The recent Stefan Molyneux scandals aren’t isolated incidents—but a pattern of behavior that has been observable since the beginning of Freedomain Radio. This article reveals things you may not have known about Molyneux and tries to answer the big question—Why?
So…you may be wondering, where is Stefan Molyneux? I gotta admit, I wondered myself for a few minutes. Then I realized I knew the answer—he’s right where he always is!
What am I babbling about this time? I’ll tell you. But first (since if there is one thing we know for certain, this blog will be historians’ most valued resource 100 years from now) let’s set the table.
The libertarian world has been preached at by Molyneux for nearly a decade. He talks for a living. He rarely stops. And, really, there’s nothing wrong with that. Thing is, though, right now everyone is listening, waiting for him to say something about the events of the past three works or so.
And it looks like he’s clammed up.
Where did he go? Why isn’t he explaining these three events?
- Stefan Molyneux has been insistent for nearly a decade that he is an ethicist—in fact, the only truly uncorrupt ethicist around. He demands that you should immediately discard any ethicist who doesn’t practice what he preaches. Then, during a Joe Rogan interview he found himself in a Def-Con 4 character revealing moment. He responded by telling astoundingly big lies.
Remember that old Stephen King movie where the politician holds up a baby to shield himself from getting shot? It was sorta like that. Except the only things getting fired at Stefan were a bunch of awkward questions.
Any fan who still defends the ethicist Stefan Molyneux could do so only because they have an emotional connection to him that trumps logic. I’m not saying that’s good or bad.
I’m just sayin’.
- Stefan Molyneux permitted or authorized the fraudulent DMCA takedown of one of his most effective critics, Tru Shibes. Despite the fact that Molyneux releases his work under creative commons. And despite the fact that Molyneux is an aggressive critic of intellectual property. And despite the fact that all of Tru Shibes’ work fell under Fair Use guidelines anyway.
- After years, with dozens of former FDR members coming forward anonymously on both Liberating Minds and FDR Liberated consistently a painting picture of Molyneux’s “community” as a highly controlled, psychologizing environment, two former inner circle members went public to reveal it is even worse than we thought.
It must really suck to have all that going on when you’re trying to lead the largest and most popular philosophical conversation in the world.
But still—you’d think a professional talker would quickly figure out a way to get in front of these events. Try to explain them somehow or maybe even admit some weaknesses and mistakes. Anything. But it’s just static and radio silence out there. Why?
And is there something about Freedomain Radio that shows how all three of these events are related? And inevitable?
The shocking, unbelievable, absolutely true (well, at least in my
opinion, anyway) revelation about why Stefan Molyneux is
not responding to these events!
Since the day Stefan Molyneux and his wife created Freedomain Radio, there has been a continuous effort to both to silence critics and misinform outsiders about Molyneux’s true beliefs.
Ok, lean in and I’ll tell you.
They’re not events.
What I mean to say is they are not unusual interruptions in a system that typically works in a different way. They are part of a continuous flow of silencing, usually done secretly and only sometimes erupting into public view.
Since the day Stefan Molyneux and his wife created Freedomain Radio, there has been a continuous effort to both to silence critics and misinform outsiders about Molyneux’s true beliefs. The only difference is that this time it happened in full view of the very audience Molyneux has been courting from the beginning.
The misinformation loop
The lies that Molyneux told Joe Rogan are the same lies he was telling the Guardian in 2008.
Molyneux was making the same claims about defooing then that he does now. For example, how he would never tell an 18-year-old to defoo. He merely told the young man that he was a “rape victim” of his parents, that he grew up in a “fucking gulag,” that his mother “created him for the devil,” and things even more horrific than that.
But…he didn’t actually use the word defoo, so we’re good, right?
It was hard not to laugh when Molyneux told Rogan he’s only mentioned defooing three or four times on FDR.
He makes podcasts about it. He glorifies it. He even used to advertise it!
So much for that “open and honest” talk you’re supposed to have with your parents. Just listen to a podcast, then make a break for it!
The takedown gambit
Molyneux was practicing the same fraudulent takedown claims that he used on Tru Shibes when he tanked a critical press release from the Ancaps forum and targeted Liberating Minds for deletion. Back in 2008, Molyneux singled out one thread on the Liberating Minds forum—which was not even about him. And he used it to wage a PR war against the rival forum, including a request for a takedown and deletion based on a TOS violation. Sound familiar?
