Forty Year Decline of Objectivism: 1967-2007

PhilipC's picture
Submitted by PhilipC on Sun, 2007-06-03 01:27

Four Decades of Decline (or Stagnation) of Objectivism (1967-2007)

The flagging of momentum, the loss of people, the loss of a systematic educational "pipeline" for Objectivism was caused by a series of unfortunate decisions taken by Objectivist leaders (and by their followers who imitated them) over the last forty years. It can also be seen by contrasting the stagnation or lack of growth of the movement to the growth of conservatism over the same period.

The movement really started with a small circle of people in Ayn Rand's living room around fifty years ago when Atlas was published and the idea of writing about and then teaching the philosophy came to life.

Forty years ago, Objectivism *the philosophy* (not merely casual readership of the novels) was growing rapidly under the aegis of the NBI courses and the Objectivist magazine, which together were training Objectivists by the tens of thousands. When a movement produces well-trained, confident, assertive, well-rounded intellectuals in their twenties, in another generation they will begin to have an impact. That is exactly what happened about twenty years later, in the 1980's with the Reagan Revolution and all its eager activists and with the Thatcher Revolution and with people like Martin Anderson (who helped destroy military conscription) and Alan Greenspan. A movement like that can have an influence on related movements such as on prominent conservatives, even if they are not total converts to Objectivism.

Fast forward forty years (from the late sixties) and there are no longer tens of thousands of Objectivists emerging from courses and training in the ideas as there were when NBI produced them nationwide and even overseas. And one 'proof' of the absence of thousands of these enthusiastic 'graduates' is the backsliding of the conservatives. Into religiosity, appeasement, big government, corruption, and religiosity. As witness the post-Reagan administrations, the two Bushes, father and son, and the post-Thatcher administrations in England.

The timing matches up. Here are the 'pratfalls' of the Objectivist movement from '67 on:

1. '67-'68 Split into two warring camps. Demoralization. Closing of NBI.
2. Slow regaining thru the seventies of education for the half that remained with Peikoff's slowly developing one course after another. And the tape lessee system. But, far from increasing, the number of students was a *small fraction* of those from the previous era.
3. Shutting down of the tape lessee system and instead selling the course as taped lectures at *extremely high cost* to individual purchases one on one. A still greater drop in people being educated in the philosophy and related subjects and in applying the philosophy.
4. Resulting loss in understanding the ideas for the last twenty years (I witnessed a steady shrinkage on both coasts and in several states and at annual conferences -- how fewer people I would meet completely understand the system).
5. Slow regaining in the '80s of beginnings of some movement momentum. This was tiny compared to NBI...hundreds rather than thousands...but was facilitated by the Thomas Jefferson Institute and its summer conferences beginning in '83. By '89, thing were just starting to improve, and the feeling of their being an actual 'movement' could begin to be felt...and joint projects (like ARI, campus clubs, lecture tours) were getting off the ground.
6. '89 Split into two warring camps. Demoralization. Breaking away of David Kelley and his followers. ARI loses half its support and its momentum...which takes years to recover. The Jefferson School loses momentum and ultimately collapses. IOS starts very small. Some momentum but excruciatingly tiny--less than a thousand people, years later.
7. Neither faction or group has the good sense (or perhaps the manpower and intellectual resources) to restart the education and training program of the NBI or Peikoff courses eras.
8. Fast forward nearly twenty years to 2007: IOS->TOC->TAS has begun to shrink (it was never very large). ARI has been growing, but is still a fraction the size and impact of NBI from nearly forty years ago. The clearest evidence of that is the complaint by its executive director that there are not enough trained Objectivist intellectuals to fill a dozen or two opportunities for them to fill academic or activist slots. They have the good sense to have restarted education and training with the Objectivist Academic Center, but the many thousands of prospects who enter the essay contests or read the fiction in the schools are still producing only on the order of a hundred (or less) people a year, not all of whom will do anything....compared to the tens of thousands taking comparable courses undere NBI.
9. At the same time, ARI has alienated itself from natural allies and converts among the classical liberals and conservatives by insulting them, and refusing to deal with them...or in the former case expelling people who even go to meetings of them or book signings to -even speak- to them. Even if it's to try to convert them. Movements only grow by having an influence on more diffuse but larger groups in other more 'lukewarm' or untrained movements...or in the sympathetic but uninformed groups which are the wider concentric circles around them. ARI loses in goodwill and openness to listening from these groups and individuals by this policy. TOC has tried to build bridges rather than alienate, but they have shrunk to a handful of people and are viewed as ineffectual (perhaps even by those potential allies?), so their impact is negligible. While ARI has been graduating a small number of the next generation or Objectivist intellectuals, skilled, confident, polished, knowledgeable, TOC has been graduating approximately zero. ARI has succeeded in planting a few Objectivist professors in academic philosophy departments but the number is ludicrously tiny...and their impact in terms of graduating classes full of Objectivists or gaining Objectivism respect in academic philosophy is still more a dream than a reality.
10. '07 Once there is any sign of momentum or growth in the movement, there will usually be an opportunity for differences to show in how to apply the ideas or in concrete issues or personalities. And those differences are always handled by purges, factions, schisms, and loss of momentum as disillusioned people in large percentages leave Objectivism or intellectual activism permanently. They crawl into a hole, lick their wounds, and pull the hole shut after them...or they write document or blogs opposing Objectivism and blaming it for ruining their lives. Hardly likely to cause the movement or the ideas to appear attractive to outsiders.

The more recent glimmerings of possible future factionalism and bloodletting have come with several bloggers or website owners who spend most of their time castigating the purity of anyone who doesn't completely understand and apply Objectivism correctly. The most recent example was castigating the purity of those who did not choose correctly on a concrete issue: which of the two very flawed political parties in the U.S. is worse and will do most harm.

Conclusion: Objectivists have been better at quarreling among themselves, arguing over second-order issues, than in investing always rare time in learning the ideas, applying them, and changing the world.

It is always possible for that to change. But first one has to admit error. And...like an alcoholic who refuses to believe he has any problems and blames everything including his failure and problems on the rest of the world...or, worse, proclaims he is totally successful and has no problems... if one does not admit there are problems and that one is so far unsuccessful, one does not have the reason or the will to take a hard look at correcting the problems.

The Objectivist movement has enormous potential. A genius founder, brilliant writer, inspiring ideas. And most important - the truth, the philosophy of the future.

But even the best of ideas cannot succeed if they are not spread properly. Or if the people who want to spread and apply them serve as poor or repulsive role models. Or don't understand a difficult and tricky system of ideas. Or if they are unwilling to work together and build a community that is appealing and provides a first customer base and source of energy, troops, activists, customers, new ideas, new thinkers.

,,,,,

NOTE: The contributor-supported non-profits have an interest in 'hyping' their own work in glossy newsletters. But the proof of stagnation in the growth of the movement or its impact on non-Objectivists comes from comparing those breathless claims of progress or major projects with the lack of any real breakthroughs when one reads the same reports from five or ten or fifteen years ago. What is needed is to correct the past mistakes before future or present projects will have any but the tiniest impact on converting people to Objectivism. Or even finding it interesting. Or even being aware of its nature. Or its existence.

NOTE2: The increase in readership of the novels is not identical to an increase in the number of Objectivists emerging after having read the novels.


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This sounds like very good

PhilipC's picture

This sounds like very good news, whatever her viewpoint ends up being!

I was just googling her and she seems to be important and influential, being reviewed in the TLS, appearing in important journals, etc.

Also, I know virtually nothing about current schools of academic philosophy, but (feel free to correct me if I'm wrong) from descriptions I've seen, Virtue Ethics sounds like among the more healthy and promising and non-skeptical schools. And she is prominent in that movement.

Just the fact that someone respected thinks it worthwhile to discuss Objectivism, compare it to Nietzsche or whatever I would imagine could give it a foothold in the philosophical conversation, ne c'est pas?

new factoids

Mike_M's picture

This year will be the first (first ever) that there will be two meetings of the Ayn Rand Society. First is in December, in Baltimore. The second is in March, in Pasadena. Sad for me, I can't go to Cali to see the second. Apparently, Christine Swanton (big time virtue ethicist who commented at last years ARS meeting) was so interested in Objectivism that she continued her Rand research and will be giving the main event, talking about the relationship between Rand and Nietzsche. Huzzah!

I also want to say that

PhilipC's picture

I also want to say that philosophy profs being more in demand as the old fogies retire and thus the possibility that more of the 100 will 'run the gauntlet' [[ 1) get a Phd, 2) get a professorial position, 3) get tenure, 4) be convincing and persuasive to philosophically minded audiences and convert them ]] is the single most positive thing I've heard in a long while.

And getting at least a mini-hearing or minor acceptance of a single out-in-the-open student in Oxford and Cambridge are new (we'll see if that's the case at Harvard, Yale, or Stanford).
"had there not been schisms, splits, accusations that anyone who speaks to a libertarian group should be ostracized, and the like, it's more likely that the next step...and OAC rigorous training program would have taken place years sooner....and could have managed to produce more than a hundred grads per year out of those 20K." [me, previously]

But the point of my forty years history is that momentum has always stalled and dissolved in splits and burn out and demoralization...and failure to stay the course intellectually in past decades.

Boaz and Mike and Jim have argued that we have a new momentum now. Okay. I am not saying that things may not be more sustainable this time.

Just that movement history provides grounds for suspecting that there will be new rounds of massive internal warfare.

Oh, Yeah

James S. Valliant's picture

You do remind us, Phil, that Objectivism has had to contend with some very ugly smears over the last forty years. The philosophy has not only been repeatedly misrepresented, but Rand and her associates have been subjected to what can only be described as vicious calumnies.

Phil

James S. Valliant's picture

What happened to the rest of what you and I were talking about, Phil?

Okay, since ~ you ~ brought up the subject of the Brandens, have you read PARC, yet?

And, as I said earlier, since everyone involved kept on doing pretty much what they had been doing, what harm did the schisms do -- and how did they do it? I'm not saying they didn't cause any harm, I just don't see how they did yet. The list was no guidance.

Your list is not honest. It

Thomas Lee's picture

Your list is not honest. It leaves off the types of people who *have* been expelled from the movement, and replaces it with categories of people who have not necessarily been kicked out. Why? In order to smear Objectivists, i.e., in order to pretend that ARI and its supporters advocate not dealing with anyone who is not an Objectivist.

1. Anyone who speaks to or debates with a broadly libertarian group (what about various conservative groups?)

No one was kicked out of the movement for speaking before a libertarian group. If you are referring to David Kelley, you will recall that he was expelled from the movement for the ideas he endorsed in defense of his speaking in front of a libertarian group.

Certainly, one who sanctions libertarianism, assuming he understands Objectivism enough to grasp why libertarianism is anti-liberty, should be run out of the movement, for the same reason that an Objectivist who sanctions communism should be kicked out. Such a person is hostile to the philosophy.

2. Those who believe any of the negative statements about Ayn Rand's personal life

And just who has been kicked out of the movement for believing any negative statements about Ayn Rand's personal life?

Certainly, anyone who smears Ayn Rand based on the provably false and arbitrary claims of her enemies should be kicked out of the movement. Such a person is dishonest and is attacking an important value.

3. Those who did not have the facts behind, had not studied, did not grasp that you conclude certain individuals were at fault or should be shunned (Nathaniel Branden, Barbara Branden, whoever)

Again, who the hell are you talking about? Who has been kicked out of the movement because he failed to denounce the Brandens sans evidence?

4. Anyone who accepts the Metaphysics + Epistemology + Ethics + Politics of Objectivism, but is stil learning or is confused about application issues from the philosophy of law - to what an 'open' or 'closed' system means - to how to evaluate a particular individual or movement as 'evil' - to when an academic socialist or marxist or Platonist or conservative or religious person or anyone else is "evading" (as opposed to mistaken, careless, rationalistic, compartmentalized . . . or dense)

Who has been kicked out for the above reasons? What split or purge do you have in mind? (Refusing to let people participate in a private email list or the OAC is not the same as an excommunication or a purge, by the way.)

5. Anyone who is wrestling with these issues and makes major misstatements in the above areas

Name names.

6. Anyone who deals with people in the above five categories

Ditto.

This is all a dodge, an attempt to evade the issue I raised: would the movement be better off with the Brandens, with David Kelley, with libertarians, and sundry enemies of Objectivism? I say absolutely not. As only one tiny bit of evidence: observe the state of TAS today.

Quality Control through Expulsions, Denunciations, and Shunning

PhilipC's picture

> if we had sacrificed the integrity of Objectivism [re schisms and splits and purges]

Which of these are your idea of sacrificing the integrity of the philosophy?

