Project: Part 0: Considering major life choices

Project Summary

These are questions I’m considering in this project and I think I should come up with an answer to.

What’s a good way of choosing what work to do? What should it achieve or create?

How important is it that someone’s work creates or builds something impactful/important to the world at large?

Who should have children?

When is it a good time to get into discussing major life-changing decisions on CF that may require days or weeks of discussion? (Or if not time, what other criterion?)

What skills would be good to improve before such a discussion?

What progress-blocking problems could come with such a discussion?

Why do people leave CF?

What should someone do if they start feeling reluctant or bad about being active on CF? What is a good way to deal with that, considering that being active here to try to resolve it will then fundamentally require feeling reluctant or bad?

When is a good time to use the unbounded category? (Or if not time, what other criterion?)


The long-term goal is to decide which of these questions definitely need answering, and answer the ones that I think need answers. For the sake of having something specific, if only as a point to measure my prediction of complex goal timing, I’d like to complete this goal within 3 months.

As a more concrete sub-goal, I plan to write at least one thoughtful self-initiated post (i.e. not only replying to someone else) each week. Weeks count Mon-Sun. With each post, I’ll also note which question I plan to consider for the next post.

The bigger picture is, getting to a position where I feel comfortable making potentially major life-changing decisions.


The long-term goal is pretty open-ended. My confidence of completing the 3 months target is low (say 50%) but I think that’s a result of a lot of unknowns which would be there for any specific time frame.

I’m confident that I’ll meet the weekly mini-goal at least 90% of the time, and failures will be caused by unexpected short-term issues.

I expect this will require a lot of research from me. It may require tangents into studying new subjects. I may need to read new books/forums/articles to create good answers to the goal questions.

Other People

To be clear, I’m not asking anyone to answer all these questions for me or do my work. Input is welcome, but my goal is to incrementally answer these questions myself.

As I’m focusing on considering these questions in principle and many of them are CF-related or otherwise fairly common, it’s possible other people may also find these questions valuable to consider too.

I’m sharing this with others because I’ve made too many important decisions on my own and made a mess of them. External input is something I’ve actually avoided and that has almost certainly contributed to an unsatisfactory life so far, so I want to at least make it possible to get outside input.

I will complete this independently if no-one else participates. Part of the purpose here is just to take the time and effort to seriously think about what to do next, instead of making an impatient snap decision.


I’ve only really felt like I have any control over my life for the last 10 years and it’s been a mess of careless decisions, wasted time and money, minimally successful projects, and getting overwhelmed and harming myself with stress.

I want to stop wasting my life on bad decisions. I’m free of past overwhelm and free of pressure to hurry into a decision. I want to decide how to spend the next 10 years (or even 1 year) in a much more considered way. I want to do something important.

I have some more specific thoughts on what sort of things I want to do and find interesting and specific careers, but I don’t want to massively get into stuff that might result in major life-changing choices until I’ve been here and active for longer. I’m interested in looking at related issues for now.

I had originally planned to leave the subject of life goals alone entirely until a later time, but then how do I decide what time is the right time? I don’t know that either, so that plan is already going straight back into making careless decisions, which is why I decided to start this project as part 0 to start talking about things that make up life goals.

One thing to do is review my emotion and intuition articles. I think a lot of people’s bad feelings related to CF have to do with suppressing some of their ideas that conflict with CF. I wrote five intuition related articles fairly recently as some of my best ideas about the problem.

Engaging significantly with the articles before feeling bad would be a good idea.

Social status dynamics are another relevant topic. Sometimes forum posters may be mean or lower your status in veiled/sneaky ways (just as is pretty common everywhere else). This analysis discusses status some and gives some sense of the huge amount of information (and sometimes manipulation) that can be involved in fairly short communication: Curiosity – Analyzing How Culture Manipulates You by Pulling Your Puppet Strings

You can review examples in the BoI and FI discussion archives at Curiosity Blog – eBooks My discussion with Aubrey de Gray, also on that page, is essentially another example.

Posters who have been around for years might be willing to offer some summaries or answer some questions.

