Undermining (was: Curiosity – Caffeine Is Bad)

[Editor’s note: This is a response to Curiosity – Caffeine Is Bad - #15 by Lebowski and was moved to its own topic.]

It looks to me like your subconscious designs your posts (across many topics) to undermine curi. Is that plausible to you?

It’s plausible to me. I don’t see it, & have conscious ideas to the contrary, but am also aware that I lack awareness and control over aspects of my subconscious.

OK. So temporarily setting aside design, intent, subconscious and other forum topics. Do you agree/see/understand that your posts in this topic are undermining?

No, I don’t see how my posts in this topic are undermining curi.

Do you see how your posts are negative?


What do you think is negative about my posts?

Do you see any ways that you said or implied that curi’s ideas are wrong, bad or unpersuasive?



Yes. I said:

You don’t think unpersuasive is a negative thing?

In this context no, I don’t think unpersuasive is negative.

Further explanation: I think caffeine specifically and foods/drugs in general are complex issues I find hard to judge as chemicals on their biological effects. I think being persuaded a particular food or drug is bad after reading a few articles would be rationalistic and dangerous. Being persuaded to examine it further, pay more attention and reconsider if it might be bad, as I did, is the appropriate response. I’m not paying curi to outsource my thinking on caffeine and apply it to my life/context so it’s not negative for me to be unpersuaded without further research on my part.

In reference to cocaine for example: I am not convinced that considered on its merits as a chemical with certain biological effects only, cocaine is bad. However, a few highly relevant factors apply to cocaine that don’t apply to caffeine:

  • Cocaine is illegal and some people will try to put you in jail for having it or using it.
  • Because cocaine is illegal, obtaining cocaine is difficult and risky. Accidentally consuming some cocaine also seems unlikely.
  • Cocaine is not found in products I already consume and have integrated into my life, nor is it present in social situations I am likely to encounter. I’m not gonna have to explain to anyone why I avoid cocaine.

Those reasons are why as a practical matter I can pretty easily conclude that cocaine is bad generally for people in modern western countries, and for me specifically. Nothing to do with the chemical; just the social context. If that context were different I could find it really hard to judge cocaine as good or bad.

I don’t have that kind of context making the conclusion easy for caffeine. Or alcohol, or vegetable oil, or coconut oil, or cane sugar, or high fructose corn syrup, or food colorings, or cacao, or tylenol, or benedryl, or red meat, or other substances[1] some people say are bad. I don’t want that context & am not asking for it (bans from authority on stuff they think is bad) - I don’t think cocaine should be banned either. I’m just reacting to what is.

[1] The conclusion I’m talking about is about consuming the substance in any amount. I don’t find it difficult to conclude that too much of any of the listed substances is bad in general and for me specifically. I do find it difficult to conclude how much is too much, including whether the too much level is anything above zero.

You appear to be introducing 10+ new issues into a discussion where we’d been saying 1-2 short things at a time. Do you have in mind an unshared plan for how this complexity will be handled?

I didn’t explicitly. However, I think a reasonable plan is to focus on the short thing I said at the beginning:

The rest was a proactive answer to the question, “why don’t you think unpersuasive is negative?”

I think you’re treating the term “persuasive” ambiguously enough for it to range from a positive trait to a negative trait.

Yes, I do think persuasive is ambiguous as to positive or negative.

Why did you give a short, direct answer re curi’s persuasiveness if you think the term is ambiguous?

Because I think the primary source of ambiguity for persuasiveness with regard to curi’s articles is context, and I had a clear idea regarding this context.

[Tangent: There are other sources of ambiguity about persuasiveness generally / with other people, like whether someone is committing fraud (like conmen), is using veiled threats (thugs), or is attempting to acquire power for evil purposes (some politicians). I don’t think these other sources of ambiguity apply to curi’s articles.]

I think you’ve been derailing our conversation in bad faith. In the interests of tolerance and charity, I’ll try to bring the discussion back to something important:

There’s ambiguity between two scenarios:

Negative scenario: The examination and reconsideration basically consisted of your posts here (and you concluded that caffeine is fine). You were not persuaded that there’s a potential problem with caffeine worth looking into by e.g. learning more about caffeine.

Positive scenario: The examination and reconsideration is primarily happening off the forum, and is ongoing. You were persuaded that caffeine might be bad, so you’re doing a serious investigation by e.g. reading other sources about caffeine.

If a positive scenario is correct, then your communication was problematic, because (prior to this quote) you communicated a negative scenario.

Which scenario is correct?

I think the positive scenario is closest to correct. I was persuaded that caffeine might be bad. I have not concluded that caffeine is either fine or bad. I have not resumed consumption of intentional caffeine and have continued to avoid large sources of incidental caffeine, both of which would not be the case if I had not read ET’s articles.

However, I am not doing a serious investigation by things like reading other sources about caffeine. I think lack of serious investigations is a general problem for me and not specific to caffeine. So I don’t think the lack of a serious investigation is a good indicator of which scenario is correct in my case.

Do you think you communicated that earlier in the discussion?

Yes, approximately. Quotes:

I didn’t say again for a while that I hadn’t gone back on intentional and large incidental caffeine. We were discussing other things and I didn’t see a need to update since nothing had changed, but would have readily conveyed it if asked.

And I didn’t say in this thread I would have normally resumed intentional and large incidental caffeine around July 10, although in another thread I said:


and then I had mentioned in this thread:

I can see how someone might not have put all that together and might wonder if I’d gone back on the major caffeine sources because of the sleep problems. But I don’t think I said anything that implied I actually had.