Sacrifice-blindness

I just read a comment on an Uber fundraising page for a lady with cancer. It said, “Uber should provide healthcare for all drivers instead of doing gofundme pages!”

I’m not here to debate whether or not that would be better, but rather to point out a phenomenon of sacrifice-blindness.

My friend sent me an article today about a kid falling out of a window on LSD. She doesn’t like that I do LSD. I told her that LSD was really safe and that more people fall out of windows on alcohol. She said,
momlsd

Frequently we point out things that are Good Ideas Motivated by Goodness, such as:

*Everyone should have access to health care
*Nobody should fall out of windows
*Avoid war no matter what
*Jobs should pay enough to cover all basic financial needs
*Terminal illnesses should be researched and cured
*Nobody should be racist
*Our culture should be protected from criminals
*We shouldn’t have our freedom infringed
*Provide the homeless with housing
*We need more after-school programs
*Employers should provide medical benefits to employees

I don’t disagree with the desires expressed by all these things, and I suspect almost nobody would. If I could press a button and magically everybody gets health care without any cost to anybody, I absolutely would.

And I don’t mean to make this an argument against the individual ideas expressed. Whether or not universal healthcare should be instituted is a whole different idea. What I am arguing is to eliminate sacrifice-blindness.

I am on a birth control that puts me at significantly increased risk for stroke. A few years ago I would have never considered taking this birth control, because “avoiding all things that increases health risk is a Good Idea Motivated by Goodness.” Good health was paramount above everything.

But really? Above everything? Even all the positive benefits the birth control pill gave me? By blindly accepting this rule of Goodness, I failed to consider what I was sacrificing to follow this rule – medication that would improve my quality of life. And once I stopped to actually consider the practical results of the options I was facing, my choice changed.

Preserve Human Life No Matter What is a frequently touted Good Idea Motivated by Goodness, but we don’t act according to it. We drive our families around in cars, putting them at risk of car accidents and death. Realistically speaking, the law we follow is more like Preserve Human Life As Long As It’s Mostly Convenient For Us.

And this is fine. Outlawing LSD to preserve safety might be a Good Idea Motivated by Goodness, but it ignores the sacrifice made for this – human autonomy in their own safety and all of the benefits of LSD.

Now, you can look at this evaluation and make a choice, and I’m not going to tell you you’re wrong. If you’re fully aware of all of the things you are sacrificing in order to gain “nobody falls out of a window,” then I cannot blame you, and now our discussion switches to one of personal value.

With the example of Uber and medical benefits – would it be a Good Idea to make Uber provide benefits to its employees independent contractors? Yes. But what would we be sacrificing in order to make this happen? Would this raise the cost of Uber, making Lyft a better option and putting Uber drivers out of business? Or making it less affordable for poor people in communities to have easy transportation? Or raise the barrier of entry for people who want to be Uber drivers, thus reducing the number of potential income sources that a desperate person might need to feed their family? Would requiring Uber to give out healthcare actually end up hurting poor communities the most? Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe even if it did, it would still be worth it. But whatever our final choice, let’s not be sacrifice-blind.

I find that in the majority of political discussions I see, parties from all sides engage in sacrifice-blindness in pursuit of touting Good Ideas Motivated by Goodness. I suspect that if everyone knew exactly what would be sacrificed if their idea was actually perfectly implemented, people would agree with each other much more often.

Filling the Dating Role

A: “You’re looking for someone to fill the position of head software engineer for your company.”

B: “That’s right.”

A: “What sort of things are you looking for? Good work history? Proficiency in programming languages? Ability to manage?”

B: “What kind of employer do you think I am? I mean I’m not against those things, but really, I’m just a simple worker at a simple company. The most important attributes in an employee are kindness, a sense of humor, loyalty, and intelligence.”

A: “What?”

B: “I mean, would you hire anyone who was mean, or an idiot, or boring?”

A: “I’d prefer not to, but that’s not the point. You’re hiring them to perform a specific duty.”

B: “And that specific duty will be done poorly if they aren’t funny, intelligent, or kind.”

A: “Yes, those things are important – but they’re base things we want for any human we have to interact with regularly, ever – for any job, for a roommate, for a friend. And yes, those traits can offset a little bit qualification – you’d probably prefer a very emotionally mature but slightly less qualified worker over an emotionally immature but overly qualified worker – but it still gives us no information about how well they’ll perform specifically to the role itself! The base traits of funny-intelligence-kindness are like a platform upon which you build the rest of the structure of qualifications, and when I ask about the role, I am asking about that structure, not the platform.”

This is how I feel when I ask people what they look for in a romantic partner and they reply with “funny-intelligent-kind”. (For the purposes of this post, the generic positive personality trait cluster will be known as FIK.)

I think it’s particularly important because we frequently say being FIK is what’s the most attractive, but then we go on to avoid dating most of the super-FIK people. It’s sort of like if, in a job application, the requirements said they were looking for FIK applicants, but then went on to completely ignore the ones highest on the FIK spectrum.

If you point out that they’re not selecting for FIK, usually the response is something like “but I would never be attracted to someone who wasn’t FIK!” This is true, but not illuminating. The question about selection comes from the aspects that fit the specific role, not the basic FIKness required for form the platform base for that role.