There are more recent examples such as Elliot Temple and Corentin Biteau Discussion and Curiosity – Firebench Debate

My one word summary of the main reason people leave is: dishonesty. I have stuff on that topic like Lying · Elliot Temple

You should like it. If it clashes with your intuitions or subconscious, but you try to do it anyway due to explicit arguments, you’ll probably have a bad time and do mediocre work. You don’t want a career you’re conflicted about.

It’s possible to change your subconscious and intuitions to change your interests, but most people are bad at that. You can try something for a while and see if you like it. If not, you can try some more (if you don’t mind too much) and see if it grows on you. Sometimes things don’t click initially but improve within a few months. If it’s still not working after 3 months, that sometimes just isn’t really fixable for people no matter what rational arguments they have saying they should like it. Sometimes you can identify and fix a specific problem: e.g. you might find a different book or teacher with better explanations and like the subject much better once you start actually understanding it.

Your interests and other ideas have shaped you for many years and informed how you look at the world and interpret things, and what information you’ve gathered, so changing fields can be way way way more work than you would expect. You could have to review and reinterpret a ton of stuff. So it’s usually better to look for something that already fits some of your existing interests and talents reasonably well.

Another important consideration is finding high leverage work (matters both to pay and making a difference). Also honest work, creative work, and work that makes things better or about the same, not worse.

Other Comments

Why now? Maybe partly in the form of “Why did you join the CF forum now?” I’m guessing something changed in your life recently that’s relevant. There might be some change that’s already obvious to you or you might initially have no clear answer. (If the answer is private that’s fine, no need to reply, but you should at least answer this to yourself – including probably writing it down in a journal or at least speaking the words out loud.)

Why CF as opposed to other pro-rationality stuff or being a fan of football or whatever other stuff people do with their lives?

If you have much money, then buying my help is a relevant option.

I guess if someone is at that stage where being active on this forum starts feeling bad, it would be good if there was somewhere else your emotion and intuition articles could be discussed with other people.

Yes there are some major life events over the last year or two, people leaving my life, projects succeeding (just barely and at significant personal cost), some personal rediscovery (I’d kind of forgotten how much I enjoy programming because of the long-term project I was doing and I’m now currently convinced I want to do it full time).

I guess with my project completed I had the time to look back at the last 10 years and think “what an atrocious waste, I’m an idiot”. I want to do better. I’ve meant to get more actively involved here when I was an occasional visitor on but never felt like I had time for it owing to overwhelming myself.

And why CF specifically - I’m convinced that you’re very good, that people who stay active here and that I can interact with will have a high appreciation for rationality, and there’s a lot of valuable articles that I want to understand better. I’m particularly convinced that this is the best place to work on my inexplicit problems (which I think I have many of) and get serious discussion of them without cliches and bromides.

I’m not saying I expect to do everything here, if I get stuck here or there’s not much activity for a while I’ll look at other places too but I’m not in a rush to do that currently.

I can’t be a fan of football or other things like that. I don’t understand how to enjoy that sort of thing.

The things I care about are creating stuff (currently: designing and programming games), and fixing my internal conflicts/damage/inconsistent morality.

I’m open to the possibility of paying for your help. I think I need to reach a clear bounded statement of my goal and what I want to get out of it before I can consider it seriously.

There’s a lot to your reply (thanks!) and I don’t think I can get through it all in one day. I’ll reply to other bits incrementally (as well as starting a few other tangents).

It may be worth seriously considering and analyzing what you think the state of the world is and how you know. What’s bad and what’s causing that? What sort of good things exist and how do they manage to exist? Or analyze what your opinions about CF imply about other people, ideas and values.

My criticisms of some aspects of the world are one of the things that seem to drive a lot of people away. Partly I think even cynical anti-establishment rebels are too biased in favor of some mainstream power. Partly I think people pressure themselves to make personal changes about many of my views. One reason for self-pressure is they think they already learned it and know the answer long before they have enough knowledge, so that implies they should change when it’s actually too early. Another issue is people avoiding having open disagreements or problems and wanting to get resolution fast.