And do you know what crime Molyneux charged them with?
During the time all of that was going on, I scanned the other internet forums time to see how people were reacting to Molyneux’s actions. Back then, the feedback was very different. Not many noticed. Few cared. “How could anyone create a cultish environment on the internet?” people wondered. Liberating Minds is a hate site, right? Isn’t that what Molyneux’s followers have been posting everywhere? The newspaper reporter couldn’t possibly understand Molyneux’s philosophy. Those newspaper people were just statist fools who think anything ancap is a cult, so the story went. And at the same time, Molyneux simply wasn’t that well-known. He seemed to be saying the right things and these events sounded too bizarre to be real.
Even though his silencing strategy wasn’t completely successful, it worked well enough.
The cone of silence
Nowhere is the silencing more omnipresent and continuous than on the Freedomain Radio forum itself. The FDR Forum is guarded by aggressive adminstrators who constantly survey posts made by members. If the member begins to stray away from the party line, they are shepherded back into agreement. And of course, if they refuse, they run the risk of banning.
As I covered in Purging the Purge, awkward and uncomfortable questions are often deleted immediately—along with the members themselves. Not only is information purged, but also all evidence of the purging is purged!
And the people being silenced? Despite what the administrators say after the evidence gone, those users are often not being abusive. They’re simply asking questions.
[Note: When this article was originally published, some readers called into question the example that formerly appeared below, because the user had been outspoken in his criticism of FDR (but not on the FDR forum itself) prior to posting his message. Personally, I think the only thing that matters is one’s behavior on a particular forum. But no problem. You can see the original example here, but I have replaced that one with another. The following user was a five-year member and supporter of FDR, a Philosopher King. She also asked an awkward question, which in short was, “Why is it OK for Molyneux to be furious about someone calling him a liar without foundation when it is perfectly OK for Molyneux to condemn his followers’ families even though knows very little about them?]
(For what it’s worth, the rival philosopher Molyneux agonizingly assails in his interrogation is here.)
The Philosopher King’s post is below.
This was a hard question, but perfectly valid. Within 40 minutes, the post was deleted.
And after five years of support, the user was instantly banned. Despite being well-known to Molyneux as a supporter, no explanation was ever given.
She was just…erased.
At times—for example, immediately following the Rogan show—it becomes nearly impossible to get an account on the FDR forum. It goes into lockdown mode to keep the trolls out. In FDR-speak, a “troll” is anyone who asks uncomfortable questions. In the mind of Molyneux and his followers, it’s an us-vs-them world, where anyone who criticizes Molyneux is a “hater.” They literally believe that critics hate Molyneux personally. For many, it’s their job to fight back to protect Molyneux and his “community,” ethics be damned.
In FDR-speak, a “troll” is anyone who asks uncomfortable questions.
Especially if you dare to call it a cult.
(Even if FDR members are philosopher kings, they sure have a lot to learn about irony.)
On the FDR Liberated forum, several members have already noticed that they have been IP banned on Molyneux’s Facebook page, despite never saying anything there. They were targeted for critical things they said elsewhere, and preemptively banned.
Down the memory hole
But the stifling of information doesn’t simply happen in real-time. Like 1984‘s Winston Smith, someone apparently has the task of going through old threads, perhaps seeking any lingering evidence that conflicts with any current Molyneux narratives, and sending them down the memory hole.
I recently had a conversation with someone on the FDR Liberated forum regarding whether Molyneux believes children of religious parents should defoo. I knew of a thread a few years back on FDR called “Testing Bridges, and Hello!” A young poster named Tyler insisted he had a good relationship with his religious parents. Molyneux used his “logic” to prove why that was not possible (the Bible commands Christians to kill their enemies). When Tyler refused to accept that his parents were murderers, Molyneux banned him. We followed the story with great amusement on Liberating Minds.
I looked for the thread on FDR to verify my quotes and it is gone. It appears that Winston Smith has slipped it down the memory hole.
