David Deutsch Megathread

It sucks that they still won’t either leave you alone or try to resolve things.

I guess if they thought you were just bad they’d stay away and tell other people to stay away. Instead they’re treating you like a rival who they need to make lose in order for them to win.


Go Paris Hilton!

But, somehow, “Taking Children Seriously” founder, David Deutsch, disagrees with Paris Hilton and politically tweeted against her campaign to help stop this form of child abuse. DD’s take is that troubled teen camps (often away from home, sometimes in the wilderness) are just school and no worse than any other school, so while school is bad in general, Hilton is wrong to speak out about this – the camps apparently shouldn’t be targeted for complaints and reforms.


DD shared this link:

And responded with:

All compulsory education, “tough” or not, “love” or not, in camps or not, and whether it “traumatises” or not, is a violation of human rights.

Listen to Hilton’s speech in the TikTok at the start of this post and compare that to your experience at school. It sure wasn’t like my school experience, nor the experience of anyone else I knew at my school or some other schools in the area. Why would DD try to say they are the same, and defend an evil that is abusing children, when they’re so different and also he’s allegedly especially pro-child?

DD is so concerned with his reputation and hides a lot of his opinions but then chooses to share this? I don’t get it. I imagine this take would horrify most TCSers in addition to horrifying most decent people and also being wrong

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In the late 1990’s, TCS was known for brigading parenting forums with unwelcome, hostile messages (e.g. saying that every parent who disagrees with TCS is a child abuser). Some forums banned all TCSers as a group because it was a brigading problem rather than an individual posters problem. I don’t think that kind of online brigading became a common, well known problem until a decade or more later. The brigading died down when SFC and DD became less actively involved in TCS.

ET joined in the early 2000’s and got banned from some forums but never for brigading – he just individually argued with and annoyed people (and he focused primarily on making arguments and explaining ideas, as is his style but not SFC’s style).

SFC’s and DD’s history of brigading – getting their followers as a group to go be aggressive to people who want to be left alone – is relevant to the current harassment problem coming from their community.

The sort of people they find, meet, hang out with and recruit is also relevant. When you’re attracting e.g. NAMBLA people to your forum, it’s easier to get your community to brigade and harass than it would be if you were attracting math club people.

I don’t recommend the article but I thought this part was a good description:

So, what did radical feminism mean to me? I hadn’t actually read any works by radical feminist thinkers, only excerpts from writings by feminists like Andrea Dworkin, Judith Butler, and Julie Bindel, which were posted without context on Tumblr by other trans-inclusive radical feminists. Some of those feminists were trans themselves; some were not. They were the thought leaders. They constructed an ideology collaboratively, using social media as their medium. Not all of them agreed with each other, but a spiderweb of mutual follows connected them, and what one wrote on any one day would influence what a dozen others wrote the next day. When I was fifteen years old, I adopted a kaleidoscopic, schizophrenic ideology patched together from hundreds of individual posts talking about feminism, disability, gender identity, queerness, race, capitalism, and leftism. I didn’t have the context for any of it, and neither did any of the other teenage kids on Tumblr at the time–of which there were many.

The CritRat Twitter community has similarities to this Tumblr community. It has multiple leaders but no specific leader taking responsibility for stuff. It influences people a lot but it’s also pretty amorphous.

Another parallel is that most CritRats haven’t read many whole philosophy books. I think a lot of them haven’t even finished BoI. Some managed to read BoI but not FoR or any Popper books. They rely more on shared quotes, podcasts, tweet threads, etc.

I reviewed old emails by DD containing the word “abortion” and found some really awful stuff. (To be clear, he is pro-abortion. It wasn’t pro-choice stuff. Though he did defend some nasty stuff done by religious pro-choice people.)

Tangentially, DD misquoted a blog post because he apparently doesn’t understand quote levels, then blamed me for reading it the way he sent it, like he didn’t understand his error at all and couldn’t see what happened and how I read it.

There was a blog post from LGF that was like

blah blah blah

At this link, Joe wrote:

horrible stuff

And DD sent an email like (presented between horizontal lines without adding a quote level to the email, b/c I think it’s clearer to show it like the original I received rather than to add quoting to it)

LGF link

horrible stuff

So I was like “weird; LGF isn’t normally horrible like that” and then DD just blamed me for reading it wrong and didn’t seem to understand what happened or what he did.