Some people won’t take seriously that academia and science could actually be as broken as I think, while others won’t seriously consider that Elon Musk might be bad (I’ve been accused of being jealous of him), while one of the CritRat leaders hates me because I wouldn’t give my positive approval for his school teaching job (I have no idea how the other CritRats think that’s fine given their Taking Children Seriously viewpoints).

Because I have many ideas and criticisms, there’s basically something for everyone to get upset and triggered about even if they agree with most of my views. And then if they bring up the issue and say things that contradict me, I’ll probably double down, try to debate them, and write more explanations of why I believe what I do. So they’ll have baited me to say exactly what they don’t want to hear and won’t be able to handle.

Lots of people think “yeah other groups have huge problems with social status hierarchies, but not my favored group, we’re rational” or many different variations on the blame-others theme and then they get unhappy when they find out I see them as one of the flawed others instead of accepting them into my tribe who I think is the special exception that’s good. Or they like Popper, Deutsch or Rand and don’t take it well when I’m critical of those things too. Lots of people want safe topics where they know what they can say that the group will agree with and they won’t risk being criticized or looking bad. There are e.g. Objectivist groups where you can basically agree with any of Rand’s ideas without risk to your social status – her views are safe. Lots of people, once they really start to have a high opinion of me, also really want my approval, and are used to ~every other community where joining and being on their side is enough to fit in and get approval.

I think there’s a lot of irrationality. I think there’s little appreciation for honest intellectual pursuit. I think there’s a lot of scientism, worshipping public “intellectuals”, and a lot of people who try to cargo cult things that society in general recognises as intellectual. I think these things existed before social media but were more isolated, and with social media it became very very easy for these ideas to spread and evolve to propagate more effectively and as that spread people who want power could only choose between exploiting it or failing.

I think the growth of social media has had a massive negative impact on society and that well-known knowledge of how to use it in a good way is in a very early stage, and it’s done a lot of harm while people are working out how not to be terrible on it (easy low-risk harassment, stalking, identity theft, anonymous trolling and other bad behaviour), and has opened up people to too much information too quickly and generally people have not got the knowledge to navigate that (which I think is a big factor in prevalent anxiety, depression, etc) though I think it’s also opened intellectual borders and in potential it can one day be very good when the knowledge required for that is created and made well known enough. I think a lot of people are very confused and scared by having more information than they can make sense of and want an easy low-effort answer so they can feel safe.

I guess you could say humanity is infected by a lot of irrationality that once released spread much too quickly to keep in check, and inoculations are hard to make and spread. But I think the inoculation is stronger than the virus, and over time reason will win out.

The good in the world is, nonetheless, humanity. The people trying to live their lives, do productive work, raise their kids well, be good people (even if they make mistakes). I don’t think the vast majority of people are malicious, and when they do wrong it’s more often through ignorance, and the problem is just explaining that to them.

(it’s a pretty broad subject and that’s a bit of a ramble, but I think that touches my most prominent thoughts on it)

It implies I haven’t found any better options yet. Also that the people actively in my life don’t have much interest in serious discussion or I don’t think they’re very good at it. It might imply that I have poor judgement in choosing who to associate with, a lack of ability in finding people good to associate with, and/or a lack of ability in convincing good people to associate with me. It implies that I don’t think I have common values with a lot of people.
(and to be clear, I think those would be accurate things to infer, and the things it might imply might be true and I might have those flaws)

I can admit that the thought of wanting approval has occurred to me. I guess it’s something like validation - if I do something that I think is right but I’m not sure and part of me wants approval to confirm so I can be happy with that thing and move on to the next. There are other people that I think about similarly, though normally in more narrow areas (e.g. a specific skill that I think they’re good at).

I think it’s something that I’m less susceptible to than I used to be, it doesn’t come up as often and it doesn’t cause as much discomfort when I want approval and don’t get it. I don’t want to say that I’m more confident in my judgement, but something like that, maybe more willing to act on my judgement and accept the reality that comes with it.

