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Analyzing How Culture Manipulates You by Pulling Your Puppet Strings

I watched the first few minutes of How to Train Your Dragon 2 and saved two interesting clips, the opening narration and a social interaction from a few seconds later. This post is only about these clips. Note that this movie is extremely popular. People paid over half a billion dollars to watch it in theaters, like they did for the first movie too. Six seasons of a TV spinoff have been created. A third movie is coming out soon (Feb 22, 2019). Take a look at the clips:

When you watched the clips, did you notice anything? Did you have any opinions? What was good? What was bad? Did you stop to think about them? If you think about it now, can you come up with much without rewatching?

I'm going to guide you through some analysis, instead of just handing you all the answers, so that you can learn more. I want you to think instead of just read what I say and nod your head. Do you want to think?

Write down your comments on the clips (don't watch the clips again, just use your memory). Don't write things you wouldn't normally say. Don't stop being yourself to do analysis. Don't write a bunch of dumb stuff just to have more written down. Don't write what you think I would say. Only write points you think matter: reasons stuff is good or bad that you care about and genuinely, in your own opinion, think is important. Only write things that make sense to you. Don't write down picky criticism you don't care about but you think might be what a pedantic philosopher is looking for. Write your actual beliefs. If you don't see anything wrong with the clips, don't write anything negative. Writing about what you liked is a good idea too.

Writing things down lets you see if your thinking changes at any stage in the process. Don't rely on your memory of what you thought of the clips at first. Put it in writing so you can compare later.

Now that you've written down your initial thoughts, go ahead and rewatch the clips as much as you want and check out these transcripts. After the transcripts are some things to look for and questions to consider, which you can look at immediately, or after considering it more yourself (it's your decision).

Clip 1 transcript

This is Berk. The best kept secret this side of, well, anywhere. Granted it may not look like much, but this wet heap of rock packs more than a few surprises. Life here is amazing, just not for the faint of heart. You see, where most folks enjoy hobbies like whittling or needlepoint, we Berkians prefer a little something we like to call dragon racing.

Clip 2 transcript

Astrid: What are you doing, Snotlout?! They're going to win now!

Snotlout: She's my princess! Whatever she wants, she gets!

Astrid: Ruffnut?! Didn't she try to bury you alive?!

Snotlout: Only for a few hours!

(Full movie transcript link.)

Things to look for

  • Cliches.
  • Statements which aren’t (literally) true.
  • Misleading information or lies.
  • Meanness, cruelty, and violence.
  • Manipulation.
  • Signals of high or low social status.
  • Claims or conclusions given without arguments, reasoning or evidence.
  • What does the narrator do to try to be persuasive or credible?
  • Are you being given unbiased or useful information?
  • Every time someone says something, who is he speaking to and what does he want his audience to think? Why does he say it?

Write down additional thoughts now that you've looked more closely. Keep the first and second batches of thoughts separate and clearly labelled.

When you're done, look at what you missed the first time that you can see now. I haven't told you anything about the clips yet. Did you miss much that you could have seen without learning anything new, just by looking closer yourself? Some people will have missed a lot that they could have caught if they gave more thought to what they were doing, but for other people it won't make much difference to look closer because they don't know anything to look for. It's good to know which situation you're in. Would it help much if you did things more thoughtfully using your existing ideas, or should you focus more on learning what kinds of thoughts you can have? Or maybe you think you have a ton of great answers and didn't miss much, and you can compare what you wrote to my commentary later in this post.

The Cultural Situation

I thought the first clip was bad enough to stop watching the movie and do critical analysis. It's full of the kind of manipulation which turns people into puppets and controls their lives. (This movie has only a minor role in making people into puppets; it primarily just pulls their strings. That's because the strings are attached by parents, family, friends, teachers and culture in general, mostly at a younger age. And there's so much stuff to influence people that any one movie doesn't make a big difference. The movie is one little piece of culture.)

If you're blind to this situation – that people are manipulated like puppets having their strings pulled, and that the movie clips are crammed full of that kind of manipulation – then you factually don't have much control over your life. You're not an effective, independent thinker. Our culture is dangerous and these clips are prime examples of huge, life-threatening dangers. If you see no danger, that means you are a victim, a puppet, a naive, gullible dupe. Note that disliking this particular movie (because of e.g. the genre or target viewer age) is no protection, and similar manipulations are everywhere in our culture.

These clips are typical, standard examples of evil and irrationality. They're good to analyze because they don't stand out. They're representative. They're not special.

You can't defend yourself if you can't see the danger. You need some idea of what your enemy is before you even start combatting it. No, Muslim terrorists aren't the biggest danger to civilization. It's not MS-13 gang members crossing the wall-less border either. Philosophical corruption and intellectual error are much more important. If people were better thinkers, and thought for themselves more instead of being manipulated by static memes and George Soros, then our current political problems would be pretty easy to solve.

The first clip has over 20 flaws. And the main issues are dishonesty and social manipulation, not just poor literary qualities (which it's also guilty of). There's no need to catch even half the flaws on your first viewing; I didn't. But you should catch some flaws on your first viewing and notice something's wrong. Then you ought to care enough to look more closely at what you're watching (or stop watching), and ought to be able to identify many flaws. Don't just swallow a movie like this uncritically. And don't think I couldn't do a similar analysis with some other popular movie that you like more than this one. And don't think that you know it's not very good, so it's not affecting you: you're not immune to things you spend time on uncritically or inadequately critically. (Like the people who read the New York Times and say they know it's left-biased, but it's not affecting them since they know that. Those people are consistently lied to in big ways, correct for 10% of the bias, and are duped.)

In order to live in today's irrational culture and not be a pawn of manipulators, you require the following skills:

  • Able to see something major is wrong on your first pass through clips like these.
  • Able to identify and explain many large flaws when you review them.
  • Remember, notice and care about those kinds of flaws during your daily life, not just when analyzing.
  • Able to connect these flaws to an understanding of how they control people's lives and use men as puppets.
  • Be able to handle subtler stuff. This movie is aimed at the masses and doesn't try to manipulate people who aren't easy targets. And it emphasizes things extra for the young audience. Lots of manipulation is way harder to spot.

And even those skills won't make it safe for you to have a conversation. You need more than that to safely have a conversation without being manipulated! Your puppet strings can be pulled during the conversation, before you get a chance to analyze it, even if you have an audio recording or chat log available later (and how often do you go back through the details of your chats?). Real time conversations pressure people to respond quickly without enough thought, while people are emotional and facing social pressure. And it's easier to treat a fictional movie as something separate from your life to analyze. It's hard to do that with your friends, family, or even someone you just met.

The point of the opening scene is the narrator is telling you what to think. The topic isn't very important (his mythical village, dragon racing), but the issue of thinking for yourself is important. And the narrator isn't doing it honestly, directly or clearly. Instead he's following certain cultural game rules for how to pull people's puppet strings.

You may think that if you didn't see what was going on, it just wasn't affecting you. I'm overanalyzing and you don't analyze it like that. If you missed what was going on, how could it control you when you were unaware of it? The answer for a person with that reaction is: you do understand what he's saying, just not in a clear, conscious way. The script is highly understandable to virtually everyone in our culture. People know what it means. They just don't realize how much it's telling them what to think, and using intellectual trickery, instead of giving them information that they can use to think for themselves. People interpret it as simple, straightforward information when it's not.

This stuff is in a popular movie because it works on so many people. And if you don't know exactly what's going on – if you couldn't be writing this blog post yourself – then you are in danger.

Poker players say that if you can’t see who the sucker is, you’re the sucker. If you can't see who is being taken advantage of, and how, then you aren't skilled enough to play poker with those players, and you are being taken advantage of without realizing it. That's how life is too. If you can't see who are the puppet masters, and who are the puppets/suckers, and what the manipulations are, then you're one of the puppets/suckers.

This movie isn't notable. These clips aren't special. This stuff is everywhere. The movie is evil, but it isn't more evil than other popular stuff. I'm using these clips as examples, but my goal is to point out things which apply broadly. A person who is blind to the flaws in these clips would also be blind to the flaws in most of our culture.

Clip 1 Analysis

You may have noticed the narration is formulaic and unoriginal. I want to begin by pointing out just how cliche it is. Cliches are in alternating italics and bold:

This is Berk. The best kept secret this side of, well, anywhere. Granted it may not look like much, but this wet heap of rock packs more than a few surprises. Life here is amazing, just not for the faint of heart. You see, where most folks enjoy hobbies like whittling or needlepoint, we Berkians prefer a little something we like to call dragon racing.

It's all standard, but 48% of it is actually recognizable cliches. There are six cliches in five sentences. That's an amazing density of cliches. Why? This is a big budget movie with talented script writers. This is intentional. It's not incompetence. They do it because people already know what cliches mean. They take an especially small amount of thought to understand because thinking about them was already done in the past. People like cliches because they're familiar and easy to deal with. Also things became cliches in the first place because they worked well in some way, e.g. did a good job of pulling people's strings.

Audiences like the cliches but aren't honest about what's going on. They aren't consciously aware of how cliche it is, and they don't recognize how much the movie is designed for them not to think. The cliches feel familiar and natural to people, in a good way. (Many adults would prefer something more subtle. But did you catch all six cliches in your analysis?) After the movie, many people would admit it had some cliches, but they wouldn't know how much, and they wouldn't be honest about how much they liked them. Another movie with fewer cliches wouldn't sell so many millions of tickets.

Cliches pull people's "they speak my language, we have stuff in common" string to create rapport and communicate being part of the same group. Pulling people's puppet strings manipulates them. Pulling a lot of strings, in the right ways, can get big results.

Note that your puppet strings are complex. When I talk about what strings are pulled, I'm approximating. Each thing actually pulls dozens of different strings, and pulls each with a different amount of strength. The strings aren't defined in English and no one knows every detail about them.

Textual Analysis

This is Berk.

This pulls people's "introduction" string. They don't think about whether the clip really is an introduction to Berk. It's not. It's not a tour. It doesn't give you an overview of Berk. It doesn't tell you about Berk. There are only 5 words to convey significant information out of 65 words (8%): "dragon racing", "wet", "rock" and "Berk".

But it's worse than that. "Wet" isn't really providing information. It doesn't say whether the water comes from rain, snow, fog, the ocean, or what – you have to learn that by looking at the visuals. The word "wet" is there to sound negative, as I'll discuss later, not to give you useful information about Berk.

The word "rock" is also there to sound bad, not to help you understand that Berk isn't a swamp (which you can see at a glance, anyway). And "rock" is misleading given all the grass and trees.

"Berk" doesn't tell you about Berk, it's just the name. Except, not even that. Watching the clip, I thought that Berk was the name of the town. It's not. Berk is the island and the town is "Hooligan Village". I learned that from the wiki. (All my information comes from the clips unless I specifically mention otherwise.)

“Dragon racing" is misleading. It's a sheep-catching competition involving riding dragons. The winner is determined by points, not by racing across a finish line first. Don't feel bad if you didn't catch that, I found that out from the wiki, not the clip.

The narration doesn't really introduce Berk. If you muted it and just watched the visuals, you wouldn't miss anything but a name that doesn't actually specify what it's naming. But people accept that they were introduced to Berk because the formulaic wording ("This is [name]") framed it as an introduction in ways they respond to (are manipulated by, have their strings pulled by). People are gullible and they don't actually think about it, they just believe what they're told (when told in the right way with standard puppet string pulling, and nothing they're told triggers doubts, e.g. by being offensive, taboo, unconventional, weird, etc.).

And the visuals aren't representative of Berk, either. The visuals let you see the town some and then focus on scared sheep. They aren't meant to give much information, they're meant to impress you with the landscape, let you see the setting is medieval, and then look at sheep (for reasons discussed later). Based on the initial visuals, you'd expect Hooligan Village to be a tiny town – there aren't many houses. But then there's a huge crowd cheering for the dragon races. Why? Because a larger and louder crowd raises the social status of the racers more. It presents them as more popular and signals that dragon racing itself is popular. This pulls your "like what other people like" or "popularity contest" string, which is a major string even in people who deny having it. For second-handed viewers to want to be dragon racers, or to like dragon racers, they need to see dragon racers gaining the approval of others. Most people don’t want to be involved with weird, niche hobbies, and they don't know how to judge things other than by looking at what others approve of.

The movie producers don't care about making a logically-consistent setting and getting factual details right, they just jump straight from pulling one string to pulling the next, and they do it in a way that's convenient at that moment. And that's what their audience wants – string pulling, not consistency. String pulling is what people find meaningful and enjoyable. People want symbols, cliches and other things they understand. If the movie didn't pull people's strings, they wouldn't know what to do. They're used to being passive and having their strings pulled, rather than taking the initiative to think about things for themselves.

The best kept secret this side of, well, anywhere.

This is dishonest. Berk isn't a secret. No one is keeping the secret. "Secret" is pulling a string to mean good. It's one of many ways the narrator says one thing while meaning another.

Even if it were a secret, it wouldn't be the best kept one. That's a lie, too. That’d be false even if it was claimed about a small region rather than about the entire universe.

If you say "Berk is good", people won't trust you. It pulls their "bragging" string, which is bad. So people brag in other ways that pull other strings. People seem to (unreasonably) assume that if you show you’re a normal person who fits in to society – by knowing you’re not supposed to openly brag, and knowing what to say instead – then you wouldn't lie to them. Except it's not really that logical and people don't really have reasons, that's just how their strings work. This makes people easy to manipulate.

"Well" pulls a string indicating the speaker is being honest. How? It indicates he's pausing to think about what's true instead of thoughtlessly reciting a script or boasting. (Can't a boaster stop to think about the best way to continue his boast? Logically, yes. Don't blame me for people's puppet strings not making sense.) But the narrator is not actually being thoughtful. Savvy people insert stuff like this, on purpose, when they aren't stopping to think, in order to manipulate others. (It's common in scripted acts by comedians.)

The "this side of [location]" cliche is poorly used. The script writers couldn't think of a location to name or didn't want to name one, but used that cliche anyway. But it doesn't matter because people interpret that cliche to mean "a lot". The point is to claim something is big or good in a large region. People don't pay much attention to what region is named.

So the text means, "It's good, a lot, and I'm saying this thoughtfully." And people understand that and hear it that way. Even if they don't do analysis, it still communicates that message to them. And it follows the communication rules of our culture so that it sounds good to people instead of setting off their "bragging" or "liar" triggers.

And the next sentence helps defend against accusations of bragging:

Granted it may not look like much, but this wet heap of rock packs more than a few surprises.