FIKness is something we want for all people in our life, not just dating, so saying you want a FIK person to date reveals nothing about your actual dating requirements.

So to learn about aspects unique to the “dating role,” we have to disregard all qualities that are equally desirable for other roles, friendship included. Anything FIK-related, throw out.

For men dating women, the answer is kinda obvious – physical beauty. For women dating men, power.

This last part is worth its own set of discussion, but I’ll save that for another time – this post was mostly just a response to a few discussions I’ve had with people who claimed FIKness for their romantic selection and were resistant to pointing out role-specific requirements.

Men Who Tip Camgirls: Survey Results

Higher tippers like what sorts of camgirls more?
A: Girls who complain about freeloaders
B: Girls who talk loudly about feminism
C: Girls who look really girl next door
D: Begging for tips on social media
E: ALL OF THE FUCKING ABOVE?!

I started out with 951 responses. I’m interested in motivations of common tippers, so I threw out women tippers and people who said they never watched camgirls. I did, however, leave in two attack helicopters and a deep-dish pizzakin.
genderlist.png
This left me with a sample size of 850 responses.

I grouped some answer sets that had low count, but not very many. Nearly all categories have over 40 responses.

I used DataHero because I’m a complete newb.

If you want more details, check out the camgirl survey

ONTO THE JIZZ

DataHero Age and Watch Rate2.png
I apologize for the graph order.
The older the (bottom range of the) age group, the more frequently they watch camgirls.

DataHero Age and Tipping.png
The older the man, the more he’s likely to tip. This makes a lot of sense, young men are poor. Thanks Obama!

DataHero Tips and Camgirl Fidelity.png
This is fascinating and I don’t know what it means exactly. What the hell is that 2-3 girl range doing so low?

DataHero Freeloader Complaints and Tip amounts.png
The question was, do you have higher approval of girls who express disapproval of freeloaders (7) or girls who don’t (1)?

The more likely men are to approve of a camgirl complaining about freeloaders, the more they are likely to tip. This is interesting and kind of contradicts the camgirl graph from the sister study reporting slightly lower income the more likely they are to complain about freeloaders.

DataHero Room Complaints and Tip Amounts.png
Again, 1 is ‘less likely to tip’ and 7 is ‘more likely to tip.

The question was about camgirls expressing disappointment or displeasure in her room counts or tip amounts being low. I am absolutely astonished to see higher tippers rating this as increasing the likelihood that they will tip her. Of course, maybe they aren’t being honest with themselves, but who knows? I will ask this question in my next camgirl survey to see their side.

DataHero Asking for Tips and Tippers.png
What is this crazytown?? Men more likely to view “begging camgirls” (camgirls who ask for passive tips through non-live means, such as social media) favorably are also bigger tippers. I mean maybe this is obvious to some of you but it’s blowing my mind.

DataHero Camgirl Respect Attempts and Tipping.png
The more a camgirl verbally demands respect, such as saying ‘camgirls deserve respect!’, the more high tippers view her favorably.

I’m starting to think high tippers aren’t the kind of people I thought they were. I had this image of high tippers as world-weary sorts of people, who had plowed through a thousand camgirls and weren’t easily manipulated. I think this idea comes from the sense of powerlessness camgirls frequently have in regards to finding big tippers, and the idea that if she only figures out the ‘secret code’ or something that big tippers want, then they will come to her.

This is painting a different picture. It seems to indicate that high tippers are only special in that they tend to be predisposed (maybe?) to view money-based cam behaviors favorably, or that they have a higher than expected tolerance to camgirls making demands about their jobs and those who watch them (e.g., fuck freeloaders!).

Is this a status thing? That girls who portray a sense of entitlement also seem to be harder to get, and thus men try harder to get them?

I’m really not sure though, definitely open to different ideas on this!

DataHero Indirect Camgirl Respect Attempts and Tipping.png

Weirdly, “indirect respect” attempts (such as emphasizing behind-the-scenes skill it takes to do her job) is more polarizing. The answers on both ends are a bit lower in number though (around 30-40 responses for 1 and 7), does this have something to do with it?

DataHero Feminist Vocalness and Tip Amount.png
The more a man tips, the more likely he is to rate vocal feminism favorably, with a dropoff at the extreme.

DataHero Alternative Aesthetic and Tips.png

This holds up strongly with the camgirl side of the results, too. The more alternative a girl’s style, the less money she makes. Here we see that people who really like alternative styles tend to tip less.

DataHero Traditional Aesthetic and Tips.png

In hindsight I phrased this a bit poorly, but the general idea stands I think. The more ‘girl next door’ a woman looks, the more men report tipping her. The spike around the 3 is interesting, maybe corresponding to the little spike at the 7 on the previous graph? There was a low sample count for that 3, so it might be just high variance.

Overall I would read out of this that polarizing looks (very traditional/aesthetic) do better than middling looks, and that very traditional looks do better than very aesthetic looks.

DataHero Name Announcement and Tip Amount.png
High tippers tend to like the far ends of the spectrum here too, but in general, announcing the name seems like a nicer option.

DataHero Crying on Cam.png
Men who tip a lot are more likely to rate crying camgirls favorably. WHAT IS THIS FUCKING CRAZY WORLD WE LIVE IN

DataHero Room Count and Tip.png

Okay, finally something I understand. The higher the room count of the girl (options were a range of 30 to 300 count), the more likely higher tippers are to clear 10% of the girl’s countdown.

