Atlas Society will hold no Summer Seminar in 2009


Robert Campbell

Recommended Posts

Folks:

Can someone give me a simple objective fact pattern to the splits and in fighting that I thankfully missed, or direct me to as objective a fact pattern as may be available because the "venom" is palpable.

Adam

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 112
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Brant,

You are of course right about philosophy and psychology needing to come together. There is movement in this direction among philosophers now, albeit slow and halting. By the way, it is not so easy for psychologists to master philosophy as you might think—most psychologists are still taught a positivistic model of science, in which time taken to understand a system of ideas is disparaged as time spent not collecting data.

Although Ms. Hsieh is getting a Ph. D. in philosophy, she isn't angling for an academic job. What she appears to want is a place at the Objectivist Academic Center. Denouncing Chris Sciabarra and endorsing PARC (before it started being perceived as an embarrassment) are career-advancing moves in such a setting. Actually responding to Chris Sciabarra's ideas, or addressing critiques of PARC, are not.

Michael,

I need to read Cialdini's book. His analysis of Jonestown sounds spot-on to me.

When Ms. Hsieh was undergoing her public conversion to ARIanism, it came across to many who knew her as a crisis of faith. The average ARIan is smart enough to notice the abundance of people who diverge from the received doctrine in one way or another, yet are not living twisted, failed lives as the scriptures say they must. So the crisis of faith never fully recedes; it can flare back up again at any time.

Robert Campbell

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Jonathan,

Ms. Hsieh brought up Mr. Valliant's opus on Objectivism Online, not on her own forum.

Understood. Btw, Robert, Hsieh has a message for you in her comment #7 of today's Noodlefood Sunday Open Thread:

http://www.dianahsieh.com/blog/2008/12/sun....shtml#comments

Even then, I doubt she would have mentioned PARC had her pre-conversion statements not been cited. She is still quite sensitive about those.

Well, then thank Galt that she's got the moderators at OO to protect her, and that she can ban people who ask challenging questions on her own site.

Speaking of which, can anyone point me to examples of prominent pro-ARIan Objectivists publicly defending Objectivism against informed critics in discussions or debates where the opponents are free to present their arguments, and where the Objectivists don't have the option of banning opponents or deleting their questions or statements? I've seen many examples of such Objectivists publicly attacking the beliefs of others, and being very good at it, but I can't remember any examples of Objectivists facing intelligent criticism of Objectivism. The only almost-example that comes to mind is that of James Valliant visiting the Dawkins forum and then quickly disappearing after being caught looking quite stupid, if not dishonest, and I wouldn't call that a success.

Examples, anyone?

J

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On this thread's original topic, I can't say that I'm surprised or disappointed. TAS/TOC seems to have lacked a sense of direction for some time, and Will Thomas' blunders last year seemed to be the final nails in the coffin. I experienced disappointment back then, but now I basically feel that TAS/TOC is an acquaintance that has slipped into dementia while facing its final days of a fatal illness. I already mourned its passing last spring and have moved on.

J

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hello all,

Don't you think this thread should be more focused on TAS and how we can help restructure the organization? I was very much hoping to go to the TAS summer seminar in 2009 and I am sad to hear that it has been canceled. I agree emphatically that the TAS website needs work, I also think the Objectivism store needs work, and that TAS marketing tactics need to be reevaluated. Look, ARI is the competition, so TAS needs to think about its business model. Of course, for TAS to operate, they need revenue. Summer seminars may not be logical since the cost and the amount of work that is necessary to have them may outweigh the financial benefits.

In principle ARI has an authoritative attitude. This means that ARI endorses individuals as their spokesmen. They have a serious academic program (OAC) which certifies individuals as "objectively competent" in Objectivism. ARI spokesmen seem to be advised to not accept speaking arrangements with groups that host TAS speakers, particularly those that host David Kelley. Aside from all of this, there is a serious amount of muckraking directed toward TAS which is produced by many of the ARI adherents. ARI sponsored college clubs seem to be strictly regulated in terms of financial support, and are given license to use ARI materials.

In my opinion, it's a waste of time to sell ourselves as Open-Objectivists. Speakers and writers from ARI or any organization are not Ayn Rand, they can never produce an idea, nor an integration that Rand can now endorse. If that is the ARI concept of a closed system, it is most certainly true. So, why speak about Objectivism or write about it? Everyone is entitled to their opinion, they are free to say what they agree with or disagree with, what they think is consistent or not with Ayn Rand's fundamental principles. Anyone who adds to a philosophy, contributes integrations, etc, should take credit in name for their own ideas and give credit where and when it's due. The Objectivist view is that reality is supposed to be the arbiter. So clearly, this means that there are standards to being an Objectivist.

