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View Diary: Updated: Video of Obituary-Breaking Kim Jong-il Has Died (230 comments)

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  •  If I'm not mistaken... (2+ / 0-)
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    MichaelNY, Cassandra Waites

    .... Indonesian culture and interactions with outsiders, enable a greater degree of informality than would be the case in DPRK.

    The formality of interaction in DPRK is one of the factors that constrains the set of variables and makes it easier to observe variations.  

    The degree of control and constraint in DPRK actually works in favor of using techniques of psychological assessment.  

    Re. your comment elsewhere about visitors only being shown areas inhabited by people who are well-screened and obedient Party members: yes, and their brains are still hardwired in much the same way as the rest of the people who were raised in their culture.  

    For example you might take a bus trip with a bunch of other tourists, and then stop "randomly" along the way to eat lunch at a "typical" North Korean restaurant.  You can be quite sure that the restaurant is part of the arrangements for giving tourists certain impressions.  But here's where Americans typically err: by treating the situation with condescension for "being a set-up" rather than with appreciation for "being a lovely expression of hospitality."  The latter gets a channel open and gets the hosts just slightly off their guard, to where one can observe an increase in emotionally genuine behavior.  

    Another part of the usual trip involves seeing the Pyongyang subway system, one that is apparently a working system though limited, and that is also used for "tourist theatre."  Yet another part often involves going to an amusement park where one sees typical NK families taking their kids out to go on the rides and so on.  Kids' reactions to things are particularly interesting because they are less enculturated, and this provides a point of comparison as well.  

    Importantly, all of what I've been saying here has to do with a country about which data are highly limited, so any additional information is useful, no matter how small an increment.  By analogy, consider the extrapolations NASA makes from astrophysical data, for example to detect the presence of likely planets orbiting distant stars.  And did you know it would only take a one-pixel image of a planet to tell us a) if it had life, and b) if it had technologically capable civilization?  (All of that by looking at at the spectra of light visible from the bright and dark sides of the planet respectively.)

    Contrast to the situation in e.g. Cuba, where many people speak English, where there are some points of commonality with more familiar Latino cultures, and where people feel free to criticize the government within certain boundaries, and so on.  We already know quite a bit about Cuba and the Cuban people, so there isn't the need to "turn up the input gain" to pick up faint signals: one can just go ahead and ask questions and have open conversations, very often informally, and very often freely with strangers.  

    BTW, I am not in any way claiming to have anything like a high talent for reading humans.  All of this stuff can be learned, most people do it unconsciously, most people are quite a bit better at it in social circumstances (multi-person interactions) than they have any way of elucidating or describing in theoretical terms.  As in, hitting a baseball involves your brain doing complex trigonometry in a fraction of a second, but most people couldn't spell out the equations.  

    The only thing I'm doing differently is elucidating a bunch of stuff that normally occurs in the background of normal interactions, and then looking for all the possible hypothesis-testing that can be done with each small increment of data.  

    "Minus one vote for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

    by G2geek on Mon Dec 19, 2011 at 03:36:44 AM PST

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