1049: "Bookshelf"

This forum is for the individual discussion thread that goes with each new comic.

Moderators: Moderators General, Prelates, Magistrates

User avatar
The Great Hippo
Swans ARE SHARP
Posts: 7368
Joined: Fri Dec 14, 2007 4:43 am UTC
Location: behind you

Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby The Great Hippo » Wed May 09, 2012 11:15 am UTC

HugoSchmidt wrote:Well, I'm sorry that you are only used to books with a few big (not long, but big as in printed big) words and plenty of bright pictures, but when you are dealing with something substantive, you need to bring a little effort to the table.
It was a sixty page monologue explaining to me what the major themes of the book are supposed to be. Lady, I just read your book. If you think you need to take sixty pages to have a character step aside and explain the point to me, maybe you should make it a little bit more clear in the prose. Then again, this is Ayn Rand we're talking about. It's not like the point was ever under question. Whatever words you use to describe her as an author, 'subtle' is not among them.
HugoSchmidt wrote:Rand demonstrated that, outside of morality, happiness is impossible.
How? With words, or with science?

HugoSchmidt
Posts: 74
Joined: Mon Apr 30, 2012 7:30 am UTC

Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby HugoSchmidt » Wed May 09, 2012 11:38 am UTC

@HugoSchmidt in general:
You know, in my country we have a saying: "God, please protect me from my friends, I can handle my enemies myself!". Relax, take a deep breath or whatever else you want. The moment you are starting to accuse people of lying you assume they are actively malicious and, as such, there is no reason to talk to them at all.


Fair enough, I and have gone overboard here. And I am sorry about that. I get worked up about the fact that one can never bring up Rand without getting buried in a slew of non-rational responses (regardless of what you think about a sixty page monologue, it is not an argument against her philosophy to say that it is expressed in a sixty page monologue).

Hugo got so angry he attempted to argue that all evil stems from self-sacrifice alone, which leaves an obvious hole in his argument.


I see that that is how it looks, and I am sorry about that. I mean that ever major evil in history has required self-sacrifice to happen. I mean the horrors on the scale of Hitler, Mao, Stalin etc. All of those marched under ethical systems that taught the individual must be willing to sacrifice for some "higher" end.

What Objectivism does teach is the source of all evil is unreason, the refusal to look at reality. And here the preeminent author to read would be Nabokov, whose work is a study in how cancelling out the reality of another person is fundamental to the monsters in his books (of which Humbert Humbert is the best example).

You are quite right - and thank you for stating it - that the other half of Galt's credo is the refusal to sacrifice others to yourself. What makes Rand unique is that she shows how such a policy must result in your own detriment, not least because it reduces you to the state of a chronic dependent; that to deal with other human beings by trade as equals is the only rational and moral way to live.

I don't give the full range of proof here because I can't, but I try to sketch the outlines of it so that, if you want to go looking for it, you'll find it. Basically, the two fundamentals for human maturity are: 1) Reality is an absolute, 2) No human beings exists as anything but an end in himself.

User avatar
The Great Hippo
Swans ARE SHARP
Posts: 7368
Joined: Fri Dec 14, 2007 4:43 am UTC
Location: behind you

Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby The Great Hippo » Wed May 09, 2012 11:47 am UTC

HugoSchmidt wrote:I get worked up about the fact that one can never bring up Rand without getting buried in a slew of non-rational responses (regardless of what you think about a sixty page monologue, it is not an argument against her philosophy to say that it is expressed in a sixty page monologue).
Who argued this? Why would this be a point against her? What rational reason would I or anyone else have to dismiss her philosophy on this basis?

I was criticizing her as a writer, not a philosopher. I can say Atlas Shrugged was a lousy book yet simultaneously agree with every single word in it. Do you understand that distinction?
HugoSchmidt wrote:What makes Rand unique is that she shows how such a policy must result in your own detriment, not least because it reduces you to the state of a chronic dependent; that to deal with other human beings by trade as equals is the only rational and moral way to live.
What's her evidence? Did she study the human brain? Contribute to human behaviorism through a careful analysis of the available data? Form a hypothesis and test it in the laboratory?

I don't have a problem with her morals--except her constant assertion that she derived them from rationality. Bullshit. Outside of hypothetical moral dilemnas we can construct where it's to your benefit, there's nothing 'rational' about honesty. She picked these behaviors because they 'felt' nice.

And that's what her morality is all about: It's about making choices that feel nice to her. Okay. Fine. I won't criticize that. But presenting your moral system as if it has some basis in reason--some basis in science, in empiricism?--That's dishonest as hell.

HugoSchmidt
Posts: 74
Joined: Mon Apr 30, 2012 7:30 am UTC

Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby HugoSchmidt » Wed May 09, 2012 12:27 pm UTC

And that's what her morality is all about: It's about making choices that feel nice to her. Okay. Fine. I won't criticize that. But presenting your moral system as if it has some basis in reason--some basis in science, in empiricism?--That's dishonest as hell


And here's another example of what drives me up the wall. I've explained umpteen times that the virtues Objectivism preaches are requirements for human life, and I've repeatedly asked for challenges how a life lived in contradiction to these can be anything but self destructive and miserable. Instead I get this sort of a response.

User avatar
The Great Hippo
Swans ARE SHARP
Posts: 7368
Joined: Fri Dec 14, 2007 4:43 am UTC
Location: behind you

Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby The Great Hippo » Wed May 09, 2012 12:33 pm UTC

HugoSchmidt wrote:I've explained umpteen times that the virtues Objectivism preaches are requirements for human life, and I've repeatedly asked for challenges how a life lived in contradiction to these can be anything but self destructive and miserable. Instead I get this sort of a response.
So all I have to find is one non-destructive, non-miserable human being who isn't an Objectivist?

HugoSchmidt
Posts: 74
Joined: Mon Apr 30, 2012 7:30 am UTC

Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby HugoSchmidt » Wed May 09, 2012 12:36 pm UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:
HugoSchmidt wrote:I've explained umpteen times that the virtues Objectivism preaches are requirements for human life, and I've repeatedly asked for challenges how a life lived in contradiction to these can be anything but self destructive and miserable. Instead I get this sort of a response.
So all I have to find is one non-destructive, non-miserable human being who isn't an Objectivist?


Once again, please quote me accurately. Objectivism did not invent these virtues, it "merely" fully and consciously identifies what they are and why they are essential. I did not say "find me one non-self destructive non-Objectivist", and no fair reading of my statement would say otherwise.

Now can someone else see why this sort of thing irks me ever so slightly?

User avatar
The Great Hippo
Swans ARE SHARP
Posts: 7368
Joined: Fri Dec 14, 2007 4:43 am UTC
Location: behind you

Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby The Great Hippo » Wed May 09, 2012 12:38 pm UTC

HugoSchmidt wrote:Once again, please quote me accurately. Objectivism did not invent these virtues, it "merely" fully and consciously identifies what they are and why they are essential. I did not say "find me one non-self destructive non-Objectivist", and no fair reading of my statement would say otherwise.

Now can someone else see why this sort of thing irks me ever so slightly?
Okay, so, describe in detail a virtue that is an absolute, indisputable requirement for life. And before I find this dude--let's be clear what 'miserable' and 'self-destructive' means. You aren't going to fall back on some wishy-washy 'But I bet his private life was secretly a living hell!' thing, right? Because that would just be intellectually dishonest. Also, no picking virtues that make finding the dude enormously hard ("People who murder their parents and hide their bodies in the attic can't possibly be happy"). It has to be something a reasonable number of people don't have.

