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Backbone, Pushback, Standing Up For Your Ideas

You need to be sturdy to do well in FI philosophy discussions or anywhere. Don’t be pushed around or controlled by people who weren’t even trying to push you around, because you’re so weak and fragile almost anything can boss you around without even trying or intending to.

Broadly, people give advice, ideas, criticism, etc.

Some advice can help you right now. Some of it, you don’t understand, you don’t get it, it doesn’t work for you right now. You could ask a question or follow up and then maybe get more advice so it does work, but you still might not get it. It’s good to follow up some sometimes, but that’s another topic.

The point is: you must use your own judgment about which ideas work for you. What do you understand? What makes sense to you?

Filter all the ideas/advice/criticism in this way. Sort it into two categories:

Category 1 (self-ownership and integration of the idea): Do you get it, yourself, in your own understanding, well enough to use it? Are you ready to use it as your own idea, that is yours, that you feel ownership of, and you take full responsibility for the outcome? Would you still use it even if the guy who said it changed his mind (but didn’t tell you why), because it’s now the best idea in your own mind? Would you still use it if all the people advocating it got hit by cars and died, so you couldn't get additional advice?

Category 2 (foreign, non-integrated, confused idea): You don’t get it. Maybe you partly get it, but not fully. Not enough to live it without ever reading FI again, with no followup help. You don’t understand it enough to adapt it when problems come up or the situation changes. You have ideas in your mind which conflict with it. It isn’t natural/intuitive/automated for you. It feels like someone else’s idea, not yours. Maybe you could try doing their advice, but it wouldn’t be your own action.


If you only use category 1, you’re easy to help and safe to talk to. People can give you advice, and there's no danger – if it helps, great, and if it doesn't help, nothing happens. But if you use category 2, you are sabotaging progress and you're hard to deal with.

Note: the standard for understanding ideas needs to be your own standard, not my standard. If you're somewhat confused about all your ideas (by my standards), that doesn't mean everything is category 2 for you. If you learn an idea as well as the rest of your ideas, and you can own it as much as the rest, that's category 1.

Note: Trying out an idea, in a limited way, which you do know how to do (you understand enough to do the trial you have in mind) is a different idea than the original idea. The trial could be category 1 if you know how to do it, know what you're trying to learn, know how to evaluate the results. Be careful though. It's easy to "try" an idea while doing it totally wrong!

But there's a problem here I haven't solved. Most people can't use the two categories because the idea of the two categories itself is in category 2 for them, so it'd be self-contradictory to use it.

To do this categorizing, they'd need to have developed the skill of figuring out what they understand or not. They'd need to be able to tell the difference effectively. But most people don't know how.

They could try rejecting stuff which is category 2 and unconventional, because that's an especially risky pairing. Except they can't effectively judge what's unconventional, and also they don't understand why that pairing matters well enough (so the idea of checking for category-2-and-unconventional is itself a category 2 idea for them; it's also an unconventional suggestion...).

Note: these ideas have been discussed at the FI discussion group. Here’s a good post by Alisa and you can find the rest of the discussion at that link.

Elliot Temple on June 21, 2018

Comments (3)

What should we name the 2 categories?

curi at 1:39 PM on June 21, 2018 | #9933 | reply | quote

unrefuted and refuted? :)

Alisa at 2:02 PM on June 21, 2018 | #9937 | reply | quote

> unrefuted and refuted? :)

ppl don't understand how unrefuted is related to owning the idea yourself. that terminology misses the point of coming at these things in another way.

the meaning of the smile is unclear.

Anonymous at 2:04 PM on June 21, 2018 | #9938 | reply | quote

What do you think?

(This is a free speech zone!)