I Changed My Mind About David Deutsch

I have changed my mind about some things I have communicated about David Deutsch. I think the responsible thing to do is to say so.

When someone puts forward ideas in public, and persuades people, but then changes his mind, he ought to tell people. They shouldn't go by his old ideas with no chance for an update and to maybe change their minds too.

For example, if Thomas Szasz had decided he was mistaken that mental illness is a myth, then he would have been responsible for publishing a retraction and correction, and explaining why he changed his mind. Not doing so would have been immoral and irresponsible.

I do not know exactly what I have communicated about David Deutsch over the last decade, in public. This is partly an issue of memory, partly an issue of some things being communicated inexplicitly (without directly saying them, but they still come across), and partly an issue of trying to remember what was said in private or in public.

Let me clarify my relationship with David. I have known David for over a decade and had many, many discussions with him. For David's book The Beginning of Infinity, I provided over 200 pages of especially appreciated comments and edits. I made and own the website and discussion group for the book. David is a founder of Taking Children Seriously (TCS) and Autonomy Respecting Relationships (ARR). I own the dicussion groups for both of those, too.

We no longer associate closely. Things changed. I have learned a lot from David and I used to think we agreed more than I now think. I now regard David as rejecting some important good ideas. For some of these ideas, I had thought I learned them from David, but I've changed my mind about that.

Here are some things I have changed my mind about.

I believe I have communicated that David is a world class expert on TCS, ARR, and some other parts of philosophy. I thought he was. However, he has stopped talking about a lot of that stuff and has said things exposing misconceptions. So I've changed my mind.

I think have communicated that I consider David a better philosopher than myself with higher status and more knowledge. I have changed my mind.

In the past I think I basically said David is always right. I did not mean it literally but I did mean something, and I have changed my mind.

I believe I have communicated that David is super rational. That I endorse him and his ideas pretty much without exception. That I'm a big fan. I've changed my mind.

I've said that David is a fan of Ayn Rand. He made this claim to me and I accepted it. I've changed my mind.

The list of issues I now know that I disagree with David about includes qualia, mirror neurons, Edmund Burke, Thomas Szasz, Ayn Rand, Ludwig von Mises, William Godwin's economics, deduction, hard to vary, meta discussion, justificationism, the value of school and academia, and the right approach to email discussions. Note that I have left some out to respect David's privacy.

Despite David's TCS reputation, and arguments against school, he actually has a a much more favorable opinion of university and academia than I do. His position on school is incompatible with TCS.

I believe I have communicated that David has the utmost intellectual integrity and responsibility. He does not. I thought he did; I was surprised when he acted otherwise; I've changed my mind.

People can seem more rational than they are as long as they are right frequently. This can happen when they already know a lot of things, but are not learning new things. When there are serious criticisms of their thinking then they are put to a harder test. Critical challenges can be particularly revealing about someone's character. David has done poorly on several.

I still consider The Fabric of Reality and The Beginning of Infinity to be very good books. Despite some flaws, they are world class. And there are other things David has written that are good.

I made every effort to avoid this outcome. For example, I tried to help David by explaining his misconceptions and offering him new ideas.

I have learned from this. In the future I will hold people to a higher standard. Many of my comments about David were years past, and I have improved my judgment.


Update, Feb 2020: Related to this post, I've written:

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (24)

David Deutsch's Mistaken Philosophy and Scholarship

One should study philosophy only if addressing an originally non-philosophical problem forces one to.
Stay the fuck away from philosophy unless forced.


Once upon a time, DD promised me he’d write a good book about TCS before he died – I raised the issue because he intentionally left out major important TCS type ideas from FoR and BoI. He lied to me.

also DD misquoted Popper (C&R p95 for me in paper, i checked both paper and ebook, his text does not match popper’s text. it’s chap 2, section III, near start). and dropped italics which isn’t OK either. and DD’d replaced “which arise” with “[from]” just b/c of tweet length limit. (actually just to fit italics he’d have to drop the period on the end, no problem, and the space after the colon, ugh lol. but he still should have done that)


get an ebook and stop inserting typos into what are supposed to be exact quotes. (Popper: “philosophize”. DD supposedly quoting Popper: “philosophise”.)

DD also omitted the quote source. presumably cuz of tweet length limit. it's still his responsibility.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

David Deutsch Defends Stalin, Mao

David Deutsch tweeted:

[email protected] To end extreme poverty, end extreme wealth? A misconception that killed more people in the 20th century than malevolent violence.

This tweet categorizes Stalin and Mao as not being in the malevolent violence category. It has to for the body count math to come out right. Rather, Deutsch believes they had a "misconception" about income equality and the root causes of poverty.

It's disturbing that in Deutsch's mind he doesn't associate mass-murderers like Stalin and Mao with malevolence and violence. Soviet and Chinese gulags, and starving millions to death, weren't policies for dealing with "extreme wealth".

Those millions of victims of communism didn't die by accident. They didn't die despite good intentions. They died due to authoritarian violence! They died malevolently!

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (10)

David Deutsch's Tweets Suck

DD is bad now. There's so many things wrong here!

He said "indeed" to a tweet insulting children. Most people would do that, but in the past DD wouldn't have. He was good about ageism.

He said "indeed" to a tweet no one considers literally true.

He said "indeed" to an exaggerated, ageist, unserious, unintellectual claim that Trump is clueless and incompetent. (Also file that under unoriginal!)

He likes Obama more than Trump. (Previously we found out he likes Hillary more than Trump.)

He says "yes" that Putin is "the worst dictator" which is false.

DD says "yes" that Trump is "befriending" Putin. That's false. Trump is – as he should – having a working relationship with a person his job requires him to work with. Work relationships are different than friendships. Suggesting that Trump is personal friends with Putin is a lazy smear.

From Obama's worst policies, DD excludes: Obamacare, supporting Iran, supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, supporting Cuba, open borders, appointing activist leftist judges, and losing the Iraq war. That's just a small start on what Obama did wrong.

DD not only claims that Trump will pursue all Obama's worst policies, but that Trump is even worse at all of them than Obama. This is unfair to Trump by ignoring many terrible Obama policies where Trump is way better. And it's false because Trump is better on every listed policy than Obama. Trump is going to be more financially irresponsible than Obama? Really? I read Trump's tax plan, among other things, and I don't see it. I await DD's considered argument for this claim and the others. But DD doesn't explain serious arguments anymore, he tweets.

DD has become an apologist for Obama and the left. DD speaks imprecisely and participates in superficial commentary. DD no longer cares much about ageism.

I follow DD's tweets and this quality is typical. He used to be a much better thinker.

Update: Here's a second example of low quality DD tweets. From someone else it'd just be expected that they are confused about AI, persons, animals, etc, all of that. But DD used to be good at these things. And he used to be my peer. But these tweets aren't in my league or up to DD's former standards of thinking.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (5)

David Deutsch Interview Undermines His Philosophy

David Deutsch (DD) did an interview on The Christian Transhumanist Podcast.

What is DD’s audience and what is he trying to say to them?

Typical people will understand very little of what DD says. Way too advanced and based on already understanding FoR/BoI. But for me the interview is pretty basic. It’s not really designed to add on to DD’s books with new info nor to help people learn the books. So who is it for?

I think it’s for impressing people who don’t understand it, not for rational learning. I think that’s a typical kind of guest on interviews of this type. Most of what DD is saying happens to be true, but that won’t stop people from treating it just like the next impressive-sounding set of comments (which are false and which people find entertaining).

Is DD super popular? No. Why not? Well, are DD’s interview comments very good for impressing people who don’t understand? They’re OK at that but not great. DD doesn’t focus on offering memorable sound bytes people can quote to impress their friends. Nor does he focus on making what he says repeatable for lots of audience members without much fear of contradiction. DD says some stuff that your friends would argue with instead of be impressed by. DD also has a handicap compared to other interview guests, like he discusses in BoI about static memes: making his comments true gets in the way of socially optimizing them. E.g. if you can say false things, it’s easier to say stuff that sounds deep/impressive and also which fits with common sense well enough for lots of listeners to think they kinda partly understand it immediately – DD by contrast said lots of true stuff that will make it clearer to listeners that they don’t understand it.

Undermining BoI’s Meaning

The interview as a whole has a tone like: DD is smart and has some sophisticated ideas which could be valuable to some intellectuals.

The interview does not have the following messages coming across:

  • The world is burning and the fate of the world depends on DD’s ideas getting attention. They aren’t getting this attention and this is an urgent the-sky-is-falling problem.
  • DD’s philosophy would make a massive, practical difference in the lives of lay people. People desperately need to learn it, not leave it to the experts.
  • DD is being largely ignored by “intellectuals”, “academics”, and “experts” and there’s a huge problem to solve there. The audience is not safe in thinking smart people are already doing whatever ought to be done about DD’s smart ideas.
  • DD’s philosophy implies people are treating their children immorally and destroying their children’s minds, that most scientists are wasting their careers, that the standard approach to global warming will kill us all, and a lot more.

DD is undermining the implications of his own philosophy by acting as if they don’t exist. A reasonable person hearing the interview would think I’m being ridiculous when I make these claims. Why? Because if that’s what DD’s message was, why didn’t he say it? He chose to talk about other things that matter way less. And he didn’t even protest the lack of attention he’s getting. As a contrasting example, Aubrey de Grey does protest the lack of funding he gets for SENS and does make public claims that he needs lots of money ASAP and it’s a very important life-or-death issue.

Putting On An Act

What’s the structure of the interview? A guy who doesn’t understand much about DD’s work asks DD questions which aren’t chosen very well but which are intended to help bridge the gap between DD and the audience. The host tries to guide DD to say things the audience will care about. DD could do that better without the host existing. DD knows better than the host what to bring up.

The interview also has a dialog/discussion format, but it’s fake because DD is just saying his own stuff and the host isn’t meaningfully contributing ideas.

What determines how the host treats DD? The social expectations of the host role and his deference to DD as someone much smarter than himself. (Whether the host is actually impressed by DD or not, he has to act the part, or else why did he even bring DD on the show?)

It’s somewhat similar to the situation DD would be in teaching a university class. The social situation prevents him from being challenged and organizes the interactions so that he’s deferred to.

And what does DD do? Give the other people roughly what they expect. DD doesn’t rock the boat. He doesn’t have real power. He’s just playing the role of the important person who gets to speak important truths and be listened to, but then actually he's being careful to say innocuous things. So DD is helping with a cultural ritual which pretends that some smart people get the opportunity to say important things, and DD participates in that but pulls his punches. So people can listen to dozens of such interviews and think they are open-minded, truth is being vigorously pursued, etc, and actually, all the while, every interview guest is dishonest (either like DD they try to avoid rocking the boat, or more commonly they’re actually faking being smart and knowledgeable at all).

