I later regretted how I worded things and I felt I was a bit short and
insulting. I meant to go back and add something explaining my real
concern better and admitting that I didn't really know Anon wasn't
interested or at all insincere about back-and-forth. I decided today
to do that, and then saw this email and thought it was a good
opportunity to do so.
Here is what I wish I had said to Anon:
Hey, Anon. I don't think you actually know what I do or don't know
about Popper at this point in the conversation. I think maybe you
don't even have a good idea if I went on to read the rest of what you
said and said to myself "Wow! Those are amazing points. I guess Anon
is right that I didn't know Popper well enough to judge it's
relationship to previous AI research." Or if I went on to read your
points and said "Wow! He really doesn't know what he's talking about!"
and then could have gone on to refute you point by point with
citations. Or anything in between.
And let's be honest, it's probably something in between, as I make no
claims to being an expert in Popper or AI. I only said I was
I would also point out that you seem to be reading-in something I
didn't even say. I only claimed that a substantial portion of
*Winston* seemed to match some of Popper's theories. I made no claims
at all about *how much of Popper's theories* he matched. For example,
maybe 90% of Winston matches 5% of Popper. That would mean we have a
long way to go in AI to match Popper (as you go on to claim), but my
statement would have still been spot on correct.
Further, that statement you made above was wholly unnecessary to a
discussion. If you just went on to state your points, I'd either
realize I didn't know enough Popper to judge (and I'd learn from the
discussion) or I wouldn't (and maybe you'd learn from the discussion).
Or we'd find we could move the conversation forward one step at a time
point by point so long as we both find it interesting.
On the other hand, your statement -- in my experience with online
conversations -- strikes me as a pretty strong warning flag that you
might be someone either looking for a debate (perhaps only
subconsciously) or feels they need to 'teach me a lesson' (perhaps
only subconsciously.) On the other hand, maybe not. It's always hard
to tell. But I hope you can appreciate why it would seem that way.
There is really nothing wrong with this in my opinion. It seems like a
bit of a fair debating tactic and I feel like I say and do things like
that all the time. And there are so many circumstances where I'd even
relish the chance to get into a toe-to-toe debate with you over this.
So please don't think I'm claiming you did something wrong. (At least
not any more.) You didn't. And I apologizes that I said otherwise the
Having said that, I'm just so limited on time for the next few years
while I work on school and working full time (over time.) I just know
myself so well here. If I let myself get sucked into a debate with
someone (even if it's fun -- especially if it's fun!) I'll not be able
to pay attention to the things I currently need to be paying attention
to. So the problem, I admit, is me, not you here.
I'm just not interested right now in any sort of drawn out debate of
any sort. I was really just trying to find who was interested in
discussing how to move this area forward and what others knew or what
ideas existed. So I'm not really now interested in moving this
specific conversation thread forward with you. So I think maybe we
should just drop this thread for now and we'll try again next time.
On the other hand, if you want to drop the debating tactics (for now
anyhow) and instead just casually discuss AI and CR, I'd still be
> And so, from the the sort of event that should be expected to happen periodically, you take conversations to bad places, as a matter of policy, rather than reacting in a way which is capable of fixing the problem.
This seems fair. And I see your point.
> There were no problem solving steps from you.
And there isn't going to be, as I'll explain below.
> You went straight to fighting with anon and then wanting to drop the matter, with no steps where you try to find out if anon actually meant to attack you, or otherwise treat it as a problem to try to approach with rational problem solving. (I hope you’ll forgive me for interpreting what you said and trying to respond without asking clarifying questions. You already wrote 5 paragraphs which I found clear, and it doesn’t look like you want to be asked about the details of what they mean, so I’ve done my best to understand them and then give you useful information that I also think is of value to other people reading.)
This seems fair too. But I'm still not interested in continuing this
thread. It's now a debate and I don't have time for that. I'm only
looking for a discussion.
> I also think your negativity regarding being taught things is bad, btw.
I think you're reading "teach me something" too literally here. I
meant it in it's colloquial sense only of "teach you a lesson" (i.e.
fight with you.)
> Anon expressed interest in advancing the conversation, and wrote substantive material about it.
You're right, he did. I made that clear in my rewritten response.
There was really nothing wrong with anything he said. He was just (in
my opinion) making it clear he wanted to debate me over this and that
he had very strong feelings about AI that he'd prefer to believe. But
the more I think about this, the more that really and truly strikes me
as fair and I shouldn't have reacted the way I did.
> Bruce deleted that material and accused anon of not sincerely wanting a good conversation ... but Bruce is the one making accusations of lack of sincerity and also the one backing away from conversation. If Bruce had said he had a concern about anon’s sincerity and wanted to put the AI/CR conversation on hold in the mean time, that would be one thing, but instead Bruce did all this judging, and reached a conclusion, from one sentence, before giving anon a chance to say one word to address the problem Bruce perceived. (Note that a claim about insincerity is an *escalation* from a claim about ignorance. Ignorance isn’t morally bad, but insincerity is.