GOAL: Just wanted to reflect on some ideas about learning CF and tease out some questions that are related or tangential to the quote below.

I suppose this is why it’s better for people to start with prerequisite subjects like language, math, and logic. They’re more objective so there’s less potential to be triggered.

Would it help if people focused on learning more about CF views that they already like and partially agree with? E.g., if they what fallibilism says about how to learn they can stay focused on that for while before getting into what fallibilism implies about relationships, parenting, and morality. Instead of trying to learn to most counter-intuitive ideas, people can try to build on things that already make some sense to them. Or, will that not really work because as someone goes deeper into CF they will eventually encounter things that they find triggering anyway? Is it too hard to keep some ideas at arms length while learning the basics of a theory? Is it reasonable for people to spend a few years, or maybe even 5-10 years, learning the theories of CF before putting much of it into practice in their lives? And can people expect that it might work for them to just keep being mostly conventional in the mean time except that they study CF regularly?

It’s one reason why. There are others like aiming for achievable goals instread of overreaching and gradualism being the fastest way to make progress. And it will be more fun to see some incremental progress than remain perpetually confused with complicated ideas.

10 years of learning stuff and not using it in your life is a LOT. that’s actually competitive with what regular school does. K-12 + university is a lot of years. people use some of the earlier stuff in their lives while going to school, but they usually don’t use much of the later learning in their lives until after they graduate and get a job, at which point they use some stuff, but they never use most of it.

and if you’re already age 20+, then putting your life somewhat on hold to learn stuff for 10 years is too long. or if you don’t put your life on hold, and you make lots of major life decisions, then it’d be better to use some at least CF ideas to help you make better decisions, analyze what you’re doing more rationally, etc. if you’re spending that long learning it, some of it should be working for you in ways you could apply it.

stuff like brainstorming lists or making trees or freewrites to help think through a topic are things someone could easily be doing in the first year. i think those ideas don’t cause people trouble anyway.


I don’t think you can prescribe a time period to spread it out over.

I guess all of the things you mention (different orders to learn things in) could work for some people. But I don’t think there’s one universal way to map it out that will work for everyone.

For example, people who have emotional triggers that are activated as a result of learning CF aren’t all the same. Though a lot of triggers are pretty common and one kind of trigger could be found in a lot of people, you can’t predict what combination of triggers an individual has. Trying to devise a plan to learn CF that doesn’t trigger anyone will then result in some people (who have “less” triggers so to speak) being held back in their progress.

I think it’s better to focus on incremental growth (or maybe: unlearning a habit of overplanning things.)

It’s great to want to be smart and rational and knowledgeable and wise or whatever, but it’s not very productive to try to plot out the entire path to that end especially for someone who is early on the journey and not very smart, rational, knowledgeable or wise (and so not a good judge of how to reach that goal, or even what that goal really is).

If someone looks at it incrementally they take one thing that they think will improve them toward that goal, complete that, then decide what’s next with their improved knowledge. So each new small thing they may improve their skill to decide the next thing, with quasi-exponential growth.

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So, someone needs to have children or humanity dies and that would be terrible. (AGI may possibly change this when it is created)

Existing ideas about whether people should have children seem generally pretty bad.

From EA

by effective altruists having children, it can improve their well-being, help to ensure the continuation of the effective altruism movement, speed up human development, and create more happiness in the world

This is from the summary. They start off with having an agenda for what the child will become. I skimmed the rest of the article to check if I’d understood it correctly, I think I have. This argument is that people should have children to use them for their agenda.

From LW

This talks a lot about the statistics of people with children and how happy they are. And sure, I think it’s important for parents to be happy and that contributes to the wellbeing of their children. But I don’t think it tries to understand the specifics of which parents are happy and why, so I don’t think it’s useful in deciding.

Another from LW:

This article about a book is interesting and talks a little about parenting style. But it doesn’t go into some important specifics like what sort of parenting styles are they comparing? Do the people who did the studies know the best parenting styles? This may be an absence of the article rather than the book. I think the book may be worth reading. There are some other linked articles at the bottom of that article that may be interesting too and I might read them as I consider the subject more.

