Bob Kolker

The Character in -Atlas Shrugged- I best understand

39 posts in this topic

The key is that Willers does not "think" abstractly. But he is a good man nevertheless.

I beg to differ. Several of the thoughts that Willer's creator, Ayn Rand, puts in his head are metaphorical and therefore abstract. Also he acts on moral principle, hence he thinks abstractly on certain issues. His brave and principled refusal to reveal Dagny's whereabouts to James Taggart shows that he thinks bravely, morally and abstractly. Willers is NOT a nincompoop. He is more limited in his ambition and intellectual range than the "major" characters, but he functions a full capacity, given his capacity.

I happen to like his character. He shows that upstanding persons of limited ability can function at full capacity and have a constructive part to play in life. And there are more Eddies out that than Johns Galt. The world could not run smoothly without them. They are necessary, even if not sufficient.

One of the thing another character, Hugh Akston, said of his three "sons" is that they were normal humans . Not so. John Galt, Franscisco and Ragnar were at least three sigma out on the high side of the Gaussian normal curve for intellectual genius and focused ambition. That makes them statistically not normal. 97 percent of the human race are three sigma or less deviated from the normal. The major heroes were in the 98th percentile or better.

If I may be permitted an opinion on the matter - I think Ayn Rand was a bit too hard on "the little people", the lesser folk. Without well meaning and right thinking lesser folk, the world would come crashing down and geniuses would have to shingle their own roofs instead of inventing advanced energy machines. We all have constructive parts to play and roles to fill.

Bob Kolker

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That is literally the case. No non-physical component to a human being has been objectively demonstrated. We are made of atoms.

What is NOT the case is --- men are merely a collection of chemicals. The mode of organization of the components counts at least as much as the basic components themselves. A man alive and functioning is not the same as a man scrambled and pureed. Same atoms, different organization.

If an utterance cannot be taken literally, it is not a true statement. It probably isn't even a statement.

Don't mind me, too much. I am just being my natural literal minded self again.

Bob Kolker

Well, Bob, if you want to play nitpicking, I'll take you up on it :D

Your point also applies to the English language. Sure, English is a collection of letters. But the context in which those collection of letters are arranged implies a higher level of meaning. For example, considering the context in which I put forward the statement, on a Forum where most members (by definition) have read Ayn Rand, in the context of a discussion similar to Ayn Rand's of that particular aspect of the 20th century intellectual movement against civilization, the implied meaning of the statement was very much that "men are merely a collection of chemicals" as put in the mouth of the intellectual enemy.

Similarly, since you want to be taken literally, do realise that if you scramble and puree a man, the collection of chemicals you obtain will be different from that of a live specimen, since the puree will have components react with each other (for example the stomach acid with brain tissue), on top of natural reactions such as necrosis and the disappearance of significant chemical reactions that allow a body to work (e.g. sodium channels for signal transmission).

How's that for literal? :D

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Similarly, since you want to be taken literally, do realise that if you scramble and puree a man, the collection of chemicals you obtain will be different from that of a live specimen, since the puree will have components react with each other (for example the stomach acid with brain tissue), on top of natural reactions such as necrosis and the disappearance of significant chemical reactions that allow a body to work (e.g. sodium channels for signal transmission).

How's that for literal? :D

Same atoms. Not the same molecules. Thank you for making my case for me.

Bob Kolker

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......men are a collection of chemicals...

That is literally the case. No non-physical component to a human being has been objectively demonstrated. We are made of atoms.

What is NOT the case is --- men are merely a collection of chemicals. The mode of organization of the components counts at least as much as the basic components themselves. A man alive and functioning is not the same as a man scrambled and pureed. Same atoms, different organization.

If an utterance cannot be taken literally, it is not a true statement. It probably isn't even a statement.

Don't mind me, too much. I am just being my natural literal minded self again.

Why? This is not a matter of whether or not what he wrote is "literally" the case because it drops the context of what he literally meant. When people say philosophically that man is just a collection of chemicals, they are typically dismissing the significance of everything else, most particularly consciousness and the importance of our values. How organization makes that possible is not relevant to the philosophical emphasis of dismissal they promote. Your statement that men are not merely a collection of chemicals is true -- and you may very well be in agreement with rtg24 -- but the diversion isn't relevant to what rtg24 wrote in context: "It consists in making you believe the usual stuff - there's no point in thinking, life has no meaning, you are insignificant, men are a collection of chemicals..."