Failing to purge, split with, expel or ostracize:

1. Anyone who speaks to or debates with a broadly libertarian group (what about various conservative groups?)
2. Those who believe any of the negative statements about Ayn Rand's personal life
3. Those who did not have the facts behind, had not studied, did not grasp that you conclude certain individuals were at fault or should be shunned (Nathaniel Branden, Barbara Branden, whoever)
4. Anyone who accepts the Metaphysics + Epistemology + Ethics + Politics of Objectivism, but is stil learning or is confused about application issues from the philosophy of law - to what an 'open' or 'closed' system means - to how to evaluate a particular individual or movement as 'evil' - to when an academic socialist or marxist or Platonist or conservative or religious person or anyone else is "evading" (as opposed to mistaken, careless, rationalistic, compartmentalized . . . or dense)
5. Anyone who is wrestling with these issues and makes major misstatements in the above areas
6. Anyone who deals with people in the above five categories

And which of the above six do you think is the logical and moral equivalent of adding Religion to Objectivism?

But had there not been

Thomas Lee's picture

But had there not been schisms, splits, accusations that anyone who speaks to a libertarian group should be ostracized, and the like, its more likely that the next step...and OAC rigorous training program would have taken place years sooner....and could have managed to produce more than a hundred grads per year out of those 20K.

In other words, if we had sacrificed the integrity of Objectivism, Objectivism would be winning. Reminds me of the story of the man who offered Ayn Rand a million dollars to spread her ideas...if only she added a religious element.

Phil

James S. Valliant's picture

No, Phil, that's OUR point -- there's been no "decline," at all. The "attrition" has nicely removed those who were not SSOs, such that the ~ falsely exaggerated ~ numbers of the past are much less likely to be found in an organization like ARI.

The evidence cited is not merely "anecdotal," although it doesn't come with numbers. For example, the overlapping relationship between TO people and early 'Reason' people is just a well known and previously well discussed fact.

Your original comparison was highly misleading.

(I'm starting to sound like Cato the Elder, ending every speech with a demand for the destruction of Carthage, but, until it sinks...)

Finally, I see no reason to think that something like OAC would have happened sooner, or would have produced greater numbers, without the schisms, as you assert. The quality of the work done at OAC simply would not have been helped in any way by interacting with those aforementioned "quasi-Objectivists" (many of whom ignorantly ridicule ARI scholars, anyway.)

And...

James S. Valliant's picture

And then there's the "negative" side of NBI. To the extent that any of those TO subscribers were the cape-wearing-cigarette-holder-wielding variety of Randroid, that number does not reflect SSOs, either. And to the extent that this phenomenon is much less common -- hooray!

> I've met so very many

PhilipC's picture

> I've met so very many ex-subscribers to 'The Objectivist' who could hardly be called SSOs

You're making my point!

There has been an attrition and a decline. I agree that the systematic courses of an OAC are better than just sitting in lecture series or reading articles. And I would suspect that its graduates are better prepared, more knowledgeable than -most- of those who merely did the former and moved no further.

But had there not been schisms, splits, accusations that anyone who speaks to a libertarian group should be ostracized, and the like, its more likely that the next step...and OAC rigorous training program would have taken place years sooner....and could have managed to produce more than a hundred grads per year out of those 20K.

Remember ...I keep pointing out...that 20K is a HUGE number,and don't belittle that only on anedcotal evidence.

Jim:As has already been

Mike_M's picture

Jim:
As has already been pointed out, Peikoff's lectures are SOLD now -- recycled freely among many, as I know from personal experience -- making the NBI numbers impossible to fairly compare with ~ anything ~ today. (Not to mention the fact that Peikoff's lectures are different from the NBI stuff in kind.)

They are also available for campus clubs to play before a group. For free. Most clubs take advantage of this.

This is blatantly false. And

Mike_M's picture

This is blatantly false. And you both SHOULD BE ASHAMED FOR REPEATING IT -->

"Mike, the 20,000 came from the end of year reports done every year in The Objectivist. The 4000 and 1000 from ARI and TOC's own reports of its member/support numbers".

I don't recall if this was in Impact or in a fund-raising letter. But if you doubt it, stop complaining that i didn't provide footnotes.

I'm not writing a scholarly paper...and I don't intend to PROVE TO YOU things which are well-known. It was either in IMPACT or in fund-raising letters within the last few years.

"and I don't intend to PROVE TO YOU things which are well-known."

The decline you assert is not well-known, hence the frustration. It is not well known to me, or Jim, or Boaz, or anyone else who has posted on this thread. You've failed to make a case that Objectivism is in decline, other than cite some unverified "fact."

I've given numerous reasons to think that there are far more serious and sucessful Objectivists out there and you just sneared. There's an open Objectivist at Oxford? So what he's not convincing anyone. There is a steady stream of students entering top Phd programs? Who cares they will burn out. (As if you know anything about their level of motivation).

(b) There is a high attrition rate between the tiny one hundred who graduate from an OAC and those who go thru all the academic hurdles, or even remain intellectually engaged and affect the culture. Also, one or two books published by a major academic house or one or two people at a major school aren't necessarily going to turn around the culture.
(c) The academic route is not the only route to change a culture. Nor can it stand alone.

(a) So says you. Just because you burnt out doesn't mean other people will. If you've done some survey of current OAC students to find their level of motivation, please share.
(b) Duh. Which is why I gave you numerous examples of successfuly Objectivists outside of academia.

Phil

James S. Valliant's picture

No, Phil, you still don't get it.

What the posters have demonstrated is precisely that these numbers are NOT "the best way to measure SSOs," or even close -- and that the numbers from the 1960s do not even bear any necessary relation to the number of SSOs at all. Repeating the opposite will not overcome the stated objections to it which you have simply not addressed. We all understand about statistical samples in the abstract -- we reject the entire comparison.

"The people who spend the sums needed to attend lecture series (or subscribe to a dense, technical, pamphlet form) magazine are not 'libertarians' as James says but likely to be heavily SSO's, seriously interested in Objectivism. So that 20K is indeed a good measure."

The 20K number is NOT the NBI number, Phil, and a huge number of 1970s Rand-denounced Libertarians were indeed previously TO subscribers -- already showing the merely partial nature of what was really "sinking." There is simply no reason to not believe that many of these were just excited college students of a certain political orientation inspired by Rand. I've met so very many ex-subscribers to 'The Objectivist' who could hardly be called SSOs, I will require some demonstration of what you continue to simply take for granted.

As has already been pointed out, Peikoff's lectures are SOLD now -- recycled freely among many, as I know from personal experience -- making the NBI numbers impossible to fairly compare with ~ anything ~ today. (Not to mention the fact that Peikoff's lectures are different from the NBI stuff in kind.)

We not only have ALL the Objectivist publications to sum up for this comparison, but also all of the libertarian ones that did not exist in the 1960s. The founders, contributors ~ and early subscribers ~ to ALL of these had a very HIGH incidence-rate of having previously been TO subscribers. Yes, TO was about much more than politics, but the libertarians "peeled off" the subject of most interest to them. I would also observe that many of these libertarians WERE influenced by the other stuff, as well, to varying degrees -- and many must be classified as "quasi-Objectivists" or "post-Objectivists," as is "well-known."

Nope, your original comparison is nothing even remotely resembling a good metric of SSOs.

The original comparison was profoundly misleading.

> the education received

PhilipC's picture

> the education received through ARI is far more rigorous than anything NBI did, and that it has produced more seriously trained writers and academics...the caliber of OAC students and graduates is so much higher than NBI students [Mike]...the more fair comparison would be to add up subscriptions to 'Reason' and 'Liberty,' and other Libertarian outfits that did not even exist in the 1960s [Jim]..aren't more people reading Ayn Rand's works and taking them seriously? If so, then the proper measure for that is book sales...[Thomas Lee]

And this is the basic answer. I already gave it:

""Several people have misunderstood the point of my citing 20,000 SSO's (Serious Students of Objectivism) forty years ago vs. around 5,000 now in my original post. It was not to claim that -all- of those people 'got it' or became Objectivists or became fully knowledgeable or fully trained. Or 'talented' or major intellects. But that, as any statistician could tell you, such numbers and their magnitude are a good 'leading indicator'. They don't capture every serious student of the ideas, but they give an order of magnitude because sso's are likely to be in those numbers or to be proportional to those numbers - whether double or less than double those numbers or more than double, is not the points here."

I thought I already made this point, but once again - here it is condensed into four propositions ALL of which I already pointed out at some length..so it's simply stupidity to claim I never responded:

1. The numbers are objective and are the best way to measure SSO's, for the reasons I gave.
2. The best measure of our movement is *Serious* students of Objectivism. Not just, on the one hand, novel enthusiasts (only a tiny percentage of whom understand the ideas or pursue them).
3. And not just, on the other hand, those who are academically, rigorously trained. For at least two reasons:
(a) You still need footsoldiers, letter writers, translators, appliers, journalists, an audience and customer base for your intellectual products [this is the only point that I may not have spelled out above...I assumed it was obvious.]
(b) There is a high attrition rate between the tiny one hundred who graduate from an OAC and those who go thru all the academic hurdles, or even remain intellectually engaged and affect the culture. Also, one or two books published by a major academic house or one or two people at a major school aren't necessarily going to turn around the culture.
(c) The academic route is not the only route to change a culture. Nor can it stand alone.
4. The people who spend the sums needed to attend lecture series (or subscribe to a dense, technical, pamphlet form) magazine are not 'libertarians' as James says but likely to be heavily SSO's, seriously interested in Objectivism. So that 20K is indeed a good measure.

As far as their being more sources for Objectivism today, so I was not comparing apples to apples?

If you want to compare apples to apples and you can tell me that there are more than . . . or even on the order of magnitude of !!! . . . 20K unique individuals today subscribing to a -combination- of Oist publications -- The Intellectual Activist + The Objective Standard + The New Individualist and any others you would name ....

Well, let's hear it.

Looking For A Nit to Pick

PhilipC's picture

Once again (all quotes are from me on this very thread):

Mike said and you've repeated: "You've asserted 5000, provided no proof of this number, and then acted as if such a number were self-evident"

This is blatantly false. And you both SHOULD BE ASHAMED FOR REPEATING IT -->

"Mike, the 20,000 came from the end of year reports done every year in The Objectivist. The 4000 and 1000 from ARI and TOC's own reports of its member/support numbers".

I don't recall if this was in Impact or in a fund-raising letter. But if you doubt it, stop complaining that i didn't provide footnotes.

I'm not writing a scholarly paper...and I don't intend to PROVE TO YOU things which are well-known. It was either in IMPACT or in fund-raising letters within the last few years.

And please don't raise the red herring that it has risen slightly since I read it.

.....

JAMES AND MIKE AND BOAZ YOU NEED TO STOP PICKING NITS IN THE SEARCH FOR ANY FAULT YOU CAN FIND NO MAATER HOW MINOR.

THAT"S NOT FAIR DEBATE.

Phil

James S. Valliant's picture

"GUESS?" It's just the central "comparison" of your piece -- and it is the comparison most other posters have taken issue with! You write above:

"Forty years ago, Objectivism 'the philosophy' (not merely casual readership of the novels) was growing rapidly under the aegis of the NBI courses and the Objectivist magazine, which together were training Objectivists by the tens of thousands...

"Fast forward forty years (from the late sixties) and there are no longer tens of thousands of Objectivists emerging from courses and training in the ideas as there were when NBI produced them nationwide and even overseas."

And,

"Slow regaining [momentum] in the '80s of beginnings of some movement momentum. This was tiny compared to NBI...hundreds rather than thousands..."

And in one of the earliest posts on this thread, you wrote:

"The numbers -- as they have changed across four decades -- are on the order (rough approximation) of 5,000 people and (approximately) on the order of 20,000 people.

"If hard core Objectivists had been on the order of 5,000 subscribers to a hard-core publication like the Objectivist and had grown to 20,000 who are subscribers/members/involved with the two groups, ARI + TOC, today that might show good growth across decades as more and more people who had read the books accumulated and as they converted or gathered more people. It would be a fourfold increase, but still *incredibly tiny* in a nation of 300 million (and in a world population of billions)."

Now, several posters could see on the face of it how misleading such a comparison was.

It was observed by Mike M. and others that the education received through ARI is far more rigorous than anything NBI did, and that it has produced many more seriously trained writers and academics than NBI ever did. Mike wrote:

"NBI lectures were just lectures, not classes. NBI and current ARI educational programs are two different animals. ARI classes, going back now into the early 1990s, are seminars or classes. There is a small number of students (small compared to lectures) and there is individual feedback from professors. NBI lectures and ARI classes just aren't the same. This is probably why the caliber of OAC students and graduates is so much higher than NBI students."

And, as I observed, this was a case of "apples and oranges," and i said:

"I've met a bunch of NBI types who subscribed to 'The Objectivist' and who -- as it turned out -- were 'more libertarians than Objectivists, as [Phil] put it. This is no longer the case with ARI -- those libertarian folks have other homes now." And, later, "But, in fairness to the older generation, 'Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology' wasn't even available until 1966-67, and Peikoff's later courses also gave us important new material, such as in 'Understanding Objectivism' -- and this was only presented in 1983, after Rand's death."

