Thursday, October 04, 2007

Think Inside The Other Guy's Box

In circles of armed conflict, there's talk of what's called the OODA loop. It stands for "Observe, Orient, Decide, Act". It's called a loop because it repeats itself. OODAOODAOODAOODA et cetera. The key to victory often lies in breaking your opponent's OODA loop by blinding, disorienting, confusing, or restraining your opponent. Another tactic is to "get inside" your opponent's OODA loop. Don't just run your own little OODA process, try to imagine, in your own head, what your opponent observes, how they will orient, what they'll decide, and how they'll act. This is less important in short skirmishes such as a sudden mugging or an ambush, where breaking the opponent's loop is easier. However, in conflicts of any length, where tactics of any sort are required, it becomes an invaluable and often deciding factor.

How people act depends on what they want. But something to keep in mind is that at the same time, how people think also depends on what they want. From a debate, it's easy to get the impression that somebody engaging in a debate has the intent of trying to learn. But sticking to this assumption can lead to a lot of wasted effort. So when somebody says something, always keep in mind that what they want isn't always what you think they want, and isn't always what they say that they want, and in fact, isn't always even what they truly believe they want. Always ask yourself what the other person wants. Don't go just by their word, don't go by your first impression. Go by what they do. They can deceive you with words, but their actions betray things about their values that they aren't even consciously aware of. Get inside their OODA loop. Observe their actions, then you can work backwards to see what their decision was, from which you can often work backwards to discover what this decision was based on, the person's motivations and premises.

A while ago, a number of my market anarchist friends on youtube began arguing with communist Buddhagem. The exchanges went back and forth a few times before either side gave up. Something I noticed my market anarchist friends doing is assuming that Buddhagem really cared to understand what market anarchist beliefs actually were. In my analysis, what Buddhagem wanted was to piss off people who he saw as his enemies. Much fun can often be had by doing this, because most people are stupid enough to fall for it. When somebody's means do not seem to fit the ends you believe they seek to fulfill, it's easy to think that they're just wrong, and their means are improper, and to attempt to correct their means so that their ends may be satisfied. When people resist any change to their means, it's not necessarily because they're just stupid or persistent or obstinate, it may indicate that their means do indeed satisfy their ends, and it is their ends that you have misunderstood. In these cases, I have found, a good way to test for a suspected alternate motive is to stop giving them what you suspect they want, or give them exactly the opposite, and see how they react after doing this for a short time.

Loss is not just something that happens. People don't feel loss until they have recognized it. In some cases, this feeling of loss is prevented by preventing the actual loss. In other cases, people prevent themselves from feeling loss by denying it, by refusing to recognize it. Psychologists call it "denial" and classify it as a "defense mechanism" with good reason.

When somebody's values contradict, for instance, having no problem deriving joy from the torment of others (pissing off ancaps) and at the same time wanting to think oneself to be of good moral nature, the easy way to not have to deal with the contradiction is to deny it. The person will not want it to be recognized, certainly not to others, but absolutely not to himself, that this is what he wants. He will tell himself a lie that he wants to believe, for instance, that he argues with them to discover the truth of the matter, as it is apparent to anybody, discussing with market anarchists will assist in this end. When the intensity of his drive for truth is superseded by his drive for self-esteem, this kind of contradiction becomes inevitable.

The best way I know of to deal with such people is to stop wasting your time with them. I've been experimenting with trying to show people what's going on in their head when they do this, but response has overwhelmingly been to deny being in denial. It's a vicious trap to fall into, and the only way I can think of to stay out is to value truth so highly that nothing else can cloud your vision. You have to check yourself for it, because if other people check you for it you'll probably deny it, and if nobody checks for it, you'll never find out. So make sure to avoid these traps.


Blogger Kevin K. Biomech said...

As usual, you make very good points. Since I was one of the suckers, I have to say your argument is entirely valid.

Which is why I don't bother with him anymore.

The only problem I see in your analysis, is that INITIALLY, it's often impossible to tell whether someone is debating from an honestly mistaken position, or merely poking sticks at the perceived enemy. Quite often you have to debate them for a time before you figure it out. So, I think rather than saying to avoid the trap, it's better to evaluate as you go, and don't follow it all the way into the closing jaws.

2:14 AM  

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