Whose Will is it anyway?

This mouse is different. While its friends are scurrying in the darkness, jumping at every wayward leaf blown by the wind, it is not; it flaunts danger out in the open. If it were a man, it would be General MacArthur, smoking a cigar while pacing the front lines, daring enemy snipers. The cat? Let him come. If death comes for the mouse, it will face it. Because it’s brave.

Or it’s been infected with toxoplasmosis (https://www.nature.com/news/parasite-makes-mice-lose-fear-of-cats-permanently-1.13777). In fact, most likely the second; the cat’s reach has gone much further than his claws.

The mouse is not alone, I think. Similar amazingly counter-intuitive behavior (short of chemical mediator) has been observed in human phenomena such as the Stockholm Syndrome, where the victim flips to actively identify with the oppressor. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stockholm_syndrome)

While the case above is pretty rare, Robert Trivers makes a convincing argument that humans are driven to manipulate each other, not just strangers who do not care about your well-being, but frequently the opposite – your close family has very strong evolutionary incentives to do the same.


And just like good self-deception feels like “you really believe”, so does a successful manipulation of an intelligent being, it feels like it’s your own idea!

It could come not only from another person, but also from your country or organization, any group that has a certain level of intelligence and incentive to manipulate you.

> Shortly following the Nazi occupation of Austria, Anna Freud asked her father, “Wouldn’t it be better if we all killed ourselves?”

> Freud replied, “Why? Because they would like us to?”

I think everyone who really wants to win, should think about this. When something only feels logical, without a reason, or the option set seems somehow impoverished, maybe you don’t own your thoughts in the area? An overbearing parent needing support making you feel like sacrificing your life for them is the only logical solution, a partner who makes seeing your family somehow less fun, an organization making you want to drink the Kool-Aid, a country riling you up with patriotic fervor – are they giving you thoughts or reference frames you might not want?

Is it ever worth compromising? Maybe, here’s your guide https://www.lesserwrong.com/posts/ENBzEkoyvdakz4w5d/out-to-get-you

Most speculative:

We often talk about humans not being automatically strategic. I wonder if removing someone agentiness is the ultimate meta-manipulation, and pretty much everyone wants to do it to you.