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Post 60

Sunday, January 24, 2010 - 8:07pmSanction this postReply
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Well, then, if no one is immune to continued attacks after the fact, why shouldn't we start a thread, "What I think Kate's problem really is"? Post 51 may have been justified. What was the new crime of Kate's being pointed out in 55? What is the propriety of a continjued public discussion, not of a specific act, but of a person's psychopathology in general?

I don't think this thread should even have been started. (Are people's attention spans so short that they don't recall my immediately challenging Kate on it?) I wouldn't move this gallery to dissent. I'd delete the gallery entirely, now.

The same objection that protects Rand applies to Kate herself. Criticize her directly for her statements when she makes them. Have at her. But don't continue a public discussion, not of specific acts, but of her moral stature in general. If you want her banned to dissent man up and say so. She can respond to specific complaints. She can't respond to a consensus of innuendo.

I am not defending any of Kate's actions. I am not singling out any person for attack. I am simply calling for a person to be held guilty of her crimes, not for being thought a criminal. (And no, that is not a call for a vendetta minded list of grievances.) Kate and everyone else should know that this is not SOLOP or OL where gossip is the stock in trade. I'm not asking for any apology, assigning any blame, or casting any aspersions. I'm just asking for the moralizing to stop. A continuing discussion of any member in the third person is an embarrassing catty spectacle.

Post 61

Sunday, January 24, 2010 - 8:38pmSanction this postReply
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I asked if there was any factual basis for claims that Rand had forbidden others to read certain books.

I learned that asking such a question was wrong if I posted no source for the claim.

I posted a source for the claim.

Now, Merlin Jetton objects that the source for the claim was someone who had had a personal falling-out with Rand.

According to Objectivist theory, does having had a personal falling-out with any individual change the truth (or falsity) a statement about that other individual's past actions?

Merlin further asks: "Why did Rothbard use 'forbidden' rather than, say, 'not advised' or 'read with caution'?" I can't answer that question, as I do not know Rothbard. Rothbard himself, if he still lives, would be the person to ask why he chose that particular word.

Either Rothbard's claim (that the reading of certain books was "forbidden" to associates of Ayn Rand) is true, or it is false.
Either Merlin's implied claim (that the reading of those books was merely "not advised" or was regarded as something to do "with caution") is true, or it is false.

Since I never met Rand, I know nothing more about the matter than this:

/a/ at least one person who knew Rand (who had indeed been a student of hers for a while) states that Rand forbade her students to read certain books

/b/ at least one person associated with Objectivism (Merlin Jetton) suggests that Rothbard made that claim because of his personal falling-out with Rand and not because Rand had ever in fact forbidden any books.


To others reading this, and wishing to comment:
what should I consider
(in addition to Rothbard's probable emotional state at the time he made claim /a/)
when I decide whether to regard /a/ as true, to regard /b/ as true, or to regard neither as true?

Post 62

Sunday, January 24, 2010 - 9:04pmSanction this postReply
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Kate, I think you have to have a basic understanding of epistemology before asking these questions so you can understand our responses.

I asked if there was any factual basis for claims that Rand had forbidden others to read certain books.
How could we know this? We're not omniscient. Again, as I said before, you cannot prove a negative. The best that anyone can answer is, none that we are aware of.

I learned that asking such a question was wrong if I posted no source for the claim.

I posted a source for the claim.

Now, Merlin Jetton objects that the source for the claim was someone who had had a personal falling-out with Rand.
Well the problem with the source Kate is that it is hearsay. It is not itself evidence that meets a burden of proof. Unless you could corroborate this with other evidence, you can't really say if Rothbard's claims are true.

According to Objectivist theory, does having had a personal falling-out with any individual change the truth (or falsity) a statement about that other individual's past actions?
Again, you're assuming that we have some kind of omniscience. We don't know if the statement is true or false.  That the individual in question had a falling out certainly leads plenty of doubt to the validity of the claim.

To others reading this, and wishing to comment:
what should I consider
You should probably consider that this line of inquiry is a waste of time. If this was a court of law, and I was the judge, I would've dismissed the case already. Maybe for you, you can gain some epistemological knowledge from this by recognizing your errors. Other than that there's nothing else to consider.



Post 63

Sunday, January 24, 2010 - 9:11pmSanction this postReply
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Ted, in post #55 I was responding to posts 52, 53, and 54.

I'm not discussing psychopathology, I'm discussing posts. Kate mentioned Aspergers and other have commented on this - I haven't.

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Post 64

Monday, January 25, 2010 - 11:05amSanction this postReply
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(reposting most of this from Robert's new 'Index of Permitted Books' thread)

Kate-
"Rothbard himself, if he still lives, would be the person to ask why he chose that particular word."

Rothbard died 15 years ago.

"Either Rothbard's claim (that the reading of certain books was "forbidden" to associates of Ayn Rand) is true, or it is false."

In this case Rothbard's words are arbitrary. They lack further substantiation from him for the accusations, and lack corroborating evidence we'd expect to exist and readily find if they were true.