The driving philosophical issue between the two organizations is really moral judgment and sanction. What I would like to see from TAS is an structure that provides the resources for individuals to become knowledgeable in Objectivism at all levels. This means acting like a school. We are coming to a point in our culture where schools in Objectivism are needed locally. This goes beyond the framework of college sponsored clubs. In many ways, this is what a church is, it offers education to the general public. A church provides intellectual and moral guidance which is desperately needed. Adults and young adults need a place to go to study Ayn Rand's ideas, they need teachers and want a support group, and friends. TAS should be the head of a giant body of smaller groups which function as businesses.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Times are tough for non-profits. This doesn't mean TAS is over.

I'm not the first to say that their decision to go pop-cultural (or at least the execution of that decision) has been a mistake. If I'd come new to recent issues of The New Individualist Review, I would have thought, "Cheerful Reaganite conservatives with a healthy respect for popular culture and some good investigative stuff. Wonder if they'd like Rand. Nah, she's too heavy for them." What's odd is that ARI and its affiliated organizations have apparently had a greater popular success by going highbrow and by being candidly, up-front Objectivist.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Understood. Btw, Robert, Hsieh has a message for you in her comment #7 of today's Noodlefood Sunday Open Thread:

http://www.dianahsieh.com/blog/2008/12/sun....shtml#comments

This is hilarious, a perfect example of the cult mentality: if you're confronted with questions you can't answer without admitting that you're wrong, you just start accusing your opponent of dishonesty and malice, of course without giving any evidence for that, and ban him or her from your site. OO does the same, only more circumspectly, so that most people won't notice it. That's a rational philosophy for you!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Reidy,

I agree totally about the New Individualist. My biggest problem with the magazine is that it comes across as too playful. I'd like the appearance to become more respectable and serious. I'd like to see valuable articles in a more appropriate cover. The graphics of the magazine detract form its content. I have been digging into the NBI materials and I feel so spoiled by them. Honestly, it's hard for me to find anything that competes with the quality of Ayn Rand and NBI.

In some ways, it's good that the summer seminar is canceled. This may help people wake up, and not take things for granted. Does anyone know where Terry Goodkind stands between ARI/TAS? Maybe TAS flyers could go in his books?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Jonathan and Dragonfly,

Ms. Hsieh's comment at

http://www.dianahsieh.com/blog/2008/12/sun...read-29.shtml#7

is worth reproducing in full

Jonathan, when I told you to "go rot in hell," I meant it. You are not welcome to post in these comments; I will not spend my time answering your questions. I'm unwilling to spend my time on anyone who enjoys that cesspool known as "ObjectivistLiving," and your dishonesty and malice was perfectly clear in that thread on ObjectivismOnline. If you post again, your comment will be deleted. Now please, do the expected: go crawl back to ObjectivistLiving to complain about my dogmatism. While you're there, please tell Robert Campbell that I find his psychologizing of me -- the "crisis of faith" bit -- quite hysterical.

I don't hear any laugher in that response.

And I don't see any substantive defense of Mr. Valliant's opus.

Robert Campbell

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In some ways, it's good that the summer seminar is canceled. This may help people wake up, and not take things for granted. Does anyone know where Terry Goodkind stands between ARI/TAS? Maybe TAS flyers could go in his books?

Oh, god no. I am no fan of his. But why vandalize his books? The first thing I do when I buy Rand is rip out that indulgence.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Can someone give me a simple objective fact pattern to the splits and in fighting that I thankfully missed, or direct me to as objective a fact pattern as may be available because the "venom" is palpable.

Adam,

Start here: Selective timeline and links of the Kelley-Peikoff schism.

Some other things were not covered in this split, like the rupture between ARI and Reisman, but you can read some information on that here: How The Ayn Rand Institute Screwed George Reisman and Edith Packer.

In the present hostilities, Diana Hsieh was a member of TAS for a while and then became Nathaniel Branden's webmaster. Her rhetorical style is denounce the demons. While at TAS, she did a lot of denouncing of Peikoff & Co. Then she had a change of heart and joined the ARI faction, predictably cutting all her former relationships over one pretext or another, but denouncing all the while. Now she denounces her former associates.

