Max Learning Objectivism (Spoilers for AS & FH)

Regarding both the static hero stuff and the flawed-to-unflawed character growth, the stuff you are writing does line up with what I was getting at. (This isn’t unconditional approval of what you said, but you seem to have gotten the point.)

But this is stuff you should have already known. You are familiar with Popper and BoI. It’s a pretty big error to be making, given that. So I think it betrays some of your deeper, subconscious thinking that is probably getting in the way of your own personal growth and learning. For example, if you see the goal of learning or growth to be that you should reach some kind of unflawed end-state, that is going to lead to counter-productive learning behaviors.

So it’s good that you are able to consciously see the issue when it is pointed out to you. But you need to actually understand and integrate the ideas more so that you can use them in your thinking and apply them in your own life.

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I was aware of it and knew that.

No – I knew there were women interested in that – not just recently, but over the last few centuries.

I’m not sure. I think I knew it at some level but didn’t pay much attention or like disregarded it sometimes. I noticed it sometimes. Like that Dagny sometimes assumed to not be the VP, often put down / mistreated, that other characters would default to speaking to a man if present – her and Rearden talking to the Mayor comes to mind. Also the absence of other high-ranking women (in NY, Washington), and that there were fewer women mentioned at GG than men – Kay and the wife of an economist at least (I remember that their marriage pre-dated moving to GG and it being a minor plot point).

Maybe, and yes.

I am cautious about discussing it. I don’t want to react too quickly, and I’m somewhat worried about discussing it publicly. (This last bit feels like it might conflict with oism but I don’t know how.)

I drafted a postmortem that I haven’t posted. It doesn’t include the connection to the makeup project, though. The connection is twofold: after noticing the filter I looked more closely than I would have w/o the makeup project (and I probably can notice more, now), and I felt like it was okay to say something because I thought I had some experience (even tho it’s very little). Those details feel relevant to the postmortem now that I’ve said them.

I think there is a problem (or problems) here, and in a broader context doing this is contributing to something bad.

Another example where this type of thinking showed up is the blog post you made unendorsing your past views. You stated in your video that your views had significantly improved, and you wanted an easy to find line in the sand between before and after.

Do you see how wanting to draw that line and separate your ideas into “before” and “after” some change is related to your views about Dagny and her arc from flawed to unflawed?

Recently – about a year after you made the video unendorsing your old views – you made another blog post about how you were “so very wrong” about something. (You also posted about it in the forum.)

I’m not saying you were wrong to post about your mistake. But do you see how your “line in the sand” doesn’t really work? You made a major error after you said you were going to be more careful and more serious about philosophy. And if you try to make a “line in the sand” with this one, you are just going to have the same problem again in the future.

The whole idea of trying to have a “fresh start” and saying everything going forward counts, and the stuff from before doesn’t count, is flawed in a similar way to your views on Dagny (the flawed to unflawed character arc). It is anti-beginning of infinity. You keep thinking that NOW you’re past the mistakes, and going forward you will be careful & things will be better & you will stop making such egregious mistakes.

(There are attitudes you can have to minimize the impact or damage of your mistakes, to make them easier to find and change. But having an attitude that you are now past the mistakes is not the way to do that. It is actually counter-productive to trying to do that.)


Sorta yes – I’m starting to. I think I see it but it’s not fully integrated.
(Note: the rest of this post doesn’t draw a connection to Dagny and flawed-to-unflawed; I’m going to think about that and post separately.)


Yesterday I thought about your earlier post and tried to come up with problems that might be due to anti-boi/unflawed ideas. I didn’t get very far, but one was: “maybe i think of learning as one-sided or only on some highly focused thing. like my only mistakes will be related to the thing at hand.” Like, if I’m learning X or paying attention to X, then all other A…W,Y,Z things won’t be a source of mistakes (I know some stuff related to X might be, but most things aren’t things I would have thought of as related). I assumed the rest of my ideas were unflawed. But that’s anti-boi because criticism can come from anywhere, and any idea in my brain can be a bottleneck (like, cause a mistake). Sometimes a mistake has an amplified effect, too, b/c I spend more time thinking/writing about a topic after I’ve made an error. Thinking that I’m past mistakes about A…L will make me complacent about errors from A…L, and contribute to bad reactions to crits about A…L, and mean I’ll be unwilling to revisit A…L (because I think I don’t need to).

Yeah. When reading your post the first time, I had some thoughts about retconning stuff around the unendorsement vid – responding with these would have been dishonest, but I think they’re worth me discussing a bit here.