There was clearly no love lost between Rand and Rothbard, and anything from Rothbard's 'The Sociology of the Ayn Rand Cult' (the article Robert quoted) should be taken with a *huge* grain of salt. While that personal history alone isn't sufficient to consider his claims true or false, his claims also simply aren't backed by evidence, e.g.:

"Rand cultists were required to sign a loyalty oath to Rand; essential to the loyalty oath was a declaration that the signer would henceforth never read any future works of the apostate and arch-heretic Branden. After the split, any Rand cultist seen carrying a book or writing by Branden was promptly excommunicated"

That should have easily corroborating evidence from Objectivists forced to sign such a loyalty at the time. I'd even expect some to have saved such oaths and therefore have indisputable, written evidence of Rand requiring such an oath to not read the Brandens. However, I've not seen such evidence, and unless you have something to back Murray's claims, consider it an unfair attack to attempt to diminish Rand.

Aaron

Post 65

Monday, January 25, 2010 - 10:15amSanction this postReply
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Suppose Kate had relied on hearsay she would not have had the courage to raise the question. Her inquiry obviously upset a number of folks with more experience with Rands works. The thread has demonstrates a true test of Objectivity in action. To place Kate in the dissent column simply because she has heard a rumor would seem to me to be a very emotional decision.
Having read a few things that are very distasteful I feel I am better off for the experience. Therefore I support Steve Wolfer's opinion that Rand may have inquired as to why one was reading something that Rand did not agree with. How would Rand disagree with it. Possibly because she had also read it herself. One can be told what is wrong or what is right,but it is better to learn what is wrong or right. Or for lack of better terms what works and what doesn't.
A hurdle I had to overcome was the  use of the word selfish. The word has a deep association in my mind with greed. Yet it seems to me that to Rand she was describing 'mutually responsible individualism'. Where as greed is a symptom of ones insecurity. It is one reason I keep coming back to this site is the display of benevolent generosity. I learn here but I have to work for it. That is as it should be.  


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Post 66

Monday, January 25, 2010 - 4:51pmSanction this postReply
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Harley, as far as I'm aware, Kate was never restricted to the dissent forum. So you can get off your soap box now.

It doesn't take courage to ask if the slander someone receives is true. This "test" you're talking about doesn't amount to much of an "objectivity test".

If you disagree, could you tell me if it's true that Jews in medieval Europe were sucking the blood of gentile children? Cause you know, I was just wondering. Does that make me objective now?

Post 67

Tuesday, January 26, 2010 - 6:22amSanction this postReply
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Re:

could you tell me if it's true that Jews in medieval Europe were sucking the blood of gentile children?

As far as I know, the folks making that particular claim didn't include any former Jews: nobody making that accusation, in other words, claimed to have been in a position to witness an actual blood-sucking in progress.

The claim of censorship, on the other hand, comes from a former associate of Rand's. (If it had come from someone who had never been an associate of Rand's, it would be easier to ignore.)

Regarding the possibility that Rothbard's emotional state influenced his assertions: others here have correctly pointed out that this possibility, too, should not be ignored. However, neither does the likelihood of emotional stress provide in itself a reason for dismissing the claim.
(For example: when Rand and -- later -- other defectors from the Soviet Union reported the evils happening there, it would have been a mistake to dismiss those reports on the ground that the defectors were, or were likely to have been, feeling unpleasant emotions at the time.)

Post 68

Tuesday, January 26, 2010 - 8:29amSanction this postReply
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"The claim of censorship, on the other hand, comes from a former associate of Rand's. (If it had come from someone who had never been an associate of Rand's, it would be easier to ignore.)"

Rothbard's claims about forbidden books were concerning the wake of the Branden split - almost a decade after he and Rand were on the outs. He wouldn't have been personally plugged in, and even if he knew third parties still close to Rand, as I said we'd expect substantiation from them was Rothbard correct. Without first-hand corroboration, his claims are empty.

Aaron

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Post 69

Tuesday, January 26, 2010 - 11:07amSanction this postReply
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Kate,

As far as I know, the folks making that particular claim didn't include any former Jews: nobody making that accusation, in other words, claimed to have been in a position to witness an actual blood-sucking in progress.


Oh I'm sure there were plenty of gentiles who claimed to have witnessed the act. What makes you think people don't make things up? Ever heard of the Salem Witch Trials?

Post 70

Tuesday, January 26, 2010 - 12:25pmSanction this postReply
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Aside from Rothbard, it looks like this Rand-banned-books (sounds like) rumor has other sources.

How Ayn Rand Became an American Icon: The perverse allure of a damaged woman.

By Johann Hari
 

Don't give to tsunami victims - the message of the American right's Philosopher-Queen

Posted by Johann Hari on Sunday, December 25, 2005


As Astonishing as Elvis (a book review)

Jenny Turner
 
While I doubt discussers here will give credence to these authors anymore than they did Rothbard, perhaps had you (Kate) cited these sources from the get go, you'd have avoided some the flack you've taken from this thread. Maybe not. 