There are a lot of articles about it out there. I think those were the less flawed ones.

Children are great. Human lives are great. A child has limitless potential and helping one grow and learn well creates a lot of good and creativity in the world. You could say that parenting is metacreative.

But there are other actions that create good in the world too.

I think there will be lots of people having children whatever any individual decides. It’s not like good people having children and caring for them well will reduce the amount of children raised by bad people. I’m also not convinced by the Idiocracy theories that society will get dumber because smart people generally have less kids. So I guess it’s not urgent that all good people do.

A couple of primary criteria that I think are worth making explicit (though slightly redundant as I don’t think people who fail these criteria would really be good):

  • They don’t want to control children and dictate their growth
  • They don’t want to use children as status symbols or live through them/claim credit for their achievements

So I don’t think all good people should have children. But perhaps they should if:

  • They want to (and are able to) put the potentially huge amount of time and money into raising a child
  • They want to learn how to parent well and don’t think they will “naturally” know how to do it
  • They have the ability to effectively think and plan long-term (years, at least) and keep to long-term commitments
  • They think creating a new human life is the best way of creating good and/or think it’s compatible with their other ways of creating good
  • They’re young and healthy enough to keep up (or at least one of the parents are)
  • They like children

Project notes

I don’t think this is an answer I’m strongly committed to and is just my first efforts to put something into explicit form. I consider the question still very much open and expect I will write more about it.
That’s my weekly goal met.

An abstract tangent which could be fun to explore:
Should everyone who goes to colonise Mars have children?

CONTEXT: I don’t know if my questions below are that good or really worth considering. It’s more just a brainstorm than anything.

This makes sense. I failed to consider all the philosophy stuff, and prerequisites, that someone could implement in a piecemiel way. It’s not all or nothing. There are many valuable sub-skills.

Thinking about this has just made me curious about breakpoints in the philosophy learning process. In Curiosity – Learning Skills Is Non-Linear , you talk about breakpoints in the learning process. What are some of the breakpoints that someone might aim for in learning philosophy? What would be a way of testing pass/fail on having made it past a breakpoint? Is there a certain point where reading comprehension goes way up? What does that look like or feel like?

What does passing a breakpoint in understanding Popperian epistemology look like? Which pieces have to come together to make that happen? I assume it includes all the philosphy prerequisites. Are there specific concepts that need to be in place to make the knowledge usable?

I can think of some breakpoint examples with skills like typing (e.g. when you no longer have to look at the key board, or when you start executing muli-key combos automatically).

This is way way way more than I realised at first, I’ve now looked into the content of the links. I expect I’m going to keep coming back to this in piecemeal ways as I think of good ways to find and identify specific things to discuss.

I’m going to try to study the Corentin Biteau discussion (146 posts) for now as that is not veryveryveryvery long. E.g. the Aubrey de Gray discussion (267 pages) would be a bad candidate for me owing to it’s length. I’m estimating that pages are typically longer than posts as I more precise measure (e.g. character count) would be time consuming as the forum only loads posts near the current post so it’s impossible to select all.

I think it’s worth looking at why Corentin thought he was leaving and why Elliot thought he was leaving for contrast. I think the first explicit mention of leaving is post 113 so I’ve focused my reading starting from there. I’ll try to summarise the reasons below. I’m going to include post number references to each reason if people want to discuss them but I want to start with relatively clear lists unbroken by including full quotes:
Elliot Temple reasons:

  • Post 120: Corentin’s poor discussion skills make things slow/frustrating for him and that is a cause of him wanting to quit. My thoughts Corentin has inaccurate expectations of how long conflicts of opinion take to honestly resolve, the problems he caused could have been solved if he’d had more patience.
  • Post 123: Corentin is arrogant and makes claims about a new issue then claims he is leaving My thoughts: Elliot doesn’t directly say this is why he is leaving. I am guessing that is a factor. I think people do this when they try to make a status play, trying to achieve the proverbial “mic drop”, and that is behind the arrogant behavior.
  • Guessing from the quoted post from Elliot: Dishonesty My thoughts: There are a lot of things that Corentin is dishonest about. Some specific ones that I think are most relevant to why he decided to leave: Corentin doesn’t honestly want to learn new ideas that conflict with his existing ones. Corentin doesn’t honestly pursue truth, and wants shortcuts and easy answers.