So, the more fair comparison would be to add up subscriptions to 'Reason' and 'Liberty,' and other Libertarian outfits that did not even exist in the 1960s, for a real measure of growth. It was noted that interest in one aspect of Rand's philosophy, like politics, cannot qualify as "serious" interest in the whole philosophy -- and that, in those days, NBI was practically the only "home" for ~ all ~ libertarians.

The closest thing to a reply you have yet to give reads like this:

"Several people have misunderstood the point of my citing 20,000 SSO's (Serious Students of Objectivism) forty years ago vs. around 5,000 now in my original post. It was not to claim that -all- of those people 'got it' or became Objectivists or became fully knowledgeable or fully trained. Or 'talented' or major intellects. But that, as any statistician could tell you, such numbers and their magnitude are a good 'leading indicator'. They don't capture every serious student of the ideas, but they give an order of magnitude because sso's are likely to be in those numbers or to be proportional to those numbers - whether double or less than double those numbers or more than double, is not the points here."

The natural and obvious response was quick to come. Mike M. wrote:

"Assuming your 5000 number is correct (you still haven't told us where you got it from or what it measures), so what if the number is smaller? This 5000 is more healthy than your 20,000."

And Thomas Lee:

"Wait a moment. Isn't the question: aren't more people reading Ayn Rand's works and taking them seriously? If so, then the proper measure for that is book sales..."

After you admitted to going off an a "tangent," Mike posted this:

"You claim that the NBI split damaged Objectivism. In 1966 TO subscriptions were 21,000. In 1967 they were 17,500. In 1968 (post break) they were 18,300. 1969: 16,161. 1970: 16,195."

Boaz chimed in with this:

"Your 20,000 vs. 5,000 comparison is irrelevant. These numbers have nothing to do with each other. The 20,000 subscribers had no other access to Objectivism (except NBI), period. If donating to ARI was necessary to be plugged into Objectivism (the ideas and the movement) you'd get a different result than you have now."

Mike, still not getting a response, wrote:

"How many Objectivists are there currently? You've asserted 5000, provided no proof of this number, and then acted as if such a number were self-evident.

"How influential were/are Objectivists? You've given us no reason to think Objectivists were influential at all during the 60s. Yet you are almost entirely ignorant of the activities of the current movement.

"In addition, you made a silly claim about the interest in philosophy among college students. Did you just make that up? It looks like you don't know anything about the interest in any philosophy. You admit to being at least a decade out of the loop on this topic.

"All you've offered is a string of assertions, backed up by only your say so. Then, when everyone calls you on this, and asks for facts to back of your evaluations (like the exact source of the 4000 number, which I'm still waiting for btw), you change the subject and demand that everyone answer your quiz. You can't be serious."

You still haven't responded.

So, "what comparison?" What everyone else has been talking about but you -- the reason why these posters see no evidence of "decline."

Clear now?

> the comparisons you drew

PhilipC's picture

> the comparisons you drew were misleading.

In what way? Am I supposed to guess and then respond?

Phil

James S. Valliant's picture

I can't tell, Phil, do you want a response from me?

There remains zero evidence of "decline," and the comparisons you drew were misleading.

Start there.

objectivism declined?

Leonid's picture

Leonid
Who can spread Objectvist ideas better than Ayn Rand herself? Last year ARI has distributed 800000 copies of Ayn Rand books. If only 10% of the readers will become Objectivists than go and figure what would be annual growth (you are good in numbers). If you realy want to spread Objectivism go and give "Anthem" as a present to every 15 year old you know.

Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is, Jim!!

PhilipC's picture

I forgot to include this in the last post: If Jim Valliant wants to claim that in all of the words of my five different posts I DIDN'T RESPOND AT ALL, here is a little test for him:

Choose one single point.

Name ONE CENTRAL POINT IN THE DEBATE, the most glaring and necessary to answer and important single one that I didn't respond to in any way in any post.

[ One catch though to keep him on the up and up: don't just provide a link to everything someone said or an entire thread and expect me to hunt through or guess which aspect he is referring to. ]

Just revolting, Phil!

Lindsay Perigo's picture

You do the same thing with regard to RoR. Reacting with moral outrage that anyone visits it and you similarl abuse the Sanction Principle in a Peter Schwartz-like way.
And on that selective basis you presume to tell everyone they shouldn't even visit it or participate. That's essentially the same as this: "loyalty oaths, heresy-hunting and all the rest." When you get angry or outraged enough that someone has personally attacked you, you insist that everyone should pronounce an inverse loyalty oath...one not to visit the sites of your tormentors.

Yes, I react with outrage when folk sanction Namblaphiles, liars, frordsters and their ilk, who occasion not a whit of indignation from you, Phil. But here's the difference—I do not make non-participation on those sites a precondition for participating here, or excommunicate folk for participating there, or even concern myself with who does post there. It is not "loyalty oaths, heresy-hunting and all the rest." It is me expressing my view and allowing others to express theirs (without a pretence of moral equivalence). Even you, Phyllis. Not that I expect a jot of credit or gratitude for that from an amoral parade-pisser like you.

Linz

> re-posting stuff that

PhilipC's picture

> re-posting stuff that wasn't anything like a response in the first place [jim]

Any fool who reads the above five posts with any care can see it was a response. I have to assume you've now had time to do so.

End of discussion with you.

> When I myself visited the O-Lying sewer in the wake of the Parille thread, I saw lots of vitriol like that, but no sermon from you about it. [Linz]

Once again, I've criticized ad hominems and insults ON THAT SITE even if I didn't repeat it on every thread. Why do you jump to calling me a hypocrite and assume I never said somethiing unless you have read -all or a plurality- of the posts I've made over the years?

Any fool could guess that the reason I respond heatedly on this board is because I am either directly involved in a particular debate (and so can't miss the mistake) or because I personally am being insulted.

Linz, this ain't rocket science.

> That place is beyond disgusting; that it calls itself "Objectivist" anything is beyond disgraceful. You, Phil, sanction it. [Linz]

You smear an entire site based on a few threads or posters. There's lots of excellent work done by Roger Bissell, JIm Heaps-Nelson, Ed Hudgins, Elllen Stuttle, Jerry Biggers, myself and many others on lots of issues that don't involve Linz or Jim Peron or the Brandens.

You do the same thing with regard to RoR. Reacting with moral outrage that anyone visits it and you similarl abuse the Sanction Principle in a Peter Schwartz-like way.

And on that selective basis you presume to tell everyone they shouldn't even visit it or participate. That's essentially the same as this: "loyalty oaths, heresy-hunting and all the rest." When you get angry or outraged enough that someone has personally attacked you, you insist that everyone should pronounce an inverse loyalty oath...one not to visit the sites of your tormentors.

James

Lindsay Perigo's picture

For the record, I do believe that there was an unhealthy aspect to Objectivist culture in the 1960s, as readers of PARC can probably see. But my own observations, for whatever they're worth, suggest to me that things have gotten progressively better.

Thanks for clarifying. But I'm talking about the 80 and 90s! Yes, I agree, things have gotten better, while IOS has decomposed into mush and worse. My concern is there's been no acknowledgement that things were ever ... shall we say, unfortunate and suboptimal? ... and the perps are still around influencing things. The present ARI team seem to project benevolence and openness, without sacrificing KASS, but I remain fearful that the Unholy Trinity will leer up again and slam the shutters down. That was always a disaster and would be again.

Linz

Linz

James S. Valliant's picture

For the record, I do believe that there was an unhealthy aspect to Objectivist culture in the 1960s, as readers of PARC can probably see. But my own observations, for whatever they're worth, suggest to me that things have gotten progressively better.

Phyllis

Lindsay Perigo's picture

I'm not interested in debating the state of Objectivism with you because you're part of the problem. On its own your tedious sermonising is unappetising—when that sermonising is rankly hypocritical to boot it becomes disgusting. In a post on the Parille thread to which James linked earlier, he, James, said, citing O-Lying:

"ENGEL: ... I long for the day that they pick [Perigo's] bones off the NZ shoreline, what is left of them after the fish get done." Any problem with this, Phil?

When I myself visited the O-Lying sewer in the wake of the Parille thread, I saw lots of vitriol like that, but no sermon from you about it. I also saw the host batting for the repulsive Namblaphile Peron. That place is beyond disgusting; that it calls itself "Objectivist" anything is beyond disgraceful. You, Phil, sanction it. That makes you a disgrace in my eyes. With "friends" like you, MSK, Barbara Branden and her Namblaphile groupie, what philosophy would not go into decline?!

I've made plain that, unlike James, I believe there was a problem with the Objectivist culture—the repressive, oxygen-starved culture of loyalty oaths, heresy-hunting and all the rest. Unlike James I believe there was such a problem and Peikoff, along with Schwartz and Binswanger, was substantially responsible for it. Unlike James I believe the rebellion that culminated in the founding of IOS/ TOC/ TAS was entirely justified. But the rebellion fizzled out and became KASSless, and beholden to unsavoury characters such as the afore-mentioned.

Now, whether there are more or fewer Objectivists now than 40 years ago is not my primary concern; it's to do my bit in ensuring there are more in future. Sanctioning skunks is certainly not going to help.

Linz

Phil

James S. Valliant's picture

Your assertion that you cannot get involved in "every debate" is another sidestep -- the discussion cited on the thread I linked to was one in which you were already very much involved.

Also, re-posting stuff that wasn't anything like a response in the first place is still not a response. PUTTING IT IN CAPS won't do it, either.

You have yet to address the obviously and extremely misleading nature of your original comparison or the facts which refuted it. It's not that yours isn't a "good response" -- it's still no response. There appears to be no evidence whatever to support your contention of any "decline" in Objectivism.

There has been no "error" here but the one in your original post that needs "admitting," sir.

Decline of Objectivism

Leonid's picture

Leonid
Phill,in the world of ideas the quality,not the quantity is important. It's took only one man, Emmanuel Kant,to create the world of secular altruism and another man Karl Marx to bring 2 billion people under communism(Should I also mention J.N Christ with his only 12 apostols?)

Watch What Happens Next!!!

PhilipC's picture

NOW WATCH JIM, BOAZ, LINZ WHO SAID I NEVER SUBSTANTIALLY RESPONDED . . .

(i) FAIL TO ADMIT THAT -NEVER- or -NOT SUBSTANTIAL- WAS ERRONEOUS

or

(ii) DROP THIS CLAIM WITH NO ADMISSION OF ERROR AND -INSTEAD- ATTACK ME ON -SOMETHING ELSE-

or

(iii) SAY "WELL, HIS RESPONSES WEREN'T -GOOD- ONES". . .

. . . (LET'S TALK ABOUT THAT NOW INSTEAD OF -HONORABLY- ADMITTING ERROR AND WITHDRAWING OUR ORIGINAL CLAIM).

SILENT & "AFRAID TO DEBATE PHIL" -- REPLIED IN >5 POSTS

PhilipC's picture

FIVE SUBSTANTIAL DEBATING POSTS JIM-BOAZ- LINZ CLAIM DON'T EXIST ==>

(note: I left out several shorter posts I also made..these are the five longest)

---POST #1 -- 6/3 17:18 (my time) / Subject: "Numbers, Numbers, Numbers"---

> I think it should be pretty easy to determine the growth or decline of the movement. We could simply compare the number of subscribers to The Objectivist with the members/subscribers for ARI and TAS combined and we would get a pretty accurate estimate. I don't know what those numbers are.[Jim HN]
Jim, as usual for someone with the mind of an engineer, you cut to the heart of the issue, realizing that one has to quantify all this vague speculation. It's all about the -actual numbers- of people. And the telling number you refer to is the number of those *seriously* convinced of or involved in the philosophy. Not the shallow or 'Hollywood' type dilettantes or those who browse a website or who are more libertarians than Objectivists.
The numbers -- as they have changed across four decades -- are on the order (rough approximation) of 5,000 people and (approximately) on the order of 20,000 people.
If hard core Objectivists had been on the order of 5,000 subscribers to a hard-core publication like the Objectivist and had grown to 20,000 who are subscribers/members/involved with the two groups, ARI + TOC, today that might show good growth across decades as more and more people who had read the books accumulated and as they converted or gathered more people. It would be a fourfold increase, but still *incredibly tiny* in a nation of 300 million (and in a world population of billions).
In such a long period as four decades and with a philosophy of reason and with a great novelist, we would have hoped for a *hard core* movement of at least one or two hundred thousand, still less than a tiny fraction of one percent of population.
Unfortunately the numbers are THE REVERSE.
The number of subscribers was circa 20,000 [and more..it had been steadily AND RAPIDLY rising!] when the movement blew up in '68. And the number of members/subscribers is now circa 5,000 (something like a bit over 4000 for ARI, last time I checked, and perhaps less than 1000 for TOC).
Those numbers are not the only numbers but any great increase in other numbers, such as those mildly interested, or mouthing some out of context Oist ideas would surely have caused an -increase- in the hardcore number...which is ultimately the people who are going to understand, spread, be completely dedicated to the ideas. Not a decrease by a factor of four.
Note: My original post explains this shocking result .... that the hard core Objectivist movement and community has been **shrinking**. But anyone who has been around the movement for two or three decades knows this himself.

