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Justin Mallone

Jun 13, 2015, 9:53:49 PM6/13/15
to fallible-ideas, FIGG
I asked Elliot for criticism of an email I am writing to George Reisman. The substance of an email is wanting to understand an example Reisman uses to explain why rent control sucks. But most of the discussion of my draft revolved around the very beginning of the email, which initially said:

>> Hello,
>> I've been reading your book The Government Against the Economy and I had a question.

Elliot criticized this as beta, cliche, wanting to give an excuse for sending an email, boring, etc. This surprised me. I made some minor edits but Elliot said it was still problematic. Ultimately I made bigger changes and also said:

>> I did not think mentioning the book in the opener would be the controversial part. Shows what I know!!!!!!!!

And Elliot replied:

> ppl can’t predict what will get crit
> this is such a huge important thing
> ppl SOOO SOOO SOOO much overestimate their understanding of the like structure and rough boundaries of what crit will look like
> instead of treating disagreements as this TOTALLY UNPREDICTABLE thing
> it’s this arrogance where they think they understand “my knowledge about X is great. most crit would be details or limited. my knowledge about Y is medium. crit could be more serious but i’m not 100% wrong. my knowledge about Z is low. could get all kinds of crit, be totally wrong, wouldn’t be that surprised.”
> and this is completely utterly wrongheaded
> it’s trying to predict growth of knowledge and trying to make up error bounds on ideas
> which are made up related to convention and mainstream thinking and what’s like thinkable vs unthinkable dissent, crazy vs non-crazy dissent, etc


If you are approaching ANY subject matter in a way where you deny the possibility of FUNDAMENTAL mistakes, that is not BEGINNING OF INFINITY approach. But most people to not take this approach to disagreements.

One bad approach, as Elliot gets at above, is to decide that you are EXPERT or PRETTY GOOD at some stuff and so not listen to fundamental crits on those matters.

Another bad approach is to decide that certain issues (like say the opening lines of an email) are SUPER TRIVIAL and to reject the significance of any disagreements on those kinda issues out of hand (you might call the person you disagree with nit-picky).

One issue to keep in mind with supposedly trivial stuff is, if it is actually trivial, but you are highly resistant to changing it, that doesn’t actually make any sense. Because you should be able to be more experimental with stuff that is actually trivial.

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