After writing the bubbling thoughts MM† a few days ago. Some really productive stuff has been coming through. The type of thoughts that you notice when you’re practicing, you take an especially good look at, and then let go after careful study. Whether it be a specific new way to try to compose fiction when the task of novel writing can seem daunting at times. Or perhaps it could be a new way to market my writing and the writing of others at The Free Thinking Press. Sometimes the thoughts are the fiction.
The meditative dreams I have had over the last couple of days have been so vivid. My neocortex has really been tuning up its synthesis modulator. The whole damn thing too. Visualization, texture, sounds everything. It is amazing the actors and actresses within all of us. When I forget myself in these dreams, there are people everywhere. A bustling world of people I think I know. While entertaining, the observation created a profundity cascade. First, came the question.
“How do I know what all of these people, including strangers I just make up, are going to do?”
I know I have done a lot of dice-and-paper role-playing in my time, and yes, much of that time has been spent in the esteemed position of Dungeon Master. (For those who seek to judge, go look into the mirror and try to convince yourself it wouldn’t be cool to have the title Dungeon Master from time to time.) And as such, you are everybody else in the game. Every king, merchant, kobold, troll, thief, wizard, and badger that isn’t being played by someone is going to be voiced, acted, and in every other essence be through the DM. So I’ve had lots of practice at doing this. That said, I don’t.
I don’t know. I have no real and concrete way of knowing what people will do, or indeed, what I myself will do in any given situation. Especially if the situation itself is fictional. Now there is a fair chance that I may know somebody well enough, or amazingly would know enough about human behavior on a whole to make an educated guess that falls within a statistical likelihood, a reasonable probability curve, but that isn’t knowing. And even if my one mind got it right for everyone all at once the probability that I would be right over and over and over again would be so infinitesimally small that it would be unlikely to happen again in thousands of daydreams. Even then we would have to say that second hit was a lucky one.
The next time you are imagining what someone is going to do or say, please remember that you will likely be wrong. I’ll give you credit for the results as black and white get better numbers. If someone can only answer “yes” or “no,” the fifty-fifty deal is a pretty good shot, compared to trying to predict the way they will approve or deny the question. This is not where we get tangled up though, is it? I heard this best put in a documentary I have often quoted and read several books because of called Surviving Progress. It is still on Netflix if you haven’t seen it, I suggest you do.
“We are constantly probing for unobservable phenomenon to explain the observable… that drives us to probe into the mysteries of each other in our everyday lives. Why does she keep doing that? Why does he keep behaving like that? He must think this. He must believe this. I don’t understand. Why? Why? Why? Why? Why?” ~ Daniel Povinelli
The truth is even people who seem to be good at this, and from a human perspective are, are dreadful at it statistically. And often will be good at resultant type comments: “I figured they’d say ‘no.’” That is a fifty-fifty. We can all get better at those by just taking stalk of outlying probabilities. “He has gotten straight D’s all semester. Will he pass the class with an A?” If you just look at the question, who knows, but the outlying data shores up the probability of the yes-no answer event. If I knew and you didn’t, you’d think I was a good judge. But you’d be wrong, I’d just be educated on the situation.
To some, this point may seem trivial. I guess I felt the need to remind everyone, that you don’t know what people are really feeling unless you have spoken with them, even if you have known them for years. You might get a mood correct, but the actual thoughts and individual scenes they are dealing with are unknown to you. As well as yours to them. Just remember to communicate with those around you. Try to limit the way daydreams influence your behavior or filter your perceptions, seek data instead. Then you don’t have to guess anymore; you will become educated.