---POST #2 -- 6/11 13:25 (my time) / Subject: "Something Deeper Than This Thread"---

> Phil...what's the basis for your claim that there were thousands of these highly educated, "trained," talented (motivated?) young objectivists among these 20,000 NBI supporters in the 60's? I'm not particularly impressed by *high numbers* of people taking courses with NB et al (during this purported golden age of Objectivism), listening to tapes, etc...The majority of older Objectivists I've met, obviously excepting the intellectuals, are more practiced in regurgitating bromides... [Boaz, 6/06]
I believe subscribers to The Objectivist is where the 20,000 came from, not NBI students.
Several people have misunderstood the point of my citing 20,000 SSO's (Serious Students of Objectivism) forty years ago vs. around 5,000 now in my original post. It was not to claim that -all- of those people "got it" or became Objectivists or became fully knowledgeable or fully trained. Or "talented" or major intellects. But that, as any statistician could tell you, such numbers and their magnitude are a good "leading indicator". They don't capture every serious student of the ideas, but they give an order of magnitude because sso's are likely to be in those numbers or to be proportional to those numbers - whether double or less than double those numbers or more than double, is not the points here.
Sampling: If you are an ornithologist and go out and tour around and thoroughly sample the countryside in the spring and you count eight hundred red-breasted robins in an eight-hour period. And then you go out similarly in the fall and count two hundred red-breasted robins, you may not know whether you have counted 100% or only 5% of the total population. Despite your best effort, many of them could be hiding or in other parts of the county. But you are entitled to strongly suspect that there are an order of magnitude fewer robins in the fall in this area. To a scientist, this is a striking bit of data which is not to be brushed aside but requires explanation.
From a significantly larger numerical base more people who have an impact or are simply heard of in college classrooms or in the media emerge and there are more candidates from whom the exceptional few can emerge (and that was the point of my reference to Anderson, Greenspan, the Reagan-Thatcher era compared to today.) From a smaller (or less hard core) base fewer people proportionally will choose to become intellectuals or activists. Or will understand the philosophy.
--New Topic--
But I now think there is a deeper issue, one which should be fully understood prior to debating the two types of threads I've started on one or more boards recently: I. The current status or size or direction of growth or shrinkage of the Objectivist movement, II. The need for systematic training and educating of Objectivists, and how to do it.
This issue has to do with something often overlooked about the -nature- of Objectivism and I'd like to start a thread on this soon. My contention is that the deepest facts about Objectivism that affect I and II and all the problems we have in growing our movement, educating and developing Objectivists, changing the world, and avoiding internal acrimony has to do with THREE FACTS ABOUT OBJECTIVISM.
Can anyone guess what they might be? You will be graded on this
"Objectivism is _____, ______, and _____."

---POST #3 -- 6/11 16:24 (my time)---

Mike, I already posted to you where the numbers come from on June 3rd in this thread: "Mike, the 20,000 came from the end of year reports done every year in The Objectivist. The 4000 and 1000 from ARI and TOC's own reports of its member/support numbers." The magazine has a little notice once a year in very small print of its circulation which I think is required by law since every periodical also does this once a year.
I would view both the NBI numbers and the Objectivist numbers as indications of a serious student of Objectivism. You don't fork out money for this unless you are interested -and- people did these things after they had read all the novels. And wanted more.
There is little reason to suspect that everyone who attended NBI is a cultist. All those tens of thousands of people in all sorts of cities and towns. Nor does 'everyone' say that cultism was practiced outside of with regard to a tiny group of insiders in NYC. They are spread throughout the country listening on tape, not in NYC being browbeaten or drummed into show trials by NB.
Note also that my post and my supplementary post refers to the subscribers to The Objectivist. You keep fixating on NBI as your foil as though my original post was all about them and as if OAC were superior in every respect to NBI courses (or Peikoff courses?)...even though I would be surprised if you had actually listened to all those courses. Or even the BPO course. What about BB's Principles of Efficient Thinking? What about Mary Ann Sures? Etc. Etc.
Don't let your loyalty to OAC blind you to the possibility that there are others, older than you, educated in Objectivism before you, who understand the philosophy and are committed to it.
I would expect OAC to be excellent. And systematic is better than non-systematic. And being able to interact with professors, be quizzed, have assignments, etc. is best of all. But the problem is that the OAC is *even smaller numbers* than the 5000, let alone the tens of thousands taking NBI courses.
I think they should be educating -everybody- the way NBI did. Not just a microscopic elite most of who will hopefully!! stay the course and change the culture. If they can get the culture to listen to them. (That's a significant if...and is directly related to the subject of my 'quiz' above).
You or someone else mentioned that a dozen? students last year were accepted into Ph.D, programs. I'm sure that is a big improvement over abysmally low numbers in the past. But here's the problem: Just like there is a high attrition rate among those who read the novels to those who enter the essay contests to those who read the nonfiction to those who are active in a campus club to those who enter the OAC, likewise there has always been a high attrition among those who -think- they want to get a Ph.D. in philosophy to those who last through the program and grit their teeth and put up with all the excruciating bullshit and manage to get past the dissertation committee and are given a Ph.D. to...highest series of hurdles of all...those who are accepted as Assistant Professors...to those given tenure (Associate Professor).
More important, while business schools and computer and economics degrees are booming, philosophy departments are having difficulty filling their classrooms which means fewer slots for new professors.
Plus, if you get to be a tenured professor at Slippery Rock State College, are you going to have your writings as eagerly digested by non-Objectivists, by professionals in philosophy as are, just to take one example, the works of Peter Singer, the "cutting edge in ethics" Animal Rights leading thinker at Princeton. Tara Smith has gotten published because she is at a major program in philosophy, Texas, one of the top ten. Great. But who is reading her? Is her defense of the Objectivist ethics making waves in philosophy circles? Has she been asked to keynote at Harvard? Will her book have influence? Change minds?
If you plan to influence the world of ideas (outside of the traditional Objectivist tendency to over and over address other Oists) by graduating generations of students favorable to the philosophy, you have to bear in mind that the best teacher in whose classroom I ever sat, Leonard Peikoff, was unable (as far as I could see in the classroom listening to waves of apathy or incomprehension) to get more than one or two students a year interested (other than those already Oists). And this was at Brooklyn Polytechnic, which was graduating engineering and technology and science-oriented people who are far more pro-reason than the average liberal arts undergraduate. You'd have to ask him if things were better at Denver.
If you get tenure at an Ivy League college (I can say what the classrooms are like having gone to school at one) or another of the top ten or twenty schools, you have a better chance of influencing minds because your classrooms have brighter or at least more intellectually energetic students (higher SATs, better high schools, etc.) Big difference from sitting in a classroom at Brooklyn Poly or Slippery Rock State. Professors aren't any brighter or more focused on the whole or have had a better high school education before getting there. But the students sure are.
But the problem is that Tara Smith seems to be a rarity in getting tenure at one of the top schools.
Yes, I realize that not every OAC grad is trying to become a philosophy professor. Thank god for that....
,,,,
...Sorry, I'm afraid I've gone off on a tangent discussing one of the many reasons I'm skeptical at whether Oists four decades old attempts to storm the philosophy departments will bear fruit. Other departments - psychology, history, literature - yes (for reasons too lengthy to post). But not philosophy. Too epistemologically corrupt (it's not even about ethics and politics...if it were they would be more receptive.)
My data on the last couple point is a decade old. If you have newer information, please post it.
I'll put away the kitchen knife and slide my wrists back into their sleeves until then.

---POST #4 -- 6/14 19:24 (my time)---

Mike, as a longtime Philly resident (including south Jersey), I'd be very interested to hear what you have in store; even more interested to see if there are indeed any other Objectivists in the area! (I know of Ashley, who's been MIA, but that's about it...ok, and Ed Snider.
Yeah, right, Objectivist movement is -so- successful...can only name 4 SSO's in the whole city.
Remember that a tiny handful of academics who no one listens to at present do not a successful movement make...even if all the negative things you guys say about NBI were true..

---POST #5 -- condensing two posts into one---

...And even if one or two make it to Oxford, but still haven't gotten the Ph.D., still haven't gottena teaching position, still haven't gotten tenure.. and ...oh, yes... still are not changing minds in academe.
Maybe those chickens will hatch and grow to be eagles.
But let's not count them yet...

...> You want a popular movement.
Not exactly what I said.

> Now, pray tell, how do you suggest we get more than a tiny number of academics? Or is getting more academics not the right idea? Why not and what's your alternative?

I've posted on this in the past on this and other boards. Have you read them?
But I'll probably have more to say on it later this month (or at least this summer) once I get some teaching and editing related stuff done....I may decide to post it on RoR and OL...since the tone there has been respectful and non-sarcastic. And more willing to deal with each of my ten points, rather than cherrypick or nitpick one issue like NBI (or use non-objective attack language like "whining", "bitching".)
.... Note: A thread should not try to deal with every issue and the purpose of this one was to assess the past . . . Once the Objectivist triumphalism has been punctured, then a fair-minded person can say: "Okay, we've made lots of mistakes. Not just one side, but everybody from NBI times to the Peikoff era to TOC to ARI. What can we do to improve our movement from here on in?"

Mr. Valliant - Are You Being Very Fair-Minded?

PhilipC's picture

Jim, your post is full of mistakes:

1. "You have silently stood by" The fact that I have criticized many things on both sides does not mean I feel a need to comment ON EVERY CONTROVERSY.

What part of that is unclear to you?

1B. If you are referring the the PAR-PARC issues, do you feel I need to jump in without having read the books? And when I am more interested in the ideas than in allegations about Ayn Rand's personal life....whether you agree or not. In other words, take a stand on everything (such as Branden vs. Valliant) even when one does not consider oneself well-informed.

Is that "honorable"?

2. "your own independence has been soooo well established" This is a sarcastic smear without a concrete...why don't you quote me? Is that responsible?

3. "you got me! Linz and I, for instance, never disagree" This is a (sarcastic) switching of subject. I didn't ask if you ever harshly or strongly criticized LINDSAY PERIGO. I asked if you ever harshly of strongly criticized THE AYN RAND INSTITUTE

4. "substantive responses to...your original post...you have basically ignored".

Actually I made FIVE posts in response. In addition to saying i would have more to say later. And would start ANOTHER THREAD. And in addition to having PREVIOUSLY addressed these issues on my threads such as on Objectivist training and education on SEVERAL BOARDS.

Does five posts + previously having answered the points on other threads + a promise to say more on another thread constitute "basically ignoring" something?

If that's your honest and honorable idea of a fair summation, when I finally get around to reading PARC, I will read it very cautiously . . .

By the way, lest anyone who doesn't have time to check for themselves buy the Boaz - Valliant - Perigo "line" that I have basically ignored answering any points posted --->

FOLLOWING ARE THE FIVE POSTS. JUDGE FOR YOURSELF WHETHER THAT CONSTITUTES SILENCE OR NEVER RESPONDING ===>

Mirror Needed

James S. Valliant's picture

Phil, you weren't belly-aching about mere "criticism" and disagreement, were you? I'm sure you've been "critical" of a variety of folks... And -- OF COURSE -- I have a "wing," while your own independence has been soooo well established.

And, as to me, well, you got me! Linz and I, for instance, never disagree -- we walk in cultish and mindless lock-step with one another. Haven't you noticed?

But, back to the real point: You have silently stood by as others (with whom you continue to politely chat) dished out far worse than you've taken here -- and with far less justification. This has been ~ empirically ~ demonstrated in recent posts on other threads. You missed or ignored my own previous mentions of this, I guess.

Among all the posts below, one will first find substantive responses to the most ~ "empirical" ~ assertions in your original post -- and you have basically ignored those altogether.

What was it you mentioned, "honor"?!

Do Research Before Making a Claim About Someone's Record

PhilipC's picture

> which never finds fault with its own "allies and buddies,"

Jim, are you just channeling Linz who after repeating this charge ten times everyone simply accepted?

Or have you been empirical and followed so many of the posts I've made over the years from Atlantis to Owl, to Solo, to OL, to Ror, to -this- board in which I've strongly criticized attitudes and trends and policies and mistakes from -both- movements...from TOC as well as ARI? [I just posted -yesterday- a long post criticizing TOC and David Kelley on the OL board...and that's ONLY ONE example.]

Can you quote from me some of YOUR posts or those of Boaz, Fred Weis, Mike M, etc. in which you've strongly criticized your own wing of the Objectivist movement? I'm not saying they don't exist, just that it I don't recall them as being very evident.

By the way, just on this thread alone, I don't recall any admission that ARI has been anything less than perfect in spreading Objectivism. Or any attempt to engage the very strong criticisms I made of their spreading Objectivism in my ten point post that launched this thread.

...
A final point, what makes you think I am an ally of TOC but not of ARI, or that I totally agree with the former and not the latter? As even a semi-frequent reading of my posts would show I am IN BETWEEN THE TWO...finding much fault with the attitudes and policies and interpretations of Objectivism of both camps and of both intellectual leaders, Peikoff and Kelley. (As well as things to agree with.)

