Tree: State of the Objectivism Debate

This tree documents the state of the debate for Objectivism. Click the image to expand. The PDF has clickable links to sources (everything underlined) and selectable text.

The goal of the tree is not perfection, nor to comprehensively document every argument anyone ever made. It’s to cover important issues (as I see them) in an organized way and thereby enable someone to learn from me and/or critically engage with my position.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

Tree: State of the Critical Rationalism Debate

This tree documents the state of the debate for Critical Rationalism. Click the image to expand. The PDF has clickable links to sources (everything underlined) and selectable text.

The goal of the tree is not perfection, nor to comprehensively document every argument anyone ever made. It’s to cover important issues (as I see them) in an organized way and thereby enable someone to learn from me and/or critically engage with my position.

Update: Typo: In "I’ve discussed with my Critical Rationalists.", the "my" should read "many".

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

Tree: State of the Austrian Economics Debate

This tree documents the state of the debate for Austrian Economics. Click the image to expand. The PDF has clickable links to sources (everything underlined) and selectable text.

The goal of the tree is not perfection, nor to comprehensively document every argument anyone ever made. It’s to cover important issues (as I see them) in an organized way and thereby enable someone to learn from me and/or critically engage with my position.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

David Deutsch’s Irrationality

This is part of a series of posts explaining the ongoing harassment against me from David Deutsch and his associates and fans. To provide background information, I’m sharing some of the most negative things DD ever said to me, which I think reveal some irrationality on his part and reveal some ways that he doesn’t follow his own philosophy principles.

This is an email David Deutsch (DD) sent me on 2011-09-30 (the nested quotes, displayed indented with a black line to the left, were written by me):

you've shown disinterest in explaining these topics for months if not years. e.g. WRT the tcs archives. and lately (several years) have not in general pursued conversations to a conclusion (like deduction, hard to vary, qualia, value of mises, gold standard, burke, tcs archives). so i'd be concerned about the short term strategy lasting a long time.

In regard to hard-to-vary and qualia, the discussions have paused because we have not managed to crystallise a clear statement of what the disagreement is. Both disagreements are rooted in subtle and interesting differences in world view, such that whenever we have gone into details we find agreement, yet stepping back to the overall issue we find strong disagreement. This is a commonplace occurrence among philosophically-minded people. Philosophy is hard. Making progress would require further discoveries, which there is no guarantee of making. I expect there are important things in there to be discovered (by both of us) but it is a fatal mistake to allow an unsolved problem to become a black hole absorbing all one's time and attention, paralysing progress on other problems. This is what you are blaming me for not doing.

The other issues have stalled for a less benign reason. It is that you have developed a repertoire of argumentative tactics which, when applied (you do not always apply them), effectively prevent you from being persuaded of anything. With each particular item on which this has happened (including deduction, Mises, gold standard), I have stopped when I have run out of ideas for how to present the relevant idea to you in a way that gets round the tactics. Just tactics. Nothing to do with content, and I say this independently of whether I'm right or wrong on the issues. These are all issues on which neither of us has any axe to grind anyway.

Currently you are insisting on a reinterpretation of (what seems to me) the plain meaning of a Godwin passage, in order to deny that Godwin expected that in future people would give away most of their wealth. This is a debate that I haven't yet given up on, but the next step, if I pursue it, will require me to explain how you're misinterpreting the word 'if', and I can already think of half a dozen ways you will find to avoid the implication, and I'm guessing you'll succeed in constructing an effective baffle, so I'll have been wasting my time.

And now, in addition to the above-mentioned patterns of argument, your tactics have escalated to include accusing me of fabricating quotes, and having a variety of other personal failings on account of not dropping, and in the TCS-archive case sacrificing, everything else in order to solve things for you.

please advise.

I can't advise on that because I don't know the answer. As for the other things you asked about, I have some ideas about what you should do in order to achieve success and happiness, but it's rather pointless to address those while you consider yourself to have grievances.

I replied:

you've shown disinterest in explaining these topics for months if not years. e.g. WRT the tcs archives. and lately (several years) have not in general pursued conversations to a conclusion (like deduction, hard to vary, qualia, value of mises, gold standard, burke, tcs archives). so i'd be concerned about the short term strategy lasting a long time.

In regard to hard-to-vary and qualia, the discussions have paused because we have not managed to crystallise a clear statement of what the disagreement is.

i disagree.

Both disagreements are rooted in subtle and interesting differences in world view, such that whenever we have gone into details we find agreement, yet stepping back to the overall issue we find strong disagreement. This is a commonplace occurrence among philosophically-minded people. Philosophy is hard. Making progress would require further discoveries, which there is no guarantee of making.

i don't think this is it. i will explain why if you want.

I expect there are important things in there to be discovered (by both of us) but it is a fatal mistake to allow an unsolved problem to become a black hole absorbing all one's time and attention, paralysing progress on other problems. This is what you are blaming me for not doing.

i do not think i am blaming you.

it's not even clear to me what you think was blaming, or why. i made some factually oriented statements which, based on your reply (including below), i think you agree with. i said you had shown disinterest and you gave two reasons for disinterest.

The other issues have stalled for a less benign reason. It is that you have developed a repertoire of argumentative tactics which, when applied (you do not always apply them), effectively prevent you from being persuaded of anything. With each particular item on which this has happened (including deduction, Mises, gold standard), I have stopped when I have run out of ideas for how to present the relevant idea to you in a way that gets round the tactics. Just tactics. Nothing to do with content, and I say this independently of whether I'm right or wrong on the issues. These are all issues on which neither of us has any axe to grind anyway.

so, you have adopted a negative meta/psychological view of me, and that is why you dropped those topics without explanation.

thank you for clarifying that.

but what can we do about it?

i think your description (reminiscent of claims made by kolya, about you as well as me) is false. would you like to hear why?

you think it's true. would you like to persuade me of it?

if neither, then what do you think should happen?

Currently you are insisting on a reinterpretation of (what seems to me) the plain meaning of a Godwin passage, in order to deny that Godwin expected that in future people would give away most of their wealth.

changing a key word of your claim (share -> give away) seems like a mistake to me.

This is a debate that I haven't yet given up on, but the next step, if I pursue it, will require me to explain how you're misinterpreting the word 'if', and I can already think of half a dozen ways you will find to avoid the implication, and I'm guessing you'll succeed in constructing an effective baffle, so I'll have been wasting my time.

so, it's the meta/psychological view governing your interaction again.

i don't see why you would debate the "if" part. i said that if one reads on then he finds that the "if" clause is godwin's view, and i accepted it as his view. so, all you could accomplish is to convince me the shorter quote is compelling in isolation. doing so would not have any direct relevance to the discussion.

I said that equalization can be achieved in more than one way, not necessarily by sharing. Why doesn't your intended reply focus on this main point i made?

And now, in addition to the above-mentioned patterns of argument, your tactics have escalated to include accusing me of fabricating quotes,

I did not make that accusation.

this came up previously (w/ your wording "made stuff up"). i explained that you had misinterpreted my meaning. you didn't ask for clarification or debate anything, but now you have repeated this claim as before, seemingly disregarding my reply. why?

and having a variety of other personal failings on account of not dropping, and in the TCS-archive case sacrificing, everything else in order to solve things for you.

i don't understand your seeming strategy here of interpreting criticism -- offered in confusion more than anything else -- as unpleasant accusations.

please advise.

I can't advise on that because I don't know the answer. As for the other things you asked about, I have some ideas about what you should do in order to achieve success and happiness, but it's rather pointless to address those while you consider yourself to have grievances.

what grievances? i do not have grievances.

I think my response email covers a lot of the issues well. I’ll comment further on something I think is particularly important.

This was the end of the conversation; DD didn’t reply to my email. His choice not to reply conflicts with his philosophy that says problems are soluble and advocates common preference finding. For context, keep in mind that we had been friends for ten years and that DD has written thousands of emails to me. The issue wasn’t the time it’d take to write a reply. The issue was that DD was in the process of ending our friendship and his email above gives some info about how and why he did that.

DD was unwilling to discuss any approaches to problem solving regarding the negative meta/psychological view of me that he’d formed. Further, he’d never given me an example. He’d apparently formed negative, undiscussed opinions, for years, and hidden that from me. He disliked some things I said, regarded them as irrational tactics, but never told me even one, so I had no way to stop doing the things he disliked, change my mind or improve. Nor was there any way to correct him if he were mistaken. I still, today, don’t know which things I said that he thinks were irrational tactics, let alone any arguments explaining how my statements were irrational tactics. I’d understand more if he stopped discussing when he though someone was being irrational, but he kept having lots of discussions with me for years while hiding relevant information from me.

If your approach to debate is to decide that the other person is irrational and give up on debate – and to refuse to discuss what the other person did wrong with any examples or arguments – then you are irrational and you are closed to debate. (This is an idea DD taught me, and which he’s repeatedly advocated in writing.)

