Friday, March 8, 2013

Imagining the future

I was reading an article about how humans are different because we have ability to imagine possible futures, allowing us to plan.

I liked this. I love to imagine futures. I like feeling like I am living one of an infinite number of parallel universes, diverging at each point in time. I also like it because it helps me to understand some of the ramifications of the things I am doing in the present that I otherwise might not understand. Deciding what to wear, I imagine in my head what the future me would look like in a few minutes if I put particular clothes on. Deciding whether I should or should not eat something, I imagine my future self in 10 minutes and if my stomach would be upset or not. Those are the main practical ones.

The eating one is interesting because I had to learn it, and really only relatively recently. The foods that make me sick don't taste bad to me. They don't taste rotten. (That's why rotten things taste bad to us, right? Evolutionarily evolved to not want to eat things like human feces because they're so bad for us?) So I would keep eating them and get sick. That happened enough times (thousands) that eventually I had enough. Now before I eat something I first try to imagine my future self, would my future self get sick? And it's weird, when I in my imagination my future self gets nauseated, my present self also feels nauseated. (Side note, this is also how I managed to fully fund my retirement -- I imagine my future self enjoying the money and my present self feels the pleasure.)

I also sometimes do this with morally implicated choices. I was raised religious, so I was taught to judge things by a particular standard, even nuanced things -- same as learning to be able to judge musical things by a certain standard. But it's hard to perform and judge yourself at the same time. That's why my music teachers always had me record myself and then listen to it later. And I've never quite learned to judge moral things in the moment either. But I can later realize, maybe days, weeks, or years later that I have done something "wrong". Now if it's something or someone I care about, I will imagine my future self looking back at what my present self is doing and judging things as wrong or right. Not often, though. Not nearly as often as I do the eating thing. Maybe thousands of moral "mistakes" later, I will get pretty good at doing that too?


  1. Talk about planning for failure...

  2. ME is Jewish if anyone is interested. FWIW lot of sociopaths are Jewish (i.e. a lot of Aspies are Jewish and there's a link between Aspies and Socios).

    1. Yeah. Whatever that means anymore.

      'Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!'

    2. above is monica's hate

    3. Really? I read a review of her book on and it said she was a practising Mormon. Didn't think Jews converted like that! Who would read a book by a psychopath anway? Isn't pathological lying an intrinsic part of the condition,; I'd feel it was a waste of time.

  3. above is monica's hate

  4. Look at the Spider, as it weaves its intricate web and uses it as a sticky trap for capturing its prey.

    Very cunning for such a small beast.

    Doesn't that require some planning, and imagination on its part? Either that, or where does it find its craftiness?

  5. Replies
    1. Isn't that a shame.

    2. I really appreciate all the effort it took you to bring me this sweet song.

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