> We’re all alike in our infinite ignorance – I think anon knows that and wasn’t trying to insult anyone, but Bruce has a less Popperian perspective on ignorance, which is why he got offended.
I agree he wasn't trying to insult me. But I do believe he was trying
to 'fight' (i.e. debate) me and that he was using a debate tactic of
setting himself up as judge of the evidence. (Rather than, say, being
curious what I knew, if anything.)
Elliot, I have now sincerely admitted I didn't give a good response
and made an attempt to get closer to what I feel I should have said in
response. And I've admitted I was unnecessarily insulting. So I'm
largely agreeing with you. And again, I apologize to Anon for saying
he wasn't sincere. I honestly think I was just wrong about that
Now here is the problem I have with your response in general, Elliot.
We are all forced to have theories of mind about each other. This
isn't something we can actually turn off. And it's necessary for any
sort of comprehension to begin with. (i.e. we have to conjecture what
the other person means.) I say this because I'm going to now explain
my theory of mind concerning Anon's response and why I feel it really
is the best explanation of what he really meant. Obviously, I might be
wrong. But I don't believe I am. And I believe you're ignoring what he
really said and implied in your response to me.
Anon's statement "And I don't think you know enough about Popper to
judge that" has strong implied meanings that I think you're ignoring.
And I did explain why I felt that way. The idea that Anon meant
nothing by it (I currently believe that is what you are trying to
imply) is really just a poor explanation in my opinion. Why did he
bother to say it in the first place?
That statement, alone, was a "call out" the way it's currently worded.
I do not believe I'm just misunderstanding this (as you are implying).
And I don't believe it was an accident. (Now again, I want to
emphasize that "calling out" isn't unethical or wrong in any way.)
In short, I feel that you are biased towards Anon (As I'd expect you
to be -- and you should be! He's your friend and I'm not yet!) and
that therefore your disposed to read him in a way that is inaccurate
so as to be able to defend him.
Now again, I want to emphasize that my current opinion is that there
is nothing ethically or morally wrong with Anon wanting to start a
debate with me. I've thought this through ever since I sent my
response and the more I think about it, that more obvious it is to me
that there really is nothing whatsoever wrong with Anon wanting to
start a debate (i.e. fight with words) with me. It's a totally and
completely fair thing for him to be doing if he's interested in that
sort of thing.
Further, the way Anon words things throughout nearly demand that I
debate him. Note the strength of his wording:
"...there is *zero* AI work that has anything to do with this...";
"There is *no* AI work..."; "That *doesn't exist* and *no one* is
doing it."; "let alone..."; "there *certainly* isn't progress...";
"People just aren't working on this stuff."; "People don't know..."
I would note that none of the strength is aimed at me personally. (I
should have accepted that fact sooner.) But he's also not really
looking for what I might know that he doesn't, nor is he particularly
interested in learning if I do know of anything. He's looking for a
debate with him taking the stance that he's right that AI is entirely
on the wrong path due to ignorance of epistemology and he's hoping
I'll take the other side. (I note that I never took the opposite
stance in the first place. He just read that in. This was the
strongest reason why I lost interest in the thread.)
Now I predict you might want to say that I don't know for certain that
is the case. You're right I don't. But try to explain why he choose
the words he did (and how easy it would have been to do otherwise) if
he wasn't seeking such a debate. And then compare your explanation to
the one I just suggested.
I also predict you might say that I could go on to bring these things
up as a way forward and ask Anon about them. True, I could have. But I
had no interest in doing so. The original purpose for the thread (to
discuss casually out of interest) was now lost and I was going to have
to either debate him or start a less interesting conversation to
explain how I had read him as seeking unnecessary debate and then have
a long conversation with him about that. (And just knowing human
nature, I anticipated him denying that was the case even if it was.)
In short, in my opinion, we had lost the original thread and it
couldn't be recovered without a lot of work.
So I believe I *correctly* read Anon as not wanting an easy going
discussion, but a debate with him on one side and me on the other. And
in other circumstances, I'd be interested in such a debate. (In this
case, he and I probably agree too much to make the debate very
productive.) But right now, I have no such interest so I'm cutting
things off, as is my choice as to how to spend my time.
However, to your point, I shouldn't have been so strong in my cut off.
It's really only *debate/fighting* I need to cut off. I will reopen
the conversation to Anon if we can just keep things cool and discuss
back and forth. And the reason I'm open to that (and not debate) is
because I know it won't absorb me and my time. I'd be happy to discuss
this further with Anon if he can make it clear that he isn't seeking a
fight over this, but it just honestly curious like I am.