Corentin Biteau reasons:

  • Post 113: Has a strong (busy? or inflexible?) schedule “next year” (from Dec '22, so quite soon after saying it) - wants to wrap things up to save time. From the short warning, he possibly expected the thread to already be coming to a conclusion (or presumably would have mentioned this sooner). My thoughts I think this is an excuse, I think it’s very strange for someone to have absolutely no room for even e.g. an hour writing posts a week, so I’m not satisfied with this answer (but it may be worth listing some common excuses as part of answering my original question).
  • Post 118: Corentin thinks Temple has standards that are so high that even if he’s wrong, people will not be able to ever change his mind.
  • Post 120: Corentin doesn’t understand the relevance of a tangential topic, gets frustrated by this rather than trying to understand the relevance. My thoughts: Repeatedly avoids looking for clear definitions of words. Seems to have “checked out” on the conversation and isn’t looking up really easy stuff.
  • Post 136: Elliot has the most downvotes on EA, Corentin think this means he is low quality. Elliot has lots of long discussions on EA that don’t result in coming to an agreement and Corentin thinks this is because of Elliot. Corentin thinks whether Elliot or his interlocutor is right is a matter of “chances” and that Elliot’s chances are slim. My thoughs: Corentin mistakenly judges competence on likeability, popularity, and probabilty. Note he retracts the part about downvotes in post 140. But someone could still leave CF for this reason so I’m leaving this in.
  • Post 140: Corentin had “high expectations” (approximately: that debate would be resolved quickly) and did not get that, which he thinks is a sign of poor quality. Corentin did not learn as much as expected and got frustrated. My thoughts: I’m guessing that Corentin is used to getting given packaged ideas by academia and doesn’t know much about debating conflicting ideas.
  • Post 144: Corentin does not understand Popper or want to study Popper. He thinks Elliot should write a summary of Popper’s ideas to convince him to study Popper. He claims Elliot said many things that are “hard to verify”, which Corentin seems to think makes them irrelevant.

This is my first pass on this just going through that topic. I will come back to this in a later post to break this down into a more general purpose list of why people leave in principle.

I think this is a really good answer. I’m tentatively accepting it as a final answer to this project question.

Project notes

This question is now answered.

I’m going to count this post as my project goal for the week, as I took quite a lot of time to study the Corentin v Elliot debate, collect answers and add my thoughts on them.

I’ve wanted a way to export all content from a topic and just looked into it again and found two options:

How To Export Topic Content

My impression of the end of the Correntin discussion, without rereading, is he would give a reason for leaving, I’d point out why it’s false or bad, and then he’d give a different reason, which I’d also criticize, and then he’d just switch to a new reason. It was a succession of novel reasons, that could not stand up to criticism, introduced at the end. (A couple were things he’d mentioned previously, but had not made a big deal about, said were dealbreakers or focused the discussion – or else they would have been addressed more earlier. Bringing them up as discussion-enders is a new, different thing than the previous mentions.)

I think that means the reasons he gave were excuses, often made carelessly and ad hoc, never his real reasons.

The part that stood out to the most was when he said basically “OK I was lying to you and hiding my real reason, which is that I found some dirt on you by searching for you on Less Wrong”. But then when I responded to that, he dropped it and said something else and still left, so I think he was lying there too. I think it’s really bad to say you’re coming clean and finally being honest about what’s really going on, but to actually just be lying again and using your confession as just another manipulative tactic.

I’ve had similar issues with other people. I think what they want is sanction. They want me to “agree to disagree” or otherwise give them my approval, rather than think “you’re welcome to leave but I’m going to consider you irrational and closed to debate, just like ~everyone else with your beliefs”. So the point isn’t that they are particularly bad (they aren’t!); it’s just that if they won’t talk and they don’t know of anyone else on their side who will, then their side looks bad/irrational (due to actually being bad/irrational) – there is a real problem there which is why I will reach a negative judgment.