DD wasn’t taking his fallibility seriously. In his email, he said that he might be mistaken about the object level disagreements, but didn’t acknowledge that he could be mistaken about his meta claims (that I’m irrational and that some of my statements were irrational tactics). DD doesn’t seem to view meta claims as ideas he has which may be false. He treats meta ideas as a special category that shouldn’t be discussed, and that viewpoint prevents error correction of his meta ideas. (DD repeatedly, and in writing, advocated not having meta discussion. That is an idea he said, not my speculation.)

So DD forms off-topic, meta, psychological views of people (his dislike for meta discussion doesn’t prevent him from thinking it and attaching importance to those thoughts). Then he refuses to explain or discuss them, but still assumes they’re true and acts on them. He won’t have meta discussion (sometimes). But he will have meta ideas and let them control and ruin the object level discussion, and then just give up on the object level discussion with no attempt at problem solving because he doesn’t want to critically discuss his unargued beliefs about other people being irrational, having bad psychology, etc. This is a way of destroying the means of correcting errors, not a way of making unbounded progress by truth-seeking.

There were plenty of other times that DD did engage in meta discussion with me. He isn’t consistent about it and never explained a delineation between good or acceptable meta and bad meta. Trying to avoid meta discussions was a recurring theme with DD and also an (inconsistent) moderation policy on TCS list, but he never acknowledged that he wasn’t really against all meta discussion. If he’d acknowledged that, he’d have had to make some statement about which meta discussion he had a problem with and why that sub-category is different and bad, but he didn’t have a good answer to that (I brought it up several times).

This particular comment from DD’s email is particularly notable:

I have stopped when I have run out of ideas for how to present the relevant idea to you in a way that gets round the tactics

Not only did DD never say that he thought any particular statement was a tactic or point out anything wrong with it, he also stopped discussing when he ran out of ideas for how to persuade me. He viewed discussion in terms of coming up with ways to change my mind. But he didn’t take seriously that I might be right about some of the topics. He dropped topics until he had ideas for new arguments, but wasn’t open to listening to my arguments. He didn’t come up with ideas for how to be persuaded and continue discussions when he had some of those. He approached discussion in a one-sided way that didn’t leave scope for him to learn. At least that’s according to his own statement – though actually in practice he sometimes did better than that. He did sometimes listen to me rationally, learn things from me, accept my arguments and change his mind, etc.

You may wish to forgive DD for assuming he’s right because he’s way smarter than most people. That attitude contradicts his philosophy and there’s another problem with it. He had thousands of hours of discussions with me and told me that he respected my intelligence and considered me one of the smartest people he’d ever talked with. He hid his condescending, one-sided, biased approach to discussion from me for ten years of discussions (or maybe he was better in earlier discussions and changed at some point without telling me – I don’t know). He communicated to me that he was taking me seriously. He asked for, and got, huge amounts of my time. That context is nothing like having a short chat with a fan that he doesn’t know. Assuming you’re right briefly with a low social status stranger is problematic, especially given DD’s fallibilist philosophy, but at least that would be conventional arrogance. DD’s condescension to someone after being close intellectual associates for a decade, and very strongly praising their thinking, learning and rationality is worse than that. It indicates that DD assumes he’s right when dealing with everyone – he’s just a poor fallibilist. Or maybe he just assumes he’s right when an issue comes up that he’s biased or emotional about, and it isn’t about the other person or what they say.

In conclusion, DD is irrational and doesn’t live up to the philosophy he advocates. He was dishonest with me for a long time, and the stuff he was hiding built up to major problems which were finally, belatedly revealed in a few harsh incidents like the email above, and then he stopped talking with me. He didn't want to solve problems as we went along and communicate openly about them, nor solve them later either, and he misled me about that for a decade. All this helps explain how his bad and irrational behavior regarding the harassment campaign could be possible.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Message (1)

David Deutsch’s Fear and Revulsion

This is part of a series of posts explaining the harassment against me which has been going on for years. The harassment is coming from David Deutsch (DD) and his community. This post provides info about DD’s motives and the historical context. I’ve tried to address the problem privately but they’ve refused to attempt any private problem solving.

This complete chat log between me (curi) and David Deutsch (oxfordphysicist) spans 4 minutes on the afternoon of 2011-10-04 (bold highlighting added now):


szasz :D

You're entirely mistaken. I'm terrified, and will be unable to work for at least a day now. And who knows how long after that. Receiving an e-mail from you is sheer fear and revulsion before I even look at it.

i think you're mistaken and i do not want to do anything without coming to some resolution

i am attempting to follow my understanding of tcs methods. you aren't following them. perhaps we disagree about what tcs says to do.

This is the most negative thing DD ever said to me. It struck me as totally out of character. In retrospect, given how his character seems totally changed today, I think he may have been hiding his character from me for years. I think, originally, he may have been trying to hide his flaws in a noble, honorable way to shield me from them and let me interact with the best parts of himself. That’s the kind of thing he advocates parents do for their children, and he acted like a father-figure to me in some (but not other) ways.

For context, “You're entirely mistaken.” refers to some emails we’d exchanged that day about the TCS archives. He meant that my claims about the TCS archives, in those emails, were mistaken. I explained the TCS archives conflict here.

The message was a surprise to me. You can see the friendly tone of my messages beforehand. DD didn’t gradually lead up to it. He held some things in and then let them out abruptly like this.

DD still talked with me a lot after this, repeatedly initiated contact, and never said something similar again later.

This is by far the closest DD ever came to making a no contact request (which is notable because he lied about me breaking several of those that he never made). At the time, I took this as probably being a no contact request even though it was phrased as providing information rather than making an explicit request.

Note: Based on our personal history, DD knew how to make explicit requests to me, and knew that I would see that this logically wasn’t one. This may sound unreasonably pedantic, but DD and I were both like that, and literalness was a standard part of our communications. DD had actually set up this dynamic himself: He’d told me repeatedly that if he wanted something he would ask, and that I shouldn’t try to guess what he wanted and act on those guesses. He convinced me that it was better for him if I just listened to direct requests and avoided trying to guess other ways to accommodate him. He also had me use lots of explicit requests with him, which he could then say yes or no to at his option. I think I got over 50% ‘yes’ answers, but lots of ‘no’ answers too, which is unusual – in most relationships people try to avoid asking for stuff without being over 90% confident they’ll get a ‘yes’ answer. That’s how DD wanted our relationship to work (it benefited him if I asked 5 short things that I’m not confident he’ll say ‘yes’ to, and got only 1 ‘yes’, because he didn’t want to miss out on that opportunity and giving a few quick negative answers is a cheap price to pay in effort if no one gets their feelings hurt, plus even a declined request can be interesting and worthwhile to read).

Since I thought it was probably a no contact request, I stopped contacting DD. This prevented me from attempting to discuss and solve some of our problems, or doing common preference finding, as I wanted to. But I was trying to respect DD’s wishes.

What happened next?

DD kept emailing me privately, like normal (less frequently, especially since I never replied or started any discussions anymore, but he was initiating contact and emailing me stuff instead of trying to avoid contact). He acted kinda like he’d never sent the message about fear and revulsion. He didn’t act like he’d issued a no contact request. His actions were compatible with nothing having happened and us being too busy converse like normal.

In total, after the message about fear and revulsion, DD sent me 81 personal emails (plus other emails on discussion groups). Many were friendly emails that were purely optional. He had no reason to send them other than wanting to have a conversation with me. E.g. he did not have to, but did, have a long email conversation with me about schizophrenia.

After 52 days of not responding to any of DD’s emails or discussing the problem in any way, and waiting, and him not acknowledging what happened, I became concerned that I was being cold to him and ignoring him. I worried that my coldness could confuse or hurt him, especially since he hadn’t literally requested that I stop sending emails. I was also concerned since he hadn’t suggested any plan to fix anything and didn’t seem to be initiating any problem solving, and didn’t appear to intend to do problem solving later (since he was just going on with normal communications). I decided to clarify. I sent him a short email on 2012-11-25:

Do you still want me not to send you emails? Should I wait more? I'm unclear on what to do and realize that waiting could itself be taken negatively (as cold, distant).

I think 7.5 weeks was a long time to wait with someone I’d been talking with for years, often daily (in our total relationship, DD sent me roughly 4,000 private emails and spent thousands of hours chatting and engaging with me; I’ve estimated that the total amount of words he wrote to me is more than ten times the length of his book, The Fabric of Reality). That shows how much I was trying to respect his wishes. And it turned out that I was right to send the email. DD didn’t complain about it or treat it as a violation of a request.

DD’s response to my clarification request did not acknowledge ever wanting me not to send him emails, or ever sending the IM from 52 days earlier. He didn’t respond directly at all or answer my questions, but instead reinitiated conversation and invited me to try to persuade him of something by email. So we moved on and had more email discussions. He never suggested that he’d made a no contact request that I should be following. He sent 81 emails after the negative IM because he was still having contact with me. DD’s rate of sending me emails reached near zero in late 2012, around a year after his worrying IM. He stopped sending more emails without any announcement. I gave him a lot of space and tried not to push him about it, and was disappointed when he didn’t come around over time. I also realized that the opportunity to discuss the issues more had been missed (as I think DD wanted).