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The key is that Willers does not "think" abstractly. But he is a good man nevertheless.

I beg to differ. Several of the thoughts that Willer's creator, Ayn Rand, puts in his head are metaphorical and therefore abstract. Also he acts on moral principle, hence he thinks abstractly on certain issues. His brave and principled refusal to reveal Dagny's whereabouts to James Taggart shows that he thinks bravely, morally and abstractly. Willers is NOT a nincompoop. He is more limited in his ambition and intellectual range than the "major" characters, but he functions a full capacity, given his capacity.

All conceptual thought is "abstract". The simplest concepts are "first level abstractions". The issue for the characters is a matter of degree for the level of abstraction reached. Maybe that distinction is what rtg24 intended, but Eddie Willers did all the things Bob attributed to him.

One of the thing another character, Hugh Akston, said of his three "sons" is that they were normal humans . Not so. John Galt, Franscisco and Ragnar were at least three sigma out on the high side of the Gaussian normal curve for intellectual genius and focused ambition. That makes them statistically not normal. 97 percent of the human race are three sigma or less deviated from the normal. The major heroes were in the 98th percentile or better.

You appear to have missed the point of the passage. The characterization of "normal" was not about statistics on tests, nor are speculations about locations on a bell curve in terms of imagined sigmas relevant.

Ayn Rand wrote:

"Don't be astonished, Miss Taggart," said Dr. Akston, smiling, "and don't make the mistake of thinking that these three pupils of mine are some sort of superhuman creatures. They're something much greater and more astounding than that: they're normal men—a thing the world has never seen—and their feat is that they managed to survive as such. It does take an exceptional mind and a still more exceptional integrity to remain untouched by the brain-destroying influences of the world's doctrines, the accumulated evil of centuries—to remain human, since the human is the rational."

She portrayed them as exceptionally intelligent with even greater exceptional integrity, not 'normal' intelligence. Their exceptionalism was necessary to contend with the 'brain destroying influences', but the accomplishment Akston was talking about was to retain the stature of what a normal human can and should be, not how much they accomplished in physics, Copper plants or exceptional navigation in piracy. Their stature and means of achieving it by the normal human attributes was in contrast to 'superhuman creatures'. The achievement of the ideal human stature is available to all, and does not require something extra-human, though in today's context it takes (human) exceptionalism to overcome the comprachicos, etc.

I happen to like his character. He shows that upstanding persons of limited ability can function at full capacity and have a constructive part to play in life. And there are more Eddies out that than Johns Galt. The world could not run smoothly without them. They are necessary, even if not sufficient...

If I may be permitted an opinion on the matter - I think Ayn Rand was a bit too hard on "the little people", the lesser folk. Without well meaning and right thinking lesser folk, the world would come crashing down and geniuses would have to shingle their own roofs instead of inventing advanced energy machines. We all have constructive parts to play and roles to fill.

Why do you think Ayn Rand was too hard on them? She said that Eddie Willers was one of her favorite characters. She deliberately characterized him with the virtues you mentioned above. She also once wrote that in America, there are no little people. But she recognized their value for what they are as individuals for their own productive lives, not by a demeaning standard of social contributions so geniuses wouldn't have to nail shingles. She apparently thought more highly of them than you do! Atlas Shrugged was about, in this respect, the value of the role of the exceptional individuals in human progress, not the role of "little people" as useful serfs.

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You appear to have missed the point of the passage. The characterization of "normal" was not about statistics on tests, nor are speculations about locations on a bell curve in terms of imagined sigmas relevant.

I often miss the point because I always read what I read literally. I am a high functioning autistic (Asperger Syndrome) and that is the condition of my intellect. Fortunately for me, my wife (who is Normal) explains things to me when I am confused by the literal meaning of words. This particular "feature" (it is not a "bug") comes in very handy in testing and debugging software and proving mathematical theorems. It is not so good for reading poetry or listening to the lyrics of many songs. Since my trade, prior to my retiring from business, was software and applied mathematics I never experienced any difficulty in this area. A computer does not care what was intended (in a manner of speaking because computers really can't care), but what was compiled and executed and I generally do not care what is intended (because I can't) but what is observed and experienced. Such is my limitation.

So, pray, do pardon my inability to "read minds". I am, for all practical purposes, "mind blind". If there were such a thing as a "seeing mind dog" I would buy one in a thrice. I have to use my wife in that role.