(retcon analysis)

The two things I would have retconned were: attitudes and methods – particularly around problems and problem solving. Like I might have said: now that my attitude/method to X has improved, there’s a whole class of problems I won’t have ever again, so the unendorsement vid was okay. But both of these responses aren’t really answering the issue, because they both imply that something has become unflawed. If I said them, it would mean that I haven’t fully understood that everything can be improved and that I can’t predict what the improvement would be (even my methods/attitudes). That’d be a serious problem with my attitude and/or methods!

I could have, for example, claimed that my methods of criticizing my own ideas had like gotten past some important breakpoint and now I wouldn’t make a whole class of mistakes. Even if I never made a mistake in that class that for 50 years, someone could come up with an improvement that meant I had been making some mistakes and just hadn’t known about it (including being overly critical). Would 50 years of success mean that the original statement (50 yrs prior) was okay? No. In fact, 50 years of success probably means the opposite: a class of mistakes became invisible to me because I thought my method was unflawed. It wouldn’t have been a way of automatizing better error correction, it was a way of automatizing ignoring errors.

(end retcon analysis)

I think this error goes back to when I originally read BoI. I knew that my understanding of BoI might be flawed, or that my interpretation might be. But that knowledge (I think) was also, like, my confidence in my own ideas being unflawed. Since I knew that flaws can exist anywhere, how could my knowledge of flaws be flawed?


This sounds like it might be 80% integrated. It’s not.

Yesterday I thought about your earlier post and tried to come up with problems that might be due to anti-boi/unflawed ideas.

This suggests that you’re in a good position to do that analysis. You’re not.


The 4 sections of the post all open with agreement. That makes it sound like you agree more than you do. It gets in the way of discussing remaining disagreements.

When reading your post the first time, I had some thoughts about retconning

Those thoughts, like the previous analysis, are an attempt at fairly sophisticated philosophy.

They aren’t worthless. There are decent ideas in there.

But basically the error rate is too high to engage with. I think there are too many errors to comment on, and they’re local errors anyway. That’s a theme I see in your recent posts.

What can be done? Dig deeper for underlying causes instead of dealing with whatever comes up. Look at the bigger picture. Make a plan.

What sort of plan? Improve foundational knowledge. The steps are:

First, you learn to do something at all, once, successfully. Second, you learn to do it repeatedly and improve your success rate. Third, you learn to do it efficiently (using less resources, e.g. less time and attention) and achieve mastery.

Let’s call the steps (initial) learning (1), practice (2) and automatization (3) (which is also a practice step, but I wanted short, unique terms).

In our tutoring sessions, we made some good progress on learning (1).

We made a little progress on practice (2) because we did it some during sessions. But you didn’t do enough practice (2) outside of sessions. You need a lot more practice (2).

Practice (2) will uncover some errors in learning (1). So you’ll go back and improve learning (1), too. But I think you know enough learning (1) to do some practice (2).

After more practice (2) and learning (1) would come automatization (3). You shouldn’t begin automatization (3) until after the first two steps are close to complete so that you don’t form bad habits. Automatizing errors sucks.

After automatization (3) would come more layers of knowledge. You do 1-3 (all three steps) for some stuff, then you repeat for some more advanced stuff, then repeat again for more advanced stuff, etc. You’re multiple iterations of 1-3 away from effectively having some of the discussions and thoughts you want to have. You don’t seem to recognize and take seriously this situation.

You know some stuff, but you’re unreliable at using it even when consciously trying. Practice (2) makes the knowledge reliable for conscious use. Automatization (3) makes it reliable for subconscious use, which lets you put your conscious attention on something else such as learning higher level stuff.

Broadly, other people are in similar situations or earlier (they might still need more learning (1)).

What sort of material should you do 1-3 with first? As before, I suggest grammar, text analysis and writing, including using trees for all of those. They can be done partly in order (grammar then reading then writing) and partly simultaneously (that’s an example of going a few layers past an unfinished layers being OK). Concepts related to IGCs might come next.

Everything else being equal, math is a better starting point than English. But I’ve made more material about English and we’ve worked on English before. Your interests are another factor.

Going back through all our tutoring videos would be a good way to work on this stuff, in addition to doing practice (2). It’s also a way to find things to practice.

However, you haven’t been doing this for the last year. (Neither have other people that I’ve made similar suggestions to.) So maybe you must first address scheduling, motivation, energy budgets, project management, etc. We talked about those issues in the tutoring videos too, so you could get some ideas there.

So far, you haven’t shown the ability to work on philosophy stuff consistently over time on your own initiative. I also don’t think you’ve ever been very consistent at writing forum posts regularly for more than a couple months. The temporary spurts of energy approach doesn’t work well, especially with bringing up new stuff when you return instead of continuing to build on prior stuff. Lots of people seem to like/use the temporary spurts of energy approach, and like to switch topics a lot without completing much. I think that’s a bad idea if one’s goal is to get good at philosophy and rationality skills.


