Rafe Champion Leaves

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Elliot Temple

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Oct 16, 2014, 1:14:01 PM10/16/14
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So, accused of making some mistakes, including not wanting to learn from each other in a critical discussion (such as the one about critical preferences, and a previous one elsewhere about Rafe trashing Rand [1]) ... Rafe has unsubscribed from FI list without even trying to answer basic questions like what's good about Chandran Kukathas (who he just recommended).


There are also other problems with Rafe like his continued association with immoral people like Matt Dioguardi, Kenneth Hopf and Mises.org


[1] It started because Rafe said Rand was OK on basic laissez faire capitalism, but "off the planet" on "philosophy" at http://clubtroppo.com.au/2006/12/30/hayek-shrugged/ It'd be hard for the brief comment to go downhill from there, but it does manage to make some other serious errors. Long story short, when I asked him about this and whether he had a problem with me (as a big Rand advocate), he refused to talk with me about it and clarify, while also blatantly lying that he wasn't refusing to talk with me about it.

Elliot Temple
www.fallibleideas.com
www.curi.us



Elliot Temple

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Oct 16, 2014, 5:15:54 PM10/16/14
to FI, FIGG, Rafe Champion

On Oct 16, 2014, at 12:22 PM, PAS p...@paipas.com [fallible-ideas] <fallibl...@yahoogroups.com> wrote:

> On Thu, 16 Oct 2014 10:13:55 -0700
> "Elliot Temple cu...@curi.us [fallible-ideas]" <fallibl...@yahoogroups.com> wrote:
>
>> So, accused of making some mistakes, including not wanting to learn from each other in a critical discussion (such as the one about critical preferences, and a previous one elsewhere about Rafe trashing Rand [1]) ... Rafe has unsubscribed from FI list without even trying to answer basic questions like what's good about Chandran Kukathas (who he just recommended).
>
> That's dumb, but an unfortunately common type of response.
>
>> There are also other problems with Rafe like his continued association with immoral people like Matt Dioguardi, Kenneth Hopf and Mises.org
>
> Why is association a problem? What is this "association" anyway? Having not-unfriendly discussions with? Failure to condemn loudly and publicly enough to suit some tastes? Presumably association is something less than outright endorsement.

Rafe has written a few posts for Mises.org (an anti-semitic website). He's refused to take them down or confront his contacts there about the issue of sharing the website with anti-semites. He has also refused to write anything for Mises.org or any other site clarifying his views and the limits of his association, and condemning anti-semitism. He also refused to express good views about Israel in private or to otherwise clarify where he stands, even in private (maybe he's anti-semitic himself? I think it's fair to ask at this point.).


Rafe is the main blogger at http://www.criticalrationalism.net/ which is run and owned by Matt Dioguardi. He does this with no disclaimers of limited association, no criticism of Matt, no statement saying "I only work with him on X and Y, but don't approve of Z".

Originally I wrote some posts there, as did Alan, when it was new. I knew Matt wasn't a great philosopher and didn't understood CR super well, but thought it was a group blog and might turn out OK. As usual, lack of purity ended up sucking. My bad. This is a hard issue to learn fully. Although my purity has been increasing, I think a purer approach than I currently have would be optimal (it's not just a matter of deciding it's better to be more pure, but also learning how to do it and integrate it into life).

So, the blog was kinda mediocre. I wrote a criticism of Critical Preferences there, but no one wanted to discuss it (or any other interesting Popperian topics). Only FI/TCS type people ever learned what I was saying. Mediocreness isn't too big a deal, and I've also participated plenty on mediocre email lists and forums. But then Matt misquoted me in a critical post he wrote. Which shouldn't be that big a deal either. I pointed it out and asked him to fix it. Easy, right? Well, he absolutely refused to correct it. We argued a while, he still absolutely wouldn't stop misquoting me, so I quit.

More recently I posted a couple comments at the associated CR Facebook group, also run by Matt. Matt quickly banned me for advocating TCS ideas (in a thread, started by others, where they were topical), because he disagrees. He also at some point enabled moderation on the CR blog comments (as best I can remember, it was unmoderated when I used it). Matt also harmed CR by killing off his CR yahoo group, even though I wanted to take over running it so that it could continue.

I think stuff like this is worth not sharing a website with him over. Alan agrees. I think Rafe ought to agree too, but he apparently doesn't. Why? Rafe hasn't said. And, again, Rafe writes nothing clarifying his positions on these matters. He doesn't e.g. express some dissent towards anything Matt did.