To try to sound honest, the narrator tells you the good and bad about Berk, not just the good. This pulls people's "people saying negative things are telling the truth, because no one would admit to anything bad if they didn't have to" string. Except the narrator is lying because the movie wants everyone to love Berk and isn't willing to say anything actually bad about it. Puppet masters give fake negatives in order to sound honest without the risk of a real negative turning someone away.

"Granted" sounds defensive, like the narrator knows you aren't impressed by Berk and he has to answer your accusations that Berk sucks. This tries to sound reasonable and like he's giving real information to address the issues. It's not. Berk looks like a lot. The opening of a high-budget movie is visuals of Berk. It's impressive and picturesque!

And saying Berk doesn't look like much is like saying the cover of a book isn't impressive, but the inside is. That isn't a real downside. A book doesn't need an impressive cover to be a great book. Everyone knows that. Actually, by invoking the "don't judge a book by its cover" string, the narrator is basically (unfairly) accusing you of irrationally judging Berk overly negatively based on appearances, and he's telling you to correct your judgment to be more positive. That's manipulation.

Saying Berk is "wet", a "heap", and "rock" is meant to sound bad, like he's admitting what isn't great about Berk. But those aren’t what people care about, they aren’t about social interaction. They're just in the background. It's like saying my city is good because it's amazing, but bad because it has concrete, and trying to make that sound like a two-sided analysis instead of a one-sided analysis. Also, lots of people like mountains, islands and oceans, which are the actual things being talked about with a biased, negative framing.

"Surprises" pulls people's "surprises are good, fun and exciting" string. It's another disguised brag. And it's nonsense. Surprises make it harder to plan your life well. Surprises mean not knowing what's going to happen, being ignorant, being caught off guard. Surprises were dangerous in the past, but now our civilization is advanced enough that we're less scared since we're able to deal with lots of problems ... but Berk has medieval technology so surprise often would mean death.

Surprises appeal to the kind of people who like dance parties, beer, drugs and casual sex, not reason, technology or freedom. Surprises aren't intellectual stimulation. They're for people who are bored at school or work and want something to disrupt the drudgery of their lives – and they want the disruption to come from the external world because they aren't going to take the initiative to change their own life. People with good lives don't want disruptions.

And I doubt Berk has a lot of surprises. I don't think Hiccup (the person doing the introduction to Berk) is giving much thought to what he's saying or whether it's true. I don't think he means what he's saying: he's not paying attention to the meaning of what he's talking about because his focus is on pulling people's strings so that they think Berk is good. Each time he chooses words, he thinks about what will pull a string (how to manipulate people), not about reality and how to make his words correspond to reality.

The script writers didn't want a whole sentence of fake negativity, so they went back to being positive at the end of the sentence. They couldn't wait for the next sentence to turn it around. What if someone worried the movie would be bad before hearing the next words?

Saying Berk has surprises reinforces the "don't judge a book by its cover" theme. It's saying a book with a boring cover can have surprises inside. It's saying anyone who isn't a bigot will recognize how amazing Berk is, right now, immediately, whether Berk looks amazing or not. Judging stuff by outward appearances is like racism, in the sense of judging human beings by skin color. This is manipulative pressure to pull people's strings.

Throughout, the narration doesn't give people room to think for themselves or form their own opinions. It's constantly pulling strings to tell them what to think. It doesn't give information about Berk for you to evaluate, it gives conclusions about Berk without any information to allow you to evaluate. If you had any information, you might use it to reach a different conclusion than the script writers want you to. They want you to be their puppet.

This is an example of pseudo-persuasion. It's not rational arguments. It's not giving you evidence for you to evaluate with your own judgment. But it's getting people to believe and accept stuff anyway, and not to feel irrational or gullible. The string pulling takes the place of reasoning. Our culture has a bunch of rules for how this works, the rules of pseudo-logic and social manipulation, which are an alternative to the rules of truth-seeking. They specify how much you can brag, when to equivocate or be humble, how to be charismatic, how to be perceived as honest, etc. The movie follows standard rules for what people want to hear, what they are gullible about, and they eat it up. That’s what they want – manipulation according to irrational social status game rules – instead of actual reasons and information for them to think through. Being told what to think is preferred to thinking. Having your strings pulled so that you know what conclusion to reach is preferred than judging for yourself. That's what our culture is like.

Also, by switching from negative to positive, I think some people feel like that's learning because they are following along and changing their mind (from negative to positive) while listening. So it feels like engagement and thinking to them. And they don't consider that the narrator knew his conclusion in advance, he's not actually figuring it out as he goes along. So when his tone changes back and forth, that's intentional, dishonest manipulation, not uncertainty about what he's going to say. When he sounded negative about Berk, temporarily, he was lying to pull your strings.

Life here is amazing, just not for the faint of heart.

This pulls people's "fair and balanced" string. People trust this because it's not fully positive. People think that something which is only good is too good to be true. But if you give pros and cons, then people think it's an objective, unbiased analysis. This is easy to take advantage of. (It also results in lots of negative reactions when I try to explain why my philosophy is thoroughly right, not just two-thirds right. People are hostile to the goal of actually getting things right.)

But the movie wants to be all upsides and no downsides – it wants the opener to energize and excite, not leave people concerned they won't like the bad things – so the downside here is done dishonestly, it's not a real downside. The pros and cons they give don't make a fair comparison.

Saying it's not for the faint of heart means it's not for everyone, there is something bad and limiting. That sounds like a downside of Berk. But that's actually bragging about how exciting it is. It means, "This is too exciting for people who hate fun." That fake downside – not being boring – is what pulls people’s puppet strings to balance out the bragging about how amazing Berk is.

Yes, that's ridiculous. Our culture is ridiculous. But this isn't a joke, it's real life. People are this bad at thinking. And there's something very evil which makes people irrational and gullible enough to be manipulated this way (a big piece of the evil is punishing children and other ways parents use authority instead of reason).

And life isn't amazing in Berk. That falsehood is being said to people who have far more amazing lives, but don't appreciate it. Skyscrapers, iPhones, cars and electric lights are amazing. We have hospitals and science. Living in Berk would mean dying young, never being clean, eating poorly, being tired all the time from doing far more manual labor, and many other things that modern civilization has dramatically improved.

You see, where most folks enjoy hobbies like whittling or needlepoint, we Berkians prefer a little something we like to call dragon racing.

"You see" is telling you what to see. The phrase signals to people that you're going to explain something now. But then instead of getting an explanation, we get propaganda. So using that introduction was maniuplative instead of accurate.

He's lying about what hobbies most folks prefer. His claim is false. Why? By comparing dragon racing to particularly boring hobbies, it looks extra exciting by comparison. Apparently dragon racing isn't exciting enough, so manipulation is required to hype it up extra.

It pulls people's "comparing things" string. People recognize comparisons as a good intellectual tool, so it makes the narration more credible. In general, people judge claims by how many credibility strings are pulled, not by the reasoning used in arguments (which they don't actually understand).

“We Berkians prefer" is dishonest. He's presenting something he believes everyone prefers. It's meant to have broad, popular appeal. It's not a preference peculiar to Berkians.

“We Berkians prefer" is speaking for a group as if everyone in the group is the same, like diversity and dissent have never entered the narrator's mind as things that exist. It's basically like racism to assume that everyone with one shared trait therefore has a lot in common. And people who aren't aware of dissent, and assume it doesn't exist, are going to be intolerant of dissent. And consider what you'd think if someone said, "We white people prefer" or "We men prefer"! (But you're allowed to do it with people from a particular city, and sometimes with minority groups, because our culture is inconsistent and these things aren't decided by logic.) This shows that the mainstream of our culture is lying about loving diversity and tolerance, and about being intolerant of racist attitudes – otherwise a movie like this wouldn't be so popular. (Also, the many articles from "liberal" activists who thought the movie was pretty good, or complain about the wrong things, indicate they are frauds.)

“Little" is a dishonest way to say "big". Yet it pulls people's "negativity is honest" string, even though everyone knows it means the opposite of what it said. And saying something negative shows confidence (I'm so great that people will see it even if I don't show myself only in the best possible light). And by calling it "little" and relying on the audience to figure out it's not little, it's big, he's tricking people into thinking they are using their own judgment instead of being told what to think. And, at the same time, he's implying it's so obviously big that he knows everyone will figure it out, he isn't concerned anyone would think it's little – so that's more implied bragging.

“We like to call" is a weird phrase. It's not true. They like to dragon race, not to call dragon racing "dragon racing". It's a cultural string for some reason that's hard to pinpoint. I think it's partly saying that it's so great that you can tell its great just from the name, even the name is impressive (contrary to the "don't judge a book by its cover" stuff from earlier).

Visuals and Audio

The voice tones and music communicate that what you're seeing is exciting and good. They emphasize the messages that are in the words. The visuals do this some too, e.g. the opening makes Berk look epic. If you didn't speak English, you could figure out a lot of the meaning just from looking at it and listening to how it sounded. (If this interests you, listen to some music in a foreign language, or watch a foreign film without subtitles, and see what you can understand. It's a way to see how much information is in voice tones, music, body language, visuals, and other non-words.)

Lots of the visuals are about sheep. Why? First, because people mostly only care about people (and these sheep are more like emotional people than like animals). Anything besides social interaction is boring. Even dragon racing needs an approving audience for viewers to care. Being good at an unpopular sport isn't impressive, it's lame. People don't want to see buildings much, even though that's where people live. They also don't want to see the insides of factories or lots of other interesting things. And when they visit nature, they're always bragging to other people about how beautiful it was and posting photos on Instagram – they're just doing what other people approve of and then seeking actual approval for having done it (like kids getting gold stars or high grades from their teacher – that whole school dynamic teaches kids to base their life on doing things to get approval and accepting the judgment of others instead of making their own judgments of what they did). So the movie needs to quickly get away from the landscape and get to some people or an adequate substitute, something that viewers care about. We already saw enough of the landscape for some Instagram photos, now it's time to move on.

What do the sheep do? They're scared of the dragons. Scared sheep is less of a negative thing than scared people, so that allows the movie to present dragons as impressively scary without the negative of scared human beings. Sheep matter less than people so they make a better victim.

And there's a social interaction between the sheep. Four sheep push one sheep into the open to get snatched. That's bullying. Literally this mainstream movie is teaching people to form groups and gang up on individuals or smaller groups and bully them. And the bullying can include physical force like shoving. The movie legitimizes and normalizes bullying, and shows kids how to do it. What about all the anti-bullying propaganda our culture also has? Lies and lip service. Bullying continues to be a problem because our culture likes and accepts it.

While on the subject: the second clip also shows bullying. Astrid hits Snotlout at the start. And it speaks of Ruffnut burying Snotlout alive, which is also bullying. The bullying in the second clip is more like domestic abuse than like a bully on a school playground. Snotlout is being abused by females he is romantically interested in. Most people in our culture do not seriously think a woman can domestically abuse a man, and are scornful of men who aren't strong enough to deal with attacks from women. This movie reinforces that evil, pro-violence attitude and the "men should be strong" and "women are weak" gender roles behind it. What about all the anti-gender-role propaganda, feminism, etc? Lies and lip service. Those activists have other agendas which have nothing to do with having men be treated better or domestically abused less, or freeing men from social pressures to be strong, masculine, etc. Many SJW women say it's fine to be a weak man, but most of them are romantically and sexually interested in strong men, and don't respect weak men.

Clip 2 Analysis

I'm going to go into less detail on this clip since I've already said a lot. I included it because of its attitude to romantic relationships, which are full of pulling each other's strings.

Astrid hits Snotlout at the start. That should be appalling violence but doesn't trigger the anti-violence reactions of most people in our culture. It's telling viewers that hitting people is a good way to express disapproval (as long as it's a female hitting a male, who is unreasonably assumed to be too strong to actually get hurt). Then there's the dialog:

Astrid: What are you doing, Snotlout?! They're going to win now!

Snotlout took an action contrary to winning. It doesn't really matter what it was. When people play games and have competitions, usually they care more about social interactions than winning. This is typical.

Snotlout: She's my princess! Whatever she wants, she gets!

“Princess" means romantic interest. Snotlout is dating her or wants to date her. His approach to courtship is to put Ruffnut on a pedestal and be subservient to her. This is blue pill, beta-male behavior. There is a massive propaganda campaign advocating this kind of attitude and rejecting masculinity, but there is no corresponding campaign to change women's sexual preferences (from strong men to weak men), so men who behave this way are unattractive to most women.

Giving people what they want, even though it’s inconvenient for you, shows weakness and desperation – you’re going out of your way to please them. Snotlout does this by giving Ruffnut a gift while sacrificing his own chances to win. As is typical, Ruffnut has been taking advantage of the ongoing power imbalance by mistreating Snotlout (trying to bury him alive). But he continues trying to suck up to her anyway because that’s what our culture currently tells men to do.

Sucking up to women is a very bad plan for Snotlout. He should make his own life good so that she chases after him, instead of him chasing her favor. He's acting like he has low social status, which means he does (people's perception of social status is social status). He acts like she's better than him (he has to do favors to try to be worthwhile to her), which isn't how to win over a woman, because women want to date and marry up not down. Men are more focused on career and changing the world; women are more focused on social interactions and social climbing, including by impressing people with their beauty and behavior. If you want a woman, you need to be able to help her with her life goals, not make it harder for her by looking like a loser. A lot of her proof of social status, beauty, desirability, attractiveness, etc., comes from how high quality of a mate she can attract. For Snotlout to succeed, he needs to be a man she could date to make other women jealous, not a man who would get her teased by her friends.

The social dynamics of dating are a big topic. I can't explain it all here, so I'll instead link you to a great book about it: How to Make Girls Chase by Chase Amante. It presents the law of least effort, which Snotlout is egregiously violating: whoever appears to be putting less effort in (trying less hard) is higher social status. (If you're high status, like a famous actor or a CEO, then more people will want to date you. For most people, who don't have such big accomplishments and are more average, their social status is mostly judged by their behavior, by how they act in social situations.)

Astrid: Ruffnut?! Didn't she try to bury you alive?!

Women being extremely mean to men is not funny and shouldn't be acceptable. Attempts at romantic courtship don't always work out and sometimes people's feelings are going to get hurt accidentally. But this is intentional, extreme cruelty. This movie is part of a widespread attempt to normalize this and generally give women all the power and make men into scared, helpless victims.

