02
Mar
10

transparency between people

Some people have certain skills and they can’t tell you how they learned them. In fact, some of the time, I think that having some kinds of skills depends on being unable to relate how they operate. For example, some womanizers that I know cannot explain why women are so attracted to them, and I suspect that if they could cognize the facts surrounding their own attractiveness, they would lose their charm. In other, some people just are certain ways (I’m not saying all people are certain ways and nothing else, we have a lot of flexibility in what we can do and be). Also, any attempt to duplicate such ways of being inevitably fail. I, for example, cannot duplicate the suave exterior of some of my friends, for the very reason that I am not that way, I would only be acting.

Another good example is friendliness. Some people say hi to you when they pass by and stop to chit chat with you when they run into you. An unfriendly person can try to do these things, but it’s pretty easy to pick up on such behavior. Meanness just seems to shine through.

The big point is that people are very transparent to each other in social situations. A girl can sense when the guy talking to her is actually really awkward in his everyday life and a passerby can sense when a colleague couldn’t care less about how his day is going. Sure, we can tell lies to each other and even deceive people about our character (it might be easy to conceal greed for example), but in paradigm social situations, we have a presence to one another that is hard to avoid. Thus, the best people simply are a certain way rather than learning to act that way.

The relation of this to political science is also interesting. Many studies replicate the result that people can predict election outcomes by short clips of the two candidates speaking. Many people bemoan this fact as evidence that TV culture has sapped our ability to think about issues and complex democratic choices, and I completely agree, but this power of immediate recognition of popularity or poise or confidence, or whatever reflects a deep seated social power that people have. It just so happens that for democratic politics, more than just these social attributes matter (you also have to know something about government, be able to think about certain issues, etc.).

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