David Deutsch Megathread

David Deutsch had Dennis Hackethal translate BoI into German.

Deutsch did a public video interview with Hackethal and put it on his own YouTube channel. He’s purposefully, publicly associating himself with another harasser of Elliot.

Looks like when Deutsch stopped tweeting with Hackethal or publicly promoting him on Twitter, that was intentional subterfuge for the purpose of hiding his association with the harassment campaign.

Yes, if you would be nice to your in-group, and mean to a predictable out-group in a snide kind of way that people could laugh along with, you would have a much bigger fanbase. People like to watch their side win arguments and “smackdown” the other side.

I think it’s interesting because people accuse you of being mean, but you are actually nicer than average. David Deutsch wrote really mean emails on TCS list, where he made fun of people and didn’t actually explain the TCS ideas he thought that they were not following, and his fans liked that. They thought he was good and smart and putting people in their place. He would write snide, cryptic emails, and then not even reply to follow up questions, but for some reason people are OK with that.

You actually put effort into having conversations with people who want to talk to you, and are willing to actually have extended conversations where you try to reach conclusions. You put effort into actually explaining your ideas to people, and explaining your disagreements.

Being unwilling to explain disagreements (as the guy in the video was, and as DD was in his emails) is actually a sign that you don’t respect the other person. You don’t expect them to actually be convinced by reason and arguments.

Pointing out disagreements and trying to explain issues is a sign that you actually respect that the person you are talking to has access to thought and reason, and could think about what you are saying and could actually learn and understand your ideas and arguments. But for some reason people just see it as “mean”. They think it would somehow be less mean to be so disrespectful of someone that you never even bother to tell them that you disagree with them, even when they are literally on your forum for the purpose of learning, understanding, or discussing your ideas.

I think I personally didn’t understand it.

In my experience, DD had extended conversations to try to reach agreement with me (until, years later, when he stopped). But he wasn’t doing that with other people, and he mostly only did it privately.

At the time, I thought other people would be able to get conversations if they wanted them more, talked more, tried more, etc., but I now doubt this.

For example, when reviewing some old chat logs, I saw how I repeatedly tried to get DD to talk with my especially smart friend and he basically wouldn’t (did a little bit sometimes, but was resistant to it). Imagine if my friend wanted DD’s attention but didn’t even have my help to e.g. set up 3way chatrooms. They’d have had like no chance at all and gotten like no chats with DD, rather than just a little that only happened because I wanted it to.

I didn’t understand DD’s disinterest in talking with another smart person. Didn’t he want more smart people to talk with, like me? I knew about what friends and colleagues he had, and that he didn’t have other smart people to have good conversations with (high social status will not get you that).

DD stopping having extended conversations with me corresponded well to when he stopped winning in them.

Continuing the discussion from Applying Yes or No Philosophy with @lmf

Did you post about the problems with TCS anywhere?

Not a lot. There is a bit mixed into my explanations of my history with DD, of DD’s social climbing, of the harassment problems, etc. BTW, since I think you’re an Objectivist, I think this will interest you: Curiosity – David Deutsch Smears Ayn Rand

I have an unfinished draft criticizing a DD TCS article but some of the criticism is parochial (more about DD and what he wrote than principles). There are several issues with writing much TCS criticism, including:

  • Hardly anyone knows anything about TCS, so first I’d have to explain TCS before I criticize it, or almost no one would understand it.
  • Hardly anyone cares about TCS, or wants to learn some errors in order to read criticism of those errors.
  • There are no pro-TCS people who will debate or address arguments.
  • Writing explanations of CF is more important to me.
  • DD and the others do not want criticism of TCS/FoR/BoI/etc. They interpret criticism of TCS as aggression. That kind of thing motivates them to violate my rights.
  • DD and SFC have taken down multiple websites and articles. It’s problematic to comment on stuff that the authors are trying to unpublish (though without admitting it). I have saved archives of some things and live mirrors online for others, but they don’t want this stuff shared, read or talked about. They won’t clearly say a policy though and sometimes act like it’s all public and being actively shared (SFC did some podcasts and talks about TCS recently and acted like TCS had been continuously active, under her leadership, since the 90s, which is false. And around the same time she was giving talks she took down all content from her main TCS website and said that it would be back soon, but it’s still all gone with no replacement from her. I think it’s been gone for over 6 months now).
  • Some things which are not available online – particularly TCS journal articles – are problematic to share due to copyright.

