everything wrong with free software

 "obedience breeds foolishness"

### activists---advocates---archetypes-and-armchair-psychology---part-i *originally posted:* aug 2021 the free software movement is broken, and this cannot be examined without a look at human behaviour. human behaviour is the purview of psychology, which in turn is the purview of trained experts, who will (often correctly) mention that this field is best left to professionals that know what theyre doing. and im partially (probably more than it seems at first) sympathetic to this argument. you dont want random drunk people doing heart surgery at a tailgate party, you want things like that to be done by a professional. and if youre paying good money, and you get an untrained idiot, at the very best youve been scammed (its worse than that of course, but we are being lighthearted about this). the ethical argument begins with common sense and leads towards consumer protection. and i definitely agree with that, up to a point. in fact there are many instances where people who have no idea what the fuck theyre talking about, doing substantial harm and giving terrible advice. some of them are trained, certified and paid to do so-- others are untrained, uncertified and should definitely leave some things to people who know what theyre doing. but outside of the halls of knowledge where everyone is right and can definitely prove it, (i know, that doesnt sound scholarly or scientific, but then the general attitude of academia is often very self-righteous, arrogant and UN-scientific, really) the debate is not one where everything is decided. the debate about where to draw the ethical line has a shaky history and arguably a wry present. just to be clear, the industry fails people on a regular basis. if we are talking about ethics, lets not pretend we can isolate the decisions to a certain professional and their behaviour as an individual, when you are placed the hands of a single professional you are more often than not subjected to an entire system. and i havent heard many ethical discussions around the problems of working in an industry that is completely designed to shortchange every patient that comes through the doors. i mean, if you know the industry is corrupt, and you are an ethical practitioner, is it more ethical to practice in a corrupt industry, or should you just refuse and let more people die in the interim? what are the real ethics of doctors working for corrupt organisations? maybe theres a good answer to this. what i suspect is that many people are just doing their best under the circumstances. also, if someone is bleeding to death and a trained professional wont be around for 30 minutes, should you let them die? i know the answer to this one, because emergency first aid is (thankfully) not considered unethical to administer, in fact you can learn it as a scout (along with cpr, though with cpr you are definitely supposed to be certified). so there are some good arguments on both sides of the question, and these arguments help us figure out a good place to draw the line: untrained cpr and heart surgery? probably bad. uncertified tourniquet tying to prevent someone bleeding to death while waiting for help? probably good. but imagine if we pushed this further, and turned emergency first aid into an industry? it would be a good scam, you might even call the practice unethical. just to be clear, i do think it is unethical to cut corners in an industry so that every other professional has the job of three, then to force society to live under the general impression that every minor (psychological) cut and scrape requires the services of a person with a doctorate (particularly when that doctorate does not even guarantee anything but mediocre treatment and results) and as we do this, we become a society where people begin to act like talking to a friend or your family about feelings is soething that only a professional is capable of helping with. and thats ridiculous. really, the problem with the line is not so much where it is drawn, but that it keeps moving in a ridiculous direction. if we step outside the medical profession, and look at technology, we see a similar trend-- people cant even change a fucking battery in a laptop without finding a store to "service" the battery, some even have to box their laptop or phone up and send it through the mail. this is ridiculous, and much like (or is) a scam. does that mean that we should give screwdrivers to untrained kids and say "its alright susie, just stick this in the power supply and get that fan unstuck, then it will work again!" certainly not. i was opening computers in grade school (and in fact helped install hardware in one of the computers in the office at school) but i have never treated the power supply as a user-serviceable part. can a user learn how to safely open and service one? absolutely. is it worth the trouble? probably not. is it safe? i suppose that depends on your definition. would i let my kids play with the inside of a switching power supply? fuck no! i never bother with those, and i recommend that most people dont bother with them either. some people will learn, and they will save (or possibly even make) a lot of money, i guess. and good for them! kids can play with an sbc, or an old laptop or desktop. (they usually make them without lead now. when i was kid, you had to wash your hands really well afterwards because lead solder was generally a thing-- and if you work with machines from that era, you obviously still have to). but practically every time you deal with something important, there is some important bit of information you have to know. is it safe to play with the command line? generally. should you be care with "*" and "/ -rf"? yes! just yesterday someone told me something i was working on "wont delete files, but it will overwrite them"-- i told him "yeah, it will overwrite files, but ONLY if there arent any there to overwrite". race conditions aside (also this is for a home folder, so what race conditions? how many things am i running on my own folder at the same time?) it is probably fairly safe, unless theres a bug (and thats why i was being cautious). now, back to human behaviour, also known as psychology (among other things). we talk a good game regarding ethics, but the largest applications of psychology after (perhaps even before) treating various afflictions is actually manipulating customers, voters and even (if you consider certain industries tangential to the medical industry) patients. in some ways we have a higher standard of ethics for the general public than we do for industry professionals! but i have neither the ability nor the desire to dismantle the entire (ridiculous) system