DataHero Girl Getting Tipped and Tip.png

Same question, except instead of low and high room count, it’s low and high tip amount.

The more a man tips, the more likely he is to say he will tip a girl getting few tips instead of many tips.

i dont understand

i don’t understand at all

——–

I have emerged from this more confused than when I started. High tippers report viewing more favorably girls who complain about freeloaders, complain about their room, and who demand respect – all generally behaviors I previously thought were turnoffs.

High tippers also apparently like high room counts with low tips?

ARE HIGH TIPPERS JUST LYING TO US???

This has raised a billion more questions than it answered. More surveys to come after I uncomfortably mull this over.

Have a bonus graph about how high tippers are more likely to date camgirls who refuse to quit camming: DataHero Dating Camgirls and Tips.png

Categories Fun

What makes a camgirl successful? Survey results

Option A: Having natural hair color
Option B: Being really hot
Option C: Doing lots of drugs
Option D: Doing a fuckton of games
Option E: All of the above

hint: the answer is E

My Data Has Limits, Beware!

I got 311 responses from people who identified as cam performers. I threw out all male cammers, people who hadn’t cammed in the last 6 months, people who had wildly inconsistent answers, and people who skipped a lot of questions.

This left me with a sample size of 278.

If there weren’t a lot of answers in a category, sometimes I grouped them together. For example, when asked to rate their own attractiveness, only a handful gave answers spread around the range of 1-5. I combined all of them to function as 5. So, for example, “15% of girls are 5 or under, 22% are 6, 18% are 7, etc.” I don’t know if this is the right way to handle data, so if I made an error here, let me know!

I tried to ensure all categories had at least 25 responses, but most have over 30.

All spectrum answers were out of 7 (e.g., on a scale from 1 (low) and 7 (high), rate your body weight)

I think the error margin for my answers is 5-7%, based off of some light googling, but the margin is probably much higher for correlations. Try to squint when you look at the graphs.

I used DataHero, a correlation finder for dummies complete idiots.

Also please remember my sample size is camgirls who are involved in networking! I used twitter and forums to spread the survey, so I missed camgirls who are disconnected from the community, and their numbers might be very different.

Onto the juice:

DataHero Untitled.png

When I asked about income, I asked for ranges, and plugged in the numbers as the bottom of that range. For example: an income of $1-10 I registered as ‘1.’ The number you see is the average sum of the bottom of all the ranges. The highest category is $200+/hr.

So, out of camgirls who struggle with anxiety/depression frequently, the bottom range of their earnings is $45/hr. Girls who don’t struggle make a bottom range of $62/hr. I don’t actually know if this is the right way to categorize the data, but at least the comparisons between categories seem legit for now.

The total average bottom-range number of all responses is $49 per hour.

DataHero Over last 6 mon, have you struggled with anxietydepression.png

Remember that correlation does not equal causation! It might be that girls who make more money end up being financially secure which leads to less depression. It might also be that girls who are prone to depression have this affect their work life, thus leading to lower income. I don’t know which one it is. Maybe/probably both.

Income and age:DataHero Income and age
I would guess that newer girls tend to be younger, and as thus have a less established base and less income. The income increases once the base is established, but drops off once get too ripe.

DataHero Age and Length of Cam Career
This seems to hold somewhat true. The 27-32 and the 33+ year old categories each generally have been camming for the same amount of time, but those over 33 make substantially less. The 23-26 year olds have cammed for less time than the 27+ age group, but make more money.

DataHero Length of Cam Career and Income.png

If you’ll notice I fucked up a bit when asking about length of camming. If you’ll also notice, there’s no difference in income between girls who have cammed 0-6 months and girls who’ve cammed 6-12 months. 2 years is where it really starts to take off. I don’t know about that dip in the 3rd year.

So far it looks like the secret to success is “start camming really young” and “cam for a long time.”

DataHero Body Weight.png
(Due to low answers, I combined people who answered “1” or “2” into just “2”, and same for 6-7)

Looks like 3/7 bodyweight earns the most – with an interesting spike at the heavier end. Is this a sign of niche preference for fluffier ladies?

DataHero Is camming your only source of income.png
This one is pretty obvious. Remember we don’t know which causes which – the income or the time put in!

DataHero Hours Per Week and Income.png
Turns out the ‘0-5′ and the ’40+’ categories have only around 20 responses each, so expect higher variance there.
That being said, all ways I looked at the data showed a spike around 10-20 hours a week, and 40+ hours a week. Is this indicative of two different types of successful camgirl strategies?

DataHero Days per week and income (1).png
I took out the ‘0-1’ category because there were few responses, but the average reported income for 0-1 days was very low. I say this because I don’t understand why 2 days a week is so high.

DataHero Hours and Days.png
That being said, the hours and days correlation is beautifully strong.

But it looks like there’s a bit of two sweet spots here – working 2 days a week, or 10-15 hours, and working 40+ hours a week, or 5 days a week.
There wasn’t enough data to look closely at the distinctions of hours ‘more’ than 40 a week, but I would guess it falls off at the upper ends, much like days of week falls off once you work over 5 days a week.