It may not be a coincidence that Astrid is putting down a rival young girl suitable for courtship (and she's not doing it in a way Snotlout likes, so it's hard to excuse it by saying she's being helpful). Girls commonly attack and sabotage each other, usually in more subtle ways than rival men compete with each other. I know from the wiki that Astrid is romantically interested in another character (Hiccup, who's also the narrator from the first clip). But women often compete unnecessarily. They want interest from extra males, that they can reject, in order to get attention, gifts, and appear desirable (and to have a backup plan if they get dumped). The wiki says Snotlout was romantically interested in Astrid in the past, and she may not want another girl to have him even though she is rejecting him. I mention these possibilities about Astrid being a passive-aggressive bitch because they're common, they're reasonable guesses from the clips, and they cause a lot of suffering in our society.

Astrid appears to be a hypocrite because she’s suggesting that Ruffnut shouldn’t mistreat Snotlout, and Snotlout shouldn’t pursue someone who mistreats him, but Astrid hit Snotlout earlier in this scene. That was mean and violent. Astrid implies Snotlout should avoid another woman who treats him abusively, which actually helps normalize her own abuse of Snotlout, because it suggests she understands the issue and knows what the correct boundaries are. When you suggest to someone that they shouldn’t accept violent, abusive treatment, and you violently abuse them, the message is that lots of violent abuse is acceptable and somehow doesn’t count, and only the more extreme varieties are objectionable (or, alternatively, the lesson they may take away is that whether abuse is objectionable depends on who has the power and social status to get away with it or object to it).

Snotlout: Only for a few hours!

Snotlout was glad to get any attention at all from a female (listen to his happy, almost condescending, voice tone, as he rejects Astrid's concern). This is teaching viewers the evil lesson that men should be grateful for the slightest bit of attention from a woman, even negative attention. That hurts women who learn to be cruel, and it hurts men who put up with the abuse. And it creates hostilities between the sexes.

Consider also the total rejection of reality. Being buried alive would kill you after a few minutes. A few hours isn't short and doesn't make it OK. I assume the characters are exaggerating or joking in some way (or else they're magical enough to survive such things), but whatever happened they're not talking about it using clear, fact-and-reality-oriented statements. People should try to communicate truthfully. It's hard enough to get things right if you try. The dialog is teaching a callous disregard for the truth and for what reality is like. The meaning is: ignore reality and focus only on social dynamics.

Conclusions

I don't expect you to understand everything I said. I can't fully explain everything in one article. If you think you understand it all, I think you're dishonest. You should have questions, confusions, parts you disagree with, parts you think you can improve, and parts you're curious to learn more about. Post some of these things in the comments below instead of making excuses to try to rationalize why you don't do that but you really do value learning. If you're busy, put it on your calendar and follow up later (this isn't time sensitive on a scale of days or even weeks, but it's bad to spend years being a puppet). If you won't do that, consider why not. If you put it on your calendar and you're busy when it comes up, move it to a later date. If you keep putting it off for months, the issue isn't temporarily being busy, it's e.g. that you're making excuses or you haven't prioritized setting up your life to include time for thinking. (Or do you have other reason-related activities that you think are better and more important? If you found something great, please share it, myself and many other people here would like more of that kinda stuff! Or are you scared of criticism of its value?)

Now look at what you wrote down at the beginning and see how it compares to what I've pointed out. How much did you miss? Then consider: adults are more experienced and knowledgeable about their culture than children. Material aimed at adults is more subtle and expects them to understand more with fewer hints. The string pulling is harder to see and more indirect.

That means that, in your life, your strings are being pulled all the time. Unless you have the skill to be far above the string pulling in these clips, which is literally kid's stuff, then you're getting manipulated many times per day. You need to be skilled enough that this kind of analysis is easy for you, or you don't have much of a chance in the adult world.

Rewatch the clips now and see if you can see them differently. Then try to apply this stuff to the next movie you watch, and the one after that, and the one after that. To learn and improve in a way that matters, you need to not only get better ideas, you also have to use them on a regular basis in your life. You need to learn things well enough that it's natural and intuitive for you. You need to practice to get to that point. Just understanding something once, while trying your best, isn't good enough. You need to be skilled enough to get it right while tired, distracted and rushed – and dealing with something with a bunch of differences from the examples you've thought about before.

If you want to be rational, it's something you have to put work into in order to achieve. It's not automatic. It's not the default. Our culture creates irrational people who dishonestly fool themselves into thinking they're rational. If you want to change, you'll have to do a lot. Go to ElliotTemple.com and start studying the material and discussing it as you go along. Or share what your other, better plan is and listen to criticism and objections.

In the comments below, please post your analysis of the clips (both parts from the beginning), and your further thoughts after reading my analysis. You'll never cut your puppet strings by yourself without help, though you might be able to paint them rose colored and wear rose colored glasses so that you can no longer see them. Take action to change yourself by learning, so that you can stop being a puppet.


Update: Justin Mallone pointed out to me that calling Berk the "best kept secret" is a brag by the narrator, who is claiming to know well-kept secrets. Being privy to secrets is a status symbol, it shows you mingle with high quality people (not the masses – if the masses know something then it's not a secret) and have their trust.


Elliot Temple on January 3, 2019

Comments (74)

Here are my original notes on the flaws in the first clip.

- Calling it “a little something” is understatement for social effect. Instead of making an honest case that it’s exciting, it’s like it’d have to be great for them to admit weakness, people only admit weakness when they are lying and trying to stand out and covertly brag about how great their thing is.

- Saying it may not look like much is false. It looks visually stunning and interesting. It’s a big movie opener! It had a big art budget! And the point is to downplay how good it is for social manipulation.

- “wet heap of rock” is more downplaying how good it is. this is social manipulation to counteract the actual meaning of the paragraph which is heavy bragging. And some people are dumb enough to be surprised that he switched from speaking negatively to positively, and feel like their own opinion turned around? And they don’t stop to think that he knew his full opinion the whole time, that he designed his narrative this way, that when it changes tone that’s because the first tone was dishonest, not because he learned something new midway through (as the audience may feel they learned something new midway).

- Surprises are treated as something good, like the goal in life is excitement. Surprises are actually a bit dangerous (especially in a more primitive society like this one) and not automatically good. People should be more interested in reason, technology, freedom, etc, than surprises. Focusing on surprise is appealing to the mindset of the person who likes dance parties but hates thinking, and they’re a modern bored person who sits through school or work and wants something to break up the drudgery of their life and they want it to come from the external world because they don’t have a motor or initiative.

- Saying life here is amazing is a (false) brag which is socially allowed due to the negative lies previously and immediately after it (the qualifier about not for faint of heart).

- May not look like much is an overused, bad cliche.

- Not for the faint of heart is an overused, bad cliche.

- best kept secret is a bad, overused cliche.

- this side of is a bad, overused cliche.

- more than a few is a bad, overused cliche.

- a little something we like to call is an overused, bad cliche.

- they don’t like to call dragon racing “dragon racing” it. is dragon racing. they are describing it. the issue isn’t about naming preferences, it’s the unargued but allegedly obvious awesomeness of dragon racing.

- It’s collectivist regarding what all Berkians prefer. That’s basically like racism.

- Whittling and needlepoint are not representative hobbies, they are intentionally boring ones to make dragon racing extra exciting by contrast. This is a dishonest comparison because, apparently, dragon racing isn’t impressive enough and needs manipulation to play it up.

- Most folks don’t have whittling or needlepoint as their hobbies. That’s false. It doesn’t match reality.

- best kept secret this side of anywhere is actually claiming to be the best kept secret in existence. it’s a huge brag which, if taken literally, is not mitigated nearly enough by the negative that follows. but people will misinterpret it as a minor brag because by the time they hear “anywhere” they forgot what the sentence meant and got confused, or something.

- calling Berk a secret is meant to imply it’s good even though secrets can be good or bad. it’s another way they won’t say what they actually mean.

- more than a few surprises is another disguised brag – they mean a lot of surprises (= a lot of good stuff, fun and excitement) but they won’t say it that clearly.

- the claimed negatives (wet, rock, unimpressive appearances) are not actually comparable to the claimed positives. the passage tries to appear fair and balanced by presenting arguments for both sides, but actually it’s making huge positive claims (best kept secret anywhere, lots of surprises, amazing life, dragon racing) and negative claims that don’t compare. and it throws in an attack on most other ppl (they whittle and needlepoint). that’s actually not at all like a balanced pro and con list. it’s presented, in tone, almost as if it’s more negative than positive (until the very end where dragon racing is announced), but it’s really skewed positively.

- it says this is Berk, but it doesn’t show me Berk, it shows me a tiny, unrepresentative sample of things. it’s like saying “this is a farm” and then showing you some chickens and a teenager putting on makeup in her room. that is not like a tour of a farm or an introduction to the farm, and the movie scene is not a tour of Berk or reasonable introduction, it’s not even close. it’s a very selective focus on some specific things designed to humblebrag.

- 29 of 64 words are cliches. that’s 45%. so much! there are 6 cliches in 5 sentences.

- the “well” interjection is dishonestly trying to make it sound like the narrator is thinking on his feet, unscripted, and giving his honest opinion that he didn’t know in advance. it makes it seem more like “natural” speech, and people who fail to do that kind of social signaling are distrusted more for being more honest.

- the sheep are mean to the target sheep and physically push him out to get caught by a dragon

- the voice tones tell you what to think, what to like, what is fun. you could get a lot of the information even if you didn't speak English. (in fact you can test this by watching some stuff in a language you don't speak with no subtitles)


curi at 2:59 PM on January 3, 2019 | #11534 | reply | quote

YouTube sent me a Creator newsletter email today. Here's the start:

> Hi curi,

>

> 2019 is officially upon us (huzzah!) – but instead of getting all “New year, new me” on you, we wanted to take a minute to thank you for being a part of the amazing creator community, and look back at all that we’ve built together this past year. 2018 focused on keeping you more connected than ever – to your fans, to the goings-on at YouTube, and to the cool new ways to create and grow. Let’s take a look at what’s new from 2018, and keep the energy going in 2019.

>

> **Build deeper connections**

>

> There are more ways than ever to engage with your viewers and get your voice heard:

It reminded me of the clip 1 narration. Tons of manipulation. Anyone want to analyze it?


curi at 12:33 PM on January 4, 2019 | #11542 | reply | quote

> YouTube sent me a Creator newsletter email today. Here's the start:

>> Hi curi,

>>

>> 2019 is officially upon us (huzzah!)

YT promoting that a calendar increment is supposed to be some kinda big, happy, inspiring deal.

>>– but instead of getting all “New year, new me” on you

A corporation saying "New year, new me" would be weird and not make a lot of sense. Individual people often treat a new year as a time to make some changes, but corporations don't make decisions like that (and if they did they'd face angry shareholders).

They are framing this as "well, we COULD have done this other thing, but instead we wanted to thank you" but the other thing doesn't make sense.

>>, we wanted to take a minute to thank you for being a part of the amazing creator community,

Yes this generic mass blast email is very touching and thoughtful ty 🙄

also OT, stop demonetizing people i like and quarantining people, you bastards.

>>and look back at all that we’ve built together this past year. 2018 focused on keeping you more connected than ever – to your fans, to the goings-on at YouTube, and to the cool new ways to create and grow. Let’s take a look at what’s new from 2018, and keep the energy going in 2019.

This conveys no real information. It's just designed to vaguely make you feel like part of some big community or enterprise

>> **Build deeper connections**

>>

>> There are more ways than ever to engage with your viewers and get your voice heard:

YT comments and chats and that sort of thing are pretty worthless for building deep connections. They have a role -- YT vid comments can be funny, and chats on streams can let the content creator and fans interact a bit. That's fine but a very shallow connection.

> It reminded me of the clip 1 narration. Tons of manipulation. Anyone want to analyze it?


Anonymous at 1:34 PM on January 4, 2019 | #11544 | reply | quote

> YouTube sent me a Creator newsletter email today. Here's the start:

>> Hi curi,

>>

>> 2019 is officially upon us (huzzah!)

treating the calendar change as an event deserving of recognition & excitement

>> – but instead of getting all “New year, new me” on you,

but then pretending that they *aren't* doing the normal cliché New Years thing. Because they aren't doing the cliché in this particular way.

They are trying to give the vibe of being above the normal New Years clichés by saying they aren't doing this one. But they *are* doing a New Years cliché. They are treating the New Year as an exciting event and as a time to reflect on the past year & look forward to the new year. A time to stop & plan & make some changes.

(I don't know if their email includes anything new, any changes. This excerpt doesn't actually give any new services or changes, but they totally give the vibe that they ARE doing something new, there are differences between 2019 and 2018. Which is totally part of the "New year, new me" cliché that they are pretending to be above.)

>> we wanted to take a minute

this email took them longer than a minute to write. they are trying to make it sound lower-effort than it actually is.

>> to thank you for being a part of the amazing creator community,

there are *some* amazing creators on youtube. But most of the people receiving this email are *not* amazing creators. It's not an "amazing creator community" that's full of amazing creators. It is a few good creators and millions of people that either don't create anything unique (they just post other people's work), or that create really shitty stuff.

do those people (the non-amazing creators) read this and feel good about themselves because they think being included as part of an "amazing creator community" makes them an amazing creator? do they read this and think it's telling them they are an amazing creator? or do they think that they are at least contributing to a community of amazing creators, so they are doing something valuable?

i think saying this makes people feel good about themselves somehow, but i'm not exactly sure how. it doesn't actually say anything good about the individual reader. it tells them they are *part* of something good. but it doesn't tell them that *they* are doing anything good. does being "part" of something amazing make them feel like they are amazing? does it make them feel like their contribution is valuable?

>> and look back at all that we’ve built together this past year.

who's taking credit for what here? They say "that we've built". But most of the people reading this did not contribute to anything good on youtube. They aren't part of the "we" who built it. Does reading this make them feel like their shitty videos are part of something good, and help make it better?

A bunch of shitty videos existing on youtube does *not* actually contribute to making it better. It actually makes it harder to find good stuff. (I think having a platform where anyone could post whatever they want actually *is* good. But, first, that is *not* even what youtube is - they *do* censor. And, second, it's not the millions of shitty videos that would make the platform good. The freedom is good. And you need to allow people to post shitty stuff if you want to get really good stuff -- the best stuff will often be seen as shitty by a lot of people, and will be censored out in a platform that censors. But that doesn't mean that it is all the shitty videos themselves that are contributing to the platform being good.)