People seem to want a way out without a negative judgment for them or their side/cause, and they’ll behave badly trying (ineffectively and counter-productively) to get it (e.g. they’ll be dishonest instead of just directly talking about the problem, so then I end up arguing with them instead of helping with problem solving – it’s really hard to help someone with a problem they won’t admit to having). Also basically I think some negative judgment is deserved – not relative to other people or causes, but in absolute or objective terms. If they deserve a negative judgment in reality but don’t want it, then it leads to evasion…

Aubrey de Grey almost ended our discussion early on like many prestigious, “busy” “intellectuals” would. But I said something like, loosely and from memory, “It’s no problem if you don’t have time to talk to me personally. Can you just direct me to anything to read, or anyone to talk to, so I can find out why you’re right?” And since he had no texts or people that argued his beliefs well, he then ended up talking to me a large amount instead…

That says something good about Aubrey de Grey btw (which I mention because I formed a very negative view of him due to his sex scandal, his response to it, and some other reasons like at that time I found out more stuff about what he’d been doing for the last decade like getting drunk a lot…). Most people will just say “just go to a library” or “go to google scholar” or something dumb instead of recommending any specific sources. Then if I do that and have lots of criticism of what I find, they can just say I found the wrong things and take no responsibility for it because they never endorsed anything in particular. Or they can say that those criticisms obviously were already thought of by the smart people working in the field and they’re answered in unspecified other texts. Or they can say those criticisms seem weak not strong – the quantities in weighted factor evaluations are basically arbitrary/subjective so people can just ignore any criticism they want to and say it’s a small negative, and the good stuff for their side is big, so their side is still winning even if they offer no rebuttal.

I wanted to engage with this answer a bit more (particularly as I’ve accepted it as an answer to one of my questions).

I had some intuitive conflicts with it but was able to resolve them myself. I thought it might be useful to go into them and discuss them openly. I think I have intuitive conflicts that I silently resolve fairly often and maybe I am overestimating how well I am resolving my intuitions.

I’m going to label my thoughts MCI and MCA (intuition and answer, respectively).

So my in response to the first quote above:
MCI - That sounds great in an ideal world but I can’t imagine a job I’d have no conflicts about, even if I loved the work I’d still likely have conflicts with some of the people involved.
MCA - Conflicts aren’t just between you right now and possible futures. Your ideas can change and you can resolve conflicts internally.
MCI - Resolving conflicts internally can be really hard. I’m worried that I’ll get into a situation where I have so many conflicts that I don’t have time to resolve them and start falling apart. I’m worried that you’ll make me keep going even when I’m unhappy.
MCA - I can’t guarantee that a situation with a lot of hard conflicts wont happen. I know I’ve been mean before and not taken care of you. I’m trying to get better at taking you seriously. When I get overwhelmed I can forget to talk to you. I’m trying to make better choices so I don’t get overwhelmed.
MCI - You always get overwhelmed. You take on too much and try to do too much and you suck at picking what to do or realising how much work things will take until it’s too late.
MCA - I’ve been developing a system of deterioration red flags. If my eating habits or self-care start getting bad I’m more aware that it means you’re trying to tell me something. When that starts happening I stop what I’m doing and focus on you.
MCI - You don’t always, you suck at it. You make excuses to keep going and ignore me. Even if you didn’t, sometimes work might require you to keep going.
MCA - It’s both of us that make excuses. It’s not something I always think through.
(introducing MCP - intuition/panic)
MCI - I hate that guy.
MCA - There IS time now, MCP. The last few years got out of hand. We learned a lot. I know a lot better how many big things I can be doing at once now. I don’t want to try that again. I’m going to pick one big thing to do at a time, and that will leave me with free time to look after us.
MCP - okay
MCI - Work might still require more.
MCA - Okay, so we need work that doesn’t demand more. That’s something we need to find out before agreeing to any work.
MCI - Okay.

