JustinCEO Topic

That makes sense.

Re: my motivation issue, intellectually, I regard this whole AS/Rand discussion as better and more interesting discussion on this topic than I’m likely to get anywhere else. I don’t actually think I’m likely to get quality engagement on these topics elsewhere, and the tiny amount of engagement I’ve gotten trying to discuss this stuff elsewhere has been consistent with that theory. So what’s my issue? I think it’s something like the wanting a “community” thing that I’ve talked about and criticized (and which you replied to with a good post). That’s the best explanation I have as to the motivation differential. Just having an intellectual discussion somehow isn’t “enough” motivation somehow. But having worse discussions in a “community” is more motivating? I think there’s a mistake there, but I don’t quite know what to do about it. Anyways, I just thought that was interesting. Regardless, my lack of motivation problem isn’t your problem to have to put up with.

I think my misinterpretation here may be related to broader issues I’ve had in engaging with philosophy, where I’ve sort of leapt to conclusions about what I should do based on some misunderstanding, and caused myself a tremendous amount of harm.

This is a bit of a ramble about my motivations and conflicting ideas.

It seems like a key thing in understanding motivation is understanding what you expect the benefits and drawbacks of some course of action to be.

In terms of pursing this discussion, understanding the problems in Atlas Shrugged could help me to avoid spreading bad ideas and to understand the mistreatment of women and thus engage with a good chunk of humanity with greater sympathy and understanding. Those are important and valuable benefits.

On the other hand, it could also leave me feeling even more alienated from the world, since even the tiny niche I identified with is going to disagree with the ideas presented here. (I actually had an Objectivist I know who reads the forum sometimes privately message me, without any prompting whatsoever on my part, to let me know their, let’s say, emphatic disagreement with the ideas being put forth in this thread and to try to save me from error.). Perhaps not wanting to feel alienated from the world in this way is some sort of bias or tribalism born of a desire of wanting some sort of community to fit into.

I think maybe my wanting to share stuff with other people is partially explained by the conflict between the above. Because if I could spread the ideas from here, then I wouldn’t have to feel more alienated from the world due to learning stuff here. So it’s an attempt to resolve the conflict. I don’t think it’s a very realistic plan though.

TCS explicitly encouraged this. They told people that it wasn’t important to read Popper or learn the philosophy behind it, but it was really important to stop coercion immediately (even without having any philosophical understanding of how or why to do that).

Objectivism has a lot of people who make changes that they don’t understand to try to be more Objectivist, but they have put effort into telling people not to do this (e.g., Peikoff has talked about it). People still do it though.

I think there is a relationship between the problem you are talking about (causing harm from jumping to conclusions that are misunderstandings), and this part of your next message:

You seem to be saying that you want to find a community where you agree with all of their ideas. You want friends or a community who you have no disagreements with. You feel alienated when you don’t perceive yourself as having total agreement with people. This is, itself, a misunderstanding that you have, which you are hurting yourself with. (And it is an idea which I have previously pushed back on.)

(Note: this applies whether you are talking about full agreement with all of someone’s ideas or just full agreement within a particular topic.)

It is not the common cultural expectation that you need to have full agreement with all of your friends or the people in your group. You never have full agreement with other people. Nobody does. Feeling alienated is not an inevitable reaction to this reality. It is a feeling that you are creating based on your own mistaken ideas. You could instead be more tolerant of disagreement, more accepting of differences in other people, and be able to feel like part of a community even when you can see disagreements.

The mistake of wanting total agreement is one of the causes of the problem you were talking about, where you make changes prematurely based on misunderstandings. You don’t just expect full agreement with your friends or your community: you also expect full agreement or purity within yourself. (BTW, wanting full agreement or purity is contradicted and discouraged by Popperian and CF fallibilism.) Wanting full agreement or purity with yourself causes jumping to conclusions; it rushes you to resolve issues immediately.

In an attempt to achieve full agreement with yourself, you try to brute force yourself into agreement. You will learn about an idea you think is good and want every part of yourself and all of your actions to agree with that idea. So you try to force yourself to act in accordance with ideas that you don’t yet understanding (which isn’t possible: you can’t properly enact ideas you don’t understand), and you stifle your own internal disagreements (which actually hurts your ability to properly learn and integrate ideas).