I think the vast majority of youtube videos are never seen by many people at all. A lot of them are only seen by people that are direct linked to them by the creator themselves. I don't know the numbers. But I know youtube is full of really dumb videos that are posted and never seen - they are never shown or recommended to anyone by youtube's algorithms.

Youtube *itself* never promotes these videos, never shows them to anyone, never recommends them. But then they send out this email to all of their content creators to tell them that they are part of an amazing creator community & that they are part of the "we" who has built youtube.

Youtube doesn't actually think that. They don't think that most of the people receiving this email are a valuable part of the community. They don't even treat their *good* content creators as a valuable part of a community, or as responsible for helping to build youtube into what it is.

(also - looking back at the past year is totally a New Year's cliché)

>> 2018 focused on keeping you more connected than ever – to your fans, to the goings-on at YouTube, and to the cool new ways to create and grow.

how did it do that? Was that actually the "focus" of 2018 for youtube? helping to keep content creators "connected"? (I don't think that was actually their focus - I think that's just a lie.)

and what do they mean by "connected"? what are they including there? I guess being "connected" to your fans just means being able to communicate with them in some way. That could be one-way or two-way communication. I don't know how people are any *more* "connected* to their fans now than they were in 2017.

Being "connected" to the goings-on at YouTube or to the new ways to create sounds like they sent out newsletters or something. Some kind of one-way communication. I definitely don't think they made it easy for content creators to have two-way communication with YouTube. And they also aren't even giving good one-way communication to their content creators. YouTube is *not* open & honest about their policies or their goings-on.

(Also, I don't know what they are talking about with new ways to "grow". That could be read as new ways to grow your subscribership, or it could be read in a "personal growth" way. I think they ambiguity may be on purpose - "growing" is another New Year's cliché.)

People want to feel "connected" to other things & people. And when they talk about being "connected" they mean more than just communication or newsletters. Part of feeling "connected" to another person is actually being able to know what they want/mean *without* communication (that's a common relationship thing). You have a connection that doesn't *require* communication. (That way of thinking is bad & wrong.)

I don't think being/feeling "connected" to other people is talking about a real thing. It's a word that people like, and they want to have it, and thinking they have it makes them feel good. But they don't actually have it. What allows people to feel like they have it is partly that they don't think very much about things and don't notice disagreements, and partly that they are conventional & want conventional things, so you don't need to be a mind-reader to give them what they want without communication.

>> Let’s take a look at what’s new from 2018, and keep the energy going in 2019.

This take stock of the past year & look forward to the new year thing is totally a New Year's cliché.

The thing about "energy" is stupid. People like talking about energy. What do they mean "keep the energy going"? Is that just a fancy way to say "let's keep doing the same things"? But it somehow sounds better because you are making what you are doing sound more fun and exciting. Or more meaningful. Or more participatory.

>> **Build deeper connections**

ugh, "deeper connections". I already talked about connections a lot above. This is just more of that. They are literally talking about them being "deeper". If connections was just about communication, "deeper" wouldn't make any sense. It makes sense to people because they think of connections in a supernatural way. They think of it as something that transcends normal communication. They think of it as something more than that.

>> There are more ways than ever to engage with your viewers and get your voice heard:

"More ways than ever" sounds like new stuff for 2019. I don't know if they list new things below. But, that totally sounds like "New year, new me".

They actually said above that they were looking at stuff that was new in 2018, and thinking about keeping it going into 2019. So they are taking stuff that isn't even new for 2019, but talking about it in a way that makes it *sound* new for 2019. This totally has the vibe of being about changes and differences and new stuff in 2019, but it's not about 2019 at all.

They are completely doing the "New year, new me" vibe, while explicitly saying they aren't doing it (to sound above it), and also not even giving any new stuff for the new year. They are just talking about it as *if* they were giving new stuff for the new year.

Btw, this isn't thorough. I picked a few things and said a lot about them, but there's more I could have said, or different directions I could have went it. And there are bad words & phrases I just ignored.


Anonymous at 12:48 AM on January 5, 2019 | #11545 | reply | quote

>>> huzzah

cliche

>>> – but instead of getting all “New year, new me” on you,

for many readers that's partly an attack on their friends, who they find annoying. it hints that "New year, new me" is annoying and that's why they aren't doing it. people who find it annoying will read it that way.

but what about, in the alternative, people who liked it? those people can also read it positively. it's not like it's a clear attack. they can read it as, "you already are so well-versed in new year, new me, so to build on top of that great stuff we're offering you this other thing".

>>> we wanted to take a minute

> this email took them longer than a minute to write. they are trying to make it sound lower-effort than it actually is.

people will read the "minute" as referring to the time it takes to tell the reader the stuff in the email, as if it's a real-time conversation. people don't think about how long it took to write, they think and care about how long it takes to read it (how long it takes to *be told*).

it takes more than a minute to read the email, too. so it's still lying that way, in addition how it lies by saying it took them a minute.

>>> and look back at all that we’ve built together this past year.

> who's taking credit for what here?

it's like Awesome Games Done Quick and other speedrun marathons that raise charity donations. they will raise a million dollars for a cancer charity and say that "we" did it and basically that everyone watching gets credit for raising a million dollars since they did their part. everyone is presumed to have donated what they could. even if that's zero, that's ok, increasing viewer numbers adds to the hype and maybe you can donate next year and so on, so you still get credit for being part of the event that raised so much money. pretending every person gets credit for all the money (especially if you donate any money at all, then the credit is extra clear) is part of how they manipulate people.

>>> **Build deeper connections**

> ugh, "deeper connections". I already talked about connections a lot above. This is just more of that. They are literally talking about them being "deeper". If connections was just about communication, "deeper" wouldn't make any sense. It makes sense to people because they think of connections in a supernatural way. They think of it as something that transcends normal communication. They think of it as something more than that.

building *deeper* connections implies you already have built connections (and hints they are already somewhat deep). that's false for most people getting the email.

>>> keep the energy going in 2019

asserts there already was energy. the whole thing is full of unargued claims without evidence, which people are meant to accept due to social calibration (saying things that are carefully calibrated to pull people's strings correctly, to fit our culture's current social game rules). just like the movie opening narration. it's the same shit with:

>>> and look back at all that we’ve built together this past year.

says we've built lots together in last year. (doesn't actually say the "lots" but that's implied). it's asserting you built stuff on YT.

part of the social manipulation is how it "look back" is supposed to draw your attention, and then the claim ("all that we’ve built together") is the object of the verb, it's not the subject. the main thing, grammatically, is "look back".

>>> 2018 focused on keeping you more connected than ever

assertion

>>> to your fans, to the goings-on at YouTube, and to the cool new ways to create and grow.

these are not arguments, they aren't information, they aren't evidence, they aren't reasoning. they are assertions.

part of what makes people get manipulated is that they, again, are not the subject or verb. the subject here is 2018 and the verb is "focused" and this stuff is secondary. slipping the main claims in in secondary places in what one says is a really standard, and putting unobjectionable decoy claims front and center, is a super common tactic. you see it all the time in stuff with a more intellectual tone, too.

>>> but instead of getting all “New year, new me” on you,

part of this is a *decoy* to distract from all the assertions. you have to say *something* besides the bald, raw assertions.

also by choosing to do X instead of Y, they are suggesting Y is even better than X.

> do those people (the non-amazing creators) read this and feel good about themselves because they think being included as part of an "amazing creator community" makes them an amazing creator? do they read this and think it's telling them they are an amazing creator? or do they think that they are at least contributing to a community of amazing creators, so they are doing something valuable?

for some readers, they will feel left out. they will be like "oh there was an amazing creator community ... but i didn't do much, i'm not doing my part, i need to do better this year"

> If connections was just about communication, "deeper" wouldn't make any sense. It makes sense to people because they think of connections in a supernatural way. They think of it as something that transcends normal communication. They think of it as something more than that.

i thought a deeper connection with a friend meant getting to know each other better and having/finding/creating more in common (like hobbies and also shared history).

---

this is not anything like an attempt at completeness. there are so many things wrong.


Dagny at 2:15 AM on January 5, 2019 | #11546 | reply | quote

my comments written simultaneously with reading

originally written as an email to FI but just figured i'd post it here because it's easier. will repost to FI if it's a good idea.

I started reading curi.us/2167 and wrote this simultaneously and because of the first few paragraphs. Everything is written sequentially except for a few things that are edited for clarity of the post (e.g. this line was written just after making the 2nd quote). I include more detail than is probably necessary because a) i don't know what's necessary yet and b) if there's anything valuable in there i don't want to remove it before i write it down. also i've had a few beers.

> When you watched the clips, did you notice anything? Did you have any opinions? What was good? What was bad? Did you stop to think about them? If you think about it now, can you come up with much without rewatching?

> ...

> Write down your comments on the clips (don't watch the clips again, just use your memory). Don't write things you wouldn't normally say. Don't stop being yourself to do analysis. Don't write a bunch of dumb stuff just to have more written down. Don't write what you think I would say.

in context of analysing with slight priming (i.e. knowing it would be talked about):

from memory

# clip 1

this confused me at the start a bit because all I really knew is that i'd be looking for *something*. I can't remember much of the start of clip 1. thinking about it:

- demeaning more 'boring' things like knitting in favour of action packed whatever

- the sheep felt a bit destracting, but they're given human emotions and this is apparently completely okay to ignore for bloodsport (note: obvs this is not an accurate representation of real sheep, so i say this within the context of the human-ness)

# clip 2

- do stuff for pretty girl / princess because she's pretty / the princess; irrational

- ignore+excuse obvious elements of, at best, outright manipulation, and at worst, serious mental illness hailed as excusable behaviour (note: i'm somewhat aware of better views on ideas around mental illness from FI list but writing what occurs to me as per 'Don't write things you wouldn't normally say. Don't stop being yourself to do analysis.')

- this activity is obviously a great test given that you can have somewhat serious and entirely unrelated conversations at the same time. i imagine the rest of the film doesn't hold up to the sense of urgnecy this implies.

(I resume the quote here because I read the first quote before writing the above, and read the below quote after)

> Only write points you think matter: reasons stuff is good or bad that you care about and genuinely, in your own opinion, think is important. Only write things that make sense to you. Don't write down picky criticism you don't care about but you think might be what a pedantic philosopher is looking for. Write your actual beliefs. If you don't see anything wrong with the clips, don't write anything negative. Writing about what you liked is a good idea too.

# thinking more about it:

## considering the title (cheating, perhaps) there are a few emotional responses:

- the princess-loving guy is immediately foolish and annoying. is he fat too? I can't recall with confidence. but i feel like he was, and it feels like there are some tropes being set up: foolish somewhat annoying fat guy is devoted to princess (presumably for wrong reasons) but if i'd guess he's being set up as a sort of underdog figure and something good will come and there'll be a lesson like 'it's what's inside that counts' despite the fact he's actually wrong about pretty much everything he said in the clip

- is the rational girl that's denying his feelings pretty? (blonde?) this sort of ties in with the above because the pretty girl is being set up to be the creator of conflict and end up being hurt or maybe having some change of heart where she 'accepts everybody' or something instead of being judgemental, despite her incredibly valid critcisms

- i don't know about any of this btw, haven't watched the film (tho did watch HTTYD 1 some years ago)

- okay to chat about general life drama while engaging in a higly paced, fast, presumably violent sport for entertainment and (at least the narrator doesn't let us know otherwise in clip 1) having no actual benefit or purpose beyond being more exciting than knitting

- there was something about the world's best kept secret too, at the beginning? if that were the case there'd be less ppl in the stands. makes no sense.

## going to watch it a second time now

> Writing things down lets you see if your thinking changes at any stage in the process. Don't rely on your memory of what you thought of the clips at first. Put it in writing so you can compare later.

Dope.

> Now that you've written down your initial thoughts, go ahead and rewatch the clips as much as you want

ahh.

(reading transcripts and rewatching now - also read "things to look for: *cliches")

# transcripts:

- lot worse than i remember, but maybe that's in context of above

- clip 2: "they're going to win now" "She's my princess! Whatever she want, she gets!" so the princess is only introudced to the dialog because she asked the foolish guy to throw the race? or maybe it's actually an incredibly violent society and disobeying a royal order is punishably by death in which case by all means throw the race. either way it doesn't look good for the "life here is amazing" line from clip 1.

- clip 1: berk? odd name

- "best kept secret" - i guess this isn't really subtantiated but if it really is a great place fuck this guy for keeping it from everyone & sharing potential improvements / knowledge / whatever

- "wet heap of rocks" - the self-deprecation is not particularly endearing and seems mainly for humor without any substantial point that it's making, except that maybe it's an island, helping to explain the 'secret'ness of it.

- "just not for the faint of heart" => sounds like 'if you're not brave you don't deserve this great place', or worse 'braveness is the source of worthyness'; more optimistically 'taking risks you believe in leads to a more fulfilling life' (but i think this is a big stretch on my part)

- clip 2: maybe the princess just asked the foolish guy to do something silly like show off which let other racers get the lead or something

- clip 1: "most folks enjoy hobbies like...we Berkians prefer...dragon racing" => 'other ppl are worthless, we're awesome and great becase we live exciting lives you want to have' (and considering school children) 'because we get to grow up doing awesome stuff you don't get to because secrets are kept from you and there really is great exciting things but those darn grown ups want to keep it from you'. maybe that's reading in to things a bit, but it occurs to me.

- clip 2: oh man that guys name is **snot**lout?, i mean 'snot' and 'lout' in one name, he's being made up to be the totally unserious comic relief (presumably also who doesn't have much in the way of consequences for bad decisions)

- [meta] am I falling for what the film is trying to do or criticising it?

# clips/video

- "not look like much" while some of the most ridiculous and impressive pseudo-medieval (admittedly fantasy) architecture is shown

- "not for the faint of heart" over image of the scared sheep with target (presumably that sheep is the unlucky one and you get points for it and lose points for other sheep or something?) => sheep are cowardly/faint of heart => cowards are sheep, etc

- wait did the other sheep just push target sheep out? like it looked surprised. 'murder your friends, it's okay if you don't die!'

- looks like there's like 500 ppl or so (adding because it felt like more originally)

- she hits him in the head? violence against friends is okay if you think they did a stupid thing

- biker/harley handle bars on a dragon? well I guess maybe there's like a multi-role system in the team or something like american football and it makes sense for somethings? just seems like cliche material.

- last scene feels like: 'didn't she try to murder you' 'just a little bit'. like wtf passes for okay with these ppl?

