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No One Will Debate or Discuss

Parents and schools torture the interest in ideas out of children. They are extremely effective at this. The result is a world empty of intellectuals.

People don't want unbounded discussion of ideas. They will debate a specific topic, like minimum wage, if you aren't allowed to talk about discussion and thinking methodology, how important the issue is relative to other issues, how it fits into the bigger picture of life, etc. And if you don't expect to actually reach a conclusion, and don't mind if they give up halfway through without explanation. The first time a problem comes up which isn't part of the limited topic (e.g. they think your communications indicate negative feelings, or they have negative feelings themselves), the discussion soon ends without problem solving because that kind of problem solving is out of bounds.

Most people and forums are hostile merely to continuing to discuss a topic for more than a few days. They're also broadly hostile to quoting what people say and replying to that, rather than everyone just making general comments on the issue and then everyone agreeing that everyone is smart and their comments merit respect. Also people don't like criticism – they don't want to be told what their mistakes are. People view mistakes as bad things to avoid because they don't expect to actually solve problems (if you can't/won't correct a mistake, being told about it isn't helpful).

People don't expect or seek progress. They think discussions are a hobby where you try to sound clever and entertain each other. They aren't actually trying to contribute to human knowledge.

I want to talk with people who are trying to make a substantial contribution to human knowledge. There are two ways they can approach that goal. They can think they already know enough to work on achieving it now, or they can think they don't know enough and be trying to learn enough to get there. Identifying which category they are in, or even saying what goals they do and don't have, is the kind of thing that people generally don't want to talk about (it's out of bounds since it isn't keeping the discussion limited to e.g. whether or not a border wall is a good idea).

Another question I ask people, which is also out of bounds, is whether they have a discussion forum or know of one they think is good and participate at. And if the answer is no, is that something they want and would they like to join my forum and actively participate? And if they are going to judge my forum negatively, will they say why and will that judgment be open to clarifications, questions, criticism, etc? People don't like to talk about this because it involves admitting they aren't looking for discussion. (Sometimes they pretend that they already have plenty of great discussion, so they don't need more. They have to claim it's private though, or else I'd ask to see it. People who claim to have lots of great private discussion, but none in public, are liars and also are, apparently, not interested in contributing their knowledge to the rest of the world.)

Lack of discussion means there are no paths forward for people's mistakes to get corrected, even when the correction is known.

Lack of debate means obscuring which ideas do and do not survive criticism. Which ideas can handle questions and scrutiny? Let's find out!

Elliot Temple on January 16, 2019

Messages (3)

La griffe du lion

Are you familiar with http://www.lagriffedulion.f2s.com/ ?

It looks like "a substantial contribution to human knowledge."

Anonymous at 12:58 AM on January 20, 2019 | #11652 | reply | quote

I'm not familiar with La griffe du lion. Looking at the site, I see no comments or forum (there is a contact email), and no outline or overview. I have to get a sense of the topic from the article titles.

So it's about race and IQ kinda issues. OK. I clicked several articles and skimmed. Here's my impression:

The author likes math and statistics, but is *not a philosopher*, and would not be interested in having his premises questioned. I don't really have anything to say to him directly about the topics he writes about, because my disagreements relate to the premises underlying his articles which he doesn't write about.

I think my disagreements are major and there are no indications they are welcome or would be resolved productively.

I don't think he'll want to talk Popper and Deutsch, which he doesn't know about and isn't good at. If I could use them to give him some small corrections, he'd like it but not see it as a big deal (because "small"). I might be able to do that, but it's not what their ideas are suited for doing. Their ideas are suited for giving him *big* corrections, because there are big disagreements. But he won't be able to understand and benefit from those big corrections without learning things that are outside his field. So as long as he wants to stick to his field, and not work in the field that his field draws many methods and premises from (philosophy), then I think he's stuck.

If you think he's a promising lead or would be interested in philosophy or whatever, I suggest that you contact him about it. I think that'd be a good thing for you to do since you think his work is good. But I don't think I should contact him because I didn't see any parts that impressed me (not that I read much) nor did I see indications of wanting a discussion, interest in philosophy, or otherwise wanting to be contacted by me.

curi at 10:51 AM on January 20, 2019 | #11656 | reply | quote

Why should I care about race and IQ issues? La griffe du lion seems to jump into details without framing what the goal is, why it matters, how its importance compares to other fields, etc.

Anonymous at 2:08 PM on January 20, 2019 | #11658 | reply | quote

Want to discuss this? Join my forum.

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