Natural Hazard

It wouldn't be the road to hell if it wasn't paved in good intentions

Riffing on "Non-Naive Trust Dancing"

Malcolm Ocean has been developing his frame of Non-Naive Trust Dancing, and I really dig it! This page is an outline of some of the principles. I'm going do a quick run through of my reactions to them. Let's go!

with any misunderstanding, it's possible (& usually worthwhile) to come to a place of profoundly mutually satisfying shared understanding

I love the "profoundly mutually satisfying"! That really pokes some of the excitement I have for all of this. I don't want to resolve misunderstandings in order to be a Good BoyTM, I want to because I think there's something fucking rad to it that makes my and other's lives better.

Hmm, that actually touches at the conflicting feelings i have at "worthwhile". I think resolving misunderstandings most often doesn't feel "worthwhile" when I feel compelled to do some sort of Resolution Process that I don't actually believe in. When I feel cut-off from sharing what I actually do and don't care about in our relationship, and our misunderstanding. From that place, it's very easy to go "eh, what's the use? It's gonna be a lot of hemming and hawing for meager gains".

When I'm more in touch with what I care about, and feel less reticent about sharing it, resolving misunderstandings reliably feels like some of the dopest shit imaginable.

Another thing this principle touches on is "finding shared understanding on some level, not necessarily the object level". Makes me think of the goofy boundary between a disagreement and a misunderstanding? In some sense, all misunderstandings are disagreements, and all disagreements are misunderstandings. The beginning of most disagreements/misunderstandings feel like being in a dense fog. Some sense of negation, or "againstness" as been expressed, but what spawned it, what exactly is it pointed at, what's it's shape? Sharpening our mutual sense of "what are we even disagreeing about?" always feels like a breath of fresh air, or a ray of light bursting through the clouds.


each person has been betrayed in different ways, and their trust must thus be earned in different ways

Makes me think of the hyper-contextuality of the thing that is trust. Models of uni-dimensional trust have never served me well. They also make it easier for me to think along the lines of "there just is this one thing that is trustworthyness and I can be it and if I'm being it and someone doesn't trust me I can berate them because they should trust me."

This principle is a good reminder that trust is always a two-place word.


trust-building is fundamentally the same process on all scales (internal, between individuals, between groups)

This feels like one of the more... radical principles? Maybe it's like... I feel the most weird/easy-to-not-understand/likely-to-get-ignored when I talk about this aspect of things. I've thought about it more in the reverse sense, that internal coercion works the same as interpersonal coercion (with the extra mind-fuck hypothesis I'm tentatively floating being something like "interpersonal coercion is what bootstraps the capacity to coerce yourself in the first place" (this idea spawned by how... dissonant a thing self-coercion is)).


protectiveness is damage control

I'm not immediately sure what this principle is about. Makes me think of ways in which I block off possible interactions, not because I don't want the interaction, but because if we did go there I don't feel capable of maintaining my preferences against.

Ex. "I'd really like to have XYZ smart person critique my idea, but I also know they're really pushy and I'm bad at resisting pushyness, so I'm going to forgo getting the good feedback because it opens me up to being manipulated in ways I don't feel able to defend against."


blindspot feedback is hard

lol, yes. I actually don't have a good sense on what this looks like interpersonally. I have tons of "here's how I missed a bajillion 'obvious' clues from reality about my blindspots", but I haven't had many interactions where people have tried to point mine out, and one of the first lessons of "socialization" that I learned is that other people do not want me to tell them what I think their "problem" is, so I'm generally v reticent to share such thoughts.


everyone will constantly point out ways in which things are incomplete

I want to hear more about this. This feels like the "we're working on making a Utopia, and the only criterion is where not done until everyone thinks we're done", yeah? Less a "here's how stuff works" principle and more a "here's how we're going to be" principle.


most interpersonal dysfunction doesn't need to be "disincentivised" because it's already only sorta working

I really like this! This feels related to the whole frame of we're not trying to resolve dysfunction so I can be a Good BoyTM who acts correctly, but because this shit ain't working! Or more accurately, it's here because there's a way in which it does work, but there's a bunch of ways it doesn't work, and us enacting change can in fact be motivated from attuning to the ways in which it doesn't work.

Lol, I'm reminded of a breakthrough moment I had at my CFAR workshop in 2018. It was one of the last days, and were doing "hamming questions", asking yourself what the most important problems in your life were and why you weren't working on them. And I was just.... so fucking fed up with "solving my problems"! This is fucking boring! I'm tired! I'm not having fun, I'm not feeling genuinely compelled! That moment was huge for noticing how I'd been relating to my problems as ProblemsTM, ones which I needed to solve in order to be a Good BoyTM. Not a sustainable base of motivation, and also v susceptible to goodharting. Much better to "taste the nastiness directly".

negative reinforcement functions as punishment even if it's not intended to be

Defs a co-responsibility thing. Tricky to navigate.

punishment can't steer

I LOVE THIS PHRASE! I've been trying to articulate the asymmetry I've been sensing in punishment for a while, and this feels like it really points in the right direction. Punishment, and what punishments means neurologically, is goodharting waiting to happen.

Oh, clarifying "steer" would be useful. Steering feels like... repeatedly making smart moves towards what I care about most. When I find someone I'm deeply value aligned with, there's a startling almost giddy feeling of "HOLY SHIT! I'm not the only entity in the universe that is trying to bring about XYZ change! They actually get it, and are a full thinking feeling human being that is pointing the full force of their mind at the problem! THAT'S AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" Punishment can shape people's behavior a ton. But it can't steer. It can't make people point the full strength of their being at brining about the good shit.


sometimes things need to be said even though they feel like they really really should go without saying

V related to the problems with uni-dimensional trust. It might be the case that I decide "oh, we can't have the relationship I thought we could have/wanted to have if we don't have XYZ base", but that's very different from "this should go without saying". It's declaring the right to berate and should the other while ignoring the reality of the other.


it's possible & preferable to subvert someone projecting on you not by changing their mindset but but becoming an unworkable target for that projection

I'd LOVE to see examples of this! This is an edge I struggle with, and this sounds like a promising tactic that I don't know how I'd work.

All right, I wanted to bang this post out real quick and I'm getting tired and bored. This was fun! I hope to do more "here's quick thoughts on your articulation of a thing" sorts of post in the future.