[A Reblog] Psychology on Beating a Dead Horse

Another name to something that was previously just an observed behavior! In this case, the tendency of people to not give up even after it has been shown that further effort will not change the outcome. The continued effort might even be detrimental to yourself in some significant way too which makes this behavior all the more baffling and illogical. Well, the name for it is the sunk cost effect and here’s the article on it and an excerpt:

https://thelastbehaviorist.blogspot.com/2012/11/the-sunk-cost-effect.html

“Ah, the Concorde; the joint development program of the British and French governments that pushed ahead even when the economic benefits of the project were no longer possible. It was designed to be a passenger aircraft capable of supersonic flight but its lasting legacy resides mostly in game theory, where it has been adopted as a description of irrational behavior – the Concorde fallacy. More generally, the process behind the fallacy is known as the sunk cost effect.”

Featured Image also from the same article

Western Media and the Terrorist Agenda

Good morning, afternoon, evening, and night to whomever may be reading. I go by many names but the name I will be using here is nemoulysseus. I am honored to be the second writer of this blog. I may only be a student studying foreign relations but all teachers are only students who can explain what they understand. For now, I will be covering international politics and the underlying related topics but the scope of my participation in this blog may expand and shift with time.

This topic was decided before Trump’s rather unbecoming denouncement of the media’s non-existent failure to report terrorist attacks. Trump is currently pushing his own agenda of sensationalism, despite the fact that statistics report and reflect quite plainly that it is rare for American citizens to be killed by terrorists. Trump hopes that by further antagonizing the media, he can say “I dare you all to do this much.” This action is  to trick the media into working for him despite his attacks against them during his campaign. If Mr. Trump would be so kind as to entertain the reality of the Islamic State and what they have done to establish their “caliphate,” then perhaps he can finally say that he is doing the right thing. Of course, this works against his argument as the Islamic State actually kills more Muslims because the area has, of course, a high density of Muslims as opposed to Christians. I can respect being afraid that waiting too long will mean that there will be missed opportunities but one must be educated to a respectable degree before acting on things that will have long-term effects. If Trump craves to be like Reagan, he should take note of Reagan’s meticulous planning.

Trump did point out to the shock of many patriotic Americans in a Super Bowl-timed interview that he acknowledged that the United States was by no means innocent and compared us morally to Russia. As we are all quite aware, Trump has a dubious relationship with the Russians. The post-Cold War US is not as fickle as Russia but it’s getting there from our various reneged promises about NATO, unilateralism, and American exceptionalism. That is all well and good and perhaps Trump decided that politicians tiptoe around the important issues without quite acknowledging the elephant in the room that only seems to grow bigger every year. Trump himself does the same thing by attempting to draw attention away from the important issues by slamming his hand on the podium and insisting that he knows everything, to give off the appearance of a disgruntled man with whom the world is against. That is not the case.

Moving beyond a commentary of the Trump administration, a critical eye must be turned upon the history of the Middle East. A history I myself did not learn until I arrived at college. It is important to understand how your enemy thinks and what enables them to act. That is how you can either reach a compromise or decide a course of action. The Middle East has been subjected to many of the proxy wars and limited warfare during the Cold War. This is after a generation saw the decline and the dissolution of what they knew to be a once great empire. No one teaches this to us in school. Does the history not matter anymore? I learn American history as far as to understand why things are the way they are in this country.  Why do we not stress this before college? Do we believe that children cannot understand?  Or are we desperately trying to hold onto the prized Superman position in the minds of those who are too willing to accept the familiar perspective? The BBC has covered possible radicalization in France following the Charlie Hebdo attacks and instead of striking a conciliatory note, the French instead condemned the religion ten-fold. We hadn’t thought it possible. It was covered by the British media, a part of the “all over Europe” to which Mr. Trump referred to.

