Predictable Identities: A Ribbonfarm Blogchain

I’m excited to announce Predictable Identities, a weekly blogchain I am writing for Ribbonfarm. The links to the posts in the chain will go here:

1: Guess What’s Coming – Our brains are constantly trying to predict incoming signals, like the words you’ll encounter in this post.

2: Active Inference – We predict the world to act on the world, and the most important component of the world to act on are people.

3: Prisoner’s Dilemma – If everything is game theory, what’s the optimal strategy?

4: Stereotypes – We did not evolve to predict faraway strangers. Thankfully, we’ve got stereotypes to help with that.

5: Outgroup Homogeneity – You don’t need a detailed model of someone you can’t cooperate with.

6: Creeps –  We like predictable people who fit a model we have. When someone’s behavior is incongruent and ambiguous, it creeps us out.

7: Weirdness Budget – Groups need us to conform to group norms, and to who we were yesterday. We are granted a limited budget of nonconformity before the effort of modeling us is not worth the group’s effort.

8: Roles People Play – The social web likes us to stick to our roles, and it has the power to enforce its will.

9: How to Change – How to change in a social web that hates change? Power through, leverage tropes, or just try someplace new.

10: Big Updates – How does changing your mind feel like? That depends on the scaffolding of belief you have in place.

11: Fear, Myths and the Outgroup, Part I – How fear of the unknown controls our reactions to new environments, motivates group aggression, and prevents us from learning and adapting (part 1 of 2).

12: Fear, Myths, and the Outgroup, Part II – Confirmation extortion and moral elimination: people anxious about their worldviews don’t react well to those who challenge them (part 2 of 2).

13: Totalizing Ideologies – Every philosophy tries to become an all-encompassing totalizing ideology, a process that ultimately brings misery.


Q: What’s a blogchain?

A: A series of small posts (300 words each) that should cohere into a long-form exploration of a topic.

Q: What’s the topic of “Predictable Identities”?

A: Looking at all inter-human and intra-human relationships through the lens of predictive processing.

Q:  Isn’t this stretching the model of predictive processing a bit too far?

A: That never bothered me before.

Q: Why is this on Ribbonfarm?

Because Venkatesh is the one who came up with the idea for blogchains, and he graciously invited me and a few others to post our blogchains to Ribbonfarm. Check the rest of them out too!

Q: When will each post go up? And how many will there be?

Every other Wednesday at 2 pm EST, and at least 34 (for a total of 10,000 words) if I can help it. Which I probably can.

Q: Will you keep writing on Putanumonit?

A: Of course, but with this new writing commitment and an upcoming travel schedule I will inevitably update slightly less frequently.

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