Bob Kolker

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As for the Eurpean countries having been destroyed by the philosophers - the philosophers did not *force* a single individual to accept their poisonous ideas. The Europeans accepted the bad ideas by choice. The Europeans *let* the philosophers *do it to them*. Ultimately, history comes down to not just the volition of the philosophers, but also to the volition of all the members of the "masses", i.e. of The Immoral Majority.

Actually, they did. I do not know about Sweden, but in France global warming is taught in schools as science, and Sartres etc. held up as great philosophers, more "advanced" than the civilization-upholding rationals. Ayn Rand is virtually unknown; the two or three people who have read her will immediately dismiss her for the usual reasons. "Philosophy" is a subject taught even in engineering courses at university. It consists in making you believe the usual stuff - there's no point in thinking, life has no meaning, you are insignificant, men are a collection of chemicals...

Even in the UK, some writers have complained that the government-taught children have become a sort of environmental gestapo, coming back home and guilting their parents into recycling..

No, the *bad philosophers* did not *force* anyone to swallow their poison. But eventually, since so many Europeans did *choose* to default on the responsibility of critically examining ideas before accepting them, and therefore did swallow the poison, we have in Europe have reached the stage, as you have also to a lesser degree, in the USA, where bad ideas are being taught in schools where attendance is compulsory. So the *followers* of the bad philosophers are now, about 200 years later, beginning to force people to swallow the poison. Nowadays, people in both Europe and the USA are at least pressured to accept bad ideas. But they were not even pressured, except in the way that second-handers can be psychologically pressured, to swallow the poison *initially*.

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One of the thing another character, Hugh Akston, said of his three "sons" is that they were normal humans . Not so. John Galt, Franscisco and Ragnar were at least three sigma out on the high side of the Gaussian normal curve for intellectual genius and focused ambition. That makes them statistically not normal. 97 percent of the human race are three sigma or less deviated from the normal. The major heroes were in the 98th percentile or better.

If I may be permitted an opinion on the matter - I think Ayn Rand was a bit too hard on "the little people", the lesser folk. Without well meaning and right thinking lesser folk, the world would come crashing down and geniuses would have to shingle their own roofs instead of inventing advanced energy machines. We all have constructive parts to play and roles to fill.

Bob Kolker

I beg to differ. I think do not think that Ayn Rand was too hard on "the little people". Not in "The Little Street", and a fortiori not in Atlas Shrugged. I do not take Eddie Willers as being a typical specimen of "the little people". I take the inhabitants of Starnesville as being the statistically typical specimens of the "men on the street". My impression, from observing people here in Sweden, is that something like 90% to 95% of all Swedes are essentially like the inhabitants of Starnesville. And since I am not a racist I do not believe that the men in other societies tend to think more, or more often, than the Swedes do. So I think that the Eddie Willers are much rarer than the Starnesville types, in all societies, and that Willers is not at all typical.

As for Galt, Francisco and Ragnar being normal - I think that Ayn Rand was making a valid point. Intelligence is probably much more a question of volition than of any other factor, and all men with normal brains could become enormously more intelligent than they are, if only they would *choose* to put forth more mental effort over a protracted time. I don´t know if everyone could become a genius on the order of Galt, Francisco or Ragnar solely by volition, but I view it as conceivable that they could, if they began choosing to think hard consistently at a very early age.

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As for Galt, Francisco and Ragnar being normal - I think that Ayn Rand was making a valid point. Intelligence is probably much more a question of volition than of any other factor, and all men with normal brains could become enormously more intelligent than they are, if only they would *choose* to put forth more mental effort over a protracted time. I don´t know if everyone could become a genius on the order of Galt, Francisco or Ragnar solely by volition, but I view it as conceivable that they could, if they began choosing to think hard consistently at a very early age.

I make the assumption that measured IQ (on standardized tests) and Intelligence are correlated. Studies have shown that high IQ is in part inheritable. In part it is due to learned behaviors. Not all people with normal brains are equally smart and smartness manifests itself in different ways. Some people are math-smart. Some people are music-smart. Some people are word-smart. Some people read body and face language expertly. They can do profiling. Part of that may be due to heredity. There is a physical basis for intelligence, to with the structure and function of the brain. Some of the physical characteristics of the brain are inherited. For example the dominant side. Left-handedness (right brain dominance) runs in families. It is an inherited characteristic. Relative development of the pathways to the visual cortex may be influenced by genetic factors. People with extra-ordinary visual ability often occur in certain families.