The denouncing is the constant. The faction is the variable. :)

She has promoted a lot of hatred irrespective of side, as is evident in her writing. Most recently she took some time off from this, but now it looks like she is back in the spite-saddle and denouncing like she used to do in the wake of the cancellation of the TAS 2009 summer seminar.

From her comment to Jonathan and the rhetorical style she is now exhibiting, it sounds like she wants to be Lindsay Perigo when she grows up. :)

More later. Out of time.

Michael

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Robert and others:

I see this news as an opportunity. First, I think ARI is to be congratulated on the success of their outreach and their success in running an effective organization. Second, it presents an opportunity for those who want to innovate in topics around Objectivism to do so as individuals and to take individual ownership and credit for what is accomplished.

I think this is the right path because it is increasingly clear to me that very little is currently being done within the movement in the way of substantial innovation with appropriate follow-through in areas like brain science, economics, systems modeling and other very fertile areas where I believe Objectivism and Objectivists should have many things of importance to say. In many important areas, Objectivism and its nearest neighbors are no longer (and have not been for some time)radical.

This realization presents some very tough problems, but also some wonderful opportunities. As physicist Paul Dirac used to say: Who will do the hard work?

Jim

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I see this news as an opportunity. First, I think ARI is to be congratulated on the success of their outreach and their success in running an effective organization.

I wonder how much of that outreach credit goes to Rand and those little remittances that are included in every one of those 500,000 books a year she continues to sell a quarter century after her death.

I have to second the remark that neither school compares to NBI, even without Rand's contribution.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Jonathan and Dragonfly,

Ms. Hsieh's comment at

http://www.dianahsieh.com/blog/2008/12/sun...read-29.shtml#7

is worth reproducing in full

Jonathan, when I told you to "go rot in hell," I meant it. You are not welcome to post in these comments; I will not spend my time answering your questions. I'm unwilling to spend my time on anyone who enjoys that cesspool known as "ObjectivistLiving," and your dishonesty and malice was perfectly clear in that thread on ObjectivismOnline. If you post again, your comment will be deleted. Now please, do the expected: go crawl back to ObjectivistLiving to complain about my dogmatism. While you're there, please tell Robert Campbell that I find his psychologizing of me -- the "crisis of faith" bit -- quite hysterical.

I don't hear any laugher in that response.

And I don't see any substantive defense of Mr. Valliant's opus.

I didn't know you rotted in hell. I thought you rotted in the earth and burned in hell. Go BURN in hell, Jonathan! (I wonder if she'll let me watch.)

--Brant

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Donovan:

"What I would like to see from TAS is an structure that provides the resources for individuals to become knowledgeable in Objectivism at all levels. This means acting like a school. We are coming to a point in our culture where schools in Objectivism are needed locally. This goes beyond the framework of college sponsored clubs. In many ways, this is what a church is, it offers education to the general public. A church provides intellectual and moral guidance which is desperately needed. Adults and young adults need a place to go to study Ayn Rand's ideas, they need teachers and want a support group, and friends. TAS should be the head of a giant body of smaller groups which function as businesses."

You've just described NBI. I'd love to see TAS follow this pattern -- and it would take very little money to do so.

But I don't agree with the objections to the magazine which, under Robert Bidinotto's guidance, I've been very much impressed by. It's a means of reaching people a school would not reach. However, it needs to exist in conjunction with a school. Both avenues should be available to the very different types of people interested in Rand's ideas.

Barbara

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In some ways, it's good that the summer seminar is canceled. This may help people wake up, and not take things for granted. Does anyone know where Terry Goodkind stands between ARI/TAS? Maybe TAS flyers could go in his books?

Oh, god no. I am no fan of his. But why vandalize his books? The first thing I do when I buy Rand is rip out that indulgence.

To be honest, I haven't read Goodkind's books. I have no idea how consistent his books are with Objectivism. If Goodkind's books are not consistent enough with Objectivism, it would be inappropriate to even ask him if TAS flyers could be included. It certainly would not happen if Goodkind does not approve of TAS. Perhaps TAS flyers could be added to books like The Art of Reasoning or The Evidence of the Senses, etc. The point is that Ayn Rand's books are a premium source of growth for ARI. There is no reason why TAS could not capitalize on this same idea whenever possible.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In some ways, it's good that the summer seminar is canceled. This may help people wake up, and not take things for granted. Does anyone know where Terry Goodkind stands between ARI/TAS? Maybe TAS flyers could go in his books?

