My AmazonReview of "The Reasonable Woman," allegedly by Wendy McElroy


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To me it's obvious that Bertie is an interested party.

Of course "Bertrand" is an interested party. He doesn't give a shit about the facts.

By interested party I meant it's either the author, a family member, the publisher, the attorney, um, someone like that. Someone with something to lose, or gain.

I mean someone who. at the very least, is friends with Wendy, Brad, or someone in their circle.

The posts written by that troll thus far were not the work of some guy who came here curious to learn the facts. They were witten by someone intent on tripping me up with trivia. The fact that the troll will not reveal his real name, and that is making such an effort to conceal it, would suggest that we would recognize his name. If we wouldn't know him from Adam, there would be no need for all the secrecy.

Ghs

Aren't there people who are paid to do that sort of thing? I don't think this fellow has an emotional attachment to Wendy because if he did he'd have blown up by now. He just grinds along with his original thing.

--Brant

Edited by Brant Gaede
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GHS I think we just posted near at once. A number of intersects.

The best way for this person to ever redeem them self would be to come clean now. In the end, that is always the best.

But that rarely happens.

rde

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GHS I think we just posted near at once. A number of intersects.

The best way for this person to ever redeem them self would be to come clean now. In the end, that is always the best.

But that rarely happens.

rde

Great minds think alike. At least that's what I read the Big Book of Cliches years ago.

The relevant members of the Wendy gang, so far as OL is concerned, are Wendy, Brad, Kinsella, and Martin. I have no compelling reason to think that the troll is any one of these, but if I had to pick one, I would pick Richard Martin. He showed up the other day and after attempting to embarrass me, got more than he gave in return. He made the huge mistake of tipping me off to who he was. I cannot imagine that Richard was very pleased when I told those true stories about him and then pinpointed the website of his company.

Shortly thereafter Bertrand pops up, not long after Richard scurried off, and, as Michael has told us, this troll has made considerable effort to conceal his identity. So why would someone do this? Trolls typically set up a special Yahoo account if they want to conceal their identities. But not Bertie; he has done much more than that.

Richard originally showed up under a false name, so if he were to show up again, we would expect the same. Moreover, given how he got burned the first time, Richard would take special care not to reveal his identity again, given that he is the respectable CEO of a corporation.

I could see Richard doing this to get back at me. Richard sees himself as a tough guy who would go after someone he thinks screwed him over. But, as I said, this is pure conjecture. Guesswork on my part.

Ghs

Addendum:

One more thing: Bertrand, whoever he is, is not very experienced with forums like OL. This is evident from his clumsy approaches. This fits Richard as well.

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If we wouldn't know him from Adam, there would be no need for all the secrecy.

Ghs

Somebody has to say it -

We would definitely know him from Adam.

I was soooo tempted to post that.

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If you feel you must try to threaten me by tracking me down, then do so, but even if you are successful in posing the threat, heck if you are successful going through with the threat, even then the refutations would still refute the arguments made. The citations of the fallacies would remain accurate and until/unless they are deleted would remain verifiable. There is no purpose whatsoever with this tactic. It cannot and does not cause the problems already cited disappear. It won't make logic apply differently for George's claims, nor will it change reality.

Why not focus on the issues instead?

I look forward to reading your answers when I work my way to this page.

Mr. or Ms. B.

Apparently, you are confused. Or, I am delusional. You are actually stating that there has been a threat made by me to track you down? Now that is sad.

At any rate, I want you to focus on the issues.

Issue number 1. Resolved that Wendy McElroy plagiarized the work of George Smith. Yes or No.

Answer please.

FYI:

Appeal to Authority

You appeal to authority if you back up your reasoning by saying that it is supported by what some authority says on the subject. Most reasoning of this kind is not fallacious, and much of our knowledge properly comes from listening to authorities. However, appealing to authority as a reason to believe something
is
fallacious whenever the authority appealed to is not really an authority in this particular subject, when the authority cannot be trusted to tell the truth, when authorities disagree on this subject (except for the occasional lone wolf), when the reasoner misquotes the authority, and so forth. Although spotting a fallacious appeal to authority often requires some background knowledge about the subject or the authority, in brief it can be said that it is fallacious to accept the words of a supposed authority when we should be suspicious of the authority's words.

Example:

The moon is covered with dust because the president of our neighborhood association said so.

This is a fallacious appeal to authority because, although the president is an authority on many neighborhood matters, you are given no reason to believe the president is an authority on the composition of the moon. It would be better to appeal to some astronomer or geologist. A TV commercial that gives you a testimonial from a famous film star who wears a Wilson watch and that suggests you, too, should wear that brand of watch is committing a fallacious appeal to authority. The film star is an authority on how to act, not on which watch is best for you. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Adam

Leading by example

Edited by Selene
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I just changed my avatar to Bertrand Russell.

Maybe that was one of the (many) things that annoyed me about this person. I remember the one time I really had to go to Jail. I had read a great deal of BR before. In this, I managed to get past the tumble, and I spent my time there reading "The History of Western Philosophy." Might as well do something, no? But I digress.

Maybe we should all change our avatars to BR.

I don't know much about this particular Richard Martin, and I will not accuse unfairly, but it seems, between what I just read of his work, and the history, that it is a definite possibility. Apologies in advance (but if it is true, you got Problems, Big Boy: Big Problems).

What would make a man do such a thing as to so thoroughly compromise his credibility, such as it is? Someone ought to ask him. From what MSK says, there is a bit of (and I come to hate this word used around here) "evidence" that compels it. If it is so, he is definitely slipping his game.