That was in 2009. Now I’m wondering if DD never, at any point in his life, had an adequate conceptual understanding of block quotes and quote levels!? :frowning:

omg, i had somehow forgotten that DD defended circumcision a bunch (especially for jews b/c he’s biased). gross and anti-TCS! some of this was on a public list in 2011 and is still available at a link, so I might as well share that:


On 24 Feb 2011, at 3:46am, Elliot Temple wrote:

On Feb 23, 2011, at 6:03 PM, Ruti Regan wrote:

I think that female genital mutilation ought to be illegal, and that those laws ought to be enforced, and that it is a different kind of thing than Jewish circumcision of male infants. There are a lot of reasons for this, here are some:

  1. FGM is done in order to destroy the sexuality of women as part of a systemic removal of their autonomy. It’s part of an attempt to treat women as property of their families. Male circumcision isn’t part of an attempt to do any of those things to men.

Circumcision is sometimes done for reasons along these lines. I don’t know the Jewish motivation (hence asking)

In Jewish tradition it symbolises adherence to the ‘covenant’ between God and the Jewish people. Exactly why it is so psychologically significant within the tradition is unknown. There is certainly no functional (or anti-functional) intent.

None of those make circ anything other than a kind of genital mutilation that isn’t FGM but is still genital mutilation. Maybe Jews have a good reason (what is it?) but in general equal protection under the law means that mutilation of children is well outside parental prerogative. Gil’s notion that parents can do whatever they want for their kids, and the State should stay out of it, simply doesn’t apply to physically harming them. Children have individual rights and the State is right to protect them.

I don’t think one can consistently make a mechanistic distinction between ‘mutilation’ and ‘non-mutilation’. Certainly it doesn’t make sense to define good as ‘naturally occurring’, nor as ‘usually naturally occurring’. Nor to define ‘irreversible’ (or not-easily-reversible) as bad, since a huge variety of choices made by parents – starting with where and when to have children – have irreversible effects.

All sorts of surgeries are done to babies and children before they are capable of saying yes or no, and circumcision is far from the only controversial one. For instance, there is the issue of curing deafness through an operation which can only be done in infancy, and which some deaf parents oppose. And there are cosmetic things ranging from hare lips to sticking-out ears. Tricky issues arise with genitals too, which go far beyond the cosmetic. Some of them involve drastic intervention with hormones that change the person’s entire development.

Morally, it’s all about interpretation: first, what the people doing it intend, and second, what the people it’s done to interpret it as, later.

I think the basic rule has to be that an act (or inaction) done to a person is legitimate if and only if the person it’s done to, wants it; or, if they cannot have an opinion, the criterion becomes whether the person making the decision (such as a parent) reasonably holds the opinion that the person it’s being done to will want it at such time as they do have an opinion.

Exceptions are things one can do to a person which mechanically alter their future opinions, like brain damage. Or which are deliberately intended to thwart their future wishes (like FGM). Or which are intended to cause crimes, like bringing them up to be suicide bombers.

Seems to me that under present circumstances, male circumcision of babies (especially Jewish, but in most other cultures as well) easily passes that test, while FGM fails the test on several counts.

– David

This is what DD was like in Dec 1996, 5 years before I met him, and it’s the tone he (and SFC, who was similar) set in his community. (He later, absurdly and cruelly, put some blame on me for the tone.) This is a post to the public TCS list:

Angela [ET’s note: I deleted her last name here] is enraged at the way I responded to Stephen:


It doesn’t really matter what anyone on this list thinks about
circumcision, what matters is they don’t make their child do anything
Those who circumcise their children
without their children’s consent are going against TCS theories.


At last someone (other than Sarah) has said something relevant (as well as
true) on this thread. Thank you Stephen.

Angela said:

David, you are being rude. I am tired of overlooking it, so I
decided to point it out. I plan to keep doing it.

I hope you get tired of me pointing it out, so you quit being so
damn rude. Who the hell wants to hang out where they are assaulted
by arrogrant snide remarks? I (and the rest of us too) do not need
you to tell me whether my posts are “relevant (as well as true).”
Unless you have something useful and specific to say, please don’t
broadly insult so many of us at once. At least show us the
courtesy of assaulting us one at a time!

OK, I’ll start with you. I deny that it is either rude or insulting to
claim that someone’s posting is irrelevant (or false). Nor is it rude or
insulting to claim that almost everyone’s postings on a particular thread
are irrelevant. Such a claim may be false or exaggerated; it may be
“arrogant”; but (provided that the arrogant person is not arrogating
power) this cannot amount to a verbal “assault”, nor is it remotely a
justification for becoming

God, I’m so mad at you!

enraged with that person. I do not deserve this, and I ask you to desist.
Also, as it happens, it is mildly insulting to expect someone to rein in
their criticisms of others just because they “get tired” of being called
“damn rude”, rather than because they are persuaded that they are being
rude (or mistaken).

I assume that this criticism:

I (and the rest of us too) do not need you to tell me whether my posts
are “relevant (as well as true).”

does not mean what it seems to, namely that you wish me to refrain from
commenting adversely on the relevance or truth of a majority opinion.
Surely no rational discussion could survive such a prohibition.

