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Do You Really, Actually, Genuinely Want Unbounded Discussion?

When people post in the Unbounded section of my forum, and claim that they wanted unbounded discussion and criticism, I broadly don’t believe them. I tend to treat it like somewhat less bounded discussion.

What could people do to convince me that they actually want unbounded criticism?

You could build up a positive reputation by responding well to criticism and other comments, and by putting effort into learning. That helps. And there are other reasons to do those things. But there are also more direct approaches.

You could show knowledge of what unbounded criticism looks like. You could write some essays attempting to do unbounded criticism of some example stuff. One good source of examples/targets is public intellectuals. They’re suitable because there is public information available to discuss, they say some somewhat intellectual things, they have volunteered to be criticized, and they have generally already been flamed a lot and developed a thick skin so they won’t be hurt if some random guy on some random forum says something negative about them (even if they actually saw it). I think some of them can read their own subreddit, read some negative comments, and be emotionally OK. Others can’t, but they are frauds who should consider changing professions and leaving more room for other more deserving intellectuals to get attention. To be clear, this is not a comment on celebrities – just the intellectuals who claim to be rational. There is no particular reason someone good at acting, singing or sports should be good at being insulted or criticized, but intellectuals should be good at it. This particularly applies to the sort of intellectual who debates people, says they’re involved in truth seeking, says they’re smart and have good ideas, or something like that.

You could write self-criticism.

You could engage in highly critical debates and share them.

You could explain what you did to become emotionally stable.

You could explain what problems you identified and solved to become better at taking criticism.

You could find and read things I’ve written about various types of criticism that people sometimes don’t like. You could respond to and discuss those articles and ideas. There are some in Being Open to Debate (and Judging Intellectuals) and there are many more you could find elsewhere.

You could brainstorm more things that could go on this list and do those.

You could read some of my past debates and comment on some of the criticism I said. You could share thoughts and opinions on parts where people got upset by criticism. You could talk about what happened, how they could have had a better perspective, where in the debate you could see things going wrong, what early warnings signs there were (and how you could identify those in yourself), etc. You could also do this with other debates that didn’t include me.

You could talk about what you’ve done to become less biased and what you’ve done to test that it worked. You could do similar things regarding being social, second-handed, and more.

You could talk about the purpose and meaning of unbounded discussion. What are the upsides? Downsides? Why do it or not? What’s it like? How does it end? What rules, guidelines or limits are there?

When someone says they want unbounded criticism, but I’m not sure they’ve even read a single example of someone reacting negatively to some of my unconventional criticism, and they don’t explain any self-improvement projects they’ve done to gain the very-hard-to-acquire super power of actually wanted unbounded criticism, then I’m not really going to believe them.

Ultimately, you have to put effort into being good at unbounded discussion. If you’ve actually put in a lot of effort, you could communicate about that. If you don’t share about any effort – what you did, how it went, etc. – then I’ll probably just guess that you didn’t do it.

Elliot Temple on July 26, 2022


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