# 3rd watching:

color pallet on foolish dude is more agressive than Astrid

------ moving on ---------

I feel like many of the *things to look for* are in the above somewhere and it's not worth the time to spell them out, but i'm thinking of them as i read through, mentioning more significant/interesting

> Signals of high or low social status.

- physical abuse, at snotlout

> Claims .. without arugments .. // What does the narrator do to try to be persuasive or credible?

so many, like hte entire thing is a string of them; 3-5 depending on how nice/critical you want to be (originally thought 2-4 but read it again).

lie, exaggerate, belittle, derired, self-agrandise, self-deprecate

> Are you being given unbiased or useful information?

maybe some, like "this is berk", and there's definitely plenty of *social* information which is probably useful, but narrator isn't putting forward an unbiased case (partially via exclusionary/self-aggrandising them-us type talk around berkian's being great because dragons)

> Every time someone says something, who is he speaking to and what does he want his audience to think? Why does he say it?

narrator is speaking to audience (presumably?) and wants us to think this place is totes dope. everything he says is to give this impression filtered through his idea of what's totes dope. it won't be totes dope to some people but they don't matter because they like knitting instead of dragons. love us and this place, we're great.

astrid is talking to a teammate, possibly a friend, and chastising them for doing something which she thinks (and he doens't disagree with) will lose them the race. she wants snotlout to feel bad about it or at least come up with some reason that isn't stupid. she also thinks he's stupid though, and that it's okay to be physically violent towards him because she thinks that. i wonder if she'd feel the same if he hit her?

snotlout replies without taking much offence to the violence and justifies his actions with an appeal to authority or something similar depending on how you read it. he's talking to astrid and (maybe?) wants her to back off because the princess is a princess/pretty/murderous/something. he thinks he's being reasonably and does not communicate why this is relevant or interesting - maybe astrid knows? - but he seems very positive towards the princess and presumably wants astrid to be more positive / accepting / excusing / etc

astrid points out the princess tried to murder snotlout and expects him to acknowledge that maybe the princess is not the best person to do frivolous shit for when it means losing the race and letting people down, etc.

snotlout doesn't care. princess is great. astrid should see that.

> When you're done, look at what you missed the first time that you can see now.

there's definitely more detail and more examples of bad things like wilful/acceptable violence, plus i can spot more of the dishonest aspects.

i just realised i didn't write anything i liked, which would be misleading because i did feel positive things:

- dragon racing looks exciting (crowd thinks so at least) looks like fun, can I ride a dragon? man seems like it wouldn't be too bad to live in a pseudo-medieval society with dragon racing as a hobby

- music is of a nice inspiring adventurous tone

- green places are pretty, looks pleasant and well cared for in the scheme of things

the princess is called ruffnut? okay, weird name.

> Did you miss much that you could have seen without learning anything new, just by looking closer yourself?

yes, but I'm not sure when the diminishing returns started, or how i'd react normally (i.e. without prompting and curi.us/2167). I feel like i saw a bit after the 'things to look for' section but in limited scope - like there were some dot points that didn't occur to me to look for the first time around.

> Some people will have missed a lot that they could have caught if they gave more thought to what they were doing, but for other people it won't make much difference to look closer because they don't know anything to look for.

well given the last thing I wrote i hope there's some wiggle room in the he middle. then again, i should probaly read on!

> Or maybe you think you have a ton of great answers and didn't miss much, and you can compare what you wrote to my commentary later in this post.

I guess this one then.

> I thought the first clip was bad enough to stop watching the movie and do critical analysis.

I, mostly, would not. it's not that i'd never do that, or have never done that, but mostly i'll just make excuses for why i'd get something out of it if i ignore the bad bits. sometimes i'd just stop watching.

> The movie is one little piece of culture.

I think that's probably why I do the overlookign.

> Our culture is dangerous and these clips are prime examples of huge, life-threatening dangers.

on the one hand my initial reaction is that this is overstating the matter, but on the other hand i have liek mroe than one examples from my own life that back this up :/

just mentioning the contradiction and raw-ish thoughts for the sake of "Don't stop being yourself to do analysis." but i guess i also wouldn't normally say a lot of this because i largely try to write things with more polish

> They're representative. They're *not* special.

Agreed

> Philosophical corruption and intellectual error are much more important.

aside: your choice of relative attention to and other thoughts on politics are more curious to me given the above, since it seems (to me, ofc) not entirely consistent

aside on aside: one of the reasons i post less than i used to is b/c i feel like i need to either spend a lot of time being incredibly careful or write stupid things to hedge my own comments against what feels like over-critical analysis that prevents any shortcuts (not including some spelling/grammar stuff, tho).

> If people were better thinkers, and thought for themselves more instead of being manipulated by static memes and George Soros, then our current political problems would be pretty easy to solve.

Mention of Soros feels out of place for a previously entirely abstract article.

> then our current political problems would be pretty easy to solve.

isn't that just saying that if people cared about solving hard problems our problems would be less hard? like improving one's thinking is hard for a lot of people, or at least something they really want to avoid (i think often because they've made the mistake of basing their identity on some particular collection of ideas and don't want to give them up because it's really bloody hard to do that and go through a process of building up a sense of identity - particularly because their identity is not based (at least in part) the ability to detach oneself from bad ideas)

convincing anyone to change their philosophy in general is hard.

I guess i'm still writing off-the-cuff remarks even thought that part of the exercise is done.

> The first clip has over 20 flaws.

hmm, going to go count.

...

actually nup, have been doing this for like 60+ minutes now, going to just get through and go to sleep

> Able to see something major is wrong on your first pass through clips like these.

feel like i'm 50% there; things defintiely stick out to me more since FI and there are plenty of times i get worked up over them, even moreso since reading the fountainhead, too

> Able to identify and explain many large flaws when you review them.

how'd i do?

> Remember, notice and care about those kinds of flaws during your daily life, not just when analyzing.

i feel like yes, though not perfectly, and not 100% of my own flaws either -- i do care about them though, and they (some) do stick out without deliberate analysis

> Able to connect these flaws to an understanding of how they control people's lives and use men as puppets.

not sure it's exclusive to men (I mean it's definitely not, there's plenty of 'women can't do STEM/use a drill/<man thing>' around too), tho this clip definitely isn't kind to ol' snotdude. in general tho i notice sexism and the effect thereof way more than i used to, and i care about it and keeping people honest about matters if they bring things up i can refute; i choose to be somewhat selective about this in public or things like work environments (generally, not necessarily current/recent places) where i'd prefer to have a job and miss out on one or two such discussions than piss the wrong person off

> Be able to handle subtler stuff. This movie is aimed at the masses and doesn't try to manipulate people who aren't easy targets. And it emphasizes things extra for the young audience. Lots of manipulation is way harder to spot.

You mean the manipulation in clips 1/2 are subtler because their aiming for particular people (children) and due to the way they emphasise and deemphasise certain things adults both aren't as receptive but also aren't able to see it as manipulation?

> And even those skills *won't make it safe for you to have a conversation*.

so i'm tempted to be sarcastic here because it sounds a little over the top. given the sentence after, clarification of the above feels like it'd be useful (i.e. mention the safety particularly in the context of resisting subtly manipulation / social conditioning type stuff)

> And if you don't know exactly what's going on – if you couldn't be writing this blog post yourself – then you are in danger.

knowledge/certainty might be binary, but this definitely feels like something with gradations

------

(at this point -- up to "# Textual Analysis" i decided to just post the above so it was up, i doubt i'd write much mroe in any case)


max at 4:32 AM on January 5, 2019 | #11547 | reply | quote

bugger

> This pulls people's "introduction" string. They don't think about whether the clip really is an introduction to Berk.

oh man should have kept writing! damn fell for that one


m at 4:33 AM on January 5, 2019 | #11548 | reply | quote

#11547

>- okay to chat about general life drama while engaging in a higly paced, fast, presumably violent sport for entertainment and (at least the narrator doesn't let us know otherwise in clip 1) having no actual benefit or purpose beyond being more exciting than knitting

heh. kids totally do chitchat during PE (“physical education”, sports and crap) at school, so i think it fits the audience’s experiences ok. sports are boring, let’s gossip!

people want social narratives, not just game-rule-related narratives like player A used strategy B and player C countered with strategy D. game strategies are half way to math.

you see this with esports commentary. they talk a lot about player psychology, motivations, energy, pre-tournament prep, hot streaks, what it would mean if they won the tournament, and all kinds of other stuff. audiences are more interested in who is the big dog, who is the underdog, who is a “villain”, who is a rookie, how in game events are affecting their reputations and social status as the game goes along … not how to play the game optimally. if you want commentary about optimal gameplay you get more of that with games with less of a fun reputation, which are less mainstream, like Chess or Go. but with Overwatch or Hearthstone or Smash, you get tons of storylines about why particular players want to win, what’d it mean for their career and rankings, how they’d feel about it, how much “momentum” they have, stuff about how hard people are trying, and so much shit that is not actually part of the game. (when you get a pro player doing commentary, they tend to talk way way more about in game strategy and i like it better. the good players aren’t thinking about social stuff while playing.)

> - "wet heap of rocks" - the self-deprecation is not particularly endearing

calling this “self-deprecation” is a recognizable, standard cultural thing, it's kinda cliche. using the word “endearing” here is also culture talking. and saying “not particularly” is typical culture stuff where you don’t openly say negatives, so you use formulations like “not \[positive]" or "not a lot of \[positive]” (e.g. "don't like" over "dislike”). this is some of the same kind of stuff as the movie clips, but toned down.

there’s stuff throughout and these examples don’t stand out. i commented in this case cuz there happened to be 3 things in half a sentence, and i wanted to comment on this kind of thing somewhere.

> - [meta] am I falling for what the film is trying to do or criticising it?

the comments so far are criticism. i guess the falling for it parts would mostly be in what you don’t say.

> - last scene feels like: 'didn't she try to murder you' 'just a little bit'. like wtf passes for okay with these ppl?

like much of the clips: that’s an exaggerated version of how our culture works today. guys routinely put up with mean girls and keep trying to date them anyway.

> on the one hand my initial reaction is that this is overstating the matter, but on the other hand i have liek mroe than one examples from my own life that back this up :/

>

> just mentioning the contradiction and raw-ish thoughts for the sake of "Don't stop being yourself to do analysis." but i guess i also wouldn't normally say a lot of this because i largely try to write things with more polish

i think you’ll agree that *something* is wrong with the world. lots of things. but at least one *big* one related to *irrationality*. like there’s tons of gullibility where people passively accept ideas instead of doing critical thinking. i could say more and i’m sure you could too.

so my point is that this big brokenness has to have a cause. and the cause isn’t obvious or easy to fix. if it was that easy, it’d have been found and fixed already. so we should give some leeway to guesses about the cause – it shouldn’t surprise us if the cause (or a part of the cause) is something that looks wrong at first. also it makes sense for the brokenness to have lots of stuff that exploits it. it’s not just ignored or unknown, lots of things have developed to take advantage of it or cope with it or deal with it in some way.

and we can guess the causes will be mixed in to culture all over the place and there should be evidence in popular stuff. it’s not like our culture is all great and perfect but when people are 7.5 years old they take a one month vacation to Somalia where they get taught to be stupid. there’s regular stuff in our society that is fucking people up. so there are some reasons to suspect a really popular movie could have some of the cause in it, there’s some plausibility to that without even looking at a clip.

and then when you look at the movie (and many others), i guess you’ll agree with me that lots of it seems dumb or low quality. but it’s super popular. why would something bad be popular? that’s a hint that it’s involved in what’s broken in the world, that it’s pandering to or exploiting the brokenness of lots of people.

the movie isn’t a primary cause. for one thing it’s aimed at like maybe 13yos (guessing), not 3yos, and i think the biggest causes happen young. but i think the movie is interacting with and helping reinforce the brokenness, and that from a big picture perspective this should not be surprising.

> aside: your choice of relative attention to and other thoughts on politics are more curious to me given the above, since it seems (to me, ofc) not entirely consistent

it’s hard to tell if this means you disagree with some political position (feel free to bring it up separately) or if it means you think i spend too much time on politics given my claims politics is of lesser importance.

the main answer is: i don’t spend much time on politics.

a reason i spend some time on politics is it’s a field where people do some good work. e.g. in parenting, i can basically only read/watch things to criticize. in politics, i can read/watch things to learn and agree. there’s lots of new articles that are pretty good. so that’s nice to have some of.

like i can’t find enough people to follow on twitter for non-politics intellectual stuff (so excluding gamers), but there are a bunch who tweet pretty good stuff about politics. i like patio11’s tweets more than politics tweets but there aren’t enough things like that at the same quality level. i’ve looked at some of the people he praises and retweets and the quality is generally so much worse that i don’t want to follow them. and patio11’s tweet topics aren’t coercive parenting or static memes or epistemology, they are tech and business which are roughly equally as important as politics. finding quality stuff on the really important topics is super hard. it has a big shortage of content creators. i do have notifications for Alan’s blog, but I seem to be the only person who comments there much.

i also have some friends who are more interested in politics than i am, and send me some of the best links they find. if i put a political link in a newsletter, the chance i found it myself is lower than with any other topic.

> aside on aside: one of the reasons i post less than i used to is b/c i feel like i need to either spend a lot of time being incredibly careful or write stupid things to hedge my own comments against what feels like over-critical analysis that prevents any shortcuts (not including some spelling/grammar stuff, tho).

getting things right is good to practice and work on so that it’s easy, intuitive and second-nature. that’s important so you can use it all the time instead of just occasionally turning it on as a high-effort mode for high-stakes issues.

but you can also just *request* that people focus replies on certain things. or *preemptively warn people* that they can write whatever they want but you’re interested primarily in X and Y so they shouldn’t expect a reply from you about Z or W.

i think being extra careful hides errors. people should want criticism. if the criticism is overwhelming, prioritize what to deal with first and what you think is important. or do some less ambitious stuff where your error rate is more manageable.

> isn't that just saying that if people cared about solving hard problems our problems would be less hard?

no, plenty of people *care* but do problem solving wrong. they don’t know how to think effectively, or do leading/initiative/pioneering/non-passivity stuff, and not be puppets.

>> Able to identify and explain many large flaws when you review them.