The BBC does cover news in other regions such as Africa, Asia, and Australia. The CNN also has a similar setup but it is more concerned with national news and high-profile international news. We can blame the fact that CNN only covers the “big news” for why their watchers never seem to know about the “little things” despite excessive airtime. We should all understand that there are some things that we may repeat simply because we believe that people should hear about it (just as was done with Mr. Donald Trump’s presidential campaign). Trump’s campaign was the epitome of sensationalism by the media. CNN does cover ISIS destroying World Heritage sites and artifacts like the Arc of Triumph in the Palmyra ruins. Yet what we often discuss in class are things that people may not realize or be aware of because it does not directly affect them. ISIS has killed countless Middle Eastern peoples. They kill the Muslims who do not believe what they believe. ISIS considers them infidels. Trump wanted to give preference to the Christians in the area, but facts show that more Muslims are dying than Christians. This could be in part due to there being simply more Muslims living in the Middle East but for Trump to ban them when they are not safe from ISIS shows that this fact not covered enough in the media, least of all by Fox- the right-wing echo chamber that condemns America as the world’s policeman. Trump has made clear that he only appreciates applause, he is the insecure king who overestimates his power and only wants encouragement from his “subjects.”

The media cannot fixate on the attacks that happen in European countries without properly covering the background. The BBC effectively does this in their articles, however I can say nothing for the program as I do not watch the news so much as I read it. CNN, for which I can speak, does not typically give background information unless it is in the form of their famous multi-volume documentaries. As for their articles, they do not redirect to pages that offer further information but instead are linked to more current events, which can be very distracting at times and is useless for those who want to learn more. They offer highlights of stories. This may be more time effective but it can also discourage actual research and only places an emphasis on threadbare facts. This is what gives fake news outlets a better chance of exploiting what should be common knowledge and making their lies so elaborate that it cannot be false. Most times, it is simply conspiracy theories.  I suppose that the header function (highlights) may be necessary in some cases but this is a major disadvantage. More people should know of Al-Shabab’s own terror attacks. I understand that perhaps the media doesn’t want to do the recruitment for these terrorist groups by giving them air time. Yet it is only when they attack– when it was obvious that it would happen– that we become shocked and ask ourselves, “How could this have possibly happened to us?”

Forget not that the one moment that you relive forever is something that people in other countries live on a daily basis because of their proximity to the actual conflicts. We have but a taste of it. When we only document the attacks, the shock value is real and that’s the whole point of the attack in the first place. We cannot champion compassion if we do not explain how this incident is different and connected to a previous. We should be highlighting movements more. Some try to liken this to Vietnam and it truly is like that at this point in time. We do not want another Tet Offensive yet how are we discussing the ethics and the actual target of these terrorist groups? That is how the Tet Offensive happened. We only sold what would encourage morale or at least convince the public why the war is necessary. We were weary from the constant fighting, we wanted out. When we saw how grisly and unforgiving we were when the Vietcong invaded the base, we were disgusted. The US government fought back the invaders but we then sought to understand what other evils occurred there in that faraway land in our name by our government. They were fighting for their country. What were we fighting for? An abstract threat. We were fighting an idea. Something that you cannot tell by looking at someone but rather by their actions. Even more damaging was that we had made international politics bipolar at this point. To them, it was a matter of reclaiming their land from the foreigners (the French). ISIS is trying to turn back time like the Khmer Rouge tried in Cambodia. Should we not explain what effects this would have or how much harder the Middle Eastern peoples would have to work if they ever escape the nightmare in order to get back to where they were before the war began? We still maintain the ideology that we do not have to understand what is different from us. Neo-conservatives actually say that the US cannot work with non-democracies. Immigration is intermestic policy, that is to say it is an intersection of domestic and international policy. How we approach it speaks volumes for our values as we have demonstrated time and time again (especially in the argument for the Civil Rights Movement).

You want to know why ISIS is so successful in recruitment? They are able to incite sympathy. We embrace humanism, dear media. The US needs to know how these innocent people are being driven from their homes and then come unwelcomed here. The fact that those who make it to relative safety often live in the projects and that increasing discrimination may make it difficult to support themselves on a poor economy. Take our jobs? There are many manual jobs that do not pay well but immigrants, especially illegal, cannot benefit from unions or receive protection. If we’d only focused more on education, we would have more specialized workers of our own. How can one curse an immigrant who came to get an education when we know that they’ll eventually either return to their own country or contribute to ours? What about the fact that immigrants sympathize because they don’t understand how US citizens can live so happily and unaware and give their government the freedom to terrorize their people. How often do we report civilian casualties that are not our own but are caused by us?