Loyalties do strange things to people. You never know where a person is in real-time, vs. how you remember their past. I have seen people mutate in odd fashions.

More digression, but I still maintain that it is a very sad thing when someone masks their identity; that is only done in very unique situations, and even then it comes to question.

I guess people lose their kung fu sometimes. I hope it is not so but it is starting to stink. I smell the winds of shit.

The thing to do for starters would be look for turn-phrases, certain types of rhythm patterns, etc.; generally, what their "flow," and breadth and depth typically look like.

Writers (at least real ones) eventually develop a unique flow and style--it can be I.D.'d with a bit of work, annoying as that is to do. If, and I just say if (because the possibility exists, esp. when dealing with those who work very hard at masking, or, more likely, have developed some kind of fucked up pathology) this is true, it will reveal itself to anyone that studies writing style.

Another thing I notice about this is what appears to be a "run-to" action. Meaning, when, er, "Bert," here has been hit with a shit bomb, he has, in his reply, manifested something that looks like he went back to his handlers. It is a tell when someone has new stuff that just came in--hard to manage into the regular flow. Often, the kind of information that, had they remembered or had prior, would have appeared earlier, either directly, or in their general authority of style. Informed, call it. Informed of shit or gold, but still informed.

rde

Hey Bertie, You Shoulda Never Let Them Take THAT pic, it is gnarly.

Edited by Rich Engle
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So you take her up on her offer to rework the material, which you now call "transcribing" when in fact if what you present as the result of her merely transcribing the tapes, then the exclamation point would never have appeared, nor the italics. It would have read "But" and that's all. When notes are merely transcribed, you don't get exclamation points or italics, you get simple plain text.

This almost sounds like James Valliant reasoning. This kind of arguing is based on a false premise. In this case, the premise is that there could only be one person who spoke and one who transcribed as mutually exclusive existences--and the one who spoke would never, ever look at or annotate--or ask to annotate--the transcription.

But, of course, it is quite plausible--hell, downright reasonable--to presume that George and Wendiy discussed this stuff back then, all without losing the characteristic of author and transcriber.

I see that logical flaw in the reasoning right off the bat and I am not even intimate with the topic. I can even think of a couple of other plausible explanations, too.

So I call Bertrand's reasoning here "boneheaded reasoning" (at least I called it that plenty in my criticisms of Valliant.) These folks think time and reality stop within a single context when their targets do something. Otherwise, the case will not fit their "deduct reality from principle" epistemology. In other words, if a fact doesn't fit the theory, toss the fact out, attribute the error to the target and call what's left "illogical."

Here is the fact that got tossed. Bertrand's premise is a speculation, i.e., the presumption that the transcription was not annotated or altered by George. Since this is a speculation, other plausible speculations have to be admitted. (I'm presuming that the exclamation point and other stuff that is protested are from the transcriptions. But come to think of it, are they?)

I think calling something that does not fit a construct based on nothing but a speculation "illogical" is a hell of a stretch.

Incidentally, this gem by Bertrand was posted from IP 62.113.219.6 in Hamburg. Germany.

More of the same old changing of the story and inconsistencies.

Bertrand immediately beamed over to Cracow. Poland, IP 149.156.47.185, to post that morsel of wisdom. Could that be called "more of the same old changing..."?

... please don't pretend that I have ever made any appeal to authority.

As Bertrand then wasted no time in instantly zapping over to the Czech Republic (IP Latitude: 49.75, IP Longitude: 15.5), I certainly will waste no time imagining him/her/it to be an authority on anything except, "Beam me up, Scotty!".

Forgive me for being so careful so as to avoid the very errors and falsehoods that I am citing here.

Oh, please...

Here's a logical statement for anyone reading this crap--an almost tautology to boot.

When people take great pains to hide something, it's because they have something to hide.

I wonder what Bertrand has to hide...

Sorry, George, I can't get the idea out of my mind that Bertrand could be Wendy herself.

(If anyone is interested in why my attitude is so aggressive, I don't like people trying to punk off my forum like this jerk thinks he/she/it is doing.)

Michael

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Hmmm. Interesting, MSK. All possible. Good bird-dog work! Starting to get the words.

So now, one of the lead riffs this punk uses (statistically, from what I have read) is the argument from authority one. I do believe they even violated that once, but it is all so full of goo I could be incorrect.

Either way, it's a comin'. Don't challenge a bunch of natural researchers.

INTERMISSION (including mild prophesy @ around 1:27):

Edited by Rich Engle
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Sorry, George, I can't get the idea out of my mind that Bertrand could be Wendy herself.

(If anyone is interested in why my attitude is so aggressive, I don't like people trying to punk off my forum like this jerk thinks he/she/it is doing.)

Michael

Is that all she's got? I'll take George's testimony that she's got more on the balls than this stuff.

--Brant

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But, of course, it is quite plausible--hell, downright reasonable--to presume that George Wendyndiy discussed this stuff back then, all without losing the characteristic of author and transcriber.

I taught my FOR classes for seven years (early 1975-1982) while I was living in Hollywood. I gave the first year of FOR classes (1975) while I was living with Diane Hunter, my first wife.

I met Wendy in late 1975, and she moved in with me in early 1976. I had been teaching FOR for a year by then, and I continued to teach it for another six years while living with Wendy.

After Wendy took her first FOR class from me, she was very excited about it. She sat in on a few more sessions after that, when I had an extra space. I'm sure we talked about those classes, but the format and content had been established by me long before.