It’s kinda like our society chooses one smart person per day and says “ok, today you can speak truth to power, we’re listening with open minds and trying to be objective and rational” and then, every day, each smart person says “our society is wonderful” even though they don’t believe it. And so plenty of people eventually hear hundreds or even thousands of times that everything is fine and wonderful and there’s nothing to worry about or fix. And DD participated in that disgraceful ritual and helped lie to the public and keep them complacent.

DD believes, correctly or not, that if he didn’t play along then he wouldn’t be invited back. And he tells himself he’s at least sharing some good ideas and also building up the popularity, reputation and status to enable him to share even more ideas in the future. And he doesn’t reread The Fountainhead and think about Gail Wynand or other ideas from Ayn Rand like this (The Virtue of Selfishness, ch. 7):

The excuse, given in all such cases, is that the “compromise” is only temporary and that one will reclaim one’s integrity at some indeterminate future date. But one cannot correct a husband’s or wife’s irrationality by giving in to it and encouraging it to grow. One cannot achieve the victory of one’s ideas by helping to propagate their opposite. One cannot offer a literary masterpiece, “when one has become rich and famous,” to a following one has acquired by writing trash. If one found it difficult to maintain one’s loyalty to one’s own convictions at the start, a succession of betrayals—which helped to augment the power of the evil one lacked the courage to fight—will not make it easier at a later date, but will make it virtually impossible.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (40)

Accepting vs. Preferring Theories – Reply to David Deutsch

David Deutsch has some misconceptions about epistemology. I explained the issue on Twitter.

I've reproduced the important part below. Quotes are DD, regular text is me.

There's no such thing as 'acceptance' of a theory into the realm of science. Theories are conjectures and remain so. (Popper, Miller.)

We don't accept theories "into the realm of science", we tentatively accept them as fallible, conjectural, non-refuted solutions to problems (in contexts).

But there's no such thing as rejection either. Critical preference (Popper) refers to the state of a debate—often complex, inconsistent, and transient.

Some of them [theories] are preferred (for some purposes) because they seem to have survived criticism that their rivals haven't. That's not the same as having been accepted—even tentatively. I use quantum theory to understand the world, yet am sure it's false.

Tentatively accepting an idea (for a problem context) doesn't mean accepting it as true, so "sure it's false" doesn't contradict acceptance. Acceptance means deciding/evaluating it's non-refuted, rivals are refuted, and you will now act/believe/etc (pending reason to reconsider).

Acceptance deals with the decision point where you move past evaluating the theory, you reach a conclusion (for now, tentatively). you don't consider things forever, sometimes you make judgements and move on to thinking about other things. ofc it's fluid and we often revisit.

Acceptance is clearer word than preference for up-or-down, yes-or-no decisions. Preference often means believing X is better than Y, rather than judging X to have zero flaws (that you know of) & judging Y to be decisively flawed, no good at all (variant of Y could ofc still work)

Acceptance makes sense as a contrast against (tentative) rejection. Preference makes more sense if u think u have a bunch of ideas which u evaluate as having different degrees of goodness, & u prefer the one that currently has the highest score/support/justification/authority.

Update: DD responded, sorta:

You are blocked from following @DavidDeutschOxf and viewing @DavidDeutschOxf's Tweets.

Update: April 2019:

DD twitter blocked Alan, maybe for this blog post critical of LT:


DD twitter blocked Justin, maybe for this tweet critical of LT:


Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (8)

David Deutsch Smears Ayn Rand

David Deutsch (DD) wrote an email (archive) which was posted to reddit. This post critically analyzes it. I comment on small chunks at a time, but everything DD said is included and is kept in order.

I admire Ayn Rand, but not as a philosopher.

Being a philosopher is what Ayn Rand (AR) wanted to be admired for. This is pretending to be partially friendly while being hostile. AR would regard someone saying this as an enemy, not an admirer – and DD knows that.

Fake evenhandedness is a theme through DD’s email. He falsely communicates objectivity. DD mixes in praise in order to pretend that he’s giving credit where it’s due, rather than focusing just on attacking her. That’s a way to attack AR extra. He’s attacking her and manipulating readers into thinking he’s not doing an attack (so they believe what he says more).

The praise DD offers is either basically empty (as in this case) or else understates AR’s virtues (so it’s actually downplaying how good she is). And none of the praise actually explains any non-philosophical reason to like AR (contrary to DD’s alleged non-philosophical admiration).

Also, this is not what DD said about AR to me during our many years of discussions and when he repeatedly recommended her books to me. He was genuinely friendly to AR in the past and was a fan of AR (“fan” is his word that he gave me explicit permission to quote publicly). He’s changed his mind, in a big way, without any public announcement or retraction, and without explaining what changed.

Also, DD can say critical things about any thinker that he wants to. He attacks AR without putting it in context: he thinks that almost every thinker is far worse than AR. (Unless he’s changed his mind even more than I think he has after reading this email.)

As an observer of people,

She was an understander and explainer of people, not a (passive) observer. That involves philosophy skill. And it wasn’t a major focus for AR.

and of some of the pervasive irrationalities and hangups of our culture (especially the ones she somewhat misleadingly called 'altruism'), she was outstanding.

Was she outstanding at that? She was bad at judging her associates. She overestimated Nathaniel Branden, David Kelley and others. She said something about this being hard and one of her weaknesses.

She was good at writing fictional characters to represent and explain certain traits which she’d seen in real people. She was great at some of what DD is talking about. But overall, in this area, she was kinda mixed. (Though have other people actually been better at it? That’s hard to say.)

The comment that AR used the word “altruism” misleadingly is an unargued and unexplained attack which DD sneaks into a parenthetical (it ought to be the topic of at least one paragraph, not an aside). It’s an unreasonable point to attack in passing because AR actually addressed the matter, e.g. in the introduction of The Virtue of Selfishness (which discusses the closely related issue of why she uses the term “selfishness”, and directly addresses her critics).

DD is also writing in his own terminology rather than AR’s. E.g. “hangups” is his word, not hers. He avoids speaking like an Objectivist, even though he knows a lot about how to, in order to distance himself from Objectivism. He doesn’t want to reveal how much he himself learned about Objectivism (which implies that he saw a ton of value in it in the past).

And DD is being vague rather than naming some of AR’s accomplishments like her explanation and criticism of second-handedness. The vagueness makes her accomplishments sound less impressive and avoids bringing them – along with their substance – into the reader’s mind. If DD named them, readers might see him as more of an AR fan and say “Wait, you thought that was good? I disagree with that! You like her more than I do!” But when it’s more like “She got some stuff right but she sucks.” then it sounds more like lip service and like he doesn’t really like her.

As a polemical writer criticising these irrationalities and exposing the harm they do, she was excellent and persuasive. And her optimism and pro-human stances are refreshing and inspiring (and true).

Being refreshing and inspiring were not primary goals of AR. They are secondary points. Saying true things was a primary goal which DD downplays as a parenthetical (as if it’s not that big or unique of an accomplishment).

Calling AR a “polemical writer” is an attempt to distance her from being a philosopher or intellectual. It makes her sound like a good mudslinger who could be a politician who gives speeches and makes short quips to be replayed on TV. It makes it sound like her skill was more about rhetoric than reason. DD suggests she’d be impressive on the debate stage, which is different than being a serious intellectual. None of this is clearly stated, and if the rest of the email was more positive then it might actually be reasonable to view these words as a compliment not an attack. But in the context of the other attacks, it helps pile on by vaguely implying more bad things, and it reinforces some of the themes of the other (clearer) attacks.

But she had a strong tendency

Saying “X tends to Y” is a way to avoid discussing the causal mechanism. It doesn’t say why that happens or in what circumstances it doesn’t happen. It’s a way to make an unargued, unexplained assertion which sounds to people like a reasonable statement.

People also commonly use terms like “likely” and “probably” when they leave out explanations and don’t want their statement to look like a bald assertion. That’s the same issue.

DD knows this. I made literally dozens of comments about these issues when editing his book The Beginning of Infinity. DD himself helped figure out this knowledge, perhaps more than I did. We both played a role in developing this viewpoint and I applied it to an editing pass of his book.

It’s sad to see him getting worse as a thinker. He should know better. Or maybe he does know better and he’s doing this anyway because his goal here is to smear AR. If you want to attack someone good, you have to do something wrong in order to accomplish that. Leaving out explanations of why AR is bad – because they don’t exist – is important to what DD is doing.

to make hyperbolic generalisations

This (the word “hyperbolic”) is flaming, not serious analysis. (Compare it to the analysis you’re reading right now and consider how different it is.)

DD gives one incorrect example for this point. (One example doesn’t tell you anything about her tendencies, but it does help clarify what he means by a hyperbolic generalization.)

and to double down on them with nonsense in order to deflect any potential criticism.

This is triple flaming. He’s saying that she doubles down on bad ideas, she speaks nonsense, and she won’t address criticism.

DD then gives an example which does not involve AR doubling down on anything or deflecting any actual criticism (criticism that she’s aware of and could state). I don’t know how one would preemptively double down to deflect potential criticism (criticism that someone might think of in the future, but today you don’t know what it would criticize or why). I don’t think that makes sense.

Just consider dispassionately, if you can, whether the following statement is true or false:

DD suggests that “if you can” analyze AR’s statement dispassionately, you’re high skill. He suggests the statement isn’t intended (by AR) to be analyzed dispassionately, so if you can do it you’re outcompeting her.

DD is also baiting the person to analyze the way DD wants by challenging them and suggesting that maybe they can’t. DD also implies that his own analysis is dispassionate (which people think means it’s objective, even though a person thinking unemotionally can be biased).

DD is trying to give readers the impression that they have seen for themselves that AR is bad. He wants them to think they thought for themselves. What could shatter their respect for AR more than personally outthinking her!? (People generally don’t have much self-esteem or respect for their own intellectual abilities, even if they say they do. They admire thinkers they see as way above themselves.)

DD is carefully guiding the whole project. DD decides what is analyzed, in what context (out of context...), and what the goals of the analysis are (judge truth or falsity, nothing else). DD picked the book, chapter, paragraph and sentence. DD has an expectation in advance about what conclusion the reader will reach. DD is leading his audience by the nose while pretending to give them space to do their own thinking.

"In no case and in no situation may one permit one’s own values to be attacked or denounced, and keep silent".

This AR quote is taken out of context. It’s the end of a paragraph. I’ll cover this more below.