Remember: correlation does not equal causation. Working more than 5 days a week does not mean you will make less per hour – it’s very possible that 7-day girls are also ones who work from studios, or split-cam, or something, and thus bring down the income numbers. I don’t know.

DataHero Attractiveness and Income.png
(I combined responses in 1-5 and 9-10 due to low counts)
And maybe the obvious thing we all want to ignore – hotter (at least self-reported hotter) girls make more money. A 6/10 girl will make, on average, a whopping $33 less per hour than a 9/10 girl.

Of course it’s possible girls who think they are hotter are more confident, and confidence is what earns more money. I personally doubt this, however.

DataHero Predicted rank and Actual Income.png

For this question, I asked girls to rank themselves in comparison to other camgirls (for income), and then compared it to the actual income ranking.

There might be something fucky going on with the way I organized the data, but from this it looks like girls who rated themselves “3” or “4” (out of 7) in comparison to other camgirls are overrating themselves. You 3 and 4 girls, you’re doing worse than you think!

DataHero Hair Color and Income.png
Blonde and Brunette competes for the goal, while ‘Other’ lags behind. (grey was an option, but there were so few responders that I filtered that out.) There’s a pretty significant difference in income, with ‘other’ hair colors earning $24 less per hour.

I thought that maybe less attractive people tend to dye their hair weird colors, so I looked at the correlation between hair color and self-rated attractiveness. There was no significant correlation (the biggest difference was 7.26 at black hair, and 7.52 at blonde hair, which I don’t think is a huge difference? ‘Other’ was 7.45, anyway).

DataHero Sexy Shows and Income
Here, “1” was “no sexualness” and “7” was “very explicit. I interpret this as “non-nude” models doing ok, and “kinda sexy girls” doing ok, with everyone else failing for some reason. I really don’t understand that huge difference between 3 and 4.

DataHero Alcohol and Drugs and Income.png

The question was “Do you drink or do other drugs specifically to assist with cam performance or coping with camming?”

I thought maybe this is due to correlation with camming time – girls who cam for a long time eventually turn to drugs or alcohol to cope/help. I was right!
DataHero Cam Career Length and DrugAlcohol use.png
DataHero Member Communication and Income.png
I merged ‘no’ (very few responses) into ‘rarely.’
And, as is unsurprising, the more girls talk to their members off cam, the higher their income.

DataHero Freeloader Complaints and Income.png
This is the question that started it all! I wanted to know if girls who vocalize their disapproval of freeloaders tend to make more or less money. Girls who say ‘no’ or ‘rarely’ make more money than girls who say ‘frequently’ or ‘occasionally’ – though frequently makes more money than occasionally. I don’t know what that’s about.

DataHero Games and Income.png

Here, ‘1’ was low on the “how much do you do games” scale, and ‘7’ was high.

This is really interesting. Girls who say they are 7 on the scale of games do way better than everyone else.

DataHero Site and Income.png
Interestingly, Chaturbate cammers do worse than ‘other.’ Unsurprisingly, MFC girls rake in the big bucks.

DataHero Number of Sites and Income.png
Girls who use 1 site make $28 more per hour than girls who use 2.

DataHero Top 3 Tippers and Income.png
The question was, what percentage of your income comes from your top 3 tippers?
(each answer was a range; ’90’ on the graph was ’90-100%’ range in the answer selection)

DataHero Vocalizing Complaints and Income.png
The question was about whether girls vocalize their complaints about slow days. The results weren’t strong and it appears as though this doesn’t have any significant effect on income.

DataHero Relationship Status and Income.png
Girls who pretend they are single make $18/hr more than girls who admit they aren’t.
However girls who don’t have a SO at all make even less. Most probably, men are less likely to tip girls who they know are dating someone. However a few things:

Girls who have jealous SOs might be more open about them, and jealous SOs might be less supportive of camming in other areas.
Girls with supportive SOs might put less pressure on them to disclose their relationship.
Girls who don’t have any SOs might have much less help in camming overall.

Although – are less attractive girls less likely to date? Let’s check.
DataHero Relationship Status and Attractiveness.png
Nope! No correlation to attractiveness (biggest difference is 0.12).
I suspect this indicates that SOs provide a great deal of behind-the-scenes assistance and motivation.

It’s also possible that girls without SOs also tend to have fewer household expenses, and thus need to make less money to support themselves, and so take camming less seriously.

I don’t think I had enough data to make good predictions about age and relationship status, but it’s possible older women still camming are more likely to be single, and older women make less money.

DataHero Physical Sex and Income.png

“For pay” category had low response number, so don’t take it too seriously.
That being said, 22.4% of girls reported having sexual contact with their members, 15% of it voluntary. Girls who have had voluntary sexual contact with their members make more money. I think this is just that girls who cam longer both tend to make more and tend to eventually become more likely to sex a member. I checked – girls who haven’t sex’d a member have been camming on average 2.55 years, and those who ‘have’ voluntarily sex’d a member have cammed on average 3.62

DataHero Niche Cammers and Income.png

Had low-ish (25) numbers for ‘yes, very much’ so take it with a grain of salt.

DataHero Aesthetic Style and Income.png
Here, 1 was ‘very alternative, tattoos, piercings, etc.’ and 7 was ‘very traditional; no piercings, long hair, etc.’

Generally speaking, the more traditional a camgirl looks, the higher her income.