> BTW it’s a common problem here that people think they know more than they do, and that gets in the way of them learning, so they never become great. Maybe anon thought he saw signs of that problem.)
> This set of events will happen repeatedly until you leave, unless you change your attitude to discussion.
Well to be honest, I haven't decided if this community is for me or
not. And I may choose to leave.
But what happens if I don't leave and also don't change my attitude? I
mean this as a serious question. Because reality is that I may not
always change in the ways you want me to.
I don't currently agree with this community about a lot of things.
This includes your idea of 'always leaving a way forward.' (More on
this below.) If this is a community 'rule' than I strongly disagree
with this idea (I believe I can choose to drop a thread for any reason
I choose, even just 'I don't have the time') and will not be
consenting to it.
Now this is your community and you have a right to police whatever
boundaries you choose to set for the sake of protecting the integrity
of your community. So that's why I'm asking for clarification now.
> I can say with full confidence that anon wasn’t out to get you, wasn’t looking for a fight, wasn't trying to attack you, and is different than the sort of conventional person/behaviors you believe you identified him as –
As I explained above, I think you are biased and I believe you are
wrong. He was looking for a 'fight' (if by 'fight' we mean 'debate.')
And he was attacking *my position* that he was *assuming* I held. He
set it up that way intentionally in my opinion. But, there is nothing
wrong with that. I'm just not interested. There is nothing wrong with
> he’s an outlier that you’re mixing up as something you’re encountered repeatedly elsewhere.
I don't believe this community is an outlier of any sort yet. If you
are, you'll need to convince me of it. But I would also note that I
did not expect or anticipate that you would be nor do I care if you
are not. Every community thinks they are outliers. And your need to
claim you are strikes me as typical at the moment. But maybe I'm
> Plus I think he *demonstrated* his sincerity, that you question, by writing about AI and CR to you.
You're right. I can see that now.
> But due to your lack of patience, lack of sympathy, and otherwise lack of seeing apparently bad things as potential misunderstandings to clear up or potential errors to criticize ... I cannot say that you aren’t looking for a fight. You seem to have focused on creating a fight, on the justification that you think anon started it.
> I’ve written about this at e.g. http://curi.us/1846-starting-fights
> I think anon is *so good* that he didn’t think of ignorance as insulting since we’re all infinitely ignorant. It’s like the South Park episode about the flag, where the boys are defending a flag with a lynching on it, and they are repeatedly accused of being racist. At the public debate, they began their argument by saying that violence has been around forever and is a common part of human life. The towns people replied that they were missing the point and debating the wrong thing, people were offended because it’s a flag with *white* people lynching a *black* guy. And the kids – who were accused of being racists defending a racist flag – said they hadn’t noticed the skin color of the people on the flag. Then they made a new flag where people with a variety of skin colors lynch a black guy... :)
> If that kind of mindset appeals to you, please actually point out a *really clear violation* before giving up and rejecting FI (as you appear to be going in the direction of doing), and then listen to what people say about it – there could be an explanation of what the person meant that you missed, or the person (or me) might think it was a mistake and you’re correct (you might even get thanked for the criticism).
I agree with you here. That's why I'm giving this response.
> I write all this in hopes it will help clear up the misunderstanding and will inspire Bruce to change his approach.
If by 'change approach' you mean 'explain myself better' (as I did
above) and not say anything insulting to Anon (as I apologized for)
then I hope you can see that I've taken a step towards changing. And I
appreciate that part of your feedback.
If by 'change' you mean 'engage Anon's thread' I will not be doing
that as it currently is for the reasons I've given. Namely, that I am
still wholly convinced he was "attacking" (debating) rather that
"discussing." But I hope I have clarified that the problem here is me
(my lack of interest in a long debate) and not Anon. He did nothing
wrong and I freely admit that now.
> A change is needed because situations like this – misunderstandings or even genuine errors – will occur in the future, an on ongoing basis, and will need to be handled differently for Bruce to have success here.
I think your use of the word 'success' here implies that if I choose
to leave I have 'failed' in some way. Therefore I think you are saying
something incorrect here and have misunderstood the real nature of
communities like this. Whether or not I choose to say or go is in no
way a success or failure on my part. (Nor on this communities part.)
> The same things apply to everyone else, so I also hope this will help lurkers and others better figure out how to think about the posts. To me, these are all philosophy issues, and I hope others will be able to appreciate them that way instead of seeing things personally or through the lens of offensiveness.
> PS Bruce, your quoting and attributing was incorrect. You seem to have deleted the line attributing the quotes of anon to anon. And your previous post block quoted a google footer that was not part of the discussion and which you didn’t comment on. Quoting problems are also typical of people who don’t last long here, FYI.