The only significant change I ever made in FOR occurred after I had taught around ten eight-week classes.(I frequently ran two or more classes per week.) As I have said before, Diane and I had a good friend, Caroline Roper (later Roper-Deyo, after she married the attorney Richard Deyo), who took a keen interest in my work. In addition to my FOR classes, I was giving monthly lectures in a great old lecture hall (Larchmont Hall, near Larchmont and Beverly) that was only a few blocks from my apartment on N. Van Ness (between Beverly and Melrose). I was able to rent this spacious hall, which had a stage and hundreds of chairs, for only $40 per night. Thus if I was able to bring in 50 or 60 people (not uncommon) for five dollars per lecture, I could turn a nice profit for those days.

Anyway, Caroline always helped out with the hall arrangements and with FOR mailings and other details. As Wendy later did, Caroline and Diane also sat in on a number of my FOR classes -- though they never claimed credit as "co-developers" for doing so -- and I frequently asked them what they thought. I had been devoting two out of eight classes to basic logic, and they frankly told me that those were the least interesting (they really meant the most boring) of all the sessions. I agreed with them, having had some doubts about this myself, so I developed some new material (with their feedback and assistance) and substituted that material for the logic stuff.

After this change, my FOR courses stayed the same. They were working great, and I had no reason to change them.

Wendy and I separated in 1985. In 1988, she gave me the large floppy with transcripts of the dozens of cassette tapes that I had given Wendy to take to Canada with her. 1988 also happened to be the year that I left Knowledge Products, so I had some time on my hands before I found other work. I used some of that time to go through the FOR transcripts and do some editing and rewrites, in the hope that I might eventually get a book out of it. Wendy was living in Canada at the time, so she had nothing to do with any of this.

Not long afterward, Franklin West Towers -- the high rise apartment building in which I had lived since 1985 -- was converted to condominiums, so Annie and I moved to an apartment in Long Beach. After the move I got interested in other things and didn't do much more, if anything, with my FOR transcripts.

Around a year later, in 1989, Wendy started pushing me to finish the FOR book. I said I would be willing to finish it, if she would help by writing a few chapters and taking the responsibility for editing chores. Then, after she presented me with a reasonably good draft of the entire book, I would review the manuscript and make whatever changes I thought were necessary to get it published. We signed our agreement to this effect on Nov. 29, 1989.

Nothing further happened with the project until 1991, two years later. I was in need of work again, so I contacted Nathaniel Branden in the hope he would put in a good word with Tarcher Publishing. He did, so I wrote a polished draft of Chapter One, and then sent the proposal to Jeremy Tarcher on Nov. 7, 1991. (See my letter here.)

As I said in my letter to Tarcher:

The current status of the book is as follows. We have around 160 manuscript pages -- some of it very rough -- out of a projected total of 250 pages. We estimate that a final draft of the entire book will take around six months.

This is very significant, because it shows that, even two years after Wendy and I had signed our agreement, there was in fact no book manuscript in existence. Our book had not been written yet. My reference to "160 manuscript pages," some of which was "very rough," refers to my FOR transcript, which was to make up the core of our book. This is why I was to receive credit as the primary author.

Note that I mentioned that our manuscript would eventually run 250 pages. The difference between 250 and 160 is 90 pages.. This was the number of pages that I thought Wendy's three chapters (or whatever) might take up, (perhaps with some additions of my own) but which I had not yet received, and never did.

Around a year after Tarcher rejected my book proposal, Wendy severed all contact with me (via the "slut" phone call) and that was that. We never spoke about the book project again.

That's the basic chronology and the basic story. Everything fits, and everything makes sense.

Ghs

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Sorry, George, I can't get the idea out of my mind that Bertrand could be Wendy herself.

(If anyone is interested in why my attitude is so aggressive, I don't like people trying to punk off my forum like this jerk thinks he/she/it is doing.)

Michael

Is that all she's got? I'll take George's testimony that she's got more on the balls than this stuff.

--Brant

No, it's not Wendy. No way. She couldn't write anything as moronic as those posts by Bertie even if she tried. I doubt she could write them even as a joke.

Ghs

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I have tired of the Russell character. Oh, I thought of bringing it to this shit-spike with interesting juxtapositions of BR quotes against a person that, consciously<---either a keyword or otherwise chose that mask before starting all this. That would have been fun, but it just isn't enough for me. You have to have some standards. "After all, we are Professionals."

Anyway, I am borrowing something I was using for other purposes. I will now switch over to, when referring the the BR entity, as "Ding-Dong." Maybe use the hyphen, whatever. Here is the new battle theme. Just for now.

oh, you touch my tralala,mmm... my ding ding dong.la la la la la la la,la la la la la la,la la la la la la la.Oh, you touch my tralalala la la la la la la,la la la la la la.mmm... my ding ding dong.la la la la la la la,la la la la la la.Deep in the night,i'm looking for some fun,deep in the night,i'm looking for some love.de-de-de-deep in the night,i'm looking for some fun,deep in the night,i'm looking for some (ping)You tease me,oh please me,i want you to be my lovetoy,come near me, don't fear me,i just can't get enough of you boy.Oh, you touch my tralala.la la la..mmm, my ding ding dong,oh you touch my tralala,mmm, my ding ding dong.la la la...Deep in the night,i'm looking for some fun,deep in the night,i'm looking for some love.you tease me,oh please me,i want you to be my lovetoy.come near me, don't fear me,i just can't get enough of you boy.Oh, you touch my tralala.la la la...mmm, my ding ding dong.la la la..oh, you touch my tralala.la la la..mmm, my ding ding dong.(ding ding dong)mmm, my ding ding dong 2xoh, you touch my tralala.lalala...mmm, my ding ding dong.oh ,you touch my tralala(ding ding dong)oh, you touch my tralala.

mmm, my ding dong dong.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DbYtqAWDF2U

rde

Oh, you touch my tralala

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These personal attacks just have to stop. blink.gif

rde

Waiting for the lightning bolt. It would be better than more sniffy, effed-up logic and lifeless prose.

