Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Just expectation? Hah!

It's funny how many people dismiss things as "just expectation" - as if expectation isn't freaking powerful. As if expectation isn't as good of a pain killer as intravenous opiods. Even as a witchdoctor voodoo ritual running purely off the expectation that the ritual will work, hypnosis is pretty damn cool. State the desired outcome, do the ritual, and obtain result! But there is a lot more going on there than "just expectation."

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Suggestion fuel

A common criticism of stage hypnosis (by those who don't understand hypnosis) is that the subjects are motivated to respond to the suggestions by the fact that they are in a situation where they are socially expected to comply and socially excused from the embarrassment. The hypnosis is real and there is a lot more going on, but that is important. Whether you are using hypnosis for party tricks, therapy, or anything else - motivation matters. Accepting a suggestion requires cognitive effort, and if there is no reason to do it, the subject won't. If there are additional reasons for them to not respond, then you need to overcome those as well before you can move on. Suggestions need their fuel.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Against pretalks

Sometimes hypnotherapists talk about the pretalk as if it's necessary. It isn't. You can get excellent results with no pretalk whatsoever.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Take away interpersonal lessons

I've taken a very ground up approach in my study of cognition, and I can't say that I regret it. But I also can't recommend that type of approach to anyone that isn't going to take it quite so seriously.
Most of the value that I've gotten from my efforts has not come from the cool party tricks, like making someone forget their own name or sticking someone to the ground. It hasn't even come from the more serious uses of "hypnosis" or even organically occurring trance. Besides purely internal changes (which is the subject of a future post), most of the value has come from my day to day interactions with other people.
My understanding of cognition has given me the ability to get my point of view seen (and felt) in its entirety by others - instead of being prematurely rejected due to shitty thinking. And it has also helped me determine what my point of view should be.
Most of the value has come from having a better understanding of the structure of cognition and having strategies for navigating the space. Since these skills are mostly describable by higher level abstractions, it is not necessary to have the lower level understanding to reap a lot of the benefits. The lower level understanding does have a profound effect on how I see and use the higher level stuff, and it also lets me play some fun games using legit hypnosis, but it is possible to do a lot without it.
While I can't recommend that everyone dive into this as seriously as I did, I really do recommend that everyone get a handle on the high level summary, keep it in mind in future interactions, and start honing these skills. And while I cannot, in one blog post, tell you everything you need to know to instantly reap all of these benefits, I am going to give you a mental framework in which to build these skills. It's gonna take practice, but the good news is that you already interact with people, so you’ll have plenty of opportunities to work on it.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


Acknowledgement is a pretty big thing that I haven't explicitly covered yet. Acknowledgement is a great way to satisfy objections and solve problems since a lot of the problems that people have boil down to attempts to suppress signals (i.e. lack of acknowledgement).
I've known about the role of acknowledgement for a while now, but I kinda got hit over the head with it recently. Since then, its been more salient, I've been using it more, and I've been seeing its uses everywhere.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Hierarchical strategies

When Deep Blue beat Gary Kasparov at chess, was it because it ran an algorithm that searched the decision tree and spit out good moves, or was it because it spit out the specific set of moves that worked well against Kasporov's moves? Okay, stupid question.
If you're trying to learn chess, you could try memorizing "canned" sets of moves, but due to the exponential tree growth, that will only get you so far. So you could try to learn the heuristics that pop out the specific sets of moves - maybe "take out the queen first" or something. But then you're limited to the strength of those heuristics. Maybe you could work at an even higher level of abstraction so you can generate your own heuristics and know better when to use which heuristic.
There's sorta a hierarchy of abstraction with concrete moves at the bottom and chess theory at the top - and you can improve your game at any level.

Monday, October 15, 2012

The hypnotic gaze

Part of the hypnosis mythology is that the power is in the "hypnotic gaze". I've even had people refuse to look me in the eye after learning that I was a hypnotist.

To think that there's some ontologically basic and unavoidable power in a "hypnotic gaze" is pretty laughable, but there's something to it - a lot to it, actually. Much more than I initially thought, coming from a text hypnosis origin and all that.

The "hypnotic gaze" infamy comes from noticing the power of nonverbal communication when holding strong eye contact and focusing all of your attention on the person.  By using eye contact, you can create a strong frame and draw the person in to that frame – as long as you know what you are doing, that is.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Well, it's more of an invitation, really

Okay, so last time I said it was all instructions. But there's an important albeit somewhat subtle distinction to be made between "instructions" and "invitations"

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Its an instruction, you fool

Back in  quasi-bayesian placebos, placebo engineering, and the like, I talk about suggestions as if they're predictions. This isn't false, but I was missing a big part of it - I'll come back to this.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

How to deter without being a dick

Effectively deterring humans is a bit different than effectively deterring an idealized game theoretic agent.  If you're a skilled elephant jockey, you can remove a good amount of this discrepancy, but you need to know how it works so that you can correct for it.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Alief > Belief

Perhaps you have heard of the mystery of the haunted rationalist – where the rationalist fears ghosts even though he believes that they don't exist.  Sometimes people have aliefs that cause them to act in ways inconsistent with their explicit beliefs

Monday, July 16, 2012

To confirm or not confirm?

Commitment and consistency is really really good shit, but it's not for everything. Getting confirmation is fantastic for things inside their Locus of Control and "Locus of Observation", but not so great for things on the outside.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Facets of rationality

So last time I talked about the fact that a large part of irrationality is caused by flinching away from unpleasant thoughts. This seems to cover the entirety of cases that make you want to throw up your arms and scream "You're being IRRATIONAL!!!"

However, if you define rationality as the skill of arriving at true beliefs, the skill of systematic winning, or as any other meta-intelligence like thing, then this isn't the whole story.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Irrationality as a byproduct of conditioning

So I've been thinking a bit more seriously about actively improving peoples rationality with my new skills.  Direct suggestions to not flinch away from problems, and not stop at mental stop signs have been quite effective when done in real time.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Conversational Change

Sometimes I talk about hypnosis as if it's "cheating".  There are no actual rules against using trance, but there are a couple reasons to take a different approach.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Power tools of influence

With deep hypnosis and a bit of strategy, absolutely crazy things are easy - but we can't always get deep hypnosis. Sometimes people have their egos in the way, or are afraid of losing control, or whatever it is. And if you can't rewrite peoples memories, emotions, and sensory inputs at will, it becomes non trivial to create situations where they want what you want. But there are still things you can do. If they're not responding to you then find out what they do respond to and manipulate that.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Hypnosis techniques for teaching rationality

One of the big reasons I got into this hypnosis thing was to help improve people that aren't "broken". As a fully general mind hacking tool set, it should be helpful in getting people to think better too, as long as we know how we should reason and decide and what we tend to do wrong. There are more applications than this, but here are a few important ones I haven't really covered yet.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Speaking with "the subconscious"

People often talk about the mind as if there are two people living inside - the conscious guy and the subconscious guy. And while you can make it functionally true if you want (or if you don't know what the fuck you're doing), there's nothing fundamental in the divide. It's just a bunch of shit that interacts more or less coherently, and we do better when it is more.