Gaslighting discussion (split from: Justin’s Miscellaneous Posts)

Justin is still ambiguously hinting that he thinks ET did something wrong.

It was also ridiculous of him to ragequit 20 minutes after ET’s post went up. He could have taken a few days to calm down and then consider what to do. It looks like he may have wanted to lock in a decision (to leave) while he was still upset, before he changed his mind.

He also gave no explanation of which part of ET’s post offended him (and he actually didn’t even hit reply to ET’s post and left it unclear if the timing was a coincidence), while misleadingly talking about not silently departing.

“I consent to it” is misleading to say if you actually mean that you’ll ragequit over it, and maybe permanently leave a community you’ve been part of for 20 years.

I don’t really understand what happened here.

I can’t tell if you are blaming yourself, blaming Elliot, blaming me, or what. I can’t tell if you think you’ve been wronged in some way.

I’m not sure if you (Justin) are going to read this, but I’m writing to you anyway, since it is a response to you. I’m not really sure what else to do, and don’t know the best way to proceed in the thread, so I am just writing out some thoughts.

I initially said, in message 26 of this thread:

We never actually started going over any of the things that I thought were problematic, or why. Instead we got caught up in other things, like you arguing with my messages (and responding to me in further ways that I also thought were problematic, but didn’t have time to get into). The thread never made it back to discussing the topic that I tried to bring up in post 26, and then you finally quit in post 100.

I wrote 25 posts in this thread (according to the info at the top). I was trying to help, but I don’t think it worked out well. In the beginning, I wanted to give you a chance to respond, and to look at things yourself instead of just telling you everything I thought you did wrong. Maybe it would have been better to start with an analysis of the mistakes I saw, I don’t know. At the time, that seemed like it would come across as more aggressive or meaner than trying to have a discussion.

I’m not sure what I should do now.

My next suggestion was going to be that maybe instead of trying to understand “gaslighting”, it would be better to just go over the early messages in the thread and look for problematic behaviors, without having to name them anything or decide if they count as “gaslighting”.

My guess (at this point) is that you quit over Elliot’s message (post 99). But I don’t really understand why. It doesn’t seem to have new information that hasn’t already been said and acknowledged before (taking into account messages from here, discord, and FI). I think you yourself have said that you haven’t learned philosophy well. So I’m not sure which part was so triggering. I don’t know why it is worth quitting over.

Also, I thought that Anon5 had said similar things already, in posts 53 & 61, e.g.:


Maybe those bothered you less because they weren’t said by Elliot, so you took them less seriously? Or maybe you think what Elliot said is worse in some way I am not seeing.

It is problematic that people leave without ever saying why, or saying what bothered them. I don’t really understand what happens. And some people are really hostile to anyone trying to do any after-the-fact analysis about why people have quit. I’m not sure what to do about that either.

I would like this community to exist. I would like it to be a place where people could have discussions. But I’m not sure how to get that, or if it will even work. I thought part of the point of the “Unbounded” section was to make unbounded conversations opt-in, so that people could avoid them if they really didn’t want them. But I think maybe people feel pressured to try to have conversations in Unbounded even if that isn’t really what they want.

Part of the problem, generally speaking, is that it’s hard to get boundaries respected by others when you aren’t willing to say what they are.

The sort of boundaries that come up here are also often the sort of boundaries people don’t want to admit to wanting. They are often e.g. irrational, contrary to productive discussion, contrary to problem solving, contrary to truth-seeking.

I’ve run into it repeatedly where people seem to want certain things from me but are unwilling to request those things or otherwise put them into words. It’s problematic for me to try to give them those things from vague hints for multiple reasons.

The issue is not people who are bad at explaining what they want but try explaining it a few different ways and answer a few clarifying questions. It’s not like they are saying “I want something but it’s hard to explain” and then going from there. It’s not a communication problem.

One issue with unstated requests is that I don’t want to go out of my way for the benefit of people who are not my friends, colleagues or peers, with no appreciation, thanks, or acknowledgment that I did anything for them.

I also don’t want to guess what they want, do it for them, and be wrong. Maybe they didn’t want it at all, or maybe they only wanted it if I did some details a specific way that I was unable to guess.

I also don’t like to behave contrary to my initial preferences without a stated reason – like it’s misleading to readers if I do X and it looks like it’s my free choice when I’m actually doing it due to an implied request (similarly, if someone made a private request it’d be problematic for me to follow it publicly without them saying it publicly).

Also, I think a lot of what people want is dishonest in some way, and I don’t want to participate in dishonesty. They won’t ask for it because it’s bad, so they want me to do it without being asked, and help them pretend they don’t want it. They want me to sacrifice my integrity to help them fool others about how rational they are, how open to criticism, how able to participate in unbounded discussion, etc. When people want to fake reality in some way, they can’t just ask for what they want, because that would ruin it. E.g. if they say “Please limit your criticism” then they can’t pretend to be someone who faced unlimited criticism and handled it well. Both of us pretending no request was made is important to the charade.