You have previously been hostile to arguments that counter this. You have been judgmental and mean towards admissions of internal disagreements and admissions of people having friends with ideas they disagree with. You have tried to enforce some kind of purity on other members of the CF/FI community (despite Elliot’s ongoing efforts to make CF an open community where people with different ideologies can have rational debates and discussions), and harshly criticized them for not having that purity. One of the people you’ve done this to is me.

Yeah. I actually got into such an argument with a TCSer regarding that once (where I was saying it was important to read Popper and they were arguing the contrary) that it basically ended our friendship.

Yeah. Understanding Objectivism has some good stuff on this in the chapter on emotions and moral judgment.[1]

Maybe not total agreement but some “basic” agreement, yeah.


Hmm that sounds plausible and fits with my current perspective on emotions.

  1. [Quote from Understanding Objectivism] The problem is that the novel—any novel, particularly Ayn Rand’s novels—presents forcefully and brilliantly a vivid, compelling image of an ideal, a thoroughly admirable man. But it cannot be a philosophical treatise; it does not have footnotes saying after each line of dialogue, “This is Roark’s general principle,” or saying, “This is just unique to him, don’t take…,” and so on. She cannot analyze it as she goes. She presents the whole, with her genius for making a compelling, integrated whole out of it. She gives you the principles and the concretes that make him unique, and she leaves it to you as a kind of beacon. But some people are so overcome by the portrait as a whole that they do not know how to dissect the principles from the optional, personal elements. They take it as one undifferentiated portrait of the ideal. They take it as “This is perfection, in every detail. Any departure is guilt, low, evil.” So, Roark or Galt become the role model, down to every concrete aspect, including hair color (I once met someone who died his hair orange).
    The motive here is not necessarily bad. It can be hero worship, idealism; it can be the real desire to live up to the good, as opposed to just saying, “It’s a nice book, but you’ve got to be practical.” But the method is very wrong. It’s natural, but mistaken. It’s natural to want to be like a character you admire. But if you have an imperfect understanding of the abstractions that make him, then all you have is the concretes of his life, and you are reduced to, “The only way to be like him is to copy him, to imitate him.” This is typically a problem of young people. Young people don’t yet know how to act, or even fully how to think in principles—that’s not a flaw on their part—and therefore they copy out of helplessness, out of a desire for something they admire; they copy mannerisms of their parents or their older brothers or the Beatles or whatever it is that they happen to admire—all adolescents tend to imitate their favorite role models, because they haven’t yet learned to abstract or think in principle. So I think this is, to a very significant extent, a problem of a young person seeking a moral ideal but not yet grasping principles, and therefore, becoming concrete-bound. What it amounts to is that he doesn’t grasp the range of concretes that are possible under that abstraction. Thus, his abstractions float. To him, independence or integrity has no connection to reality except that one concrete, which is Roark. So the real problem here is floating abstractions, which makes you concrete-bound in actual practice—there’s no way to know what to do except model yourself on the literal concrete. Again the root of the trouble is a wrong way of holding philosophic ideas. And if you do take this approach, it leads to a lot of trouble, because no human being can literally become another, or copy him successfully. If you try to do that, you’re headed for disaster, because every assertion of your individuality thereby becomes a threat; everything that makes you you, as opposed to Roark, becomes weakness, imperfection, something low, nonideal. ↩︎

One thing is that I feel like either I need to have a criticism of something or I should accept it. So then if I don’t have a criticism, I need to accept it or I’m evading or being irrational or whatever. But I guess I can go wrong in not understanding what “it” is completely (meaning the idea I’m accepting) and also not understanding the implementation details - what it means to accept the idea.

Here’s a recent example to concretize. We talked about loneliness earlier and I mentioned that by the logic of what you said, loneliness could be connected to domestic violence and murder. You agreed and brought up a concrete case. Now, I made the logical connection, and didn’t see any criticism of it, but one result of making that logical connection was viewing my own loneliness with suspicion, as some potentially dangerous and awful thing that needs to be gotten rid of lest I mistreat other people. That’s just one of the first things I start thinking about.

Ah. Sorry for that. I seem to take a sort of fundamentalist attitude towards certain things, to the detriment of myself and others.

Another is that, in light of the criticism of some parts of Atlas Shrugged in the thread above, I felt like I might need to reject it as a good book, stop recommending it to people, etc.

Are you aware that this contradicts CF? (The way you wrote the paragraph makes it seem like you are not.)

