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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 on December 29, 2012

Messages (24)

This is so funny! You "own" and control just about every public forum to discuss Prof. Deutsch's work, and TCS and ARR. Now you have fallen out with him, what will you do? Perhaps ban him from all the forums like everyone else you disagree with. Have you ever wondered why your forums are so boring, tedious, repetitive and deluded?

Much as I dislike you, I'm going to give you a piece of advice that I think you should take seriously. Go see a doctor! Tell the doctor what you have been doing - i.e. owning and controlling every public forum associated with DD that you can. Tell her he has disappointed you and that lately you have come to realise that you are the better philosopher, with more knowledge and status.

Tom Harrigan at 3:17 AM on December 30, 2012 | #2165 | reply | quote



I couldn't agree with you more. Just reading Elliot's post makes one cringe. I'm actually surprised it took David this long to cut ties with Elliot.

Michael Bacon at 10:34 AM on January 1, 2013 | #2166 | reply | quote

Tell me Elliot, when you do plan on making your horse a consul?

Anonymous at 8:36 AM on January 10, 2013 | #2167 | reply | quote


"Have you ever wondered why your forums are so boring, tedious, repetitive and deluded?"

Because he's a weird, childish, emotionally stunted control freak?

Anonymous at 7:58 PM on February 23, 2013 | #2170 | reply | quote

DD has made repeated public twitter efforts to elect Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. He's swung way way to the left of where he was.

curi at 6:34 PM on August 1, 2016 | #6314 | reply | quote

Why does he ignore your tweets?

FF at 8:18 PM on August 1, 2016 | #6316 | reply | quote

DD couldn't win a substantive argument with Elliot anymore and doesn't want to learn or change his mind about these things. DD's protecting his bad ideas. and, by avoiding discussion, DD's trying to minimize how much of a fool/loser/idiot/ignoramus he looks like. (silence and nothing is more ambiguous than if he lost some arguments badly)

Anonymous at 8:20 PM on August 1, 2016 | #6317 | reply | quote


Just found this thread, so am unqualified to comment. However I want to say that I immediately identify with Elliot much more than the insulting crowd. They're not contributing - just being nasty.

Anonymous at 9:11 PM on June 7, 2018 | #9790 | reply | quote

Some people interpret it as a social status contest, and DD as obviously higher social status than ET, and therefore think ET is failing to know his place. People often step out of line in minor, accidental, forgivable ways but ET is egregiously arrogant to think he could be right intellectually in a conflict with a more prestigious person. (That ET and DD worked together as roughly peers/equals for years is considered irrelevant to their social status. Status is judged by, basically, how much praise they get from other high-status people, especially people who are not involved in the conflict.)

Another issue is people typically assume one leads with one's best arguments/punches, and claiming to have anything in reserve is bluster. It's not real to them that ET and DD both have hundreds of things to say about each other which they are keeping private, and ET was only relating a little bit of info for a limited purpose.

One major asymmetry is that ET would happily tell his criticism of DD to DD, to allow for private rebuttal (and would do lots of it publicly with DD's permission) but not vice versa – DD largely refused to explain his complaints about ET to ET. More generally, ET has Paths Forward and DD is blocking them. http://fallibleideas.com/paths-forward

Anonymous at 9:19 PM on June 7, 2018 | #9793 | reply | quote


Not sure at all what this forum is about or what your all smoking.. but I will say this. I read fabric of reality from the doosh bag himself today in one sitting and I have serious quarry about his mental stability as a human being. This may be some of the worst nebulous tabloid plagiarized mierde I have ever read in my entire life. This guy is an absolute tool. He rips off the matrix, he rips off quantum physics, can he even do maths?... He can't even think on his own two feet. How is he a scholar and a gentleman? Seriously terrible faulty writer. It's like a kindergartner was tasked with writing a novel about science. Why are people even listening to this guy? I couldn't find two thoughts that connected in any reasonable way. I have never read anything so disjointed and ludicrous ever.

Hi at 9:57 PM on July 24, 2018 | #10430 | reply | quote


Anonymous at 7:32 PM on September 10, 2018 | #11136 | reply | quote

#10430 my theory, Deutsch has turned his attention to "Western decadence" and now seeks to prop up society by deployment of "useful fiction". For all his railing against marxism, DD sure seems like an anti-vanguard propagandist

mickleby at 11:26 AM on January 13, 2019 | #11620 | reply | quote

not very specific

#10430 Could you point out a particular mistake?

oh my god it's turpentine at 11:39 AM on January 13, 2019 | #11621 | reply | quote

Anonymous at 2:56 PM on August 11, 2019 | #13282 | reply | quote


The DD tweet links to this video


which mentions BoI and Sam Harris's book "Waking Up". The Harris books is about meditation and mindfulness. I haven't read the Harris book, but everything I've read by him in the past has been dog shit.

