The Dog Breed We Should Avoid
Info hazards, mental contagion, and pit bulls
Side notes before today’s post: a big thanks to Kurt Overley for inspiring this post, your comment got me thinking about the topic! Much appreciated.
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Dogs are one of those topics where a lot of people’s instincts just sort of fall off a cliff, their ability to make causal inferences just sort of stops working.
I don’t think there’s a good word for the kind of topic I’m describing. Some ideas in the same ballpark are the terms “mental contagion,” which is a harmful trait that inspires mimicry via knowledge of the trait, and the term “info hazard,” a nice phrase coined by the philosopher Nick Bostrom in 2011 which means information that may empower dangerous actors if disseminated.
An interesting example of mental contagion is the spoonie community. An online group of mostly young, able-bodied women who construct identities around being ill, and whose illnesses improve after separation from this community. (I think we underrate how amenable to outside influence our experience of the world can be. I think you can meme pretty much anyone into states of anxiety and depression with the right ideas).
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