Unless you have something useful and
specific to say, please don’t broadly insult so many of us at once.

So I take it that your criticism is that I was not specific enough, so that
my un-elaborated assertion that Stephen’s and Sarah’s postings were
“relevant (as well as true)” was patronising to them and frustrating (or,
as you believe, insulting) to everyone else.

I disagree. There was no need for more detail because a detailed argument
had recently been given by Sarah, and a related, more succinct point had
just been posted by Stephen, and I was agreeing with him. In passing I was
expressing to him the spontaneous emotion of relief that I felt when
reading what he had said. This was not rude. I myself had just posted a
short but specific argument (in the form of a question, asking why the
correct position in the circumcision debate is not simply to leave the
decision to the boy or man in question).

I venture to suggest that in this case, rudeness was in the eye of the
beholder. It is of course possible that you will persuade me that there was
something reprehensible in my posting (though not, I guarantee, by mere
repetition of the charge until I tire of it). But until that happens please
note that it is not humanly possible for me to implement the solution you
suggest, namely that in future I make my postings “useful and specific”,
because I believe that they already are. I’m sorry that you are distressed
by them; I really have no idea why. But for the moment it seems to me that
a better solution would be for you to cease reading them until your rage

– David Deutsch

DD was egregiously rude, got called out on it, and then fully denied everything while also attacking one of the people he’d initially been so rude to. He’s like “I did absolutely nothing wrong, but you were very bad for calling me out. How dare you mistreat me like that!” What a jerk! He used a bunch of sophistry, fancy words, pseudo logic, etc. – seemingly clever, intellectual type stuff – to try to overwhelm and control his victim. DD uses wit as a weapon (e.g. “Surely no rational discussion could survive such a prohibition.” which wasn’t actually logically fair) and does tons of social dynamics posturing (like “I venture to suggest”).

Calling people’s ideas false and irrelevant, while making no attempt to explain or give arguments, is rude and unproductive. Doing it indirectly and making a show of thanking someone (allegedly) superior and saying “at last” (to indicate you’re fed up with all the bad posts) is mean.

BTW in 2009, in a private email, I mentioned to DD that I’d seen this old post, and I thought he was rude. I offered to explain why it was rude if he hadn’t changed his mind already. He did not reply by email (it’s possible he replied in IMs instead, which are hard to check, but I’d guess not). Angela also offered to talk about it in a pretty friendly, reasonable reply on list and DD didn’t reply (nor did anyone else).

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More context about online stalking and harassment, and the broad lack of willingness by police to do anything.

More stalker stuff

The police in San Diego let a woman get murdered by her stalker by doing nothing for 12 hours after the first call about the stalker banging on her door and shouting:

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A video showing what some people are like. If you find the CritRats confusing or unbelievable, maybe this will help. If you find this unbelievable, your sense of the world is wrong.

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Example of a harassment campaign.

There is a new TCS site:


Someone, presumably a CritRat, has vandalized Wikipedia to undermine ET’s claim to have developed Critical Fallibilism. They’ve written things like:

The founder of critical fallibilism: Karl Popper

I think that the CritRat’s might not be responsible for this. If you look at the next section in the article:

it refers to a quote from “The Foundations of Mathematics” by Goodstein and Lakatos about “Popperian critical fallibilism” and that phrase is used in the paper on p. 165. It is possible that somebody read the paper and thought that was the correct name for Popper’s philosophy.

And then they went to the wikipedia page for Fallibilism, added that paper, made multiple edits over two months, changed a bunch of references to the philosophy from “critical rationalism” to “critical fallibilism”, and then months later when someone changed it back, he argued that “Popper “initially” called his philosophy critical rationalism. The usage of “critical fallibilism” gained momentum later in Popper’s life.”.

Like, you seem to be saying maybe this is just some uninformed guy that didn’t know much about Popper and like innocently and accidentally is using the wrong name for the philosophy? But if that is the case, why did he make 19 different edits on the wikipedia page in a two-month period? And why is he now arguing that “critical fallibilism” is the correct term, after he was corrected?

I went and looked at the user a little bit more. His full edit/contribution history is here: User contributions for Infogiraffic - Wikipedia

It is almost all just the edits he made the the Fallibilism page in a 2 month period. But, oddly, on the first day he edited the Fallibilism page, he also edited the Fallible page: Before his edit, it redirected to the Fallibilism page. For some reason, he changed it to redirect to a music album. That just seems like straight up vandalism?

Ok, I looked at the music album, and it has a song on it named “Fallible”.

Before Infogiraffic started his edits, the top of the Fallibilism article said:

“Fallible” redirects here. For the song by Blues Traveler, see Four (Blues Traveler album).

He removed that in his first edit, and then just went and changed “Fallible” to redirect to the album directly, with no explanation.


More about how victims are viewed and treated.