I didn't follow you here. I'm sorry I keep getting this wrong. Is the
example the one you show below? I went back and checked it and I
honestly don't see what I did wrong. *I* can see where I attributed
the quotes of Anon to Anon. Do you want me to cut and paste the whole
thing and you can show me? I'd be open to that. Its just as
frustrating to me that I can't seem to get this right as I'm sure it
is to you guys. I'm using Google mail now, I'm using text only. I'm
not intentionally changing anything in my responses. I can *see* that
I'm attributing the quotes to the right person in the email I sent.
I'm honestly besides myself here.
> PPS You haven't followed up with me about epistemology. You posted on July 14, 2018 to BoI list and I promptly responded with serious comments. You responded saying "Thanks Elliot for the excellent and thoughtful feedback. I'll try to come up with a new version that improves the problems of the existing version." and "I hope to be an active participant.“ but you haven’t followed up so far. I am interested in sincere discussion about those epistemology points and many other things (e.g. all of my blog posts and emails), and it’s just waiting on you to participate. Similarly, I’m interested in AI, but it’s up to you to respond to past posts about it (or to respond to anon’s recent topical comments, or to write your own material by e.g. commenting on the textbook you got or on Popper).
Elliot, I think you and I are working on vastly different time frames.
I still plan to improve things based on your feedback. But hat may not
be till summer when I'm out of school.
Also, your response to me honestly made me question if my approach was
even worth pursuing. I haven't even decided that much. You made a lot
of really valid points that sort of ruined what I was trying to say
back then. I'm trying to figure out if there is some way to change the
context to save the original post. (Like maybe not making it a summary
of CR but of 'what is a good explanation' instead. i.e. narrow the
> The point is, the ball is not in my court. (I’m used to this, and patient. It’s my standard situation. I point it out because sometimes others seem unaware of it, or they occasionally even deny it, and I think stating the situation helps clarify it and enables correcting potential misunderstandings.)
I want to get something off my chest with you Elliot, in case it's a
problem. (I hinted of this above.) I hope it isn't. I do not consent
to your rules of engagement in all cases. Don't take me wrong here.
For *certain kinds of discussion* I think they are excellent.
Therefore, I don't really disagree with them.
But I am currently operating under the assumption that some
discussions should follow your careful rules of how to move things
forward and other discussions are a lot more casual and don't follow
those rules. And I'm assuming that it's entirely up to me how or even
whether I am going to reply to a thread. Is that acceptable? If it's
not, you probably ought tell me now. Because I won't consent (in all
cases) to the level of rigor you keep assuming I'm going to give you.
I'll do it when I have the time and interest and I won't do it when I
The problem with your rules, such as carefully quoting each other, is
that it takes a LOT of time (at least for me that keeps having
problems with it!)
And I just am not interested in where every thread goes. I responded
recently to Josh's thread from a month or so ago as a good example of
this. If people in this community react to me in certain ways, I may
just choose to either drop the thread or to explain why I'm dropping
the thread and then pick it up with them next time around. At least
for now, I will drop any thread that I feel is 'attacking' (i.e.
debating) like Anon's or that I feel is nitpicking unnecessarily (like
Josh's.) I am not going to take the time to change to a debate over
whether or not that is the case, because I have no interest in that
and it's therefore a waste of my time. I'm just going to do it. If
that is going to cause problems, let me know and we can part amicably.
>  I’ll re-quote the key text:
> >> For example?
> > No idea what the context of this question was.
> >> And I don't think you know enough about Popper to judge that.
> From not knowing the context of the question (“For example?”), and actually having *no idea* what the context is, it’s implied to also not know the context of the “And ...” sentence which directly followed it and shared the same context. In that case – knowing that you don’t know the context of the “And ...” sentence – it’s an error to get offended by it, while knowing you don’t understand it. The “And ...” sentence uses the word “that” to refer to context. Without knowing what “that” refers to, due to having “no idea” what the context is, it’s basically impossible to judge the truth of the sentence. Though I fear I’m taking Bruce literally when he may not have meant what he said.
I understand the question now. I didn't at the time. He was asking for
counter examples. I'm not even sure why I didn't understand it. It
seems fairly obvious to me now. But for some reason at the time I
couldn't figure out what what he meant in that context by "for
example?" However, it didn't really matter to the rest of the
discussion. Since I was reading him (I believe correctly) as wanting
to debate me, this implied the same thing, i.e. he wanted me to try to
give counter examples for him to judge as correct or not. That was
what I was objecting to.
As an example: this response to you took 2.5 hours of work. I
generally won't be taking that kind of time for this community. I am
hopeful still that I can find away to productively fit in here, but
I'm not getting enough out of it yet to justify that kind of time on a