I now interpret DD’s harsh IM as asking me to back off temporarily, for an unspecified amount of time. And I backed off more than long enough, so that was that. He was alerting me to a problem and wanted some space, which I gave him.

I was still concerned after this incident and was more careful about sending DD anything. Some of the underlying problems were still there. But I don’t think it was ever actually a no contact request, just a serious complaint meant to raise a problem. Even if it had been a no contact request, DD retracted it by not reiterating it, by talking about something else when I asked for clarification of whether it was OK to contact him, by sending me 81 more emails, by acting like he never said it, by being friendly with me after it, and by never complaining that I was doing something wrong by emailing him again. So, to the best of my knowledge, I didn’t violate DD’s wishes about that specific matter.

One of the lessons here is that DD is an emotional, irrational, fragile person who loses days of work over his strong feelings. And he has strong feelings about things he hasn’t read – so his feelings do not depend on the merits of the arguments being made or how reasonable they are. That’s important context that helps explain his involvement in harassment against me.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

What Happened with the TCS Archives

This is part of a series of posts explaining the harassment against me. This post shares background info about my conflict with David Deutsch. I’ve tried to address the problem privately but he’s refused to even attempt private problem solving or common preference finding.

The closest thing to a reason that David Deutsch (DD) ever gave me for turning against me was that he was upset about the TCS archives issue. I never considered that explanation to be very good. In short, he didn’t want them published and I agreed not to publish them. Would he really end ten years of friendship and productive discussions over that!?

I’ll explain what happened, then after that I’ll give additional facts, quotes, details and sources.

Taking Children Seriously (TCS) was a parenting and educational philosophy co-founded by DD and Sarah Fitz-Claridge (SFC) around 1992. They, I and others believed that TCS had very important ideas which all parents should learn and which could dramatically improve the world.

TCS List was a public email discussion group that started in 1994. The archives were tens of thousands of emails posted in the past. I joined in 2001. In 2002, DD and I both wanted to share the discussion archives with millions of parents so that they could learn to treat their children better.

For years there were automated, public archives which were searchable and downloadable. There were instructions on how to do this. Everyone was warned not to post anything private. But eventually AOL limited and/or removed archives for all their groups. In my understanding, that was because they didn’t want to store the data or spend money on the groups, and that change was a precursor to the groups being poorly maintained for years and then eventually being shut down entirely. So the archives needed to be reposted elsewhere.

In 2007, SFC and Kevin (SFC’s tech guy) wanted the archives to be posted on a public website and were working on making that happen. They publicly announced this and Kevin told me that the only obstacle was the software work necessary to make it nice.

Because SFC and Kevin were not very involved with TCS anymore starting around 2003, and didn’t get much done, I got a copy of the full archives for myself. I wanted to read it and I was also interested in sharing it with the world because no one else was getting that task done. I got my full copy of the archives from Lulie, who got it from Kevin. Before that, I had archives starting in 2002 (all the emails since I joined the group), plus some additional, incomplete, older archives that I’d gotten from several other people.

I believed the only obstacle to sharing the archives was getting the data and making a website for them. I believed sharing the archives was just restoring the previous status quo – getting TCS back to where it was before AOL changed their archive software.

At some point between 2002 and 2010, DD changed his mind about sharing archives. He no longer wanted them shared. But he didn’t tell me (or I think anyone else, at the time) that he had changed his mind. DD belatedly let me know there was an issue after I was already in the process of sharing the full archives. He could easily have told me earlier because we were talking regularly and he knew what I was doing (I didn’t go behind his back about any of this).

In 2010, DD told me that sharing the archives would be bad, and that he’d explain why after he was done writing his book, The Beginning of Infinity. So, to accommodate him, I waited for over a year. Then DD still didn’t want to explain and got upset with me for expecting him to explain. If he didn’t want to explain, he should have said that in the first place instead of asking me to wait and then, after I waited, saying that he wouldn’t explain. He bait and switched me but wouldn’t acknowledge having done that. He is the one who offered to explain and proposed a timeline. I had an expectation that he would explain because he voluntarily chose to create that expectation.

Despite that, I was willing to drop the matter, not receive an explanation, and not share the archives. I clearly communicated that I was willing to defer to DD. DD knew that but said it was inadequate. He didn’t want me to defer to him or do him a favor. He wanted me to see for myself that sharing the archives was bad. He wanted my judgment to match his. But that would have required him arguing his case and persuading me. Since he wouldn’t do that, I kept disagreeing with him. I still agreed with the earlier DD who wanted the archives published, since he’d never explained why he changed his mind. DD demanded that I somehow persuade myself and come up with reasons that he was now right; I did try doing that but I failed to reach his newer conclusion.

The case for publishing the archives was simple. They had lots of good, important, original ideas in them which people could learn from and use to treat children better. Plus there was no TCS book or organized body of writing teaching TCS, so learning TCS without the archives was unrealistic due to the lack of other material. DD didn’t provide a rebuttal to that, and as far as I could tell he still believed that was true.

DD did make some brief attempts to argue a few points about why sharing the archives would be bad. They were nothing like the thorough discussions we’d had on many other topics. Previously, DD had successfully persuaded me of many things. I gave counter-arguments about the archives and I wasn’t even close to persuaded. I had a bunch of arguments that I thought were great points that DD never tried to answer.

Why did DD want me not to post the archives? He said it could damage his career if people saw and disliked his TCS ideas. I wasn’t convinced by that argument for multiple reasons. I didn’t think that sharing good ideas would damage his career just because some people would mistakenly think the ideas were bad. Also, it was his responsibility to consider that before co-founding TCS and publishing ideas. He had also published TCS ideas in the paper journal and on multiple websites and was making no effort to take those things down or to retract any of the public advice he’d told thousands of parents they would be immoral not to follow. I didn’t see the point of inconsistently trying to suppress some TCS information while a bunch of other similar information was available.

The Autonomy Respecting Relationships (ARR) group had public, searchable, downloadable archives available dating back to 2001 because ARR had been using Yahoo Groups since 2001 and Yahoo’s archives still worked. ARR was a spinoff of TCS which DD had posted a bunch of unpopular ideas at (like attacks on monogamy and marriage), but DD showed no interest in taking down the ARR archives. He didn’t even try to explain the discrepancy. The FoR Yahoo group also had around a decade of archives available and DD didn’t seem to mind that either.

I’m unclear on why DD thought sharing the TCS email archives would cause a significant additional problem given the other info available. And he’s a public intellectual who co-founded TCS around age 40. Wanting and trying to unpublish his ideas and take them back, and get a clean slate when he’s around age 60, is bizarre and violates the reasonable expectations of the people who not only were trying to use his ideas in their lives, but whom he had pressured as coercive parents if they didn’t listen to him. And he didn’t actually retract anything or say he changed his mind about any of the ideas (I still don’t think he did change his mind about the ideas). He told me he wanted to share more TCS info later, which implied he still thought the ideas were valuable.

You shouldn’t share parenting advice for 20 years, get thousands of people to change their parenting, tell them they will having ongoing help, support and advice, and then try to take away the advice that was already given. Merely ceasing to share further advice was already seriously letting down a bunch of parents and their children – it betrayed their trust and violated their reasonable expectations – but DD and SFC never acknowledged or apologized for that. Preventing people from accessing the TCS archives made that betrayal worse.

I don’t see why DD’s preferences about his career should create obligations for other people not to create mirrors or archives of public discussions.

As best I know, DD agreed with me that sharing the archives wouldn’t violate his rights. So I wasn’t convinced that sharing the archives would be bad. I thought it’d be good for the world and also good for DD. But I was still willing to do what DD wanted due to our friendship and my respect for his intellectual accomplishments.

DD used his reputation as a public intellectual to spread TCS and give it legitimacy. People took it more seriously because there was a smart author involved and writing for it, not just some mom. But if you’re going to put your name behind it and use your public intellectual status to promote it, then you ought to act accordingly: it’s stuff you said in your capacity as a public intellectual, and it is therefore public (plus he literally said it publicly, in writing, with public archives that only disappeared for technical reasons). Trying to hide ideas DD promoted using his book is fairly similar to if he’d tried to hide the contents of his book itself after it was published and had sold tens of thousands of copies.

Conclusion: So DD got very upset with me, and stopped associating with me, because (maybe) of my not agreeing with his reasoning about limiting the spread of TCS ideas to the world. He didn’t tell me his reasoning in much detail and I still did what he wanted, but he demanded intellectual agreement – he wanted me not only to do and not do certain actions, but also to have and not have certain thoughts. I let him control my actions regarding the TCS archives but not my thoughts. That’s the story. I’ve never found it very convincing. I figured there must have been some other issues that played a significant role in the end of our association. DD has never spoken clearly about the matter, but as best I can tell, he claims that the TCS archives issue was the main reason that he stopped talking with me (which then led, eventually, to his leadership role in a harassment campaign against me).