If you actually had no criticisms of something, you just would accept it. You wouldn’t feel like you should accept it. If you feel like you should accept something, but you aren’t accepting it, that is a sign that some part of you disagrees. You have some kind of intuition or internal disagreement, which is a type of criticism, even if you aren’t explicitly aware of the underlying reasons.

This is a CF idea, which you have been told before, and which Elliot has written about multiple times.

I wasn’t when I wrote this.

Yeah I guess I’m doing that self-alienation thing where I don’t take certain internal disagreements seriously and assume they must be bad in some way (which I have criticized other people for doing).

You seem to be saying it doesn’t seem right to you that Lillian would have acted that way if she was really raped. That is a variation of a common rape myth: that rape victims need to act a certain way, and if they don’t act that way, then they weren’t really raped.

The myth is delegitimizing to rape victims and their experiences. This myth also allows people to believe that their own actions couldn’t possibly have been rape or sexual assault, because their victim didn’t react like a proper victim, so obviously they weren’t really victimized. This is part of rape culture. Beliefs like this are part of what allow rape and sexual assault to continue to be so common.

You can look up rape myths online and find information about them. E.g., Here is a list of rape myths.

This cartoon strip addresses how a rape victim acted after a rape, counter to the rape myth, with some explanation.

If you want to be educated on rape, and how rape victims actually respond and feel, then I would recommend looking for information in spaces where victims talk about their experiences. (Please don’t go there and argue with them though – just observe and try to learn.) There are a lot of personal stories on places like reddit and tiktok.

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Viewing your own loneliness with suspicion seems reasonable to me.

Believing that you need to immediately take steps to get rid of loneliness, before you have explored it or come to an agreement with yourself, does not follow from viewing it with suspicion though.

I am not sure if that is what you are trying to imply. You could view your loneliness with suspicion, and recognize it as something that might be (or that is) problematic, without jumping to the step of trying to brute force yourself into getting rid of it (which would not actually work anyway).

Are you trying to imply that you think that you should not view your own loneliness with any suspicion, and that doing so is some kind of rationalist mistake that you are making because you have flawed ideas? Or that viewing your loneliness with suspicion will inevitably lead to you trying to brute force rid yourself of loneliness?

Do you see that the mistake is not viewing your loneliness with suspicion itself, but the next step where you believe that because you are suspicious of something, you must take immediate steps to get rid of it in an irrational way?

You have already admitted in the gaslighting thread that one of the reasons you contacted the CritRat – which caused harm – was because of your loneliness. So your loneliness is part of some problem. It is not loneliness alone that causes people to take harmful actions though: it is loneliness combined with other bad ideas. So one thing you could do is explore what other feelings and beliefs are linked to that loneliness, and what other things besides loneliness have come up when you took harmful actions that you felt were triggered by loneliness.

Here are some examples of other bad ideas, beliefs, and feeling that people combine with loneliness in ways that cause harm. Some of these are bad on their own, but others can be reasonable beliefs in some situations, and only cause harm when combined with other bad ideas:

  • bitterness
  • you are being treated unfairly (either by the world as a whole, or individuals)
  • other people deserve to feel the same kind of pain you feel
  • other people should know how much you have suffered
  • other people have wronged you in some way
  • you are not being given the credit or attention you deserve
  • not taking other people seriously as full humans with their own perspective and point of view
  • not caring about the effects your actions have on other people
  • dehumanizing other people as things like NPCs or sheeple
  • you are deserving of attention or affection from other people and you are being wronged by not receiving it
  • it is irrational or wrong when you are rejected
  • other people are rejecting you because of their flawed ideas
  • you are not being given a fair chance
  • the world is unfair to you
  • infallibilism

This is not anywhere near a full or complete list. These are just some common examples of ideas that people have.

When you have caused harm to someone, you should explore the ideas which you believe led to you causing the harm. Explore why you felt justified or OK with doing what you did. Explore what feelings and beliefs you had when you did the thing, what led to you deciding to do the thing, etc.

So just as part of your general policy, since you know that you have caused somebody harm, and since you identified loneliness as one of the triggers to causing that harm, then you should be viewing your loneliness with suspicion. You should also be trying to identify which other feelings and beliefs were involved.

The part where you are getting things wrong is the idea that you should prematurely identify one of your ideas (in this case loneliness), decide it was the primary or main reason for the harm, and then work to eradicate it, without first gaining a fuller understanding of what happened or coming to an agreement with yourself. This is not going to work to accomplish the goal in the first place, and will likely lead to more harm.