DataHero Thinking About Work and Income.png
0-4 were combined due to low answer volume.
Looks like girls who either don’t take their work home with them, or do, make the most.

DataHero Parents and Length of Cam Career.png
I initially did this as correlation between parents and income, but then I figured it’s probably more just about ‘how long have you been camming,’ and I think I was right. The longer a camgirl has been camming, the more likely it is that their parents know.

Since the graph cuts it off – the first ‘yes” is “mostly accepting,” and the second “yes” is “mostly disapproving.”

And, as a last bonus: non-nude models (both strictly and loosely, so probably including ‘teasy’ models) make only $4 less per hour than nude models!

So in summary: Start camming early. Be young. Have cammed a lot. Work either really hard or kinda hard, but nowhere in between. Be traditional. Don’t have weird colored hair. Do drugs and drink. Don’t have anxiety. Cam on MFC (only) and do a ton of games. Be super hot. Talk to your members offline. Have sex with your members. Get a boyfriend but don’t tell anyone about it. Don’t be too graphically sexy. Be kinda skinny but not too skinny.

And whalah, you have the recipe (or a description, at least) of a successful camgirl!

If you’re interested in taking more surveys, all currently open ones are under the ‘surveys’ tab above, and I will tweet about new ones I add. This survey has taught me a lot about what things to avoid in survey making, and hopefully the next one will be a lot more accurate, fine-tuned, and useful!

Thank you everyone for your help!

Bonsciousness

Disclaimer: I have a spectrum of posts, from “thoughtfully laid out to attempt to appeal to people who disagree” to “more quickly summarized to appeal to people who already at least partially agree with me.” This post is in the second category.

I want to contribute another word to my pile of cheesy invented terms: bonsciousness.

One of my pet peeves is people confusing questions about consciousness. I’ve seen “can we ever scientifically solve the hard problem of consciousness?” uttered just a few sentences away from talking about “what is the origin of qualia.” Consciousness is a fascinating problem for reasons that render those questions useless, but in order to make this more clear I want to divide the one concept into two.

“Consciousness” is the word we (should?) use for the conceptual model we have of “other things being self aware.” When we ask the question, “how do we know if an AI should be treated ethically?” we’re probably asking if the AI is conscious. The P-Zombie thought experiment has to do with whether or not other beings contain this elusive “consciousness” quality.

Consciousness can’t be known for sure, as we could be in a simulation where everyone else just behaves very convincingly, or a dream where we are absolutely convinced that we are talking to an intelligent friend, despite them just being a projection of our own minds.

When we handle the concept ‘consciousness,’ we’re usually handling something like the concept of ‘how much do we feel that other beings exhibit patterns that we uniquely identify with’ – as in, we might think an AI is conscious if it can do things like “use language creatively.”

The key concept of consciousness is that it is something that can be applied to multiple things. There can be multiple consciousnesses, whatever it means or however sure we are of it existing. Multiple awarenesses feel like it makes sense, and is calculable, or measurable, and one day we might be able to do better science to it and feel like we’ve made additional consciousnesses.

Bonsciousness, on the other hand, is fundamentally singular. It is the subjective and immediate awareness of the self. It is direct experience.

The concept of bonsciousness becomes relevant in thought experiments like Mary’s Room (if a color blind scientist studies color for a thousand years, will surgically fixing her color blindness on the 1000th year give her any new information?), in questions of identity – but it always has to do with the nature of experience.

It cannot be multiple. If you try to imagine someone else possessing bonsciousness, you are not thinking about bonscoiusness, you are thinking about consciousness. This may seem a subtle distinction, but I find it incredibly important. Teleportation poses no deep philosophical questions when it happens to other people – the importance lies in the subjective and personal experience. The question “does teleportation kill you” relies on what the continuation of experience feels like – while the question “is AI conscious” relies on whatever markers we have that we think needs to be met for consciousness to exist. These are two questions that come from two hugely different types of ideas.

I find this to be an unintuitive distinction for some people, as it’s very common for people to combine the concepts of consciousness and bonsciousness in their own mind. I also find that if one does not already find self-awareness to be deeply philosophically strange, it’s difficult to induce that sensation in them through argument alone and I don’t expect this post would accomplish that.

I do suspect, though, that at least attempting to use different terms for singular/multiple ideas of consciousness would clarify a lot of the conversations I’ve been listening to lately. I’ve been hearing people ask a question about bonsciousness and then attempt to answer as though they’re talking about consciousness, which is quite frustrating.

Bonsciousness is so elusive because it is about a category of knowledge that isn’t measurable, and trying to treat it as measurable shuts down a lot of avenues of learning.

Losing Pride

When I was very young my parents attended a church where, during worship, women would praise dance with streamers in the back. I thought the women looked like princesses and I wanted to do it too. When asked my mom if I could, she said yes – but I needed to understand why I wanted to do it. Was it because I wanted to look pretty and have people like me? Or was it to worship God in selflessness and humility? She said if I wanted to do anything out of pride and selfishness, that I should not do it. After thinking about this, I chose not to dance.

Christians have a whole set of vocabulary and cultural ideas to deal with this idea of modesty, which is entirely foreign to a nonreligious mindset. An action is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ depending on whether the pleasure you get out of it is filtered through “for God” or for “self gain.”