Molyneux mentioned on Joe Rogan that he specifically told a member to defoo only once. I remembered that thread, too. I had once planned to write a Quickie! about it. This is the incident:
When the member still refused, Molyneux tried to shame him into defooing:
Unfortunately, those are the only two fragments of the thread that I have. I now see in the year since I captured those fragments, the thread has been deleted.
Winston Smith continues slaving away.
I had wanted to return to that thread to capture the other part for this article—what the member told Molyneux about the “advice” he was given here. (I usually only save Molyneux comments because I have ethical concerns about revealing too much about FDR members, except the ones who are publicly known, like Tom).
However, something happened in that conversation. Molyneux was insisting that this member defoo because the member was talking about his suicidal ideation. Molyneux’s solution, of course, was to ditch the family—the source of all problems. Later, the member explained that his suicidal ideation had actually been caused by his medication, which was quickly adjusted by his doctor. Problem solved.
The point is, even if this were the only time Molyneux persuaded a member to defoo (it wasn’t), even then Molyneux had delivered the most dangerous advice possible.
Molyneux would have caused the his follower to be alone, without any support system, while the medication imbalance continued. Would this member have become another alleged FDR-associated suicide?
So, where is Stefan Molyneux during all this?
Where he has always been—misdirecting
Stefan Molyneux is responding to all this, even if he is not responding directly.
There are two more aspects to the secret silencing. One is simple. Waiting. Things blow over. I suspect Molyneux isn’t specifically responding to these incidents because he doesn’t want to perpetuate them. His followers certainly don’t seem to care—as I’ve said earlier, if they are still his followers it has nothing to do with what he says about ethics and logic. They are drawn to him for some other reason.
Molyneux is waiting because he knows you have other things to do. The outspoken critics will by and large return to more productive pursuits and, with any luck, few people will still be talking about the Joe Rogan show or the attack on Tru Shibes a few months from now. And there are new fresh-faced people arriving on YouTube every day, ready to learn about personal freedom and uninterested in old news.
To speed that process along is the other aspect of secret silencing—spamming. In the past three weeks, Stefan Molyneux has uploaded 25 new videos to YouTube. That’s nearly a video a day!
On top of that, someone named PeteTsim Rewind has re-uploaded a whopping 216 Molyneux videos (hmmm…I guess DMCA is perfectly acceptable sometimes), Native Speakers Academy has re-uploaded 9 more, PeteTsim RealityInversion has re-uploaded 45, and PeteTsim CultureDemolition has re-uploaded 17.
That’s right. A total of 312 Stefan Molyneux videos or re-uploaded videos just happened to flood their way onto YouTube right when Molyneux most needs to distract his followers from the critics! When you can’t silence ’em, bury ’em.
I gotcha now, QE! You may be right about everything above,
but Molyneux did respond to the DMCA charge!
He sure did—just a couple of days ago. Buried deep—an hour and ten minutes—within a rambling video entitled “How Not To Fight Evil,” Molyneux addresses the fraudulent DMCA takedown in a somewhat self-aggrandizing way.
In doing so, he resorts here to #8 on Conrad’s famous Short summary of 15 of Stef’s debating techniques:
8. The Prioritization Fallacy
This technique has basically made Stef invulnerable to any form of criticism for the next gazillion years. Briefly put the technique is this: As long as there is bigger misery in the world than possibly morally wrong behaviour by Stef you cannot legitimately criticise Stef for it indicates irrational prioritization. He doesn’t say it this explicitly but it is the logical implication of what he says.
Here’s the hurtful part, Mr. Molyneux. Your impact for “the better treatment of children” is literally too small to measure. I did a 10-second Google search for other groups in the same effort and grabbed the first group against child abuse that came up—Prevent Child Abuse America.
Here’s their story:
Prevent Child Abuse America, founded in 1972 in Chicago, works to ensure the healthy development of children nationwide. The organization promotes that vision through a network of chapters in 50 states and nearly 600 Healthy Families America home visiting sites in 39 states, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Commonwealth of the Marianas, Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands, and Canada. A major organizational focus is to advocate for the existence of a national policy framework and strategy for children and families while promoting evidence-based practices that prevent abuse and neglect from ever occurring.
That’s how it’s done. And it’s a fair bet they’ve never even heard of you.