You received hours of help with this problem (over DM). You initially had trouble with it. During that conversation, you didn’t take initiative to do things to make the conversation better, keep better track of what you were saying, outline or tree things, etc.

The next day, you wrote a blog post about the problem. Instead of writing it from the perspective of a learner who had some troubles, and going through your learning process, you wrote it from the perspective of a teacher who was explaining it to others. You didn’t even acknowledge that you had received help. You wrote the post in such a way that you can read it now without even remembering that.

That seems similar to what is happening in this conversation. You don’t want to put effort into making the discussion itself better. You say things that are derailing and distracting, and which require effort on my part to correct. You would be capable of correcting them yourself if you tried (e.g., you would be able to spot some of your own logical fallacies if you made outlines or trees, or even if you just kept better track of what you were saying). Putting in that kind of effort would save a lot of my time and energy, and make the discussion go better.

You don’t have the motivation to put in that kind of effort, but you do have motivation to write a blog post where you get to be the one that explains the problem to other people. You should consider why that is.

I am going to give a bit more explanation about interpreting Lillian as a Victim. The stuff that follows is written with that interpretation. I do not think this is the only or even the best interpretation, just that it is one of many interpretations that are consistent with the text, and that it is an important interpretation.

For this interpretation, remember that almost everything that you see Lillian do in the book happens after eight years of marriage, so all of her “bad” behavior would be a response to eight years of this marriage.

The basic idea is that Lillian marries Hank starry-eyed and naive, in love with someone she thinks is a great and powerful man. He quickly tires of her and decides that he doesn’t like her at all, and proceeds to ignore her for the rest of the marriage, except when he wants to have sex with her. He makes no effort to get to know her as a person or take any interest in her thoughts, opinions, or interests.

Quotes from Atlas Shrugged, Part 1 Chapter 6, about when Hank and Lillian first got married:

He found himself held by the spectacle of a woman who was obviously pursuing him but with obvious reluctance, as if against her own will, as if fighting a desire she resented.

Lillian liked Hank and wanted to date/marry him, but also knew that it was improper for a woman to pursue a man. She would have preferred if he had pursued her, but she liked him enough that she pursued him anyway. She felt conflict about this though.

Regarding Hank’s feelings about Lillian from before the marriage:

It was the difficulty of the conquest that made him want Lillian. She seemed to be a woman who expected and deserved a pedestal; this made him want to drag her down to his bed. To drag her down, were the words in his mind; they gave him a dark pleasure, the sense of a victory worth winning.

And then from after their marriage:

She had never objected; she had never refused him anything; she submitted whenever he wished. She submitted in the manner of complying with the rule that it was, at times, her duty to become an inanimate object turned over to her husband’s use.

His desire for her had died in the first week of their marriage.

So Hank didn’t like the way that Lillian had sex. He didn’t like the way she acted or emoted during sex, and he realized it within a week of marriage, and he checked out of the marriage because of that.

Presumably Lillian was a virgin at that time, since she was a proper woman from money who was marrying a rich man. He already had sexual experience (it says that in the book). He hadn’t liked the way he felt after sex with the other women, and he also didn’t like the way he felt after sex with Lillian.

He wanted to feel like he was “drag[ging] her down” from a “pedestal”, like he was winning some victory. But she was too indifferent seeming, so sex didn’t feel like a conquest to him. It didn’t feel like he was winning some victory. She just gave in too easily, didn’t resist at all. He wanted to feel powerful, but instead he felt emasculated.

In contrast, here is a quote from the first time Hank and Dagny had sex, in Part 1 Chapter 8:

her defiance was submission, that the purpose of all of her violent strength was only to make his victory the greater—he was holding her body against his, as if stressing his wish to let her know that she was now only a tool for the satisfaction of his desire—and his victory, she knew, was her wish to let him reduce her to that.

Dagny was “defiant” and used “violent strength”. That is what Hank wanted. He wanted to overpower somebody, to feel like he was forcing them into something, to feel like he was winning a battle.

Sex with Lillian was unfulfilling for Hank because she just complacently allowed it, she never fought back. There wasn’t a victory to be won. There was no fight, no struggle.