I cut this short, I could talk to myself a lot more, but I think that was the major resistance.

So taking a general point from that:
Do work that fits with self-care/well-being needs and be up front about those needs to make expectations clear if there’s sign of a conflict.

There’s part of me that wants “my kind of people” or something like that. But I don’t think I’ve found any people who are “my kind”. I guess tribalist people want that and probably have the same problem of struggling to find their kind, so try to solve it conforming to an existing group/suppressing themselves to fit in. I guess people who come here and cargo cult might be thinking something similar.

I guess “my kind of people” is actually a non-existent thing (in the sense of people I agree with/get on with all the time). Even if there was a person who was super like me at the same place and time, we’d diverge afterwards on our own lives.

A more useful thing to look for is people who I don’t have major disagreements with (e.g. major moral issues). They’ll always be some different ideas, and it’s not impossible that major disagreements could rise owing to individual changes.

So a more useful idea of “my kind of people” could be “people I don’t have major moral disagreements with right now”, but it needs the clear expectation that there are still going to be disagreements and that people could change and start having major moral disagreements later.

My conclusion from that chain of thought is: There’s no “kind of people” that will want me in their group in a way that allows free thought. The only “kind of people” I should care to keep in my life are people who I currently have no major moral disagreements with, and I think that’s a good kind of people to value.

Another thing they might be thinking is they think you want them to leave (owing to the number of disagreements and the amount of criticism which they interpret as a kind of rejection) and they find it hard to understand why you aren’t agreeing with them leaving. Maybe it’s a kind of tribalist thinking which they project onto you - they think they’ve been rejected from the “in” group and want you to at least agree with that.

I guess they could end up thinking they’re stuck/trapped, and don’t know what path will lead to some sort of agreement that they’re willing to pay for (i.e. that they can reach in an amount of time they want to spend) and having some sort of agreement would help close the thread in their minds.

I guess there’s part of me that’s worried about this possibility here - that I want to leave a conversation because I disagree but don’t know how to proceed with that.

I checked through your intuition-related articles and this one seems to be very relevant.

I think when people have arguments sometimes they think (or at least suspect) the other guy is being a jerk. In that sort of situation it can be a bit scary to say something like “I have an intuitive conflict”. It’s kind of like a situation where someone is scared of finding out their test results for a scary disease, even though it’s a lot better to know if it’s there so treatment can start. If someone suspects an interlocutor is a jerk, saying “I have an intuitive conflict” is a jerk-test, and they might be a nasty jerk in response. Even though that would then allow the treatment to begin (i.e. ending the conversation and moving on) it’s still kind of scary to do.

I don’t think I fully understand that kind of fear. I have things like that which I sometimes avoid before doing them later (either because it stops being scary, or because I’m under time pressure and make myself do it).

Having a conflict with a coworker is different than being conflicted about your career. All parts of you may be satisfied with the career choice despite some imperfect or even lame coworkers.

Right, individual co-workers aren’t essential to an entire career. Even if one specific job has one specific co-worker who is a problem and there’s doesn’t seem to be a way to do anything about it, that doesn’t ruin the whole career idea.

People like that would only affect the whole career idea if there was some part of that career that made people like that fundamentally part of it (e.g. a career where dishonesty with clients or even colleagues is an advantage).

I’m not sure I’d call them all excuses.

I think it’s possible that some of them were real reasons, but as a result of one reason or another he concluded the conversation would never reach a conclusion and would just go in circles of unresolved disagreements. I don’t think this is uncommon dealing with people generally, so I think it’s possible he concluded it was happening again so there was no point trying to address everything or keep discussing.

More generally I have a guess that there’s a reason for leaving CF (though I don’t think it’s specific to CF, rather any in-depth discussion) that may be behind some of it:
Thinking that some people will argue pointlessly or endlessly in circles for the sake of it
Having some idea about indicators in a conversation for someone who is arguing pointlessly/endlessly

Possibly a root cause behind that is getting overwhelmed. Having big complex discussions is hard work, and “it’s just going in circles” is an out to avoid an overwhelmingly complex discussion.