pretty obvious. At which point I think you would agree that we are out of the world of imagination and into the world of fact (to which, in fact, I have every right to respond as though it is a type A stimulus because it could be evidence of a threat to my safety).

I actually don't care what someone else is doing with their imagination provided it isn't becoming manifest in actions which distress someone else. At that point, there is a problem. Though I admit that the idea of random people wandering around with the technology to more easily mentally undress anyone they like the look of does give me the creeps. It's an invasion of privacy, it's taking away my right to present myself in the way I choose to present myself (and what about women and men who dress modestly for religious reasons? this seems like a double invasion for them), and you know, I don't think I'd really want to spend very much time in the vicinity of a person who would do that to anyone, really. (And good lord, imagine that technology anywhere near a fourteen-year-old boy [sorry, but of all teenagers they seem to be the most unpleasant]. Isn't high school bad enough already?)

I think your argument about photoshop etc is weak - just because the technology exists and people use it in an obnoxious fashion doesn't make this a good thing to do, in my book. Sarah Palin may have had to learn to tune this sort of thing out (and much as I dislike her, I do hope she has), but I don't think that's the point. Just because one can learn to cope with that kind of behaviour doesn't mean one ought to need to (and one can get perilously close to 'boys will be boys' with that argument - since men are going to do filthy, filthy things with whatever technology they get, we should just get used to it? No, I don't think so).
thekit
May. 22nd, 2009 08:58 am (UTC)
Here we come to an important distinction: in my example there was no way to tell that the objectionable thoughts were or were not taking place inside another person's head. My example was an ontological type A.

In your example, you were experiencing actual sensory type A stimuli in the form of lewd actions on the part of the man in your example. In your example, I would have the filter replace the man with a big blue square which said "lewd man", which you could then dismiss once you've steeled yourself and are ready to deal with him. Then you can talk to him and negotiate either a cease to his emission of lewd conduct which constitutes Type A stimuli or you could threaten to walk away or choose even more stringent measures against him.

The point is, you get the option to deal with it when you are ready.

With regards to the invasion of privacy: I once co-wrote a piece for Farrago called "the night before GST-mas" which satired John Howard and made him look like a churlish miser who was hoarding the country's wealth. I felt that that was a valid political comment and one that added to the discussion of the impending introduction of the GST in Australia.

With my pen, I was able to transport the character of John Howard from The Lodge to various locations around Australia to show "him" the effects of his policies.

Now, that character is not actually John Howard, just a likeness of him. Political cartoonists (especially the infamous "howard's end" cartoon) have done far less flattering things to his likeness. Sarah Palin's publicity photo pasted inexpertly on the body of a porn star is not Sarah Palin. No private information was made public in either of these activities.

More than that, if you believe in liberty for all, the same liberty which allows you to think any thought you wish allows everyone else to think any thought they wish.

The alternative positions to defend are either that you do not believe in in liberty of thought for all, or that you believe in liberty of thought for only some.

To reiterate the distinction at the start of this reply: The publication of faked naked Sarah Palin or John Howard satires is stimulus which the publisher is emitting. If it is distressing, then it is Type A and should be filtered while negotiations take place to either stop its publication or have it remained blocked out of the consciousness of those who don't wish to view it.

Thus I do not subscribe to "boys will be boys". Boys and men should be held to the highest standards of accountability, as should everyone else.

The existence of such things inside the heads and private file servers of private people, or groups of people, is an ontological type A, if and only if there is no evidence for or against the existence of the naked faked sarah palin or john howard parodies. Then those disturbed by the idea that such things could exist are suffering from an ontological type A generated from within themselves and need to dispose of those unwanted thoughts (which is the topic of ironic processing and thought suppression in psychology).

17catherines
May. 22nd, 2009 11:40 am (UTC)
We're going to be here all weekend, aren't we? ;-)

Just to start with, I don't think you subscribe to boys will be boys or anything of the sort (I wouldn't bother arguing with you if I did think that), but that was how the particular argument came across. Also, I was a bit annoyed by your remarks about the type A stimulus coming from my own imaginings of someone else's thoughts - not to go all angry feminist on you, but 'it's all in your head' is something women do tend to be told rather often about things that make them feel upset in any way, regardles of cause. So it seemed worth pointing out that this was how your remark could be read.

