Sarah Fitz-Claridge (SFC) (formerly named Sarah Lawrence) is David Deutsch’s (DD) co-founder for Taking Children Seriously, their education and parenting philosophy that builds on Critical Rationalism and classical liberalism. They are longterm, close associates. After they’d known each other for roughly five years, SFC moved from London to a new home in Oxford in order to live roughly a mile away from DD. SFC has been actively promoting TCS and naming DD as her co-founder recently, e.g. last month she gave an online talk about TCS which DD attended.
In 2009, SFC banned me from a public TCS email discussion group. Lulie Tanett (LT) asked SFC to make it a ban on sending posts, but to still allow me to receive the emails. It didn’t matter much because I could easily get a friend (like LT) to set up automatic forwarding for all the emails.
SFC replied to LT to refuse and she also lied about me:
No, he [Elliot Temple] has so grossly violated the many requests of him that I do not want him to even read it. It is such a joke for him to suggest that no common preference was attempted when he himself has walked all over everything we have asked of him -- you know -- little things like not posting stuff from the tcs list to other forums without the consent of those quoted, not cross posting, etc. he is AWFUL! So far from concerned about consent that it is shocking that he pretends to give a shit about consent!
The lie here is that I “violated […] many requests”, and in particular that I violated requests not to cross post or not to quote public emails at other forums. SFC never made those requests. Here is my response (from 2009) to LT, who forwarded me SFC’s email. The first two nested quotes (the ones with a black line on the left) are written by LT.
Incidentally, is any of this remotely true? Is it flat-out lies, or did you have reasons for not doing what she said?
She didn't make those requests. She's lying or she remembers her silent wants as requests.
I'd like to know in what way she's wrong.
She didn't request that I don't cross post, or don't copy stuff to other lists.
I checked my inboxes for Sarah emails. I found 44. The majority are friendly. Back in 04 she said some things which weren't a clear request but could be interpreted as a request not to "cause unnecessary work for the moderators" by, I think (it doesn't really say), posting meta discussion. It also had a threat to ban me, which I'd forgotten.
In 03 she made an actual request not to post meta discussion on the TCS website.
She made a request about me only posting anonymously somewhere else. Which I did.
She requested permission to post my stuff to the TCS website several times.
Here's a quote of Sarah from aug 06 after she was here IRL:
I just wanted to hear what you were going to say, and felt like forcefully telling people to shut the fuck up and listen to you -- it was driving me nuts!
I did find a request I made to Sarah:
please don't post edited versions of [my] emails on the public forums anymore.
Note that LT was aware that SFC is liar, and was already considering that it could be flat-out lies before I commented.
I had been cross-posting regularly since 2002. SFC, DD and other TCS moderators knew that, personally received many of my cross-posted emails and saw that they were cross-posted, and never objected. I don’t think cross-posting replies to public messages is bad, plus they didn’t request that I stop. Suddenly, after I’d been doing it routinely for seven years, SFC apparently decided it was a big deal and lied about it in a private email to a friend of mine (but still didn’t say anything to me about it). Fortunately, in this case, the friend showed SFC’s lie to me and allowed me to defend myself.
This lie is notable because it’s so similar to DD’s recent lie about me. DD and his co-founder behave similarly. In DD’s lie, he falsely claimed that I had violated several no contact requests. In 2009, I dealt with Sarah’s lie by going through 44 emails and reviewing the facts. Recently, I dealt with DD’s lie by going through more records than that (DD and I talked a lot more than SFC and I did) and posting the facts.
SFC’s lie is also notable because she has held onto a hateful grudge for over a decade. She has a leadership role in the community that is harassing me and she’s currently following Andy B (the worst harasser) on Twitter. Note that I only started writing about the problem and defending myself in 2020. I tried leaving SFC alone for many years but she won’t move on. I’ve actually barely interacted with her since 2006. (Two examples: In 2015 – six years after the 2009 issue – she still actively hated me and was involved in joking about murdering me (source: LT). And in 2021, a few days ago, her husband wrote multiple friendly tweets with Andy B.).
As further context for this, and for my relationships with DD and LT generally, I’ll tell more of the story about me being banned from this group. Here’s what happened next:
DD and LT sympathized with me and we formed a plan to deal with SFC’s attempt to suppress my TCS posts. We planned that I would continue writing TCS posts as usual, but I would send them to LT, who would post them under her name. DD approved of this plan and didn’t want me banned but was too busy to confront SFC about it (DD was near the end of writing his book, The Beginning of Infinity). The explicit approval of a TCS founder is one of the reasons I was willing to circumvent the ban. I normally don’t ban evade, but I respected DD’s judgment. I thought that if a TCS founder wanted me to keep posting to a TCS group that he’s involved with, then it was reasonable to do it. (Do you think DD’s approval could also be relevant to Andy’s ban evasions at my sites? I think Andy believes he has DD’s approval to harass me, and that that substantially encourages him. Andy believes he’s standing up for a great intellectual, DD, against an evil enemy. I think DD knows this and has intentionally chosen to never once say one word discouraging or delegitimizing the harassment because he actually does approve of it.)
One of the results of the plan was that SFC was thrilled to see LT writing more TCS posts and praised her about it.
