The Othello Error


Lately, I’ve been reading the book Telling Lies by author Paul Ekman. Ekman’s books have been on my reading list for awhile, ever since I realized his life’s work in emotion and non-verbal communication is the inspiration for the Fox television show Lie to Me (starring Tim Ross).

As I read the book, one of the concepts Ekman coined for the mistakes lie catchers may make when trying to evaluate if someone is lying made me think of the recent lecture (Dharma Talk w/Q&A: Abbot Myogen Steve Stücky at SF Zen Center) I received at the Zen temple I go to sometimes. The lecture talked about a lot of things but the things that stuck out in my mind were words about self-fulfilling prophecies, acting with certain biases, and letting go of certainties. (Really, if you have at least an hour of time to kill, take a listen to it.)

The concept is called the Othello Error. The error occurs when “a lie catcher fails to consider a truthful person who is under stress may appear to be lying.” Reading this now, it may not be the error that caught my attention but the attitude that can fuel this error.

(If you aren’t familiar with the play Othello, read up.)

The scene begins with Othello accusing Desdemona of loving Cassio and telling her to confess since he will kill her anyway. Desdemona asks that Cassio be called upon to testify on her innocence. Othello tells Desdemona that he had Cassio killed. At this point, Desdemona realizes that she will be unable to prove her innocence and she will be killed by Othello.

Othello: Out, strumpet! Weep’st thou for him to my face?
Desdemona: O, banish me, my lord, but kill me not!
Othello: Down, strumpet!

From the book:

Othello interprets Desdemona’s fear and distress as a reaction to the news of her alleged lover’s death, confirming his belief in her infidelity. Othello fails to realize that if Desdemona is innocent she might still show these very same emotions: distress and despair that Othello disbelieves her and that her last hope to prove her innocence is gone now that Othello had Cassio killed, and fear that he will now kill her. Desdemona wept for her life, for her predicament, for Othello’s lack of trust, not for the death of her lover.

Othello’s error is also an example of how preconceptions can bias a lie catcher’s judgments. Othello is convinced before his scene that Desdemona is unfaithful. Othello ignores alternative explanations of Desdemona’s behavior, not considering that her emotions are not proof one way or the other. Othello seeks to confirm, not to test his belief that Desdemona is unfaithful….preconceptions often distort judgment, causing a lie catcher to disregard ideas, possibilities, or facts that don’t fit what he already thinks. This happens even when the lie catcher suffers from his preconceived belief. Othello is tortured by his belief that Desdemona lies, but that does not cause him to lean over in the opposite direction, seeking to vindicate her. He interprets Desdemona’s behavior in a way that will confirm what he least wants to be so, in a way that is most painful to him.

So I guess what really caught me is how having certainties all the time; be it optimism, pessimism, stereotypes, basically ideas about everything, can put us askew.

And I feel like the answer to this error is “not always so.” In the lecture (Dharma Talk w/Q&A: Abbot Myogen Steve Stücky at SF Zen Center), the Abbot said that in a response to having certainties.

Not always so.

It’s the concept that something everything can be, “not always so.”

“So this idea, I have about …, it’s not always so. Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn’t.”

And I think that creates the space in which one can, with their eyes wide open, choose to follow a certainty or choose “not always so.”  And that’s cool.

12/30/2010 — This reminds me of that article that said challenging your assumptions improves brain functioning.

Bay Bridge Crack Could Delay Bridge Reopening


FYI

Crews performing a seismic retrofit on the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge on Saturday called a crack that was most likely discovered in a 2007 inspection, “significant.”

The Bay Bridge had already been closed on Thursday night so that a section of the eastern span could be replaced with a new double-deck section. The discovery may delay the Bay Bridge from reopening Tuesday morning.

AP

Snuggies Don’t Die, They Multiply


Poor bastird

Poor bastird

I thought by now, that maybe that damn Snuggie product would fade away — back to the hell that it spawned from. But no.

At the Yelp Snuggie Pub Crawl in SF, there were many poor misguided bastirds donning the product, ensuring that the Cult of Snuggie may never die or that it will be a long time before the product fades away. Some donned the original factory designed Snuggie. And then there were these bastirds.

Captain Snuggie

Captain Snuggie

Snuggie Spice

Snuggie Spice

Sadly, even SF Gate is warming to the cult.  -Sigh-  More misguided souls lost to the Cult of Snuggie.

Be aware that the Cult of Snuggie has no lines it won’t cross. Even conservatives like Tucker Carlson have been ensnared by the treacherous cult. And Joe the Plumber looks a little too comfortable in that Snuggie. I wonder if he’s ever worn a white version.

Does this come with a matching hood?

Just kidding Joe.

Dancing Fat Chicks and Frank Chu


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Snapshot of me

Frank Chu is a strange guy and I don’t mean strange in a bad way.  I mean he is one of the many characters that creates the tapestry that makes the Bay Area what it is.