Imagine Lillian did initially want sex. But she was a scared virgin who didn’t know what to do, and just tried to let her husband take the lead. And then when they had sex, he took no interest in giving her any pleasure, and just tried to get through it as quickly as possible, because her lack of resistance was so upsetting to him.

So sex was always unenjoyable for Lillian, even in the beginning, because her husband made it unenjoyable for her. And, as a proper woman, she couldn’t exactly do anything to remedy that. She was Hank’s wife after all, she didn’t want to act like a prostitute and make him hate her.

And within one week of the marriage, Hank gave up entirely. He completely checked out of the marriage, and decided that he didn’t even care about Lillian as a person. She wasn’t the sexual conquest that he wanted. The only values she ever held to him were as a sexual conquest and as the roll of his “wife”. So he kept her in the empty roll of his wife, but no longer had any interest in her as a person. Because she never was a person to him.

So imagine this from Lillian’s perspective. She just got married to someone she was attracted to, someone she pursued, someone she thought was a great and powerful man. And then she notices, within the first month of the marriage, that he has fully checked out. But she has no idea why.

So then what happens during the next eight years?

Hank keeps having sex with Lillian that he doesn’t enjoy, and she doesn’t resist. She finds the sex unenjoyable, which makes sense, because he makes no effort to make it enjoyable to her: he just makes it about him finishing as quickly as he can. But she continues to allow this, to not resist. Maybe at first, she is still hopeful that things will get better, that their relationship can work. But sometime within the eight years, she realizes things aren’t going to change, and she stops being OK with having sex. But she still doesn’t resist. She has seen the hints of his violence in other places, and she is afraid that any resistance will be met with violence.

From the sex scene with Hank and Dagny:

He took her wrist and threw her inside his room, making the gesture tell her that he needed no sign of consent or resistance.

Hank doesn’t care about consent. He doesn’t feel like he needs consent to have sex with Dagny, who is his business partner. So he definitely would not feel like he needs consent to have sex with his wife.

Since this was Hank’s view, it would make sense that Lillian would have some sense of it. She would have some inkling this was there, even if he never said it directly. So she continued to do what she needed to do to survive, and never resisted sex. She knew that resistance would likely lead to violence. I think the book does provide evidence for that: it seems to be the thing he actually wanted from sex. So, ironically, if Lillian had resisted sex, maybe Hank would have liked that better: he would have gotten to have the violent sex with her that he craved, he would have gotten the feeling that he was winning a victory, that he was dragging her down.

One thing about the book that is particularly bad is that we are supposed to read Lillian’s indifference during sex as her doing something mean to Hank. We are supposed to read it as if she is denying him the conquest, denying him pleasure, denying him enjoyable sex.

What else is going on in Lillian’s life? She is being ignored by her husband, who routinely comes home late without notice, and forgets simple commitments that he makes to her. He is a great businessman, able to run an entire business and invent things, but he apparently can’t figure out how to use a calendar or a to do list.

Also, Lillian has to live with Hank’s mother and brother, whom she doesn’t actually get along with.

Part 3, Chapter 6, regarding Hank’s mother’s feelings about Lillian:

there had never been much love between Lillian and her

So Lillian had to live with her mother-in-law that she didn’t actually get along with. And she had to do it while her husband spent a lot of time away from home. So most of her time with him was just in the evenings, when he finally made it home from work, with his family there. And then the rest of the time, she had to spend time with her mother-in-law that didn’t like her. That would be hard on most people.

Another thing to keep in mind is that Lillian cannot easily escape this marriage. Divorce was hard to obtain and highly stigmatized. She can’t just leave him and marry someone else. And she she can’t leave him without potentially being ostracized by the community.

Also, he has hints of violence, and also feelings of possession and ownership over the idea of his “wife”. So she would be afraid that if she tries to leave and dishonors him in that way, then he could get violent or even kill her. And that isn’t just some hypothetical fear. It is very dangerous to leave an abusive relationship. Women should be wary of that. There is a reason that transition houses in secret locations exist. Many abusive men do not get overtly violent until the woman tries to leave. If you feel like your partner may be dangerous, you need to call a crisis line and make a plan to leave them. Do not tell an abusive partner you are planning to leave them. That is dangerous. At the time in the book, crisis lines and women’s transition houses didn’t exist like they do now. Women were not supported in leaving. So if Lillian wanted to avoid violence, she had no choice but to stay, and to try to make the best of things, while also trying to avoid triggering any overt violence from Hank.