This underpins clothing (why would you want to dress flashy? how does that glorify the Lord?), charity (if you attach your name to gift giving, that glorifies yourself, you asshole) to spiritual success (don’t claim responsibility for walking the righteous path, you sinner, God did that). My particular denomination went so far as to say that claiming responsibility for ‘accepting Jesus into your heart’ was too much, that God did that too – that salvation had nothing to do with you, fuck you you incompetent adamspawn.

This has a lot of psychological effects, such as fusing together the feeling of ‘pride’ and ‘shame,’ or keeping you in a constant state of failure because self-motivated pleasure is so easy to feel, or destroying your ability to think any thoughts that place yourself in a position of authority.

(Incidentally, this is related to the Christian argument about morals – they say no matter what moral outrage we feel towards God’s actions in the Bible, we are unjustified, because God is the ultimate arbiter of morality. To claim that our judgement takes precedence is a prideful act, fuck you, inherently depraved scum.)

But this can also feel subjectively pretty good in a way that’s difficult to describe to someone who hasn’t experienced it. Surrendering is cathartic. I’ve seen many Christian people (myself included) sacrifice incredible amounts and live in holy pain, enduring it stoically because it is ‘God’s will.’ I used to view these people as victims, but I’ve come to realize that they have what I call ‘martyr syndrome’ – engaging in surrender because it (ironically) gives them a sense of achievement. Pride results in uncertainty of self worth, which can be very anxiety inducing. Christianity takes this stress of agency and redirects it into simple uniform submission – pain with a purpose. This is what some Christians mean when they talk about finding peace in the Lord.

It should be clear how negatively I feel about the Christian mindset in general, but there is legitimate benefit here. The effect of anxiety reduction and a sense of purpose is pretty huge, so they’re doing something right, and I recognize strong parallels in the psychedelic experience.

I think the Christian issue is not exactly their obsession with sacrificing pride, but that they do it in such a way that emphasizes taking on the responsibility of sin.

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I am increasingly finding the sensation of pride to be unpleasant – not by judging it to be terrible, but naturally. It’s just happening. I think I enjoy it less because I feel more aware of how fragile it is – that it only exists in contrast to my surroundings, and thus that I am wholly dependent on my environment, which I cannot control, in order to have this feeling.

For example: I draw a nice picture and people tell me I’m a great artist. I feel good and I want to show even more people the art because I love to feel that people are impressed with me, and like me, and want me.

Emboldened by the praise, I take my sketchbook and go to an art convention, where I am surrounded by serious artists. My doodles are nothing in comparison. I see how unskilled I am, and so does everyone else, even if they’re nice about it. Nobody values me here, and I feel embarrassed that I thought I was worthy enough to attend.

Where does ‘pride in my work’ lie, then? In myself and my work, or in the contrast of my work to my environment?

This is a pretty obvious example, but it occurs all the time in microscopic ways, every time we feel a desire for anything that furthers a pleasurable sense of our own identity – when we make a joke people laugh at, when we dance at a club, when we wear clothes we like. All of these things exist in contrast to our environment just as much as my sketchbook did, but we don’t notice it because our environment doesn’t change enough to show us the difference. If I’d never gone to the art convention, I would never have noticed that my pride for my art didn’t actually come from my art.

Really, everything we like about ourselves is formed by comparison to environment. If we dropped you into an alien planet with an entirely different value set, your sense of self-value would become completely different.

So when we feel pride, it’s not about us, not really – it’s about feeling better than our environment, which depends on what the environment is. Not on you.

Dwelling on this can create a pretty neutral feeling when ‘doing impressive things.’ It makes the thing feel not impressive at all; it’s just a thing, being done. The impressiveness is all about perspective.

I’m using all this as a very roundabout way of saying that this can be applied to shame as well. In exactly the ways we are prideful when we do better than our environment, we feel ashamed when we do worse, and more importantly, they are contingent. To invest in contrast is to invest both sides of the contrast – that’s what it means to invest in contrast! Any feeling of shame you have is what allows you to feel pride. It is the price you pay for that joy.

If you do have a desire to eliminate your sense of shame, of self-criticism, of failure, then know that you cannot do so without also eliminating your sense of pride. If you decide that enduring the presence of self-worth anxiety is worth it for the joy of the pride you feel, then congratulations – your shame is serving you by giving you purpose to your pain. This is an absolutely valid decision and I equally admire and love people who choose this as much as I love and admire those who don’t.

If you decide it’s not worth it, then trying to reduce a sense of failure by emphasizing your sense of pride is rather amusedly self defeating. It may feel like it works, sort of like we imagine driven businessmen may have done it all because they want to prove to themselves that they’re worth something – but they did not succeed by eliminating the anxiety of failure. Saying that being successful eliminates failure anxiety is sort of like saying running from a bear kills the bear. You may be going an impressive distance, but you wouldn’t be running if there weren’t a bear.

Anyway my main point is that if you have this idea in your mind that you want to ‘accept yourself’ and ‘forgive your failures’ and ‘don’t feel ashamed,’ then you have to equally lose the thing that makes you value yourself for your success.

The Christians got it half right – they somehow identified some peace in the loss of pride, but instead of going about it naturally they codified it into a law and tried to slam it into people. The tendency of religion (and culture, and people) to figure out something nice and, in trying to communicate it, turn it into a Serious Law, is really consistent and impressive. I need to write about it.