It is that sense of entitlement that is difficult to address because people do not want to be told that their feelings are invalid. I sympathize better because I am a woman who is disadvantaged by the system, so I can distance myself from privilege. That is not to say that just because I am a woman but that it is one of the reasons. If we are really going to leave it up to people to decide what they think for themselves, then we should report everything. Journalism holds the principle that they report the truth whether it be pleasant or revolting. It is not as if we are uncovering operations by the CIA although it is understood that one cannot report if there is not solid evidence. The media may not have the statistics at any given moment because it is breaking news. A practice would like to be the first to report it but having the first scoop is not the same as having the right scoop. I can ask you for chocolate and just because you get me vanilla before the store stocks up on chocolate doesn’t leave me any more satisfied than if you’d simply forgot. I would settle.

The public has settled. This is why it is so easy to fight more emotionally as opposed to the facts. It is the sense of familiarity we now cling to. As long as it does not seem wrong to us, anyone who rejects it is themselves an anomaly to our system. We need to remind the public that this is an ongoing problem, not a Whack-a-Mole event that it’s advertised as. In this tumultuous time, we should promote solidarity and diversity.

As always, leave a comment or drop us a line at whentheskyisovercast@gmail.com and I’ll talk to you again soon.

 

Some Reference Sites

A Short Disclaimer: Syria

thenation.com has quite a few good articles, but you need to sign in to read them

The Wiki Rundown of Recent Conflicts in the Middle East

The Other Side of the Story

 

 

Top Mistakes (Fanfic) Writers Make

 

bad-fan-art-07
What you think it looks like vs What it actually looks like

I’m going to say first off that fanfiction can generally be considered the cancer of online writing. There are really well-written fanfiction; they’re just hard to find. If you are a BatCat fan, here’s one for you here. I’m gonna reference a lot of books here and there are also some terms that most people don’t know. If you don’t know the books, you can clearly tell which ones I like so check those out and if you don’t know any of the terms, don’t worry about it (there’s a reason why you don’t know). Otherwise, let’s jump into it.

 

P.S. This is directed at the fanfiction writers since writing fanfic online generally means you don’t have to go through a publishing company first with their pesky editors. However, if you’re looking for some general don’ts to writing, this is a good place for you too.

Using words you don’t know how to use/Using words the wrong way

This is one of the cringiest things a writer can do. Some people try to sound fancy or more sophisticated by using words that they have recently searched up in the dictionary. Instead of achieving the desired result, it just sounds awfully pretentious or just plain wrong. A prime example comes from the book Tiger’s Quest when the main character complains of aching muscles by claiming that they were “unionising against her”. Unionise? Cue massive cringe. In the midst of cheesy dialogue and an over-used plot line, there was this shit and I flipping flipped when I read it. It was just so ridiculous! So.. make sure you don’t do something like that and stick with words you do know how to use. Besides, most people read books for the story and the characters. If they wanted long fancy words, they’d rather pick up a thesaurus.

Starting with a question or a rhetorical situation

God, I hate this one so much. Most people use this type of opening wrong and it ends up being so cliche. The general rule of thumb is if it sounds like an infomercial, don’t use it.

Being too happy

Your job as a writer is to make trouble for your characters. Don’t start with a scene where everything is all right in the world. Nobody is ever totally content and no story should start off in Happyland. It totally ruins the reader’s suspense of disbelief and it makes for flat characters. Make trouble for your characters whenever you can but don’t be like Bleach or Noblesse where endless battles seem to be en vogue. Nobody wants boss after boss after boss and then have some sort of Deus Ex Machina come in on a white horse to save the day. It’s tiresome and frankly not very impressive. I’ve gone on a bit of a tangent, let’s keep moving.

