Saturday, 19 October 2019

Ignore bad people's emotions

When resolving a dispute, one should not give much weight to someone's expressed emotions. One can pretend to be upset as a way to getting what one wants. Trivers' theory of evolutionary self-deception says that the most effective way to fake being upset is to really be upset. That is the purpose of emotions: a person is motivated by their emotions because those emotions are real.

So a third party mediator should not try to distinguish between a person who is faking an emotion, and someone really experiencing it.

When Larry Summers gave a speech about differences between men and women, an MIT biology professor Nancy Hopkins said "I felt I was going to be sick", "my heart was pounding and my breath was shallow", "I just couldn't breathe, because this kind of bias makes me physically ill". She had to leave the room because otherwise "I would've either blacked out or thrown up."

Hopkins was clearly deliberately trying to damage Summers career, and genuinely experiencing these emotions.

A person claiming to experience these emotions likely really is experiencing them, and that's unfortunate, but such behaviour should not be rewarded and reinforced.

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