Jordan





Post 71

Tuesday, January 26, 2010 - 12:50pmSanction this postReply
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Jordan and all -- if I'd known of those other sources, I'd have cited them.

Post 72

Tuesday, January 26, 2010 - 12:52pmSanction this postReply
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Of course. My point was that I don't think it's safe here to shoot questions off the cuff. It would behoove you to do some research first.

Jordan

Post 73

Tuesday, January 26, 2010 - 1:04pmSanction this postReply
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Jordan, they're still all hearsay evidence. In a criminal trial for example, you don't have the police conduct interviews and let that information before trial get to the public to contaminate people's views. And you don't interview people groups at a time because the temptation for some of the interviewees to start recreating reality according to what someone else is suggesting is too tempting. You could simply have one person make an accusation, and then have others start to parrot the accusation.

The story of alien abductions are very famous for this. In Carl Sagan's book "The Demon-Haunted World" he brings up a famous movie that depicted an alien abduction I believe from the 70's. I don't recall the movie title at the moment. But Sagan cited that once the movie aired, all of a sudden most of the alien abduction claims became very similar in detail to the movie that preceded them.

And Aaron brings up an excellent point. If for example the accusation that Rand had made her associates sign loyalty oaths, where is a copy of one? It's a simple piece of evidence that should be easily provided. Yet such evidence has never surfaced.




(Edited by John Armaos on 1/26, 1:06pm)


Post 74

Tuesday, January 26, 2010 - 1:15pmSanction this postReply
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John,

To be sure, I didn't link those articles as evidence to substantiate the rumor, but to show that the rumor has other homes and is not solely Kate's baby.

Jordan

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Post 75

Tuesday, January 26, 2010 - 2:25pmSanction this postReply
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The Betty and Barney Hill abduction...The Ufo Incident
(Edited by Joe Maurone on 1/26, 5:39pm)


Post 76

Wednesday, January 27, 2010 - 4:55amSanction this postReply
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Fun with questions ...

--is it true that Adolf & Jon Maynard were gay?
--is it true that Friedrich N. was crazy?
--is it true that Sigmund F. was a "coke-head"?
--is it true that most German existentialist philosophers were Nazi's?
--is it true that Marx forbade his associates to gain and keep objective value?

Ed




Post 77

Wednesday, January 27, 2010 - 6:45amSanction this postReply
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Jordan,

You're not an Objectivist, but you been exchanging posts at ROR for quite some time, do you consider the author of the first two articles you linked to in your post as a reputable or reliable source - I mean would you trust anything in any of those articles as factual?

I know you are an attorney and can easily address my question without really answering it - so, please, do you think those articles shed any light on the factual issue?

Post 78

Wednesday, January 27, 2010 - 11:12amSanction this postReply
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Hi Steve,

Hari is new to me, but his wiki suggests to me that he is a highly respected journalist and writer. I don't doubt that he has sources for his factual allegations, nor that he quotes them accurately. Whether those sources are to be trusted -- that is the question. Containing the discussion to the issues at hand, Hari alleged:
One student said: "There was a right kind of music, a right kind of art, a right kind of interior design, a right kind of dancing. There were wrong books which we should not buy."
Even as she preached freedom, she created a personality cult around herself sardonically dubbed The Collective which permitted no dissent and even adhered to her list of banned books.
I don't know who his source is for the second allegation -- Rothbard (?) -- but the first, as Google reveals, is Ellen Plasil, author of Therapist, a book about her lousy experience as a patient of Peikoff's. I cannot tell from my paltry research whether she knew Rand, so it's unclear whether we can ascribe to Rand the allegations Plasil made against Objectivism. All I found is the expanded quote from Plasil's book:
"Whatever their source, there seemed to be rules of right and wrong for everything in Objectivism. There was more than just a right kind of politics and a right kind of moral code. There was also a right kind of music, a right kind of art, a right kind of interior design, a right kind of dancing. There were wrong books which we could not buy, and right ones which we should. Wrong books were written by "immoral" people whom we didn't want to support through our purchase; right books never were. There were plays we should not see, records we should not listen to, and movies we should not pay to watch. There were right ways to behave at parties, and right people to invite to them. And there were, of course, right psychotherapists. And on everything, absolutely everything, one was constantly being judged, just as one was expected to be judging everything around him. And if one was not judging everything that was around him, one was judged on that, too. It was a perfect breeding ground for insecurity, fear, and paranoia."
Her account is generally consistent with those of Merill, the Brandens, and Rothbard. (Incidenally, I have not seen their allegations controverted by Rand's other associates.) It is probative to the issue.

Aside, I should say that Hari misunderstands and misinterprets Rand, and that comes as no surprise, given his bias as a "European social democrat."

If this answer doesn't satisfy you (did I really answer your question?), please do let me know what else I should address.

Jordan


Post 79

Wednesday, January 27, 2010 - 1:41pmSanction this postReply
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A patient of Peikoff? You're thinking Lonnie Leonard, not Leonard Peikoff.

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