Idea for why people dislike criticism:

Criticism sucks when it makes you do things. When it controls your life. When it's in charge, bossing you around.

People dislike criticism when they are being passive. They don't want to start thinking on the initiative of a criticism instead of their own initiative.

Criticism isn't useful when you don't have an interest you're pursuing that it can help with. Criticism isn't helpful when you don't have a project it can help with. Criticism won't help solve your problems if you aren't working on any problems right now.

Criticism goes badly when people feel they have no choice. People need to make their own choices and use criticism to help, not get pressured and lose control over their decision making.

People get overwhelmed and pulled in many different directions by criticism.

People will also externalize the criticism to the messenger who told it to them. So they feel like that other person is trying to control them, make them do things, boss them around, etc.

If someone is working on only a couple problems, they'll only appreciate relevant criticism. If they are stuck in most of their life, but unstuck in one area, then criticism will be unpleasant except in that one area. Being active or passive in your life isn't all or nothing.


People like criticism when they are in control of their life. Then it's useful information they can use to solve problems they're already working on.

If you're already doing projects on your initiative, you can look for ways to adjust them to be better with a criticism. It's any opportunity to enhance your problem solving. But if you didn't have problem solving going smoothly, then criticism could be useless or disruptive, instead of enhancing.

When people have proper interests – the unlimited, unbounded, freely pursued beginning of infinity style of interest – then criticism is a gift.

When people have their own motivation, criticism is a great add-on. But criticism can be a bad way to get an unmotivated person to be motivated in the first place. People need some positive motivation in life, some reasons they want to make progress, some goals of their own that they freely chose.


Criticism should never be the driving force in someone's life. People need their own motor to drive their own lives. Fear of being bad is due to people without an active, relevant motor trying to act due to criticism. A proper life involves driving your own projects along, following your interests in a free and unbounded way, and then using criticism to enhance them.

Criticism is for correcting mistakes. It helps things be better. There has to be an underlying thing, first, to correct the mistakes in and improve.


In a proper life, criticism gives you more options. You already had some interests and projects to work on. Now you can continue as planned or you can work on evaluating the criticism and making adjustments. The criticism tells you another option for what to do next. You should be deciding how to fit the criticism into your life, just like you would with a suggestion.

Properly, criticisms should be viewed like suggestions.

Some criticism is very important and urgent. So are some suggestions. But that urgency should be coming from yourself. You rush to implement a suggestion because you see the importance yourself. You realize it'll make things better in a way you care about. Criticism should be the same.


This idea about criticism actually applies to information more generally. When people are self-motivated and pursuing a project, then they can make decisions about how to best proceed. They can figure out what information will help them and what they want to do with it. But when people are aimless, then they don't have any way to decide what to do, so they can't adapt information they get to their purpose (because they don't have a clear purpose).

You need goals, a proper problem situation, in order to make judgments about which information is useful and how it can help you with your problems and projects. You need to know what you're looking for to skim. You need to know what you're trying to accomplish to select which information is relevant.

When a person is aimless and lacks self-motivated unbounded interests, then they can't make good choices about what to do (and pay attention to), how much, when. They have no way manage life or thinking.

This is reminiscent of the impossibility of economic calculation under socialism. Without prices, you can't calculate what's a good or bad deal, what's efficient or inefficient, etc. Without goals, values, aspirations, projects, etc, you can't calculate what to do because there is no standard of value, no thing you're trying to get. You need to want to get X and Y in order to calculate which activities to do to get them. Activities need a purpose.


The idea about disliking criticism relates to my idea that static memes cannot do mind control. They cannot take over your life by force. What they do is control passive people. If you don't make your own choices, then the memes can.

Taking initiative and responsibility in your life is the outline of the solution to the static meme problem. And it's also what makes criticism appealing.

When you actively pursue projects of your choosing, criticism helps you do it and static memes have limited influence. When you're more aimless, then it's all bad news.

Self-control means that you control you. That means memes and other people don't control you.

Being an active, self-controlled person is harder and more complicated than it sounds. There's lots of ways to fool yourself and think you're doing it when you aren't. People often control half their life, but not the other half, and are blind to how far they have to go. See the initiative and responsibility pages for more info.

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By Elliot Temple, Dec 2015 | Join the discussion group, receive the newsletter, or send comments to

Acknowledgments: some ideas presented are modified from, or inspired by, ideas from Karl Popper, Ayn Rand, David Deutsch and William Godwin. Thank you!