Hello, Mr. Russell. It's an honor to meet you, Sir.

You said something once that I have always liked and which I have quoted many, many times -- and I would like to repeat it for the benefit of your philosophically-challenged namesake, "Bertand." I don't recall your exact words, but this is very close:

Most people would rather die than think. In fact, many do.

Btw, on one of your visits to the U.S., did you really make out with Ariel Durant in the back seat of a car while Will was driving? This is a scandalous story, I know, but they claimed you did. They were anarchists and into the "free love" movement of their era, and you, though no anarchist, had very enlightened views about sex. So what is the skinny?

Ghs

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These personal attacks just have to stop. blink.gif

rde

Waiting for the lightning bolt. It would be better than more sniffy, effed-up logic and lifeless prose.

Hello, Mr. Russell. It's an honor to meet you, Sir.

You said something once that I have always liked and which I have quoted many, many times -- and I would like to repeat it for the benefit of your philosophically-challenged namesake, "Bertand." I don't recall your exact words, but this is very close:

Most people would rather die than think. In fact, many do.

Btw, on one of your visits to the U.S., did you really make out with Ariel Durant in the back seat of a car while Will was driving? This is a scandalous story, I know, but they claimed you did. They were anarchists and into the "free love" movement of their era, and you, though no anarchist, had very enlightened views about sex. So what is the skinny?

Ghs

Was it a Cadillac?

--Brant

the things you could do before seat belts!

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"Most people would rather die than think. In fact, many do."

We're tracking you down like a hunted dog, Ding-Dong.

Amazing how self-fulfilling prophecies still manage to work, even when the person is not who they propose to be. You thought it, and now you own it, shit-for-brains.

But let's not ignore the basics. Cowardice, for one, my ding-ding-dong.

No balls doesn't work in a street fight. And it works that way especially well when you go to start one.

Weak. Very, very weak.

I wonder if It is either A: Sleeping B: Ran, or C: Is going to the tribal counsel for advice.

rde

Expect More of the Same

Edited by Rich Engle
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These personal attacks just have to stop. blink.gif

rde

Waiting for the lightning bolt. It would be better than more sniffy, effed-up logic and lifeless prose.

Hello, Mr. Russell. It's an honor to meet you, Sir.

You said something once that I have always liked and which I have quoted many, many times -- and I would like to repeat it for the benefit of your philosophically-challenged namesake, "Bertand." I don't recall your exact words, but this is very close:

Most people would rather die than think. In fact, many do.

Btw, on one of your visits to the U.S., did you really make out with Ariel Durant in the back seat of a car while Will was driving? This is a scandalous story, I know, but they claimed you did. They were anarchists and into the "free love" movement of their era, and you, though no anarchist, had very enlightened views about sex. So what is the skinny?

Ghs

Was it a Cadillac?

--Brant

the things you could do before seat belts!

I don't know -- but, to use Richard Martin's favorite term, I bet the back seat was absolutely disgusting by the time everyone got to where they were going.

As I recall, Will Durant (then in his twenties) met Ariel while he was the principal of a Ferrer anarchist school. Ariel was jailbait at the time -- around 15, I think -- but they had a love affair, got married, and later won the Pulitzer Prize.

I was reading Will Durant in my early high school years before I ever read Rand. He wrote many of those Haldeman-Julius Blue Books that were popular among freethinkers, and I had a number of them. The treatments of famous philosophers in those mini-books -- which were forerunners of the cheap paperback -- were later used as the basis for Durant's Story of Philosophy . That book was a huge best-seller and provided the travel funds and other expenses needed to get his 11-volume Story of Civilization started.

That set, despite being snubbed by many academic historians, is really excellent in many respects. Durant's anarchistic and atheistic tendencies show themselves at various points, such as in the first volume where we find a conquest theory of the origin of the State, complete with mentions of Franz Oppenheimer and others in that tradition.

Ghs

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Btw, on one of your visits to the U.S., did you really make out with Ariel Durant in the back seat of a car while Will was driving? This is a scandalous story, I know, but they claimed you did. They were anarchists and into the "free love" movement of their era, and you, though no anarchist, had very enlightened views about sex. So what is the skinny?

Ghs

George:

Life imitating art?

Trial Virginia - drunk and having sex in the back seat at 85 mph!

Paragraph 10. “At the time of the collision, Defendant was going 85 miles per hour.”

Paragraph 12. “At the time of the collision, Defendant was having sex with a female.”

Paragraph13. “At the time of the collision, Defendant was driving admittedly drunk.”

Paragraph 14. “At the time of the accident, Defendant was partially or totally in the backseat of the car.”

Wait, WHA? 85 miles per hour? The backseat? And what happened to paragraph 11?

Records show the defendant, from Woodbridge, was convicted in Fairfax district court of drunken driving near Telegraph Road in May 2010. But now he denies he was driving. (What?) He was coming from his 21st birthday party in Baltimore, court records state. The woman involved has been dismissed from the case. There was someone ELSE in the car too, and HE denies driving as well.