Here is what DD wants you to think: If a communist points a gun at you and says “Shut up or die.” and then says something to attack your values (e.g. “The USA is an evil empire which should be destroyed with nuclear fire!”), then you should keep silent. But AR said not to keep silent in any situation, including that one. That’s a counterexample, and one counterexample means AR’s statement is false. Also, AR must have been a bad thinker (worse than you) to fail to consider a well known scenario (that you thought of quickly, without difficulty).

Can it really be the case that DD’s audience can predictably think of a counterexample, but a top philosopher would miss it? No! It’d genuinely be damning if AR didn’t think of any scenarios of that type.

But AR’s statement, even taken out of context, is true. Why? Because “permit” means “give authorization for”. (Seriously. Check several dictionaries and its etymology.) Yes there exist definitions of “permit” for which AR’s statement is false, but there also exist definitions for which it’s true. It’s your job as a reader to interpret multi-definition words using the best option. E.g. if I said “Kant is dumb because he thought truth-telling was a universal, categorical moral law, even if it got you killed!”, you wouldn’t respond “How does having a bad idea imply that Kant was unable to speak?” (The word “dumb” can mean “idiotic” or “mute”.) Also, AR wrote it 57 years ago and the definitions that work better for her sentence are the older ones.

AR said that you shouldn’t authorize or sanction people to attack your values. Keeping silent at gunpoint doesn’t give them permission, so it’s OK. (Keeping silent in situations where you are at liberty to speak up can give implicit permission but doesn’t always – it depends on the situation. That’s an important and tricky issue which DD is familiar with from considering e.g. what to do if a parent mistreats his child in your vicinity. What sort of involvement does it take so that you should speak up, and how much should you say?)

DD knows what AR’s view of the matter is. He was picking on a particular wording which he thought people would misread as saying something that he knows is not her position. He’s trying to do a picky logical point instead of engage with her views. If he was right, a slight rewording would fix the problem (there’d be no need for Objectivists to reconsider their philosophical ideas). But even for this small, technical point, where DD chose the discussion topic out of everything AR wrote, and chose the limited terms of the critical consideration, he’s still wrong.

DD has exceptionally good vocabulary knowledge (better than mine!). So, if he wasn’t being biased, I’d expect that he probably knows what “permit” means. Or, if he didn’t know it offhand, he could have looked it up (as I did). He should know better than to think it’s this easy to catch AR being wrong. He should have done some double checking.

AR’s statement also has context. Earlier in the book was the chapter The Ethics of Emergencies which basically says that her claims about moral philosophy are, by default, trying to talk about regular life, not emergency situations. She thinks regular life is more important for moral philosophy to address than lifeboat scenarios or being held at gunpoint.

Now, for context, let’s look at the whole paragraph that DD took the quote from (in The Virtue of Selfishness, ch. 8, which is available online):

This last means that one need not launch into unprovoked moral denunciations or debates, but that one must speak up in situations where silence can objectively be taken to mean agreement with or sanction of evil. When one deals with irrational persons, where argument is futile, a mere “I don’t agree with you” is sufficient to negate any implication of moral sanction. When one deals with better people, a full statement of one’s views may be morally required. But in no case and in no situation may one permit one’s own values to be attacked or denounced, and keep silent.

Here we see that AR was aware of the key qualifier: you must speak up “where silence can objectively be taken to mean agreement with or sanction of evil”. If a gun is pointed at you, no reasonable observer would think your silence means agreement. (If a gun is pointed at you, even saying “I agree! That’s great! That’s the truest thing I’ve heard all year!” couldn’t be reasonably taken as meaning you agree.)

AR’s statement is true as written if you look up what the words mean. But even if it wasn’t, the worst you could reasonably accuse her of is failing to repeat something she had already said earlier in the paragraph, which she could reasonably have thought was implied.

DD made the context harder to check because he left out the source of the quote. In the past, in my experience, DD was great at attributing quotes accurately, and he thought it was important. (Edit 2021-07-16: I was wrong about this. See my article Misquotes by David Deutsch.)

The thing is, if literally true, this is a profound discovery in moral philosophy, with dramatic practical implications.

If AR’s sentence meant something like “Always tell the truth, even when people will shoot you for it.” and that was actually true, that would not be a profound discovery in moral philosophy. It’d be unoriginal.

Kant (one of AR’s main enemies) already said that. (I doubt it was original to Kant, but I don’t know the history of the idea. Also I think Kant did allow silence – which is insufficient to save yourself in some scenarios – but never lying. See Kant’s On a supposed right to lie from philanthropy which literally discusses the scenario of a murderer at your door asking if his intended victim is home, and then says “To be truthful (honest) in all declarations is, therefore, a sacred and unconditionally commanding law of reason that admits of no expediency whatsoever.”)

Kant’s position on this matter is well known enough that DD ought to have heard of it. I’d guess that DD knew it at some point but forgot. And that, before making his claim, DD didn’t stop and think (let alone use Google) about whether this “profound discovery” was actually already discovered.

But if it is merely a maxim that is true in a certain vaguely defined set of circumstances,

As mentioned above, the circumstances for not speaking up were defined earlier in the paragraph, and they also got additional elaboration earlier in the book.

and her idea is that people often defer to social convention when they shouldn't,

No, the essay says a lot more than that. DD is stating a dumbed down version of one paragraph (to make Rand sound more basic than she is). But the essay says more, e.g. AR talks about why to defer to social convention less. And if you understood her essay, you wouldn’t think the issue was whether or not to follow social convention – that’s a poor framing of the matter (a better question – suggested by the article title – is how to maintain your own rationality or integrity, and AR’s answer is by making moral judgments).

then it is unoriginal and unspectacular though arguably useful in a self-help-book sort of way.

“Unoriginal and unspectacular” is flaming.

“Self-help-book” is a flame. DD doesn’t respect those books much. And his point is that they don’t have serious philosophy like AR claimed to do (he’s calling her an amateur or non-philosopher).

DD is mixing flaming with praise again. He’s pretending to be fair and unbiased by admitting that, “arguably”, there is some partial merit in AR’s sentence.

She intends the latter meaning but expresses it in terms suggesting the former.

No, AR intended the true meaning. (Or, conceivably, she intended “permit” to be read in the way DD has in mind, but also intended the qualification from earlier in the paragraph to apply to it.) DD is being arrogant and condescending by speaking for AR. He’s implying that he’s so far above her that he can understand and judge her thought process, not just judge her conclusions (as is more standard and easier).

As polemic or rhetoric, that's great.

DD means that polemic is dishonest and AR is dishonest. He dishonestly presents this as praise (“great”) but it’s actually a smear. He’s saying she does social manipulations well (something she and he both oppose) but that she’s bad at truth-seeking and logic (something she and he both value).

As philosophy, it's embarrassing wannabe stuff.

DD’s email has many insults. He’s done a lot of good writing which isn’t like this, e.g. his books and physics papers. He knows how to do better.

She was (ironically) obsessed with attributes of people rather than of ideas.

What AR was obsessed with (if anything) is an attribute of a person (AR). DD has been talking more about various attributes of AR than about her ideas. It’s ironic that DD is criticizing AR (incorrectly) for something he’s doing.

The focus on AR’s attributes contradicts his own philosophy. DD is perfectly capable of writing about ideas rather than people. He’s done a lot of it. But this time he’s behaving differently (it looks to me like bias).

AR wrote a bunch of impersonal non-fiction that was about ideas, not people. In her novels, she uses fictional characters to help present ideas (including, yes, some psychological ideas). She wasn’t writing parochial material about specific individuals. She did so little of that that, e.g., I don’t know of anywhere that she elaborated much on her criticisms of Friedrich Hayek or Milton Friedman.

There’s also another irony. DD views himself as doing serious intellectual work (when writing the email) but he’s unaware of how badly he’s screwing up. Overestimating one’s work is something DD (incorrectly) attacks AR for.

That's why her followers tend to form themselves into groups with insider/outsider ideologies (somewhat unfairly called 'cults' by her detractors).

DD presents himself as not being one of AR’s detractors. He talks about her detractors as a separate group. But, based on my experience, he’s actually flaming her more than a typical AR detractor.

DD pretends to be unbiased by partially defending AR by saying the “cult” charge is “somewhat” unfair. But that implies it’s somewhat fair, so that’s actually another unargued, unexplained attack. DD is (a little bit indirectly) calling AR’s fans somewhat cultish.

In regard to fundamental philosophical theory she was hopelessly incompetent and confused.


There isn’t much to analyze here. DD is just openly flaming AR. Only the part about the quote even tried to be a substantive argument. The rest is basically just assertions of DD’s opinions, but without explaining his reasoning (how he reached those conclusions).

Despite this, her actual conclusions about economics and politics, which don't really follow from these purported foundations, are very good indeed ---

This is more mixed praise and flaming. DD’s saying her conclusions were good (praise) but her reasoning was wrong (flame). Overall, this is a flame, not a neutral comment. It’s kinda like saying “A broken clock is right twice a day.” If your reasoning is wrong but your conclusions are correct, you got lucky. DD, while pretending to be neutral, is accusing AR of getting lucky even to the partial extent that he accepts that she got stuff right.

DD does not argue his case. He doesn’t discuss AR’s arguments about (classical) liberalism, nor what he thinks a better approach is, nor how or why the wrong arguments led to (largely) the right conclusions. (It’s unusual for bad reasoning to reach especially good conclusions.) The one sentence quote was the only part of his email where DD even pretended to go into detail. (And even then he didn’t actually give arguments, he instead led the person to think of the arguments DD intended without being directly told.)

though she underestimated the resilience of American and Anglosphere institutions, and indeed underrated the importance of institutions generally.

DD doesn’t argue or explain this point. Knowing DD and knowing AR’s material, I’d guess that DD’s primarily referring to ch. 1 of The Fountainhead where Roark questions the architecture tradition with the Parthenon and tells the dean that he stands at the end of no tradition and inherits nothing. I won’t analyze that scene because it doesn’t discuss American or Anglosphere institutions.

I think DD is mistaken about AR’s views. In Justin’s analysis of DD’s email, Justin points out an AR quote in which she speaks positively of American institutions and their development over centuries.

Her main -- perhaps her only -- innovation, was to stress much more than anyone before her that free markets are morally superior to socialism, and that defending them in terms of efficiency only is to concede much of (she would say the whole of!) the opponents' case.

Stressing something is like calling attention to it or putting italics around it. While AR did that, that wasn’t the main thing she did there. She argued the issue, and reasoned about moral philosophy, instead of just stressing it. Saying her main innovation was to stress something is basically denying that she had any substantial intellectual accomplishments. This is another flame disguised as praise.