Rafe has worked with Kenneth Hopf on at least one philosophy project, thereby treating him something like a Popperian colleague, and praised him. Kenneth, like Matt, is kinda dumb and doesn't really get CR. Worse, Kenneth has publicly advocated violence against children. And Kenneth also advocated violence against me as a way of dealing with a disagreement we were discussing, and said that's CR.

I just remembered the violence against me (which, if I remember right, he presented as a method, and it wasn't so much about me personally) part because I saw some emails with Matt about the issue. When I still posted at Matt's CR blog, I emailed Matt and asked him never to make Kenneth Hopf a contributor, saying I'd have to quit if he did. Matt reacted badly, starting by accusing me of being emotional and not meaning what I said, while not commenting on the actual issues I'd brought up. Matt went on to deny that Kenneth had advocated violence. This is after Kenneth wrote that, "critical rationalism itself would counsel" ignoring people who disagree, and instead of debating them one should "grab student by ear [sic] and hurl bodily from the room". Kenneth approached a philosophical disagreement by advocating that I personally be "thrashed", "hurled" and "grabbed" – and he called that the CR approach. Matt refuted to admit this, despite quotes, and disagreed with my idea of not inviting violence-is-CR advocates to the group blog.

And, BTW, for those who know what this means: Rafe has also praised Tracy Harms.


Rafe is aware of most or all of the above (or was at the time, he may have forgotten some of these things by now). In much more detail, for most of it.


Rafe hasn't made a statement condemning violence against children, or even saying violence isn't CR. And he doesn't seem to recognize that Kenneth (like Matt) isn't a productive useful person to work with on philosophy projects. (Rafe is flawed, but he's still way better at Popperian philosophy than Kenneth or Matt is.)


So, these associations go well beyond having some non-hostile discussions, or not using a loud style to express himself. A lot of it could be mitigated with a few blog posts expressing some disagreements and clarifying limited association, but Rafe doesn't do that. It wouldn't be that hard for Rafe to come out against violence and anti-semitism, and quote and criticize a few things, but he won't do it. I think what Rafe's doing is not OK as-is, and wouldn't be OK even without the Mises.org part.


> I don't know anything about the two people you mentioned, and only vaguely recall you mentioning some antisemitism on Mises.org but no details. Unless they're like Holocaust-denier level bad, it's hard to find fault merely for "association".

They are not Holocaust-denier level bad, but that's a ridiculous standard. They are damn bad. I provided some details to Rafe. Rather than deny my case, Rafe lied that he was persuaded and would remedy the situation. He wasn't and didn't. He didn't try to remedy it and fail either (e.g. by writing an inadequate blog post); he did nothing and, after a lot of evasion, stopped responding to inquiries on the matter.


BTW some Objectivists won't even link to Mises books on Mises.org, because it's that bad a website. I agree with them about Mises.org being a terrible immoral anti-semitic place, but I disagree that it's therefore unacceptable to link to individual pages which have good content such as free Mises ebooks. (Though I wouldn't link them frequently while also never ever criticizing the bad aspects of the site anywhere. I don't think that would be OK.)

But writing for them? That's over the line. I don't think saying "they are an anti-semitic hellhole and I only wrote for them because it's a big mixed site and they like capitalism" on Rafe's own blog would be good enough, but he won't even do that. If I were considering writing on their site for some reason, I'd at least want the freedom and control over what I write so that I could post *on their site itself* a condemnation of their anti-semitism. Then, say, be able to link to it from every other post I wrote on their site. Then maybe it'd be OK? But if they'd let me do that, they'd be different people running a different website; so like in actual reality I think you just can't write there.

BTW don't assume from the name that Mises.org is like the continuing legacy of Mises personally. It isn't.


> Endorsement is another matter though - endorsement is rarely a good idea, especially general endorsement. Even when it's relatively narrow, like your recent question about who is good in politics, I do not endorse anyone.

The question was not about endorsements, it was basically about finding people worth reading.


>> [1] It started because Rafe said Rand was OK on basic laissez faire capitalism, but "off the planet" on "philosophy" at http://clubtroppo.com.au/2006/12/30/hayek-shrugged/ It'd be hard for the brief comment to go downhill from there, but it does manage to make some other serious errors. Long story short, when I asked him about this and whether he had a problem with me (as a big Rand advocate),
>
> What would it mean if he "had a problem with you"? Can a person "have a problem" with someone else, but also be having "continued association" with them too?

