Criticism of Max's replies in #Friendly

This thread is a place for other ppl to criticize my replies to other ppl’s posts from #friendly. (That’s the same as: anything I post in friendly except topics I’ve made or replies to those topics.)


I have a feeling that applies to me. If it does, how will I know/learn? Also, without a topic like this, I could use #friendly as a shield from criticism.

This topic is experimental.

Here is a list of #friendly posts I’ve participated in (but haven’t started):

I set this as my “featured topic” so that it’s easy to find and know exists:


It does some but I think a bigger issue is the lack of goal orientation of your posts. What are your goals, what are their sub-goals, what are your plans to accomplish those things, and then how do the posts fit into that picture? Isolated posts that don’t aim to accomplish anything significant, according to a plan you think will work, shouldn’t be expected to.

What happens when you don’t use conscious planning is you follow autopilots and follow goals that you hide from yourself. This is broadly unproductive for yourself and others. Philosophy discussion requires using consciousness and people expect that as part of good faith discussion.

People find planning complex and hard. But if that’s a problem it’s pretty easy to come up with a plan: work on your planning itself.

If people were doing better activities it’d be easier to relate them to a plan. A lot of the difficulty is the activities they want to do are bad and hard to fit into a reasonable plan.

An example of a good activity (it’s only good if it’s part of a plan) would be trying to better understand what qualitative and quantitative distinctions are. One could write several posts about this, look up information about it, analyze examples, etc.

The plan would be a tree. One linear path through the tree could be:

Learn a lot → learn CF → learn binary epistemology → learn analog to discrete conversions → learn about qualitative (related to discrete) and quantitative (related to analog)

To design a plan, start with the big picture and work down. The basic skill is taking something and breaking it into parts. Like what are the parts that could make up learning a lot? You could survey existing knowledge, learn the important ones in detail, and then fill in some gaps with original research. Learning the important ones in detail has components like figuring out how to judge which are important, doing the judgment, figuring out how to learn things in detail, and doing the learning. You have to keep breaking things down until you get to small chunks like individual activities.

If making this tree would be hard for you then you should practice planning smaller things and work your way up until you can do it. If you can’t plan, then you basically can’t expect to achieve any goal on purpose, and you need to address that.

People don’t do this kind of thing because they don’t want to, not because they are unable.

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You can also take a lower level activity and ask “What is the purpose of this?” and then whatever the answer, you can ask the purpose of that. Repeat until you get to a high level goal. This is a way to reconstruct a branch of the goal tree. It works best for understanding what you already think. You shouldn’t just make up an arbitrary activity and then try to figure out a purpose for it. But if you actually do an activity, there’s generally a purpose, though it may be ugly. If you can’t fairly easily connect an activity to a good high level goal, then likely either the purpose is ugly or you’re a beginner at thinking about goal trees.

People also lie a lot. Starting at the top can help with some lies. If you start at the bottom it gives attention to a particularly activity. You can then come up with a justification for that activity. But if you started at the top and planned from a blank slate, you never would have gotten to that activity b/c alternatives are way better. So there’s bias going on. When you claim you’re doing X to accomplish Y, but Z is a way better way to accomplish Y, you could consider that Y is not actually your goal.

You should be able to go up and down trees in addition to adjusting the level of detail up or down. You should have a bunch of experience with that in easier, practice cases. It’s a prerequisite to managing your life in a reasonable way.