Also, consider that even if she feels this way, she is also probably still trying to have a relationship with him. She knows she is stuck in this situation for the rest of her life, until one of them dies, so she is trying her best to make it work. And part of her may still love him, and still think that they could be happy. Maybe she blames herself for his distance, and thinks that if she could be a better wife, maybe he would be nicer to her and care about her more. This is common. It is common for abused women to still love their abusers and want to make things work.

There is the issue of Lillian not liking her friends. So, remember she is going through an immense amount of pain in her marriage, and she can’t leave. She lives in a society that would not even support her leaving, and does not believe marital rape even exists. So, from her point of view, it is dangerous to have any close friends. She doesn’t want to have conversations where she accidentally lets too much slip. So she keeps a distance from other people, and just goes to empty social gatherings. She tries to keep up the appearance of being a great man’s wife, without ever being close enough to anyone to let the facade crack.

There is the issue of the social jokes Lillian makes, which are what we see in the book after eight years of marriage. Consider that she is trying her best to survive, and trying to keep things light and non serious. She can’t bring up any of her real complaints to Hank. He has already shown that he doesn’t care about what she wants or likes. He doesn’t care about her ideas or feelings.

So why does Lillian make social jokes? Maybe she is trying to deal with the pain, and trying to figure out a way to bring things up to him that doesn’t seem really serious. Instead of outright saying that it hurts her that he ignores her and can’t remember to come home on time, she makes jokes about it. This is really common. People do that all the time. They don’t want to outright say that someone’s actions are bothering them, so they make a joke about the actions. Most of the time, people should be more direct. But if you are in a situation where you fear violence if you are direct, then indirection is a reasonable response to that.

There is the issue of the bracelet. One thing with Lillian resenting the bracelet initially is that the bracelet partially represents what he has been ignoring her for for years. The bracelet represents the priorities that he has chosen over the marriage. It represents that his work and his metal will always be more important to him than she is. The “gift” he got her was specifically about the reasons he had been ignoring and neglecting her. It could be read as him giving her a reminder of her place.

Why did Lillian wear the bracelet to the anniversary party so ostentatiously? It is possible that was a misguided attempt to get Hank’s attention, to show him some appreciation. Maybe she was thankful he was doing the anniversary dinner, and she thought wearing it was a way to pay him some kind of tribute, and maybe if she did that, he would give her some attention. But then he didn’t give her any attention. He didn’t stay by her side or talk to her during the dinner. So then when people kept asking about it, she was embarrassed and she made a joke (that could also be read as a bit of a humble-brag). She felt bad that she was going through her anniversary party without her husband paying any attention to her (on their actual anniversary), even after she made an attempt to do something he would appreciate.

Anyway, this is not a full interpretation, just some explanation of one possible way to look at the character of Lillian. This would be the type of context to keep in mind when trying to interpret the words and actions of “Victim Lillian”.

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One issue that comes up with the Victim Lillian interpretation, and also with the rape myths I was talking about earlier, is that people have trouble understanding and empathizing with victims of crimes that are not very obviously and overtly violent.

People like more clear-cut victims. They understand if someone approaches you with a gun and demands your wallet, that you are the victim. But they have more trouble empathizing with someone who has a drug addict family member who keeps stealing their money. They are more likely to victim blame in that case, and say that you should have just set firmer boundaries.

One thing they are not empathetic about is the mixed feelings that people can have. You can have mixed feelings towards your drug-addict brother, or towards your boyfriend who often seems really loving but is sometimes violent, or towards your mother who took out credit cards in your name when you were 17. It can be very difficult to draw and maintain strong boundaries with someone who keeps telling you that they love you and that they are trying to change and they only need your help.

It can also be difficult to believe that someone that you know is really capable of the crimes they committed. So people will second guess themselves and try to explain things away: he’s not being himself, he must not have meant to hurt me, she must have really needed the money, I’m sure she’s going to pay me back, he must have thought I wanted it too, etc.

Another thing that people are not empathetic to is the lack of support that victims have.

Women are told that they should just go to the police if they are raped or sexually assaulted. But the police are often hostile and mean to victims. They question them in invasive and embarrassing ways and treat them poorly.