In their book -The Bell Curve- Herrensteinn and Murray there is some strong statistical evidence presented showing that high measured IQ is (at least in part) inherited. There are valid identical twin studies that indicate that this is so.

So it is not just a matter of will power.

I could not will myself not to be tone deaf no matter how hard I try. I have imperfect pitch. I would find it difficult to carry a tune in a bushel basket. Tone memory is a mental ability and it is definitely inherited. That is why one finds entire families like the Bach family overloaded with musical genius. Similarly the Bernouli Family of Switzerland produced several generations of mathematical geniuses.

I also make the assumption that any human with enough brain power to master a language is capable of logical thinking. Grammatical structure sense and logical ability are related. So people who are not profoundly retarded ought to be able to reason logically, even if not in an original fashion. If a person who is otherwise normal cannot handle the usual categorical syllogisms, I assume he is not trying hard enough.

There are also people who do not think verbally at all, or hardly at all. Temple Grandin in her book -Thinking in Pictures- describes this condition. People on the difficult end of the autistic spectrum (the non-verbal end) have a great deal of difficulty working in a world where thinking is mostly verbal. People like this need special training to cope with this difficulty and put their hyper-visual abilities to good use. Grandin is one such person. If you eat steak, there is a 50 50 chance the steer from whom the steak was made was slaughtered in a slaughterhouse system designed by Grandin.

People like me (on the Aspie end of the spectrum --- Super Nerds) do well by working in the computer business where the underlying processes are rules-based and being literal is no disadvantage. I do not have the intuitive ability to discern intentions or intuit feelings in others. It has nothing to do with not trying. It is due to a structural and functional difference in the way my type of brain operates. Similar wetware, different operating system. The way I cope and still cope is by enumerating behaviors and the intent that others associate with these behaviors and formulating rules to account for these facts. So I handle intention discernment the way non-artistic people paint pictures. I paint by the numbers, so to speak. It is an empirical method and it took me 40 years to get it right. I had to study pictures of various facial expressions for years, to correlate them with the mood or mindset behind them. A normal five year old gets it as naturally as he/she breathes. Basically I know why I do or think what I do and think. I have problems understand why other people do what they do. I very often don't "get it". It was not until I was over 40 years old that I learned how not to act like a social jackass. I said and did things that hurt the feelings of others and insulted them and I had no idea that I was having that effect. For years I thought the question: "How are you" was a literal genuine question, rather than a patterned way of exchanging greetings and good feelings. I used to bore people with my temperature and blood pressure. I don't do that anymore. I had to learn manually not to do it. So you see, it is not just a matter of will power. I am in the 95th percentile for IQ and I still do not fully understand how other people operate. I have to plug away at it in a detailed and mechanical fashion. It is like trying to memorize the periodic table.

Lucky you. You can read other people's minds. I can't. And this is why I am not so anxious to judge others, unless the situation is obvious (to me). I simply do not have the talent. To put it bluntly, I am a social retard, but I have learned to hide it fairly well or more accurately I have learned not to inflict it on others.

Bob Kolker

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If I may be permitted an opinion on the matter - I think Ayn Rand was a bit too hard on "the little people", the lesser folk. Without well meaning and right thinking lesser folk, the world would come crashing down and geniuses would have to shingle their own roofs instead of inventing advanced energy machines. We all have constructive parts to play and roles to fill.

I don't think Ayn Rand was hard on people of lesser ability nor did she think they were "little people" at all. Observe the respectful way she wrote about Eddie Willers and one of Roark's best friends, Mike the electrician. I fondly remember what she said in her 1972 Ford Hall Forum speech:

The American people, including the poorest, have never regarded themselves as humble mendicants waiting to be helped. Nor have they ever resented the rich and the successful; to most Americans, the successful are not objects of envy and hatred, but of inspiration. An American worker, properly, identifies with his boss, the the industrialist, rather than with a welfare recipient. And, I would venture to guess, so do many welfare recipients—excepting the group organizers or the professional bums who see welfare as a way of life.