Details and Sources

This is a chat log between me and DD from 2002:

Curi42 (4:50:37 PM): sarah mentioned putting all the old TCS posts on a CD to sell. that'd rock
OxfordPhysicist (4:51:56 PM): Yes. They'd have to be sorted first. And then there's the permissions problem. But yes, it's a great idea.

Here’s Kevin posting publicly on TCS list, in Dec 2007:

We have nearly complete archives now, and hope to make them readable on the TCS web site in the not too distant future.

We are still missing posts from October 16 to 23, 1995.

The TCS list started in Nov 1994 and Kevin gathered emails back to the very start. It was a public group that anyone could join, for free, with no screening. Joining the group was automatically handled by software without a human even having to click “approve”.

The TCS list had rules against posting any private information. They urged people to discuss hypothetical examples only and never to share info about their kids. Moderators enforced this sometimes (moderation was never consistent and people were warned that a post appearing on the group did not mean that a moderator had bothered to review it). They created a way to post anonymously and people were told to speak hypothetically even their anonymous posts. It was always made clear that the list was public, that you shouldn’t share anything that could embarrass your kid later, and that many people had private discussions by emailing other posters off-list. SFC even said that there were a lot more private off-list discussions than public discussions, and encouraged people to consider whether they should be posting something publicly or having a private conversation instead.

The TCS list software kept automatic, publicly-searchable archives starting in at least 1996 when they used AOL. SFC shared instructions about how to search or download the old posts. The plan to share the archives were merely an attempt to restore software features that had already existed.

When SFC moved the TCS list away from AOL software in 2008, her announcement said:

Please note that the content of the list will be public, and assume that whatever you write could end up reaching an audience of billions.

On Yahoo, like AOL, there were automatic, public archives and SFC’s welcome message said:

Bear in mind that this list is public and please take care to avoid violating privacy or writing anything that might embarrass your child when he or she is running for President of the United States or whatever. Please note that we reserve the right to move posts from the TCS list to the TCS website.

So not only did the list have public, searchable archives on the Yahoo website, they also explicitly warned everyone that they might repost anything to another website. And they warned people to write like they would have billions of readers in the future, and like whatever they say could affect their child’s career decades later.

Similarly, the TCS website said in 2008 (my emphasis):

Please be aware that anything you post on the TCS list is public and will be permanently available on the internet. Take great care not to write anything that might embarrass your child later when he or she is running for President of the United States or whatever. In many cases parents themselves have later regretted bitterly having posted something. You will not be able to delete something you post later, so do not post unless you are in a calm state of mind. Delay posting for as long as it takes for you to be in a calm state of mind. That way you will be less likely to regret having posted later.

As was pretty well known at the time, deleting or editing posts was never possible with email lists because all members receive their own copy of emails and you can’t delete other people’s data from their personal computers.

That webpage had different text in 2007 before moving to Yahoo. It said (my emphasis):

When you have subscribed to the List, you can retrieve the archives, which provide a rich source of information about the List, about TCS and about subjects about which you may have questions.

Unfortunately, that was out of date. In 2007, you could no longer retrieve the full archives (or maybe any at all) because AOL had removed features from their service. But it shows the intention to have the archives available.

See also: The History of Taking Children Seriously and Harassment Summary. (DD’s fans have been severely harassing me and my fans for years, and instead of asking them to stop, DD lied to attack me, thereby encouraging more harassment.)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

Sam Harris on Defamation; Comments on David Deutsch and Others Defaming Me

This is part of a series of posts explaining the ongoing harassment against me from David Deutsch and his associates and fans.

Sam Harris in his Response to Controversy post (from 2013):

A general point about the mechanics of defamation: It is impossible to effectively defend oneself against unethical critics. If nothing else, the law of entropy is on their side, because it will always be easier to make a mess than to clean it up. It is, for instance, easier to call a person a “racist,” a “bigot,” a “misogynist,” etc. than it is for one’s target to prove that he isn’t any of these things. In fact, the very act of defending himself against such accusations quickly becomes debasing. Whether or not the charges can be made to stick, the victim eventually seems thin-skinned and overly concerned about his reputation. And, rebutted or not, the original calumnies will be repeated in blogs and comment threads, and many readers will assume that where there’s smoke, there must be fire.

Such defamation is made all the easier if one writes and speaks on controversial topics and with a philosopher’s penchant for describing the corner cases—the ticking time bomb, the perfect weapon, the magic wand, the mind-reading machine, etc.—in search of conceptual clarity. It literally becomes child’s play to find quotations that make the author look morally suspect, even depraved.

Whenever I respond to unscrupulous attacks on my work, I hear from smart, supportive readers who say that I needn’t have bothered. In fact, many write to say that any response is counterproductive, because it only draws more attention to the original attack and sullies me by association. These readers think that I should be above caring about, or even noticing, treatment of this kind. Perhaps. I actually do take this line, sometimes for months or years, if for no other reason than that it allows me to get on with more interesting work. But […]

These are problems I'm dealing with. Some people think I'm overly reactive, thin-skinned or reputation-focused because I've written too many blog posts about the persistent, ongoing, criminal harassment against me. And I keep using strong, rude words like "criminal" and "harassment".

The harassment has been severe enough – for multiple years – that I've closed free, public comments. They are closed right now. The harassment is affecting me and my community today.

Defending myself by telling my story derails this blog and focuses it away from my usual topics. But not defending myself is awful too. They stalk me to other forums. If I try to use Less Wrong, Twitter, Reddit, Basecamp, Discord, Slack, etc., they can and do stalk and harass me there. And on those sites, I don't have adequate tools to protect myself. On a website I control, I can at least install security tools of my choice that give me a chance to defend myself (that's hard and unreliable, which is why I made a new forum with a paywall, but it works much better than defending myself on other sites).

Twitter (for example) allows you to block users, but that doesn't do me much good. They can and do create many different accounts. They also impersonate beginners, fans or any other group of people I want to talk with. They also post ambiguously hostile stuff, passive aggressive derailing, concern trolling, and other attempts to be unpleasant. They sometimes try to make it negative but ambiguous about whether it might be an actual new person unaffiliated with the harassers. They also mix in extreme, blatant harassment, which makes a toxic atmosphere and alienates people who see it.

Even if Twitter let me see IP addresses of people who talk with me – which it doesn't – that wouldn't be enough. Andy B alone has used over 100 different IP addresses while harassing me. Better security tools are necessary but unavailable.

Impersonating Beginners

Sometimes they pretend to be a beginner who is trying but has negative emotions about my responses. This creates a negative interaction which is alienating to readers who think that they, too, would end up alienated if they had a discussion. But I’m not actually alienating someone who was making a good faith effort; it’s just a fraud. That both creates a toxic atmosphere and wastes my time. It’s also misleading to me when I’m unsure if it’s a real beginner and I just need to try harder to explain, or if it’s bad faith. It makes it harder for me to know how difficult it is to talk with real beginners in positive ways and to figure out what will and won’t work with people who discuss in good faith. When it’s a fake account from a harassers, then no matter what communication methods and friendliness I test, the experimental result I get will be negative: it doesn’t work. Except that’s fake data, and the same communications might have worked great with someone who isn’t sabotaging on purpose.

They try to create a pattern of what appears to be me having negative interactions with many different people interested in my ideas. But it’s fake, and isn’t what was happening in my discussions before the harassment began (some ended negatively, but a much lower proportion). It’s frustrating and unfun for me and it discourages my actual fans from talking with me. Similarly, they’ve used fake accounts to support themselves (both at my sites and elsewhere, e.g. on Twitter or Reddit) to make it look like more people agree with them than actually do.

Beginners often say some partially negative things while making a good faith effort to engage. People are sometimes a bit rude, a bit upset about a controversial idea, or say something illogical. I try to be tolerant and charitable about that stuff. Most people need some tolerance in discussions. But harassers can abuse that tolerance by e.g. making stuff as negative as possible that they think I might tolerate. They can also get worse to be slightly past the line so I want to end the discussion but it’s not obvious to all observers that the discussion is so bad that I should stop tolerating it. Or sometimes they just go past the line into obvious hatred to fake a record of someone starting out friendly and then being very upset by me so that they became hateful.

It’s hard to tell what might be an honest mistake from a beginner, which should be dealt with in a kind, helpful way. So having harassers on fake names wasting our time and charity with dishonest mistakes is a problem. And then when they escalate to make it look like our helpfulness failed, that’s nasty too. Being flamed and harassed – sometimes in extreme ways – is nasty but the ongoing attempts at ambiguity are even worse. They have done over a hundred experiments to find out what’s hard to deal with and to optimize their harassment.

