Slate Star Codex popularized the idea (created within the SSC community, so far as I can detect) of Conflict Theory and Mistake Theory, a way of looking at the aims and methods of disagreement, and how we imagine each other. One group says people are making mistakes, and the other says people are battling over who gets to control things and have their interests represented.

The article does a good job of defending why Mistake Theory is nicer, and probably more accurate, particularly when describing Conflict Theorists. We aren't actually in a conflict, so that seems like pretty low hanging fruit – they've made a mistake about conflict.

But my view is different. I think people mostly just don't care about the things I care about. And they're right to do so! People mostly don't think or care about details of how the government might be making a mistake – I can tell them that many jurisdictions discriminate against manufactured housing and how this is very bad, but they don't actually care. It's like a piece of trivia they heard once, and they don't get worked up over it. And they shouldn't. In an ideal world, nobody would think about government all that much at all. When we need national defense, they'd think about that. When we need public order, or pandemic response, they'd think about that. And most of their lives would be totally consumed by searching for happiness their own way.

I want people to ignore government. But it's too complicated, reaches everywhere, is weirdly capricious, and is getting harder to predict every year. So I want to change that, which involves me paying attention, and probably other people because we live in a democracy. But I'd prefer they didn't care, they prefer to not get involved, and I'm the one who's wrong about how they should spend their life, when I try to get them to care.

Conversely, I'm also really optimistic about people who see each other as Big Mortal Enemies to actually get along. They don't even mostly disagree – it isn't a conflict unless people demand to be rude to each other, and most of the time they don't think someone's making a mistake. It's just that they think some specific things are important, and that doesn't really overlap with someone else. When I hear stories from a Trump rally where they get some Black Lives Matters organizers on stage, and they say, America is about freedom and dignity and getting the government out of your hair, and people cheer, I think that's a pretty accessible outcome, not a weird aberration. When someone in the crowd yells "All Lives Matter!" and the person on stage agrees and says, but when a black person gets killed they don't get justice, of course I'm imagining people in the crowd thinking that sort of stinks. Maybe they don't think it's important – the apathy is still there – but they get the notion and there's no real bedrock conflict or perceived mistake on either side.

I'd say one of the predictions that Apathy Theory makes that Conflict Theory and Mistake Theory don't is that you don't need all that much to build common ground with people. If it's a conflict, you're doomed, and if it's a mistake, you'd need to lecture them or something to correct the error. But I think there's plenty of stuff where it just legitimately didn't occur to people, and so just saying, here's what I believe, that's enough.

It's not like you're asking them for real action. That'd be a tough sell for anybody, even activists, it seems.