The video sez that when you do things on autopilot that's when anti-rational memes can be enacted. This is wrong. Lots of anti-rational stuff is done intentionally. For example, there are many anti-rational philosophical ideas that people write about at length while ignoring criticism: justificationism, Marxism etc. These people are not writing on autopilot. They're thinking about what they're doing and coming up with elaborate and confusing ideas that confuse people about the content of their ideas.

oh my god it's turpentine at 12:33 AM on August 12, 2019 | #13286 | reply | quote

We use autopilot when we walk or use a fork. Those aren't anti-rational memes. You have to autopilot some things to free up attention for other stuff – you can't focus on everything at once.

Anonymous at 12:53 AM on August 12, 2019 | #13287 | reply | quote

I wonder what Deutsch thinks about all this. I wonder what he's telling himself about why he left FI and about whether and why his philosophy has changed.

Another Anonymous at 5:14 AM on August 16, 2019 | #13308 | reply | quote

#13308 You can get some hints from LT's rationalizations. And from how he rationalized his attack on Rand.[1]

He also e.g. accuses me of not giving people enough of a viable alternative to change their mind to which is accessible from where they are now. But he doesn't want to discuss that matter in detail.

[1] http://curi.us/2189-open-discussion-2019#c13235 There are also FI posts and videos about this.

curi at 11:32 AM on August 16, 2019 | #13314 | reply | quote

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

WTF this shit tier blogger thinks he has more status and knowledge than David Deutsch. How deluded can you be?

WTF? at 6:33 PM on January 5, 2020 | #15030 | reply | quote

Elliot Temple is the best living philosopher


Elliot Temple is the best living philosopher. Therefore, in the relevant sense, his status is higher than that of David Deutsch.

This subject was discussed, among other places, in a thread on FI list from 2015. (That thread can be found in the Fallible Ideas Discussion eBook.) Elliot Temple started the thread off with:

> i'm the best living philosopher.

> criticism, doubts, questions, dissent welcome.

> names of other people and arguments welcome.

> silent unargued denial unwelcome.

PAS replied:

> I think philosophy is one of the hardest or the hardest field to judge who is best.

Elliot Temple wrote back:

> I think it’s relatively easy because the competition isn’t close. I’m not winning by a hair’s breadth. The larger the margin of victory, the less precise judgement methods are needed.

> If you can’t name any competition or give any counter-arguments, you’re (tentatively) *done*.

In 2017, Elliot Temple wrote on FI list:

> I think these two claims are really hard to dispute:

> 1) I’m the best Objectivist philosopher who is also an expert on Critical Rationalism.

> 2) I’m the best Critical Rationalist philosopher who is also an expert on Objectivism.

> My next claim is more debatable:

> 3) Objectivism and Critical Rationalism are the most important philosophies.

> Regardless of what you think about these claims, they provide a way of coming to the conclusion that I’m the best living philosopher.

> It’s not the only method of reaching this conclusion, but it’s a pretty simple one with a nice structure.

As far as I know, none of those claims have been refuted.

jordancurve at 8:05 PM on January 5, 2020 | #15031 | reply | quote

#15031 which living philosophers have you actually read, sycophant?

Elliot writes like an undergraduate freshman. He writes more like an average self-help blogger than a philosopher. His essays are unfocused and do not provide the necessary arguments to make the claims he does.

So do tell.

Let me give you a hint of why these self-professed claims have not been "refuted." because real philosophers don't have the time to read shit tier bloggers.

If Elliot could get a single paper published to a peer reviewed journal I'd be hella surprised. If his paper would get cited more than once then maybe you could call him a philosopher.

For now, to make the claim that he's a philosopher, let alone the best of anything is just hot air. This dude would struggle to pass freshman-level philosophy classes.

When the ego doesn't match the skill at 8:33 AM on January 6, 2020 | #15033 | reply | quote

#15033 Then you won't have much trouble pointing out a actual flaw in Elliot's writings.

oh my god it's turpentine at 12:27 AM on January 7, 2020 | #15040 | reply | quote

Man, the David Deutsch rabbit hole is wild...

Shibboleth_J at 8:49 AM on September 4, 2020 | #17806 | reply | quote

Want to discuss this? Join my forum.

(Due to multi-year, sustained harassment from David Deutsch and his fans, commenting here requires an account. Accounts are not publicly available. Discussion info.)