EDIT: By the way, this might not be science in its truest form, but at least it's a test. Create the hypothesis, set the terms, look for an exception. This is how empiricism works. It's infinitely more constructive than writing a bunch of essays and books that 'prove' you have to be honest to be happy. But those essays sound a lot more compelling than saying "IN MY EXPERIENCE, I've never met a happy dishonest person".
Last edited by The Great Hippo on Wed May 09, 2012 12:54 pm UTC, edited 3 times in total.

User avatar
eran_rathan
Mostly Wrong
Posts: 1844
Joined: Fri Apr 09, 2010 2:36 pm UTC
Location: in your ceiling, judging you

Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby eran_rathan » Wed May 09, 2012 12:50 pm UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:EDIT: By the way, this might not be science in the clearest terms, but at least it's a test. Create the hypothesis, set the terms, look for an exception. This is how empiricism works. It's infinitely more constructive than writing a bunch of essays and books that 'prove' you have to be honest to be happy. But those essays sound a lot more compelling than saying "IN MY EXPERIENCE, I've never met a happy dishonest person".


I call this "Mythbusters Science."

Image
"Does this smell like chloroform to you?"
"Google tells me you are not unique. You are, however, wrong."
nɒʜƚɒɿ_nɒɿɘ

J Thomas
Everyone's a jerk. You. Me. This Jerk.^
Posts: 1190
Joined: Fri Sep 23, 2011 3:18 pm UTC

Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby J Thomas » Wed May 09, 2012 1:10 pm UTC

HugoSchmidt wrote:
And that's what her morality is all about: It's about making choices that feel nice to her. Okay. Fine. I won't criticize that. But presenting your moral system as if it has some basis in reason--some basis in science, in empiricism?--That's dishonest as hell


And here's another example of what drives me up the wall. I've explained umpteen times that the virtues Objectivism preaches are requirements for human life, and I've repeatedly asked for challenges how a life lived in contradiction to these can be anything but self destructive and miserable. Instead I get this sort of a response.


This confusion might be a big part of your problems. No, you have not explained that the virtues that you preach are requirements for human life.

You have claimed they are. You have asserted they are. You have insisted that they are. You have ranted that they are. You have not explained.

Perhaps you think that if nobody proves to your satisfaction that you are wrong, that means you're right?

Oh well. Here is something like a counterexample. my friend Catherine does not follow Objectivism. I've never caught her trying to lie to me, but it's a big challenge to communicate at all and mostly she doesn't seem to care what I think. When she wants something she comes to me and pets me, and I pet her back. She understands that she needs to get my attention. Then if petting isn't what she wants she acts irritated, and if I don't pick up on that the she starts nipping at my arm. (She hardly ever breaks the skin and has never actually nipped off any flesh.) Then I understand that she wants me to get up. I do that, and she leads me through the kitchen (unless she wants food) to the door. If she wants water she waits until I go to the bathroom and then she follows me there and looks meaningfully at the sink.

When we take walks she usually lags behind, skulking under cars and such. Sometimes she wants me to stop so she can smell things and rub up against them. Sometimes she leads the way.

She gets in fights with other cats. It usually isn't clear who starts it. However it starts, she's proud to win. When she walks with me she sometimes walks right by cats that would like to fight her. I think maybe I intimidate them, though I myself think I'm absolutely no use in a catfight.

I'm convinced that on average she's happier than I am. Of course, she isn't a human being and you claimed that humans have to follow your rules to be happy, not cats. But what is it that would make human beings have to follow a complex set of abstract principles to be happy, when cats don't? Why can't a human being be as happy as a cat? Or happy as a pig? Contented as a cow? How do you know he can't?

You have repeated your claims many times now. I have never noticed you explain why they are true. Maybe your idea what it takes to be an explanation is different from mine.
The Law of Fives is true. I see it everywhere I look for it.

User avatar
The Great Hippo
Swans ARE SHARP
Posts: 7368
Joined: Fri Dec 14, 2007 4:43 am UTC
Location: behind you

Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby The Great Hippo » Wed May 09, 2012 1:12 pm UTC

Yeah, I was actually thinking about that comic when I added the edit.

Also, now that I think about this a little more, I find it all the more suspicious that Ayn Rand came to her conclusions via a responsible application of empiricism. So, what--people are only happy if they have value X. Let's say value X is 'honesty'.

First, you need to come up with a reliable definition of happiness and honesty (Am I dishonest if I lie to avoid the possibility of death, for example? And what about happiness? We've been struggling to define that one ever since we invented philosophy). After that, you need to find a reliable way to test for happiness and honesty. Both of these represent enormously daunting tasks--people lie about both things, so you can't just trust what they say. And you're going to need a huge sample size, particularly since one exception is enough to disprove your entire premise. It's hard, boring, grueling work. But the reward is that you get to be right rather than just feeling right.

Did Ayn Rand actually do anything like this? Or did she just write a bunch of essays, and then pretend that she was right, rather than merely 'feeling' right? Because I have a lot of respect for people who actually go through the boring work of research, experimentation, testing--and absolutely zero respect for people who act like they did that research. It's a slap in the face of actual scientists working in actual labs to discover actual facts about the universe.

Anyway, I look forward to this. It's rare you get someone willing to put forth a testable, falsifiable premise (as falsifiable as values like 'happiness' can be, at least--we'll need to clarify a few terms, I suppose--I assume Ayn Rand did this for us, though?) like this. But that's what understanding the universe is all about. So, yeah--let's test this shit.
Last edited by The Great Hippo on Wed May 09, 2012 1:14 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

HugoSchmidt
Posts: 74
Joined: Mon Apr 30, 2012 7:30 am UTC

Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby HugoSchmidt » Wed May 09, 2012 1:14 pm UTC

It has to be something a reasonable number of people don't have.


I mean, take your pick: rationality, justice, integrity... If you want an example of this, take a look at the "nononsense selfdefense" site run by Mark MacYoung. I'll quote extensively of his experience - and he's seen it from the inside:

A) ******, he doesn't know what hell lies on the other side of a knife. B) (Kid who had posted) as a civilian, there is a legal hell you will probably go through, but...even if it is a "cleanest of the clean" self-defense application...there is another hell that awaits you. A hell that is made worse if it wasn't a 100% clean. That is to say that you allowed pride, anger or ego put you into a place where you seriously hurt or killed another human being.

This "experience" stays with you for your entire life. And when you are young or when it is sort of fresh, you can push it down and lock it away (too fresh and, no. Years later, no. It will always come back to haunt you. But three months afterward -- when you think you got it handled -- yes. Ah the confidence of inexperience). The thing is, it never goes away. You may have a large locked door in your psyche where you think you have safely locked it away , but the thing burrows out and disguises itself as it runs through your mind/life and plays hob with all kinds of other things.

It will affect you in all kinds of ways. It depends on who you are, but one thing is for sure, it will be in your "unconscious basement" and fuck with various systems (plumbing, electric, structural support, foundations, etc). And a lot of times in the calm of the night, or when you are too tired to keep the restraints on the door, it will pick the lock and creep upstairs to smash shit and jump on you as you are sleeping. And all of a sudden, you are right back there again; reliving that moment and the horror. Think Amityville Horror, but the "house" is your mind and the demon is attacking it too.

It doesn't go away...and it is very, very real.


You can escape your victim. You can escape your surroundings. You can escape your society. But you can never, ever escape your own mind.

Or let's say the basic of all Objectivist virtues, rationality. The practice in keeping in focus on reality and not escaping away into fantasyland. Well, here's a story in Science that seems to back that up:

http://news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/2 ... owner.html

I'm sure all of you know at least one person who takes delight in spreading their toxic issues around. How honest are these people? How happy are they?