People are told they should just draw firmer boundaries, and not “let” other people hurt them any more. But families and social groups can be very hostile to someone trying to draw any boundaries against their aggressors and abusers. They can also be hostile towards victims trying to explain what has happened to them at all. One example of this is just how hostile people have been to Elliot’s response to the CritRat harassment, his attempts to draw boundaries with the CritRats, and his attempts to explain what is happening. This is not unique to Elliot though. Another example, which is much worse than many people would imagine, is that many victims of childhood sexual violence are the ones who got punished and ostracized by their families when they tell people the abuse happened and try to have boundaries and avoid their abusers. They are often encouraged to just forget about it and keep the peace. (This is really common. There are many stories about this online.) It makes sense that if people are willing to blame and punish victims of childhood sexual violence, then they would be willing to do the same thing to basically any other type of victim too.

This kind of behavior is not really hidden. Parts of it are very open, and people are aware that this is the climate that we live in. You can see victim-blaming and abuser-protecting in many different areas. So since that is the climate that we live in, it makes sense that many victims just stay silent, and try their best to go along with things. They try to make things work because they don’t feel like they have other options. But then that very behavior is held against them, and used as proof that they aren’t really victims at all. They can’t win either way though: if they complain and try to set boundaries, that is also held against them.

So anytime you are trying to interpret the behavior of a victim, you need to take this context into account. People will often say “you should have just said no” or “you should have told someone right away” or “why would you keep talking to him after the fact?”. They have an easy time drawing boundaries in strangers lives. But people have a much harder time drawing boundaries in their own lives, and overall other people aren’t actually supportive when you draw boundaries that affect them personally. They think strangers on the internet should just fully cut contact with their abusers, but when someone from their own friend group does it, they think it is just being dramatic and looking for attention, cuz obviously Steve isn’t dangerous, so why can’t you just come to the party and ignore him?

So it makes sense that people are going to be confused and not draw firm boundaries and second guess themselves and put effort into trying to make things work or trying to pretend things aren’t that bad, even after they have been abused in some way.

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Thanks. I didn’t know that was considered a standard rape myth. It makes sense though. People deal with bad things in different ways. This is known in other areas. For example, it’s common advice to not be judgmental about how someone seems to be dealing with the loss of a loved one because there is a lot of variation in how people deal with such things, and you can’t make assumptions about what someone is going through based on their outward behavior. So the same sort of thing applies to how people deal with rape.

I took your advice and started doing this a bit. People’s experiences are pretty disturbing to read/hear about. I’m going to try to do this occasionally on an ongoing basis for a while.

Someone on Reddit linked this Consent Tea video, which I thought was pretty decent (and has millions of views, so apparently there is a strong interest in and need for such an explainer…).

Yeah that’s the mistake I make I guess, is conflating a suspicion, a final judgment, and a proposed remedy.


I suspected that I was doing something wrong in what I described but wasn’t quite sure where the error was, so I just shared the entirety of the concrete reaction.

I think I see that now.

Thanks for this. In writing an earlier post I had an inchoate idea in the back of my mind about certain emotions needing some sort of a catalyst to cause a problem, but I didn’t have enough of a sense of what I meant to express what I was thinking. The long list of concrete examples you provided is helpful.

Ah yeah I see the problem there. It seems bad that I didn’t acknowledge the help and very “convenient” that I forgot the context of that post and the help I received.

I’d be happy to put some effort in and save you some time, but I have a couple of issues I’d need to address first. One is that I’m not confident I’d do a good job of it that would actually be helpful. You seem to think that if I made trees and outlines, that they would be likely to help the discussion. I’m not sure I agree. I fear that I would make something unhelpful or even counterproductive. I understand the general virtues of these tools; that’s not what I am talking about. One specific concern: I could make a tree that misrepresents the discussion, and then you’d have to correct that. If I’m causing problems without trees, I could cause problems with trees. It might even be more problematic to deal with in certain ways, because it’d superficially look like I was trying to put in effort and be helpful, and then you’d have to point out I wasn’t.

A related issue is not knowing where to get started. Like, should I try to make a tree of the whole AS discussion?

In the gaslighting thread, I tried to address similar issues by proposing to make a discussion tree of a specific range of posts, but I didn’t get a direct reply to my proposal as the discussion went in another direction. I could try the same thing here, and try to propose something that seems like it might be worth a try, and have a bit of back and forth to get to a place where I feel like it’s something that will be useful (instead of just going off half-cocked and then being disappointed when a bunch of effort proves futile). Does that seem like a reasonable plan?

