Subject: Re: Can I overload equal?
From: Erik Naggum <>
Date: 1998/06/30
Newsgroups: comp.lang.lisp
Message-ID: <>

* Kent M Pitman
| One of the truly great problems in the world today, extending well beyond
| computer science, is people's lack of understanding of how non-specific
| the language they use for communication is.  ...  We never think to
| challenge people who agree with us.

  well, I do.  I don't _want_ people to agree with me -- I want them to
  understand, and then it's usually immaterial whether they agree with me
  or not, not only because it's understanding I see, but also because we
  will each have modified our positions while getting to understand each
  other, however slightly, so there's no "winning" aspect to such agreeing.
  it turns out that those who understand the least are the ones most eager
  to agree, or _claim_ that they agree with others, or, in one particularly
  annoying case, claim that _others_ agree with him, making a double error.

  agreement is useful among people who understand eachother.  since most
  people are incapable of seeing when such understanding is absent, as you
  point out, it is quite a telling indicator when they insist on agreeing
  despite slowly mounting evidence of lack of (common) understanding.

  wide-area communication as o the Internet and USENET highlights the need
  to question the desire to agree before understanding is established.  in
  my experience, this particular behavioral pattern is usually restricted
  to people who use agreement as a means of approval from their peers, no
  matter whether it is a real or imagined agreement.  you find the same in
  gangs and in politics and everywhere people with low self-esteem need to
  affirm themselves at any cost.

  real, as in fundamental, agreement is remarkably rare.  it's like the
  holy grail, true love, etc.  ... and those who call every fuzzy string
  match an "agreement" are likely never to find _true_ agreement, precisely
  because it requires so much effort from those involved.  like everything
  else in our time, people want it to be easy and user-friendly.  agreeing
  with somebody is _really_ hard, and if it comes _too_ easy, you know it
  must be from dishonesty and false premises.  then it becomes demeaning.

-- is about my spam protection scheme and how
  to guarantee that you reach me.  in brief: if you reply to a news article
  of mine, be sure to include an In-Reply-To or References header with the
  message-ID of that message in it.  otherwise, you need to read that page.