I suspect the central trouble I am having with your argument is that the set of people whom I have observed thinking impure thoughts contains a) myself and b) people who have made said thoughts fairly obvious to myself or someone in my vicinity. Set (c), containing people who could be thinking pretty much anything but are keeping this to themselves is easily forgotten, being rather overshadowed in my mind by the less appealing elements from set (b).

I do believe in freedom of thought, and also in satire, but I do think there is a big difference in degree of acceptability between satire (which tends to point up hypocrisy or other failings of action and character) and faked nude photos (which have little purpose other than to humiliate or tittilate).

And there is a difference in degree of creepiness in my view from the person who wanders around visualising people naked and the person who actually goes out and acquires a filter to make this easier and/or more realistic. I don't think such a program for the filter *has* a legitimate purpose, to be honest, and I think its use would say something rather negative about the person using it.

Actually, I'm getting the idea your filter is a way of putting things on hold until you can sort them out, which is certainly interesting. I don't think I'm going to argue more on that side of things, because my arguments here all head towards the practicalities, which is clearly not where we are at present. Instead, I'll go and find something annoying to say about your next comment...
thekit
May. 22nd, 2009 08:25 am (UTC)
Finally we will come to the topic of discovering new stimuli when any given stimulus can be tuned out of our subjective reality. This also relates to the idea that we have a right to present an image of ourselves into another person's reality.

The rood of the word "education" is the latin educare which means "to draw out from within". This is distinct from the word schooling which means to make a bunch of non-uniform things conform to a class. In order to preserve personal Millsian liberty, I would suggest that curiosity is the only way that an adult should be induced to consent to receive new type A stimulus.

I believe that type B stimulus can be introduced to adults without their consent, so they have something to be curious about. I believe that adults should be able to consent to experience type A stimuli if they wish (and so perceive a dangerous car as a dangerous car instead of a dangerous-but-aesthetically-pleasing pony).

With regards to children, I need to do more investigation. On the one hand, parents supply much of a child's reality and their discipline forms much of the child's environment. On the other hand, children learn to associate primitive type A stimuli such as a hard smack or a harsh word with more abstract things like masturbation or saying certain words, and so through this process of conditioning receive most of their socially conditioned Type A triggers. It is an open topic at the moment as to how much control a child can wield before it hurts its development in a way which will eventually hurt others.

Curiosity will draw people who wish to learn more of "how the other half lives" to drop their filters, or even try out another person's filters for a time. This is the least traumatic and most consensual way to receive new type A stimuli.

Because the augmented reality filters I propose only block out a very small portion of the information that a person experiences those who are not curious will still be able to interact with people and things that would distress them, but in a non-distressing way.



For instance, some people are distressed by the "lose weight now" advertisements on facebook, but they still wish to use facebook.

There are three solutions to this problem that I know of. The traditional societal organization where social norms are observed by the majority of people can only utilise the first two, while my consent based system utilises all three.

One solution is to petition facebook to drop the advertiser. By apology - to turn down the loud music/ tell men to stop staring at you/ and thus change the emitter to remove the source of the type a stimulus. If facebook doesn't, then you face harm every time you use the service for as long as that advertiser is willing to reach into its deep pockets and buy ad space.

Another tactic is to change your facebook gender to "male", which prevents the advertisers detecting you and emitting the actual advert which is the type A stimulus. By changing something about yourself to avoid the type A stimulus is the equivalent to moving house to get away from loud obnoxious music and dressing in a way that makes you unrecognisable as a woman to foil the stares of lecherous men.

A third way is to install an adblocker on your browser. This is like closing the soundproof window or making the men appear chaste by putting a barrier between you and the emitter. When you are curious about what facebook is selling, or if you really want to know if the man in front of you is dangerous, you can drop the filter and take a peek.

The key point is this: my system uses all three methods. Ideally the emitters would not emit unsolicited type A, the receivers would definitely not require to alter themselves to avoid type A and the augmented reality filters would not need to come into play.

If there is a breakdown in consent, then the barrier converts type A into type B until consent can be obtained again.

I will deal with issues of practicality in the next part of this post, as I've overrun my 4300 character limit.
thekit
May. 22nd, 2009 08:25 am (UTC)
So how is this to be achieved?