So in summary: It’s all the environment, man. Your genes, your upbringing. You had no influence in what sperm got into your mom’s egg. You are a biological process that got pooped out into an inevitable universe, a fatty tissuey boney body that’s typing some shit on a computer, thinking that ‘it’ is doing it all, that ‘it’ is making the importance, the impressiveness. What else could have happened, really?

Experiences on acid

I did acid once a week for ten months; a summary is here

I am writing from my experience on acid. I have met many people who say their experience is very different. Although I use language like ‘we feel like’ or ‘one experiences,’ please know I don’t think my analysis is universal.

Memory

On acid, thoughts work like a stitch in cloth.

If you look at a stitch from the top down, it looks like a straight, mostly unbroken lineacidthought1

The thread itself isn’t actually going in a straight line, but the visible portion looks even, organized, functional.

If you look at the thread itself, it might look like something closer to this:

stitchacid

On acid, thoughts stop feeling like a top-down view of the stitch and start to feel like the entire goddamn thread. You start out with one thought (the first segment), and then find you’ve forgotten what you were thinking about – you are now headed in a different direction (the loop underneath), and attempts to force yourself back in line is useless. And so you go, helplessly, through a thousand ideas related and unrelated to the first segment of thought, before you find yourself back in the top stitch again. By that point you’ve forgotten what you were thinking about, so the return to the “normal” thought line is a bit of a pleasant surprise. And so you go on to move through the thought – but then the forgetting happens again.

In this way, normal thought streams can occur, but interspersed between many other thought streams. I tripped a few months ago and needed to go to the bathroom. The thought I wanted to think was “I need to ask someone for help to go to the bathroom.” This thought took me (probably) twenty minutes to fully process and actually come out of my mouth. Those twenty minutes weren’t useless, though; when we relate the idea of ‘trouble asking for help’ to our daily life, we usually think of things like being very drunk, or being very sick, and the entirety of our attention is taken up in completing the task. This is not the case on acid – the entire set of the thought “I need to ask someone for help to go to the bathroom” took the same amount of attention it would normally, only it was cut up into fragments and thrown across twenty minutes.

On acid, trying to remember what you were thinking about ranges from difficult to impossible. You cannot fight the course of the thread. Eventually you learn to give up and allow your mind to take you where it wants, because it will come back round eventually. This teaches you that the sensation of “trying to remember” is useless, and you learn to stop pursuing it.

This is my rationalization for why my memory is bad after taking so much acid. I tripped for so much so long that the muscle of memory atrophied. I feel like everything I need to know is still within me, but the command to access it is severely delayed.

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Tripsitting 1

I tripsat a man alone in my apartment on what turned out to be much stronger acid than we thought. He was twice my size, heavily muscled, and, as we found out, had a rather delusional reaction to acid. He hallucinated, had poor spacial awareness, and ran around, screaming and flailing his arms, breaking my furniture, and alerting my neighbors. I spent his peaking eight hours (the acid lasted way longer than normal) trying to sit on him, calm him, and being thrown like a ragdoll whenever he got excited. At one point he took my head between his hands, stared into my eyes, and said “I could snap your neck right now.” I wish I could say I was scared, but by that point I was so exhausted I kind of wanted to die anyway.

He didn’t remember any of it afterwards but felt quite regretful.

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Wordlessness

Usually we process concepts with a near direct one-to-one correspondence to words. There is a concept, and there is a word that maps onto the concept. Normally the mapping is so tight that we sometimes end up feeling like the words are the concepts themselves. This is why rhetoric is so powerful, why words so important, and why a skilled wordsmith can spin us around and confuse ourselves as to what we really believe – they are manipulating words that are strongly bound to ideas, and thus they manipulate ideas. It’s why we care about things like gendered language, or slurs, or insults.

On acid, this correspondence is reduced. Concepts occur wordlessly; they are experienced, like a tactile sensation in the brain. This is why thoughts on acid are so difficult to communicate – no matter how clear they are to ourselves, we lack the structure to communicate them, and the structure to recall them later. The the words for the concepts are reduced to just symbols, and seem petty, or arbitrary, or artistic representations of the real, truer thing beneath. This makes communication feel much more like a game, or a dance – that you are toying with verbal sounds that aren’t bound to any one thing anymore – you can tie them to anything, and they become much more flexible.

When we normally imagine ‘inability to communicate,’ we imagine that we can speak the thoughts in our heads in some fashion, but that others don’t understand because of language barriers, or they have different contexts for our words, or they haven’t heard the long thought train that led up to it. Normally inability to communicate is something rooted in the poor understanding of the other person – but this is not the case on acid. On acid, the inability to root things in language occurs in your own mind, to yourself. This is an alien feeling to someone who is used to orderly and practical thought.

I feel like the processing I do now is much more similar to words-as-symbols rather than words-as-direct-mapping. This has its drawbacks: I believe it ties into my difficulty remembering things, as words are fucking great for memory. It damages my ability to communicate with other people and I have trouble having an active handle on my train of thought – I get distracted more often, and I can’t hold as many multiple concrete details in my head at the same time.