I remain partially pro-TCS – I still agree with some of the ideas and values. But, in short, I think TCS tried to offer a shortcut to unearned results.

The shortcut was that the parent doesn’t have to learn enough to fix their irrationalities, they just have to shield their child from the irrationalities by e.g. not frowning, punishing or coercing the child, and then allegedly the irrationalities will not hurt the child. That’s unrealistic/naive, plus children learn ideas from their society and the parents need to know a ton about all that stuff to help the child think about it well.

The only way to actually get good parenting results is to develop lots of knowledge. The more you know, the better you can do. I think people need learn a lot of philosophy, and many other things, to really high standards, in addition to learning stuff specifically about parenting (or else just be kinda normal – don’t try to do something special if you don’t know a ton).

TCS actually told people they didn’t need to read Popper, and actually didn’t even need to read Deutsch’s books, in order to be great parents. That’s trying to offer shortcuts to non-intellectuals and get them to trust the leaders, like SFC and DD, who (allegedly) know the details from the books. It’s bad to organize it so people can’t think for themselves and have to trust the experts. (EDIT: And then those experts abandoned people in the middle of their kids’ childhoods and stopped advising. And they didn’t admit to quitting, left people confused, offered no recommendations about where else to get help, and actively suppressed sharing information about resources that still existed – e.g. some people never found out that I had made a new TCS email group where they could still get answers to questions.)

children can learn language, so therefore they are universal explainers, so therefore they are morally equivalent to adults who happen to not know much

That much I basically agree with.

There were something like 60,000 TCS emails. DD wrote around 2,000 and sent each to a public group of ~1000 people (who all got copies emailed to them to be saved indefinitely on their own computers) on a listserv with archives (and instructions in the welcome message about how to download all the archived emails, including how new members could get all emails from before they joined. new members could join automatically with no screening). Nevertheless, he doesn’t want anyone to read those emails. Or at least not anyone who dislikes them. DD believes, basically, that the general public would disagree with him so much they’d never listen to him about anything again and it’d ruin his career. He didn’t explain why he changed his mind (that was not his belief when writing the emails). I do think some of his emails were extremely bad and would offend virtually everyone for good reason. I don’t believe DD is prepared to retract any of that material though – he didn’t change his mind about his claims. I think he still thinks he’s right and that other people are wrong and too irrational to listen. I have chosen, so far, to refrain from summarizing, quoting or otherwise emphasizing and spreading the worst things that DD (and a bunch of others) posted.

Anyway, there was a lot of writing. I think you’re not familiar with what TCS was actually like, so a lot of criticism of TCS wouldn’t mean much to you.

[Good guess. I am an Objectivist. And I’ve seen that post before: it’s actually how I found CF]

I just reread it. I really like it. I’m proud of it. I think the analysis and argument quality is great.

But I couldn’t write it like that today. I couldn’t be that nice to DD and say stuff like that about his skill and knowledge. I’ve lowered my opinion of him a lot.

I finished and posted my draft article criticizing a TCS article:

I also wrote a brief update on the harassment:

Another major incorrect theme in TCS was to treat everything like an emergency (but without framing it that way). DD and SFC routinely responded to “How do I deal with X?” with solutions that work great … if it’s a one time emergency. And this let them posture as super pro-child since they’d talk about going way out of your way to help with the child’s problem. But these solutions were not reasonable things to use several times a day for months. They often cost money in addition to other parental resources like time and energy. And it’s good to use those in outlier situations to help your kid. But it doesn’t work to use a lot of resources every time your kid gets upset if this is coming up 5+ times a day (which is a common parental experience). TCS encouraged “drop everything and spare no expense to be as nice to the child as possible” by telling people that your kid being upset is a major disaster called “coercion” that can do longterm damage to your child’s rationality. And it was basically always easy for DD or SFC to outwit posters by suggesting a way to use even more resources to help the child than the parent had used or thought of using. So they could always come off as thinking of creative extra-pro-child solutions that the people they were advising had not thought of (allegedly due to ageism and hangups). But those solutions weren’t actually good. And parents who resisted those solutions were mocked.