There are rumors of Chu taking his family hostage and having a standoff with police before assuming the character in glasses and with sign we now know him as.

And the guy showed up at an underground party I was hooping at — imagine that.

…   …   …   …   …

It was another Saturday afternoon that promised another Saturday night party full of friends. And that premise created another internal back-and-forth between leave the hoop or take the hoop to the party.

I had decided not take the hoop; since at this point in my hoop life, it feels like any time I take a hoop with me I have expectations projected onto me from the crowd. Plus there are the expectations I would be projecting on myself as a “hooper.” Better off to leave the hoop and the anxious mental back-and-forth that comes with it at home.

The Universe however, (or perhaps I was looking for an excuse) had different plans.

In a conversation with a friend about Röyksopp, I mentioned that one of my favorite songs to hoop to is by them. It’s called “Sparks,” its a beautiful dreamy downtempo song with a singer that makes me think of music from the 1920s.

This prompted my friend, The Captn’, who also was DJ’ing at the party to add this song to his DJ set list. And he told me to bring my hoop down. I could’ve not have, but a friend genuinely offered me a place in his set and it was awesome. I wouldn’t/couldn’t say no to that.

And so it began, “What do I wear?” “Oh my god, I haven’t hooped in a month!” “Shit my ass looks super fat.” “This outfit doesn’t support my tits, but it’s so cute” “Faux fur boot covers?”

With all that figured out and a fully charged hoop, I was on my way to the party.

It was a beautiful set-up, the party was pretty. There was an upstage area where dancers dressed in burlesque outfits were shakin’ it to the first DJ. I checked out more of the place and found friends around every corner.

After the ritual meet and greet, I went off to a corner to hoop and warm-up: out of the crowdview in the back of the venue space. I garnered some “oohs and aahs” while I was at it. When I finished, I saw that the dancers from the upstage were gone. “Ooh an opportunity,” my brain said. I eventually found the promoter of the party, pictured here with Frank Chu, and asked if I could hoop up there. She said, “Yes.”

Up to stage I go, navigating a narrow curvy staircase with my hoop in my hand. And then when I get up there, there is a dancer up there. Well I would hate to ask them to move and I just got up there so it would be lame to just go back down. I start dancing.

aaa

“Sparks” by Röyksopp. Slightly different then album version

Vodpod videos no longer available.

aaa

I’m shaking my arse, in my black faux fur boot covers, and black nightie. All my friends on the floor cheered! When I finish dancing, (I want to conserve energy for hooping ) I get so many positive comments from friends and strangers about what I just did.

“I didn’t know you could do that.”

“Eds your my hero”

The same story was repeated, “When I first looked up there, there was only this skinny chick, barely dancing. And then I look up there and see you up there shakin’ your ass, blowing that chick away.” What fantastic feedback. Mind you, I wasn’t dancing to show anyone off. I just like dancing in the spotlight.

After a bit of a wait, the stage has cleared and I am back up there, this time to hoop. It’s crazy. I haven’t even began to hoop yet and the crowd is a hootin n’ hollerin.  I dance with the hoop, do some isolations — the LED lights aren’t even on, and I get more love. Then I turn on the hoop’s lights and begin performing. I feel a wave of  dance induced spiritual energy coming at me. I always feel it when there is a great DJ, an awesome party atmosphere, and a crowd that’s into what you’re doing.

I’m dancing, I’m posing, I’m watching for the space limitations I got. I’m channeling my inner Gwen Stefani from her No Doubt days (Don’t Speak style). I’m showing my “girl balls.” It’s wicked fun. I give until I can. I’m absorbing the energy of the crowd and the music from a fantastic set by Bam of Evil Breaks.

I finally stop and turn off my hoop. I get such a cheer from the crowd that I must pay them some respect. They were awesome; I was Awesome (with a capital “A”); Bam was awesome, party was awesome. I bow-in to the crowd and leave the stage; Time to do some soft hooping to “Sparks” in the second room.

aaa

–xoxo q.c.

aaa

aaa

Hey. You want to hear the first DJ set? CLICK HERE

Eco-Holiday SF


Performer Eds: Hey you’re doing a show this Sunday, the 14th.

Recluse Eds: What?

Performer Eds: A show, ya know? You go out and do that thing labeled “hoopdance?” You’ll be doing it at Eco-Holiday this Sunday in SF.

Recluse Eds: I don’t do that, go away. Want to stay inside

Performer Eds: Liar. You know you’ve been pissy since you haven’t been performing.

Recluse Eds: True. I am a spotlight whore. What do I need to know?

Performer Eds: Well you’ll performing at 6 and Beats Antique will be playing. You need to get yourself a costume.

Recluse Eds: Oh crap, another costume.

Performer Eds: That’s right, another costume.

Recluse Eds: Thanks Performer Eds.

Performer Eds: You are welcomed.