Not To Pile On...

James S. Valliant's picture

... but about that "highly selective outrage" which never finds fault with its own "allies and buddies," hmmm, do tell us more, Phil.

I'm not defending the tone taken against you, but isn't that called "projection"?

Enough with the Lack of Fairness and Honorableness

PhilipC's picture

Landon, I don't mind a polite rebuttal or disagreement (if I'm wrong I'm willing to learn). I do mind insults, contemptuous putdowns, ad hominems, and willful misstatement of what I said.

It would be nice if you directed some of your highly selective outrage at *that*...at the cause, not merely the effect.

There seem to be a lot of people on this website you are tone deaf to that ... to insults, to unfairness, to misstatement. They never utter a peep about that, especially if it's done by their allies or buddies. But get all upset at the 'whining' or 'repetitious' complaint against it. Losing sight of the principle that it is never possible to state the truth too often.

Enough with the Wolfpack thing

Landon Erp's picture

It gets annoying any time your points get picked apart you start attacking the "wolfpack mentality" of the people picking them apart.

---Landon

Inking is sexy.

http://www.angelfire.com/comics/wickedlakes

WOLFPACK: Abandon Reason, Vent One's Spleen and Contempt

PhilipC's picture

Notice what Chris Cathcart does here (same as Linz does several posts ago):

He comes in from the outside, snarkily, to "take a shot". He makes a tiny POTI post (Piling On To Insult). He doesn't find any fault with the other side. Nor has he added to the discussion or the actual substance. Nor does he comment on the ten points I made.

This is a step BELOW what Boaz did in miscontruing the debate, misstating the debate because it is merely an attempt to say "I'm going to display contempt toward my enemies from previous debates".

It's sort of Hatfields and McCoys, vendetta-fighting, barroom brawling. It's a further lowering of the intellectual quality of a thread I started with a series of reasoned points - whether you agree or disagree.

This thread has completely fallen apart.

And it is because of the posts of Boaz, Linz, Chris, most recently. I only began to get angry the last few days and respond to the attacks when this had been done repeatedly. This is what Wolfpackism is - it's sort of a redneck piling on without a post having any substance: Instead of displaying in practice a philosophy of reason. Instead mindlessly degrading the level of discourse.

Ayn Rand would slap the face of each member of the anti-intellectual "Wolfpack".

New thread title proposed

Chris Cathcart's picture

New thread title: "143 posts of 'Watch Phil be a Tediously Sanctimonious Twat.'"

Irritating as fuck to sit through. No wonder Peikoff sighed whenever he got up to ask questions. This is soooooooo un-endearing, Phil.

> I ask that you refrain

PhilipC's picture

> I ask that you refrain from addressing me personally or participating in threads I initiate

Translation: If I say something wrong, no matter how important, how false or misleading, I expect you not to call me on it. Or to expose it in front of others.

Another (final) Addendum

Boaz the Boor's picture

Phil, there are any number of capable readers who would easily take the themes I and others dealt with as *dominant and pervasive* within your essay. Not to mention that it's possible (and all too commonplace) for careful, attentive, non-combative readers to disagree on what constitutes an essential or non-essential point in a given text. Either that's not something you understand or you choose to disregard it in almost every encounter I've seen to date, since fast and loose accusations of careless reading and intentional misinterpretation seem to be the SINE QUA NON of your interactions. You don't like me and I don't like you, but take that for what it's worth.

I agree with you about wasting time; since I don't see the point in engaging you in the future, I ask that you refrain from addressing me personally or participating in threads I initiate (I prefer not polluting them with your professorial bullying and quizzing). I will do the same. That will save us time and energy better spent elsewhere.

Feel free to have the last word.

WOLFPACK TACTIC: Dodging, then Pin the Blame on Opponent

PhilipC's picture

Boaz and Linz,

You have both ... and other member of the wolfpack... on many threads misstated and sidestepped the issues. I assume it is because you dudes have a laziness or a reading problem or a non-thoroughness problem. Or simply such resentment of an opponent that you adamantly refuse to treat his arguments seriously.

Even when they are as careful, well-reasoned and thorough as my original post was...as any fool can see!!!

Then, with enormous CHUTZPAH, you have accused your opponent (me in this case...but you guys have done this before) of being the one doing this!!! AND THAT ***REALLY*** PISSES **ME** OFF.

I have already explained how for me to continue to debate, you would have to have -started- by addressing my original numbered points in their full sense. Not cherry-picked and shamefully, blindly, irresponsibly, (and virtually illiterately!!) dropped a whole host of substantive and tightly-reasoned points.

Which constitute the *BULK* OF WHAT I WAS POSTING ABOUT!!

WHAT FUCKING PART OF THAT WAS NOT WRITTEN IN ENGLISH ORTUNCLEAR?

Once you fail to do that, you have originated the failure to address. What I did in response is lose interest in addressing the debate YOU want to have. It's not that I don't want to have a debate...I just don't want to waste my time having it WITH YOU.

"You have to be this tall to go on this ride."

Boaz

Lindsay Perigo's picture

I should probably have dropped this thread already, but this kind of evasive attitude in discussions really, really pisses me off. (No moral condemnation implied.) I have no idea why it happens so much more often with Objectivists, but that's another topic altogether.

It's being more concerned about being right than discovering one might be wrong, than ascertaining the truth. As soon as their position looks dodgy, folk prefer to sidestep rather than re-evaluate. Objectivists are worse than most cos they're ornery. They think orneriness makes one a good Objectivist. That's the real reason progress has been hindered. Binswankerian jerkhood is a PR disaster. And Phyllis is one of the biggest side-steppers of all.

Linz

I chose to deal with one

Boaz the Boor's picture

I chose to deal with one central claim (the others don't interest me

Case closed.

Unless I'm attacking a minor point -- i.e., one that doesn't affect the outcome of your argument or significantly alter your story -- then it's not nitpicking or "cherry-picking" or any version of that fallacy. It shouldn't take a master logician to recognize that.

So unless the whole theme of Objectivist education, the training of Objectivists, *is magically no longer a significant issue* (which leaves you with "Objectivists don't know how to get along" and "Some Objectivists refuse to engage libertarians et al" and "objectivists are too obstinate and refuse to recognize mistakes" -- all of which you've been harping on since time immemorial, hence nothing new to address)...then the case is NOT closed and your demand that I give equal time to every other issue is a ridiculous dodge.

I should probably have dropped this thread already, but this kind of evasive attitude in discussions really, really pisses me off. (No moral condemnation implied.) I have no idea why it happens so much more often with Objectivists, but that's another topic altogether.

> simply REFUSES to go back

PhilipC's picture

> simply REFUSES to go back and carefully read and absorb, or do anything substantive with regard to quoting and addressing the TEN NUMBERED POINTS AND CONCLUSION I very carefully laid out in my original post . . . and what the sequence of the ten points and conclusion suggests.
>I chose to deal with one central claim (the others don't interest me)

Case closed.

What you did is (1) cherry

Boaz the Boor's picture

What you did is (1) cherry pick which of the ten numbered points I made you wanted to address and turn it into a conversation focused on only on those.

I and others wanted to address that point because it's an important one for your conclusion. Most reasonable people would read your essay and agree. If you now want to say that the issue of the training of objectivists is not an important point in your case, and that you concede the lack of evidence in your version of Objectivist history, by all means do so.

(2) Then you complain that I haven't engaged you by agreeing to focus on those, when I consider them not the point. In addition to which (3) you ignore the posts I made which do reply to critics - claiming sweepingly that I haven't answered arguments.

You didn't answer my reply to your reply. Your answer was sophistical and actually helped further my criticism.

(4) you sweep aside all the posts on other boards with a non-specific denunciation or lumping all of dozens of them together.

I'm not lumping them together. I haven't followed the discussion on ROR, only the one on OL. If you honestly prefer that discussion, any alert reader here will wonder if it's because (a) no one has actually challenged your main points, suggesting that you prefer an echo chamber (as I've seen too often over the last year), (b) you don't care that commenters there engage in rank partisanship without regard to your actual topic. They would then be free to reasonably infer your hypocrisy on this occasion, as in several others.

Combined with (5) a defensive excuse for your 'tone' as being justified....which is what food-fighter such as yourself always do. Instead of saying, "well my tone was wrong and I apologize".

Phil, I don't care about your tone, and you shouldn't care about mine -- so long as the tone isn't a substitute for argument. You very well know that, or you should know it, since you often make the point yourself. As it is, you weren't really engaging me or Mike and you were being a superior prick. Why the hell I owe you an apology for anything is absolutely beyond me.

Who, on top of all this, simply REFUSES to go back and carefully read and absorb, or do anything substantive with regard to quoting and addressing the TEN NUMBERED POINTS AND CONCLUSION I very carefully laid out in my original post . . . and what the sequence of the ten points and conclusion suggests.

The QUANTITY of your NUMBERED POINTS has little do with what your argument reduces to. You make three or four central claims, and how you distribute them and over how many different bullet points is your business. I chose to deal with one central claim (the others don't interest me) which any idiot can see is important for your narrative, but which you now unilaterally refuse to engage. In fact, my choosing to isolate that point is fine and dandy so long as it's crucial and makes a big difference for your conclusion. Hiding behind a dozen other bullet points is a lame tactic. Not every claim is equal in importance.

"You Have to Be This Tall to Go On This Ride."

Phil, you're a whiny bitch and a lightweight. I'd tell you to grow up, but you're possibly too old and probably too deranged (in viewing yourself as some master Objectivist) for correction. And not from someone younger who plays for a different team, so to speak.

YES!!Tim, you've got very

PhilipC's picture

YES!!

Tim, you've got very close what I had in mind!!

There is a bit more to it (and I don't regard Objectivism as an intellectual pursuit rather than a pursuit for living) . . . and I'll try to post it soon, with my own explanation.

And most importantly what the implications of this are for our success as a movement and a philosophy.

The quiz

Tim S's picture

Phil

Are you thinking of something like this:

Objectivism is abstract, difficult and radical.

Abstract, and therefore beyond the capabilities of most in the concrete-bound culture we live in. Difficult, because you seem to regard "Objectivism" as an intellectual or academic pursuit rather than a tool for living (it should be both). Radical, well because it is radical and challenges many commonly accepted beliefs.

Boaz is At It Again . . . Five Non-Objectivist Mistakes

PhilipC's picture

> I'm able to understand everybody I engage but you

What you did is (1) cherry pick which of the ten numbered points I made you wanted to address and turn it into a conversation focused on only on those. (2) Then you complain that I haven't engaged you by agreeing to focus on those, when I consider them not the point. In addition to which (3) you ignore the posts I made which do reply to critics - claiming sweepingly that I haven't answered arguments. And (4) you sweep aside all the posts on other boards with a non-specific denunciation or lumping all of dozens of them together.

On -two- different boards: Hardly likely that no one said anything of value on either RoR or OL. (Or that you read either long thread in their entirety before making a comprehensive comment about them.)

Combined with (5) a defensive excuse for your 'tone' as being justified....which is what food-fighter such as yourself always do. Instead of saying, "well my tone was wrong and I apologize".

.....

Then you wonder why I don't answer everything you say or want to waste my time engaging a food-fighter and contempt artist.

Who, on top of all this, simply REFUSES to go back and carefully read and absorb, or do anything substantive with regard to quoting and addressing the TEN NUMBERED POINTS AND CONCLUSION I very carefully laid out in my original post . . . and what the sequence of the ten points and conclusion suggests.

"You Have to Be This Tall to Go On This Ride."

Nope

PhilipC's picture

> Objectivism is new, radical and brainy [Heapster]

Well, would that in itself prevent it from rapidly sweeping the world? Many n,r, and b ideas have in fact swept the world...and not just in high-tech.

Non-Objective

Boaz the Boor's picture

What's "non-objective," Phil, is for you to have as an important theme that the training of Objectivists has declined for forty years (it's an important point which affects the outcome of your argument) and then fail to take seriously the task of (a) showing what you mean and how it's true and (b) answering possible challenges and reconciling your claims with all the available evidence. The fact that you now don't care to discuss the issue (the "decline" of education), for whatever reason, doesn't mean that we're cherry-picking. That's a totally non-objective dodge and explains much of my "tone" in responding to you.

Talking about your ideas with people who more or less passively nod their heads in agreement -- or who chime in because they love talking about how horribly bad the "movement" has been since the break and all the schisms and horrible ARI -- is also not a good indicator of an objective approach.

You complain about sarcasm or the emotional tone of discussion without reference to the cause: when challenged on something non-trivial in your essay, instead of dealing with it head-on, you say for the millionth time that you've been misunderstood (yes, for some reason I'm able to understand everybody I engage but you, it's uncanny), and play-act a classroom scenerio with you as brilliant professor. I'll admit that this combination of intellectual shallowness and condescension isn't something I confront often in people, but not everything rare is excellent, after all.

I'll try again :)

J. Heaps-Nelson's picture

Objectivism is new, radical and brainy Smiling Smile Smiling

Jim

A Hint . . .

