But you could in principle have a useful conversation about them with some people.
And there are other topics that might seem harmless, like the relative merits of Ford and Chevy pickup trucks, that you couldn't safely talk about with others.
Obviously that's false: anything else people make can be well or badly designed; why should this be uniquely impossible for programming languages?
And indeed, you can have a fruitful discussion about the relative merits of programming languages, so long as you exclude people who respond from identity.
The more labels you have for yourself, the dumber they make you.
Notes When that happens, it tends to happen fast, like a core going critical.
The most intriguing thing about this theory, if it's right, is that it explains not merely which kinds of discussions to avoid, but how to have better ideas.
If people can't think clearly about anything that has become part of their identity, then all other things being equal, the best plan is to let as few things into your identity as possible.
There was a dried-out field with bleachers and, next to it, a sprawling playground; during the school year, the rutting rhythm of football practice bled into the cacophony of recess through a porous border of mossy oaks.
Mall-size parking lots circled the campus; on Sundays, it looked like a car dealership, and during the week it looked like a fortress, surrounded by an asphalt moat.