And here I thought I was never going to be able to work this story into a thread!

Adam

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GHS,

Doesn't it skin you when you see this kind of stuff erupting? I mean, people that, whether they live the morals or not, continue to profess them? It's like a salad bar.

I smell ivory tower. I smell people that have never really lived. In general, stink-smell.

It truly sickens me. You know why? I see people working a lot harder than I do every day, and I know I work hard. Yet, this kind of stuff comes from a whole different part of the parking lot.

I truly get the impression that these are the kinds of folks that never earned it. Very hard for a UU. But we never said we wouldn't be opposed to a good hoe down. Experience teaches a number of things. It's so fucking sniffy. Makes me pissed enough to invest. And that rarely happens in these sorts of engagements--usually I just let them do their little girlie-fights. But this one, fuck.

rde

They Ought To Go Jogging, or Watch Porn, or Something. Smoke some dope. Whatever.

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GHS writes: "Fortunately, this troll is not the brightest bulb in the chandelier. Teacher, my ass. He couldn't teach a bear to shit in the woods. And he is a coward to boot."

Guess what: bears already know how to shit in the woods. So is this the level of "non-contradiction" we can expect from Smith? No wonder McElroy plagiarized him. He left her no choice.

Edited by Starbuckle
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Here is part of my letter to Jeremy Tarcher that I posted earlier.

2040 Florida St., #8

Long Beach, CA 90814

Nov. 7, 1991

Jeremy P. Tarcher

Tarcher Publications

5858 Wilshire Blvd.

Los Angeles, CA 90036

Dear Mr. Tarcher:

Nathanieì Branden suggested that I write to you about a book proposal. I understand that he contacted you about a month ago regardling this project.

The working title of this book is The Psychology of Reasoning. I am not happy with this title -- it makes the book sound too abstract -- but it will do for now. Perhaps a title like "How to be an Intellectual" is better suited for this kind of book.

This book has two authors: myself and Wendy McElroy, a seasoned writer....

.....

Well, that's the basic sales pitch. Enclosed is a preliminary table of contents, a sample chapter, and background information on Wendy and me. (My emphasis.)

After scanning hundreds of old Worstar files, I finally located the Table of Contents referred to in the above excerpt from my letter to the publisher Jeremy Tarcher. This was the plan for the book on reasoning, to be co-authored by Wendy McElroy and myself, as of November, 1991. Our working title, as indicated in my letter to Tarcher, was The Psychology of Reasoning.

I have to look this over myself, so I have no comments for now.

.op

[1]

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF REASONING

by George H. Smith and Wendy McElroy

Table of Contents

Introduction: How to Use this Book.

Setting intellectual goals -- Keeping a journal -- Taking

risks -- Intellectual self-image -- Establishing a reading

program.

Chapter One: The Spectre of Error

Overcoming the fear of making mistakes -- Defining "error"

-- Different kinds of error -- Procrastination and the fear of

error -- Improving intellectual habits -- Productive error.

Chapter Two: The Benefits of Philosophy

Philosophy as a practical discipline -- The harmony of

reason and emotion -- Some myths about philosophy -- What is

happiness? (some classical views) -- Pursuing the good life --

How to read and evaluate philosophers.

Chapter Three: Thinking Philosophically

Reasoning as an art -- The role of logic and principles --

Some cliches of skepticism -- Possibility, probability, and

certainty -- The importance of definitions.

Chapter Four: The Art of Argument

What is an argument? -- Different kinds of arguments --

Building confidence -- How to listen and ask questions -- Setting

goals in arguments -- When not to argue -- Learning from

mistakes.

Chapter Five: The Art of Argument (continued)

Arguments about values -- Dealing with authorities and

"experts" -- The problem of intimidation.

Chapter Six: The Creative Intellect

Some theories about creativity -- The creative insight --

How to stimulate creative thinking -- Brainstorming -- Obstacles

to creativity -- Realistic self-evaluation.

Chapter Seven: The Paper Mirror

The value of verbal expression -- Getting your thoughts down

on paper -- The emotional side of writing -- How to express

yourself clearly -- overcoming writer's block -- Self-criticism

-- perfectionism.

Chapter Eight: Joys of the Mind

Using what you know -- Setting an intellectual environment

-- Discussion groups -- The importance of feedback -- Getting the

most out of books -- A basic library -- Maintaining motivation.

Ghs

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Since my old Wordstar files contained my 1991 letter to Jeremy Tarcher and the Table of Contents for a book that Wendy McElroy and I were going to write on The Psychology of Reasoning," I figured my polished draft of a chapter that I enclosed with the proposal must be in those files as well.

I was right. Following a lead from the Table of Contents, I found this in a file named INTRO.

I based this polished draft on some of my FOR transcripts, and I added some new material as well.

Here is the chapter (which was actually the Introduction) in its entirety. I know this is very long, but I want to get all this stuff on the record.

I have not read this chapter yet, but I suspect you will find parallels galore between it and TRW, since much of it was based on my FOR transcripts. If you do find such parallels, keep in mind that I wrote this in 1991, three years before Wendy McElroy began writing TRW in 1994. I will comment later, after reading it.

Written by me in Oct. 1991, and sent by me to Tarcher on November, 7, 1991. I am posting the file exactly as it appeared after I converted it 30 minutes ago.