AR would not say that those bad defenses of capitalism concede the “whole of” the opponent’s case. That would be the sort of hyperbolic error which DD accuses her of, but which she was actually skilled at avoiding. To back up his attack, DD had one incorrect example (above) and one made up example here (she didn’t say it, DD just asserted that she would).

DD, AR and I all agree that defending only the efficiency of capitalism concedes a lot that shouldn’t be conceded. But that specific point is fairly simple. It’s not a complex argument that if you only defend one aspect of capitalism, then you’re not defending various other aspects. So this isn’t very impressive. (And DD made it less impressive by simplifying the logic by saying “only” instead of “primarily”, even though AR’s arguments work with “primarily”.) AR said it, and it’s a good point, but by highlighting it this much for praise DD is implying that AR didn’t have a bunch of other more major points (she did, e.g. her explanation and criticism of second-handedness).

Other Comments

All the manipulative stuff DD does is intentional. He’s developed the skill to do it. He has extremely good control over what he writes – better than most people realize is possible. He’s a very precise, careful writer and thinker – even offhand, speaking extemporaneously. He put effort into this email.

It’s possible he’s not consciously thinking about some aspects of what he’s doing while he does them. That wouldn’t diminish his responsibility. He made choices which led to this result. What he’s done in the email wasn’t bad luck.

It’s similar to how Gail Wynand was responsible (in AR’s The Fountainhead) for what the Banner wrote even when he was on vacation:

“I know what you think. You understood that I didn’t know about the Stoddard Temple yesterday. I had forgotten the name of the architect involved. You concluded it wasn’t I who led that campaign against you. You’re right, it wasn’t I, I was away at the time. But you don’t understand that the campaign was in the true and proper spirit of the Banner. It was in strict accordance with the Banner’s function. No one is responsible for it but me. Alvah Scarret was doing only what I taught him. Had I been in town, I would have done the same.”

Part of why DD seems somewhat convincing is that he does know a lot about Objectivism. He used to like it. (Notably, nothing he says here explains why he changed his mind.) DD chose an important essay – that clashes with his current life – as the one to misleadingly quote from and attack. And most AR critics wouldn’t have made the points about defending capitalism that DD did. But DD isn’t the same person he was when he studied and liked AR, so there’s something unfair about using his former self’s knowledge to attack his former self’s own values.

And DD doesn’t acknowledge or address the conflict and explain his reasons for changing. What he ought to do – this is the kind of thing DD normally advocates – is explain what’s wrong with AR in a way that DD’s own former self could agree with and voluntarily change his mind to. The new view offered ought to be strictly better – better in every respect (while that’s unusual, it’s something DD and I both advocate). He’s basically calling his former self (and all AR fans) bad instead of attempting to be helpful by providing strictly better ideas that they would prefer to hold.

Note: This blog post doesn’t attempt to be a complete analysis. I think there are other bad things about DD’s email which I didn’t cover here.

See Also

Final Comment

DD was a great man and was my friend and colleague. He’s done great work in both physics and philosophy. This is the worst thing he’s ever written that I’ve seen. It’s sad.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (9)

Secondary David Deutsch Related Discussion Community

The David Deutsch fan community is being split by the creation of a secondary community. In addition to the public Fallible Ideas forums (FI) for discussing topics like David Deutsch’s books, there are now “Four Strands” forums for discussing those topics. This takes a small community and tries to splinter it into separate factions.


The people behind this, such as Bruce Nielson and Dennis Hackethal, have not explained what they’re doing or why. They have not posted any invites or announcements on FI to let people know about the existence of these new forums or to explain the reasons for creating them and their purpose.

I’m not even very clear on who is in charge of the group or what it consists of. I was told it’s a Google Group and a Slack, then I found a Discord. There’s apparently no webpage explaining and linking their stuff, stating rules, policies or purpose, organizing it, etc.

They apparently have a problem with FI, but they haven’t criticized FI or had discussions attempting to solve whatever problems with FI they may have had. They seem to be unwilling to debate whatever the issues are and have no Paths Forward to allow error correction. They don’t seem interested in writing and sharing their relevant claims, criticisms, ideas for improvements, etc. I hope I’m mistaken about these impressions and I invite correction. Let’s talk about this!

There’s also a Beginning of Infinity subreddit from kodheaven and Dennis. Despite it claiming to be for anything DD related, I was banned without ever submitting a post or comment. Meanwhile, a post linking my interview with David Deutsch was deleted and the person who posted it was also banned. No explanation was provided.

Where is the attempt at cooperative problem solving as DD advocates!? What about common preference finding or win/win solutions, as DD advocates?

The FI forum, for those who don’t know, was formed by merging existing DD-related discussion groups, such as Beginning of Infinity (BoI), Taking Children Seriously and Autonomy Respecting Relationships (all of which I owned and ran). I simply asked people to move to a unified group instead of being split up. There were no objections to the merger and all active posters came to FI. Note that I created and ran the BoI google group and website at DD’s request.

This is an established forum community related to DD’s ideas going back to 1994, which I joined in 2001. DD used to actively post and wrote a few thousand emails to the forums. There is a 25 year history here, including a lot of participation by DD himself, but these alleged DD fans are apparently splintering away from the community which has been influenced by over 15 years of discussions with DD. They seem to be rejecting a big part of his legacy. (Note for those who don’t know: that legacy also includes me personally, since I’ve had around 5,000 hours of intellectual discussions with DD in which he played a huge role in shaping my thinking.)

I believe Bruce and Dennis already know most of the facts above, though perhaps not. They never participated in the community much before splintering off. Bruce first posted in the community in July 2018 and Dennis in Dec 2018, and they each stopped participating after several months.

Do Bruce, Dennis and others regard splitting up a small community as a positive thing!? I don’t know. So far, they don’t communicate or explain. Guys, what’s the problem and what’s going on?

There now seem to be a bunch of blog posts, videos and podcasts which aren’t being shared to the main community. This hinders our ability to learn from each other, share ideas, and share criticism.

I asked both Bruce and Dennis if I could join their discussion group. They didn’t reply at all. I tried joining the Discord but was banned with zero explanation.

Just in case anyone doesn’t know or would assume otherwise: Bruce and Dennis never got in trouble on FI. They never even got warnings for anything. They just stopped sending posts. They did later get included on Alan’s list of people who had stopped responding to FI discussions and arguments without a rational conclusion to the discussion, but of course they’re welcome to change that situation.

FI is a free speech platform which is open to the public. The usual reason for splinter communities is that people were having their content blocked or being banned, but that didn’t happen.

What would it take to fix whatever this is? They’ve made no demands, stated no grievances, suggested no changes to FI, etc.

Hopefully this is a misunderstanding or they didn’t realize there was an issue. I invite them to explain themselves and engage in rational problem solving now.

For people new here: FYI I've been writing about CR and David Deutsch stuff (like Taking Children Seriously) since 2002. Find my stuff here. The community also includes people like Alan Forrester, a physicist who knows Deutsch and ran the Fabric of Reality discussion group for over 10 years, and who blogs CR stuff. I'd also suggest this Overview of Fallible Ideas Philosophy video.

Update, Feb 3, 2020: The Four Strands leadership has not responded. I didn't misunderstand. They don't want to even try problem solving. This is unsurprising because if they had some interest in problem solving they could have tried it in the past, but they never did, so why start now?

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (39)

The Taking Children Seriously and Fallible Ideas Communities

This post is about Taking Children Seriously (TCS) and what it was like before my leadership. This is primarily interesting because of the value of TCS's bold conjectures about how to apply Critical Rationalism to parenting and education. I'm secondarily bringing it up because some people today are unfamiliar with TCS and other ideas from David Deutsch (DD) and make ignorant, incorrect assumptions about what it's like. E.g. Bruce Nielson posted to The Beginning of Infinity forum in 2018:

Thanks Elliot for the excellent and thoughtful feedback. I'll try to come up with a new version that improves the problems of the existing version.

I joined [FI]. I hope to be an active participant.

You can read my free DD/CR (David Deutsch and Critical Rationalist epistemology) help, which Bruce was so thankful for, at Critical Rationalism Epistemology Explanations.

Although it's been a year and a half, and Bruce said he would follow up, he hasn't. It appears to have been his first attempt at online DD/CR discussion and it went nowhere due to his own disinterest and inactivity. Fine, but then why is he now a manager at an online DD/CR discussion group that is attempting to splinter the community and sideline FI? He's a newcomer who hasn't yet succeeded at his first productive DD/CR discussion, but now he's taking on a leadership role?

Some people commenting on this problem (which Bruce won't engage in problem solving about, but I have) think I and other FI posters are too harsh. They seem to conclude (without specifically stating and arguing it, and without involving facts), that FI's posts are different than a non-coercive-and-problem-solving focused philosophy like DD's TCS. Therefore FI can't really be a continuation of DD's thought and community. So let's take a look at some posts from before I joined the community. What sort of community did I join, learn the culture of, and am now continuing? I think if people knew what the TCS forum was actually like, and what DD was actually like, they would agree that I and FI are milder successors.

1996, full post from a TCS leader (minus names):

I subscribed to this listserv several weeks ago and have been lurking for some time. The name of this listserv caught my attention because I am a public school educator who is interested in changing my teaching and classroom management methods to a more child - directed approach.

Then your only possible course of action is to

  1. resign at once,
  2. take up a morally justifiable profession,
  3. become good at it, and
  4. be prepared to welcome children into your working environment, answer their questions and pass on your knowledge and skills to them if they ask you to.

Save yourself if you still can, [name]. I'm not joking.

1998, part of a post from a TCS leader:

Or are all of you against public school? My daughter (13 years old) is a homeschooler, but I am studying elementary education. I want to use non-coercive techniques in my classroom--basically because I realize that the idea that a teacher can control any student's behavior is a myth. Behavior can only be controlled by the "behaver" (the person doing the behaving)!

I think you're mistaken. If this were really true, most of the children in your classroom would simply get up and walk out. The fact that none of them do -- until the instant that you give them permission to -- despite the fact that throughout the lesson many of them are painfully yearning to do so, is one token of the fact that you are controlling them.

2000, full post from a TCS leader:

Could someone help me? How do you discipline a child that has got in the habit of throwing temper tantrums, when she doesn't get her way? It's becoming a common practice for my daughter to fallout wherever she is(public, home or daycare), which is very embarrassing. HELP!

That's a tough one, but I think this may be one of those rare cases where a sound thrashing might actually help. You may think that that would be illegal, but not if you arrange things properly. This is what you do:

Visit a bar in the sleaziest part of town, and employ the largest, strongest man you can find. (With a little bit of luck, he may well be willing to do this job without payment.) Introduce him to your daughter and explain to her that this is being done for her own good, and that it will hurt you much more than it hurts her. Explain to her that this nice man's job is to follow you and her around wherever you go. He will be unobtrusive and helpful, unless and until your daughter throws one of her tantrums. At that point he will step politely forward and beat the shit out of you.