Some second-handedness there I guess.

I’ve seen some discussion about this sort of thing on Reddit. Really disturbing.


Right makes sense. People are biased and don’t want to consider coming to negative judgments about people in their friend group so they blame the person who complains about stuff rather than thinking about the complaint and whether it might be true. So then victims don’t complain about stuff, which is used as proof that there was nothing to complain about.

In the quote you were replying to, I said:

So in that part, I was talking about making some small trees, just to keep track of your own arguments and be able to identify your own logical fallacies. I thought if you put the parts you were replying to in an outline or tree, then maybe you would be more able to keep track of them, and less likely to directly contradict things you had already said or drop the context.

Your response to that was to say that you don’t know where to start, and to ask if you should make a tree of the entire discussion. While I think a tree of the entire discussion (at a zoomed out level) might be helpful for you too, that isn’t what I was talking about.

Also, in response to my recommending you do something that would save my time and effort – because if you were keeping track of your own arguments better, than you could make fewer mistakes – you asked for more discussion from me, on a tangential topic.

And part of the discussion you wanted from me seems to be that you want me to defend that trees are even useful at all in the first place. That seems completely out of left field to me. You have literally practiced using trees before, and posted them before. But now you seem to be claiming that you think that maybe they are bad and will cause more problems than they solve. You are asking me to defend basic CF ideas to you.

I agree that if you are causing problems without trees, you could also cause problems with trees. But I was thinking that if you made a good-faith effort to try to understand the discussion better yourself, through using trees or outlines to keep track of what has been said – since you seem to lose track, drop context, and contradict yourself – then that would help you. I do agree that if you are just doing it as a homework assignment or in a bad-faith way, then it is not going to be helpful for that.

You pointed out that you could misrepresent the discussion in a tree. But you are already misrepresenting the discussion. Perhaps if you made a tree or an outline, then the disconnects would be clearer. Perhaps it would be easier for me to point out your problematic arguments and logical fallacies and contradictions if you put them on a tree. But I do agree, you could just make the tree convoluted and confusing and leave off the relevant details. You could just completely make a mess of it. I was thinking that since you had used and practiced trees before, you were competent enough to do an OK job. You seem to be arguing that you are not.

If I thought that you needed to learn how to use trees and outlines, and that you had no experience with them, and that you didn’t understand them, then I wouldn’t have suggested you start using them right now in the middle of this discussion. If you wanted to start using them, I would recommend that you try learning them and practicing with them in an easier way, with smaller steps.

I wasn’t trying to suggest you take on some project where I help you figure out how to use trees, and also where I defend whether that’s even a good idea to you. I was assuming the context that you already agreed trees and outlines were helpful, you had already practiced using them before, and you had already successfully used them in the past to understand discussions better. For some reason, you now seem to be acting a bit helpless, like they are a new concept that you don’t really understand.

I think your proposal was missing the important part of the gaslighting thread that you should be discussing. You were proposing to put a bunch of effort into discussing a less important topic. So you got a redirect, which prompted you to figure out what the most important issue was. The discussion didn’t just go in another direction – your proposal indicated that you didn’t know what parts were important, so you were redirected to figure out what was important.

Here you are saying you want to propose something and have back and forth with me. But I have already indicated more than once that I want to minimize tangential discussions. There is already more in the main thread than what I will be able to address and reply to. So I don’t want to have some extra back and forth discussion with you about trees. The point of suggesting trees or outlines wasn’t to bring up a tangential discussion topic, it was to give you a suggestion for something that I thought you were capable of doing on your own to keep better track of the discussion. And I especially don’t want to discuss it when you seem doubtful that trees are even good and useful. That is a huge tangent, where you are basically asking me to defend and argue basic CF to you.

This is a poor attitude to learning in general. You can’t expect that every single thing you do while trying to learn is going to be “useful”. You can’t consider all of your dead-ends “futile”. Looking at things in this way is actually very anti-Popperian.

One interpretation that would make your statement make sense is that you are not trying to engage in a learning process. You were trying to do trees as a homework assignment because I “told” you to. But that’s not what I was trying to do – I was trying to make a suggestion of a tool that I thought would help you if you were using it as part of your learning process. I didn’t want you to make a tree as a homework assignment in a rote kind of way, where you were just going to resent me later if it didn’t get you the results you wanted.