User avatar
The Great Hippo
Swans ARE SHARP
Posts: 7368
Joined: Fri Dec 14, 2007 4:43 am UTC
Location: behind you

Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby The Great Hippo » Wed May 09, 2012 1:16 pm UTC

HugoSchmidt wrote:Or let's say the basic of all Objectivist virtues, rationality.
...Christ, seriously? That's it? I just have to find someone who's irrational and happy?

For fuck's sake, guy. Make this a little harder.

User avatar
EpicanicusStrikes
Random Boners = True Attraction
Posts: 130
Joined: Wed Nov 16, 2011 11:36 am UTC

Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby EpicanicusStrikes » Wed May 09, 2012 1:18 pm UTC

eran_rathan wrote:I call this "Mythbusters Science."


So is that to be taken as a recomendation or condemnation of such scenarios? Because, without basic rigor, "ideas tested by experiment" may have also served as the core of some witch trials. A hole in one on a regulation golf course would probably be ruled impossible by their standards.

"We tried all day and couldn't make it happen. Therefore, Hole In One: Busted!"

On the plus side, they would most likely they go on to blow up the golf course. In the name of science.

HugoSchmidt
Posts: 74
Joined: Mon Apr 30, 2012 7:30 am UTC

Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby HugoSchmidt » Wed May 09, 2012 1:20 pm UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:
HugoSchmidt wrote:Or let's say the basic of all Objectivist virtues, rationality.
...Christ, seriously? That's it? I just have to find someone who's irrational and happy?

For fuck's sake, guy. Make this a little harder.



Well that's me out. I make the case citing a study in Science that proves my point - and this is the sort of response I get. I'm done with explaining it to you.

User avatar
The Great Hippo
Swans ARE SHARP
Posts: 7368
Joined: Fri Dec 14, 2007 4:43 am UTC
Location: behind you

Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby The Great Hippo » Wed May 09, 2012 1:22 pm UTC

HugoSchmidt wrote:Well that's me out. I make the case citing a study in Science that proves my point - and this is the sort of response I get. I'm done with explaining it to you.
Yeah, you quote an article in a pop-science magazine describing how day-dreaming might be a bad thing and think this somehow demonstrates that irrational people are incapable of being happy.

You clearly understand how science works.

iamspen
Posts: 485
Joined: Tue May 01, 2012 2:23 pm UTC

Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby iamspen » Wed May 09, 2012 1:25 pm UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:
HugoSchmidt wrote:Well that's me out. I make the case citing a study in Science that proves my point - and this is the sort of response I get. I'm done with explaining it to you.
Yeah, you quote an article in a pop-science magazine describing how day-dreaming might be a bad thing and think this somehow demonstrates that irrational people are incapable of being happy.

You clearly understand how science works.


Especially since rational people can see what's really going on in the world, making happiness that much harder. ;)

User avatar
eran_rathan
Mostly Wrong
Posts: 1844
Joined: Fri Apr 09, 2010 2:36 pm UTC
Location: in your ceiling, judging you

Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby eran_rathan » Wed May 09, 2012 1:27 pm UTC

EpicanicusStrikes wrote:
eran_rathan wrote:I call this "Mythbusters Science."


So is that to be taken as a recomendation or condemnation of such scenarios? Because, without basic rigor, "ideas tested by experiment" may have also served as the core of some witch trials. A hole in one on a regulation golf course would probably be ruled impossible by their standards.

"We tried all day and couldn't make it happen. Therefore, Hole In One: Busted!"

On the plus side, they would most likely they go on to blow up the golf course. In the name of science.


Both :lol:

Mostly, though, its the idea that A) ideas can be tested and B) ought to be repeatable.

There is enough evidence that hole-in-ones are possible (watch a season's worth of Master's PGA and you'll see a number of them), and if they couldn't get it to happen with their physical bodies, they'd certainly build a machine that could (given a reasonable amount of time and/or budget).
"Does this smell like chloroform to you?"
"Google tells me you are not unique. You are, however, wrong."
nɒʜƚɒɿ_nɒɿɘ

HugoSchmidt
Posts: 74
Joined: Mon Apr 30, 2012 7:30 am UTC

Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby HugoSchmidt » Wed May 09, 2012 1:28 pm UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:.eah, you quote an article in a pop-science magazine



Pop science magazine. Science. One of the two most prestigious journals worldwide. A journal every scientist drools about at the thought of publishing in. "A pop-science magazine".

Here's a hint, kid: from now on, leave science to the professionals.

EDIT: That is what this conversation has been reminding me of. It's like arguing with creationists who say "show me the intermediate species - nuhuhuh, that's a species, not an intermediate species", or anti-APGW types for whom no piece of evidence is sufficient (cuz there's no control sample, is there? Only one planet on which this running - so how can you say it's man-made?)
Last edited by HugoSchmidt on Wed May 09, 2012 1:33 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
The Great Hippo
Swans ARE SHARP
Posts: 7368
Joined: Fri Dec 14, 2007 4:43 am UTC
Location: behind you

Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby The Great Hippo » Wed May 09, 2012 1:31 pm UTC

HugoSchmidt wrote:Pop science magazine. Science. One of the two most prestigious journals worldwide. A journal every scientist drools about at the thought of publishing in. "A pop-science magazine".

Here's a hint, kid: from now on, leave science to the professionals.
Oops; pardon. Pop science article. I actually don't know a thing about the magazine it comes from.

Point still stands, though. Science requires falsifiable claims!

HugoSchmidt
Posts: 74
Joined: Mon Apr 30, 2012 7:30 am UTC

Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby HugoSchmidt » Wed May 09, 2012 1:34 pm UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:
HugoSchmidt wrote:Pop science magazine. Science. One of the two most prestigious journals worldwide. A journal every scientist drools about at the thought of publishing in. "A pop-science magazine".

Here's a hint, kid: from now on, leave science to the professionals.
Oops; pardon. Pop science article. I actually don't know a thing about the magazine it comes from.

Point still stands, though. Science requires falsifiable claims!


Point doesn't stand. Point has fallen. Point has fallen into the quicksand and is being dragged under. The article may be popular, but if you'd bother paying attention, you will see it links to the following article:

http://www.sciencemag.org/content/330/6006/932.full

Which is in the journal Science.

EDIT: Let me get this straight: you don't know what the journal Science is and you think to lecture me about the scientific method?

Yes, this really is reminding me of the creationists ("Evolution is unfalisfiable... nurnurnurrr... 'survival of the fittest' is just a tautology... nurnurnur...)

User avatar
The Great Hippo
Swans ARE SHARP
Posts: 7368
Joined: Fri Dec 14, 2007 4:43 am UTC
Location: behind you

Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby The Great Hippo » Wed May 09, 2012 1:39 pm UTC

The 'you-linked-to-a-pop-article-about-day-dreaming' thing was more pointing out the fact that you're correlating 'day-dreaming' with irrationality based on some loose, sloppy reasoning. And even if we accept that, your claim is that irrational people are incapable of being happy, not prone to unhappiness.

If we accept your argument and your terms at face value, the presence of one day-dreamer who is happy means your claim is wrong.

EDIT:
HugoSchmidt wrote:EDIT: Let me get this straight: you don't know what the journal Science is and you think to lecture me about the scientific method?
Does me knowing about a scientific journal necessarily change whether or not I have correctly presented how science works?