Rafe has a problem with Rand. He considers her philosophy "off the planet". Since I share a lot of that philosophy, I'm guessing he therefore considers a lot of my philosophy also "off the planet" and therefore, in colloquial language, has a problem with me (as a philosopher, not a personal problem).


> This description of who Rafe associates with and who he has problems with seems to focus to a large degree on the kind of personal / cultural affinities that I'm critical of focusing on.

You don't think it's notable that he trashes the hell out of Rand? That tells us a lot about his thinking errors. It's substance. It'd be better if he told us in detail which Objectivist philosophy he considers false, and why. But he didn't do that. Which was his choice and his fault. Instead he just flamed her and therefore communicated in a vague way a bunch of philosophical positions, which he refuses to discuss properly even when asked (I wanted to discuss the actual issues, Rafe refused to do it despite my persistence).


> It's reasonable to judge whether to interact with someone by what one expects to learn or gain from the interaction. It shouldn't be decided by the degree one agrees or "has a problem" with the other person, or, exempting things that materially assisting gross evil, how one feels about "associating" with them.
>
> A reason to be skeptical of focusing on affinities is that it can easily lead to, on the one hand, less active criticism of the people you decide you "like" and on the other, things like Rafe leaving when you "have a problem". I don't know, but it's plausible that Rafe may have decided "I do have a problem with Elliot" or "I am anti-Elliot" and so he left FI. That kind of thinking may have contributed to his mistake.

He's the one who only talked at affinity level of detail and refused to give substantive criticisms of Objectivism. Blame him...

I tried to find out what he doesn't like about Objectivism. He wouldn't tell me. I wanted to know what disagreements with my/FI thinking were involved, and the reasons for his views. He wouldn't tell me.

All I have to go on is he hates Rand, likes Hayek, writes at Mises.org, and a few other little hints. This is information that tells me something about what his views are and why, though it's pretty vague. I'm not going to ignore it.


>> he refused to talk with me about it and clarify, while also blatantly lying that he wasn't refusing to talk with me about it.
>
> Not talking about it - meh. People have different priorities about what to talk about.
>
> Lying about not talking about it is bad though.

He's been intentionally avoiding expressing his views to avoid critical conflict, for ages. He also does the trick of saying different things to different audiences. His Rand trashing was said where he didn't think Objectivists would see it. When around Objectivists, he avoids saying anything critical of Rand or any of her ideas in order to avoid a critical discussion in which someone might learn something.

It's a completely different attitude than e.g. mine. I like to seek out disagreements and wonder why people think as they do. I want to ask them about things like why they think Rand sucks (even if they flamed her and provided no substantive arguments, I'll still ask them for substantive arguments and see what they say.)


Actually it's worse than it sounds. I was just checking how I broached the subject. I asked, "Rafe, what's your opinion of Objectivism? Do you like Atlas Shrugged?"

In reply to that question, Rafe lied to me.

Then more than a year later, I found the blog comment where Rafe trashed Rand, and I followed up pointing out he'd masked disagreement, and trying to get Rafe to discuss his actual views. But he wouldn't do it. Then I followed up over time (around a year total), and he continuously lied that he wasn't evading discussion, while never actually addressing any of the issues or clarifying his positions.


BTW Rafe has also seen e.g. some of my criticisms of Hayek ideas (more than you've seen, PAS). And, again, doesn't want to discuss the point of disagreement. It's been his general and consistent policy to avoid discussion of disagreements. He doesn't want to engage in critical discussion.

I know you don't care much about Hayek, PAS. But I imagine you can see how it's different with someone like Rafe who does things like read Mises and Hayek, and write about their ideas. For someone who reads them and considers them important, he ought to care about major criticisms of ideas from either of them which he's accepted. It is, in fact, criticism of some of Rafe's own ideas (if you learn an idea from a book, and believe it's true, and have a version of it in your mind, it's your own idea now in most ways, and you ought to care if it's false).

(To be clear, Mises and Hayek contradict a lot. Considering them similar is one of Rafe's mistakes in his understanding of these issues. Misunderstanding their positions isn't the primary problem though. Nor is the primary problem Hayek's traitor status, where he got himself a pro-capitalist reputation which he used to more effectively harm capitalism, including btw by attacking some of Mises' work. The primary problem is Hayek had a bunch of very bad ideas about primary topics like economics. And a bunch of those mistakes are now also Rafe's ideas.)

Elliot Temple
www.fallibleideas.com
www.curi.us



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