Too much brave isn’t good

Despite what you think, having fearless and virtuous protagonists really isn’t a good idea. It means conflicts are often heroically resolved and the good always knows what to do to defeat the bad– and it means that it’s boring. Take Lisbeth Salander from the Millennium Series and Milo Weaver in the series named after him and you see that these characters are really flawed. They hurt people for selfish reasons, they neglect the people closest to them and they have a skewed moral compass. That’s what makes a character relatable and dynamic. Nobody is perfect and perfect is boring and predictable and neither of these traits are known to keep the readers flipping pages. There should be a threat of death over the entirety of the story, whether it be literal death or metaphorical death. Conflict is what drives a story but if the characters fall flat on their faces, then it’s like having a muscular body with no arms or legs. It has a lot of potential but no way to demonstrate it. I’m done with strange similes- let’s move on!

OOC

This one is exclusively for fanfic writers. OOC means out-of-character. In the pursuit of perfecting a ship, the fanfic writer often twists the characters’ personalities to make it possible. It would be like instead of having Mr. Darcy be snobby and proud for the majority of the book, Jane Austen decided to make him act like Bingley after he confessed. That is just not who he is and the sudden flip between the canon and the fanfic means that either the writer doesn’t know the character or is a fan of cheesy romance novels (don’t be like Twilight). I’ve read fanfics of my favourite animes and some of them have the characters so wrong, the only things the fanfic and the canon have in common are setting and character names. Mikasa shouldn’t have a Historia-type personality but she’s not a tsundere either (I don’t know why people like to make Jean perverted but he’s not so just stop it). Other strong female characters like Temari aren’t going to suddenly become moe to make the ship possible. Please don’t make Kougami or Levi softies either.  THAT’S NOT WHO THEY ARE!! Why do you do this? If you like a franchise enough to write fanfic about it, at least keep the integrity of the characters.

The convoluted back-and-forth plotline

Soooo many fanfic writers like to do this with their ships and it’s supposed to turn readers off but I guess some people love melodrama. In any case, this type of plot is characterised by the sheer amount of times the two main characters fight, break up and come back together again. It’s okay if one or both of them have some sort of mental problem (insecurity, depression, paranoia, trauma etc) but it is NOT okay if it’s over some petty thing. Jealousy is believable but a lot of the characters in fanfics get jealous and mad over every single little thing. It’s so stupid. It also doesn’t help that the characters themselves are basic. Besides the point I made above in OOC, the worst thing you can do to a character besides drastically changing their personality is giving them no personality at all. You effectively kill characters by making them ordinary. John McCain was more of a “people’s man” in terms of the way he spoke (he had an accent and spoke more informally) but Obama made way more of an impact both with his booming voice and his eloquent words. People don’t want to relate to an ordinary character; they want substance, something they can look up to and judge at the same time. Add details, little personality quirks and a little history and plausible motives to inform their decisions. Make the character come alive and once the character becomes more than just a Mary Sue, then the plot will naturally follow. Take care of your characters and they’ll take care of you.

Grammar and spelling

This should be something basic that everyone should know how to do: how to English. Hell, you people have gone through school and got graded for it. You should know how to spell and how English syntax works. No matter how well you write, you have to first make sure that you can be understood correctly so no matter what other problems there may be in your writing, having sloppy spelling and careless grammar is inexcusable. One of worst (maybe the worse) fanfics ever written, My Immortal, is a prime example. To this day, I still don’t know whether it is trash or comedy gold.

Dialogue

I’m not surprised that a lot of people mess this one up since their characters aren’t fully developed, therefore their plot is lukewarm and therefore their dialogue is all fluff and no substance. Two things drive good dialogue: purpose and flow. Don’t make your characters say something they can show instead. Make sure each piece of dialogue is essential to either furthering the plot or developing the character. Flow is how natural it sounds. For example, don’t add the name of the person being addressed at the end of every sentence. Just as important is the use of dialogue tags: he said, she said. You should use them liberally since readers don’t even register the word said as much as people think they do. Using too many descriptive verbs, however, and the reader’s attention gets drawn to that instead and if the reader pays more attention to your writing than your story, then that’s bad news. Too many fanfics have dialogue that is mundane and plain old stupid. Dialogue isn’t there to take up space- make it count.