Does Ayn Rand's quality as an author in any way affect the quality of her arguments? Do you still not understand this distinction?
Last edited by The Great Hippo on Wed May 09, 2012 1:42 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

exadyne
Posts: 16
Joined: Thu Mar 22, 2012 5:43 pm UTC

Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby exadyne » Wed May 09, 2012 1:42 pm UTC

J Thomas wrote:
scrdest wrote:
exadyne wrote:I've never read Atlas Shrugged, but I'm told there is a passage where the train full of new copper collides with a passenger train. I'm also told there is long diatribes (probably not 60 pages long, but there) about how horrible it is that the new magic copper is destroyed. The dead passengers, they are just there to be a reason for another train to be on the track, not say, a huge tragedy of lost life, at least not compared to all that special copper (was the magic copper what allowed an engine to violate the 2nd law of thermodynamics, as I said, I haven't racked up resolve to force myself through a book with a 60 page long radio address). A philosophy that makes someone write this way immediately makes me suspect on that alone. I think others pointed out Fountainhead involved blowing up a building without anyone worried about how that could destroy the water, power, and sewer line for everyone else, but hey, that's still OK because the building used a design that had been compromised against the original designer's will.

Ugh, that's what happens when you get informations from fourteenth hand. That's an... impressive mixup you got here. Now, I understand you didn't read the book, but being proud of your ignorance is not a good sign. You are on the Internet, and you are WRONG. You know what that means.

Now, I'm typing this from memory, so everything falls under IIRC. What happened was a huge pileup, involving an army transport and a politician's train, incompetent higher-ups and employees threatened with being fired without possibility to find another job. Long story short, the employees were coerced into using a coal-powered train in a badly ventilated tunnel. Cue carbon monoxide death. Then it got worse, as another train, filled with ammo, crashed into it. As you see, no mention of any magic copper.

The thing is, in what I think may have been an accident involving too much meth (hey, it was legal back then, and Rand did take it to write faster), instead of dwelling upon the pointless deaths, Rand decided to be optimistic and basically say: "Hey, don't worry people, they were as good as dead either way" and a million walls have head-shaped holes ever since. Same with the Fountainhead's building-blowing.


I did a quick lit search and found a reference to Reardon rescuing a load of copper from an Atlantic Southern train crash on page 205. This is probably a different train crash from the one you're talking about. Exadyne might have been talking about that crash, or a mixup between the two crashes.

In the process I looked at a sort of synopsis of some of the story, and it looks like Dagny decided to do a normal freight run on a brand new railroad bridge before any testing because she was sure it would work. She rides the train herself on the first test run; she feels safe because she understands how it works, not because she has faith it will work. If my reading of the synopsis is right, I'm really really glad Dagny was not a software engineer.

I believe you have the right crash, J. As someone said about it,
In two of the most unwittingly hilarious sections of the book, trains crash, giving intriguing insights into Ms Rand's psyche as they do so. In the first TERRIBLE TRAGEDY of the book, a train carrying copper collides head-on with a passenger train on a hillside, spilling PRECIOUS COPPER everywhere. Hank Reardon surveys the terrible tragic waste of PRECIOUS COPPER spilled over the tracks, before gritting his teeth at the hellish awfulness of it all, and heroically organising alternate transport so his PRECIOUS COPPER can get there on time, without so much letting an emotion slip out because of all the tragedy of the PRECIOUS COPPER. Because that's the kind of heroic guy he is.

**IT HIT A FREAKING PASSENGER TRAIN HEAD-ON. THE HILLSIDE WOULD BE LITTERED WITH DEAD PEOPLE. RAND DOESN'T EVEN MENTION THIS ONCE.**

The time people DO get killed in the train, of course, in the collapse of the tunnel, they have pretty much asked for it, by dint of being teachers, social workers, journalists, humanitarians, mothers etc. They knew the risks of living in a society that wasn't based on fascistic capitalism, so screw them, right? They're only useful to make a point. Screw them.

So yes, there is ambiguity about which crash. The first one, the copper crash, is confusing because apparently, everyone glosses over the train it hit, but it was a passenger train. Rand waxes poetic over that loss, and ignores the human life involved in a copper shipment hitting a person's train.
The second crash scrdesteluded to. Looking it up, I've seen quoted text saying the people on the train "deserved" it and a defender of Rand using the fallacy of ambiguity to say the word deserved could mean a lot of things. He then kind of glosses over blowing up the building in the Fountainhead with people were as good as dead anyway. I said there would be water, sewer, and electric lines in progress to the building. Now, maybe I'm pessimistic, but I think setting off explosives on something that might be attached to a sewer, a sewer that carries away things like gases that can sometimes explode, hence modern toilet design, is probably a bad thing.

As for saying I am proud of my ignorance, scrdest, you read to much negative into your opponent. I admitted not reading the books because I'm honest, and if I'm wrong and the train carrying copper didn't hit a passenger train and it didn't involve having a liturgy for copper but glossing over the passenger train, I'll be glad to be informed. I find it interesting though, someone saying I'm proud of ignorance, but if I don't feel like reading a book that in chunks I've seen I won't like, isn't that a form of rational self interest? Isn't my time better served doing something I'd like to do more? Well perhaps you'd argue that it would open my mind and make me an objectivist (beyond doubtful) and therefore better me. On the other hand, I've heard every Objectivist decree anyone who's read Atlas Shrugged as not understanding Objectivism.

HugoSchmidt
Posts: 74
Joined: Mon Apr 30, 2012 7:30 am UTC

Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby HugoSchmidt » Wed May 09, 2012 1:46 pm UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:The 'you-linked-to-a-pop-article-about-day-dreaming' thing was more pointing out the fact that you're correlating 'day-dreaming' with irrationality based on some loose, sloppy reasoning. And even if we accept that, your claim is that irrational people are incapable of being happy, not prone to unhappiness.
.


Yes, one of the two most prestigious scientific journals on the planet accepts articles based on "loose, sloppy reasoning". Give me strength.

Or is the argument that this is not valid? Well, it's a direct test of how a refusal to look directly at reality - and that is what reason is, looking at reality - leads to unhappiness.

What is important there is that it is a direct test of what Ayn Rand has said. Now, can someone who daydreams at a given time be happy at another? Only to the extent that they are no longer being irrational.

So, please quit trying to redefine the argument.

EDIT:

Does me knowing about a scientific journal necessarily change whether or not I have correctly presented how science works?


It's a good sign that I am not dealing with a professional scientist, but rather someone who fancies themselves one. Tell me, do you spend a lot of time adjusting some variables and all that?

User avatar
EpicanicusStrikes
Random Boners = True Attraction
Posts: 130
Joined: Wed Nov 16, 2011 11:36 am UTC

Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby EpicanicusStrikes » Wed May 09, 2012 2:07 pm UTC

eran_rathan wrote:
EpicanicusStrikes wrote:
eran_rathan wrote:I call this "Mythbusters Science."


So is that to be taken as a recomendation or condemnation of such scenarios? Because, without basic rigor, "ideas tested by experiment" may have also served as the core of some witch trials. A hole in one on a regulation golf course would probably be ruled impossible by their standards.

"We tried all day and couldn't make it happen. Therefore, Hole In One: Busted!"

On the plus side, they would most likely they go on to blow up the golf course. In the name of science.


Both :lol:

Mostly, though, its the idea that A) ideas can be tested and B) ought to be repeatable.

There is enough evidence that hole-in-ones are possible (watch a season's worth of Master's PGA and you'll see a number of them), and if they couldn't get it to happen with their physical bodies, they'd certainly build a machine that could (given a reasonable amount of time and/or budget).


Yeah, but that's what I'm getting at. They rarely consult experts and rely primarily on their own limited engineering experiences. They can take a machine that some ancient society or even Civil War era research department put years (if not decades or longer), into perfecting and expect to have a working model from scratch in about a week's worth of time. Then, if it doesn't work according to legend, it couldn't possibly have existed.

Heck. Sometimes they don't even get the myth itself right. Like driving a car backwards in the snow for better traction. Obviously none of the crew had learned to drive in a wintery climate otherwise they'd have realized the myth involves a front-heavy, rear wheel drive vehicle going uphill. Driving backwards prevents the car from pivoting around the engine and maintains a straight line of travel; which means the drive wheels are more likely to continue pulling the car uphill rather than pushing it sideways.