Then the tantrums will soon go away.

1996, full post from a TCS leader, italics in original, bold added for emphasis:

People often complain that I lack respect in my posts. They accuse me of not "practising what I preach". They suggest that I should "teach" non-coercive educational theory by "example", and only post "non-coercive" messages. In practice this means that if I post anything other than soothing, dishonest, posts that are "accepting" of tyranny and coercion, I am being "coercive" to those whose posts I criticise. Certain posters have criticised my "lack of tolerance" over and over again, and called me "hateful" and "vengeful" and any number of colourful epithets in their attempts to show me (respectfully, by example, presumably?) the error of my ways.

But whenever I ask them whose rights they think I am violating, they decline to comment.

Perhaps they feel uncomfortable about admitting that logically their criticism of me in such cases amounts to a defence of tyranny.

I respect people whom I consider worthy of respect. I do not respect tyranny; I do not respect organisations like the KKK; I do not respect harmful human institutions whose existence is inimical to the growth of knowledge and thus to human happiness. I think these things are objectively wrong. So when I read posts advocating coercion or proudly detailing vile schemes to manipulate children into states of mind that are bad for them, I wish to express my contempt, and I wish to argue against these proposals. Ridicule is, as [another TCS leader] pointed out recently, an effective weapon against tyranny, and I shall continue to use it. I do not apologise for being honest.

I am often told that in order to change minds, I need to adopt a soothing, respectful tone, and cut the contumely. The thing is, changing minds in that sense is not my aim. I am not interested in placing people into a state of mind pre-determined by me, if the only way I can no this is to mislead them. It is all too easy to lull people into the appearance of agreeing by deliberately equivocating about what the words they are mouthing mean. These are manipulative aims, and I have already said I abhor coercion. Indeed, the whole idea that it might be possible to coerce someone into non-coercion is incoherent.

If someone says something false, or wicked, against which I believe I have a good argument, I want to put that argument to them and to others who might be subject to similar errors. If someone reports horrible things they have done to their children, seeking (and invariably getting) praise, justification and encouragement to do more of the same, I want to say "no, this is wrong". If there is any changing of minds that I am hoping for in connection with my arguments, it is the person himself changing his own mind, through his own thinking.

My purpose in posting (including this little post) is to support those who already feel that coercion is bad. Sometimes one feels something to be wrong but does not know why it is wrong. Sometimes it helps to know explicitly why something is wrong. (Sometimes people think "A-ha! Of course!" when they read explicit arguments against things they already felt in their guts to be wrong.) And of course when I write these scathing, "unacceptable" posts, I nearly always get messages from people saying "thank you so much for saying that" -- so I get to "meet" new sympathetic others. Advocates of coercion can find support everywhere. Those who are struggling to make their relationships consensual can't.

Note that I am never disrespectful in response to posts from people saying that they consider coercion is bad, but they do not currently have the knowledge of how to find consent in such-and-such an area (but are trying to learn). We are all in that position. We are all fallible and we all make mistakes. If someone seems genuinely to want to find consent-based solutions, I am always deeply respectful. That is because I feel deeply respectful. But ask me to be deeply respectful to a tyrant and I'll metaphorically spit in your face. If I did less I might be betraying the child who is suffering behind the tyrant's sugar-coated self-justification, and certainly the readers out there who want to read the truth, for once, unalloyed.

As you can see, some of the recent complaints are nothing new. They are to be expected, as a TCS leader explained in 2001 shortly after I joined:

[A TCS leader] wrote:

[Someone] wrote:

Have you noticed it says ...

the socialists Sarah Lawrence, David Deutsch, and Kolya Wolf

It's not the first time I have been branded a "socialist". Makes you wonder if the person who wrote that was on something when he or she read up on us, doesn't it? You'd think he or she might be slightly embarrassed about being so mind-bogglingly ill-informed, wouldn't you? 8-)

People have described me as "a sad collectivist", "right-wing", "PC", "a fascist", "a Randroid", and "an anarchist" (and no, they didn't mean an anarcho-capitalist). (Also, "subjectivist", "relativist", "moralistic", "amoral", "irrational", "a cold rationalist", and so on...)

Still, never mind, I have also been branded "full of original sin," and "a libertine"... but also "a do-gooder" and according to some interent authorities, I am "on a different planet" and "a joke".

Many have said that I "have clearly no experience of children", "obviously don't have children", "have obviously never come within a hundred miles of any living kid"; others have branded me "a progressive parent".

And then there was the argument about whether I am "a cow", "a cow with udders for brains" or "a cow with BSE".

So if "socialist" is the worst they can come up with, well hey, I think that's a distinct improvement. 8-)

I was informed only last month that I'm "nutty", that I "don't make a lot of sense", that my "philosophy is neurotic", that I'm "hysterical", that my "reading comprehension could use some work", that I have a "hysterical point of view", that my "reading comprehension is really in the dirt", that I am "screwed up psychologically" and:

"pseudo intellectual b.s."
"This is all coming out of your bu*t."
"You just seem to have some kind of... problem."
"You just don't seem to understand anything at all."
"Actual real mature grown ups (unlike yourself)"
"You just seem to have a personal problem."
"You are clearly hysterical and a crack pot."
"You have some other personal problem that you, really, should get help
"your own hysterical interpretation"
"You're on medication, aren't you"
"This is clearly delusional"
"You are either sick or the concepts you are trying to critique are
too deep for you."
"weird neurosis"
"plainly raving"
"From that place you go to when you run out of meds?"
"You are an idiot."
"You just have a chip on your shoulder."
"you don't seem to get anything."
"the keeper of this website is clearly floating around in their own warped
"You spout a bunch of words"
"you don't know what you're saying"
"you don't know what others are saying"
"you're not even aware of how obvious you are. Sad."
"mentally retarded"
"just some nut with a personal problem."

What provokes this hatred and vilification -- and blind misunderstanding?

I think it's this: someone who is far in advance of most people about an important moral issue is likely not to be understood at first, and in the meantime, to be hated and vilified just as much as someone who is egregiously wrong. How could it be otherwise?

If you don't like DD's ideas like TCS, that is your right. For those who do want to learn about DD's ideas – the ideas of the person who wrote two great books, hundreds of blog posts, and thousands of discussion forum posts – join the FI forum.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (15)

Andy B Harassment and Four Strands

The Fallible Ideas (FI) community has been under attack for over a year by an online harasser, stalker, spammer, doxer, IRL-threatener, financial fraudster and liar named “Andy B”. He’s used over a dozen identities including some multi-month projects where his false names pretended to be learning about FI. He’s posted over 400 comments on this blog from over 60 different IP addresses. His fake identities often talk and agree with each other. Some are openly nasty while others hide it for a while to trick people. He has initiated force against four separate people connected with FI. Evidence is later in this post.

Harassers and trolls usually stop much sooner and are best ignored, which is why I’ve been silent until now.

What can drive a person, day after day, to spend his life trying to hurt others? One of the answers is ongoing encouragement from friends and allies. For example, consider an animal rights group where people encourage each other to hate scientists who experiment on animals, fur coat wearers and farmers. Most people will stop at rhetoric, meetup sessions where they complain and share their debating points, etc. But some people will be willing to “get their hands dirty” by committing petty crimes at night or by harassing opposing intellectuals online. When they attend the meetings by day, they are encouraged to feel like they’re standing up for a righteous cause, and it drives their persistent, secret use of force.

Many criminals are alone and isolated. Basically, they know that everyone disapproves of what they do and keep it secret. But when people have a social group which is encouraging them and agreeing with them about the rightness of their cause, it inspires them to more crime. This is a reason some criminals are part of gangs.

Andy B has received ongoing support and encouragement from the FI shadow community (which doesn’t really have a name other than the more recent Four Strands group). Andy is a member of Four Strands both as Andy and TheRat, and he connects with many of them on social networks like Twitter.

I’m writing this post because some of the facts – the ways other people helped and encouraged Andy, and refused to stop supporting him or actually made statements against crime or harassment – are so unbelievable that they must be clearly documented to be believed. The toxic culture and hateful leadership are shocking and they’re utterly unwilling to attempt any sort of problem solving in private. That leaves me no choice but to publicly document everything so that I can link it to people to explain what’s going on. The most I can do, when they will fix nothing, is criticize their actions and explain my case. They won’t leave me alone or stop trying to harm me, but at least I can tell my story so some people will know the truth.

Shadow Community

The shadow community is a group of people interested in FI topics like DD, FoR, BoI, TCS and CR but who don’t participate at FI and hold a grudge about some past criticism. Recently, this shadow community has more organization and leadership with a “Four Strands” group. The leaders include Dennis Hackethal (a software engineer from Cupertino, CA, blog, contact at [email protected]), Bruce Nielson (a computer science student at Georgia Tech, blog, contact at [email protected]), Aaron Stupple (from Springfield, MA) and Allie Pace. (The occupations and locations are from their public Twitter accounts. I’ve left out private info about them that I have.) They’ve put effort into hiding who is a leader of the group, but I have a bunch of sources and I believe this is accurate. The group doesn’t publicly post any rules, policies or description, or say who is actually in charge, which helps them try to dodge responsibility for their involvement in crime. Bruce has also pretended not to be an owner.

Bruce, Aaron and Allie are owners of the Four Strands Google Group, and Dennis is a manager there. The Four Strands shadow community also includes the Beginning of Infinity subreddit, co-moderated by Andy and Dennis, and Dennis’ Crit App forum. Four Strands also has a Slack and Discord.

Dennis and Bruce were notified that their group member, Andy, was a criminal, and that he had joined the Four Strands group under multiple identities. They did not respond. When asked again, Bruce did not respond and Dennis responded with a malicious trick (the emails are later in this post).

It seems that the only way to get a response from this gang of aggressive rights violators is to bring up ways they are personally breaking the law. For example, Dennis did respond when I pointed out to him that it’s against the law to intentionally falsely accuse people of crimes in order to damage their reputation, as he had done. He issued a minimal retraction, refused to apologize, and did not attempt to undo the harm he’d done or set anything right. More on this below.

Similarly, Dennis responded to a complaint that he was violating the Fallible Ideas trademark in a minimal way that didn’t even involve notifying me when he renamed his “Fallible Fun” forum or what the new name was. He was so uncooperative that he wouldn’t even say that “Fallible Fun” was his forum; I had to find out elsewhere. One of Dennis’ Four Strands associates, Logan Chipkin, also violated my trademark with a “Fallible Animals” podcast and has yet to resolve the matter.