The Dan Brown Effect

I’ve named this literary phenomenon after Dan Brown, the guy that wrote The Da Vinci Code and Inferno. I’ve read his earlier book Digital Fortress and that book was pretty good but the two other books I’ve mentioned was especially rife with the Dan Brown disease. If you have the Dan Brown disease, it just means you put in too many details and like to show off your research way too much (and if you’re like Dan Brown, you’ll still get the facts wrong anyway). If you cut out all of the unnecessary descriptions of scenery or art or architecture from Dan Brown’s later books, you’ll be left with a book half the size of the original. (lot of his information is inaccurate or just not true. If you want a full list, tvtropes has a page specifically for Dan Brown here.) Don’t feel the need to display everything you’ve researched to your readers. They don’t care. Instead, put your reference material at the back of the book and if your readers want to know more, they can go read it themselves.

Too much drama or too much action

Unlike movies where you can pull off having an action-based plot without the watchers being turned off, this type of imbalance in a book isn’t going to fly with the right type of readers. Too much drama turns off the less patient readers and you’ll attract fewer male readers. Too much action leaves you with no time to rest and no character development. Finding the right balance between drama and action means you can optimise the quality of your story and also increase interest from a wider group of readers.

That’s the end of my list. Hope you’ve gotten some ideas out of it. Of course, you might say that this list is false because there are popular fanfics that defy everything I say not to do here and people still love them. But then, it’s the same reason why people like McDonald’s. It doesn’t have to be good for a lot of people to like it and the people who know better would never touch it.

That’s all for today. See you on Sunday.

P.S. For those who are more interested in the steamier side of fanfiction, there is a good website here. Do not click if you are not over 18 and if you are offended by things like this, don’t read either. You have been warned. I will not be held responsible.

Relativity

This is something that everyone can relate to. Simply put, what I mean by relativity is perspective. Your perspective and the perspective of your interlocutor, the context of the situation and possible hidden factors not apparent to the other person.

For example, my mother might be complaining that her parents keep telling her that my uncle has made an “appointment” to Facetime them. Thus, she complains, whenever she wants to talk to her parents, she has to keep in mind the time when my uncle is going to call so that the two calls don’t interrupt each other. By saying this, she implies that her parents are favouring my uncle because they specifically set aside time to talk to him while if my mum wants to talk to her parents, she will have to first make sure she doesn’t call when my uncle is calling. The example is a bit complicated to explain, but that is the case in a lot of interpersonal interactions. However, if you don’t understand the gist of it, please ask.

Now onto the perspective part of the example. My mum’s perspective is quite clear: her parents are prioritising her brother’s calls over her’s. Now here comes the hidden factors. My uncle works long hours each day and therefore means that he cannot call his parents whenever he wants. My grandparents live on the other side of the planet meaning nighttime here is daytime there. My grandparents must also be home and not busy in order to Facetime. There is an inference to be made here: if my uncle wants to make a call to my grandparents, he will have to find a time that fits both him and his parents, ergo an “appointment”.

Meanwhile, my mum is a stay-at-home mother so that means she can call my grandparents whenever she thinks they’re free and whenever she has spare time; a much larger time window than what my uncle has. So of course, her brother’s calls do take precedence to her calls, but the context of the situation and the reason as to why my uncle’s calls take precedence is also different. Therefore, it is not that my grandparents favour my uncle, it is the demand of my uncle’s situation.

Now, in this situation, if my mum was an intensely jealous person or somesuch, there would be a confrontation and other things may follow. Even to a more balanced person, the idea of their parents favouring one of their siblings is unpleasant and can lead to resentment etc. So these sort of small misunderstandings can actually have quite a large impact and that is also why people should, in these situations, resist the urge to react emotionally and instead think logically as to give the truth a chance and avoid any future unpleasantness.

What do you guys think? Do you have any examples from your life? If you have any ideas for future discussions, please feel free to e-mail me at terror6586@gmail.com and fill in the subject space with Outlet.