PhilipC's picture

Jim, the three concepts are more related to reasons why Objectivism has not conquered the world.

But the concepts are very simple ones. An eighth-grader would FULLY understand my three concepts (but might not understand 'rational' for example, or have a full or clear understanding of either pride or selfishness.)

In a way, these three words are -so- simple that it took me a while to identify them. Like a typical egghead, I was *overcomplicating* the problem for Objectivism

. . . Building Suspense . . .

Smiling

I'll take a guess

J. Heaps-Nelson's picture

Objectivism is selfish, rational and proud.

Jim

Degenerating Every Thread Into Personal Attack . . .

PhilipC's picture

> You want a popular movement.

Not exactly what I said.

> Now, pray tell, how do you suggest we get more than a tiny number of academics? Or is getting more academics not the right idea? Why not and what's your alternative?

I've posted on this in the past on this and other boards. Have you read them?

But I'll probably have more to say on it later this month (or at least this summer) once I get some teaching and editing related stuff done. (The key to it lies in the deepest nature of Objectivism. "Objectivism is ___, ___, and ___" and I'll relieve the unbearable suspense about what that means.)

I may decide to post it on RoR and OL and not even bother to answer your questions here, since the tone there has been respectful and non-sarcastic. And more willing to deal with each of my ten points, rather than cherrypick or nitpick one issue like NBI (or use non-objective attack language like "whining", "bitching".)

....

Note: A thread should not try to deal with every issue and the purpose of this one was to assess the past . . . and try to learn from our mistakes. Once the Objectivist triumphalism has been punctured, then a fair-minded person can say:

"Okay, we've made lots of mistakes. Not just one side, but everybody from NBI times to the Peikoff era to TOC to ARI. What can we do to improve our movement from here on in?"

Yeah, right, Objectivist

Boaz the Boor's picture

Yeah, right, Objectivist movement is -so- successful...can only name 4 SSO's in the whole city.

Remember that a tiny handful of academics who no one listens to at present do not a successful movement make...even if all the negative things you guys say about NBI were true..

No one said that a tiny handful of academics makes for a successful movement. Jesus. You often fall back on these pitiful strawmen when you're angry and it's pathetic. God, do you ever f*&%$** STOP WHINING??!!

So your point is that we need more than a tiny handful of academics. Great, I'm glad no one mentioned that. I won't complain too much that you've failed to notice that the numbers seem to be climbing rapidly, because you'll only complain that the number is pitifully small compared with NBI's illustrious record of academic and cultural achievement.

Now, pray tell, how do you suggest we get more than a tiny number of academics? Or is getting more academics not the right idea? Why not and what's your alternative? I wish I could find the answers in your essay. Instead, I find more evidence of the very things you often complain about. Your narrative is vague, unessentialized and uninformed; worse yet, you reiterate for the millionth time what you think is wrong with "the movement" and yet, for the millionth time, offer absolutely no clue as to what can be done about it. Try harder, Objectivists! We need more Objectivists!! Stop fighting, Objectivists!!! Bold and pathbreaking stuff, Phil.

I'll move on to something more interesting. I think your conception of a movement is the wrong one. I think the standard you hold up to "the movement" is both misguided and totally unrealistic. You want a popular movement. You're worried about an Objectivist community. What I would argue is that a successful movement doesn't need huge numbers. It doesn't need to be popular. You need the right people making the right arguments at the right time. We don't need an Objectivist version of Mormonism or Scientology.

If you can get enough really good people within a field, you can have an impact. If it's an influential field (in cultural terms), you can shift the balance of history. Even then, there's absolutely no guarantees of success.

When you're done bitching and licking your wounds, you can return to actually addressing what's actually been said. I'm not sure I'll say much more, because I think you end up missing the point so often on this topic (or end up sermonizing on something no one could possibly disagree with) that I'm already losing all interest.

Try again...

Hayden Wood's picture

"Hayden, no not exactly, but you do get an A for effort -) I'll give you a hint... the three words are very simple. A middle schooler would know them. And I will want to argue that they underlie roman numerals I and II in my related post."

I'm going to get this... 

"Objectivism is small, ambitious, and systematic (or foundational)"???

If you still doubt that

Mike_M's picture

If you still doubt that Objectivism is growing at a rapid (and healthy!) pace...

From Principle in Practice:

"Objectivist Conferences (OCON) has announced that their latest registration numbers make Objectivist Summer Conference 2007, to be held in Telluride, Colorado, from July 6-15, the largest Objectivist conference ever held, with 447 registered attendees to date."

These things have been going on since 1967, to give you a little context.

Also note that ARI is currently trying to raise money to expand the OAC because... it has so many applicants that they have to turn away qualified applicants (each new class is about 50).

Also of interest, in May 2006 Jeff Britting gave a fascinating talk at NYU about the history of the Objectivist movement. His conclusions, unlike Phil's revelations, were based on historical research. You can read my summary of the talk here. Like I said, Britting based his conclusions on facts. But I guess Phil's say so is as good as fact. Where did you get that 4000 number again, Phil?

So says Phil, who demands we

Mike_M's picture

"...in your colossal arrogance and hubris, Mike, Boaz and others."

So says Phil, who demands we all answer his quiz to prove ourselves to him. So says Phil, who derides genuine achievement as meaningless, for no other reason than it contradicts his ignorant comments about the Objectivist movement. (Observe how angry Phil became when it was revealed that he didn't even know basic information about the subject he was so authoritatively lecturing about).

The Objectivist movement (both ARI and TOC) consistently ignores Phil’s advice. Therefore, the Objectivist movement must be failing. That's really what it's all about, folks. Doubt NBI was bad? Exhibit A: Phil Coates.

?

James S. Valliant's picture

"Maybe" is exactly right -- and the reed we have always dangled on has been a skinny one, indeed, Phil. Oh, yeah.

Now, who said otherwise?

Everyone was doing a "compared to what?" analysis -- right?

what the fuck?

JoeM's picture

Phil, what the fuck is up with using my post in this context? I said I didn't know any objectivists in Philly, and it was more a shot at Philadelphia being a horrible city more than the state of Objectivism. I wasn't talking to you, I was responding to Mike on another thread.

But that's ok, because the one Objectivist I mentioned, Ed Snider, just happens to be a VERY successful one, owner of the Flyers and major leaguer with Comcast, which is in the process of building the tallest skyscraper in Philadelphia. This lone Objectivist has done much for the city than any other recent business man in spite of the oppressive City Hall.

************************************************

Spaceplayer Sight and Sound

And even if one or two make

PhilipC's picture

And even if one or two make it to Oxford, but still haven't gotten the Ph.D., still haven't gottena teaching position, still haven't gotten tenure.. and ...oh, yes... still are not changing minds in academe.

Maybe those chickens will hatch and grow to be eagles.

But let's not count them yet...

...in your colossal arrogance and hubris, Mike, Boaz and others.

I keep having to repeat the point below...

PhilipC's picture

> Mike, as a longtime Philly resident (including south Jersey), I'd be very interested to hear what you have in store; even more interested to see if there are indeed any other Objectivists in the area! (I know of Ashley, who's been MIA, but that's about it...ok, and Ed Snider.

Yeah, right, Objectivist movement is -so- successful...can only name 4 SSO's in the whole city.

Remember that a tiny handful of academics who no one listens to at present do not a successful movement make...even if all the negative things you guys say about NBI were true..

and it helped foster an

Mike_M's picture

and it helped foster an Objectivist community (inconsequential)

Boaz, you obviously haven't metabolized anything I've said. NBI did not foster an inconsequential community, but a harmful and unhealthy one. I've proved that by asserting it many times. Maybe I need to make a diorama for you.

However, I declare this topic closed and of no importance. Now, if you want to prove yourself, you'll have to complete my quiz.

"Phil is a _______ _______ and his posts are a complete _____ of ____."

Digestion, Re-Digestion, Diarrhea

Boaz the Boor's picture

Fast forward nearly twenty years to 2007: IOS->TOC->TAS has begun to shrink (it was never very large). ARI has been growing, but is still a fraction the size and impact of NBI from nearly forty years ago.

Now that I've had time to properly "digest" this claim, I can recognize that it's just as false as when I first swallowed it. ARI is not a fraction of NBI's size and impact, because tens of thousands of TON subscribers and thousands of lecture auditors don't count as part of NBI's size and impact. NBI provided a living and lectern for NB and a handful of others. It showed Ayn Rand's philosophy for the first time to masses of people (good) and it helped foster an Objectivist community (inconsequential). I've already outlined a little of the good from that era, but NBI was neither an intellectual "movement" nor any kind of training ground. The training was happening between AR, Peikoff and several others over twenty years. Ergo bullshit, ergo where's the substance, ergo what the hell are you talking about? Evidence, please. Wait, I'm sorry, I forgot: I haven't digested properly.

I'll try and re-digest:

The clearest evidence of that is the complaint by its executive director that there are not enough trained Objectivist intellectuals to fill a dozen or two opportunities for them to fill academic or activist slots.

Sigh. It's a GOOD thing that there are more positions than people, because in this instance Yaron B. is indicating that opportunities are there in academia in an entirely unprecedented way -- as you would know, if you actually looked and listened to what's happening in the real world, outside your TOC time-warp. A whole bunch of doors have opened, all at once. (Did you know, Phil, that the same "problem" exists in the field of ancient philosophy? Not enough super-star super-competent classicists around to fill labor demands at universities? Old crotchety professors of yore retiring and leaving unfillable seats open for innumberable "visiting scholars"?) Top Objectivist Phds are always going to be a small number. We're laboring to make it a larger small number. By contrast, how many such people would NBI have produced? Thousands, right? Right, of course! Because there were thousands of "graduates" of BPO. Smiling LMFAO. If you take the total number of philosophy Phd candidates at top 50 universities today, I'd be very surprised if the number exceeded 1000. If OAC can get five to ten students (out of a group of 50-100) a year into these programs, that's actually a sizable number, comparable to a what a good university phil department produces. Sorry for intruding with context and reality.

They have the good sense to have restarted education and training with the Objectivist Academic Center....

They haven't restarted. They've started. ARI has had the good sense NOT to restart NBI's educational program, which produced no education. Instead, they've had the good sense to actually have an educational program. You know, perks and fringe benefits like a structured curriculum, training in thinking and method, accredited courses with actual teaching (not just lecturing) -- with a view toward getting talented undergraduates into grad programs.

These are things NBI wasn't doing. Unless I'm wrong, and you're at liberty to correct me. That's why I keep repeating myself. You say A, we show non-A; you reply that you haven't said A but you said B, I show that you did really say A and that it's still non-A.

but the many thousands of prospects who enter the essay contests or read the fiction in the schools are still producing only on the order of a hundred (or less) people a year

By what standard is that a bad ratio? Why is a class of 100 small? Relative to what? Relative to what purpose? What can ARI do (that it's not already doing...which would require you to know what it IS doing) to get more of these essay-contest high-schoolers into its program?

...not all of whom [OAC students] will do anything....compared to the tens of thousands taking comparable courses undere NBI.

You're welcome at any time to show who these "tens of thousands" under NBI were and what they actually did and where they're now teaching. (You put the bar at "thousands," but I'll let you get away with a list of twenty to fifty Objectivist NBI graduates now occupying important positions at university departments.) You're welcome to show how NBI and OAC courses were "comparable," and which ones. You're welcome to intrude with facts. Maybe you're right and OAC could incorporate positive aspects of NBI. But that would require you to support some of these claims, as opposed to the typical "you didn't read what I said" which reads more and more like a lazy sleight-of-hand, after reading you for a year.

Lecture 15?

Bill Visconti's picture

"Do you remember which lecture this is in? I recall them saying thousands to tens of thousands."

I think it has to be the last one. I'm not certain, but I think it was discussed in relation to Peikoff's final conclusions about the future. And I am pretty certain it was tens of thousands as a low figure.

Proud Member Of The "Bomb-Them-Into-Oblivion" School Of Foreign Policy

Bill, Do you remember which

Mike_M's picture

Bill,

Do you remember which lecture this is in? I recall them saying thousands to tens of thousands.

# of Objectivists

Bill Visconti's picture

"How many Objectivists are there currently?"

In the 2004 DIM lectures, Yaron Brook (in a conversation with Dr. Peikoff) stated that the number of Objectivists in the world was somewhere in the ballpark of tens of thousands to hundereds of thousands. What his methodology consisted of to complile those numbers he didn't say.

Proud Member Of The "Bomb-Them-Into-Oblivion" School Of Foreign Policy

"but the date on the

Mike_M's picture

"but the date on the magazine doesn't correspond to the date it actually came out or when the split actually occurred."

That's not the case. The issues indicate the month they are really published, if that ate differs from the date listed on the issue. November 1966 shows 21,143. The 17,469 number comes from November 1967; there is no indiction it was published on a different date. The next info is from the June 1968 issue, which was actually published in October 1968. It reads 18,296. December 1969 indicates 16,161. The massive drop was a year before the split.