>

> how'd i do?

pretty good. you saw lots of issues. your criticisms were mostly correct. you know a lot more than most people.

but the world is harsh and unfair. basically being 99th percentile … doesn’t accomplish a lot. you still get fucked and get to be a puppet. the requirements to have a lot of control over your life are not being above average or even way above average, they aren’t comparative, they are about having the skill required to face *highly evolved static memes*. which is really fucking hard. philosophy is like just barely advanced enough to do that, so you have to be a cutting edge expert to stand much of a chance.

my perspective is you got started on that. lots of people get stuck at the very beginning. they really dislike FI ideas or they are too dumb in some major way that gets them stuck. you’re past that. but there’s a ton more to learn/do/know and you don’t participate a lot, i don’t think you’re making rapid progress on it. so will you be able to cut off a good fraction of your puppet strings or make major contributions to human philosophy knowledge? IMO, if things keep going as they have been, then no. pretty good won’t get to results like that.

i think how you did is good as part of a continual journey of infinite/unbounded progress/learning. but as an end state, while way above average, it’s not good enough to be very effective.

> > Able to connect these flaws to an understanding of how they control people's lives and use men as puppets.

> not sure it's exclusive to men

i agree. that was intended to be a gender-neutral usage of “men”.

>> Be able to handle subtler stuff. This movie is aimed at the masses and doesn't try to manipulate people who aren't easy targets. And it emphasizes things extra for the young audience. Lots of manipulation is way harder to spot.

> You mean the manipulation in clips 1/2 are subtler because their aiming for particular people (children) and due to the way they emphasise and deemphasise certain things adults both aren't as receptive but also aren't able to see it as manipulation?

I’m not clear on what happened but this seems like some major miscommunication or misunderstanding. I’ll try to restate:

Movies for children are more blatant. Children miss more details and are less skilled and knowledgeable about cultural stuff.

Movies for adults are more subtle. Adults will pick up on lots of social-cultural stuff with fewer hints or less obvious hints.

It’s easier to do this kind of analysis with a children’s movie than an adult movie.

In your daily life, you face lots of manipulated aimed at adults which is more difficult to deal with than the manipulation in this children’s movie.

Your effectiveness at spotting manipulation is considerably lower in your life in general than it is for this movie analysis. These clips are good for practice (aside from being way too hard for most people to start with) but they’re relatively easy/obvious/unsubtle. To deal with most/all manipulation, you need to be able to analyze harder cases.

> knowledge/certainty might be binary, but this definitely feels like something with gradations

there are some gradations but they are somewhat limited. skill at dealing with manipulation X is highly correlated with skill at dealing with manipulation Y or manipulation Z. the same learning processes often apply to many types of manipulation, and to the concept of manipulation itself, all at once.

and there are breakpoints like being fooled by something, recognizing an issue but not knowing what it is and still being fooled, understanding the issue when you reflect on it a few hours later but not being able to deal with it well in real time, being able to reject something in real time but not explain yourself well immediately, or finding it quite transparent in real time. so there are some gradations but it’s more like a few dozen relevant breakpoints than like the real number line.

> > And even those skills *won't make it safe for you to have a conversation*.

>

> so i'm tempted to be sarcastic here because it sounds a little over the top. given the sentence after, clarification of the above feels like it'd be useful (i.e. mention the safety particularly in the context of resisting subtly manipulation / social conditioning type stuff)

conversations are one of the primary places people manipulate each other. they do it all the time. and lots of it is harder to identify, understand or resist than the movie clip stuff. (and, yes, you manipulate others all the time, too, it’s not just everyone else doing it.)


curi at 1:04 PM on January 5, 2019 | #11549 | reply | quote

do you think there is a difference between an idiom and a cliche?


Anonymous at 6:53 PM on January 5, 2019 | #11552 | reply | quote

#11552

Yes, there is a difference between idioms & cliches. There is some overlap. Some cliches are idioms & some idioms are cliche. But not all cliches are idioms and not all idioms are cliche.

That could be easily looked up online though. So I think you have some other point that you are trying to make.


Anonymous at 7:04 PM on January 5, 2019 | #11553 | reply | quote

do you think some of the cliches you identified in clip 1 are also idioms?

what would be an example of an idiom you don't consider a cliche?


Anonymous at 7:07 PM on January 5, 2019 | #11554 | reply | quote

> do you think some of the cliches you identified in clip 1 are also idioms?

> what would be an example of an idiom you don't consider a cliche?

i'm not #11553 but one non-cliche idiom example that comes to mind is "rule of thumb." another is "to get over [something]." rules of thumb typically have nothing to do with thumbs, and the things people are getting over typically aren't physical objects being climbed over. but these don't seem like cliches to me (I don't have an explicit definition of what a cliche is -- kinda going by intuition here)


Anonymous at 8:03 PM on January 5, 2019 | #11555 | reply | quote

#11555 you didn't answer the first question. do you have an answer? do you think that any of the cliches identified in clip 1 are also idioms?


Anonymous at 12:32 AM on January 7, 2019 | #11560 | reply | quote

I read the first part of the main post, where it says *Things to look for* and looked for those things. This is what I wrote down, before reading any further what Elliot or anyone else wrote. I have edited it for formatting. Single quotes are Elliot's suggestions of what to look for. Double quotes are the transcripts of the clips.

-----

> Cliches.

>> The best kept secret

>> this side of

>> it may not look like much

>> packs more than a few surprises

>> Life here is amazing

>> not for the faint of heart

>> hobbies like whittling or needlepoint

[Now I don't think this is a cliche.]

>> a little something we like to call

>> She's my princess!

>> Whatever she wants, she gets!

>> bury you alive

-----

> Statements which aren’t (literally) true.

>> best kept secret

Berk is not a secret. Doesn't "secret" mean a kept secret? How can some secrets be kept better than others?

>> this side of

How do they know where we are when we watch the movie?

>> Granted

How do they know what we think so they can grant it to us?

>> it may not look like much

It does look like much, especially if you see people riding on flying dragons.

>> wet

not all of it or even most of it is wet

>> heap of rock

The Berk we see is significantly more than a heap of rock.

>> packs more than a few surprises

I don't know if this one is true or not. Would I be surprised by more than a few things about Berk?

>> Life here is amazing

My guess is that for most people on Berk, life is pretty ordinary.

>> most folks enjoy hobbies like whittling or needlepoint

not true

>> we Berkians prefer

I doubt all Berkians prefer the same thing.

>> a little something

dragon racing is not little

>> dragon racing

It's more than a race if it involves attacking the sheep.

>> She's my princess!

Not literally.

>> Whatever she wants, she gets!

I doubt she gets *everything* she wants.

>> Didn't she try to bury you alive?!

I don't know if this is literally true since I haven't seen the movie. It might or might not be.

-----

> Misleading information or lies.

This is harder.

>> Life here is amazing

>> most folks enjoy hobbies like whittling or needlepoint

>> She's my princess! Whatever she wants, she gets!

-----

> Meanness, cruelty, and violence.

From the video we can see that some kind of cruelty is happening to sheep.

>> Didn't she try to bury you alive?!

[I missed Astrid hitting Snotlout. I saw the sheep with the target getting pushed out by the other sheep but I didn't consciously register that as meanness.]

-----

> Manipulation.

>> Life here is amazing, just not for the faint of heart.

This part is said while we see scared sheep running away and hiding. No one wants to be a scared sheep running away and hiding and no one wants other people to see them as someone who runs away and hides. So people are manipulated into thinking life on Berk is amazing, so that they aren't thought of as a "faint of heart" sheep.

>> You see, where most folks enjoy hobbies like whittling or needlepoint, we Berkians prefer a little something we like to call dragon racing.

"Dragon racing" is said in a tone of excitement and we are shown a crowd of cheering people. Again, we are manipulated into wanting to be someone who loves dragon racing and has an amazing life like the Berkians rather than being someone boring who likes whittling or needlepoint. They want us to see these as the only two options.

-----

> Signals of high or low social status.

Both the things I talked about under Manipulations are about social status. Low social status are people who are scared sheep, people who are faint of heart, and people who like whittling or needlepoint. High social status are people who have the power to scare the sheep people and people who cheer those people on.

Also, secrets are high status, and Berk is presented as a secret. Supposedly, only certain higher-status people know about it.

>> Snotlout: She's my princess! Whatever she wants, she gets!

It's higher status to be a person who is known to get whatever she wants, even if there are some things she wants that she doesn't actually get.

-----

>Claims or conclusions given without arguments, reasoning or evidence.

>> The best kept secret this side of, well, anywhere.

>> Granted it may not look like much

>> this wet heap of rock packs more than a few surprises.

>> Life here is amazing

>> just not for the faint of heart

>> most folks enjoy hobbies like whittling or needlepoint

>> we Berkians prefer a little something we like to call dragon racing.

>> She's my princess!

>> Whatever she wants, she gets!

-----

> What does the narrator do to try to be persuasive or credible?

In clip 1 the narrator wants us to think that all Berkians agree with him and they have amazing lives, so his attitude must be right.

-----

> Are you being given unbiased or useful information?

Mostly no. Maybe it's useful information to know that lots of Berkians enjoy watching "dragon racing".

-----

> Every time someone says something, who is he speaking to and what does he want his audience to think? Why does he say it?

Hmm. I don't know.

=====

The rest of this post is me writing now, after reading what everyone else has written up to now.

> When you're done, look at what you missed the first time that you can see now. I haven't told you anything about the clips yet. Did you miss much that you could have seen without learning anything new, just by looking closer yourself? Some people will have missed a lot that they could have caught if they gave more thought to what they were doing, but for other people it won't make much difference to look closer because they don't know anything to look for. It's good to know which situation you're in. Would it help much if you did things more thoughtfully using your existing ideas, or should you focus more on learning what kinds of thoughts you can have? Or maybe you think you have a ton of great answers and didn't miss much, and you can compare what you wrote to my commentary later in this post.

I found way more when I used the suggested questions to analyze the clips. I also missed a lot that other people found.

Before I did this exercise but after reading the questions, I thought something like: yeah there are lots of lies here, but what's the harm since everyone knows they're lies?

It took actually doing the exercise to see some of the manipulation. And it took reading what other people wrote to see way more of the manipulation.

I'd like to look for more of this kind of thing in other places. I don't know yet how difficult it will be for me to find it.


Anne B at 12:11 PM on January 7, 2019 | #11564 | reply | quote

> I'd like to look for more of this kind of thing in other places. I don't know yet how difficult it will be for me to find it.

I suggest you search FI for the topic "Exercise: Analyzing Lies" and reread it. It's got similar analysis. Actually you could try doing the analysis again yourself since I guess you won't remember my answers very clearly anymore.

Also there was the YouTube email I brought up in the comments above ( #11542 ). Did you read that discussion already? Decided not to try it yourself for some reason?


curi at 12:21 PM on January 7, 2019 | #11565 | reply | quote

youtube email

#11542

YouTube email newsletter:

> 2019 is officially upon us (huzzah!) – but instead of getting all “New year, new me” on you, we wanted to take a minute to thank you for being a part of the amazing creator community, and look back at all that we’ve built together this past year.

The big picture is that YouTube doesn't care about thanking anyone or looking back at what happened in 2018. They send this newsletter to try to get their Creators to use YouTube in ways that make more money for YouTube.


Anne B at 12:27 PM on January 7, 2019 | #11566 | reply | quote

Justin Mallone at 12:58 PM on January 7, 2019 | #11567 | reply | quote

#11542

> YouTube sent me a Creator newsletter email today. Here's the start:

>> Hi curi,

>>

>> 2019 is officially upon us (huzzah!)

It's a standard, conventional thing to be excited for the new year. They are tapping into that to try to convey that they are similar to you. They see it the same way you do. They want to make an emotional connection and build rapport with you.

>> – but instead of getting all “New year, new me” on you,

They want to convey that ppl who do that are annoying and low status. They're not like that. They are much cooler, which signals that you should listen to what they have to say.

>> we wanted to take a minute

"Take a minute" seems like a cliché to me (so there's a rapport thing they are going for there). Also, it's not literally true. I’m guessing it took the writer more than a minute to write this.

Also, saying "take a minute" signals that it was easy and low-effort for them to write this (which signals high status).

>> to thank you for being a part of the amazing creator community,

They want to convey that you've done something amazing, and you should feel good about that. But I doubt most of the ppl reading this created great content. So, there's dishonesty there.

However, I'm guessing that they wrote this stuff because it *works* for the purpose of getting ppl to have positive feelings towards YT. Ppl like approval and those who give them approval. Most of the readers won't stop to honestly think about whether or not they are actually a great creator.

YT also wants ppl to think that they are part of a *community*. In general, most ppl do want to be a part of a group (as they don't like the idea of standing alone and using their own individual judgment). So, I think YT is tapping into this desire to be a part of a community and implying that YT can be one of their communities.

Grammar note: I don't think there should be a comma after community.

"…we wanted to take a minute to thank you (…) and look back (…)"

I think it's two infinitive phrases modifying "minute" (even though they dropped the "to" before "look back"). Consider "I have time to run and take a nap." I think the structure is the same.

>> and look back at all that we’ve built together this past year.

More collectivism stuff: *we* built this together, never mind the individuals it's a *we* thing.

Also, they said they wanted to take a minute to look back, but did they actually look back at anything? Or was that fluff?

In a later section, they talk about taking a look at 2018, so maybe they did look back at stuff that the creators created. If they didn't actually look at stuff that the creators created and only looked at new features that YT added, then it's dishonest to say "we wanted to take a minute to ... look back at all that *we've* built together this past year." (emphasis added)

>> 2018 focused on keeping you more connected than ever – to your fans, to the goings-on at YouTube, and to the cool new ways to create and grow.

As for the content of this sentence, did they come up with new and better ways to communicate to fans or YT or to learn about new YT features or something? Or is this just fluff about connections?

Also, "more connected than ever" seems potentially dishonest to me. Maybe it's true depending on what they actuallly did, but it's really strong and I'm guessing that whatever they did might not warrant that claim.

>> Let’s take a look at what’s new from 2018, and keep the energy going in 2019.

>>

>> **Build deeper connections**

A final emphasis on collectivism, ties, and connection stuff.

Again, I'm wondering if YT actually did anything new related to improving communication or being able to find a creator or if this connection stuff is just fluff. Is YT just tapping into what ppl like to see themselves as doing (e.g. forming connections, being a part of a group or community, not being a lonely loser)?

Imagine if this was sent out to a 1000 people who were like Roark psychologically. The social manipulation stuff wouldn't work, but also this whole push for connections wouldn't work either.


Kate at 9:04 AM on January 8, 2019 | #11584 | reply | quote

Analysis of Clip 2

#clip 2

Things to look for


▪ Cliches.