Americans are men of action; they do not indulge in self-pity, and they do not accept passive resignation to suffering. In the face of hardships or misfortunes, their automatic response is to act, to fight, to solve the problem—an attitude for which they are so frequently condemned by the mystics of the intellectual "elite" of European barrooms and basements. To confront Americans with the patronizing "kindness" of a combined social worker and small-time Lord of the Manor, is such an impertinence that a landslide defeat is the least McGovern deserves for it.

Here is a recent example of McGovern's view of the people and of national unity—as reported by The New York Times (October 21, 1972). McGovern stated: "Let's face it. This election is more than a contest between George McGovern and Richard Nixon. It is a fundamental struggle between the little people of America and the big rich of America, between the average working man or woman and a powerful elite." I read this to my husband and said: "There are no little people in America." He answered: "Well... there's George McGovern..."

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I don't think Ayn Rand was hard on people of lesser ability nor did she think they were "little people" at all. Observe the respectful way she wrote about Eddie Willers and one of Roark's best friends, Mike the electrician. I fondly remember what she said in her 1972 Ford Hall Forum speech:
The American people, including the poorest, have never regarded themselves as humble mendicants waiting to be helped. Nor have they ever resented the rich and the successful; to most Americans, the successful are not objects of envy and hatred, but of inspiration. An American worker, properly, identifies with his boss, the the industrialist, rather than with a welfare recipient. And, I would venture to guess, so do many welfare recipients—excepting the group organizers or the professional bums who see welfare as a way of life.

Americans are men of action; they do not indulge in self-pity, and they do not accept passive resignation to suffering. In the face of hardships or misfortunes, their automatic response is to act, to fight, to solve the problem—an attitude for which they are so frequently condemned by the mystics of the intellectual "elite" of European barrooms and basements. To confront Americans with the patronizing "kindness" of a combined social worker and small-time Lord of the Manor, is such an impertinence that a landslide defeat is the least McGovern deserves for it.

Here is a recent example of McGovern's view of the people and of national unity—as reported by The New York Times (October 21, 1972). McGovern stated: "Let's face it. This election is more than a contest between George McGovern and Richard Nixon. It is a fundamental struggle between the little people of America and the big rich of America, between the average working man or woman and a powerful elite." I read this to my husband and said: "There are no little people in America." He answered: "Well... there's George McGovern..."

Thank-you, Betsy, for that timely reminder! Mike and Eddie are two of my favorite characters and I find them to be beautifully drawn. Indeed, they are not "little people" at all. In fact, Miss Rand challenges the very idea of what constitutes a "little person". In both The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged there are plenty of them . . . Keatings and Jim Taggarts, etc.

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. . . Americans are men of action; they do not indulge in self-pity, and they do not accept passive resignation to suffering. In the face of hardships or misfortunes, their automatic response is to act, to fight, to solve the problem—an attitude for which they are so frequently condemned by the mystics of the intellectual "elite" of European barrooms and basements. To confront Americans with the patronizing "kindness" of a combined social worker and small-time Lord of the Manor, is such an impertinence that a landslide defeat is the least McGovern deserves for it.

Wow. I didn't remember this quote. Let's work for history to repeat itself and for Obama to lose in a landslide. He fits the description better than McGovern, except that he is a "mystic of the intellectual 'elite' of European barrooms and basements." He is far more aggressively Socialist and authoritarian and a more spiteful hater of America than even McGovern was prepared to be. And the "Tea Partiers" seem a fair reflection of that "automatic response. . . to fight, to solve the problem" that Rand describes. They need, most desperately, the tools "to solve the problem" that Objectivism gives them.

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As for Galt, Francisco and Ragnar being normal - I think that Ayn Rand was making a valid point. Intelligence is probably much more a question of volition than of any other factor, and all men with normal brains could become enormously more intelligent than they are, if only they would *choose* to put forth more mental effort over a protracted time. I don´t know if everyone could become a genius on the order of Galt, Francisco or Ragnar solely by volition, but I view it as conceivable that they could, if they began choosing to think hard consistently at a very early age.

I make the assumption that measured IQ (on standardized tests) and Intelligence are correlated. Studies have shown that high IQ is in part inheritable. In part it is due to learned behaviors. Not all people with normal brains are equally smart and smartness manifests itself in different ways. Some people are math-smart. Some people are music-smart. Some people are word-smart. Some people read body and face language expertly. They can do profiling. Part of that may be due to heredity. There is a physical basis for intelligence, to with the structure and function of the brain. Some of the physical characteristics of the brain are inherited. For example the dominant side. Left-handedness (right brain dominance) runs in families. It is an inherited characteristic. Relative development of the pathways to the visual cortex may be influenced by genetic factors. People with extra-ordinary visual ability often occur in certain families.