"(I want to move on to this topic...but I'll make at least one more reply to Boaz and Mike, even though I think my last reply was not digested.)"

Phil, you always make a big stink about citing facts, concretizing, etc. Yet you managed to write a 1500 word essay offering only two hard facts (one of which you still have not given the rest of us a chance to varify). Evaluating the progress of the Objectivist movement depends on lots of factual information your post ignores.

How many Objectivists are there currently? You've asserted 5000, provided no proof of this number, and then acted as if such a number were self-evident.

How influential were/are Objectivists? You've given us no reason to think Objectivists were influential at all during the 60s. Yet you are almost entirely ignorant of the activities of the current movement.

In addition, you made a silly claim about the interest in philosophy among college students. Did you just make that up? It looks like you don't know anything about the interest in any philosophy. You admit to being at least a decade out of the loop on this topic.

All you've offered is a string of assertions, backed up by only your say so. Then, when everyone calls you on this, and asks for facts to back of your evaluations (like the exact source of the 4000 number, which I'm still waiting for btw), you change the subject and demand that everyone answer your quiz. You can't be serious.

Guess

JoeM's picture

Objectivism is me, myself, and I.

************************************************

Spaceplayer Sight and Sound

Phil

James S. Valliant's picture

No, I'm quite sober.

Are you now suggesting that no group within the "Objectivist movement" has actually suffered what your title describes?

> In 1966 TO subscriptions

PhilipC's picture

> In 1966 TO subscriptions were 21,000. In 1967 they were 17,500. In 1968 (post break) they were 18,300. 1969: 16,161. 1970: 16,195."...it looks like something happened in 1967 that cause a major drop in subscribers, more so than the break. Does anyone have an explanation?

Mike, I'm not sure if this is the explanation, but the date on the magazine doesn't correspond to the date it actually came out or when the split actually occurred. (For example, that magazine fell many, many months behind in its publication schedule so something dated end of 1967 might well have come out after the split had been known formally or informally thru the grapevine.)

Subscribership toward the end of"1967" of 17K might actually be subscribership nearly a year later?

> Well, you have to give Phil this much: there IS a certain subset of self-described "Objectivists" suffering "stagnation and decline."

Jim, I'm just going to ignore that and write it off as you're having boozed it up after a long day of sending innocent people to the gas chamber. Oh....maybe you're speaking of your self? Smiling

Bill

James S. Valliant's picture

Well, you have to give Phil this much: there IS a certain subset of self-described "Objectivists" suffering "stagnation and decline."

> Objectivism is _____,

PhilipC's picture

> Objectivism is _____, ______, and _____." ... O.K., I'll bite. Although I' pretty new at this. The only Objectivist trinity I could think of is "Objectivism is Reason, Purpose, and Self Esteem" Or maybe Phil's made a mistake and left a space out?... "Objectivism is Objective Reality, Reason, and Self Interest, and Capitalism." Or it could be Phil realises who pays the bills around here...But in all seriousness I would guess that Phil has in mind three of Objectivism's virtues..."Objectivism is Benevolence, Honesty, and Integrity."

Do I win? [Hayden]

Hayden, no not exactly, but you do get an A for effort -) I'll give you a hint... the three words are very simple. A middle schooler would know them. And I will want to argue that they underlie roman numerals I and II in my related post.

(I want to move on to this topic...but I'll make at least one more reply to Boaz and Mike, even though I think my last reply was not digested.)

Great Points Boaz

Bill Visconti's picture

"There was no overarching academic mission and no viable cultural strategy to speak of. And that's perfectly natural, because there were few people then who were remotely qualified to expound on the ideas."

Absolutely. Well said.

Phil's comments are nonsense and motivated purely by an animous against ARI. He will have that axe to grind until the day he dies. The good thing about this thread is that it gave a chance for rational people to offer actual evidence of just how well Objectivism as an *intellectual* movement is growing.

Any intellectual movement has to start somewhere. With Objectivism, things started with Nathaniel Branden. It would have been nicer if the movement's first organizational leader had been someone of integrity. But on that score we didn't get lucky and as a result the intro-phase took longer than it needed to. But things are improving.

Proud Member Of The "Bomb-Them-Into-Oblivion" School Of Foreign Policy

Boaz, you're being to

Boaz the Boor's picture

Boaz, you're being to genrous. Phil only knows how many Objectivist PhD students there are because I just told him.

Fair enough. Smiling

On the other hand, I take it Phil has probably had access to this information, or something like it, since it sounds like his main source is "Impact" or the like.

It doesn't matter to me what Phil thinks of OAC or the merits of ARI over NBI or TOC.

What matters is that so little of relevance is included in his comparison over forty years of supposed decline. One would think that the significance of 11 OAC graduates entering competitive Phd programs in one year alone would raise an eyebrow or two. Why? Because that statistic alone, if true, probably equals the total number of Objectivists at top philosophy programs from 1980-2005. These are students who probably entered an OAC class of fifty or so. Adding some more perspective, these people have already been through a very demanding program, which increases the probability that they're serious and can persevere. Add to this the positive testimony of some of these phd candidates, who know first-hand how much more receptive their departments are to their work these days than in the past, and you get closer to what's actually going on.

Now compare that to NBI/TON. Let's see if we can actually come up with any tangible academic and scholarly results that can actually be attributed to those organizations. How many active intellectuals/writers/advocates today can be said to have "graduated" from NBI?

But these are not fair questions. They're utterly beside the point, in fact, because the function of those years and those organizations was getting the ideas out there for the first time, with some initial attempts toward systematization, letting people get a chance to advance their teaching abilities; and, on the downside, all the lame and creepy aspects that Mike already touched on. There was no educational program to speak of. There was no overarching academic mission and no viable cultural strategy to speak of. And that's perfectly natural, because there were few people then who were remotely qualified to expound on the ideas.

This is why it's irrelevant to this discussion how many readers of TON there were in 1967. You can't infer "serious students of Objectivism" from that sampling for the same reason you can't infer the higher presence of Platonists among Roman tutors in 200 B.C. vs. 100 B.C. The first group may have been far larger, but they didn't yet have the stream of Greek philosophy that came in mid-century.

Boaz, you're being to

Mike_M's picture

Boaz, you're being to genrous. Phil only knows how many Objectivist PhD students there are because I just told him.

Apples and oranges (again)

Tim S's picture

I agree that Phil is comparing apples to oranges. You can't compare a 20-lecture course on tape to a four year course of study with exams and assignments (OAC). Obviously the numbers for the more rigorous course are going to be significantly smaller since it is appealing to a different market (those with time on their hands and/or a more academic bent).

Not to say that there aren't any problems, but this seems to blow a central point of Phil's hypothesis out of the water. What I'd really like to know is what exactly Phil plans to do about the problems he perceives.

Rant

Boaz the Boor's picture

It doesn't matter how good BPO or "Principles of Efficient Thinking" were. Both were tiny parcels of a potential of a program that never existed. People listening to tapes is bullshit. People gathering together for cupcakes to repeat the same slogans and same carbon-copied film reviews and talking about Rachmaninoff is bullshit. It doesn't matter that there were 15-20K subscribers to TON. None of these things came or *could* come close to establishing a foundation for the kind of movement that we should want (competent intellectuals who have something to add to the conversation, all doing their own work toward a common purpose.) None of the topics you've brought up, in themselves, tell us *anything* about a decline. A decline in what? Objectivist salon attendance?

(Your narrative rests on the assumption that there were thousands of SSO (serious students of O'ism) that NBI was graduating. You've now backpedaled to the claim that these people *probably* existed among a higher donor/subscriber base. This far weaker claim doesn't do the work that you think it does. These readers were not part of a pipeline in the original sense you intended, they weren't being educated, there was little to educate them with, and none of them rose to the level they *would* have if your assessment of them was correct. As it is, we're dealing with people you've decided to deduce out of thin air and statistics.)

I'm looking for the meat in all this, and it's a story you keep
telling and retelling. Hence the frustration.

If you're going to talk about a "decline," you need to define (in a less floating way) what was good about T1, given your criteria -- cultural change -- and how there's been less of it at T2. Yet you don't seem to know much about the OAC beyond course lists and numbers of Phd candidates, which is useless outside of a context. Hardly enough to compare it to...anything.

Your 20,000 vs. 5,000 comparison is irrelevant. These numbers have nothing to do with each other. The 20,000 subscribers had no other access to Objectivism (except NBI), period. If donating to ARI was necessary to be plugged into Objectivism (the ideas and the movement) you'd get a different result than you have now.

The split certainly did damage "the movement" -- except those parts of it that mattered. The trajectories of career intellectuals who had something to offer and who were willing to fight for it. If NBI had a role in getting them started, that's a good enough legacy for me. Three cheers for NBI. But it was a start, a small spark, not some golden zenith that bears comparison with the education available today.

(I feel like I'm channeling Fred Weiss. Fred, get in here already!)

Can't Resist A Quiz

Hayden Wood's picture

THREE FACTS ABOUT OBJECTIVISM.

Can anyone guess what they might be? You will be graded on this Smiling

"Objectivism is _____, ______, and _____."

O.K., I'll bite.  Although I' pretty new at this.  The only Objectivist trinity I could think of is

"Objectivism is Reason, Purpose, and Self Esteem"

Or maybe Phil's made a mistake and left a space out?...

"Objectivism is Objective Reality, Reason, and Self Interest, and Capitalism."

Or it could be Phil realises who pays the bills around here...

Objectivism is Mister, Lindsay, and Perigo"

Smiling

But in all seriousness I would guess that Phil has in mind three of Objectivism's virtues...

"Objectivism is Benevolence, Honesty, and Integrity."

Do I win?

 

While we're on the topic of

Mike_M's picture

While we're on the topic of libertarianism, would any libertarians care to comment on the progress of that movement, perhaps in another thread? I'm not as in tune to the facts of the libertarian movement as I am to the Objectivist movement, so I'm curious. The libertarian movement is generously funded (Cato's annual income is 22 mil). Money well spent?

Apples and Oranges

James S. Valliant's picture

Thanks for the data, Mike. I can't think of any explanation.

But, to the point: Phil continues to assume -- as do a great many other people -- that schisms have somehow hurt. Well, I want to know that "how." After all, the folks involved tended to go right on doing whatever it was they were doing...

He is also not addressing the original response. Libertarians have since found other homes. Those interested in some aspect of Rand's work -- e.g., politics -- can hardly be called "serious students" of her philosophy. Besides, there was still important material about that philosophy which was not yet even available. But just think of all the libertarian publications now published that simply did not exist in the 1960s.

Bottom line: it is seriously misleading of Phil to compare ARI's regular donor list with subscriptions to 'The Objectivist.'

In fact, there are many reasons to be tremendously optimistic.

I wrote: "You claim that the

Mike_M's picture

I wrote: "You claim that the NBI split damaged Objectivism. In 1966 TO subscriptions were 21,000. In 1967 they were 17,500. In 1968 (post break) they were 18,300. 1969: 16,161. 1970: 16,195."

I forgot to add: it looks like something happened in 1967 that cause a major drop in subscribers, moreso than the break. Does anyone have an explanation?

Phil writes: "The magazine

Mike_M's picture

Phil writes: "The magazine has a little notice once a year in very small print of its circulation which I think is required by law since every periodical also does this once a year."

Thanks for pointing this out. Before you only referenced the Branden yearly summary.

You claim that the NBI split damaged Objectivism. In 1966 TO subscriptions were 21,000. In 1967 they were 17,500. In 1968 (post break) they were 18,300. 1969: 16,161. 1970: 16,195.

Phil says, "The 4000 and 1000 from ARI and TOC's own reports of its member/support numbers."

I know you said this. I'm asking: how do I get hold of these numbers for myself? What year(Drunk is this from? What exactly does the documentation say? "We have 4000 donors total"? "We have 4000 donors who give over x amount of money"? "Our mailing list totals 4000"?

"You don'f fork out money for this unless you are interested -and- people did these things after they had read all the novels."

And you fork out even more money if you treat Objectivism like a religion. Were these people serious? Or were they religious?

"though I would be surprised if you had actually listened to all those courses. Or even the BPO course. What about BB's Principles of Efficient Thinking? What about Mary Ann Sures? Etc. Etc."

I've listened to Efficient Thinking. Several Times. It is quite good. The only other available lecture is BPO, most of which was published in article form in TO. And I wasn't impugning the quality of those lectures as lectures. Only their usefullness as a systematic training in Objectivism.

"Don't let your loyalty to OAC blind you to the possibility that there are others, older than you, educated in Objectivism before you who understand the philosophy and are committed to it."

If you think I'm not being objective, please just say so. Don't insinuate it. I know there are other older Objectivists who understand the philosophy better than I. I can't think of any who got that understanding from NBI, though, which is my point.

"More important, while business schools and computer and economics degrees are booming, philosophy departments are having difficulty filling their classrooms whch means fewer slots for new professors."

I don't know where you've heard this, but I've heard EXACTLY the oppossite from professors. In fact, the Philosophica Gourmet mentions a rapidly increasing interest in philosophy in conjunction with a large number of expected retirments as reason for PhD students to be optimistic.