When group leaders initiate rights violations under their real names, it encourages and legitimizes Andy’s fly-by-night rights violations. They are telling him with not merely words but also actions that I and others deserve to be aggressed against, and that Andy is fighting the good fight. This makes them partially responsible for the aggressive uses of force that they use their leadership roles to encourage others to commit.

Decent people who accidentally get caught up in crime would attempt to mitigate the harm and distance themselves from it. Dennis, Bruce and the rest have refused to denounce crime, refused to ban Andy, refused to give me access to records that I could review for other rights violations, refused to disassociate with Andy, refused to ask people to stop harassing me, and refused to discourage the hatred they’ve been working to create and which has led to many initiations of force.

Atmosphere of Hatred

What does their group do to create an atmosphere that’s a breeding ground for violating rights? Dennis explained the group atmosphere like this:

I feel the pressure of agreeing with everyone about how much we all dislike Elliot

Dennis also encouraged hatred by posting:

I am now a proud entry on [FI’s] public list of apostates. :)

There is no list of apostates, merely a list of some people who chose to engage significantly in a public debate with FI and then stopped responding without explaining or finishing. Here, Dennis expresses pride, and smiles, about being in conflict with other people, which further promotes hatred and fighting.

Bruce helped lead the the way in establishing hostile gossip as part of his community when he posted:

[ET] has a bit of a history creating bad feelings in forums he doesn't own and causing people to leave. (Or so I am told. I don't have a personal history here.)

Bruce knowingly and intentionally spread rumors that people had gossiped to him. Bruce’s message also suggests that one should believe second-hand gossip without knowing any details, at least if it smears ET. The Four Strands community is full of gossip and shadowy rumors (just like it was before they made the Four Strands group and intentionally recruited a bunch of gossipers and haters for members), rather than being full of accountability, responsibility and civilized values. This is by the design of its leaders. This makes it easier for people to cross lines.

Similarly, Brett Hall (website) is a longtime FI shadow community member, who the Four Strands leadership promoted as a valuable addition to their community. Brett teaches Theory of Knowledge, a mandatory course in the IB diploma program, with a 20% failure rate (failure means no diploma), which requires 100 hours of instruction. According to Brett, what he teaches is “philosophy-lite with lots of lefty relativism and other nonsense“. 100 hours of instruction in mandatory “nonsense” with high pressure and high stakes! Why would Brett be involved with that sort of anti-TCS mistreatment of students? “I teach it because I like it.” (Source: the Fallible Ideas discussion archive.) Contact at [email protected]

Brett said that ET is poison and that ET destroys valuable things (thus helping justifying destructive actions targeted at ET), for example:

FWIW any project that one does decide to undertake will be less likely derailed or poisoned were Curi not involved. Indeed some of us will actively avoid any project Curi is involved with. :)

Poisoning is a violent and often murderous action. Brett repeatedly uses language like that which suggests that something nasty should be done about ET. E.g.:

Does anyone want to go onto FI and save some of those poor souls? Some seem to want actual personal help but are being asked for money by ET. I think that’s beyond the pale. FWIW I’m directing all enquires about the CR community here and to slack and the 4 strands group.

The part about being asked for money is a lie which Brett heard gossip about and decided to spread without fact-checking first. I have documentation of the source and spread of this particular rumor, so I know that Brett changed and exaggerated it when passing it on instead of error-correcting it.

By saying that ET’s actions are “beyond the pale”, Brett encouraged people to take extreme action against ET in order to “save … poor souls” who are ET’s alleged victims.

Brett further accused ET of “coercion”, which both means ET is hurting people (justifying hurting him) and also is intended to smear ET as a violator of TCS principles (and therefore someone who is destroying the great value of TCS by attempting to lead it while contradicting its actual ideas and values). Brett went on to accuse ET of “ruin[ing]” valuable communities and doing “destructions” and “exterminat[ion]”. Would you harass a destructive, ruinous exterminator of valuable ideas about rationality, and feel like you were righteously standing up for good values and justice? Maybe not but some people like Andy would, which is one of the foreseeable consequences of Brett’s hateful comments.

What do the Four Strands leaders do about this sort of incivility from Brett? They praise him as a great thinker and content creator.

Libel and Defamation

The worst that I’ve seen (but I haven’t seen many of their postings, let alone their secret gossip) was when Dennis Hackethal, a group manager and community leader, falsely accused ET of threatening Dennis with violence. There was no factual basis for this dishonest, malicious claim which was given for the stated reason of discouraging people from discussing philosophical ideas with ET. The quote is:

[ET has] insinuated violence towards me in the past.

Dennis, by lying that ET had committed a serious crime (as threatening Dennis with violence would have been), tried to destroy ET’s reputation so that people would stay away from ET, and also his comments encouraged people to violate ET’s rights since a criminal deserves it.

That’s libel and defamation. (Read about them at the link. I am not a lawyer, but I did speak with a lawyer about this.)

When ET later found out about this, Dennis partially admitted his guilt: he didn’t pretend that “insinuated violence” didn’t refer to a threat. Dennis issued a brief retraction because he knew there was no factual basis for his lie, but Dennis did not attempt to undo the harm, apologize, tell people to stop harassing ET, say that he regretted encouraging crime, say that ET was in fact a decent, civilized person and law-abiding person, or anything like that. Dennis’ actions are bad enough to open him up to a lawsuit for libel and defamation, but he refused to even apologize.

Passively letting group members cross lines encourages more people to do it. When group leaders themselves cross those lines, the effect is much worse.

Dennis makes a podcast and postures as someone who is doing important work to develop AGI, promote David Deutsch’s great ideas, and otherwise change or save the world. Dennis is connecting that reputation – as an intellectual and philosopher – with hatred of ET and with it being OK to break laws and lie in order to hurt ET. Dennis is teaching others, not merely with words but with actions, that using aggressive force is good when it’s in favor of a valuable intellectual cause.

Andy is Dennis’ star student. Dennis, by the way, is the only other moderator at Andy’s Beginning of Infinity subreddit which purports to promote David Deutsch’s book and ideas, and Dennis has continued that public association.

Dennis provided the paper-thin excuse that I had once mentioned “destroy[ing]” Dennis socially, and spoke of not wanting to do it and not doing it. (I mentioned it because I said certain bad, immoral social rules encourage it.) Dennis said the word “destroy” is a strong word which, at the time, made him feel unsafe and fear physical violence. That’s a serious issue, but Dennis’ response was unserious: he waited six months then gossiped about it to try to hurt me. He could have asked for a second opinion (and been told by anyone that it’s not a threat), told the police (and been laughed at), asked me or anyone else from FI (he believed my clarification that it wasn’t a threat in on Jan 23, so why not ask for clarification at the time?), or looked the matter up online. For example, if you Google search “Trump destroys Hillary” you will find the term “destroy” is used routinely in ways having nothing to do with threats or violence, e.g. debate victories. On this basis, Dennis broke the law trying to destroy my reputation. My explanation is that he doesn’t really notice when his actions cross lines like what the law is or violating someone’s rights. Sure he’d notice that some actions cross a line, like murder, but he’s not very consistent about it (which makes him dangerous).

Dennis’ retraction from Jan 23 reads:

Elliot has contacted me about this and asked me to retract this statement. He has since clarified what he meant at the time and my comment above was based on a misunderstanding. He was not insinuating violence. I will delete the above comment in the Google group.

This statement suggests that Dennis did nothing wrong, and it was just an innocent and reasonable misunderstanding, which is false. It also does nothing to try to address the harassment by Andy which Dennis’ libel, and other his actions, encouraged.

Here are some of the replies to the retraction which will give you a further understanding of what the group’s hateful atmosphere is like, and which Dennis didn’t discourage. Brett Hall, on Jan 23, replied about:

[ET’s] dishonesty and cruelty and inability to just leave us alone

That’s hateful.

please: just stay away. Yet [ET’s] still tagging me in Tweets regularly (I’ve muted him but often others respond so I see those responses). It’s tiresome.

That’s a factually false attack on my reputation. It’s first of all misleading because it sounds like I had added Brett to a topic on Twitter or started a new topic and included him, which I didn’t do. Rather, I shared one relevant blog post to a conversation he was already in, and then I responded to a few people who responded to me (which automatically sent my tweet to everyone in the conversation). Responding to people who tweet to me is not regularly tagging Brett. The conversation lasted two days. Brett’s problem is with Twitter’s conversation and notification system (which I grant is poorly designed), but he’s falsely and misleading suggesting that I did something wrong. The reason Brett got notifications is because other people, who are not me (and were mostly hostile to me because of the rumors people like Brett have spread) tagged him in their tweets, because that’s how Twitter works by default, but somehow he blames me.

Although upset to be notified about my blog post by the Twitter conversation, Brett was apparently interested enough to read it and flame me for it:


And now the attacks on Bruce and Dennis and yet more evidence of his utter obsession with people over ideas: the WHO rather than what, and the questioning of personal motives and psychology and so on. He cannot stand not having control of a place beginning to thrive. The number of times he uses the word “I” in that new flame post is telling. He’s saying everyone on “Alan’s list” is not rational.

So the context is that Dennis libeled and defamed me, and retracted it. Brett apparently thought to himself something like, “ET’s rights were violated. This would be a great time to smear him with flames and falsehoods!” He wasn’t the only one. Aaron Stupple, a Four Strands owner, replied:

Completely agree. It seems best to completely ignore as he has a tendency to use any argument as a means to try to manipulate and slander. And there's just no place for that here and we should do our best to keep things open and enjoyable.

Aaron, as a group owner and leader, completely agreed with uncivil flames as a comment on ET’s rights being violated, and piled on with additional flaming. He’s leading the group in inciting hatred and harassment.

Andy himself replied too, as well as Felix (who is Andy’s ally or false identity). I won’t go into the further nasty comments, which got much worse, except to say that Brett responded positively to Andy saying that Andy’s comment “puts [ET] further beyond the pale. Thanks for highlighting this.” Saying I’m “beyond the pale” means that I’ve crossed a major boundary into completely unacceptable behavior outside the standards of decency and civilization. (Seriously, look it up, it’s a very strong term. Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.) This is the kind of idea which inspires Andy to continue attacking me. Brett is egging Andy on.

The Four Strands group is so toxic that they think retracting a libel is a good time and context to pile on and flame the victim. And Dennis’ retraction was clearly in bad faith or he would have objected to this if not blocked/deleted the posts (he’s a group manager).