But that's not what they tested.

They also completely missed the concept of adding a shock absorber to the Batmobile cornering-cable which would have helped ease the catastrophic load dropped onto the anchor point. That may have made a difference in their results. Nobody actually thought of trying that, however. I bet Batman did.

Or the construction worker who supposedly para-sailed back into a high-rise after accidentally falling off. Do you remember that part of the disqualifying evidence of that one was how hard it was to maintain a grip on the board with that sort of resistance? Where was the comparison of hand strength between themselves and someone who's spent their lives lugging about heavy construction equipment? I bet the average laborer has a better grip than the average television personality regardless of their time spent in the special effects department.

And so on... Don't get me wrong, I still enjoy the show. I just don't see it as science of any sort.

User avatar
eran_rathan
Mostly Wrong
Posts: 1844
Joined: Fri Apr 09, 2010 2:36 pm UTC
Location: in your ceiling, judging you

Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby eran_rathan » Wed May 09, 2012 2:12 pm UTC

EpicanicusStrikes wrote:
eran_rathan wrote:Mostly, though, its the idea that A) ideas can be tested and B) ought to be repeatable.

There is enough evidence that hole-in-ones are possible (watch a season's worth of Master's PGA and you'll see a number of them), and if they couldn't get it to happen with their physical bodies, they'd certainly build a machine that could (given a reasonable amount of time and/or budget).


Yeah, but that's what I'm getting at.
...
And so on... Don't get me wrong, I still enjoy the show. I just don't see it as science of any sort.


Oh, I agree completely, hence why i call it "Mythbusters Science." Take a look at something, do some philosophizing, figure some reasonable guesses, and see if it works.

I place Ayn Rand under the same limitation, actually - Take some reasonable assumptions, make some reasonable guesses, and decide via a somewhat arbitrary process if something is "Plausible", "Confirmed", or "Busted", without doing any 'real' science.

EDIT: in Mythbuster's defense, though, they DO call on experts a fair amount of the time. Not always, granted, but a fair amount.
"Does this smell like chloroform to you?"
"Google tells me you are not unique. You are, however, wrong."
nɒʜƚɒɿ_nɒɿɘ

J Thomas
Everyone's a jerk. You. Me. This Jerk.^
Posts: 1190
Joined: Fri Sep 23, 2011 3:18 pm UTC

Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby J Thomas » Wed May 09, 2012 2:17 pm UTC

HugoSchmidt wrote:
It has to be something a reasonable number of people don't have.


I mean, take your pick: rationality, justice, integrity... If you want an example of this, take a look at the "nononsense selfdefense" site run by Mark MacYoung. I'll quote extensively of his experience - and he's seen it from the inside:

Spoiler:
A) ******, he doesn't know what hell lies on the other side of a knife. B) (Kid who had posted) as a civilian, there is a legal hell you will probably go through, but...even if it is a "cleanest of the clean" self-defense application...there is another hell that awaits you. A hell that is made worse if it wasn't a 100% clean. That is to say that you allowed pride, anger or ego put you into a place where you seriously hurt or killed another human being.

This "experience" stays with you for your entire life. And when you are young or when it is sort of fresh, you can push it down and lock it away (too fresh and, no. Years later, no. It will always come back to haunt you. But three months afterward -- when you think you got it handled -- yes. Ah the confidence of inexperience). The thing is, it never goes away. You may have a large locked door in your psyche where you think you have safely locked it away , but the thing burrows out and disguises itself as it runs through your mind/life and plays hob with all kinds of other things.

It will affect you in all kinds of ways. It depends on who you are, but one thing is for sure, it will be in your "unconscious basement" and fuck with various systems (plumbing, electric, structural support, foundations, etc). And a lot of times in the calm of the night, or when you are too tired to keep the restraints on the door, it will pick the lock and creep upstairs to smash shit and jump on you as you are sleeping. And all of a sudden, you are right back there again; reliving that moment and the horror. Think Amityville Horror, but the "house" is your mind and the demon is attacking it too.

It doesn't go away...and it is very, very real.


You can escape your victim. You can escape your surroundings. You can escape your society. But you can never, ever escape your own mind.


This is voodoo. The claim is that if you kill somebody it will have deep psychological repercussions for the rest of your life. Then it claims that if it hasn't, still someday it will. The thing you're quoting is in fact a curse, it's designed to make itself come true. Typically this curse goes farther and claims that if in fact you can kill somebody and not suffer for it, that proves there's something wrong with you. This sort of thing often comes out of jails where murder suspects are waiting for trial. If the suspect has trouble sleeping then they say it shows his guilty conscience is acting up. If he doesn't have trouble sleeping then "He killed those people and then he sleeps like a baby. He's a psychopath!".

Rational people do not give a lot of credit to silly stories like the one you quoted.

Or let's say the basic of all Objectivist virtues, rationality. The practice in keeping in focus on reality and not escaping away into fantasyland. Well, here's a story in Science that seems to back that up:

http://news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/2 ... owner.html


Is that what you mean by rationality? You figure that rational people do not daydream? Is it OK for rational people to speculate about the future? Is it OK for rational people to imagine disaster scenarios and consider ways to deal with them?

When you think about the silly story you quoted about killing in self-defense and then falling inevitably and irrevocably into psychological hell, are you being rational or does it count as daydreaming?

So anyway, did Rand say not to daydream? Did Rand test the idea that daydreaming causes unhappiness?

How did she come up with her ideas? Did she believe her ideas needed to be tested, or did she believe that reason could show they were right without testing?

Some of Rand's critics believe that scientific method is the only way to get truth. Did Rand believe that? She could have thought she had a better way, and she could be right.

What did she say?
The Law of Fives is true. I see it everywhere I look for it.

HugoSchmidt
Posts: 74
Joined: Mon Apr 30, 2012 7:30 am UTC

Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby HugoSchmidt » Wed May 09, 2012 2:25 pm UTC

As I've said, I'm tired of this. I quote a top expert who has had dealings with thousands if not tens of thousands of criminal cases. This is dismissed. I cite a controlled experiment in the effects of turning your attention away from reality - the exact definition of unreason according to Rand - published in a top scientific journal. This is waved away.

Another thing that Ayn Rand teaches - you cannot force someone to think if they are determined not to do so.

EDIT: There's been a lot of loose speculation about Rand's psychology, so let's make turnaround fair play. Isn't it interesting that those dead set against Objectivism seem to really want there to be no repercussions to being cruel, unjust or ruthless? I wonder what the reason is, hmmmmm?

Fire Brns
Posts: 1114
Joined: Thu Oct 20, 2011 2:25 pm UTC

Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby Fire Brns » Wed May 09, 2012 2:27 pm UTC

eran_rathan wrote:
EpicanicusStrikes wrote:
eran_rathan wrote:Mostly, though, its the idea that A) ideas can be tested and B) ought to be repeatable.

There is enough evidence that hole-in-ones are possible (watch a season's worth of Master's PGA and you'll see a number of them), and if they couldn't get it to happen with their physical bodies, they'd certainly build a machine that could (given a reasonable amount of time and/or budget).


Yeah, but that's what I'm getting at.
...
And so on... Don't get me wrong, I still enjoy the show. I just don't see it as science of any sort.


Oh, I agree completely, hence why i call it "Mythbusters Science." Take a look at something, do some philosophizing, figure some reasonable guesses, and see if it works.

I place Ayn Rand under the same limitation, actually - Take some reasonable assumptions, make some reasonable guesses, and decide via a somewhat arbitrary process if something is "Plausible", "Confirmed", or "Busted", without doing any 'real' science.