Hateful, Private Gossip

David Deutsch (DD) falsely called me a no contact request breaker to an unknown number of people privately which avoids rebuttal. Accusing me of breaking several no contact requests is similar to calling someone a "racist" or "bigot" like Sam Harris mentioned. Breaking no contact requests is really awful and is currently something cancellable – a lot of people really hate it. Responding to that and defending myself is itself toxic, and DD has a much larger reach than I do. The hate that has been spread against me is so strong that many people who its been spread to are entirely unwilling to speak with me or consider my side of the story. I can't defend effectively against preemptive strikes powerful enough to get total strangers to shut their minds closed and refuse to ever consider my side of the story.

Many associates of DD have been spreading hate about me. I know this for a fact because there have been a few leaks. I’ll give some examples.

In the past, Lulie Tanett repeatedly shared private information with me, e.g. that some of DD’s associates were joking about murdering me (from memory, that was in 2015), which gives some idea of how hateful they were and also that they talk about me in their private conversations.

In 2009, Lulie Tanett showed me Sarah Fitz-Claridge (SFC, DD’s TCS co-founder) lying that I’d violated many requests from her (a very similar lie to DD’s lie, which seems to show a pattern of people bad at differentiating between what they wanted and what they actually requested with words).

Another person told me that, around 2010, SFC’s husband wanted to collaborate on a forum for the purpose of hurting Elliot Temple. I'm told SFC's husband was blatant, not subtle, about his goal: he wanted to shove a (presumably metaphorical) red hot poker up my ass. The person declined because they weren’t interested in harming anyone. The person told me about it, years later, after the Andy B harassment became a big deal.

Another way I got information was people sending me quotes from the Four Strands Google Group. My haters used their semi-private philosophy forum to have multiple discussions about me in which they attacked me. When caught, their response was to kick everyone off their forum who they thought might sympathize with me and to limit new membership in order to better hide their activities. That forum is where Dennis Hackethal lied that I’d threatened him with violence in order to gain clout with other forum members and justify hatred and harassment towards me.

Because the CritRats spread their hate through gossip but don’t write public arguments, it’s hard to answer it. I’ve never even seen most of what’s been said against me, but the effects are visible: I’ve been repeatedly ghosted, and sometimes flamed or harassed, by people I’ve never had a conversation with. The behavior of CritRats differs from any other group I’ve interacted with. And keep in mind that I’m not really a public figure: almost no one has heard of me, but people I don’t know care enough to hate me because of whatever gossip is circulating among CritRats. It seems like the gossip includes lies that I’ve done actions so bad that I must be entirely shunned and ghosted. I’ve seen some of the really nasty lies being told (about violating several no contact requests or threatening violence) but don’t know what else they’re circulating. Someone who repeatedly breaks no contact requests or threatens violence is actually a reasonable person to dislike, ignore and avoid – if that were true. (BTW, Andy B and Rami Rustom both made threats but the CritRats don’t avoid and ignore them.)

Not knowing what’s being said prevents me from targeting my replies well. I have to either not answer stuff or write more and answer more stuff without even clearly knowing it’s the right thing to answer – which some people interpret as me being obsessed because they don’t see the actions of the other side, whereas my actions are public. It’s also more work for me to write about more issues, which sucks.

Meanwhile, many people think that where there's smoke there's fire, or that the evils being done to me are so extreme and nasty that they can't be real (certainly not from the people who appear otherwise respectable). (Other times, contradictorily, I’m told that what’s been done to me is mild and ignorable. Not having any official position lets them make a wide variety of arguments without caring if they contradict themselves.) And people keep repeating and spreading the hate. I wouldn't even care much about the hate if it didn't lead to harassment that limits my ability to have conversations on the public internet, and which follows me around, and which comes to my spaces to harass and DDoS my blog. I have no way to be left alone and ignore them because they use force not just insults.

Like Harris, I’ve tried not responding for long periods of times. The attacks on me actually started in 2009 or earlier and gradually ramped up. I basically ignored it for a decade, and it grew much worse. Even after the extreme harassment from Andy B, I’ve tried ignoring it for months at a time, which hasn’t helped. Sam Harris felt it necessary to respond even though he’s just facing words without direct harassment like DDoSing. That’s perfectly reasonable, and it’s notable that my situation gives more reason to respond because the problems cross major, additional lines. Harris also has the advantage of facing claims made in public which he can quote, whereas the group harassing me acts in a shadowy way.

It’s horrible that – as a person who is not very popular – I have to literally charge people money to be able to discuss with me because it’s the only way I think I may be left alone by the harassers.

I think the best thing I can do is to explain myself rationally. I want to help reasonable people judge the issue by providing the information and reasoning that I can. And I want to show that I’m the one willing to expose factual statements and arguments to critical scrutiny, unlike the other side. I have more posts in progress, and plan to continue writing about this sporadically as long as it’s an ongoing problem affecting my life. If anyone has a better idea, I’m open to it. So far I’ve received no substantial criticism of anything I’ve said about the matter from anyone – my fans, the people who hate me, or neutral third parties. I’m trying to deal with a hard situation in the right way using my limited resources, and I hope people will be sympathetic and supportive about that.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

Harassment Sucks

Being harassed – and writing about it – is an unfortunate distraction which is delaying Critical Fallibilism articles. If you don’t like that, complain to David Deutsch and the others involved. I can’t ignore them because they are using ongoing force and I have no way to choose to be left alone. They come to my websites and follow me to public discussion places like Less Wrong or Reddit. One of them joined and vandalized my FI Learning Basecamp, and I realized that using Basecamp is not a realistic option because it doesn't have good enough security. I’ve tried not talking about them for months at a time but they won’t stop. I’ve tried to discuss the problem privately and deescalate (I did that before going public and tried again later too), but they’ve refused to discuss – they have no demands, have no stated grievances, and have offered no terms under which they’d end the harassment campaign. Fan support regarding this major problem would be appreciated.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

Callout Blog Posts Policy

Some people may be worried that if they have discussions with me, they’ll end up called out and exposed in a blog post attacking them. So I want to clarify who I do that to and why.

A callout post is one where I’m trying to draw public attention to a problem I’m having with someone who has mistreated me.

I call out people who violate my rights. That requires things like getting banned and then ban evading to post harassment on my sites, like Andy B. Or persistently lying about being coached and mentored by me, like Rami Rustom did, so I needed to deny that. Or spreading really nasty lies about me, such as Dennis Hackethal’s lie that I threatened him with violence or David Deutsch’s lie that I broke several requests to stop contacting him. Plagiarizing my ideas is also something I will blog about if you refuse to fix it. (I mention that because it’s debatable whether plagiarism is a rights violation).

I also frequently criticize public figures regarding publicly available information like their writing. And I also have critical discussions on forums, but if a non-public-figure loses a debate with me I don’t go call them out on my blog. My goal in those discussions isn’t to call public attention to the flaws of my discussion partners.

Let’s discuss some examples of callouts I’ve done.

I never blogged about Rustom when he was just some fan who was bad at learning. I never mocked him for stuff that many people would laugh at. I still didn’t blog about him after he wrote a book heavily plagiarizing me, because he apologized and took it down instead of ending communication (as Hackethal did about his plagiarized book). Rustom merely got one negative blog post after I found out he was lying to people about his association with me – and I was unable to get the matter resolved privately – so I considered it necessary to publicly deny association with him. He was actually using my name to try to sell his business coaching products. In response to me making it harder for him to sell my name for his profit, Rustom further violated my rights by making threats, escalating his threats, sharing a private recording, lying about me, and spamming my blog. My restrained response was merely to update my one blog post to cover the new developments.

I never blogged about Hackethal when he was just some guy who had admitted to me (with no reasonable expectation of privacy) that he was a second-handed social climber who cared about reputation over truth. Hackethal quit my community (at least I thought he did – but I later discovered he’d kept reading my blog in order to include mangled versions of my posts in his book without credit) because, basically, he thinks I’m autistic. He wanted to interact with people who are more responsive to social hints instead of reasoned statements or explicit requests – but I didn’t publicize his bigoted, ableist attitude. I only blogged about Hackethal due to his book plagiarizing my ideas and his involvement in harassment (including his public collaboration with Andy B, his libel against me, and his role in the DDoSing of this website). I know which woke, cancel-culture-friendly employer Hackethal works for but I never contacted them or named them because, even when extremely provoked, I act with restraint.

Before he harassed me, I never cared or talked about Andy B rage quitting my group over an intellectual disagreement. I still didn’t blog about the issue after he initially harassed me and got caught. I only made a big deal of it after I discovered he was behind months of extensive sock puppeting (using false identities) and harassment. I’ve always been tolerant of rude posters and minor, short-lived harassment.

Everyone I’ve called out got multiple warnings first. I tried to speak privately with Rustom, Hackethal, Andy B and Deutsch before blogging anything negative about them.

The point is, those people did really bad and easily avoidable things, and then persisted and amplified the issues when given multiple opportunities to change course. Anyone who wants to can avoid doing what they did and getting called out. It’s easy. I’m actually more tolerant than most people and I try to resolve things privately first. In each case, I only called people out on my blog after they refused to try to solve the problem privately.

