Greybird

Nathaniel Branden defamed by Penn & Teller

84 posts in this topic

How much of the episode's failure was due to Branden's own lack of seriousness, respect, research and preparedness for the interview?

No one here has claimed to have seen the unedited interview, so who knows?

He has a website, so maybe he ought to write a brief something or other dissociating himself from the program. However, it may be a move that would serve more to call attention to the program than to clear anything up.

Since Penn and Teller have both expressed their pro-Rand personal beliefs, I seriously doubt that their representation of Branden was an honest mistake. They had to know who he is. And all they did was simple guilt by association, they didn’t even try to show Branden himself saying any goofy stuff.

Here’s an interesting program that goes through the ins and outs of interview editing and how to make someone look bad.

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The YouTube clip shows postgraduate-level techniques. What P&T did is from nursery school, altogether artless in its choppy editing and its refusal to let us hear the questions they asked.

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No one here has claimed to have seen the unedited interview, so who knows?

He has a website, so maybe he ought to write a brief something or other dissociating himself from the program.

Well, that would be a maneuver straight out of the Paranoid Old School Objectivist Playbook™ -- disassociation, denouncement, excommunication, siege mentality, thin skinnedness, low self-esteem, blame outward, refuse to reflect inward. But remember, we're not talking about Peikoff here, but Branden, so I'd expect something better. I'd rather see Branden write a brief explanation of his perspective of what went wrong with the show, as well as what was wrong about the substance of Penn and Teller's statements, especially their comments on the state of California's findings on self-esteem. I'd like to hear what arguments Branden has to counter the state's findings, or to explain why his concept of self-esteem isn't covered by their findings, etc.

However, it may be a move that would serve more to call attention to the program than to clear anything up.

Again, that's straight out of the POSOP™ -- let's not appear to "sanction" or call attention to our monstrously evil enemies. I've never understood anyone's worries about calling attention to views they disagree with, or to their "enemies." If you've got the truth on your side, I'd think that you'd be eager to call attention to them while demolishing their arguments. Kind of like how Branden didn't come across as bashful about calling attention to Rand's untruths when he sent out his response to her "To Whom It May Concern."

Since Penn and Teller have both expressed their pro-Rand personal beliefs, I seriously doubt that their representation of Branden was an honest mistake. They had to know who he is.

Hmmm. So, you think that P&T are such huge fans of Rand's that they went out looking to thrash on Branden because he hurt their hero decades ago?

I suspect that they probably had a pretty good idea of who he was, expected to possibly get some good stuff from him to support their position (as they did from "Dr. Zaius" and the other dude), but when they perceived Branden as having failed to deliver or to set himself apart from the self-esteem posse, they probably gave up on him and assumed that he didn't want to set himself apart.

And all they did was simple guilt by association, they didn’t even try to show Branden himself saying any goofy stuff.

The plugging of his own books in the third person was pretty goofy. I don't think it comes across as he intended. I think it was an attempt at cute humor. It didn't work.

J

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Well, that would be a maneuver straight out of the Paranoid Old School Objectivist Playbook™ -- disassociation, denouncement, excommunication, siege mentality, thin skinnedness, low self-esteem, blame outward, refuse to reflect inward.

Not necessarily, in fact I was thinking of something along the lines of what you suggest. As to not replying, it would be for the same types of reasons that he hasn’t written a reply to PARC. You don’t think the motivation behind PARC is also at work here? I can’t prove that it is, so call it a gut feeling, but does it sound utterly implausible to you? P and/or T read PARC, and decided to give this villainous soul of a rapist a bit of his just deserts. I don’t think we’ll ever know the truth.

The plugging of his own books in the third person was pretty goofy. I don't think it comes across as he intended. I think it was an attempt at cute humor. It didn't work.

We need to hear the set up to make that judgement. What question was he responding to?

Edited by Ninth Doctor
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Maybe Branden hasn't answered because he doesn't care as much as we do. Authors accept tv and radio invitations because it advertises their books and their authorial brand. (Remember the old saying about bad publicity?) They know fully well that these are entertainment media that make serious literary or intellectual discussion impossible. The audience heard the titles twice each and saw the cover of one of them. Mission accomplished.

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Not necessarily, in fact I was thinking of something along the lines of what you suggest. As to not replying, it would be for the same types of reasons that he hasn’t written a reply to PARC.

Sure, but PARC is irrelevant. It's beyond irrelevant. It was an "own goal." It makes sense that Branden wouldn't reply to it. How many people read it? 3 or 400? And out of the 400, about a dozen or so were Objecti-nutty enough to believe that it vindicated Rand rather than revealed how emotionally immature and vindictive she was (at least as far as the affair was concerned), and that she apparently rarely, if ever, pointed that high-powered, judgmental perception at herself.

On the other hand, lots of people have seen Penn & Teller's program. My understanding was the it did quite well in the ratings. It would make sense for Branden to comment on it. Additionally, there's the prospect of winning P&T and their fans over, and putting the misunderstanding behind them, where the same wouldn't be true with Valliant -- there would be no chance of Branden's getting through to that knucklehead.

You don’t think the motivation behind PARC is also at work here? I can’t prove that it is, so call it a gut feeling, but does it sound utterly implausible to you? P and/or T read PARC, and decided to give this villainous soul of a rapist a bit of his just deserts. I don’t think we’ll ever know the truth.

Yes, it does sound utterly implausible to me that Penn and/or Teller read PARC and then decided to use their television show to give Branden his just deserts. I mean, I guess Teller is a sneaky little mysterious shit, and I suppose that it's possible that he's all nutted out on Ayn Rand, but, even then, he still would have had to convince Penn to go along with the thrashing of Branden, and that just doesn't sound realistic. And keep in mind that P&T seem to have a good relationship with Ed Hudgins and the folks at TAS, who are known to associate with Branden.

J

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The plugging of his own books in the third person was pretty goofy. I don't think it comes across as he intended. I think it was an attempt at cute humor. It didn't work.

We need to hear the set up to make that judgement. What question was he responding to?

I don't know that knowing the question that Branden was asked would be relevant.

Earlier I couldn't quite put my finger on what was bugging me about Branden's statement, but I've been reflecting on it a little, and I think my problem is that, regardless of what question he was asked, his statement seems to unquestioningly accept the premise that any person wondering how to grow in self-esteem is indeed in need of growing in self-esteem. In effect, it accepts the patient's self-diagnosis rather than first determining if he actually has anything wrong with him. It's like someone asking what he can do to get rid of cancer, and a doctor answering that he should read his books on cancer surgery, rather than the doctor first concerning himself with discovering for himself if the patient has cancer, or if he has only falsely assumed that he has it.

Shouldn't the answer to any questions about what one can do to grow in self-esteem begin with the acknowledgement that we don't yet know that there is something wrong with the questioner's self-esteem? Wouldn't the first step be to interview him about his life, ambitions, talents and limitations or to propose some other means of measuring if he has an accurate or inaccurate self-appraisal?

J

Edited by Jonathan
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Sorry to come in so late on this topic. I may not get an audience, but, oh well.

One of Branden's points was not that a person has "something wrong" with his self-esteem. It's more like this: "One cannot be too rich and one cannot be too high in self esteem." Of course a person suffering from a low sense of self esteem can use help to raise his sense of self esteem. By the same token, a person of high self esteem can still want to improve either certain areas of his self esteem or his overall sense of self worth. Don't we of the Objectivist persuasion enjoy increasing our understanding of philosophy and its application? Doesn't that have the effect of raising our sense of self esteem because it increases our sense of personal efficacy in life?

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