The Noesis saga—Stefan Molyneux smacks back!

“Stroll around the grounds until you feel at home…” It would at least be comforting to know that all of the crazy were confined within the walls of FreeDomain Radio, but such as not the case.

Apparently, some of it has spilled out into the College of Psychologists in Ontario.

Most of us in reality-ville are waiting to see if the learned members of the College decide whether or not Stefan Molyneux’s wife Christina has broken nearly every ethical rule they have. But at the same time—completely separate from that issue—the same group is considering whether they should discontinue the Psychological Associate title (which is what Christina has) and “grandfather” all current associates in as full-fledged Psychologists.

Christina already got grandfathered once. Current regulations require all Psychological Associates to have a Masters degree. She doesn’t, but she became a member before that rule was passed.

When asked who convinced them to discard all of their family and friends, True Believers may be forced to admit “umm…that nice lady who sells shoes at the mall.

All of which means that sometime in the future, no-Masters-degree Christina could either be out of a job or just as easily be strutting around Ontario as a bon-a-fide, full-fledged Psychologist. Hey, I just report the facts. You have to make sense of them.

This is critically important to the FDR True Believers who have defooed. When asked who convinced them to discard all of their family and friends, they’re either going to be able to say “why, Christina, psychologist and intellectual architect of FreeDomain Radio” or have to admit “umm…that nice lady who sells shoes at the mall.”

(Oh, you thought Stefan Molyneux was behind FDR? Nope. Christina claims that honor for herself, in a podcast FDR members are no longer allowed to hear.)

Somewhere in all of this is a great argument against healthcare quality review in a statist system, but I’m desperately trying to keep this to a Quickie!, so for now I’ll just say stay tuned.

So, if that’s the level of FDR-related crazy going on outside FDR, then I’m sure you’re wondering what’s going on…

Inside “the community”…

Well, let’s just say that our cup overfloweth.

If you can think of FreeDomain Radio as a real community (and Molyneux wishes you would), let’s stroll around the grounds a bit. In one gathering place you’ll find a member desperate to know whatever happened to the psychology podcasts (in fact the entire psychology category!) The answer? Just the soft sound of crickets chirping. FDR insiders know what happened to them and know they shouldn’t respond. I’ve been documenting the purging of Christina for over a year now, but apparently no one in the community still seems to be aware of it.

Down the street, another helpful lad is actually offering to make all of those missing podcasts available, and is immediately met with suspicion. (Ed. Note: Whoopsie! Thread deleted already.) More interesting, despite the repeated requests for these podcasts in the past, no one publicly takes him up on his offer. How did everyone get the word that the podcasts are not to be discussed? Has the information Molyneux once broadcast freely become part of a silent black market?

Turn the corner and you’ll find an earnest group of True Believers trying to convince each other that FDR is not a cult (completely ignoring my current ongoing series, which is just plain hurtful) and using the same tired reasoning I already exposed in this article.

Heck, they should have been paying attention to this new guy, who has recently mastered FDR-think and FDR-speak (and quite nicely, too), has rewired his memories into a healthy fear and loathing of his family, and is primed and ready to defoo. No cult activity here, folks, just go on about your business.

At least one of the oldest True Believers of the community immediately jumped into that conversation to recommend joint counseling for the member and his family.

(Did you get my joke?! Oh, I’m such a madcap! The True Believer actually jumped in to suggest it would be better for the member to leave and never to say anything to his family at all, of course. Family counseling—I just crack me up.)

Of course, it’s easy to overlook all of that stuff right now, because there’s a whole crazy explosion happening a few blocks away! Let’s dash over and watch that!

Molyneux’s revenge: the not-so-public execution of Noesis

We all met our good friend Noesis—she of the Botticelli-angel avatar and painfully sharp logic—back in the Quickie! entitled Noesis and the UPB Smackdown.

And all my paragraphs above were simply setting the stage—creating the ambience, if you will—for this sad little exposé of FDR crazy. Because this is Round 2. It turns out that Stefan Molyneux didn’t like Noesis’s first smackdown. Not one little bit. And now he has smacked back.

I felt bad about not covering that first thread in greater depth. In its own way, it was every bit as fun as Allison’s and bake’s dismantling of Real-Time Relationships (The Logic of Love).

And Noesis was hunting even bigger game. She was ready to take on Molyneux’s philosophic masterwork UPB—Universally Preferable Behavior.