Why no reply? @Max

b/c it’s hard and I don’t want to give a response that evades the issue – i want it to be a productive.
will reply in the next few hrs.

This seems like the most important thing.

There are some easy things to plan, like revisiting/revising grammar and explicitly practicing more. I still break down some sentences and do outlines, so it’s fairly easy for me to do this more and more explicitly when I do (e.g., writing them out instead of doing some stuff mentally – I do both atm, but mostly mentally).

Similarly with text analysis.

I have some questions, though.

How can I judge this? If I’m moving on too quickly atm after learning something, then isn’t something about my self-judgment broken?

There are some ideas that come to mind, like w/ grammar I could set a breakpoint like correctly analyze 100 sentences consecutively. Is that sort of thing okay as a way to tell if practice (2) is sufficient?

Another idea might be to pay more attention to errors and then, when they happen, to go back to (1) or (2) and focus on things that are specifically related to the error.

I could also post answers here to get error correction from other people, but 100 grammar trees is a lot to check, and I don’t think it’s reasonable that I should expect forum members to do that. So I think I need something less reliant on other ppl. Mb this isn’t a big issue atm though and I shouldn’t worry about it.

I’m not sure how I’d approach things from a math POV instead of english – in part because I’ve done a lot more math stuff (both in school and since then via coding). That’s one reason I’m interested more in analysis/writing. Also b/c writing is an essential skill for interacting via text (e.g., here, on this forum).

Not sure if this is worth thinking about, but wanted to mention.

Do you have like a dependency tree for this sort of thing?

One concern I have is what next? Like, grammar, text analysis, and writing are some things to start with. You suggest IGC related stuff might come next, but I don’t really have an idea what that would look like, nor what other topics might be along-side that (if any), nor what would come after.

Looking at Tutoring Video Activities (renamed from June Learning) - #56 by Elliot – there’s multiple things in videos 48-52 that are relevant (and which I don’t remember), so I’m thinking some of these Qs I’m asking are not worth considering atm. Better to revisit those episodes first. Like IGCs in 52, and 3/8 to 7/8 of 51.

My motivation for asking the above is that I don’t have a clear idea of what those iterations would be (besides the topics mentioned). I think not having a clear path makes it harder to convince myself that it’s what I should focus on. I know how focusing on those things has helped me in the past, though, which is something.

This has improved a bit over the past year – regular exercise is one example. But I know there’s work for me to do there, too.

I’m not sure what to do with things like this thread (particularly LO and discussing AS). I think it was good that I read AS, but it seems like focusing too much on AS (which is one of the topics I want to discuss) would be counter-productive. Or that it’d be counter-productive relative to a more structured, long-term approach.

I could read FH/AS again (or other Rand books) and do grammar/text analysis/writing practice using examples/topics from those, is that sort of thing safe or wise to do?

I don’t know how to integrate this (or these sorts of things) besides mb being conscious of it and thinking about it (like, chewing) when relevant things come up.

Do you mean that what I said was misleading, or that b/c I’m not in a good position to do that analysis that I shouldn’t, or both? (Or something else?)

Reading it literally: it sounds like just the first one.

But it feels like there’s an implication that it wasn’t an effective/efficient way to spend my time. (In which case, I’m not really sure what would have been better besides asking for examples or more explanation.)

Maybe I should re-read Elliot’s post from a few days ago – that I’ve already read.

When learning something, you need to develop a good sense of when you’ve done it right. This requires practice and having ways to consciously check your work.

You should be able to figure out how to consciously check your work for some simple things, such as walking to a location, reading a single word, or arithmetic.

You should be able to identify some common errors, say why they’re an error, say things you look for in a correct answer, etc. E.g. with walking to a location, a common error might be crawling instead, which can be identified by knees touching the ground. Another error would be not ending up at the correction location, which you could judge by looking around to see where you are or using your phone’s GPS.

Once you have some knowledge that includes the ability to judge (which you already do have), then whenever you build on that knowledge and learn something more advanced, you need to figure out how to check your work for that too. It’s realistic to figure out how to check your work for something which is only one step beyond other stuff where you can already check your work.

Things like answer keys and other people can help, but developing your own judgment, and being able to decide for yourself when you should be confident about something or not, is the most important.

Somewhere between simple things and complicated philosophy discussions there are gaps in your knowledge and your ability to judge degraded. There are also some errors. You have to try to find those gaps and errors and fix them, which has some downsides but overall is a way better situation than starting at the beginning.