Computers are very good at managing large numbers of relationships and negotiations. Take LJ for example. We see it as a series of static pages and web forms. In reality it is a huge network of linked entities of which we consent to see only a small part. We are friends filtered, and group filtered, and sometimes even frozen or banned. In that way we avoid drama.

Programmers know the value of a good abstraction. The Perl interpreter that runs the scripts that power LJ is seen by most as a magical program that turns perl script into web pages running on a truly marvelous cluster of hardware. Yet to squeeze the last bit of performance out of perl you have to dive behind the type B layer of error messages and warnings and see the perl interperter source. To comprehend the lexer of the perl interpreter is to know the face of madness. Nobody who has reached that level has ever been the same since.

The majority of lj users never become curious enough to look behind the bml pages and see what goes on when the bits hit the metal. The beauty is that they can if they want to, and only when they are prepared.


I mentioned earlier that the filters will be able to let most things through, but what if there exists a person who is disturbed by almost everything and so sets up their augmented reality to be an almost total virtual reality and lives in their own little world of inoffensive abstraction?

I would suggest that this person would be happier never having met any of us as we are, and that we would have healthier relations with them if that person saw us as they wished to see us.

On the internet I present as a straight white american male. This is assumed, not because of anything I do or say, but because of the prejudices endemic to the internet. If I don't out myself people who would otherwise be offended at who I really am are perfectly happy to talk to me and trade with me.

At the extreme, when I do all my commerce on the internet, I'm simply a shipping address and credit card number. The politics of identity ceases to exist when taking a shopping cart through the e-checkout.

What about my right to present myself as I am? I can type all I like on this journal. I can be called on my politics or links if they are offensive. I can alter my politics if I need to. People who read me aren't compelled to read all of me, just the bits they like.

Augmented reality and a consent based system of type A stimulus transfer promises to bring this to the physical reality where we live.

So. What if there is not enough time to be prepared for an education via curiosity, and imminent harm would occur if the type A stimuli was not handed on immediately?

Here we fall back to utilitarianism and harm minimisation - that is if the distress caused by the unsolicited type A stimulus is outweighed by the harm caused by ignoring it, it should be let through and the lesser harm be absorbed by the receiver.

Harm was going to happen anyway, and the agent that is the cause of the greater harm is at fault.

In all other cases, consent must be obtained so that no harm may be done.

ETA:
Here's an example of a consensual multiuser augmented reality with a consensus reality model and magic lens metaphor. It's called "the invisible train" where you can influence the speed of your train, and change the track switch settings. Other users see their train and your train on the tracks, but none of the trains exist in the physical world.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CmZhCUhDtRE



Edited at 2009-05-22 08:35 am (UTC)
17catherines
May. 22nd, 2009 11:54 am (UTC)
I'm running out of energy for this argument, but I think the gist of my response as far as your filters are concerned is simply - yes, I think this works very well on the internet, but I am still not entirely convinced about real life.

I am still particularly concerned with the situation where children are concerned, because while I agree that in general parents have a fair bit of control over what their children see and learn about, children also interact with a lot of other individuals at school and elsewhere, which gives them an opportunity to (at a minimum) see a bit of how the world works outside their immediate family circle. Parentally-chosen filters could really narrow this view down in a way I believe would be harmful. One wouldn't even need to be a particularly strict, let alone abusive, parent to unthinkingly narrow a child's worldview to a degree that could be harmful. And... imagine a very strict religious family in which children are homeschooled and rarely interact with people outside their particular group. A filter could effectively reduce 'rarely' to 'never', so that a child does not become aware that any other world exists until adulthood - by which point it's going to be a lot harder for them to learn how to exist outside that circle if they want to do so.

(Not that parents can't get things wrong already, but this seems to have limitless potential)

Incidentally, your remarks about default internet personae remind me of a friend of mine who does, in fact, use a neutral name online in order to avoid harrassment and also to be able to participate in political discussions on an even footing. She says it was fascinating to see how the same remarks would be received totally differently coming from her neutral (and thus assumed to be male) persona than when she made them under her own name. You know, I don't especially want to be AngryFeministCatherine, but good grief!
17catherines
May. 22nd, 2009 07:04 am (UTC)
Yeah, I don't like your chances of convincing me either, but it's an interesting collection of arguments we have going here...