Molyneux’s book lives two separate lives. Inside the FDR community, it is the Greatest Philosophical Work Ever Conceived By Mankind. Very few True Believers apparently understand it, however—they mostly accept it as an act of faith.

Outside of FDR, the book has been critically hammered so mercilessly that publicly criticizing it any further actually makes you feel a little bad inside, perhaps the same way you’d feel after bullying the mentally challenged.

There are many ways to define and describe what Stefan Molyneux’s book is and is about, but so far the best and most economical I’ve heard comes from atheist blogger Luke Muehlhauser:

I get the impression that one day Molyneux was impressed by a book with many sections of numbered statements, the last always beginning with “Therefore…”, then decided to write his own book just like it, without first learning anything about how logic or argument works.

Now, on Noesis’s first foray into “the largest and most popular philosophy conversation in the world,” Stefan Molyneux and his inner circle stayed away from the argument altogether. (Actually, Molyneux did pop into the thread twice, both times to make short statements that defy explanation to this day.)

After a team of FDR faithful took their best shots at putting together logical arguments and/or luring Noesis off-topic, that thread finally petered out with one disgruntled FDR member asking, “So is this an open discussion about logic and philosophy, or just a cult of personality built around condemning anyone who disagrees with its dogma?”

Oh, go on. I know you want to answer that.

I don’t think Noesis realized, as Allison and bake found out, that even when Molyneux doesn’t say anything he apparently seethes when anyone challenges his logic. (Is he just a little more seethe-y when the challenge comes from a woman? I’ll bet that’s probably just my imagination.)

The rematch begins

Noesis’s next adventure started on July 14, when she started a thread pointing out one of the most embarrassing foul-ups in Molyneux’s book.

The foul-up originates from this claim by Molyneux, which Noesis quotes in her opening post:

Each morally preferable action must by its very nature have an opposite action—because if it does not, then there is no capacity for choice, no possibility of avoidance, and therefore no capacity for virtue or vice.

And since the first action is morally preferable, the opposite action must be immoral.

Page after page of UPB dwells on this ridiculous error, which—forget peer review—almost any first-year philosophy student would have pointed out if Molyneux had bothered to get his ‘masterwork’ properly edited.

That may be true or it may be not true. Where Molyneux’s argument turns embarrassing is his notion that the “opposite action” for almost any action you could name is doing nothing. Page after page of UPB repeats this ridiculous error, which—forget peer review—almost any first-year philosophy student would have pointed out if Molyneux had bothered to get his “masterwork” properly edited in the first place.

And all of it tracks back to Molyneux’s curious “binary” understanding of human actions, which was already exposed by bake and Allison.

In complete editorial honesty, I didn’t closely read the entire “rematch” thread until tonight. I had read the first few pages and watching the Molyneux faithful twist themselves into pretzels to defend his logic made me feel all icky. (Pardon my use of obscure philosophical terms, but it’s important to be precise.)

The argument starts to give off sparks around Page 9, when two members decide to launch into character assassinations of Noesis which, for the first time, other members respond to by pointing out that her argument has never been resolved, despite claims to the contrary.

In fact, at the top of Page 10, one member has the courage to point out that the very same “psychologizing” tactic that was used to ban bake can (and probably will) be used against Noesis.

Up to this point, Noesis, like bake before her, had been unfailingly courteous, patient, and well-spoken. No one had been able to lure her off-argument nor goad her into an emotional reaction. As I read his post, I agreed with the FDR member. By Page 10, it looked as if inventing some psychological excuse for banning Noesis would be Molyneux’s only remaining weapon.

And it also looked like Molyneux might be headed in that direction. On Page 10, Noesis details Molyneux actions as he hid from the argument altogether:

Regarding my conversations with Stef, it seems to me that he misunderstood my argument in the first call (but he assumed I had misunderstood him), and the second call was spent entirely on my personal history (which is irrelevant to the merit of my arguments). He said he would think about talking to me again, and get back to me on the forums or something. After weeks and months of his assurance that he was thinking it over, he finally told me in private that he had a “lack of motivation” and that another conversation wasn’t imminent. And that was all. No actual reason for his lack of motivation was given. I’ve been blocked from calling in again, and I haven’t even been allowed to explain my analysis of my first conversation with Stef, which I had spent a great deal of time transcribing, thinking about, and dissecting. Within the first call I had with Stef, he complimented me a great deal on my intelligence and the intelligence of my questions, but after some confusing exchanges (where I think he misunderstood my argument) he seemed to retract all of those compliments. If Stef doesn’t want to debate me then I have no plans to bother him.