I focus my blog criticism on public intellectuals and on people who initiate substantial force against me plus refuse communication. So if you aren’t going to do that, you’ve got nothing to fear.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

David Deutsch Tweets with my Cyberstalker and Harasser, Andy B

This is part of a series of posts explaining the harassment against me. This post shares more info about David Deutsch’s direct involvement with the harassment: he talks publicly with my largest harasser ("Andy B" has been cyberstalking me for years, has written hundreds of harassing messages from over 100 IP addresses, and has ongoing support from a community of Deutsch fans who have done some harassment themselves too). I’ve tried to address the problem privately but they’ve refused to attempt any private problem solving.

David Deutsch's (DD's) involvement with Andy B is worse and more blatant than I knew. I wrote skeptical comments about DD's claim to not know Andy. I said he might be in contact with Andy or one of Andy's many identities, but somehow not count it in his mind. I gave an example about him previously falsely claiming not to know someone. I speculated (but didn’t know specifically) that DD could be in direct contact with Andy. He is:

DD has been tweeting with Andy's primary Twitter account since at least 2018 and also tweeted with Andy, twice, within the last few days. Andy has renamed the account multiple times, and also deleted all his old tweets, so this is not a complete list of the times DD has spoken to Andy. Using other searches, I quickly found another time that DD tweeted Andy that isn't in this pic (and more here).

Note: Andy only recently stopped putting the 'Andy' name on his twitter. He stopped going by 'Andy' roughly around April 2021. Old tweets by DD would have been to an account that was openly announcing that it was Andy. (Some but not all old tweets get updated to tag the new name when Andy changes his name; it depends how it's saved in Twitter's database. That's why it says SeekingApatheia on some tweets from years before Andy used that name, but other tweets don’t show up in this search because they weren’t updated.)

The SeekingApatheia account is still Andy's main Twitter account, which he created in April 2010, but renamed. That means that e.g. if DD had ever blocked Andy, the block would still apply to the new name (DD chose not to block Andy). DD could easily know that SeekingApatheia is Andy by asking one of his friends like Lulie, or by asking an FI person, or by reading info posted to this blog. DD either knows that SeekingApatheia is Andy or is burying his head in the sand and refusing to make any effort to avoid ongoing contact with Andy (while also making public statements about not knowing Andy).

Tweets from DD directly to Andy encourage Andy to continue harassing people he perceives as DD’s enemies (me and other FI community participants, because we're DD’s old community that he left and now has an unexplained grudge against). DD has never said a word to delegitimize Andy's harassment of me, and this is another thing he's doing to legitimize it.

I just want to be left alone but have now been persistently cyberstalked and harassed for years. DD has encouraged it in multiple ways, like tweeting with the worst offender who is clearly a criminal, and lying to make it sound like I'm the bad guy, and DD has refused to negotiate in any way or to ask his fans even once to stop harassing.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (2)

Firebench Debate

I had a debate with Firebench on the Fallible Ideas Learning Basecamp. You can read an archive at:

curi & Firebench Debate (part 2)

We agreed to debate to a conclusion (either mutual agreement or an impasse chain of length 5). We made some progress and he was excited to learn a lot from great criticism, but then later he got upset, broke his word, and quit the discussion without a length 5 impasse chain. You could learn from analyzing his mistakes, my criticisms, etc. It's a good example discussion because his mistakes are pretty typical.

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Critical Fallibilism Forum

I created a new Critical Fallibilism discussion forum using Discourse software.

Reading the forum is free. Being able to post costs $20 as a one-time fee. The goal of the price is to raise discussion quality and keep out trolls.

There are two main forum sections. Unbounded allows full criticism of anything with no limits. Friendly excludes tangential, meta, personal and harsh criticism. When making a post, you can decide which type of criticism you want. There’s also an Other section which allows off-topic discussions like gaming or food. Discussion of current political issues and news is only allowed in Other.

Good topics to discuss at the main sections include: philosophy, rationality, learning, thinking methodology, discussion organization, morality, memes, science, history, writing, grammar, math, evolution, programming, statistics, economics, political philosophy, psychology, psychiatry, parenting, education, relationships, atheism, skepticism, business, sales, marketing, art, design, social dynamics, culture, and decisions people face in their lives.

To sign up, create a free account, verify your email, then click Subscribe. On Desktop, Subscribe is towards the top right. On Mobile, it's in the Categories menu. Or you can find it with this link: Subscribe to Critical Fallibilism Forum. If you have any problems, email

The Critical Fallibilism Forum is now my main discussion place. I'm going to stop using Discord, Basecamp, and Google Groups. comments will remain restricted to a few people with accounts and shouldn't be used much.

You can read my posts specifically at my user activity feed:

You can get an RSS feed of just my posts: (You can find more info about RSS feeds and many other things in Forum Features Guide)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (2)

Does David Deutsch Know He’s Lying?

This is part of a series of posts explaining the harassment against me. This post analyzes the David Deutsch’s lie against me. If you haven’t read about the yet, you should read that first.

I’m doubtful that David Deutsch (DD) lied about me with full conscious knowledge of what he was doing. That wouldn’t stop it from being a lie, though. He said events happened which didn’t happen. Base on DD’s statement, any reasonable person would believe he had a clear memory of the events or had checked his records. If he doesn’t know he’s lying, it’s because he’s thinking about it in a fuzzy way or not thinking about it – and also choosing not to check his records – in which case it’s dishonest to make strong, factual claims about it.

Why do I doubt it’s a fully conscious lie? To begin with, it’s an ineffective, dumb lie. Why lie to Justin, who DD can easily predict will check with me? If DD thought about it, he’d know I will deny it and will be able to look it up. How is this lie supposed to help him? He’s not going to fool Justin. It seems like a tactical and strategic disaster. I can just respond with facts. And he knows that I have records of our emails to prove that he’s lying. So where’s the upside?

A possible upside is the lie could fool people who aren’t paying attention, so it’d make sense if DD couldn’t think of anything honest that could convince those people (that seems implausible – if someone is gullible and is only reading DD’s side of the story, it wouldn’t be that hard to trick them without directly lying about documented facts … he had better options).

When I knew DD, he was good at avoiding consciously lying. He only intentionally lied in specific cases with clear reasons. Otherwise he knew how to use careful wording to technically avoid lying and to avoid being strictly wrong.

In this case, to consciously lie, DD would need a self defense justification in his mind. But that’s problematic. That scenario would be: I did X wrong; DD needs to defend himself; DD lies that I did Y wrong. He’s accusing me of doing something wrong that I didn’t do (and can prove I didn’t do) because what I actually did was unsayable (maybe private) somehow? It’s hard to make that make sense. If he’s trying to hide the real issue, he’d need to tell a plausible lie that will stand up to some scrutiny. Telling an obvious lie leads straight to people wondering why he’s lying. (The good news for DD, in this scenario, is that the first guess people will have is that he’s lying because he has no reasonable facts or arguments on his side, rather than because he’s hiding something. But that result is ineffective at defending DD, so it doesn’t make sense to cause it as a means of defense.)

The main thing DD has to defend against is the accusation that his fans are harassing me, including with crimes, and that he hasn’t even paid lip service to asking them to stop. Lying to attack me makes that problem worse instead of better. He could have just said “I don’t condone harassment” instead, but he’s refusing to say that for some reason, which encourages the ongoing suspicion that he wants harassment to happen.

Also, if DD consciously knew he was lying, I think he would have recognized that it was a potentially illegal lie (libel, defamation). If he knew that, I doubt he would have said it anyway, on purpose. Why make himself a (maybe) lawbreaker when he had other options? That seems way more counterproductive than useful for him.

I think DD’s lie was blatantly counter-productive, in addition to being immoral aggression and likely illegal. I’ve tried to mentally model how he could be aware that he was lying, analyze his options, and determine that it was a good lie to tell that’ll be effective for his goals. But I can’t get there. Why would he want me to write a blog post about how he lied, which goes through some of our emails for evidence, and then he just doesn’t respond to it? Me writing that post was an outcome he could have easily predicted. He knows me and I have a history of writing similar posts. His lie and my response just makes him look worse than before; it doesn’t seem like he has a thought-out strategy.

If DD didn’t consciously know he was lying, that’s really problematic. It means he’s probably been lying to a lot of people about me in private, since he wouldn’t feel any guilt about it, since he doesn’t consciously realize he’s spreading lies. And in that scenario, he remembers making several written requests he never made, about a high stakes issue, and then he made a serious, public accusation without double-checking his records. (The requests would have been in email, and he could search and review his emails, just as I did before commenting on the matter. Presumably the no contact requests would have been some of his last few emails to me and would be easy to find even.) That’d be a severe error which seems like he’s disconnected from reality and irresponsible. And since being corrected, he hasn’t offered any argument, evidence, retraction or apology (his fans haven’t offered any arguments either, just harassment severe enough that I’ve had to disable public comments on this website).