I don’t think “She's my princess!” or “Whatever she wants, she gets!” are quite cliches, though they are definitely not very thoughtful or original ideas (but a cliche has to be a bit like an internet meme in that it gets popular in a particular form, i think? It can’t just be a trite idea.)


▪ Statements which aren’t (literally) true.



My guess is that Ruffnut is not actually a royal princess, and the use of the term here is as a non-literal term of affection.


▪ Misleading information or lies.

I didn’t spot anything fitting into this.

▪ Meanness, cruelty, and violence.


Astrid whacks Snotlout on the head at the beginning of the clip. This violent act is portrayed as light-hearted fun.


Snotlout defends Ruffnut burying him alive for a significant amount of time. Again this is presented in a spirit of lighthearted playfulness.

▪ Manipulation.

The lighthearted way in which violence and burial-alive are treated is intended to convey to the viewer that these are lighthearted subjects.

▪ Signals of high or low social status.

Snotlout comes off as a beta. He’s putting Ruffnut on a pedestal and takes physical abuse from Astrid.

▪ Claims or conclusions given without arguments, reasoning or evidence.

One implied conclusion is that burial alive for a few hours is no big deal.

▪ What does the narrator do to try to be persuasive or credible?


Seems not applicable.

▪ Are you being given unbiased or useful information?


We’re shown that Astrid is violent, that Snotlout is a violence sympathizer, and that Ruffnut engaged in a cruel act. I don’t think that’s the intended takeaway though!

▪ Every time someone says something, who is he speaking to and what does he want his audience to think? Why does he say it?

This was a point I think I accidentally saw from curi’s analysis, but the whole context of this discussion is interesting. Like it’s saying that the middle of a rather dangerous competition is an appropriate setting for violent hijinks and romantic gossip. It’s very similar in that respect to this scene from Frozen [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zuzLLiBFGMg&t=30s]


Justin Mallone at 12:56 PM on January 8, 2019 | #11588 | reply | quote

The burying alive thing should be listed under *Statements which aren’t (literally) true.
* and/or *Misleading information or lies.*

You took it literally?


Anonymous at 1:13 PM on January 8, 2019 | #11589 | reply | quote

> The burying alive thing should be listed under *Statements which aren’t (literally) true.
* and/or *Misleading information or lies.*

> You took it literally?

yeah. in a fantasy-world animated context i could see lots of things as potentially being literally true that i would not interpret that way in other contexts


Anonymous at 1:36 PM on January 8, 2019 | #11592 | reply | quote

> Conclusions

>

> I don't expect you to understand everything I said. I can't fully explain everything in one article. If you think you understand it all, I think you're dishonest. You should have questions, confusions, parts you disagree with, parts you think you can improve, and parts you're curious to learn more about. Post some of these things in the comments below instead of making excuses to try to rationalize why you don't do that but you really do value learning. If you're busy, put it on your calendar and follow up later (this isn't time sensitive on a scale of days or even weeks, but it's bad to spend years being a puppet).

This part pulled strings in me. I think the strings were something like *an authority figure wants me to do something and will think I'm good if I do it so I should do it*.

I read through the original post a few times I couldn't think of any questions, confusions, parts I disagreed with, parts I thought I could improve, or parts I'm curious to learn more about. I don't know if I should keep trying.


Anne B at 8:03 AM on January 9, 2019 | #11596 | reply | quote

> This part pulled strings in me. I think the strings were something like *an authority figure wants me to do something and will think I'm good if I do it so I should do it*.

Yeah people have so many strings it's hard to avoid any getting pulled. Like Feynman, I put some effort into lowering my social status and harming my (conventional) reputation. I try not to present as a fancy, unapproachable authority. But I have limited control over this.


curi at 11:32 AM on January 9, 2019 | #11600 | reply | quote

string-pulling example

https://www.frontpagemag.com/fpm/272523/trump-moves-closer-invoking-emergency-powers-build-matthew-vadum

> At a linguistically tortured presser yesterday, a bug-eyed Pelosi, who turns 79 on March 26, seemed to say ...

This pulls strings of *there are two sides; we (author and reader) are on the good side and this person is on the bad side*.

A lot of political writing has this kind of thing.


Anne B at 6:10 AM on January 13, 2019 | #11619 | reply | quote

This is what extra blatant puppet string pulling for adults looks like. It's effective on ... over half the US population?


Anonymous at 4:19 PM on January 19, 2019 | #11647 | reply | quote

#11647 Try to think, in a world where *that* works on tons of people, how well something subtle could go undetected. The dragon training movie is more subtle than buzzfeed, and people are largely blind to what it's doing, but tons of string pulling is far more subtle.

Interestingly, subtle isn't always better. If you're too subtle with a dumb person, you'll fail to pull their strings cuz they won't get it. That's what Buzzfeed is all about – catering to how dumb people are and how they want heavy-handed manipulation that makes it easy for them to know what to do.


Anonymous at 4:22 PM on January 19, 2019 | #11648 | reply | quote

DD in BoI:

> That anti-rational memes are still, today, a substantial part of our culture, and of the mind of every individual, is a difficult fact for us to accept. Ironically, it is harder for us than it would have been for the profoundly closed-minded people of earlier societies. They would not have been troubled by the proposition that most of their lives were spent enacting elaborate rituals rather than making their own choices and pursuing their own goals.


Anonymous at 3:14 PM on January 20, 2019 | #11661 | reply | quote

https://ulysses.app/blog/2019/02/preview-15-split-view/

That's an example of puppet string pulling. That is there to manipulate people.

Examples are everywhere. Post a few dozen if you care to understand this and be manipulated less. Also try analyzing what's going on in this example.


curi at 1:01 AM on February 5, 2019 | #11784 | reply | quote

> https://ulysses.app/blog/2019/02/preview-15-split-view/

> [image]

> That's an example of puppet string pulling. That is there to manipulate people.

> Examples are everywhere. Post a few dozen if you care to understand this and be manipulated less. Also try analyzing what's going on in this example.

One thing I have noticed before with these self-descriptions in general (especially on Twitter though can occur in other places as in above example) is a juxtaposition of serious and less serious things. I think the idea is to say something like "I don't take myself too seriously" by saying that some serious field is as important to you as some particular food or whatever. I think you see that above. Literature at least has a reputation as a serious field (and I think used to be more serious but now is a wasteland like all humanities) and it is being treated on hte same level of importance as chocolate cookies and coffee -- or maybe less cuz its actually mentioned last!

"Blog-curating writing maniac" is some bragging about how much she loves her job. I think the same goes for "Finds peace", though there there may also be some winking at new-agey culture stuff.


Anonymous at 2:37 AM on February 5, 2019 | #11785 | reply | quote

The Rebekka Honeit bio is partly pretending to share some personal info and let you get to know the person more and be more connected with them. I guess this fools the same people who think a Facebook page is real info about what someone's life is like? It's just tweaked press copy, it's not real personal info.

One goal is to get people to think this article is written by a friendly, regular person, not a soulless corporate lawyer.


Anonymous at 2:44 AM on February 5, 2019 | #11786 | reply | quote

> The Rebekka Honeit bio is partly pretending to share some personal info and let you get to know the person more and be more connected with them. I guess this fools the same people who think a Facebook page is real info about what someone's life is like? It's just tweaked press copy, it's not real personal info.

> One goal is to get people to think this article is written by a friendly, regular person, not a soulless corporate lawyer.

I can see that but it seems so obvious to me that such bios are heavily tweaked things written for the public that it seems absurd to me that people would think personal info is being shared. so I didn't think of it


Anonymous at 3:39 AM on February 5, 2019 | #11787 | reply | quote

Saying she loves coffee implies she is a busy person, and therefore important. She's too busy to get enough sleep so she uses coffee to be alert and focused on her job.

Saying she loves chocolate cookies shows that she's not too much of a goody-two-shoes.

The picture is giving information too. It shows she's young and female and white and not super overweight. I think she's trying to look intelligent but I don't know why I think that.


Anne B at 5:41 AM on February 5, 2019 | #11788 | reply | quote

#11787 Me on IMs after my friend said a comment partially about that quote, which mentioned personalness sorta indirectly:

> tbh the thot that ppl would interpret it as personal had not occurred to me

it's so fake. ik. lol sigh.

a recent, real example of how these are fake: when non-PR ppl try to give info for them, PR people tell them some stuff is unusable. Overwatch player Surefour was asked what he likes to do besides Overwatch. He said look at girls on Instagram. Blizzard PR said they can't use that. (He either tweeted this story or said it on his twitch stream, then i saw it on reddit. He has his own ways to communicate.)

Related story: Blizzard made all the Overwatch league players get rid of Pepe emotes from their social media.


Anonymous at 1:30 PM on February 5, 2019 | #11789 | reply | quote

> I think she's trying to look intelligent but I don't know why I think that.

Black and white photo. Plaid scarf. I think those hint at intelligence in our culture's eyes. I think people can imagine a professor or a person from Boston wearing that scarf. (Warning/disclaimer: I'm pretty bad at this kinda cultural trivia.)


Anonymous at 1:32 PM on February 5, 2019 | #11790 | reply | quote

> Black and white photo. Plaid scarf. I think those hint at intelligence in our culture's eyes. I think people can imagine a professor or a person from Boston wearing that scarf. (Warning/disclaimer: I'm pretty bad at this kinda cultural trivia.)

Black and white photos are thought of as arty.


oh my god it's turpentine at 1:34 PM on February 5, 2019 | #11791 | reply | quote

> Related story: Blizzard made all the Overwatch league players get rid of Pepe emotes from their social media.


Anonymous at 3:04 PM on February 5, 2019 | #11792 | reply | quote

Facebook keeps trying to show me a video about my friendships.

> Together in Friendship

>

> Friendship is all about the moments we share together. This Friends Day, take a look back on the memories you've made with the friends in your life.

It makes business sense for Facebook to encourage people to have more Facebook friends.

But Facebook got the idea of friends being important from our culture. It's supposed to make us happy to have lots of friends and to do things with them. Facebook is adding a part to this about it also being good to post pictures of doing things with friends and to tag your friends in those pictures so your friends and your friends' friends will all think you have a satisfying life because they see pictures of you doing things with people.


Anne B at 5:32 AM on February 7, 2019 | #11804 | reply | quote

For a lot of cultural memes, like the things in this thread, I am partially consciously aware of them while at the same time being in the grip of them.


Anne B at 5:41 AM on February 7, 2019 | #11806 | reply | quote

https://www.epsilontheory.com/all-along-the-watchtower/

I thought this was a good example of someone outside the FI community doing an analysis of puppet-string pulling. In this case, it's an analysis of NPR's "fact check" of Trump's 2019 State of the Union speech.

I thought it was better than most of what I've seen outside of FI because:

- It used specific quotes, repeatedly.

- It explained how and why each quote was designed to tell you what to think rather than just check facts.

- It was critical of methodology, even where the author claims to agree with most of the conclusions (he doesn't like Trump).


PAS at 10:47 AM on February 8, 2019 | #11812 | reply | quote

#11812 I thought it was pretty good. Didn't read all the points. I thought it under-explained stuff a lot. Too abbreviated, not enough clarity and help for the reader. I especially disliked the repeated use of fancy italic terms and the reliance on them to actually convey a bunch of info (they partly took the place of explaining).

I agree with the main theme that it's bad for opinions/judgments to be presented as facts.

It didn't have much info about what weaknesses the audience has and how those get manipulated. The focus was on what the "fact check" writers were doing, not on explaining the culture that enables that to work. That's OK but incomplete.


curi at 12:20 PM on February 8, 2019 | #11813 | reply | quote

https://leg.colorado.gov/sites/default/files/documents/2019A/bills/2019a_1032_01.pdf

> (b) Sexual assault, interpersonal violence, and bullying are pervasive and serious public health concerns, placing impacted youth at increased risk for unintended pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, low academic performance, truancy, dropout, self-harm, and other harmful behaviors. [1]

Calling things “public health concerns” pulls strings of concern and unity. Most people want the public to be healthy. This phrasing is used to help make the bill seem good and non-controversial even though the bill authors know that a substantial portion of people will not think the bill is good and non-controversial.

Using negative words like “truancy” and “dropout” and putting them in a list of “harmful behaviors” conveys that it's a bad thing for children not to go to school. It reinforces the idea that *society should force children to go to school because it's harmful to them to not go to school*.

[1] This is near the end of page 2. I couldn't get searching to work on this document either with or without the line numbers so I couldn't decide whether to leave the line numbers in or take them out. I took them out for readability.


Anne B at 1:30 PM on February 8, 2019 | #11815 | reply | quote

Amazon sells a lot of things they label as AmazonBasics. This label pulls strings of *frugal, sensible people buy this and I want to be a frugal, sensible person* and *I must need this thing because it's a basic thing and everyone needs the basics*.

One example:

https://www.amazon.com/AmazonBasics-18-Piece-Dinnerware-Set-Service/dp/B019EEUQ2O/ref=pd_bxgy_79_img_2


Anne B at 1:32 PM on February 8, 2019 | #11816 | reply | quote

#11815 "increased risk" means there was a weak correlation in some bullshit study.


Anonymous at 1:39 PM on February 8, 2019 | #11817 | reply | quote

> Amazon sells a lot of things they label as AmazonBasics. This label pulls strings of *frugal, sensible people buy this and I want to be a frugal, sensible person* and *I must need this thing because it's a basic thing and everyone needs the basics*.

> One example:

> https://www.amazon.com/AmazonBasics-18-Piece-Dinnerware-Set-Service/dp/B019EEUQ2O/ref=pd_bxgy_79_img_2

interestingly, Amazon was recently banned from selling their Basics products (and other products) in India https://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Companies/Amazon-pulls-products-from-India-website-to-comply-with-new-rules


Anonymous at 2:06 PM on February 8, 2019 | #11818 | reply | quote

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/04/podcasts/the-daily/taliban-afghanistan-peace-deal.html

I noticed some things that the host, Michael Barbaro, does to pull the audience's strings of *this guy is thoughtfully listening to the neutral facts and drawing conclusions in a reasoned way so therefore he's someone I should trust and agree with*.

Sometimes after the guest, Mujib Mashal, says something, Barbaro says “hmm”, as if he just got some new information and is now mulling it over. I heard that kind of “hmm” at around 8:13, 14:15, and 20:39.

At 14:20 we hear Barbaro pausing a bit in the middle of his questions, as if he's just thinking of them now in response to what he is hearing.

Barbaro sometimes asks a question to get Mashal to restate what he just said so the audience hears it again (18:48, 20:15). At the end of the question at 20:15, Barbaro adds “That's intriguing”, as if he just became aware of the idea.