Oh, god no. I am no fan of his. But why vandalize his books? The first thing I do when I buy Rand is rip out that indulgence.

To be honest, I haven't read Goodkind's books. I have no idea how consistent his books are with Objectivism. If Goodkind's books are not consistent enough with Objectivism, it would be inappropriate to even ask him if TAS flyers could be included. It certainly would not happen if Goodkind does not approve of TAS. Perhaps TAS flyers could be added to books like The Art of Reasoning or The Evidence of the Senses, etc. The point is that Ayn Rand's books are a premium source of growth for ARI. There is no reason why TAS could not capitalize on this same idea whenever possible.

No, I am not a critic of Goodkind. I oppose ruining good fiction with advertising!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In some ways, it's good that the summer seminar is canceled. This may help people wake up, and not take things for granted. Does anyone know where Terry Goodkind stands between ARI/TAS? Maybe TAS flyers could go in his books?

Oh, god no. I am no fan of his. But why vandalize his books? The first thing I do when I buy Rand is rip out that indulgence.

To be honest, I haven't read Goodkind's books. I have no idea how consistent his books are with Objectivism. If Goodkind's books are not consistent enough with Objectivism, it would be inappropriate to even ask him if TAS flyers could be included. It certainly would not happen if Goodkind does not approve of TAS. Perhaps TAS flyers could be added to books like The Art of Reasoning or The Evidence of the Senses, etc. The point is that Ayn Rand's books are a premium source of growth for ARI. There is no reason why TAS could not capitalize on this same idea whenever possible.

No, I am not a critic of Goodkind. I oppose ruining good fiction with advertising!

I'm unclear as to how a flyer for TAS (as a resource for studying Objectivism) would be ruining any book, fiction or otherwise. Could you explain how exactly it would ruin a book? I personally have never judged a movie based on the selections of previews or advertisements which are shown before the film.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Barbara,

It's so good to hear from you! I'd like to see TAS follow the formula of NBI very sincerely. I am doing quite a lot of work on my own to study Objectivism and I would like so much to have added guidance. I am hoping to one day become a speaker or teacher of Objectivism myself. I just finished listening to your efficient thinking course. How is the book coming along?

I suppose I have different tastes when it comes to the appearance of political/philosophical magazines. Thus my only real compliant is esthetic. Have you written any articles for the magazine, Barbara?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

But I don't agree with the objections to the magazine which, under Robert Bidinotto's guidance, I've been very much impressed by. It's a means of reaching people a school would not reach.

Yes. Robert did a superb job with the magazine, and I used to look forward eagerly to its delivery. I'm curious to see what it will be like after his departure.

Judith

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Adam,

To continue, there are now several online Objectivist forums not formally affiliated with the big two organizations (TAS and ARI). Sometimes you can find a forum like Objectivism Online that does keep to an ARI orientation, or Forum4AynRandFans, which used to be in the ARI orbit until the owner started having some differences with Peikoff, but many places now are independent offshoots.

This is where OL is at. I strongly believe this is a healthy thing, despite the schisms.

The story of OL starts with SoloHQ, which was a forum that used to have Lindsay Perigo and Joe Rowlands as owners. I started writing online there as a nobody at the end of 2004. Perigo and Rowlands later fell out, so SoloHQ split: Perigo then developed Solo Passion and Rowlands developed Rebirth of Reason. I had become a popular writer on SoloHQ, but I had strong differences with both (and that itself could be a book :) ). Kat felt the animosity toward me was ridiculous, so she bought a domain, set up a phpbb forum and told me to make it work. Her idea was for me to have a place to present my writing. So I dug in. To my delight, many good people I admired joined of their own free will and contributed some highly important contributions. Now OL is a somebody. A small somebody, but a somebody.

The strongest difference between OL and other Objectivist forums is probably the emphasis on checking premises. I like to encourage people to think for themselves, even if it means questioning the foundation of Objectivism. I believe that if an idea can stand up to the best criticism available, it is solid. If it can't, something needs some serious work. Anything less is kidding yourself.

Sometimes this is mistakenly interpreted as intellectual weakness on my part or as a license for a poster to get on a soapbox and start preaching, either for or against Objectivism (or for some other religion or philosophy or social cause for that matter). But I have a visceral aversion to preachers of all stripes. I don't like them. They try to think for you. They try to bully you or trick you or scare you or intimidate you into turning off your mind and adopting their party lines. I just don't want that crap around me.