I have been told second-hand that some Four Strand people want us to leave each other alone, and we see that in Brett’s message too. But they don’t leave me alone. They don’t seem to even know how to leave someone alone. Their idea of us leaving each other alone seems to involve me being disallowed from complaining about their criminal member harassing me, while they spread libel, defamation and hatred which no one objects to, with no regard for the law or my rights. You have to learn to recognize what is and isn’t a rights violation before you can understand how to leave someone alone or how to accurately judge whether someone is leaving you alone or not.

Refusal To Help

Dennis, Bruce or their associates very likely have information about Andy’s identity or ways to pressure him to stop committing crimes. They have refused to say whether they have any information, try to get information, or otherwise participate in a process of protecting persons and rights. They continue to imply, by refusing to lift a finger against crime, that they endorse crime. This is the sort of social approval which encourages Andy to keep spending his life being an online harasser.

Another involved shadow community member is Lulie Tanett, who is a direct associate of David Deutsch. Lulie has a past history of knowingly and intentionally associating with doxers, spam bot users, open anti-semites and a variety of nasty people online, and has confessed to violating people’s privacy with her gossip. Lulie has been an ongoing source of pseudo-intellectual arguments allegedly justifying the hatred and vilification of FI and ET. Lulie has refused to denounce crime, distance herself from Andy’s actions, say whether she has any relevant info about Andy, or use her FI-hating contacts to get info about Andy – even though she and her family all follow Andy on Twitter and have plenty of contacts throughout the shadow community. She ought to be thankful to have been informed she was associating with a dangerous criminal, so she could stop, but her attitude to the matter has been uncivilized.

The shadow community has created such a bad atmosphere that Andy can go on Twitter as Andy or a sock puppet, and lie and smear me, and the community responds by mocking me and disbelieving me when I state facts. This group of people who publicly accept and praise a criminal over his victim is the source of the evil. After being informed about the ongoing crime, Lulie personally participated in that crime-favoring public mocking, as did some of her family members.

Since the problem is coming from David Deutsch’s fans, and is dangerous to his civilized fans, David should say and do something. But he has failed in this duty, preferring (I guess) to pretend that it’s not his problem when the owner of the subreddit for his book is a criminal. Why warn his fans? Instead he occasionally promotes content from people who are directly involved like Dennis and Lulie.

PS Please do not harass anyone or commit any crimes. That’s not a way to defend me or fix anything.

Emails to Leaders

On Jan 22, 2020, I emailed Dennis and Bruce. I would have contacted them sooner if they hadn’t already refused to respond to other communications such as asking whether or not I could join the Four Strands group, and if they hadn’t already refused to do anything when someone else reported a threat and spam to them (this is explained later). I had little hope of a productive response and, in retrospect, I was right.

You should be aware that Andy B (bconecat, kodheaven, heuristicworld) has many false identities, has spammed two people, doxed two, threatened one, posted literally hundreds of harassing messages, and harassed the FI discord on at least 8 accounts. He’s unstable and vindictive against people who annoy him. He’s targeted at least four people so far. I wanted to warn you because you appear to be associating with him in several ways and he’s outside the realm of civilized, peaceful people.

TheRat is a pseudonym of Andy B. This is not speculation, it’s based on technical info like server logs.

He’s been posting a series of troll comments on my blog right now, as I send this, which I’ve been deleting. He’s breaking laws.

I assume your association with him is out of ignorance. Initially, he pretended to be friendly and curious with me, too. I thought you should know.

On Jan 31, after no response, I emailed again:

Since you have taken no action in regards to your ongoing association with an active criminal, and you are running a group which incites hatred and encourages harassment, I’m asking you to respond in a reasonable, civilized way so that we can attempt to fix this major problem. If you don’t respond, I will have to make unilateral decisions about how to defend myself, and I will have to regard you as knowingly and intentionally siding with aggressive force. I would prefer to talk about it and attempt problem solving but so far you haven’t responded so I don’t know how to problem solve with you, but this problem is hurting me so I’m going to have to do something whether you guys will respond or not.

If you wanted a “soft” group with less criticism, and more moderation of tone, and more focus on AGI but no politics – for example (I’m just sorta guessing at the ballpark of what you might want) – that would be a legitimate purpose for a group. You could advertise that on FI, you could stop spreading hatred, people on your group could link to FI materials without that being taboo or something that gets them attacked, people on FI could link to your stuff (instead of you guys hiding CR content from us), we could co-exist. You could have written rules and I could follow them if I want to post on your forum. There are many things that would be reasonable, but you haven’t explained what you’re doing and have contributed to an atmosphere of hatred and rival, enemy factions (some of which predates your group, but you recruited many of the haters and said hateful things yourselves), which is unreasonable and harmful to DD’s legacy. Instead of being a hub of nasty gossip, you could be e.g. an intellectual group with different social rules where people like Andy are unwelcome and it’s made clear to everyone that such actions are unacceptable.

Dennis responded on Feb 3:

Please stop emailing me. I am not one of the group's owners, so this is beyond my control.

This was a malicious trick. Rather than do something anti-crime or anti-hatred, Dennis tried to fool the victim. I never said Dennis was an owner. He is, contrary to what he implied, a manager. And he does have some control over this matter (no one person has total control, but he’s one of the people involved in the decision making). He’s also co-moderator of a subreddit with Andy, which he seems to have conveniently and dishonestly forgotten (rather than e.g. being apologetic and helpful after violating my rights with the libel or due to sympathy with a crime victim).

Jan 18, 2020, I emailed Lulie about Andy. I emailed David Deutsch on Jan 21. I emailed them both again on Feb 1. I have a personal history with both Lulie and David, which I referred to, so I won’t quote those emails. I shared info similar to what I told Dennis and Bruce. There was no response.

On Feb 3, I also received a response from an unknown person, “Doctor Philosophy” ( [email protected] ). Apparently Bruce or Dennis forwarded my emails to them. They said:

Thanks for bringing this problem to our attention. You have sent Four Stands two emails now (below). Your first email warned us of a possible problem so that we could look into it but didn’t ask for any response. We did start to investigate your claim. Before we completed the investigation, you sent a second email that seemed to indicate you were expecting some sort of response within a previously unspecified time frame – though what you were expecting is not made clear.

Your second email makes it clearer that you feel there is some sort of criminal activity going on. If that is true, that would be concerning. We are not qualified to investigate possible criminal activity. So we ask that you please call the police or other authorities right away. When they have reviewed the evidence, if they think that this is worth investigating, they may wish to contact us. We don’t think we have much that can help as this is just an internet group and few of us know each other. People who join the group may express their own opinions and those opinions don't reflect the views of the entire group. But we want to help the police, should they open an investigation, as much as possible.

To summarize: they had no idea that doxing, spamming, threatening, etc., were crimes, so they began investigating – but in secret without notifying me in any way. Their investigation did not discover any laws against those actions, and they expected me to believe, 13 days later, that the investigation was ongoing and that I should wait more for an update. They also said nothing for 2.5 days after my followup email then told me to call the police “right away” as if they knew the matter was urgent. And now that they realize Andy’s actions are seriously bad, they will do nothing.

This is thoroughly dishonest. For one thing, they began investigating 18 days ago, before my email, when the threatened person spoke with Bruce. And from what I’ve been told, the investigation consisted basically of asking Andy if he was guilty and believing him when he said no, as well as finding it implausible that Andy and Rat were the person despite IP evidence they were given, and despite the much more evidence that was available but which they didn’t want (like the table below).

The claim that I sent Four Strands two emails is both false and misleading. It’s false because I sent a third email to Four Strands (Dennis) a few days earlier on Jan 19:

Did you make this or could you tell me who did? I saw you tweeting it. https://www.fallible.fun

And may I join the Four Strands groups?

And it’s misleading because I had also contacted Four Strands by means other than email, e.g. I DMed Bruce on Twitter, on Jan 19, asking if I could join the Four Strands group (he did not reply).

Doctor Philosophy made no attempt to identify themselves or state their connection to Four Strands, so I replied (Feb 3):

You have not identified yourself or explained how you got a copy of my email message below. Who are you and what is your relationship to the Four Strands group? Who do you speak for and who do you not speak for? Are you speaking for Dennis, or not? For Bruce, or not? Aaron? Allie? Anyone else? Please provide some sort of proof that you represent whoever you claim to represent.

What steps did you take to investigate and what were the results so far? At this time, do you intend to take no further action?

What are the proper ways for the authorities to contact the Four Strands group? Names, phone numbers, emails, etc?

They did not reply.

Evidence Against Andy B

I thought carefully about what evidence to provide because the more I share about my knowledge, methods and security, the more it helps Andy learn how to beat my defenses. I’ve decided to prioritize proving my case, which is better for dealing with everyone other than Andy. The data dump at the end clearly shows two of Andy’s alternate identities, TheRat and Augustine, as well as a lengthy record of harassment. I have detailed evidence for everything else too and could provide additional info if there is a request with a reason it’s needed. I’ve provided a lot preemptively below.

Andy was friendly initially and learned about FI for a while before becoming hostile because I support Trump building a wall. He then apologized for getting so mad and soon got mad again because I criticized the moderation policies on the IDW subreddit where he was a moderator. He ragequit and start posting harassing comments (as well as apparently-civil comments and questions designed to waste people’s time). TheRat and the Augustine identities started out pretending to be friendly people learning FI and both created fake backstories and he ran both long cons, at the same time, for months. Andy often tries to draw people into discussion. He’s interested in FI ideas but has conflicted feelings about them. However, while learning on one identity (and even voice chatting) he would post ongoing troll comments anonymously.

Andy keeps making new identities or posting anonymously. If he gets attention, he uses that identity more. If not, he just tries something else. Some of them are openly hostile, harassing or trolling, while others are partially civil while trying to sneak in a few attacks, and others are entirely civil when Andy really wants attention. Andy also frequently talks with himself to make it sound like more people agree with him and to trick people into thinking his identities are separate people. He also will debate someone on one identity and when he doesn’t win the debate, he tries again on another identity. The identities that talk with each other the most are Andy and TheCritRat, particularly on Discord, Twitter and Reddit. In Curiosity blog comments, Andy often anonymously agreed with himself to create a fake crowd, rather than using a longer term identity.