Somewhat related is Ayn Rand’s article The Ethics of Emergencies.

Checked up on DD’s twitter and saw he’s retweeting an evil social climber who dishonestly attacked George Reisman’s book:

Dennis Hackethal continues to read and plagiarize the hell out of Elliot, while fully ghosting Elliot, e.g.:


I’ve been practicing having discussions to a conclusion and addressing all outstanding criticisms.

He now does discussion trees, Paths Forward, conclusive discussions and libraries of criticism, with no credit.

His discussion tree is auto-generated from tweets, but the post says “Twitter is horrible for discussing” (and gives two reasons, one of which he learned from ET/FI).

Dennis has also started naming Elliot sometimes and making some half-hearted attempts not to plagiarize every single idea of Elliot’s that he uses, e.g.:


The problem is that of breaking symmetry , which is an idea by Elliot Temple, see Curiosity – Symmetry and Curiosity – Epistemology.

But he continues to plagiarize other stuff, as above. He’s also such a bad writer and thinker that people reading this will probably believe Elliot is discredited by association.

In comments there he admits that he continues to read Elliot’s work to fill in gaps in his philosophy:

But yea either way maybe what Elliot’s written fills the gap. I have yet to read it.

The gap he’s talking about is if you reject corroboration then CR has a gap and needs some sort of replacement.

I can’t wait for his second book, which will presumably be about Yes or No Philosophy. /s

Dennis is also a jerk who tweets mean right wing politics. Here’s his most recent tweet:

He also did a blog post attacking overweight black women (followup post to attacking non-anorexic models on billboards)

DD still hasn’t updated the BoI errata page for any of the misquotes.


Hackethal starting to sometimes give me credit, by name, seems like an implicit admission that he was in the wrong re his plagiarized book.

People will ignore dead bodies to dance, and tell complainers to shut up.

It helps explain many people’s responses to the harassment.

Another implicit admission that he was in the wrong is that the 2nd edition of his shitty book cites you by name many times.

I have not seen any second edition. I own the book on kindle, heard a rumor of a second edition, re-downloaded it, and checked it but found no changes. Last I checked, there is no mention of a second edition on the book website either, including no information about what changes were made or why (this despite an errata section on the website…). Hackethal did not notify me of any second edition or any attempt to improve the plagiarism – last he spoke to me about that he essentially told me to fuck off and refused to fix stuff.

He also did not notify me, or give me a courtesy copy, when first publishing the book. I also presume Hackethal is the one who caused, in some manner (like getting a bunch of people to flag it), my review of the book to be deleted on Amazon.

Would you send me an ebook of the second edition since I paid for the book? And I don’t even have access to a version which doesn’t violate my copyright. He used some exact quotes of me as his own words (EDIT: maybe just one that I found? I forgot that the universality thing was ripping off my text but with slight changes), which he seemed willing to edit unlike the plagiarism, but he never notified me (or readers of the book’s website) of actually editing that and I’ve never been given any access to see any edits.

Even if there were an update that fixed some stuff, it seems that he did not actually update it for people who already bought the book on Kindle, only for new purchasers. So that’s awful. And he’s blocking all error correction from me or my associates.

I don’t understand why, if he was willing to change the book, he wouldn’t tell me and ask me to update my post exposing him as a plagiarist. (Maybe he wants my post to look out of date or wrong, so he can trick people into thinking I’m unreasonable, lying or refusing to update it?)

Unfortunately I only have the physical copy, but I’d be more than happy to ship it to you or scan a particular page or something, as I don’t plan on reading it again. DM me.

Thanks but no thanks. I don’t want a physical copy.

I scanned the two most relevant pages anyway just for fun:


Edit: Higher res version

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