For the last three pages of the thread, while Molyneux lurks in the background (apparently contemplating Noesis’s personal history and his own motivational problems), one of the more vituperative FDR members repeatedly jumps into the thread to “warn” everyone about Noesis’s “motives” and declares how won’t participate any further, only to renew his attack a few comments later. Funny stuff.

The end—the secret expulsion of Noesis

Before the end of Page 13, Noesis was banned without explanation.

As usual, some more-thoughtful members—now seeing FreeDomain Radio for what it is—quit in protest. I learned later that other participants in the thread—those who had defended Noesis’s logic—had been quietly banned as well.

Noesis, gracious to the very end, left this kind note…

First of all, I respect your right to ban me (whoever did), and do not intend to object to it.

Secondly, before you accuse me of hacking or something, let me assure you that it’s completely innocent. I use two computers regularly (laptop and desktop), and switch between them come night or day. I’m surprised to find that I was logged in on my laptop from last night, so apparently I still have access to my account from this previous session. I don’t know how that’s possible and I realize that this is some sort of glitch (which you should probably look into), but alas, I just want to ask for the reason I was banned (and alert you to this glitch). I was given no warning, and no explanation, so I’m very puzzled about the reason I was banned.

Thank you to the intelligent, kind members on this board. Please take care and keep thinking critically.

Goodbye FDR,

— Noesis

…which was of course immediately deleted from the FDR system.

The last thing Molyneux needs right now are embarrassing little posts like that! You’d almost begin to think he bans people for simply disagreeing with him. True Believers know that nothing could be further from the truth! Says so right in his bio:

…listeners such as you are quick to point out errors, which I receive with gratitude. This approach is fundamentally different from most “talk shows.” I am a rigorous philosopher, and I will always bow to reason and evidence.

You can’t make this stuff up. I know. I’ve tried. FDR is way, way better than fiction.

So what have we learned from this? I’m wracking my brains trying to come up with the funny stuff you all pay me for, but I’ve got nothing. (Except a strange admiration for crazy that’s beyond anything I’ve seen before.)

The fact is, Molyneux’s explanation-free banning of Noesis and those who agreed with her smacks as cowardice and nothing more. That he runs a libertarian “Free Domain” community in which his philosophical theories must be accepted as law couldn’t be more troubling. It’s as simple as that.

Here’s to you, Mr. Robinson.




Okay, at 2,000 words in I clearly failed to make this a true Quickie! but that’s where I’ll post it anyway.

If you want more (and I always do), pop over to the Noesis thread at Liberating Minds. Liberating Minds folks have the same creepy fascination with the dark side of FDR that I do (and much better insights) and they’ve been following both of Noesis’s assaults on UPB with great amusement. Noesis herself, along with a few other newly banned and disgusted former members pop in to share their own observations. It’s a fun read. And you can actually contribute to the conversation without getting banned (from Liberating Minds, that is, but you can probably kiss your membership in FreeDomain Radio goodbye). C’est la vie.



Daddy, make him stop!

Sorry kids. I have to dash out one more quick addendum. A few weeks after I published the above article, Molyneux—in a completely unprecedented move—offered this public apology to Noesis and lifted her ban.

I want to say “Bravo, Stefan!” but after a couple years of FDR experience, I’m inclined to be skeptical. Perhaps it’s true that he had nothing to do with her ban, was completely unaware of it, and made haste to rectify it as soon as he learned of it.

I’m just not convinced. I think the jury may still be out on whether he has changed his behavior or views. It’s quite possible that after all of the other recent bannings of people who disagreed with him (which I’ve tried to make public on my site), he simply got too much heat from FDR members for this one.

So what happened to Noesis herself? How is she enjoying her FDR resurrection?

So far, it appears her last post was in September in this thread she started Why Moral Nihilism Makes Some People Sick. Throughout the thread—all the way to the end, she was attacked by one FDR member and endured snipes from a couple others without intervention by Molyneux. The discussion was confused and fogged, leading to this frustrated comment from an FDR member on the last page: “I don’t feel like the OP has even been answered. In almost 30 pages!”

Noesis hasn’t been back to FDR since. Perhaps she will. Perhaps she decided there are worse things than banning. Perhaps she has found friendlier waters elsewhere.

Here endeth the story.