Perigo runs a personality cult based on a campy kind of vulgarity and nastiness of spirit, and Rowlands has a stated interest in Objectivist activism, which he has tried to expand but so far has been unable to go beyond a small forum. He also restricted many highly intelligent people from posting on RoR (either moderating them, restricting them to a dissent forum, or outright banning them). He did this without previous notice and it was a PR disaster. Nowadays, the tenor of the site is that it is not a place for questioning Objectivism, but for discussing how to spread it and some general topics of interest to the members. RoR is essentially a small club whose members loosely hold the same general ideas, with some lively differences of opinion at times.

Both Perigo and Rowlands have called me some pretty vile names for my disagreements with them and premise checking of their statements. They had set themselves up as Objectivist leaders and my premise-checking called their authority as experts into check. I have since come to the conclusion that neither is the expert I once thought they were when I started writing. I believe this is partly why they have made such derogatory statements about me.

On my side, I despise Perigo because of the bullying irrationality (among some other crap) he tries to fraudulently pass off as rational passion, and I merely dislike Rowlands for a variety of reasons. But since Rowlands has been mostly low profile for many months and has avoided antagonizing people with pettiness, I shall keep my peace on my reasons and wish him well from a distance.

One of the main points of controversy I became involved with arose with the publication of PARC and Perigo's adoption of it after he could not get Barbara to trash her decades-long friendship with Jim Peron because he hated Peron. That's a long dirty story, one of the filthiest in the Objectivst subculture (Peron was maliciously and intentionally framed and slandered in the most disgusting form possible because of petty vanity and local NZ political intrigues). Barbara used to write on SoloHQ, but it is not easy to bully her as Perigo found out the hard way.

Because Barbara rejected Perigo, he has since launched one viscous attack against her after another, going to the lengh of flying half-way around the world and trying to leech off of TAS's public one year to bash Barbara in a speech near the time she was giving her own speech at the event. Attacking Barbara, whom I love, is a strong reason for me to despise this guy, but that kind of petty hatred driving a person as an ethical prime mover, instead of productive achievement, gives me the willies. And that, to some folks, is Objectivism.

The hell it is.

Hsieh also cashed in on Perigo's malice to clean up her then embarrassing friendship with Chris Sciabarra. He is seen by many at ARI as a threat to Objectivism, so she could not kowtow to ARI and keep that kind of friend for long. She published on Solo Passion one of the most embarrassing documents ever written by an avowed Objectivist, a long, boring, near-incoherent essay essentially presenting parts of Chris's private correspondence and her hurt feelings, with some mighty twisted rationalizations to justify why he is now the scum of the earth. It was an exercise in kindergarten metaphysics with a malicious warped sense of life.

Rationally speaking, it was uncalled for. A person can competently kowtow without that kind of trifling nastiness. People only do that because they like to do that.

I could go on and on, and there's oodles of this kind of stuff in the Objectivist subculture, but basically it doesn't get any better. It goes nowhere but bickering. I stand up to it when it gets really loony and spiteful, and this is one of the reasons I am hated by those mediocre souls. I take the covers off their cons. (Some others on OL do the same and they are equally hated.)

But if it sounds like a lot of bullshit, that's because it is. It gets bitterly comical because it is the exact opposite of Rand's eloquent and grandiose vision. It's all a lamentable piss-poor concrete for her lofty abstractions.

(Later, when the money-making stuff starts taking off, I will intentionally avoid these things. A strong polemic might draw an audience, but bickering makes customers run away.)

If any of this interests you further, let me know and I will point you to some links.

I hope this helped answer your question.

Michael

Link to comment
Share on other sites

(snip)

The driving philosophical issue between the two organizations is really moral judgment and sanction. What I would like to see from TAS is an structure that provides the resources for individuals to become knowledgeable in Objectivism at all levels. This means acting like a school. We are coming to a point in our culture where schools in Objectivism are needed locally. This goes beyond the framework of college sponsored clubs. In many ways, this is what a church is, it offers education to the general public. A church provides intellectual and moral guidance which is desperately needed. Adults and young adults need a place to go to study Ayn Rand's ideas, they need teachers and want a support group, and friends. TAS should be the head of a giant body of smaller groups which function as businesses.

Well put. A little bit of deja vu for those who remember the 60s, also.

Bill P

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.