Subject: Re: looking for a language with any of the following 4 charachteristics  (all 4 would be nice).
From: Erik Naggum <>
Date: Wed, 20 Feb 2002 11:12:10 GMT
Newsgroups: comp.lang.lisp
Message-ID: <>

* Jochen Schmidt <>
| If you really want to help enhancing Common Lisp you should try to reduce 
| complaining to a minimum and better spend this time for writing some code.

  Erann Gat does not want to enhance Common Lisp, he wants to feel better.

  He wants to complain about how unenhanced Common Lisp is so others shall
  feel bad about Common Lisp and abandon it like he did, validating his
  poor and painful choices.  He has both gained and lost his faith in Lisp
  by less than rational means and somehow thinks this is bad, so instead of
  facing irrationality head on and maybe, just _maybe_, cut his losses and
  move on, he has to hang around those he thinks have not yet seen the
  light and work hard to make them lose their faith, too.  If he succeeds,
  he can feel that he was at least not _wrong_ in losing his faith.

  But effectively, he is _begging_ the community to take him back in and
  restore his faith for him in the only way he knows how: Make people pity
  him enough to do what he says he wants, because he wishes hard for people
  to miss him so much that they would do this out of pity alone.  (It tends
  to work quite the opposite way, which means more effort to generate pity
  and more hostile reactions to same.)  One way he thinks he can make
  people pity him enough to do what he wants for him is to complain about
  Common Lisp's faults and short-comings, yet claim that he wants Lisp
  well, and "oh, if only this were fixed, I could come back".  But he wants
  himself well.  That is all.  Right now, he thinks part of his feeling bad
  is located in Common Lisp, and so if Common Lisp were improved, he would
  be.  This is not an uncommon reaction to loss of one's sense of identity,
  because to some degree, one has _become_ what one does and believes.

  It should be obvious that Erann Gat is hurting really bad right now, but
  it is none of our business any longer because he uses such dirty tactics
  to try to force people to help him out.  We can obviously not "improve" a
  programming language just to make one community member, who has made it
  clear that he is about to leave, happy -- that is holding the whole
  community hostage to the irrational grief of one person.  Things do not
  work this way, but lots of dire experiences can make someone think they
  do, concluding in a preoccupation with one's own feelings to the extent
  that the rest of the world becomes more or less irrelevant.  Acute
  depression has that effect on all people.

  Let me quote from The Penguin Dictionary of Psychology to put this in a
  context I hope few others have thought of:

       bereavement: The emotional reactions felt following the death
            of a loved one.  A full depressive syndrome is considered
            normal in such a loss and is often accompanied by poor
            apetite, insomnia, and preoccupations with a sense of

  It appears to me that Erann's loss of faith is akin to the death of a
  loved _idea_, all the worse because this idea was not rationally founded
  ("alive") to begin with, so its death is probably also associated with
  some shame for having held it in the first place, and for so long.
  Helping those who are in the grieving period after such a loss is very
  hard, and generally requires much more "bandwidth" than the written word
  can usually provide -- the level of pain suffered by those who turn to
  write poetry to get it out of their system is not something people should
  want to experience.

  What can be done about poor, suffering Erann Gat at this point?  Well,
  first of all, he needs to get out of the rut he is in.  I doubt that this
  can be accomplished without severing contact with _all_ Lisp people for
  an extended period of time -- he needs something to fight for, not just
  Lisp to fight against.  Whether he wants to return afterwards, is an open
  question, but if he found something valuable that was _real_ in his faith
  in Lisp, he might, or he might just go the way of wasting it all, like
  Paul Graham did, who was obviously also unable to be happy with what
  somebody else had done before him.  Considering the invalidity of much
  Erann's recent reasoning, it is not very surprising that he should think
  that the commonality of "people who now do something other than Lisp"
  should reflect badly on Common Lisp.  However, there is absolutely no
  reason to fault something people leave for anything at all unless what
  they move towards is largely homogenous.  All we see when people have
  been using some language for a while and then move on to another is that
  they did not find what _they_ could live with.  It says more about them
  than the language.  After all, some other people bet their lives and
  carreers on each language.  Is something wrong with you if you do not
  find the love of your life on the first try?  How often have people
  "drifted apart" for no apparent reason, only indicating that they had an
  accidental proximity at a particular period in their "life trajectory"?
  However reasonable the cause of a failure of a relationship to work, it
  would be unreasonable _not_ to expect a period of grieving when what one
  invested a lot in has ceased to have a future.  I mean, we have all been
  there, and it is somewhat peculiar to watch people rediscover the process
  of losing loved ones all over again as if they expected some loved ones
  to last forever.  If we fear the loss as a consequences of investing in
  something, we will never try anything: It is better to have loved and
  lost than never to have lost at all.

                                    - -

  Since all of us believe in a lot of silly things that turn out to be
  wrong at one point or another, learing to cope with being proven wrong
  and being able to discard what was wrong and pick up something new and
  better according to what one has learned, even though it means being a
  novice for a while where one used to be an expert and a hot-shot, is
  _vitally_ important if one is to get more than one chance to be right
  about something.  Therefore, such a stupid comment as "Unlike Erik, I'm
  not always sure that I'm right about everything" says to me that the
  person who utters this idiotic drivel is generally unable to cope with
  being wrong, and thinks that those who are able to cope with it and are
  therefore much less wrong that others, are _frauds_.  That has a very
  serious negative effect on his own psychological approach to certainty:
  If he gets too certain, he believes it must be irrational, and certainty
  and being right become orthogonal qualities.  If I am an fairly confident
  that I am right in what I believe at any time, it is because I have
  discarded almost everything I have found to be wrong, and those beliefs I
  still hold that I know to be wrong just keep getting me into trouble:
  like believing in predictable taxation, that stupidity can be cured, that
  there is a constructive element to everything people do -- you only need
  to find it.  Being right most of the time, means that you change your
  mind according as the facts change.  If you hang on to something after
  the facts have proved otherwise, of course you will no longer be right,
  but is this really an enviable position compared to discarding what is
  wrong and moving on?  Note that those who criticize others for being
  right implicitly argue that to be an ordinary, decent human being, you
  must believe in a bunch of wrong things, but not know which are right and
  which are wrong, so you do not believe too strongly in what you believe
  to be right.  The real question, however, is what you do with stuff you
  believe after it has been proven wrong.  Some people fight the universe,
  pray to various deities, go insane, ignore the facts and go on as if
  nothing had happened.  It seems that very few people actively seek
  counterinformation, information that can prove them wrong, in their daily
  life and for their common beliefs -- it is somehow a good thing in
  science but bad for you elsewhere.

  Being wrong often is an unavoidable consequence of thinking about things
  and trying to see patterns and make sense of your experiences.  Believing
  that something is _right_ prematurely is the worst habit of non-thinkers,
  however, and so they invest far too much emotional energy into what they
  should have seen was wrong much earlier than they do, and thus being
  wrong is associated with pain, but it is not: What is painful is hanging
  on to what is wrong.  Being wrong is _good_, because it means that one
  has an active imagination and care about figuring things out, but unless
  you are also a moron, you also learn something each time you were wrong,
  thus making it more likely that your next move is better.

  Now, what kind of person gets so strongly opposed to others being right
  that they make a point out of harrassing them for it?  People who are
  wrong, who know they are wrong, but do not _want_ to change their mind,
  because their beliefs are far more comfortable to live in than the real

  Now, I wonder if Erann Gat can go heal somewhere else.  It should be
  clear even to him that he does not heal here.

  In a fight against something, the fight has value, victory has none.
  In a fight for something, the fight is a loss, victory merely relief.