EDIT: in Mythbuster's defense, though, they DO call on experts a fair amount of the time. Not always, granted, but a fair amount.

Can I point out that mythbusters tests urban legends half the time. If it's busted even if it could happen its far too dangerous to try 99% of time, if its confirmed in a shoddy test, good for them. If we encounter these situations in real life (the urban part of urban legend) we will not have a laboratory setting to test it. For example on the parasailing with a 2x4 theory: It may have worked but when you fall out of a building you don't want to say "hey kids try to generate lift with a peice of wood not designed for flight" but it would have been nice if they suggested the normal falling position.
Pfhorrest wrote:As someone who is not easily offended, I don't really mind anything in this conversation.
Mighty Jalapeno wrote:It was the Renaissance. Everyone was Italian.

User avatar
Zamfir
I built a novelty castle, the irony was lost on some.
Posts: 7594
Joined: Wed Aug 27, 2008 2:43 pm UTC
Location: Nederland

Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby Zamfir » Wed May 09, 2012 2:39 pm UTC

Th daydreaming reminds me of things like this:
American business ability constitues a countertoxin against revolutionary Manilovism and fanciful yarn-spinning. It is that unconquerable force which does not know and does nto recognize barriers, which washes away by its business-like stubbornness each and every obstacle, which cannot fail to bring to a conclusion any task once begun, even when it concerns small things, and without which any serous constructive work is unthinkable. The union of Russian revolutionary drive with American business ability - this is the essence of Leninism in party and state work


That's Stalin in the 1920s. The early Soviets liked to rally against Oblomovs and Manilovs, characters from classic novels that symbolized empty laziness and daydreaming.

Ayn Rand really reads a lot like those boy-meets-tractor Soviet literature. Clear heros and bad guys, lots of love for steel and machines, the bad guys are weak and weak-chinned schemers, everyone is a clear emblems in the argument. And if you didn't get the message from the story, we'll give it to you straight.

J Thomas
Everyone's a jerk. You. Me. This Jerk.^
Posts: 1190
Joined: Fri Sep 23, 2011 3:18 pm UTC

Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby J Thomas » Wed May 09, 2012 2:42 pm UTC

HugoSchmidt wrote:As I've said, I'm tired of this. I quote a top expert who has had dealings with thousands if not tens of thousands of criminal cases. This is dismissed.


You quoted your "expert" casting a curse. You did not quote him collecting data, describing data, drawing inferences from data, etc. etc.

I cite a controlled experiment in the effects of turning your attention away from reality - the exact definition of unreason according to Rand - published in a top scientific journal. This is waved away.


Thank you! You have given us one of Rand's definitions! This is new. I disagree with that definition, with the result that Rand could say things that are true for her and false for me. Now I know.

How does Rand define reality? When your attention is turned toward reality, how do you know?
The Law of Fives is true. I see it everywhere I look for it.

exadyne
Posts: 16
Joined: Thu Mar 22, 2012 5:43 pm UTC

Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby exadyne » Wed May 09, 2012 2:50 pm UTC

HugoSchmidt wrote:
The Great Hippo wrote:The 'you-linked-to-a-pop-article-about-day-dreaming' thing was more pointing out the fact that you're correlating 'day-dreaming' with irrationality based on some loose, sloppy reasoning. And even if we accept that, your claim is that irrational people are incapable of being happy, not prone to unhappiness.
.


Yes, one of the two most prestigious scientific journals on the planet accepts articles based on "loose, sloppy reasoning". Give me strength.

Or is the argument that this is not valid? Well, it's a direct test of how a refusal to look directly at reality - and that is what reason is, looking at reality - leads to unhappiness.

What is important there is that it is a direct test of what Ayn Rand has said. Now, can someone who daydreams at a given time be happy at another? Only to the extent that they are no longer being irrational.

So, please quit trying to redefine the argument.

EDIT:

Does me knowing about a scientific journal necessarily change whether or not I have correctly presented how science works?


It's a good sign that I am not dealing with a professional scientist, but rather someone who fancies themselves one. Tell me, do you spend a lot of time adjusting some variables and all that?

Please note, he didn't argue that science is being sloppy in reasoning, only that you are. Your retort even demonstrates this - you appeal to the fallacy of authority by saying "the journal of Science has sloppy reasoning?" instead of showing that the journal has correct reasoning.

Unfortunately, you seem to be making the very strong claim - that someone can never be happy and irrational most of the time. That requires a much higher threshold than Science's claim that engaging in an irrational activity might make you unhappy.
As hippo said about could you make this any easier, I'll ask, have you ever heard of schizophrenia and schizophrenic high? Many people who have schizophrenia (and I'm assuming you'll agree schizophrenics have rejected reality and rationality) are in fact very happy. The high levels of dopamine and serotonin associated with the condition are a lot like naturally being on a drug. Thus it is hard to get some schizophrenics to take their medications, as they act as a depressant. Feel free to move the goal post and say, "but those people aren't really happy" based on some kind of true scotsman fallacy about what is happiness, rather than accept their reports of feeling happy while unmedicated.

Hugo, I don't think we've seen you show how Rand was a truly happy person. I've said she clearly showed times of being dishonest and unjust, you've claimed I lied by saying she was self-hating. From what I've heard of her end of life, it involved her being rather unhappy, shuffling the neighborhood in a bathrobe, devoid of major purpose. I'm certainly willing to concede having cancer didn't help with the situation. I also see a lot of misogyny quoted from her literature. I'm not sure you can be a woman misogynist and not be self hating. Of course, I'm doubtful either one of us will prove anything about her self hating or not self hating as it is an internal mental state.

Hippo, I've enjoyed your discussion. As you've eluded to, happiness or prosperity are really hard terms to define. If someone tells us they are happy, is that the best definition or measure? So what yardstick to we measure with, and how do we improve it once we have an agreed upon yard stick.

HugoSchmidt wrote:EDIT: There's been a lot of loose speculation about Rand's psychology, so let's make turnaround fair play. Isn't it interesting that those dead set against Objectivism seem to really want there to be no repercussions to being cruel, unjust or ruthless? I wonder what the reason is, hmmmmm?

Again with the false dichotomy fallacy. Can you literally quote someone saying they want no repercussions to those things? If not, I think you have a catch phrase to describe yourself.

User avatar
eran_rathan
Mostly Wrong
Posts: 1844
Joined: Fri Apr 09, 2010 2:36 pm UTC
Location: in your ceiling, judging you

Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby eran_rathan » Wed May 09, 2012 3:04 pm UTC

Most of the conversation with Hugo reminded me of this:

Reading from the Book of Wiki, Chapter 3, Page 12, Verses e through pi:
The term irrational is often used in psychotherapy and the concept of irrationality is especially known in rational emotive behavior therapy originated and developed by American psychologist Albert Ellis. In this approach, the term irrational is used in a slightly different way than in general. Here irrationality is defined as the tendency and leaning that humans have to act, emote and think in ways that are inflexible, unrealistic, absolutist and most importantly self- and social-defeating and destructive.

(bolding mine)
"Does this smell like chloroform to you?"
"Google tells me you are not unique. You are, however, wrong."
nɒʜƚɒɿ_nɒɿɘ

HugoSchmidt
Posts: 74
Joined: Mon Apr 30, 2012 7:30 am UTC

Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby HugoSchmidt » Wed May 09, 2012 3:18 pm UTC

As hippo said about could you make this any easier, I'll ask, have you ever heard of schizophrenia and schizophrenic high? Many people who have schizophrenia (and I'm assuming you'll agree schizophrenics have rejected reality and rationality) are in fact very happy.


Okay, you can accept the schizophrenic and the chronic drug user as your model of happiness if you'd like. Nothing I can do to stop you.

