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What Is an Impasse?

An impasse is a reason (from the speaker’s pov (point of view)) that the discussion isn’t working.

Impasses take logical priority over continuing the discussion. It doesn’t make sense to keep talking about the original topic when someone thinks that isn’t working.

An impasse chain is an impasse about a discussion of an impasse. The first impasse, about the original topic, is impasse 1. If discussion of impasse 1 reaches an impasse, that’s impasse 2. If discussion of impasse 2 reaches an impasse, that’s impasse 3. And so on.

A chain of impasses is different than multiple separate impasses. In a chain, each link is attached to the previous link. By contrast, multiple separate impasses would be if someone gives several reasons that the original discussion isn’t working. Each of those impasses is about the original discussion, rather than being linked to each other.

When there is a chain of impasses, the most recent (highest number) impasse takes priority over the previous impasses. Impasse 2 is a reason, from the speaker’s pov, that discussion of impasse 1 isn’t working. Responding about impasse 1 at that point doesn’t make sense from his pov. It comes off as trying to ignore him and his pov.

Sometimes people try to solve a problem without saying what they’re doing. Instead of discussing an impasse, they try to continue the prior discussion but make changes to fix the problem. But they don’t acknowledge the problem existed, say what they’re doing to fix it, ask if that is acceptable from the other person’s pov, etc. From the pov of the person who brought up the impasse, this looks like being ignored because the person doesn’t communicate about the impasse and tries to continue the original topic. The behavior looks very similar to a person who thinks the impasse is stupid and wants to ignore it for that reason. And usually when people try to silently solve the problem, they don’t actually know enough about it (since they asked no clarifying questions) in order to get it right on the first try (even if they weren’t confusing the other person by not explaining what they were doing, usually their first guess at a solution to the impasse won’t work).

This non-communicated problem-solving attempt problem is visible when people respond at the wrong level of discussion. Call the original topic level 0, the first impasse level 1, the second impasse level 2, the third impasse level 3, and so on. If level 3 has been reached and then someone responds to level 2, 1 or 0, then they’re not addressing the current impasse. They either are ignoring the problem or trying to solve it without explaining what they’re doing. Similarly, if the current level is 1, and someone responds at level 0, they’re making this error.

The above is already explained, in different words with more explanation, in my article Debates and Impasse Chains.


Elliot Temple on June 17, 2020

Messages (7)

Impasse Rules Criticism

If you use your impasse rules in a conversation with someone who has never heard of your impasse rules then you risk ignoring the person and their ideas.

If you use your impasse rules you are requiring that the other person follow your impasse rules in order for the original topic of conversation to continue. This means you may be waiting for the other person to resolve impasse 3 while the other person is still trying to resolve the initial impasse. This results in you ignoring the other person who is obviously focusing on the original impasse. This is especially challenging for a person who is concerned with solving core problems (the original impasse) while you are concenred with solving the latest impasse in the chain.

Your impasse rules are too rigid in my opinion. If you follow the impasse rules like a robot then you will have conversations which end needlessly because either (1) the other person didn’t understand your rigid impasse rules or (2) the other person did understand your rigid impasse rules and disagreed with them so much that they chose to spend their time and energy elsewhere because they think conversation rules should have more flexibility.

I think your impasse rules algorithm need an escape flag which gives the other person the benefit of the doubt. If the other person is obviously focused on the original impasse then you should be willing to try and resolve the original impasse which might then make all other impasses in the chain irrelevant.


Gavin Palmer at 5:11 AM on June 18, 2020 | #16717 | reply | quote

meant to be funny anecdote

My personal experience is that it was frustrating to have you act so robotic like some kind of chatbot. I was wanting to press that button “human please”. :lol:


Gavin Palmer at 5:17 AM on June 18, 2020 | #16718 | reply | quote

Escape flag and giving benefit of the doubt

#16717

I don't claim to understand the impasse concept adequately (haven’t error corrected it enough and didn’t get feedback from other people) but I have an idea that might help.

> I think your impasse rules algorithm need an escape flag which gives the other person the benefit of the doubt.

I think his policy does give the other person the benefit of the doubt, a ton. Any of the claimed impasses can be criticized by the other person (which I think you did on one particular impasse claim), which is a way progress can be made towards the original discussion. Also the impasse policy itself can be criticized by the other person (which you did in the comment I’m replying to), which is another way progress can be made towards the original discussion.

> If the other person is obviously focused on the original impasse then you should be willing to try and resolve the original impasse which might then make all other impasses in the chain irrelevant.

The concept of “obvious” is a mistake. It you’re assuming that you and Elliot share the same understanding about whether or not you were focussed on the original impasse. To clarify, I don’t know whether or not he agrees with you on that. My only point is that it’s a mistake to assume that he does agree with you on that.


GISTE at 6:00 AM on June 18, 2020 | #16719 | reply | quote

> My personal experience is that it was frustrating to have you act so robotic like some kind of chatbot. I was wanting to press that button “human please”. :lol:

He thought X and said Y. He was communicating dishonestly and hiding his actual thoughts and reactions. The conversation didn't address the problems he was having because he intentionally worked to prevent problem solving by putting his effort into hiding, not solving, the problems. He tried to act robotic himself, in bad ways that he knew were bad, in some sort of bizarre attempt to pretend to be something he didn't understand.

> If you use your impasse rules in a conversation with someone who has never heard of your impasse rules then you risk ignoring the person and their ideas.

Similarly he didn't understand what impasses were due to being his policies of not clicking links, not asking questions, and communicating dishonestly to hide ignorance and problems rather than get them addressed. (Plus lack of skill at understanding what was said to him directly in the thread.) He doesn't take responsibility for his failures and try for self-improvement though; he prefers to blame other people and outside circumstances.


Anonymous at 12:30 PM on June 18, 2020 | #16722 | reply | quote

> The concept of “obvious” is a mistake. It you’re assuming that you and Elliot share the same understanding about whether or not you were focussed on the original impasse. To clarify, I don’t know whether or not he agrees with you on that. My only point is that it’s a mistake to assume that he does agree with you on that.

I agree that I should not have used the word “obvious”.


Gavin Palmer at 6:45 AM on June 20, 2020 | #16746 | reply | quote

Full agreement or partial agreement?

> I agree that I should not have [done Y].

I had previously said X.

was your comment that I quoted meant to be a claim of full agreement with Y?

or only partial agreement with Y? if so, what part of Y do you disagree with?

[process: I decided to use variables to help clarify the logic of our sentences, by avoiding the content details like what X and Y represent.]


GISTE at 9:05 AM on June 20, 2020 | #16748 | reply | quote

#16748 - The concept of “obvious" is error prone. I would not call it a mistake. It requires a certain amount of knowledge about a person or people.

You could run an experiment where you poll a group of people (FI community) to determine the amount of “obviousness”. That is what I was thinking when I used the word. I was thinking that most people here would understand that I was talking about the original impasse. I also used my previous experience with Elliot to judge that he is capable of understanding that I was talking about the original impasse.


Gavin Palmer at 5:19 AM on June 25, 2020 | #16774 | reply | quote

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