At 23:52 Barbaro starts a question with “I wonder”, again as if he just thought of the idea he's about to ask about.


Anne B at 2:16 PM on February 10, 2019 | #11821 | reply | quote

#11821 Those are good. If you practice this a lot, you may be able to automate it some, so that you can notice things like that in all conversations without actively trying to. That's what it takes to be able to deal with this stuff effectively in daily life.


Anonymous at 2:56 PM on February 10, 2019 | #11822 | reply | quote

People say "I can't believe [X] has died" when X was an old person and the person making the statement clearly believes the death has occurred.

So they say something that's not true. I think they do this cuz demonstrating a certain level of shock and disbelief is part of the public performance of mourning


Anonymous at 6:38 PM on February 10, 2019 | #11827 | reply | quote

Racism is an example of puppet-string-pulling. From a young age we absorb racial stereotypes that are part of our culture. Most people consciously want to be non-racist. But our culture keeps influencing how we see people of different races and we have a hard time getting away from it.


Anne B at 2:12 PM on February 11, 2019 | #11830 | reply | quote

Racism as a concept is more of an example of puppet string *creation*. You're explaining a category of strings that are attached to people.

Pulling a string would be like a particular tweet that brings up race to manipulate its audience.


Anonymous at 4:57 PM on February 11, 2019 | #11834 | reply | quote

> Racism as a concept is more of an example of puppet string *creation*. You're explaining a category of strings that are attached to people.

>

> Pulling a string would be like a particular tweet that brings up race to manipulate its audience.

Ahh yes. Thank you.


Anne B at 8:39 AM on February 12, 2019 | #11837 | reply | quote

https://www.breitbart.com/politics/2019/02/11/amy-klobuchar-trolls-hillary-there-wasnt-a-lot-of-campaigning-in-wisconsin-in-2016/

Title:

> Amy Klobuchar Trolls Hillary: ‘There Wasn’t a Lot of Campaigning in Wisconsin in 2016’

The article that this one gets its information from is:

https://www.cnn.com/2019/02/11/politics/amy-klobuchar-hillary-clinton/index.html

Title:

> Amy Klobuchar's not-so-subtle troll of Hillary Clinton

The word *trolls* in the titles pulls two strings.

1) This news source is not elitist. It uses words that you the reader would use in your everyday life.

2) Women in power try to hurt each other, even when they're supposedly on the same side.


Anne B at 11:27 AM on February 12, 2019 | #11838 | reply | quote

I saw a product in a store called Muscle Milk. It was a non-dairy protein shake. The product looks milk-like but I think they used the word "Milk" in their title to pull strings of *healthy and strong*, which are things that past milk advertising has claimed people will be if they drink milk. "Milk" also pulls strings of *food* as opposed to *supplement* or *medicine*.


Anne B at 7:31 AM on February 13, 2019 | #11843 | reply | quote

https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/reviewedcom/2019/02/07/gifts-women-actually-valentines-day-2019/2793719002/

> Champagne or wine: Go to a liquor store. Grab some alcohol. Pay. Leave store.

>

> Flowers: Go to Trader Joe's OR a local florist. Buy flowers. Go home.

This pulls strings of *You have to love your girlfriend/wife. You have to show her you love her by buying certain kinds of things for her on Valentine's Day. If you don't do it you're being lazy or you're being bad at relationships, both of which are bad things.*


Anne B at 7:56 AM on February 13, 2019 | #11844 | reply | quote

A store named something like “Tony's Famous Pizza” is pulling strings with the word Famous, even though people sort of know that the place might not actually be more well known than other pizza places.

“Famous” pulls the string of *lots of other people like this place so I'll gain a bit of social status for going there*.

“Famous” also pulls the string of *it's famous so the food must taste good*.


Anne B at 11:04 AM on February 13, 2019 | #11845 | reply | quote

I saw this Valentine's "joke":

> Love is the delightful interval between meeting a beautiful girl and discovering that she looks like a trout.

For women, this pulls strings of *it's important that men love you and the way to get them to love you is to be beautiful so you'd better get busy working on looking beautiful and continuing to look beautiful even after you've caught a man*.


Anne B at 9:33 AM on February 19, 2019 | #11865 | reply | quote

> When you watched the clips, did you notice anything? Did you have any opinions? What was good? What was bad? Did you stop to think about them? If you think about it now, can you come up with much without rewatching?

in the second clip, snotlout said he would do anything for a girl even after she did something bad to him.

now I'm gonna watch the clips again and see what I can find.

@ 0:25-0:30

In the first clip, hiccup said life here is great. I’m not sure if this is telling people to say life is great when its not because they ride dragons and they’re usually having fun.


sleepy at 5:12 AM on February 23, 2019 | #11879 | reply | quote

> Write down your comments on the clips (don't watch the clips again, just use your memory). Don't write things you wouldn't normally say. Don't stop being yourself to do analysis. Don't write a bunch of dumb stuff just to have more written down. Don't write what you think I would say. Only write points you think matter: reasons stuff is good or bad that you care about and genuinely, in your own opinion, think is important. Only write things that make sense to you. Don't write down picky criticism you don't care about but you think might be what a pedantic philosopher is looking for. Write your actual beliefs. If you don't see anything wrong with the clips, don't write anything negative. Writing about what you liked is a good idea too.

I don’t like the dragon racing. It’s just boring.


sleepy at 5:16 AM on February 23, 2019 | #11880 | reply | quote

My additional thoughts

> ▪ Cliches.

“it may not look like much”

“packs more than a few surprises”

“not for the faint of heart”

“a little something we like to call”

“She's my princess” (not sure)

“Whatever she wants, she gets” (not sure)

> ▪ Meanness, cruelty, and violence.

“Didn't she try to bury you alive?!”

> ▪ Signals of high or low social status.

“They're going to win now!” (Not sure)

> ▪ Claims or conclusions given without arguments, reasoning or evidence.

“The best kept secret this side of, well, anywhere.”

> ▪ Every time someone says something, who is he speaking to and what does he want his audience to think? Why does he say it?

“but this wet heap of rock packs more than a few surprises” — he wants audience to get excited and want to watch more of the movie.


sleepy at 5:32 AM on February 23, 2019 | #11881 | reply | quote

https://www.facebook.com/WingmomDE/photos/a.155869861806513/352593562134141/

This pulls strings in people of *it's funny that my kid thinks I'm mean to her*. I think most parents feel a little bad when their kid calls them mean. They make this kind of joke to help them feel better, like their meanness is no big deal, just funny.


Anne B at 10:01 AM on February 27, 2019 | #11900 | reply | quote

Today in a store the cashier asked me if I wanted to donate to some charity.

This request is intended to pull strings that make people donate to charity in order to feel like they are good people.

It's also intended to pull strings that cause the customer to think that store is good because they collect money for needy organizations.


Anne B at 2:27 PM on February 27, 2019 | #11902 | reply | quote

At a place where I used to work, people would solicit donations for Comic Relief and Save the Children who both promote anti-Israel agendas

https://edgar1981.blogspot.com/2015/03/why-you-should-not-give-penny-to-comic.html

https://www.ngo-monitor.org/save-childrens-renewed-anti-israel-campaign/

In many cases, with charitable giving you have to be very careful cuz you will end up promoting evil not just inefficiency.


oh my god it's turpentine at 4:01 AM on February 28, 2019 | #11903 | reply | quote

> Today in a store the cashier asked me if I wanted to donate to some charity.

> This request is intended to pull strings that make people donate to charity in order to feel like they are good people.

Yeah and it works well. Ppl strive to feel as if they are good people. And if they can get that reassurance by giving a dollar the grocery store, that's much easier than e.g. improving their parenting, fixing their emotional problems, learning to fix their problems, stuff like that.


kate at 5:12 AM on February 28, 2019 | #11904 | reply | quote

I was exiting a building with some other people and the person behind me asked, “Is it snowing yet?” A string was pulled in me. I hadn't known it was supposed to snow that day and the question caused me to think I *should* have known. I thought a capable person should know things like that and I wanted to appear to be a capable person so I said, “No, not yet.” Later when I looked up the weather I saw that it wasn't supposed to snow at all that day. The person who asked the question was just way off base. My answer should have been something like, “Nope, it's not snowing.” or “I didn't know it was supposed to snow today.”


Anne B at 8:30 AM on March 14, 2019 | #12011 | reply | quote

In a hospital I saw a sign that said:

> Aren't life's precious moments worth a few minutes?

>

> Get your mammogram

>

> Make an appointment today

I think the sign had a picture of some people smiling at each other.

This was designed to pull strings of *if you want to consider yourself rational you should get a mammogram because of course it's worth a few minutes to get a simple procedure that could result in more precious time with loved ones* and *it's undisputed that women should get mammograms so you should*.

The sign-makers want people to think that any other concerns of theirs besides the trivial “a few minutes” are too unimportant to even be mentioned. I'm not an expert, but I think there is concern about false positives leading to unnecessary procedures, and concern about radiation from the mammogram possibly being harmful. There is debate about when and how often women should get mammograms.

Also, it's a lie that a mammogram takes a few minutes. Even if the end result is negative, you have to figure out where to get the mammogram done, make an appointment, get to and from the appointment, fill out paperwork, wait in the waiting room and the exam room, change out of your clothes and back into them, chat with the receptionist and the technician, and make sure the right people see the results. That's way more than a few minutes.


Anne B at 9:12 AM on March 14, 2019 | #12012 | reply | quote

The Girls Chase stuff pulls strings in me.

I start feeling like I should be spending more time and effort in being attractive to men. But this doesn't make sense. I don't want any more sex or boyfriends or husbands or power over men. I don't understand what's going on here.


Anne B at 6:46 AM on March 25, 2019 | #12063 | reply | quote

#12063 There is a book by a PUA type writer, but for a female audience.

Lady: How To Meet And Keep A Good Man For Love And Marriage

https://www.rooshvstore.com/books/lady/

Maybe it'd interest you.


Anonymous at 12:22 PM on March 25, 2019 | #12066 | reply | quote

#12063 People internalize cultural values. They make them habitual. Since the person no longer knows the reasoning and can't consciously understand what's going on, there's no good way to know when it should be changed. It doesn't automatically change when the person's situation changes and it's hard to update on purpose.


Anonymous at 12:30 PM on March 25, 2019 | #12067 | reply | quote

I was in a group of acquaintances and someone asked our opinion on a local political issue. I felt the urge to pretend to agree with the person even though I didn't know anything about the issue. I think that was a string being pulled. My automatic reaction was to act informed even though I wasn't.


Anne B at 7:20 AM on March 29, 2019 | #12076 | reply | quote

I was in a group of people. One person told a joke to another person. I was too far away to hear all of what was said. From what I did hear it seemed to be a private joke between the two of them. I felt a social pull to smile at them both even though I didn't know what the joke was.


Anne B at 1:29 PM on March 31, 2019 | #12082 | reply | quote

#12082 Most adults just don't notice stuff like this consciously. It makes it hard to discuss social dynamics with them and hard for them to change anything. Noticing more is a good start towards being able to consider what changes, if any, you want to make, and how to make them.


Anonymous at 1:32 PM on March 31, 2019 | #12083 | reply | quote

I saw someone be overcome with crying at a funeral for a person they didn't like. They didn't want to be crying and their relationship with the dead person wasn't one where others would have expected they'd cry. But the funeral situation pulled grief strings in them.


Anne B at 6:54 AM on April 4, 2019 | #12091 | reply | quote

#12066 I read some of Roosh's male pickup material and it's crap. He's a bad PUA.


Anonymous at 11:44 AM on April 20, 2019 | #12185 | reply | quote

I posted this on the FI discord a while ago. I think I will do a cleaner version of this later on, because what I wrote were my unfiltered thoughts.

>I'm already forgetting a lot of what i watched.

>The boy was praising his society but acted like there was some in group joke about it being really rough and macho. It didn't seem genuine, it seemed like there was something about the society that was alien. he was saying "some might not like this society" after saying enthusiastically his society was great. I'm forgetting kind of what he was talking about. He was embarrassed and ashamed about his society for some of its flaws but also enthusiastic about how great it is.

>It's a bit strange that the dragons choose to be ridden by the humans, it's kind of a slave relationship

>And the second clip, I totally found way too boring to comprehend what was happening, and I'm also a bit tired (like i had trouble just before figuring out a programming puzzle so even this was a bit too complex for me to handle right now). These two people are riding dragons, the cinematography makes it seem like they're in the middle of some sort of action. I don't know if this is my personal bias but it seems like they were putting the girl in some sort of more powerful role intentionally

>and the guy was being quirky and it was supposed to be banter and I don't understand what it was

>I didn't really pay much attention to the second clip, I don't tend to like dialog with their tones of voice, i ignore it usually

>and it was irrelevant to the plot

>And why are they thinking about this kind of stuff when they're clearly in the middle of something else, I prefer when movies are more focused on my interests

>Like i don't understand why the viewers should care about what I estimate that dialog was, but I'll replay it since I didn't really catch more than a vague impression of what was going on.

>Before replaying it. I think they were talking about some sort of personal thing. I think the guy was talking about something quirky he would do, and I think the girl was talking about some sort of goal she had???

>It was a goal she had or it was something about the race they were doing (i think they were racing since in the first clip he says that's what they do there)

>ok replaying now

>I didn't mention it, but i was gonna say she was giving playful reproach to the guy

>I didn't want to say it cuz I was afraid it was my bias

>but that's what she's doing I think

>but it's like, she can give this reproach but it's playful and in this weird realm of serious but not serious

>the guy is quirky and irrational and there's no straight man in the situation

>there's no straight man because the girl is only being playful, she's condoning this

>He's getting buried alive for 2 hours by someone who he's worshipping as his princess who gets to do whatever she wants, he surrenders all his power to her and she does life threatening stuff to him

>and he's excusing this behavior in response to the other girl who's expressing some sort of concern/reproach/criticism with really irrational deceitful "it was only for 2 hours" and then the scene ends as if it was just playful banter

>it definitely seems wrong. I don't like this weird behavior of pretending like things should be bad

>it's giving up


Anonymous at 7:16 PM on September 18, 2019 | #13556 | reply | quote

#13556 If you want to analyze better, it helps to get the full text of the scenes and comment on exact quotes.

After you do what you can, you can read other people's analysis and compare and learn some things you missed.


Anonymous at 11:19 AM on October 1, 2019 | #13662 | reply | quote

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