Hugo, I don't think we've seen you show how Rand was a truly happy person. . I've said she clearly showed times of being dishonest and unjust, you've claimed I lied by saying she was self-hating. From what I've heard of her end of life, it involved her being rather unhappy, shuffling the neighborhood in a bathrobe, devoid of major purpose.


I imagine that thought makes you feel really, really... something, anyway.

Yes, Rand escapes from one of the world's worst tyrannies, get's to America with ten dollars in her wallet, becomes a best-selling author, and launches a philosophical revolution that is still ongoing - yeah, total failure. Complete refutation of her philosophy. Sure.

User avatar
The Great Hippo
Swans ARE SHARP
Posts: 7368
Joined: Fri Dec 14, 2007 4:43 am UTC
Location: behind you

Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby The Great Hippo » Wed May 09, 2012 3:31 pm UTC

exadyne wrote:Hippo, I've enjoyed your discussion. As you've eluded to, happiness or prosperity are really hard terms to define. If someone tells us they are happy, is that the best definition or measure? So what yardstick to we measure with, and how do we improve it once we have an agreed upon yard stick.
I appreciate that, and I'm glad you've enjoyed it so far, but I think I'm going to stay out because it's frustrating me and making me act more hostile than I want to be.

HugoSchmidt, I'm sorry if I treated you jerkishly. I'm pretty obsessive and zealous about a lot of things, so sometimes I overstep myself and act overtly hostile and impulsive when my points would be better served by taking a step back, breathing, and thinking about my approach.

I think you're wrong about irrational people being incapable of happiness--I think morality is definitely a key toward happiness, I think certain moral qualities lead to better emotional health, and I value things like honesty, justice, and integrity--but I also think you're exhibiting an enormous level of (unwitting) arrogance in your assumptions concerning just how clear the facts are in this relationship.

The terms we're throwing around--happiness, integrity, justice, honesty--are all incredibly vague and difficult to test for. Even if they weren't difficult to test for, my main problem with Rand as a moral philosopher is that she didn't test for these things; she simply assumed they were necessary for emotional health and happiness. And the reason this bothers me is because the claim Objectivism makes--that at its core is the element of pure reason, of logic, rationality, and empiricism--are so primal, so integral, so powerful. Saying "Empiricism is on my side" is pretty much the equivalent of saying "I am talking about FACTS, not IDEAS". It's an extraordinarily powerful claim--so it demands extraordinarily powerful proof.

Does Ayn Rand provide that extraordinarily powerful proof? Does she go to science for her morality? Does she make falsfiable claims? Does she clearly define her terms and proceed to demonstrate, through scientific rigor and evidence, how and why her claims are true? Does she follow the scientific process to show how her morality is the only morality that leads to human happiness? Does she spend time researching statistics in a library, or working in a laboratory, or compiling data and doing math? Or did she just get some ideas and decide to write some books?

There are people out there who are putting a huge amount of work into discovering facts about the universe--hard, soul-grinding, boring work. Science is not easy, it's a fucking slog. And at the end, the reward you get is discovering something true about the universe--"X is how things work", or "Y is not how things work". Putting someone who wrote essays about morality on that level--it frustrates me, because I put an enormous amount of weight behind that process, and seeing someone harvest the social benefits of scientific claims--that weight we put behind this very rigorous, very long, very exhausting process--without actually doing the work--it's something our culture does constantly, and it frustrates me to no end to see otherwise intelligent people do it.

Science is rigorous, science is hard. But Ayn Rand is not a scientist. She's a philosopher. And while I'm not a big fan of philosophy, I won't hate too much on it--I'll even go so far as to admit that reading Ayn Rand, as a teenager, opened my eyes to the righteousness of selfishness--it made me realize that any moral system that demands that I sacrifice my personal happiness for the sake of others is one that's engaged in tyranny. It didn't even occur to me that A Christmas Carol is actually pretty backwards until after I had read about some of Ayn Rand's thoughts.

I'm just throwing this out there as one last attempt to plant a seed of doubt in your mind, partly because I really, really don't like it when people treat philosophy like it's science, but also because I don't think treating this particular moral philosophy as a science is going to do you or anyone else any favors.

I apologize for any hostility, and I respectfully bow the hell out of this thread before my brain explodes.

EDIT: Also I am not a scientist and never claimed to be one. I just have tremendous respect for the scientific process.
Last edited by The Great Hippo on Wed May 09, 2012 3:42 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
eran_rathan
Mostly Wrong
Posts: 1844
Joined: Fri Apr 09, 2010 2:36 pm UTC
Location: in your ceiling, judging you

Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby eran_rathan » Wed May 09, 2012 3:32 pm UTC

HugoSchmidt wrote:
As hippo said about could you make this any easier, I'll ask, have you ever heard of schizophrenia and schizophrenic high? Many people who have schizophrenia (and I'm assuming you'll agree schizophrenics have rejected reality and rationality) are in fact very happy.


Okay, you can accept the schizophrenic and the chronic drug user as your model of happiness if you'd like. Nothing I can do to stop you.

Hugo, I don't think we've seen you show how Rand was a truly happy person. . I've said she clearly showed times of being dishonest and unjust, you've claimed I lied by saying she was self-hating. From what I've heard of her end of life, it involved her being rather unhappy, shuffling the neighborhood in a bathrobe, devoid of major purpose.


I imagine that thought makes you feel really, really... something, anyway.

Yes, Rand escapes from one of the world's worst tyrannies, get's to America with ten dollars in her wallet, becomes a best-selling author, and launches a philosophical revolution that is still ongoing - yeah, total failure. Complete refutation of her philosophy. Sure.


We haven't said she was a failure, but by the rubric of her own philosophy, she was, because she wasn't happy (severe depression & meth abuse, anyone?)
"Does this smell like chloroform to you?"
"Google tells me you are not unique. You are, however, wrong."
nɒʜƚɒɿ_nɒɿɘ

scrdest
Posts: 3
Joined: Mon Sep 05, 2011 4:27 pm UTC

Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby scrdest » Wed May 09, 2012 4:47 pm UTC

exadyne wrote:
J Thomas wrote:
scrdest wrote:
exadyne wrote:I've never read Atlas Shrugged, but I'm told there is a passage where the train full of new copper collides with a passenger train. I'm also told there is long diatribes (probably not 60 pages long, but there) about how horrible it is that the new magic copper is destroyed. The dead passengers, they are just there to be a reason for another train to be on the track, not say, a huge tragedy of lost life, at least not compared to all that special copper (was the magic copper what allowed an engine to violate the 2nd law of thermodynamics, as I said, I haven't racked up resolve to force myself through a book with a 60 page long radio address). A philosophy that makes someone write this way immediately makes me suspect on that alone. I think others pointed out Fountainhead involved blowing up a building without anyone worried about how that could destroy the water, power, and sewer line for everyone else, but hey, that's still OK because the building used a design that had been compromised against the original designer's will.

Ugh, that's what happens when you get informations from fourteenth hand. That's an... impressive mixup you got here. Now, I understand you didn't read the book, but being proud of your ignorance is not a good sign. You are on the Internet, and you are WRONG. You know what that means.

Now, I'm typing this from memory, so everything falls under IIRC. What happened was a huge pileup, involving an army transport and a politician's train, incompetent higher-ups and employees threatened with being fired without possibility to find another job. Long story short, the employees were coerced into using a coal-powered train in a badly ventilated tunnel. Cue carbon monoxide death. Then it got worse, as another train, filled with ammo, crashed into it. As you see, no mention of any magic copper.