Ghs

INTRODUCTION

HOW TO USE THIS BOOK

Getting Started

"Apparently the hardest problem for any writer, whatever his

medium, is getting to work...." This observation by the poet

Malcolm Cowley has been substantiated by writers in all fields,

professional and amateur, famous and obscure, good and bad. The

celebrated novelist and Nobel Laureate John Steinbeck had this to

say about getting started:

I suffer as always from the fear of putting down the first

line. It is amazing the terrors, the magics, the prayers,

the straitening shyness that assails one. It is as though

the words were not only indelible but that they spread out

like dye in water and color everything around them. A

strange and mystic business, writing.

Author Robert Crichton recalls how difficult it was to begin

writing his first novel, The Secret of Santa Vittoria.

I kept making notes because I was afraid to actually start

the book. For the same reason, to avoid starting, I began to

read a good deal about Italy.... There finally came a time

when I could no longer find a believable excuse not to

begin. I even announced the fact to my family and friends.

"Tomorrow, I begin."

Crichton set a reasonable goal -- to write one page a day --

but to no avail.

All day I sat at my desk and wrote one word. "If." Toward

evening I wrote the word in pencil so that it covered the

entire page. The next day I wrote "So now I begin" and never

got further than that.

When his page-per-day plan yielded no results, Crichton

decided to concentrate on one good opening sentence, hoping "the

rest of the book would unravel itself from there." When this

effort also failed, Crichton became so "self-conscious about

style and craft" that he sometimes wasted hours on one word.

In this way the day went. It was possible to fill a

wastebasket in a day and never write over four different

words. I always used a clean fresh sheet for a clean fresh

start. With every empty sheet there was hope, and failure.

Crichton eventually found a cure for his paralysis: He forgot

about style and wrote baby-simple prose, "in the form and style

of a Dick and Jane first reader." The results were astonishing.

Crichton wrote feverishly for weeks, and his novel was underway

at last.

Why did the "Dick and Jane" method work so well? As Crichton

explains, "Because the words didn't count the words poured out."

There is wisdom here -- a lesson learned by many writers

as they struggle to produce that elusive first page. When Frank

O'Conner was asked how be got started on a short story, he

replied:

"Get black on white" used to be Maupassant's advice --

that's what I always do. I don't give a hoot what the

writing's like, I write any sort of rubbish which will cover

the main outlines of the story, then I can begin to say it.

Similarly, John Steinbeck gave the benefit of his experience

"in facing 400 pages of blank stock -- the appalling stuff that

must be filled."

Write freely and as rapidly as possible and throw the whole

thing on paper. Never correct or rewrite until the whole

thing is down. Rewrite in process is usually found to be an

excuse for not going on. It also interferes with flow and

rhythm which can only come from a kind of unconscious

association with the material.

This process is called "brainstorming" -- ransacking your

brain and quickly jotting down every idea you find, without

censoring, evaluating, or revising. Brainstorming jumpstarts your

mind, it works with any kind of writing, and it is the best way

to keep a diary of your thoughts.

The Intellectual Journal

We recommend that you immediately begin an Intellectual

Journal -- a daily record of your thoughts and ideas. The Journal

will help get you started each day, it will improve your

reasoning habits, it will help you articulate your ideas, and it

will chronicle your intellectual development.

A good method for maintaining your journal is as follows:

(1) Use a loose leaf binder, so paper can be inserted as

needed. Once a week, date seven pages so they correspond to the

days of the following week.

(2) Commit yourself to at least five minutes of writing in

your Journal each day. This is a minimum, not a maximum. Write

more if you feel like it (and you often will), but feel free to

stop after five minutes have expired.

(3) When you fail to write in your journal, be sure to note

the reason on the appropriate page. This may consist of nothing

more than, "I forgot" or, "I was too tired today." At the end of

each week, therefore, you will have at least seven sheets of

paper with some writing on each sheet. You will have either an

entry or a reason why no entry was made.

(4) Make a daily appointment with your Journal and try to

keep it -- in fact, it is an appointment with yourself. Do not

permit interruptions or distractions. Be selfish.

(5) When writing about your ideas, allow your mind to

experiment and explore. Investigate the fascinating universe that

is your mind. Brainstorm in your Journal; transcribe ideas as

they occur to you, without attempting to censor or evaluate. (You

can always go back and sift the wheat from the chaff at a later

time.) The important thing is not whether your ideas are correct

or good but that you keep a record of them. No one else need see

your Journal. Forget about polish and style. Relax and focus on

getting your thoughts on paper, in whatever manner pleases you.

(6) Topics for your Journal are virtually unlimited. Your

goal should be to think philosophically, which simply means to

think in terms of principles. You can select topics such as

politics or religion, but your subjects needn't be so abstract.

For instance, you can write about a personal problem, if you

analyze that problem in terms of the principles involved.

(7) When recording your feelings and attitudes, be honest

and frank. If you feel elated and optimistic, say so. If you feel

depressed and pessimistic, say so. Your emotions fuel your mind,

and you cannot expect your mind to function properly without

motivation. To acquire that motivation, you must first know your

emotional state. If you are on an emotional downswing, you will

often find that writing about it will help lift your spirits.

Setting Goals

A central theme of this book is the role of purpose in

thought and action. Without consciously formulated goals you

cannot have a sense of achievement, because you are deprived of

the only standard by which to measure the success or failure of

your actions.

It is important: (a) to set long-term goals for yourself --

what you want from life generally; (B) to set intermediate goals

-- things you would like to accomplish within the next year or

so; © to set short-term goals -- things that can be realized

within the next month, week, or even in one day.

