Linkspam: May 12th, 2016

It’s time for more links, along with my brief comments.

Hot and Cold Cognitive Empathy – Ozy distinguishes between hot cognitive empathy, which is intuitively felt, and cold cognitive empathy, which is deliberate.  Ozy observes that many autistic people develop the latter, and comments of the advantages and disadvantages.  I am not autistic, and experience hot cognitive empathy, but I find it fascinating how different people have different private experiences, and develop different mental processes to fulfill the same function.

Aphantasia: How it feels to be blind in your mind – Blake Ross, cofounder of Firefox, explains a revelation he had: “Picture it in your mind’s eye” is a literal expression for most people, but not for him.

This is another case in point.  Many people have different private experiences, but it can go under the radar for a long time because so much of our language describes only the function of our private experiences, rather than the experiences themselves.  And yet, contra Wittgenstein, comparing private experiences is at least possible.  This makes me wonder if I have other private experiences which are atypical.  For example, I suspect that fish doesn’t taste the same way to me as it does to other people.  Also, I don’t think I experience this “mystic emotion” thing that Einstein says is necessary to being alive.  Einstein: what a jerk!

Nonverbal consent, nuance, and objectivity – “Consent discourse is so complex and fraught because it is supposed to be so many things to so many people”  I strongly agree with this statement.  You wouldn’t know it from the outside, but there is even conflict between people trying to support survivors and people trying to do political activism.  Wouldn’t you know it, political activism isn’t necessarily a good space to process trauma.

Tough Questions: On the Burqa Ban – Crys talks about burqa bans in France and Italy.  The former is clearly motivated by anti-immigrant sentiment, but the latter is an example of disparate impact.  “Disparate impact” means that the law is not targeted against any group, but incidentally has different impact on different groups.  My comment: Disparate impact might seem innocuous, but it’s systematically bad for minority groups.  After all, the majority group would never even think to consider a law that incidentally affects the majority in a negative way.  In the US, this issue would be handled by the RFRA, which requires such laws to pass “strict scrutiny”.

What If We Just Gave Poor People a Basic Income for Life? That’s What We’re About to Test. – This is an article about GiveDirectly, which proposes to instate a universal basic income in selected Kenyan villages.  This charity is basically the opposite of paternalistic micromanagement of poor people’s choices.  Not only is the overhead small, it also has the potential to show the world the value of a universal basic income (or disconfirm the value, as the case may be).  GiveDirectly is the fourth-highest rated charity on GiveWell.  I’m thinking about charities because when I did my taxes I realized I have income to spare.


  1. Rob Grigjanis says

    Not only is the overhead small, it also has the potential to show the world the value of a universal basic income (or disconfirm the value, as the case may be).

    There’s already data from a Canadian experimental project in the 1970s.

    One of the foremost champions of a guaranteed annual income in Canada is Conservative ex-senator Hugh Segal.

  2. Emily (luvtheheaven) says

    Wow that Aphantasia post!! Before clicking, I imagined you were talking about someone who was actually blind and therefore didn’t have visual stuff in their mind, kind of like my blind friend likes to remark that she doesn’t have a visual memory, and every time she says it something didn’t sit right with me, because how is that so different than my memory?? But now I see you are talking about someone who has the ability for sight and is ONLY blind in their mind’s eye. That explains a lot. I just took the survey linked to within that post and found I scored 20 out of 40 which “suggests that your visual imagery is less vivid than average, but you score above the range of people lacking imagery altogether, the state termed aphantasia. Around 9% of people fall in the same range as you.” I have always felt like I couldn’t quite picture things the same way some other people maybe could, and the way I remember dreams on the few occasions I do is pretty vaguely visual and MUCH more plot-focused. I… I wonder if this is 100% unrelated to my own asexuality or not, honestly, lol.

    I’m gonna keep thinking on this one for a little while.

    And I’ll check out your other links here asap!! They all look interesting.

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