A lot of what I do is treat people as I would want them to treat me, and charitably assume they might be super rational. But people want me to condescend to them, and assume they are beneath me, and not take them seriously – treat them like they are fragile, low skill, irrational, etc., but while pretending I’m treating them like they are skilled peers. They want me to limit my criticism while lying to the world that I’m using my best arguments. If I say that I’m limiting my arguments, or treating them like they aren’t a peer, they hate that. They don’t want me to do it in an open, honest way. They only want me to do it in a way that makes me look worse than I am and makes them look better than they are.

I have decided that I acted rashly and foolishly in leaving this thread and the forum. I was extremely emotional at the time and was not analyzing the situation in a clear and calm manner. My departure was not a reflection of my better judgment. I have spent the past week and a half or so introspecting, reading and privately writing about things related to philosophy, emotions, and my problems. I wrote a fair amount by my standards. I have calmed down a lot from doing these activities.

I’m not quite sure why I decided to say I was leaving instead of just taking a break for a week or two. If I’m really upset and having a hard time with something, taking a break from active participation seems like a reasonable thing to consider, but leaving entirely does not.

I have been reading the forum and have wanted to say things or ask questions or even just say “I like this.” I actually like and value the forum, and would prefer to participate in it (and do so in a reasonable and respectful manner, which is a standard I have not always achieved). Therefore, I think the upright and responsible thing to do given the circumstances is to apologize for my behavior. So I apologize to all discussion participants (especially Elliot and the anons I was talking to extensively) for suddenly, unnecessarily and dramatically quitting, especially after having moved the discussion to Unbounded. That was not reasonable of me.

I have tried to reflect on what I was thinking and feeling and engage with criticisms of those ideas and emotions. One example: I think that I felt attacked by having my character picked apart over some apparently tricky or subtle moral issue that I had great difficulty understanding. I had the good fortune to come across some philosophy which pretty directly addressed my attitude and caused me to reconsider. (Quotation from How to Think Like a Roman Emperor):

As we, in a sense, loves [sic] ourselves most of all, we are also most blind with regard to our own faults. The majority of us therefore struggle to attain the self-awareness required to improve our lives.

Galen’s solution to this problem is for us to find a suitable mentor in whose wisdom and experience we can genuinely trust. Anyone can tell when a singer is truly dreadful, but it takes an expert to notice very subtle flaws in a performance. Likewise, it takes a person of moral wisdom to discern slight defects in another person’s character. We all know that someone is angry when their face turns red and they start yelling, but a true expert on human nature would be able to tell when someone is just on the verge of getting angry, perhaps before they even realize it themselves.

I wrote some self-dialogue about this (I might post it somewhere). But one thing that I think is important is that there is a general attitude in the quote of appreciation for someone spotting moral/character problems that one doesn’t see oneself, and a belief that this is such a value that one should intentionally seek it out. That was not my attitude in the above discussion. So there is a big contrast there. I think my attitude was wrong.

I’m not yet sure how I should proceed in this thread in particular. I’m not sure how much of a priority it should be for me. I need to think about that more.


I think you should take a break from posting here for at least 6 months. Try meeting a variety of other people, socializing, making friends, pursuing other hobbies, developing new hobbies, journaling without feedback from other people’s opinions, studying/understanding CF articles yourself without talking to other people (if you want to; not reading any CF would also be OK), etc. It’s rationalistic of you to try to ignore your severe negative emotions and keep posting here like nothing major happened. Part of you wants other things and you should go give some other stuff a try, and see what it’s like more, instead of suppressing. You strongly wanted to quit, but then didn’t really give quitting a chance. You’re also a dangerous poster because you may rage again and then post while raging instead of refraining from posting until after you calm down. You need some distance and perspective, and to be less emotionally involved in this forum.

I also don’t think you’re taking the harassment campaign against me seriously. If you were in my shoes, it would have broken you. You would have given up. You couldn’t handle it. Just because I haven’t been broken doesn’t mean it isn’t really, really bad. I don’t think you acknowledge that.

You recently spoke with at least one CritRat after publicly quitting the CF forum. You used conflict with me to get attention from them. That’s a major betrayal.

It’s not OK to just chat with them about other stuff – ongoing rights violations shouldn’t be dismissed like that. Discussing complaints about me is worse. You gave them legitimacy and sanction, and sought value from them.

I knew previously that your attitude to the harassment was mediocre and that you weren’t helpful, but I was tolerant. Your recent actions crossed a breakpoint by actively doing harm. You’ve downplayed, justified and encouraged the harassment, and disrespected me and my rights.

I am fine with taking a break of at least 6 months. I would strongly prefer not to be permanently banned.

I just reread this post, and I want to make clear that I think the harassment you’ve suffered and are suffering is seriously screwed up, and the encouragement of it (or lack of response) from the CritRats is also screwed up. Even though I’ve read this stuff before, some of the details - all the sockpuppets, spamming, accusing you of violent threats with 0 basis - are totally nuts. The community leaders should denounce that kind of stuff. They don’t have to like you to stand for some minimal decency.

I keep trying to write something about the speaking with a CritRat thing but it’s all coming out crap. I would like to try to address the issue later on, with some perspective and distance that will hopefully translate into objectivity and wisdom. Thank you.

OK. Let’s discuss it after your break.