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I Support Elliot Temple (regarding ongoing harassment from CritRats; a group lead by DD)

For a summary of the harassment against Elliot and other members of the Fallible Ideas community, see https://curi.us/2412-harassment-summary.

For the full context of this post, see David Deutsch Harassment Update (curi.us), including the comments of that post.

Fan support regarding this major problem would be appreciated.

Source: https://curi.us/2434-harassment-sucks; published May 22 2021

I support Elliot Temple. Elliot is right, this is a major problem.

The harassers (a small number of CritRats close to DD) are unwilling to take steps to deescalate the situation. They are unwilling to take even the most reasonable of steps to at least coexist in peace. AFAICT, one of Elliot's main goals is to be left alone (by CritRats) so that he can pursue his philosophy work. Elliot's actions are consistent with that goal.

Here is an outline of David Deutsch's position. DD was ET’s mentor, colleague and close friend for over 10 years. He is the leader of a community; they don't have an official name, usually they're referred to by the name CritRats. CritRat is a contraction of Critical Rationalism, the name of Popper's philosophy. This informal group, including DD, tolerate the harassment (or worse).

If you were DD and had written The Beginning of Infinity, a book that claims:

[...] success at making factual, scientific discoveries entails a commitment to all sorts of values that are necessary for making progress. The individual scientist has to value truth, and good explanations, and be open to ideas and to change. The scientific community, and to some extent the civilization as a whole, has to value tolerance, integrity and openness of debate.

— BoI Ch 5, p121 (emphasis mine)

If you had written that, given numerous reports that repeated harassment was being done in your name, do you think it would be reasonable to, say, write a tweet along the following lines? I've recently heard allegations of harassment targeting Elliot Temple by a small number of my fans. I unequivocally denounce harassment, against Elliot or anyone else. It's immoral and, if it is happening, it needs to stop. A tweet like this is not much; it doesn't even acknowledge that a problem exists (just that if it does exist, it should stop). Is that not a reasonable minimum to expect from a philosopher?

DD doesn't post to forums or blogs anymore, AFAIK. He does post to twitter, though. Not one of DD's 10.9k+ tweets mentions 'Harassment'. At what point does this kind of avoidance become negligent? At what point does the issue become bad enough that the leader of the community has a responsibility to make at least some gesture speaking out against bad behavior?

Earlier this year, Elliot had to disable open comments on his blog (after 18 years and over 20,000 comments1) due to the harassment.

When that happened, Elliot provided me with an account (as I'm sure he did for other members of the CF/FI community). Why is this important to say publicly?

[Anonymous:] When critrats inevitably discuss this thread in private, I wonder if they'll consider the restraint you've shown (over years). I mean, those quotes at the end are all at least 10 years old. A decade.

[Elliot:] I fear they'll just say you're my sock puppet and ignore your point. What proof is there that I ever gave anyone else an account?

https://curi.us/2476-david-deutsch-harassment-update#2

I'm not a sockpuppet — that's obvious to anyone even vaguely familiar with my history.

DD's tacit approval2 of harassment is unacceptable. It should stop. Offending CritRats should stop. It's not okay.


  1. https://curi.us/2469-video-talking-about-david-deutsch-and-andy-b-problems 

  2. It's actually worse than just tacit approval. From https://curi.us/2476-david-deutsch-harassment-update

    I found out from multiple community members that DD personally contacted them (over 5 years ago) and tried to recruit them to his side and turn them against me. DD did this in writing and I've received documentation.
    I haven't seen that evidence, but I trust that Elliot is being honest. Throughout the ongoing harassment, Elliot has repeatedly shown restraint and respect, and I have no reason to doubt his account of the situation. I've also witnessed the harassment first hand -- in that instance LessWrong moderators acknowledged curi (Elliot) was being harassed when they banned both him and the sockpuppet

Addendum by u/max after 2021-09-11 06:05:03 UTC 23 minutes

This comment (#5) was made by me: https://curi.us/2476-david-deutsch-harassment-update#5