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

Friend Groups, Social Legitimacy, Abusers and No Contact Requests

This is part of a series of posts explaining the harassment against me which has been going on for years. The harassment is coming from David Deutsch (DD) as well as his direct and indirect associates, especially “Andy B” who is one step removed from DD on the social graph (many of DD’s friends are friends with Andy).

In this post, I discuss friend groups, social legitimacy, abusers and going no contact. I tried to address this privately first, but they won’t do that.

Runescape Scammers

YouTube video: Why are So Many Scammers on Runescape? Starting at 6:50, Crumb says:

So one thing I’ve observed in scamming and hacking discords is that they often treat it like some sort of legitimate business. They’re sharing screenshots of what they’ve stolen and they’re receiving praise for it from other scammers in that server. And so it creates this social group where everyone is accepting of this wrongdoing. And I think this helps the scammer feel not like a menace to society and in fact even like somebody who is achieving something. They have a friend group that is supporting of what they’re doing and is also engaging in the same types of activities. It normalizes it. I think that is a dangerous situation to find yourself in, especially if you’re somebody who is a bit of a recluse. You maybe don’t have friends in real life and so this becomes your primary only social group. How are you going to get out of that? You know, to scam is to not add any value to society which is a real problem […]

This is happening with the harassment against me. Andy B is being given social approval and a friend group by people like Brett, Lulie, and Bruce (who are DD’s associates and/or leaders in his fan community). They normalize Andy’s actions, accept his wrongdoing, and help him feel like he’s achieving something (fighting DD’s enemies) rather than being a menace to society. Some people in the group also do harassment themselves, which isn’t as severe as Andy’s harassment, but which is still bad and encourages him.

Social legitimacy and having friends makes a big difference to scammers. Fortunately, scammers can usually only get that from other scammers. They’re driven underground. Regular people despise scammers and won’t be civil with them. The scammer has to hide the scamming to get along with people. You wouldn’t want to be friends with a scammer. That makes it harder to be a scammer and reduces the number of scammers in the world. But Andy is getting support from a bunch of people. They provide some of the support publicly, on social media, under their real names, which provides extra social legitimacy.

Most people also avoid knowingly being friendly with gang members, drug dealers, phone call scammers (“Hi, we’re calling about your car’s extended warranty…” or the guys who impersonate the social security administration), murderers, robbers, embezzlers, money launderers, etc. Those things are punished by social ostracism in addition to potential jail time. Overall, I think people’s moral judgments and social decisions make a larger difference to stopping crime than the criminal justice system does. (Imagine a society where no one respected the law, people didn’t feel bad or guilty about committing crimes, most people knew multiple criminals and cheered for them, and everyone refused to cooperate in police investigations. Law enforcement wouldn’t be very effective.)

Note that Andy’s harassment has included cyberstalking, hundreds of nasty messages, maintaining sock puppets for months, using 20+ identities and 100+ IP addresses, using hacking tools to evade computer security systems, threatening IRL harm, doxing, and spamming. He’s been doing this for more than two years. This isn’t some sort of minor incident involving a few rude comments. People can often be nasty for a few days on their own, but they rarely keep it up so long without any form of external encouragement. (I think the most common reason for long term harassment from a lone individual with no encouragement is because they’re stalking a girl they like. But I’m not a girl and I haven’t received that kind of harassment.)

Socially Legitimizing Abusers

Many women (and some men) have been abused or raped but, for various reasons, don’t get help from the police. Many abusers or rapists have faced too little social ostracism and that’s been a significant societal problem. People have been working to reform that, and the issue has received national attention with the #MeToo movement. (The activists also make some errors; I’m not endorsing them but partly agree.)

Many rapists are members of their victim’s social group (because people are often raped by someone they know). A common problem is that other people stay friends with the rapist even after the women (or man) opens up and tells them about the rape. The woman can end up excluded from social events because people keep inviting her rapist, so to avoid him she has to stay home. It’d discourage rape more if people treated rapists worse instead of saying “Well, I’m not doing anything. I didn’t rape anyone. What are you blaming me for? If there’s an issue, I’m sure the government will take care of it. It’s not my place to worry about whether my buddies are rapists.”

Do you see the parallel? DD and his friends keep the abuser Andy B in their social group/community, and seem to think that’s OK since they didn’t personally abuse me. (Apart from the occasions when they did abuse me, e.g. when DD lied to damage my reputation.)

These kind of “neutral” reactions, like including a rapist in social events, both further victimizes the victim (by excluding her) and also legitimizes the rapist. He’ll think he must not be doing anything very bad because his friends still talk with him and invite him to stuff. He may even think they agree with him that she was annoying or a tease, and was asking for it; he may assume they also abuse girls in private. It’s unrealistic for an abuser to see his own behavior as worse than how his friends see and treat it. And if he’s the one who is showing his face in public (at social events), then it appears like he’s the one with nothing to hide.

Sometimes abusers even try to claim the moral high ground. It’s powerful to say to your victim, “Even your friend Amanda thinks you’re overreacting.” Abusers often try to turn things around and play the victim, e.g. by complaining that they’re being bullied by their victim’s over-zealous complaints. (One of the responses I’ve gotten is that I’m the real abuser because I’m writing negative things about Andy, DD and others. I’ve been told I need to leave them alone – meaning shut up, suffer in silence, and don’t tell my story, not even on my own blog, even though the abuse is ongoing.)

There are also more subtle problems. If you’re trying to talk with someone at a social gathering, your ex can come up and say something that’s just a little awkward but which disrupts the conversation or chases you away. And he can do that 10 times when you try to talk to 10 different people. Each person may think you’re overreacting if you complain or explain, because he didn’t really do anything that bad, so why are you so upset? They don’t see the pattern where he does it over and over, and they refuse to shun him or care about your story about his ongoing harassment because they don’t see how it’s their problem. But their attitude is enabling him to keep doing this. Their attitude is vulnerable to harassers, and can enable or favor them, as a systematic bias that can be exploited. (This is similar to how I tried to talk with people at the Less Wrong forum, but Andy stalked me there under another fake name and posted disruptive stuff every time I started a conversation.)

If you try to get people to pay attention to the issue, and talk about it a bunch and try to explain why it’s a big deal, people may think you’re smearing your ex, and that you’re obsessed with him and harassing him. If you put work into trying to get them to care instead of being neutral and hanging out with your abuser, they will wonder why you’re trying so hard and look down on you for being needy. They may think it’s aggressive that you’re trying to turn people against your abuser. And other people just interpret it as “drama” and then look negatively at both sides without giving much thought to the details. These are some of the ways victims get a bad result when they try to explain the issue to people who keep associating with their abuser. I’ve received reactions like this when trying to talk about what’s been done to me. I initially thought the fact that the abuse against me had crossed the line into crime would get most people to take it seriously, but I was wrong, and it disturbs me to consider what that’s like for victims of rape or physical domestic abuse.

When people think, say or act like the victim is overreacting, that legitimizes the abuser. It makes the abuser feel justified. If he’d really done something very bad, people would be calling him out, right? But DD and his associates have never called out Andy (or any of the other harassers) or asked them to stop or made any statement that they think harassment is bad.

DD Isn’t Neutral

DD (who was my mentor, colleague and friend for a decade) isn’t even the unfair and inadequate sort of neutral, though. When asked to say he thinks harassment is bad, he refused, and instead lied about me in a way that suggests I’m the primary abuser in the situation (DD lied that I’d broken several no contact requests from him). He didn’t even try to pretend to stay out of it like a host inviting both me and my stalker to the same party; DD was willing to lie, in writing, about documented facts, in order to falsely call me out, while refusing to call out anyone abusing me. DD is actively encouraging his social group to exclude and mistreat me, and has zero remorse when his followers DDoS me, threaten IRL harm, use a false identity to try to lure another of DD’s former friends (a physicist who DD had spent time with in person) to an IRL meetup, and more.

Lying about me to attack my reputation – particularly in a way that seems designed to justify and encourage additional harassment – is abuse, by DD, against me. (Note: It doesn’t justify harassment in fact. Even if I’d broken no contact requests as DD falsely claimed, it’d still be wrong to harass me. Similarly, please do not respond to DD’s harassment of me by DDoSing him, threatening him, stalking him, or otherwise harassing him. As far as I know, no one in my community has harassed anyone in their community, and I’d like to keep it that way.)

DD not only refused to disavow Andy or ask the harassment to stop, he also took the initiative to abuse me himself, which is a pretty clear signal to Andy and others to keep abusing me too.

I’ve tried to address this privately but DD and his friends are unwilling to and the harassment has been going on for 2.5 years and counting. I’ve asked to discuss a deescalation or truce; they won’t even consider it. The best explanation is that they don’t want a solution and are doing this on purpose. DD is more powerful and influential than me, so there’s not much I can do besides speak truth to power and hope some people will be reasonable enough to listen, care, and push back.

Abusers and No Contact

Some people in our culture, especially on the left, have recognized the problem where abusers stay in a social circle and the victim gets pushed out. They’ve tried to correct this by being more sympathetic to victims and socially ostracizing abusers. We see this in #MeToo and in people helping out with no contact requests (e.g. Joan goes no contact with her abuser, and then other people in Joan’s social circle also go no contact with him).