The thing that most often makes Andy mad is his own insecurity about whether he can be a good philosopher like ET or David Deutsch. As TheRat, he rage quit over his concern that he was too irrational. He returned later and confessed that was why he left. He explained that he’d talked to a lot of people and found they were even more irrational in arguments than he was. He’s often desparate for ET’s attention and keeps trying different ways to try to ask questions and get ET to respond to him. He partially hates ET for ways ET is different than him that seem inaccessible to him, e.g. Andy can’t see himself supporting Trump building a wall, so it upsets him that ET supports that. TheRat rage quit a second time after ET said he was able to play chess calmly, without getting upset about losing, at age 4 or 5. TheRat exaggerated that heavily and got really angry because he thought that meant he could never be rational like ET. He’s also brought up these motivations repeatedly elsewhere. Andy’s psychology helps explain why the support, legitimization, approval and sanction of an alternative community of superficially-similar philosophers (also David Deutsch fans, who was ET’s mentor) matters so much for his behavior. It gives him a way to hate ET, feel good about it, and think he has an alternative way to be a good philosopher.

Andy has had four total victims. I haven’t named the other three, two of whom were doxed and one was threatened and spammed. Below I present information about identities and misdeeds.

Andy B, openly:
[email protected]
Discord: Andy B#6964
Creator, moderator: https://www.reddit.com/r/BeginningofInfinity/ (other mod: dchacke which is Dennis Hackethal)
Creator, moderator: https://www.reddit.com/r/HeuristicWorld/
Moderator: https://www.reddit.com/r/TheIDW/ (other mod: OursIsTheRepost)
Former moderator: https://www.reddit.com/r/IntellectualDarkWeb/

Andy B, covertly, known from computer security data:
Discord: TheRat#7635
[email protected]
Discord: Augustine#7267
[email protected]
[email protected]

Andy B or someone working with him:
Discord: TidalWave#7837
Discord: AnnCoultersDildo#3499
Discord: STB#5154
Discord: ThePhilosopher#9700
Discord: I KanT even#5632
Discord: Felix The Cat#3929

People have asked me about Anon99, who posted hostile blog comments then created a new, anonymous Twitter account and blog on Feb 1, 2020, for the specific purpose of harming my reputation in just the same sort of ways that Andy tries to. He jumped right into old Twitter discussions that Andy had posted in, and expressed knowledge of FI, CR, Objectivism and IDW (just like Andy knows about, and which is quite a rare combination outside of FI). There was no real pretense that he wasn’t a sock puppet. He shows many indications of being Andy, who has a history of making new identities and lying, but I don’t have a direct proof like I do with TheRat or Augustine. The reason I lack the same direct proof is because I’m now blocking everything with a direct connection to Andy’s past comments, so he’s had to hide his identity better in order to continue his harassment. A downside of active security is that people learn, by trial and error, what gets them caught. Besides a VPN, Anon99’s comments use other, uncommon identity-faking tools, and show common Andy patterns like writing malicious comments from different names in the middle of his conversation. Besides the use of unusual identity-hiding tools and circumstantial evidence, there are several other pieces of evidence regarding Anon99, but I don’t want to give away all my security info. Also there’s zero evidence that Anon99 is not Andy.

Note: Andy often deletes identities when he doesn’t plan to use them anymore. This makes it harder to track him or search for info. For example, TheRat rage quit for a while and then came back, at which point he had to recreate his accounts with the same name, and the Augustine discord account has been deleted.

Might be Andy:


These two are speculation based on content, style and behavior. They could easily be wrong.

Recordings of Andy's voice (as TheRat):



Spam email:


Mailing list subscription confirmation notice for mailing list

We have received a request from for subscription of your
email address, “[email protected]", to the
[email protected] mailing list. To confirm that you want
to be added to this mailing list, simply reply to this message,
keeping the Subject: header intact. Or visit this web page:

Andy spammed an FI person by signing them for 25 email lists which caused them to receive emails like this. This spam was done from Andy’s primary IP address on Jan 5, 2020. Andy also spammed me with 18 email list signups from on Jan 9 (in the table below, you can see Andy using that IP address on Jan 10).


In January, Andy doxed two people (not me) in Curiosity blog comments. I deleted the doxing and I won’t name the individuals or say what personal information was shared. It’s confirmed from server data that he did it. Andy is likely also the culprit who tried to reset someone’s Netflix password around the same time that he doxed that person.

Financial Fraud:

Dec 30, 2019, after posing as a young person for months (the Augustine identity), and telling lies about his cruel parents to gain sympathy, Andy fraudulently tricked me into gifting him $400 worth of my digital educational products. (I’m a kind and generous person, sometimes perhaps too much.) Defrauding people for hundreds of dollars of financial gain crosses a major criminal line.


On Jan 5, 2020, Andy (as TheRat, on Discord) baselessly accused an FI person (not me) of being “sociopathic” and abusing a child’s trust. Andy verbally abused this person with profanity-laced insults and made threatening statements:

when you hurt children in the process you’ve crossed a line.


I am sure there’s ways to make your life difficult, particularly in [name of country]

This was followed by additional flaming along with comments indicating the threat was serious, such as:

you think I am joking around here or something? Fix it. I won’t ask again.


you have 24 hours to [obey my demands] […] Fix it. That simple.

There was no factual basis for Andy’s claims. The supposed child in question was Andy himself under the fake Augustine identity, and nothing really happened to him. I’ll tell the story so that you can see how little happened. Let’s call the threatened person Joe. Augustine sent Joe a link by direct message. Joe read it. Later, Augustine sent the same link to a public chat. Joe said roughly (the exact message was deleted to try to accommodate Augustine’s demands), “Oh I read that when you sent it to me Aug, here are my thoughts […]”. That’s it.

The threatened person is on the Four Strands group in addition to FI and told Bruce Nielson about the threat because both Andy and his TheRat identity were in Four Strands. Bruce, as a group manager (though I actually have some evidence that he’s an owner who pretends to be a manager), did nothing about it and let them both stay; apparently the Four Strands group is intentionally choosing an atmosphere where threats like this are acceptable. Bruce also did nothing about the threatened person being spammed from Andy’s IP address.

This verbal abuse was done allegedly to self-righteously stand up for TCS values, and the threatened person was insulted with profanity for allegedly not doing TCS correctly.

Andy Blog Comments Data

Andy’s primary IP address is, which appears to be in Texas. He posted around 100 friendly comments from that IP address before he became hostile in Sept 2018. Below are all comments from that IP address and all comments which visitor-match a comment from that IP address. The visitor-matching is done using standard, robust, open source security software (see the Security ID column in the table below). I won't provide the specific security software I use. The basic facts are that it’s imperfect and sometimes gives false negatives (it fails to match two comments as being from the same person), but false positives (where it incorrectly says two people are the same) are very rare and I haven’t found any false positives in extensive review. FYI I’m a professional software developer and have reviewed the security data with another developer. This simplified, limited data set is 316 comments from the over 400 that I know were Andy. If you click a comment link and it doesn’t highlight a comment, that means it’s hidden. Andy did continue posting harassing comments during the time gap in this data set from Oct 2018 through Sept 2019, but not as frequently and he consistently remembered to use a VPN during that time before slipping up and posting from his primary IP address again in late 2019.

IDDateAuthorIPSecurity ID
112222018.09.21David Fapman72.178.3.18998f6d0f1e4388f49326ec157e222b5af
138692019.10.21Ask Kant72.178.3.189bcb0e756f1d204165bc5b8f5594c6210
138892019.10.22Different anon72.178.3.189bcb0e756f1d204165bc5b8f5594c6210
139022019.10.22Different Anon72.178.3.189bcb0e756f1d204165bc5b8f5594c6210
142062019.11.06Considering Veganism72.178.3.1894f87d14258e955a9e970ccc7f1f2c402
142362019.11.08Learning Marx72.178.3.189c4b0c9e4a71adbbb956ecf49bc9e1ed9
142402019.11.08The Lil lion Augustine104.238.59.444f87d14258e955a9e970ccc7f1f2c402
142532019.11.09Likes proper commas72.178.3.189c4b0c9e4a71adbbb956ecf49bc9e1ed9
142562019.11.09The Rat104.194.220.40c4b0c9e4a71adbbb956ecf49bc9e1ed9
142582019.11.09The Rat104.194.220.58c4b0c9e4a71adbbb956ecf49bc9e1ed9
143132019.11.14actually literate185.192.69.85c4b0c9e4a71adbbb956ecf49bc9e1ed9
143202019.11.14YouTube Loves Capitalism46.244.28.50c4b0c9e4a71adbbb956ecf49bc9e1ed9
143292019.11.14Sophistry Pwner199.167.137.29c4b0c9e4a71adbbb956ecf49bc9e1ed9
143312019.11.14Sophistry Pwner199.167.137.224c4b0c9e4a71adbbb956ecf49bc9e1ed9
143322019.11.14John Galt46.244.28.96c4b0c9e4a71adbbb956ecf49bc9e1ed9
143392019.11.14The best Anon199.167.137.224c4b0c9e4a71adbbb956ecf49bc9e1ed9
145492019.11.23John Galt would help fight climate change46.244.28.9c4b0c9e4a71adbbb956ecf49bc9e1ed9
149682019.12.29Howard Roark185.192.69.156e4396c2db04e0a072a5150796f09b3f7
150332020.01.06When the ego doesn't match the skill85.203.44.40e4396c2db04e0a072a5150796f09b3f7
150462020.01.08Rand would be dissapointed85.203.44.40e4396c2db04e0a072a5150796f09b3f7
150562020.01.10Shit Tier Blogger85.203.44.111e4396c2db04e0a072a5150796f09b3f7
150882020.01.14Curi is a hypocrite46.244.28.52e4396c2db04e0a072a5150796f09b3f7
151282020.01.17[name removed due to doxing]
151302020.01.17Howard Roark199.167.137.32e4396c2db04e0a072a5150796f09b3f7
151412020.01.18Mr. Sandman185.230.125.155e4396c2db04e0a072a5150796f09b3f7
151702020.01.20Ayn Rand's Dildo199.167.137.32e4396c2db04e0a072a5150796f09b3f7
151912020.01.22[name removed due to doxing]


Andy B is an online criminal. Dennis Hackethal, Bruce Nielson, Aaron Stupple and Allie Pace are maliciously encouraging Andy (and anyone else) to harass me. And that group of leaders has personally spread hatred about me and violated my rights. They’re welcoming Andy as a member at their groups, providing him moral support, protecting his reputation while working to damage mine, working with him, preventing me from having access to group messages to investigate, and more. Others like Brett Hall have helped encourage the culture of hatred. David Deutsch has acted irresponsibly by saying and doing nothing. None of these people will make any anti-crime or anti-harassment statement, or even pay lip service to asking their members or fans to be peaceful. This shadow community is dangerous and should be shunned by all civilized persons.

They wouldn’t even ban Andy from their group, or disassociate from him, let alone discourage the culture of hatred they’ve created or oppose harassment in any way.

If anyone involved apologizes and takes reasonable actions to try to make amends, I will update this post.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (29)