This is DD’s first email to me about the ban, from 2009-07-28:
I can't imagine why [SFC banned you]. Probably one of the posts I just skimmed, and missed where you advocated puppy-blending.
Have no time to do stuff.
Nowadays I can't think 'Ban' without thinking Ki-Moon. And I have no idea what justifies him either.
Hope that helps.
Talking about blending puppies was a recurring joke from the pro-Iraq-war blogs that DD liked. DD is sympathetic and unable to imagine any reasonable reason to ban me, and is mocking SFC. Ban Ki-moon was a South Korean politician; in that paragraph, DD is saying that he has no idea what justifies my ban, and mocking SFC a second time.
LT wrote about the ban (this is the precursor to SFC lying to LT, above):
That sucks. I've emailed her asking for the posting-only ban. I'm sorry she did this.
It's disgusting. She's insane. This makes me want to boycott her/her-related TCS stuff, but I think that will do more harm than good. If there's any way I can make things better -- for you or TCS, tell me. I'm still playing with the idea of asking one more time for the TCS site, or influencing her decisions about it (like, by suggesting things to change and offering to change it for free, or something).
(After years of not working on TCS, SFC had promised to give control of the TCS site to LT, but then broke that promise while still leaving the TCS site inactive.)
When LT and I discussed what to do about the situation, LT called me the “best poster” and expressed her belief that SFC was destroying TCS:
If she wants to exclude the best poster […]
Or is the fact she's destroying TCS more important? If so, shouldn't we make a separate TCS site of our own?
In IMs, I asked DD if he thought ghostwriting TCS posts to be sent by LT was a good idea:
22:09:18 oxfordphysicist: I see no problem. Oh, maybe there'll be some friction if Sarah finds out.
22:09:27 curidotus: yes. heh.
22:09:43 curidotus: presumably she will ban lulie from the tcs list.
22:10:12 oxfordphysicist: Or let you back on.
22:10:19 curidotus: umm. yeah right. lol
DD not only saw “no problem” with it, he thought SFC might unban me if she found out (he’s naive or unrealistic sometimes).
Another Similar Story
Years before this story, there was another incident where Sarah didn’t communicate a request. Here’s the context:
- As a general policy, the TCS moderators sent emails letting you know when they rejected a post and giving a short reason.
- The moderators were sometimes aggressive and frequently inconsistent, and the rules were unclear, so many people had posts rejected. That was common.
- Email was less reliable back then, so there was a policy: If your email didn’t show up after a few days, and you didn’t receive a message from a moderator, then resend it. Similarly, in a 2003 announcement saying a few days of emails had been lost due to a technical glitch and that people should resend their posts, SFC said “Posts should never disappear into the ether.”
So one time my email didn’t show up and I resent it. I believe I’d successfully done that several times previously. After a few days, my email didn’t show up again, and still no moderator had said anything to me, so I resent it a second time. SFC then got angry with me for spamming the list and wasting the moderators’ time with an email they didn’t want to approve. From memory, she still didn’t say anything to me, but I started hearing some unclear, negative things indirectly because I talked with lots of the TCS community members.
I found out later, from Alan Forrester (another TCS moderator), what happened. SFC had come up with a new policy to save moderator time by not sending rejection notes to me when moderators rejected my emails (that new policy was directed only at me personally). My posts would just silently not appear with no reason given. But SFC never told me this policy. In my understanding, she also failed to tell the moderators that she hadn’t informed me, so they assumed I knew and assumed that I was resending posts to cause trouble, rather than resending because I thought there was a computer glitch and I was trying to follow SFC’s post-resending policy.
So the moderators thought I was spamming the TCS list with rejected posts to get some kind of revenge – and Sarah encouraged that with anger at me and gossip about me. But I was actually making a good faith effort to follow the list rules plus anything that a moderator told me.
SFC didn’t communicate about what she wanted. That’s an ongoing pattern with her. As soon as I actually knew what was going on, I stopped resending posts that didn’t show up. When I knew what she wanted and what her policy was, I went along with it. But before I found out, it was confusing, and my innocent actions bothered the moderators who incorrectly believed I was being intentionally disobedient by twice resending a post they’d rejected.
SFC seems unable to understand that I don’t know what she’s thinking. She thought I was purposefully violating her policies that no one had told me. And she tricked other people into thinking that, too. I don’t think she was even fully aware that she was misleading people to have false, negative beliefs about me. I don’t think she ever realized her mistake or explained to the moderators what had happened in order to undo some of the damage to my reputation that she’d done. But being irresponsible and not thinking much about what’s going on, or about the consequences of her actions, doesn’t absolve her of responsibility.
SFC is part of the group of people who hate me, gossip about me, and encourage harassment of me. She’s a leader who has been doing it for over ten years. She has been caught lying. I knew about this problem but let it go and didn’t expose her; I didn’t realize what sort of harassment campaign it would grow into. DD co-founded TCS with her and lied about me in a similar way (after he switched from especially liking me to especially disliking me without any clear explanation about why). It’s part of a pattern. These people repeatedly lie and also confuse unstated wants (in their head) with stated requests (in external reality). They’re caught up in their emotions and bad at communicating, which explains a lot of what’s going on today. It also helps explain why my articles about the facts of the harassment problem have been unable to fix things.