"I think they should be educating -everybody- the way NBI did. Not just a microscopic elite most of who will hopefully!! stay the course and change the culture. If they can get the culture to listen to them."

A big if? What about Brook speaking to the Ford Hall Forum and being the first Objectivist to speak to the Commonwealth club? John Lewis's book being published by Princeton University Press? Rob Tracinski's op-eds have been published by major newspapers. ARI's op-eds are published in hundreds of papers each year.

"Tara Smith has gotten published because she is at a major program in philosophy, Texas. Great. But who is reading her? Is her defense of the Objectivist ethics making waves in philosophy circles? Has she been asked to keynote at Harvard?"

Actually, yes. Her latest book is being taught at Cambridge (my source is HBL for that claim). (Makin' waves!) If you get the chance to see her lecture, ask about where she's given presentations on her application of Objectivism to legal philosophy. Do you know about this conference? Did you know there are more such conferences coming up?

Do you know about Christian Beenfeldt. He's an openly Objectivist PhD candidate at Oxford (i.e. the most respected philosophy department in the world). He's already published. Read his post titled "Adieu." There are others like him who aren't "out," but he's an excellent example.

Were you aware of any of this?

And also: "I think they should be educating -everybody- the way NBI did."

Books are a superior format to impersonal lectures. OPAR has surely reached more people than BPO did. What lectures besides BPO and PET do you think are important for the growth of the Objectivist movement? NB's psych lectures? They are books now. Peikoff's epistemology lectures? That's covered in ITOE. Understanding Objectivism, Objectivism Through Induction, The Art of Thinking, etc are available, for free rental, to campus clubs, which can play them before the entire group.

Who isn't being reached?

Mike, I already posted to

PhilipC's picture

Mike, I already posted to you where the numbers come from on June 3rd in this thread: "Mike, the 20,000 came from the end of year reports done every year in The Objectivist. The 4000 and 1000 from ARI and TOC's own reports of its member/support numbers." The magazine has a little notice once a year in very small print of its circulation which I think is required by law since every periodical also does this once a year.

I would view both the NBI numbers and the Objectivist numbers as indications of a serious student of Objectivism. You don't fork out money for this unless you are interested -and- people did these things after they had read all the novels. And wanted more.

There is little reason to suspect that everyone who attended NBI is a cultist. All those tens of thousands of people in all sorts of cities and towns. Nor does 'everyone' say that cultism was practiced outside of with regard to a tiny group of insiders in NYC. They are spread throughout the country listening on tape, not in NYC being browbeaten or drummed into show trials by NB.

Note also that my post and my supplementary post refers to the subscribers to The Objectivist. You keep fixating on NBI as your foil as though my original post was all about them and as if OAC were superior in every respect to NBI courses (or Peikoff courses?)...even though I would be surprised if you had actually listened to all those courses. Or even the BPO course. What about BB's Principles of Efficient Thinking? What about Mary Ann Sures? Etc. Etc.

Don't let your loyalty to OAC blind you to the possibility that there are others, older than you, educated in Objectivism before you, who understand the philosophy and are committed to it.

I would expect OAC to be excellent. And systematic is better than non-systematic. And being able to interact with professors, be quizzed, have assignments, etc. is best of all. But the problem is that the OAC is *even smaller numbers* than the 5000, let alone the tens of thousands taking NBI courses.

I think they should be educating -everybody- the way NBI did. Not just a microscopic elite most of who will hopefully!! stay the course and change the culture. If they can get the culture to listen to them. (That's a significant if...and is directly related to the subject of my 'quiz' above).

You or someone else mentioned that a dozen? students last year were accepted into Ph.D, programs. I'm sure that is a big improvement over abysmally low numbers in the past. But here's the problem: Just like there is a high attrition rate among those who read the novels to those who enter the essay contests to those who read the nonfiction to those who are active in a campus club to those who enter the OAC, likewise there has always been a high attrition among those who -think- they want to get a Ph.D. in philosophy to those who last through the program and grit their teeth and put up with all the excruciating bullshit and manage to get past the dissertation committee and are given a Ph.D. to...highest series of hurdles of all...those who are accepted as Assistant Professors...to those given tenure (Associate Professor).

More important, while business schools and computer and economics degrees are booming, philosophy departments are having difficulty filling their classrooms which means fewer slots for new professors.

Plus, if you get to be a tenured professor at Slippery Rock State College, are you going to have your writings as eagerly digested by non-Objectivists, by professionals in philosophy as are, just to take one example, the works of Peter Singer, the "cutting edge in ethics" Animal Rights leading thinker at Princeton. Tara Smith has gotten published because she is at a major program in philosophy, Texas, one of the top ten. Great. But who is reading her? Is her defense of the Objectivist ethics making waves in philosophy circles? Has she been asked to keynote at Harvard? Will her book have influence? Change minds?

If you plan to influence the world of ideas (outside of the traditional Objectivist tendency to over and over address other Oists) by graduating generations of students favorable to the philosophy, you have to bear in mind that the best teacher in whose classroom I ever sat, Leonard Peikoff, was unable (as far as I could see in the classroom listening to waves of apathy or incomprehension) to get more than one or two students a year interested (other than those already Oists). And this was at Brooklyn Polytechnic, which was graduating engineering and technology and science-oriented people who are far more pro-reason than the average liberal arts undergraduate. You'd have to ask him if things were better at Denver.

If you get tenure at an Ivy League college (I can say what the classrooms are like having gone to school at one) or another of the top ten or twenty schools, you have a better chance of influencing minds because your classrooms have brighter or at least more intellectually energetic students (higher SATs, better high schools, etc.) Big difference from sitting in a classroom at Brooklyn Poly or Slippery Rock State. Professors aren't any brighter or more focused on the whole or have had a better high school education before getting there. But the students sure are.

But the problem is that Tara Smith seems to be a rarity in getting tenure at one of the top schools.

Yes, I realize that not every OAC grad is trying to become a philosophy professor. Thank god for that....
,,,,

...Sorry, I'm afraid I've gone off on a tangent discussing one of the many reasons I'm skeptical at whether Oists four decades old attempts to storm the philosophy departments will bear fruit. Other departments - psychology, history, literature - yes (for reasons too lengthy to post). But not philosophy. Too epistemologically corrupt (it's not even about ethics and politics...if it were they would be more receptive.)

My data on the last couple point is a decade old. If you have newer information, please post it.

I'll put away the kitchen knife and slide my wrists back into their sleeves until then.

Assuming your 5000 number is

Thomas Lee's picture

Assuming your 5000 number is correct (you still haven't told us where you got it from or what it measures), so what if the number is smaller? This 5000 is more healthy than your 20,000. That's a good thing, even if the number is smaller, a point I'm reluctant to concede.

Wait a moment. Isn't the question: aren't more people reading Ayn Rand's works and taking them seriously? If so, then the proper measure for that is book sales--not subscriptions or lecture sales.

After Atlas Shrugged, people had nowhere to go but NBI (and subsequently, to The Objectivist Newsletter, etc.) to learn more about Rand's ideas. Today, they have scores of books they can read and study without having to turn to (expensive) oral material.

That said, according to ARI, Ayn Rand's books are selling more today than at any other time in history--and those numbers are growing every year. (This is apart from the hundreds of thousands of copies ARI buys each year.) So I would say the current "pool" of people taking a real interest in Ayn Rand's ideas is probably much larger than it was in the 60s.

And how many of those people are committed Objectivists? I don't think there's any good way to measure that. What we do know is that Objectivists today can receive top-notch training the OAC, and have access to more quality intellectual material than ever before. They have more opportunities and support available to them. And their numbers, however small, are growing.

I am optimistic--Phil's claims and quizzes aside.

Sorry, Phil. I didn't mean

Mike_M's picture

Sorry, Phil. I didn't mean what I wrote. Your points (I) and (II) are interesting and important. I just don't think (I) has any meaning unless we first establish that the supposedly larger group was superior or equal to the later supposedly smaller group.

Incredibly valuable

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Compare the NBI courses to the OAC. At the OAC, first, before you learn any Objectivism, you spend a year learning about the basic questions in philosophy and some of the historical answers to them. You also take a (incredible) writing class, and a class on logic. Then you have a systematic course on Objectivism, which requires writing papers and having one on one tutorials with the professor. The third year you learn in great depth how to properly think about philosophic questions, using UO and OTI as a guide, but also including discussion with the professor and frequent assignments. The last year is more writing, plus communication skills like arguing and public speaking.

The value of such an approach and its implementation cannot be overstated. Longterm, this is what's going to do it.

Linz

Phil, I don't think your two

Mike_M's picture

Phil,

I don't think your two points are that interesting. The interesting and important question is: how does the health of NBI compare to that of the modern Objectivist movement? 20,000 people is not impressive if 18,000 of them were Randroid-Brandroid maniacs. The testimony of the Brandens indicates that the NBI movement was very unhealthy. Outside non-Objectivist observers concur. Pro-Rand, pro-Objectivist sources seem to concur as well. What differs between the three groups is their explanation of why NBI culture was so strage. (NB/BB claim it was either NB, some combination of NB and AR, or AR. Outsiders blame it on Objectivism itself. Pro-Rand/Objectivists blame it on NB. My opinion is that it was caused by the psycho-culture NB created).

There is good reason to think that the NBI movment did more long-term harm to the spread of Objectivism than it did good.

Assuming your 5000 number is correct (you still haven't told us where you got it from or what it measures), so what if the number is smaller? This 5000 is more healthy than your 20,000. That's a good thing, even if the number is smaller, a point I'm reluctant to concede.

(BTW, I searched in vain for your 20,000 number. The only comparable number I could find in either TON or TO was from NB's last report in TON. He claimed that 40,000 people had attended NBI lectures.)

Something Deeper than this Thread

PhilipC's picture

> Phil...what's the basis for your claim that there were thousands of these highly educated, "trained," talented (motivated?) young objectivists among these 20,000 NBI supporters in the 60's? I'm not particularly impressed by *high numbers* of people taking courses with NB et al (during this purported golden age of Objectivism), listening to tapes, etc...The majority of older Objectivists I've met, obviously excepting the intellectuals, are more practiced in regurgitating bromides... [Boaz, 6/06]

I believe subscribers to The Objectivist is where the 20,000 came from, not NBI students.

Several people have misunderstood the point of my citing 20,000 SSO's (Serious Students of Objectivism) forty years ago vs. around 5,000 now in my original post. It was not to claim that -all- of those people "got it" or became Objectivists or became fully knowledgeable or fully trained. Or "talented" or major intellects. But that, as any statistician could tell you, such numbers and their magnitude are a good "leading indicator". They don't capture every serious student of the ideas, but they give an order of magnitude because sso's are likely to be in those numbers or to be proportional to those numbers - whether double or less than double those numbers or more than double, is not the points here.

Sampling: If you are an ornithologist and go out and tour around and thoroughly sample the countryside in the spring and you count eight hundred red-breasted robins in an eight-hour period. And then you go out similarly in the fall and count two hundred red-breasted robins, you may not know whether you have counted 100% or only 5% of the total population. Despite your best effort, many of them could be hiding or in other parts of the county. But you are entitled to strongly suspect that there are an order of magnitude fewer robins in the fall in this area. To a scientist, this is a striking bit of data which is not to be brushed aside but requires explanation.

From a significantly larger numerical base more people who have an impact or are simply heard of in college classrooms or in the media emerge and there are more candidates from whom the exceptional few can emerge (and that was the point of my reference to Anderson, Greenspan, the Reagan-Thatcher era compared to today.) From a smaller (or less hard core) base fewer people proportionally will choose to become intellectuals or activists. Or will understand the philosophy.

--New Topic--

But I now think there is a deeper issue, one which should be fully understood prior to debating the two types of threads I've started on one or more boards recently: I. The current status or size or direction of growth or shrinkage of the Objectivist movement, II. The need for systematic training and educating of Objectivists, and how to do it.

This issue has to do with something often overlooked about the -nature- of Objectivism and I'd like to start a thread on this soon. My contention is that the deepest facts about Objectivism that affect I and II and all the problems we have in growing our movement, educating and developing Objectivists, changing the world, and avoiding internal acrimony has to do with THREE FACTS ABOUT OBJECTIVISM.

Can anyone guess what they might be? You will be graded on this Smiling

"Objectivism is _____, ______, and _____."

In fairness to TOC, I just

PhilipC's picture

In fairness to TOC, I just re-discovered some old correspondence with someone who is an insider there and they are aware of the need for training. But the two main reasons for not doing a systematic program now (beyond catch as catch can summer seminars) are: i) they are not sure if there is a significant market for it, and ...even more important... ii) they don't have the money. My view is that -- with regard to i) -- the size and nature of the market depends on -how- it is done, and one can build a market slowly, test the waters with baby steps, etc. And -- with regard to ii) -- not starting ambitiously, but instead baby steps, with a pilot program of one or two foundational courses, using the internet, etc. can be -very- low cost until it catches fire.

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