So, in the main scheme of things, talking about an ancap ethicist who uses the power of the state to silence a critic and then lies about it probably is more important than the almost insignificant impact you’ve had on child abuse.
(Sorry. That was kind of ouch-y, wasn’t it?)
In the end, Molyneux cannot be wrong
Which brings us to what all of this means. If you fully understand the phrase “Molyneux cannot be wrong,” then you will understand the reason for the secret (and not-so-secret) silencing. And you will also understand why Molyneux will never succeed in his grand vision.
Molyneux has built an entire business based on a notion that he has discovered truth. Real truth. The real thing. For the first time ever. Molyneux believes he has uniquely discovered the path to personal freedom and happiness that has eluded philosophers “for 6,000 years.”
Well, of course he hasn’t. But this is a business now. And because he doesn’t know all of the truth, there is only one way to maintain that business—aggressive reputation management.
Yes, this is what I was referring to at the beginning of this article—the one thing you need to about Stefan Molyneux/Freedomain Radio that shows how all three of these events are actually related and inevitable.
- Molyneux cannot be wrong. It would be unaffordable for Molyneux to be wrong. The accrual of his wealth completely depends on your belief that he is right about everything. That he can make a “The Truth About…” video on nearly any subject because he does know the real truth. He can’t appear to be wrong or people will be less likely to join his forum and become active donors. That can’t happen. Freedomain Radio is a business. It is a product. It must always look shiny and attractive to new customers. As a result, the forum is patrolled to eliminate any embarrassments—anything that might break the illusion and reveal Molyneux to be just another pretty smart guy. Using “every means at their disposal,” as they claim, Molyneux and his administrators keep their store clean.
- Molyneux cannot be wrong. It is impermissible for Molyneux to be wrong. As he has said many times, his entire philosophy is built piece-by-piece, on first principles, “from the ground fucking up.” In other words, it is a logical house of cards. If he’s proven wrong in a significant way, the entire house (and the entire business) falls. Therefore, even though he has been proven significantly wrong in many significant ways, that can never be admitted or acknowledged. It’s just good business.
- Molyneux cannot be wrong. It would be heartbreaking for Molyneux to be wrong. His True Believers have gone “all in,” sometimes upending their lives or leaving families and relationships based on Molyneux’s life coaching. He just can’t be wrong, or all of those followers may realize they have been led astray by someone who claims to be an expert in areas he knows little about. Perhaps that is why his closest followers defend him with great zeal, even when it flies in the face of all logic. Otherwise, they’d be forced to reexamine some pretty painful life choices.
- Molyneux cannot be wrong. It would catastrophic for the Molyneux persona to be wrong. The public character he has created has also been built from the ground up. Like reverse dominoes, he acts as an expert in one field and uses that “authority” to prop up his credibility while he acts as an authority in another. Philosophy, psychology, relationships, religion, politics, history, economics—Molyneux holds forth in all these areas as an unimpeachable authority. And yet he has never conducted any research, nor is there any evidence that he would he know how. He has never written a peer-reviewed paper, nor found a legitimate publisher for his work. Like the “philosophy” he espouses, his own persona appears to be a house of cards, built layer by layer on a foundation that doesn’t exist. For example, because he is an expert in logic, he must also be an expert in “the logic of love.” So, like a falling house of cards, it would be catastrophic to the reputation of “Molyneux the relationship counselor” if his logic were proven inept (the way it happened here).
- Molyneux cannot be wrong. (And this is the worse one, I think) It would be tragic in the minds of many who follow him casually on YouTube. I think they defend him fiercely now because it was Molyneux who first kindled their passion for libertarian ideas, often unaware that the ideas they love best are the ones he “borrowed” and presents very well. To them, he cannot be wrong because those ideas are so powerful. One wonders—how many of those people ultimately become disenchanted with libertarianism when they become disillusioned with him? Tragedy indeed.
So, in the end, so much has been speculated about the character or psychology or ultimate intentions of a man who would go against his stated principles to silence a critic and then lie about it, or publicly mask the more controversial things he truly believes, but I don’t think you need any of that to explain why. The sad and simple truth is that the more it has become about the money, the less any of the rest matters.
It’s simply good business being used to sell bad philosophy.
And after that, there’s little more to be said.
I look forward to your input in the forum!
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