To help find them, you can try doing different things and see which ones you can do confidently and correctly – and judge that for yourself – in the same way you can identify “cat” as a noun. And find other stuff where you’re more fuzzy, unclear, unsure, etc. That helps narrow things down by indicating problems in between the confident and unconfident stuff.

The prerequisites for learning Goldratt stuff, Popper stuff, Rand stuff, etc., have large overlap. They are things like text analysis, trees and the learning/automatizing process (including some project management like scheduling). Stuff to be able to have a productive, rational discussion or debate – which you can do alone with yourself and it’s pretty similar – is also important. That includes stuff like dealing with biases, emotions and writing. You’d also want some math and logic knowledge.

Once you get that working well, then the interdependencies between different CF things are pretty limited, so it’s not that hard to manage. Like you can learn Popper, Rand and Goldratt in any order – none of them are trying to build on one of the others. Some CF stuff builds on some earlier CF stuff but it’s not subtle about doing that – e.g. if it says “constraints” 20 times then it’s building on Goldratt (plus I probably named him in that article too). I often name concepts I’m building on and link to articles discussing them.

IGCs partly build on Popper but could be learned without knowing Popper first. And you already are familiar with general Popper themes anyway. Similarly, Paths Forward could be learned before Popper but knowing some Popper themes like fallibilism first helps – but I do cover those some in CF material too.

You’ll also find gaps in your prerequisites sometimes, but if it’s just a little here and there then it’s not a big problem to deal with as you go along.

Oh. Grammar alone is multiple iterations. Like you can learn parts of speech before learning clauses. Text analysis should be expected to take multiple iterations, though the different parts of text analysis are harder to name or define than parts of grammar.

Too hard to start with. Get confident with easier texts first.


I think reading some LO (if interested) is a good idea to see an example of what high skill/quality text analysis can look like.

Just a short note to say that I am and have been thinking about this daily. (in a broad sense)

One thing I realized – it’s not profound or new but it was surprising to me – is that consistency of learning habits is way more important than intensity or ~expertise or ~efficiency. That’s a thing I’m focusing on now.

It was surprising in part b/c I know this WRT non-philosophy / non-meta-learning things, like w/ climbing my major goals are about consistency and broad competence, not personal-bests. But I didn’t / haven’t / wouldn’t approach philosophy like that. I think I’m mb gaining some appreciation/intuition for it. Over the last week (and the past few days particularly) I’ve been working on finding ways to integrate idea-trees into day-to-day stuff (both analyzing text and structuring new text). Also paying a lot more attention to my own feelings of confidence/competence with stuff I try – I suspect that I (and most ppl) have a lot more info about self-judged competence available to them than they use or admit.

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This has maybe resolved my long-running learning conflict, too. I’m not sure yet, but I don’t feel the same conflict between my (implicit) preferences and explicit ideas that I used to.

Thank you for discussing this and all the other things with me. I appreciate it.

A chess coach once told me that if I got out a chess set and set up the pieces every day for a month, with zero days missed, then in the future I would reach chess master (2200 rating). He said I could practice/study after setting up the pieces but that was optional based on whether I wanted to that day.

Yes people do know that they’re unsure/unclear about tons of stuff. They normalize and rationalize that in their minds and ignore it. They think having much higher standards would never work, so they keep doing stuff on top of a foundation that has many errors.

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Post some.

Tracinski (one of the more well known non-ARI Objectivists who blogs primarily about news/politics not philosophy) published a book on Atlas Shrugged in 2019. I just saw it exists:

I read the table of contents. I would not call it a guide. It’s an essay collection. It doesn’t guide you in how to read AS. And each essay looks roughly independent, so it’s not very comprehensive, thorough or organized either. It’s nothing like explaining AS chapter by chapter.

I wouldn’t call my own text analysis a guide either, but it’s more suitable for helping someone actually understand what AS says.

There are two character from AS who get chapters about them. Galt is in the title and gets two chapters. And James Taggart gets a chapter. There’s also a chapter related to Dominique Francon, who is from a different book. Dagny Taggart, the main character, does not get a chapter explaining her in this alleged Reader’s Guide. Hank Rearden, the clear second-most-main character, also doesn’t get a chapter.

The word “cabin” only has two search results via Amazon Look Inside (which appears to give the number of pages the term is on, not the number of times the term appears). (“quarry” has three search results despite being about a different book). The first result is about Francisco’s cabin at Galt’s Gulch. The second result is about Dagny’s time at her cabin, but it hardly says anything about that long, important scene. E.g. there seems to be no discussion about Dagny telling herself to “stop it” multiple times.