The thing is, in what I think may have been an accident involving too much meth (hey, it was legal back then, and Rand did take it to write faster), instead of dwelling upon the pointless deaths, Rand decided to be optimistic and basically say: "Hey, don't worry people, they were as good as dead either way" and a million walls have head-shaped holes ever since. Same with the Fountainhead's building-blowing.


I did a quick lit search and found a reference to Reardon rescuing a load of copper from an Atlantic Southern train crash on page 205. This is probably a different train crash from the one you're talking about. Exadyne might have been talking about that crash, or a mixup between the two crashes.

In the process I looked at a sort of synopsis of some of the story, and it looks like Dagny decided to do a normal freight run on a brand new railroad bridge before any testing because she was sure it would work. She rides the train herself on the first test run; she feels safe because she understands how it works, not because she has faith it will work. If my reading of the synopsis is right, I'm really really glad Dagny was not a software engineer.

I believe you have the right crash, J. As someone said about it,
In two of the most unwittingly hilarious sections of the book, trains crash, giving intriguing insights into Ms Rand's psyche as they do so. In the first TERRIBLE TRAGEDY of the book, a train carrying copper collides head-on with a passenger train on a hillside, spilling PRECIOUS COPPER everywhere. Hank Reardon surveys the terrible tragic waste of PRECIOUS COPPER spilled over the tracks, before gritting his teeth at the hellish awfulness of it all, and heroically organising alternate transport so his PRECIOUS COPPER can get there on time, without so much letting an emotion slip out because of all the tragedy of the PRECIOUS COPPER. Because that's the kind of heroic guy he is.

**IT HIT A FREAKING PASSENGER TRAIN HEAD-ON. THE HILLSIDE WOULD BE LITTERED WITH DEAD PEOPLE. RAND DOESN'T EVEN MENTION THIS ONCE.**

The time people DO get killed in the train, of course, in the collapse of the tunnel, they have pretty much asked for it, by dint of being teachers, social workers, journalists, humanitarians, mothers etc. They knew the risks of living in a society that wasn't based on fascistic capitalism, so screw them, right? They're only useful to make a point. Screw them.

So yes, there is ambiguity about which crash. The first one, the copper crash, is confusing because apparently, everyone glosses over the train it hit, but it was a passenger train. Rand waxes poetic over that loss, and ignores the human life involved in a copper shipment hitting a person's train.
The second crash scrdesteluded to. Looking it up, I've seen quoted text saying the people on the train "deserved" it and a defender of Rand using the fallacy of ambiguity to say the word deserved could mean a lot of things. He then kind of glosses over blowing up the building in the Fountainhead with people were as good as dead anyway. I said there would be water, sewer, and electric lines in progress to the building. Now, maybe I'm pessimistic, but I think setting off explosives on something that might be attached to a sewer, a sewer that carries away things like gases that can sometimes explode, hence modern toilet design, is probably a bad thing.

As for saying I am proud of my ignorance, scrdest, you read to much negative into your opponent. I admitted not reading the books because I'm honest, and if I'm wrong and the train carrying copper didn't hit a passenger train and it didn't involve having a liturgy for copper but glossing over the passenger train, I'll be glad to be informed. I find it interesting though, someone saying I'm proud of ignorance, but if I don't feel like reading a book that in chunks I've seen I won't like, isn't that a form of rational self interest? Isn't my time better served doing something I'd like to do more? Well perhaps you'd argue that it would open my mind and make me an objectivist (beyond doubtful) and therefore better me. On the other hand, I've heard every Objectivist decree anyone who's read Atlas Shrugged as not understanding Objectivism.


Damn, I accidentally the tab.

Who's reading too much negative here? I admitted that the way the crash was written was awful. I also admitted that if you blew up a whole goddamn building, you realistically would have been dangerous to innocents, which was overlooked. Jokingly, I attributed these to Rand's usage of meth during writing, which is a fact. I was trying to speak without being too confrontational. What I didn't do was cheering for deaths of the train's passengers or the destruction of the building, or handwaving them.

Secondly, I didn't quite remember AS that well, so after J posted his crash, I did some research myself. Unfortunately, you are wrong. There was only one crash that involved multiple deaths, the Taggart Tunnel one, causes of which I explained in my previous post and, again, admitted that the way it was written is facepalm magnet. So, feel informed.

That leads straight to another point, it seems that you either did not actually read any 'chunks' of the book, only second-hand relations of it, or you should work on your reading comprehension skillz (or, well, both). I won't ask you to read the book, because:
a) it is not my job to preach
b) you will do whatever you want either way

I accused you of being proud of your ignorance, as you attempt to criticize the book without reading it at all, and that would be pretty pointless at best. You can discuss the ideas as much as you want, it's fair game. But if you want to talk about the book, do some research. Pretty please? And if you are discussing the ideas, stay away from mentioning enormous monologue, trains crashing, laws of thermodynamics, etc.

Info dump:
Spoiler:
FYI, the magical metal was some kind of steel or other alloy, and the magical engine didn't have anything in common with it.


Grammar Nazi here: I think the word 'liturgy' (for copper, in your post) doesn't fit here

HugoSchmidt
Posts: 74
Joined: Mon Apr 30, 2012 7:30 am UTC

Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby HugoSchmidt » Wed May 09, 2012 4:52 pm UTC

jokingly, I attributed these to Rand's usage of meth during writing, which is a fact


Last post for me for the day, because this is wearing me out. Rand was prescribed benzedrine, which is an amphetamine, not a methamphetamine, and certainly not "meth", which is a name for Crystal meth.

scrdest
Posts: 3
Joined: Mon Sep 05, 2011 4:27 pm UTC

Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby scrdest » Wed May 09, 2012 6:10 pm UTC

HugoSchmidt wrote: Last post for me for the day, because this is wearing me out. Rand was prescribed benzedrine, which is an amphetamine, not a methamphetamine, and certainly not "meth", which is a name for Crystal meth.


Oops, re-checked, Wikipedia says you are right. Sorry. Still, what's the big difference? It has no relation to the validity of the ideas anyway.

IcedT
Posts: 867
Joined: Tue Jul 13, 2010 8:34 pm UTC

Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby IcedT » Wed May 09, 2012 6:12 pm UTC

HugoSchmidt wrote: Okay, you can accept the schizophrenic and the chronic drug user as your model of happiness if you'd like. Nothing I can do to stop you.

See, this here is my problem with you and with Objectivism in general. Tautology. "You're only happy if you have these virtues, and if you have these virtues you're happy. And if you think you're happy and you don't have all these virtues, you're delusional, which means you're SUPER unhappy." Do you not see how this is circular reasoning that won't persuade anyone with half a brain?

User avatar
eran_rathan
Mostly Wrong
Posts: 1844
Joined: Fri Apr 09, 2010 2:36 pm UTC
Location: in your ceiling, judging you

Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby eran_rathan » Wed May 09, 2012 6:19 pm UTC

IcedT wrote:
HugoSchmidt wrote: Okay, you can accept the schizophrenic and the chronic drug user as your model of happiness if you'd like. Nothing I can do to stop you.

See, this here is my problem with you and with Objectivism in general. Tautology. "You're only happy if you have these virtues, and if you have these virtues you're happy. And if you think you're happy and you don't have all these virtues, you're delusional, which means you're SUPER unhappy." Do you not see how this is circular reasoning that won't persuade anyone with half a brain?


This is why I prefer Heinlien's version to Rand's.

"This is what makes ME happy. You can do whatever makes YOU happy, so long as it doesn't infringe on my (or anyone else's) rights."


(Edited for caveat)
"Does this smell like chloroform to you?"
"Google tells me you are not unique. You are, however, wrong."
nɒʜƚɒɿ_nɒɿɘ


Return to “Individual XKCD Comic Threads”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 43 guests