Since this book deals with intellectual activity, you should

decide: (a) the major intellectual goals you would like to

achieve and (B) whether these goals require more knowledge on

your part, better reasoning habits, improved attitudes, or

perhaps a combination of these.

Your goals should be committed to writing, and this is where

your Journal can help. You may wish to devote several days or an

entire week of your journal to establishing your long-range,

intermediate, and short-term objectives. The writing will help to

clarify the goals in your mind. Be as specific and concrete as

possible. Avoid nebulous, ill-defined goals with little or no

substance. For example, to say, "I would like to become an

intellectual within the next year," says next to nothing. Break

down what you mean by "intellectual." You may end up with

something like this: "I would like to be able to analyze complex

problems in terms of basic principles"; or, "I would like to

speak more succinctly and to the point"; or, "I would like to

keep my mind from wandering so much." Even these can be broken

down further for dealing with them on a daily basis.

Don't be dogmatic; your initial goals, even after they are

written down, are not engraved in stone. Your goals may evolve

and change over a period of time. This is to be expected. Just

because you have previously decided on a goal, this does not mean

that you must stay with that goal unconditionally. Remember: you

set goals to make life productive and rewarding, not to burden

yourself with obligations and unwanted chores. The purpose of

goal-setting is to make life easier and more enjoyable, not to

cause anxiety, guilt, and ulcers.

Taking Risks

Life is a series of decisions, and where there is a decision

there is the possibility of error or failure. Most of our

activities are done habitually, without conscious thought. When

we set a new goal, however, we must frequently redirect our

habits, and the possibility of failure looms ever present. It is

this fear of failure -- the fear of taking risks -- that condemns

many people to a life of dreary routine devoid of significant

risks, but also devoid of significant challenges and rewards.

You should establish a pattern of taking at least one risk a

day. The risk should pertain to an intellectual goal you have set

for yourself.

A risk is any activity (a) that is not done habitually and

therefore must be done consciously and deliberately; (B) that

will, directly or indirectly, put you closer to something you

want; © that entails the possibility of failure and thereby

creates a resistance to doing it.

A risk can be of minor or major importance. Many of the

risks you do for this exercise may seem minor, even trivial. This

is fine. A risk may involve committing yourself to ten minutes of

thinking about an issue, or speaking up in a conversation, or

reading a few pages of a book, or conceding "I was mistaken" when

appropriate. The content of a risk is determined subjectively, by

what constitutes a risk for you personally.

To qualify as your risk for the day, two conditions must be

met:

(1) The risk must result from a conscious decision to take

an action, and the action must be perceived as a risk at the

time. You will think to yourself, in effect: "I am about to take

a risk." Your success or failure is irrelevant -- the important

thing is to try. But remember: there are no "risks in

retrospect." You cannot reflect on your day and select an action

as a risk unless you viewed it as one before you took it.

(2) The risk must be recorded in writing. This is another

function for your Journal. A brief note each day stating what the

risk was and how you did is sufficient, although you may

elaborate more if you wish.

This risk exercise is an excellent means of overcoming such

problems as procrastination and lethargy. You will find that your

risks will add up over a period of time to major achievements. As

with other exercises, you should make this a part of your daily

routine. If you have trouble remembering each day, write notes to

yourself and place them in conspicuous places, such as on the

refrigerator or on the bathroom mirror.

If you find the risk exercise difficult, approach it as a

game. Shift your attention from the content of your risk and view

it instead as an experiment.

Books

Good books are essential to your intellectual development.

We recommend that you focus on serious works in philosophy,

psychology, history, economics, and other "academic" fields. Such

books provide knowledge, but they do more: they provoke you to

think, question, and criticize.

At this point you may be thinking: "What! Do you mean I have

to read dry, boring books? This is like being back in school!"

Our answer to this question has two parts.

First, you don't have to do anything you don't want to. Your

days of homework, exams, and grades are over (although unpleasant

memories may linger on). But don't fool yourself: there is no

short-cut to wisdom -- no vision on the road to Damascus that

will take the place of effort. If you take ideas seriously, then

you should familiarize yourself with the ideas contained in

serious books.

Second, if you have no interest in what a book has to say,

then there is no reason why you should read it. The trick is to

stimulate your interest in a subject and then read the

appropriate books because you want to know more.

This is why we advise that you do not commit yourself to a

rigid reading schedule. Do not make grandiose resolutions -- for

example, that you will read for two hours a day, or that you will

the great works in philosophy, cover to cover, beginning with

Plato's Republic. Such resolutions are rarely kept, and they

certainly won't enhance your love of reading. On the contrary, as

you fail time and again to meet your own (unrealistic) standards,

your self-esteem will take a beating and reading will become a

dreaded chore.

Many people suffer from "reader's block" -- a variation of

the infamous "writer's block." They just can't seem to get

started. As they begin to read a book, they get nervous; and this

turns to anxiety as they encounter difficult passages. They put

the book down, swear they won't give up until they finish it, and

rarely pick it up again. Their unfinished chore haunts them. They

resolve not to start on another book until they finish the first

one. And so goes the vicious cycle of reader's block; little is

actually read, and the thought of reading inspires nothing but

anxiety.

If you suffer from reader's block, the solution is to

cultivate a joy of reading. We shall have more to say about this

later; for now the the following tips should help you get

started.

(1) There exists a curious and diabolical mystique about

books, and it goes something like this: If you decide to read a

serious book, then you should start on page one and read every

page thereafter until you reach the end. Otherwise, you cannot

say that you have really "read" the book.