Just so you know, there's no way I'm following any of those links, since my nightmares are graphic enough already (and I would like to note the role of insatiable curiosity in encouraging people to see things they really didn't need to see because this link is dangled in front of them and there might be interesting stuff behind it as well as the scary stuff...).

OK, I think your safety aspects work quite well up to a point, though it would depend on the stimulus - if I see a car heading towards me (and forgive me if I get the biology wrong, as I surely will), my heart will beat faster, my body will probably provide me with an extra serve of adrenaline, and so forth - and this type A reaction will provide me with the physiological tools I need to leap out of the way, hopefully. A type B reaction, if I understand you correctly, will not set off the same physiological response, and I will be relying on what I suspect are much slower logic and reaction circuits to get out of the way of the car.

Which is a long-winded way of saying that sometimes type A reactions are there for a reason.

Ooh, and here's a good one - have you read a book called 'the gift of fear'? It describes, among other things, how the little things that we don't consciously notice are nevertheless compiled by our brain, which puts them together in ways that cause us to have an instinctive good or bad feeling about a situation without necessarily knowing why. But what happens when another program is overriding this and filtering things out from our attention before our brains have a chance to play with them? Would we lose these useful safety instincts?

I also look forward to seeing how you address the aspects of my argument that relate to the impact of filters on social maturity (for want of a better word). I do want to add that I am always and entirely in favour of warnings and LJ-cuts and the like - this, to me, is a matter of courtesy and consideration for the reaction of others, as distinct from filtering out the world entirely.

(and I'm afraid there is a cranky old lady part of me who says that frankly, I see nothing wrong with requiring the neighbours to play music at a volume which does not shake my house and force me to hear language which is both unpleasant and extremely misogynistic - not a term I use lightly, I might add.)

(I'm also realising that I'm a pain in the neck to argue with because I keep on thinking of more ideas and wandering off in yet more directions with my objections. Sorry about that...)
thekit
May. 22nd, 2009 08:41 am (UTC)
Thankyou. I would like to read the gift of fear. I'd be interested in whether the subtle cues are type B in nature when viewed on their own, and so would be unobjectionable to pass through the filter. A malicious individual wouldn't be able to hijack your body and flood you with adrenaline unless they were able to manipulate many subtle queues at the same time.


If they can produce all the false signals, then those false signals constitute type A and should be blocked.


If they can produce all the false signals, then the set of those false signals constitute type A and would be blocked, even if the individual false signal components are type B when considered separately. This blocking is not automatic, but voluntary.

I take it you would also consent to experiencing certain type A stimuli such as a speeding car heading for you. That is fine.

I also agree with the idea that your neighbours should not emit type A without your consent, and regard the filter as a way of dimming the type A stimuli to type B until you can negotiate some way to normalise relations. That avoids the physiological responses of psychological arousal and the drama.

Edited at 2009-05-22 09:07 am (UTC)
deathbyshinies
May. 21st, 2009 01:02 pm (UTC)
What ze said. I know that's not the definition of arousal you're working from, but it is the way some people will take it unless you definitely specify otherwise.

Also, I can see the potential for the idea of an artificial reality layer becoming seriously dangerous, as unpleasant stimuli often do serve a purpose. To take a gross example: say I want to view my CBD with all the horrible noisy fume-emitting cars edited out - who do I then blame when I step into the path of one?
thekit
May. 21st, 2009 01:14 pm (UTC)
Maybe I need a new term which is better than my arbitarily chosen "Type A stimuli". The main point is that it is related to heart rate and so can be quantified objectively with a stethoscope and a wristwatch in a simple room setting. You'd introduce the stimulus and then monitor the heart. Simple experiment.

As for danger - I'm not suggesting that all the stimuli from a car be edited out, just the ones that I'm calling "Type A" until a better term can be found. you could replace the image of the car with a large horse. Instead of a beeping horn you'd hear a pleasant whinny.

You'd still step out of the way.
17catherines
May. 22nd, 2009 12:16 am (UTC)
Oh, now that's an interesting flaw that I hadn't considered. Another analogy is people who have lost the ability to feel pain due to brain or nerve injury being at constant risk of injuring themselves and not noticing.
( 19 comments — Leave a comment )

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