#MeToo and recent no contact and abuse ideas are aimed at real problems, but they’re also problematic. “Believe all women” makes it easier for some women to lie and be believed (but on the other hand, making all victims go through trials can be traumatic for them and is one of the reasons that some victims don’t report crimes). And people who are in the wrong, or in messy situations where both sides are flawed, often accuse the other side of being an abuser. Some bullies accuse their victims of being abusers and use the language of victimhood to gain sympathy and amplify their bullying.

There are many articles about going no contact which basically assume that the person going no contact is always right. Many articles don’t mention any need to give a reason or explanation for going no contact. People can just go no contact and be assumed to be right. Then, if the person being ghosted tries to argue back, they can be yelled at (typically by the no contacter’s friends) for breaking no contact (even if they speak on their own website or in private chats, it can be called problematic because the no contacter wants to be left alone and the person being ghosted should just shut up and stop defending themselves). Most (but not all) articles about no contact do at least say you have tell the person you want no contact, instead of just starting to ghost them and expecting them to guess it (and getting angry when they send you messages like “Hey, not sure what’s going on. Please explain?” which you interpret as violating your consent.)


So, on the one hand, DD and friends are not paying attention to these modern, somewhat-lefty anti-abuse ideas (that are partly good and partly bad) since they are like “eh who cares if we enable an abuser; your no contact requests to him (that he constantly breaks) are not our problem”.

But on the other hand, they are actually using these modern, somewhat-lefty anti-abuse ideas against me. DD tells people I’m an abuser, that he went no contact with me, and that I’ve broken his “several” no contact requests. DD has then gotten other people in his social circle to go no contact with me in order to take DD’s side and protect him from his alleged abuser, me. The problems with that are that I’ve never abused DD, none of them have ever made a no contact request to me, none of them have explained anything I did wrong. If DD’s lies were true, it’d be reasonable for people in DD’s social group to avoid me (at least if I wasn’t a crime victim, which is actually a good reason to take a break from ghosting, but they won’t acknowledge that or make any claim that Andy’s actions are or aren’t crimes, and the people possessing evidence about Andy’s crimes or identity have refused to provide it to me). The problem is he’s lying to abuse the no contact system as a way to abuse me by tricking other people into ghosting me. And, simultaneously, DD won’t acknowledge the no contact system exists when it comes to an actual abuser, Andy, who will not leave me alone.

Despite none of them actually requesting no contact, the only thing I’ve been contacting them about is how they keep being friends with an abuser and publicly encourage him, and also how some of them have also done abusive things themselves, e.g. lying that I threatened them with violence (that person, Dennis, did that somewhere he thought I wouldn’t see it, and admitted his claim was false when I found out … and then he, as a moderator, let Andy, Brett and others respond to his retraction of that smear by flaming me and essentially arguing why I still deserve harassment anyway. He also refused to apologize and only retracted it because he knew his action had been illegal).

It’s perverse how DD is lying to the more enlightened (re abuse and no contact) people that I’m an abuser in order to get them to mistreat me, while simultaneously refusing to acknowledge any such enlightened ideas exist when it comes to Andy’s abuses and even crimes.

And it’s perverse that the lies DD and others tell about me are mostly done privately so that I’ve been unable to respond to the accusations. I just see the results like people I don’t know ghosting me or people I’ve had friendly talks with abruptly ghosting me. The only people in my entire life who have done these behaviors are DD’s fans who interact on Twitter with people like Lulie, Brett and Bruce. DD is apparently such a habitual liar that even when he knew he was writing to my proxy, he still lied about me in a blatant, factually-verifiable way (it wasn’t a matter of opinion). He’s not able to turn the lies off, which gives a pretty good indication of what he says and does when it’s off the record in friendly company. (Also, back when he was my friend, he used to say mean-but-clever insults about public figures to me, as well as about non-public-figures he had contact with. They were frequently tangential and I often didn’t respond at all; I’d just keep talking about the philosophy topic; but he kept doing it anyway. So I know he’s a gossip who’s eager to privately flame people he dislikes. And I know he now dislikes me. I will provide documentation if DD disputes having done this in our conversations.)

To reiterate: Neither DD nor any of his friends has made a no contact request to me or something similar. I’m not violating that kind of thing.

I have tried to go no contact with “Andy B” but he keeps using sock puppets and hacking tools to continue stalking and harassing me. DD and friends say who cares, not their problem (or at least I’ve gotten that impression; mostly they won’t say anything and try to hide behind the ambiguity of not stating their position), and keep including Andy B in their social group. They also take actions to harass me, e.g. Brett saying hateful flames about me to Andy, and DD lying to smear me, which clearly encourage Andy’s campaign. They refuse to even make a statement like “we think harassment is bad and even people we don’t like should not be harassed”.

DD has lied about me. I don’t know the full extent and details of the lying. He and his associates have gotten people to ghost me by lying. None of them will tell me what the accusations against me are, discuss the matter with me, or allow any defense. People have been tricked into being haters and being DD’s pawns. All I actually did to DD was write a handful of articles criticizing his ideas and public statements, e.g. a rebuttal to his attack on Ayn Rand (if there’s something else, no one has bothered to tell me before hating me for it, so that I could change it or possibly correct a misunderstanding). He broke a bunch of obligations to me and destroyed our friendship, but when he dumped me with little explanation I left him alone until I realized he’d been spending years getting people to be toxic towards me and that the toxicity had gotten bad enough to cause severe harassment against me and my community. Then I privately let him know and tried repeatedly for months to deal with the problem privately. But he ghosted me and got his associates to ghost, so deescalation is impossible and in the meantime I get abused by the militant wing of their group. The major abuse started 2.5 years ago and has been a nightmare.

I get why people wouldn’t want to speak to me when they think DD already explained what I was doing wrong, at length, multiple times, and believe that I responded in such an abusive, irrational way, repeatedly, that 3+ no contact requests were DD’s only option, followed by ghosting when I still kept messaging him. And I understand why people who believed that would think “I need to contact DD now because Andy is abusing me” would seem like an excuse to break the no contact requests. The thing is, that never happened. It’s a complete fabrication. It’s such a bold and thorough lie, with no factual basis, that it’s hard to believe anyone would lie that much. (The reason DD is lying that much is, in short, as my best guess, his irrationality. He needed a narrative to justify parting ways with me in his own mind, so he told himself that I’m irrational and bad, and can’t be reasoned with. He needed a narrative like that because he considered me the smartest person, fastest learner and best editor of his book that he had to talk with, so there had to be some kind of excuse to get rid of that. He also needed a reason for ceasing the common preference finding, rational problem solving, “all problems are soluble” attitude, etc., that he’s written about. Since DD has such a public reputation for rationality, it’s especially hard for anyone to believe the root cause is his irrationality. But rational abstract philosophical theories, which DD is good at, are often a separate matter than rational personal conduct. Is there a better explanation about what’s going on? No one has suggested one to me.) So DD is abusing me with his lies that trick others into mistreating me.


I don’t know what else to do, and I’m a writer, so I’m writing down what’s going on and what I think about it. I’ve written some before but I didn’t know then that DD was actively lying about me to cause my nightmare, and I didn’t understand the situation as well. I think truth and sunlight and public knowledge of events will make things better for me. I don’t have anything to hide. A lot of this situation can be discussed publicly, so it makes sense for both sides to write out their case publicly, at least once (and then people can be referred to that, like an FAQ, without having to re-explain the issue). But DD and his side won’t state any case nor refute anything I’m saying. They are leaving the public state of the debate as: they have no arguments, I do, and they have no criticism of any of my arguments. They won’t provide any allegations against me like a fair trial. I hope people will judge accordingly. Supposing hypothetically that I’m right, what more could I do?

I’m trying to treat them fairly. I gave them the benefit of the doubt initially and I tried to speak with them privately multiple times and I’ve been slow to air issues publicly. I’m explaining stuff so that, if I’m wrong about any of this, someone could point out my error. I’m exposing my story, with a lot of detail, to criticism. I wish they’d do the same. I don’t know any better way to approach problem solving. I can’t just drop it because their side won’t drop it – I’m still being harassed. They won’t leave me alone and also won’t explain their side. They won’t state demands, terms for truce, grievances, etc. I hope people will see that it makes sense to ask them what their side of the story is and, if they won’t answer, then take my side and support me.

When writing about this, my main goal is that anyone who approaches this objectively and fairly, and tries to understand, will be able to see my point. I’m also enabling problem solving: it gives DD, Andy and others the opportunity to learn what they’re doing wrong (an opportunity that I want, but which they deny me) and how to fix the situation, as well as the opportunity to refute what I’m saying (another opportunity that I want, but which they deny me). It also lets any third party correct me if they see a mistake I’m making – which I’d appreciate. I’m trying to do the rational thing by writing and sharing this.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Message (1)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Message (1)