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Confrontations 2: John strikes back - John C. Kirk — LiveJournal

Feb. 25th, 2007

10:00 pm - Confrontations 2: John strikes back

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From:nou
Date:February 26th, 2007 04:01 pm (UTC)
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I think I'm with the staff member here. You don't know that the other person would have got in anyone else's way; he might have made it to the top, or he might have given up and gone back down again. It sounds like there might have been something a bit wrong with him, and I doubt your intervention did anything to teach him "proper" behaviour; if anything it taught him that random strangers are likely to start manhandling him. Regarding why the staff member didn't specify what you should have done, I suspect that she felt it should be unnecessary to explain to a grown man why you don't start grabbing other people on escalators, and didn't feel like getting into an argument with you.
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From:johnckirk
Date:February 26th, 2007 05:49 pm (UTC)
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It's certainly true that I don't know what would have happened if I'd acted differently; however, this is almost always the case, and so I can only base my decisions on likelihoods. In the same way, if someone is threatening to kill me or stab me, I don't know whether they're actually going to follow through on that threat, so I just have to make the best risk assessment that I can under the circumstances, bearing in mind that I'm under a certain amount of time pressure, and a lack of decision will often become a decision itself. (For instance, if I'd stood there thinking about it then eventually we would have reached the bottom of the escalator.)

As for teaching, if animals can be trained to associate actions with rewards/punishments then I think it's reasonable to expect the same of a human who is wandering around unsupervised.

it should be unnecessary to explain to a grown man why you don't start grabbing other people on escalators

Out of curiousity, how much of a blanket statement is this? Bearing in mind that she didn't know he'd been trying to walk up until I told her, that means that she would have made the same initial criticism if something different had happened. For example, suppose that he'd tried to steal my bag/wallet, and I'd grabbed hold of him to stop him from getting away: would that be completely unacceptable behaviour on my part? If you do feel that physical force is never justified, that's fair enough; as I say, I'm just curious to know where you would draw the line.
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From:pozorvlak
Date:February 26th, 2007 11:07 pm (UTC)
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I suspect that she felt it should be unnecessary to explain to a grown man why you don't start grabbing other people on escalators

Nah, I'm with John - I reckon she didn't have an answer, and didn't want to admit it (possibly not even to herself). This kind of argument pattern is common among the kind of people who like to argue from "common sense". And you know what? I think you're doing the same thing.
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From:nou
Date:February 26th, 2007 11:27 pm (UTC)
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As you've noticed, I really can't summon up the energy to argue about this with John — and I know and like him. I can totally empathise with someone who has to deal with this kind of thing all the time not having the energy either.
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From:nou
Date:February 27th, 2007 09:10 pm (UTC)
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I'm sorry; I thought I was going to have time to come back to this properly, but I don't think I am, after all. But if you're interested in this sort of stuff (and you haven't already read it) you might enjoy reading Gary Klein's Sources of Power. It's an interesting study of the way people make decisions.
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