If you hold this belief (or any version of it), then get rid

of it now, totally. Excise it from your mind and leave no trace.

It is a stupid and pernicious myth that contributes more to

reader's block than any other factor.

Why should you read a book cover to cover if it bores you?

Why, having started a book, should you feel obligated to finish

it? Maybe it's a bad book, poorly written, or filled with

nonsense. Or maybe it just bores you. And who cares whether you

have really "read" the book? If you must announce such things,

say that you skimmed the book, or looked it over, or read part of

it.

When you pick up a book, look it over and move around; begin

in the middle if you like and work your way back. Skip some

parts, skim others, and read carefully only those parts that

interest you. If you don't like the book, throw it away, sell it,

or give it as a gift to an unsuspecting friend. It's entirely up

to you. The book is there for your edification and amusement;

exploit it shamelessly. The book exists to serve you, not vice

versa.

(2) To cultivate an interest in academic subjects is not as

difficult as it may appear. The key is what we call "finding a

hook."

Suppose you decide to familiarize yourself with philosophy.

It might seem logical to find an introductory text, but such

books can prove tedious and boring, because they contain

information that seems irrelevant to the beginner.

If this is your problem, find a hook -- a specific issue or

problem that interests you and that can serve as an entry point

to a broader range of topics.

For example: suppose you are curious about the subject of

animal rights. This is your hook. Find some philosophical

discussions of animal rights and look them over. They will

doubtless discuss the nature of rights in general. This may lead

you to investigate the moral foundations of rights and thereby

spark an interest in ethics. So you move to the broader sphere of

moral theory, and from there you might branch out even more.

Eventually, you might even return to that introductory text and

find it more interesting and coherent.

To summarize: Begin with something personal and particular,

read about that, and then expand to more general treatments. The

hook is a very effective method. Try it out.

(3) Some people claim that they are too busy to read. This

often serves as an excuse not to do something you don't want to

do anyway. If an activity is important and enjoyable, you will

find the time to do it.

Serious reading is best done is a comfortable environment,

free from distractions. But this environment, however desirable,

is not absolutely necessary. There are many wasted moments in an

average day that can filled with reading: eating alone at a

restaurant, waiting in a long line at a bank or grocery store,

sitting in a traffic jam that doesn't budge for twenty minutes,

and so forth. Use these wasted moments to dip into a book, and

you will be surpised at your progress. (Of course, this means

that you should always have a book nearby.)

(4) Personalize your books -- mark the passages you like and

jot your comments and ideas in the margins. This will make the

book easier to use when you return to it later, Moreover, as you

review comments made years earlier, you will have an interesting

record of how your ideas have evolved.

Some people refuse to mark in their books, regarding this as

akin to sacrilege. They keep their books in pristine condition,

as if they cared more about the appearance of a book than its

contents. This makes sense if you are a collector of rare and

valuable books but not otherwise. A well-read book will tend to

show it. If you want to handle pristine books with crisp pages,

fresh ink, untorn dustjackets, and uncracked bindings, then visit

your nearest bookstore. You will find many such volumes there --

unowned, unread, and unloved.

(5 Try to spend a few hours each week at a good library.

Allow yourself to wander through the stacks, skimming any book

that appeals to you. This is an excellent way to familiarize

yourself with books in a given field. Be sure to take along

something to take notes with, preferably your journal. Many ideas

will occur to you while skimming books; don't let them slip by.

Intellectual Self-Image

Everyone has an intellectual self-image, but too often it is

a poor one. Most of our intellectual "limitations" are self-

imposed; we convince ourselves that we are not capable of certain

intellectual accomplishments, because we are not that "kind of

person."

If your intellectual self-image is poor, try to forget about

it as you read this book. Do not stereotype yourself as incapable

of certain activities. If there is something in this book that

you don't want to do, then don't do it. But don't do it as a

result of conscious choice, not because you think you can't do

it. Frequently, our alleged limitations are an excuse for

inactivity. Avoid this trap. Bring as many aspects of your life

as you can within your conscious control.

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The following -- another old Wordstar file -- is not very important, but it does provide documentary evidence for part of my narrative. This is the letter in which I thanked Nathaniel Branden for his help with Jeremy Tarcher.

2040 Florida St., #8

Long Beach, Ca. 90814

November 7, 1991

Dr. Nathaniel Branden

Box 2609

Beverly Hills, Ca. 90213

Dear Nathaniel:

Many thanks for putting me in touch with Jeremy Tarcher.

A writing deadline prevented me from getting the proposal to him

earlier, but I finally got it off.

Also, in case I didn't mention it, I appreciate very much

the blurb you gave Laissez-Faire Books about my book. It is

apparently doing quite well for them.

I thought you might find the enclosed reviews of interest.

(Please return them if it's not too much trouble, as I don't have

easy access to a copy machine.) The review by Johnson is

horrendous; I gather he is a hard-core Randian who was offended

by my treatment of her.

The review from The Freethinker is interesting, and more or

less what I expected. I have a certain stature in the freethought

community because of my first book; but many freethinkers,

especially those in Britain, are Labor Party types. And here they

have to deal with a freethinker who obviously knows his stuff,

but who talks about Ayn Rand, free markets, and other strange

topics. In arranging the book as I did, I hoped that as

freethinkers read the freethought material, they would also read

the other chapters. This is happening, and some of them are

rather disturbed. Good. Most of the early freethinkers (Deists

especially) were Radical Whigs -- precursors to Classical

Liberals -- and I hope this message gets through.

Thanks again for your help.

Cordially,

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