of ethics that weve laid out for ourselves, because there are good parts and not-so-good parts and what i really want to do is make people think about this more critically (without just assuming this or that is right or not because "someone said so"). in other words, the debate is very important (probably vital) to a good outcome. while that debate rages on, ill throw my own opinion in, of course-- and im going to use daniel pocock not once, but twice as an example. and you can call me a hypocrite (or the following argument "special pleading") if you want to do so. ive made a substantial effort to avoid that being a worthwhile comment, but youre certainly free. i have spoken a lot about narcissists, sociopaths and liars in regards to free software. i dont think theres any possibility whatsoever that this is in error. i mean, theres ALWAYS a possibility, for SOME value of possible. lets just say i think its very, very, very, very small. but its also something ive thought about carefully, for years. the correlation between narcissism, pathological lying and the state of free software is 1:1, directly linked without any ambiguity whatsoever. its not "this is possibly caused by narcissism and pathological lying" or "this seems related somehow to narcissism and pathological lying"-- there is a clear, direct cause and effect and an overabundance of examples. i suppose its not really science if theres zero possibility of it being a mistake. but theres also a difference between a fucking mountain of evidence and simply being overconfident. for the most part, my discussion of the topic has stayed away from individuals. this is BETTER, but one of those indivuduals scammed me for two entire years, and then set out on a campaign of retribution and manipulative abuse FOR LEAVING. i happen to know a lot about the subject, and ive shared what i know. i am mostly comfortable with the ethics of this. i am no expert on such ethics, but i feel it is fairly morally sound. where i differ (this is my own opinion) on what pocock has done is that he has exploited someones existing diagnosis in a way that is INDIRECT and unjustifiable, relying primarily on stigma (rather than facts or context) to make his point about someone we both think is not a good person anyway. i dont think that is justifiable, and he should have never done this. no condition that he discussed HAS any direct 1:1 correlation to the behaviour he was discussing in relation to it, he was leaning entirely on stigma (even though he arguably denied doing this, he did so erroneously). hes essentially throwing everyone with that condition under the bus to go after one person, and he hasnt even established a solid relationship between the two points. hes leaning on a stigma, in a way that needlessly adds to that stigma to go after a single person. and saying thats "just sloppy" is really being too kind. that is something i dont condone, and i dont think it has any place in this sort of discussion. its also something i hope to avoid, though i am well aware that a narcissist will try to use ANYTHING (including a bogus ethical argument) to let themselves off the hook for their own abusive behaviour. so while it is important to be sceptical of every unproven claim, some people are going to have an impossibly high standard of proof for everyone else, even while ultimately demanding that you trust their every word. and im not going to take that sort of thing seriously, depending on where it comes from-- because i at least know better than that from first-hand experience. while i think it is acceptable (otherwise i wouldnt want to do it either) to criticise mr. pocock for this, let me add that i dont think most of his critics are being any more fair than he is (about one or two egregious things ive already called him out on). i think he has withstood an extraordinary amount of manipulation and abuse, and that goes on daily. in fact, (and this will probably make me an enemy or two, but its the fucking truth so i honestly do not give a damn) i would say the sort of abuse that mr. pocock receives on a regular basis is not entirely unlike the abuse that did in near koukai. now its certainly not my wish to conflate the two or overstate this, in fact i probably wouldnt ever want to make the comparison more than just this once-- but if you really claim to give a shit about one of them you should fucking hear this out-- and feel very free to disagree, of course. because im not counting on anyone to sympathise with this argument, but its an honest argument and im going to fucking make it because it is honest, and i think its important. the sort of long-term, sustained gaslighting and victim reversal that people have pulled on mr. pocock would make MANY people unstable, upset and depressed. im no expert on the effects themselves, but i know fucking more than enough about the causes. i think the main thing that would piss people off about this comparison (and i dont blame them, though its not relevant to my argument either) is that near was the very model of an INNOCENT. i AGREE with that. i think in every ethical system ive ever heard of, messing with INNOCENT people is somehow worse than messing with parties considered guilty. im certainly not here to dispute that. where anyone who wants to consider themselves someone who gives half a damn about ethics should pause, is the assumption that mr. pocock was guilty in the first place. ive spent more time than most anyone would, trying to find something (less than recent) that would justify or even suggest it is justified for mr. pocock to receive the treatment he has at the hands of the little mob around him. what ive seen does not suggest to me that he is the problem here, he is certainly the victim. and i will not try to say he is as innocent as near, because near appears (and i think they were) completely, 100% innocent, and mr. pocock... i mean, one never once lashed out at anybody that i know of, and mr. pocock certainly has. more than once. which isnt to say that i think everything hes doing is dishonest-- and victims do lash out too. i dont know why people havent thought of that or bothered to mention it, but actually, its because most dont actually give a fuck-- one of the most trivial ways to reverse victim and abuser is to poke at the victim until they lash out, then use that reaction as an excuse-- who do they think theyre fooling? ive tried to verify some of his claims, i continue to BELIEVE and value some of his claims, i question some of his other claims. but whether most of this is dishonest on his part, i dont believe thats the right word. some of what he says might be mistakes. other things he says might be entirely true. i find some of