On the positive side, I feel like my thinking is immensely more clear. Where I would be influenced by seemingly persuasive arguments before, now it seems like they’re waging a war with weapons that don’t work on me. My sense of concept is like gears working underground, disconnected from any handles above the surface. All the ways in which those handles were pressed in order to lead my concepts astray now have severely reduced effects. My thinking has grown significantly more independent (crazy?)

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Acid Testing

I was tripping on about 400ug. My friend asked me to do some math, gradually increasing in difficulty. I could do any math that relied on one unit of memory – for example, 3×3 = 9. I didn’t manually calculate 3×3=9, it was already memorized.

I had difficulty doing math that relied on two units of memory – for example, 54+92. I knew 5+9, and I knew 4+2, but by the time I remembered one of them, I forgot the other.

I was incapable of doing any math that required three units of memory. 13×14 was impossible. I knew how I was supposed to do it, but the thought-loops prevented me from creating a singular, unbroken line of thought. By the time I’d looped all the way back to my original train of thought, I’d forgotten the concrete detail I needed to remember.

Then my friend asked me to imagine a diamond, equal in length on all sides. He said – the top corner is blue, the left is green, the bottom is yellow, the right is purple. If you rotate the diamond one quarter counterclockwise, what color is on the top?

I figured out the answer almost instantly, even before any of the sober people listening. My visual imagination was so strong that a description of an image was almost as good as me looking at the image.

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Tripsitting 2

I’ve tripsat around 50ish people, and have noticed a trend where some men, generally quite polite, unassuming, and gentle while sober, will make uncharacteristic sexual advances to me while tripping – mostly while in a sort of distant, dazed state. The advances mostly come in the form of silently caressing, holding, or groping me – pretty casually, as though we’re already sexually intimate. This puts me in an awkward position, because as their tripsitter, I feel responsible for facilitating a good experience, and rejecting someone on acid can start a bad trip. I usually respond by pretending I have something to do somewhere else, or gently pulling away, if I can.

(I know there’s a strong cultural taboo against unwanted sexual contact, but in this context I want to emphasize that I feel no judgement and I don’t mind. The contact wasn’t aggressive and I felt in control and free to leave. Plus they were on drugs.)

It’s rather amusing to me that this is a trend. I haven’t asked any of them about it yet. I don’t know what it’s all about. If any of you have experienced this I would like to know more.

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Belief

I generally don’t experience construction of belief during a trip. Tripping is almost entirely deconstructive for me; it’s a continual process of locating ideas I have about the way things work and then losing belief in them.

Some other people have this same experience, but most don’t. Experiencing constructive belief “that cat can hear my thoughts” or “I am communicating with an omnipotent being” is fairly common. I don’t understand how this happens, but it’s really hard for people who experience it to explain it. If anybody has an enlightening perspective on this phenomenon then I’d like to know about it.

Anyway – normally when we ‘believe’ things, we have some sort of sensation that the thing we believe matches up pretty accurately with some sort of external reality. This is what we feel when we say things are ‘true,’ when we talk about ‘facts,’ or ‘insanity’ This sensation can permeate so strongly and universally that we stop really registering that we feel it, sort of like a fish that doesn’t know what water is. This is why it can be so difficult to describe to someone who has never experienced anything else.

While tripping, this sensation is reduced or lost. Beliefs are still experienced, but without the feeling of matching up with ‘external reality.’ Once unbound by concerns about ‘truth’, beliefs start to feel like stories, and it becomes much easier for the mind to view beliefs purely for the benefits or comfort the stories provide. This can really highlight ways in which we lie to ourselves, because we lose the escape of ‘but it’s true’ to justify our self-deception. All we have left is “what are my incentives for believing this,” and the answers can be very brutal. “You really believe this because you are desperate for love” or “because you like feeling superior” or “because you are afraid of being alone.”

All that’s left is “this is the way I have made it.”

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An okcupid date

I don’t remember who proposed it, but I met him for the first time at my doorstep. Within ten minutes we both dropped acid and went to church. I sang all the songs joyfully, and at the post-sermon meet-and-greet I told everyone that I was god.

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600ug

That was the reported dose, but in hindsight I think the tabs were stronger.

I spread out towels on my bed out of fear I might pee myself. I closed the door, turned off the music, ate the tabs, and laid down, alone and in silence.

The comeup came hard 20 minutes in. By 90 minutes time slowed so much that I could hear each individual rotation of the blades from the fan in the corner. I was writhing with overwhelming ecstasy, in my body and my mind. I became aware that my genitals were contracting, that I was having an orgasm. It didn’t stop for several minutes.

By 120 minutes I could no longer see the room in front of me when I opened my eyes. I was no longer Aella; I had no experience of my identity, my beliefs, my expectations – I was an infinite series of conscious experiences, cruel and kind, suffering and prosperous. I was dreaming with my eyes open wide, with the knowledge that these weren’t new dreams, they were old ones, ones I’d had a thousand times before, and my presence here was a remembering, and in remembering was what existence was.

After a few hours I regained function enough to manage to hit play on a laptop I’d set up next to me. Time was so distorted that, while I recognized the music, I felt nothing from it; by the time one note had played, I’d forgotten the last one. It no longer functioned like music to me. This frightened me; I thought maybe I’d lost the ability to enjoy music, and the concern was enough to prompt me to skype call a friend and blabber nonsense to him until I finally regained my sense of self.

Fortunately I managed to get through the whole experience without peeing myself even once.