the responses to his claims extremely suspicious (and difficult or impossible to trust as rebuttals). of course im being vague with good reason-- i dont intend to use this article to outline point for point what i think hes likely right and likely wrong about. but despite the fact that some people may have a right to be angry at him, they have demonstrated no sympathy whatsoever for the heaps of abuse he has suffered, nor for the assumptions (without evidence) that have led to abuse being aimed at him. and this is why i think he is more likely than not, a true victim. i am not unaware of the fact, that it is possible someone with a stream of stories like pococks are doing it for attention, or making it up based on a vendetta, and many people have tried to make it about that and tried to make that story stick. i have considered all of that, over and over again, and i do not think it is an accurate assessment. in the future, i may determine otherwise. ive had a long time to consider this, and still think he has behaved like an (actual) victim, (there is even a term for this, which i wont bother naming here though it is trivial to look up) not a contrived or false one. these people who pretend to be heaping abuse on him because they care, should really leave him the fuck alone and stop thinking theyre fooling anyone. they probably wont though, because all theyre looking for is an excuse to abuse someone. and thats a sort of person im too familiar with. this idea that theyre justified in doing this to pocock because of something pocock has done rings true to them, though it wont fool anyone who knows (and is willing to admit) what theyre talking about. you might think its unfair of me to single him out here, though i think thats a weird protest (more of a nitpick) when people do that on a regular (daily, weekly) basis anyway. the fact that im being fair (or at least, likely being fair and certainly going to great lengths to be) ought to distinguish this from the constant efforts to push against him for his activism. more than that, i dont think hes the last person that will suffer from this sort of abuse, and as long as its going to happen (often in a relatively public fashion, and it is certainly discussed semi-publically anyway in circles i have found myself participating in) these are all reasons to consider discussing this in a semi-quasi-"public" fashion. its not as if hes sent me private emails and ive discussed them here, or i was just bored and thought "i know! ill talk about daniel pocock". the fact that this is happening to people who pretend to care about justice is thoroughly representative of the state of what has HAPPENED to this movement, and what a farce open source has turned it into (no, im completely and 100% serious about that). what people allegedly concerned with ethics should do, is pay less superficial attention to the details (not just of what im saying, but of the actual situations mentioned here, and based on their own observations of those situations, separately from my own description of them) and spend a little more time thinking about what it would be like if the same events happened with actors rearranged. i would just say "if the tables were turned" but im not presenting this as a situation with only two sides, or two parties. it is a little more complicated than that. i can be pretty sure most people wont give it much thought before judging or deciding. those people should really not even be participating in a discussion like this. if youre not going to give it thoughtful consideration then your opinion about this is basically meaningless and only hypothetically relevant in the first place. but at any rate, these are the sorts of things which many people are hasty to consider and also hasty to put behind them as though they had any idea what they were fucking talking about in the first place. there is no introspection later, no second-guessing, no reexamination of assumptions or opinions in light of new evidence-- only doubling down, building stronger biases and increasingly shallow rhetoric, and justifying heaps of abuse on people who were never once proven to be guilty of anything in the first place. and if society is not deemed capable of discussing such things, then society is absolutely fucked anyway, because we are basically all fucking cavemen hoping some other fucking caveman (or cavewoman, etc.) is going to help. however, ive seen plenty of evidence that mankind is CAPABLE of evolving. its just sometimes people dont want to fucking bother, and THEN i think its alright to give mankind a little kick in the stupid fucking arse now and then. i mean, philosophers and comedians do this for a living. you can try to stop them from doing so, and some will cower while others only grow more determined. i never said i was socially pacifistic about this. there certainly are bad actors, and im not saying we should be doormats or hippies about it either. what i was getting at, is that fairness is of the utmost importance, and if youre going to throw out fairness and call whats left over "justice", then you really dont know your fucking arse from your elbow. as with freedom, the cost of fairness is eternal vigilance. people who assume theyre right and never question (never go back, never check to be sure, and always double down with no introspection) are completely useless to the goal of fairness, and thus utterly of no use whatsoever to justice. so many people claiming to be about "justice" are nothing but a mob, and i have seen more of these tactics aimed at pocock than ive seen come from him. people who think there is a disparity there, do not have a very broad understanding of true (sincere, honest) victims. as for most of the people he has discussed... no, i said i wasnt going to go into details. but i do not condone (in fact i have condemned) exactly two of his actions which were completely irresponsible and unethical, and i have described one of those here. the other i have already commented on before and do not need to reiterate. i wanted to talk about archetypes and how they can help people understand (and navigate, or interact in) broader social movements, though it would be less useful to do so in this article at this point, so instead i will make the next article a part ii to this part i. i subscribe to the view of humanity where it consists broadly of talking monkeys wearing funny little outfits, on a giant fucking rock thats flying through space in circles around an enormous ball of fire. sure its a meme, though i think the shoe fits extremely well. it makes you wonder what the ball of fire is thinking: "who the the fuck are these guys?" enjoy the flight. => https://wrongwithfreesw.neocities.org