In their book -The Bell Curve- Herrensteinn and Murray there is some strong statistical evidence presented showing that high measured IQ is (at least in part) inherited. There are valid identical twin studies that indicate that this is so.

So it is not just a matter of will power.

I could not will myself not to be tone deaf no matter how hard I try. I have imperfect pitch. I would find it difficult to carry a tune in a bushel basket. Tone memory is a mental ability and it is definitely inherited. That is why one finds entire families like the Bach family overloaded with musical genius. Similarly the Bernouli Family of Switzerland produced several generations of mathematical geniuses.

I also make the assumption that any human with enough brain power to master a language is capable of logical thinking. Grammatical structure sense and logical ability are related. So people who are not profoundly retarded ought to be able to reason logically, even if not in an original fashion. If a person who is otherwise normal cannot handle the usual categorical syllogisms, I assume he is not trying hard enough.

There are also people who do not think verbally at all, or hardly at all. Temple Grandin in her book -Thinking in Pictures- describes this condition. People on the difficult end of the autistic spectrum (the non-verbal end) have a great deal of difficulty working in a world where thinking is mostly verbal. People like this need special training to cope with this difficulty and put their hyper-visual abilities to good use. Grandin is one such person. If you eat steak, there is a 50 50 chance the steer from whom the steak was made was slaughtered in a slaughterhouse system designed by Grandin.

People like me (on the Aspie end of the spectrum --- Super Nerds) do well by working in the computer business where the underlying processes are rules-based and being literal is no disadvantage. I do not have the intuitive ability to discern intentions or intuit feelings in others. It has nothing to do with not trying. It is due to a structural and functional difference in the way my type of brain operates. Similar wetware, different operating system. The way I cope and still cope is by enumerating behaviors and the intent that others associate with these behaviors and formulating rules to account for these facts. So I handle intention discernment the way non-artistic people paint pictures. I paint by the numbers, so to speak. It is an empirical method and it took me 40 years to get it right. I had to study pictures of various facial expressions for years, to correlate them with the mood or mindset behind them. A normal five year old gets it as naturally as he/she breathes. Basically I know why I do or think what I do and think. I have problems understand why other people do what they do. I very often don't "get it". It was not until I was over 40 years old that I learned how not to act like a social jackass. I said and did things that hurt the feelings of others and insulted them and I had no idea that I was having that effect. For years I thought the question: "How are you" was a literal genuine question, rather than a patterned way of exchanging greetings and good feelings. I used to bore people with my temperature and blood pressure. I don't do that anymore. I had to learn manually not to do it. So you see, it is not just a matter of will power. I am in the 95th percentile for IQ and I still do not fully understand how other people operate. I have to plug away at it in a detailed and mechanical fashion. It is like trying to memorize the periodic table.

Lucky you. You can read other people's minds. I can't. And this is why I am not so anxious to judge others, unless the situation is obvious (to me). I simply do not have the talent. To put it bluntly, I am a social retard, but I have learned to hide it fairly well or more accurately I have learned not to inflict it on others.

Bob Kolker

OK. You provide a lot of apparently valid empirical evidence that intelligence is largely a question of heredity. Thank you. Up until now, people have just been asserting that there is lots of evidence for the idea that intelligence is largely hereditary, without showing me any of that evidence. Now I am convinced (that it is not true, as I once suspected, that most people with normal brains have the capacity, at birth, to become geniuses, if only they try hard enough). But I still think that I have seen abundant empirical evidence in my own life, that the majority of the people around me here in Sweden, are like the inhabitants of Starnesville, i.e. they are "volitionally stupid". They just *choose* to turn their minds off. And since I am not a racist, I assume that the majority of people in other countries than Sweden, default on the responsibility of thinking about relevant abstract subjects with about the same frequency. So I still feel contempt for the majority of the members of mankind.

And as for my "inflicting" pain on others, by dint of feeling contempt for them - first of all I do not go around saying to people - "I feel contempt for you!" - or - "I think that you are a depraved scumbag!". And secondly, even if I did, what would it matter to them - unless they were second-handers, in which case I would say "They deserved it, if I hurt their feelings-" I mean, an expression of contempt for other people is only justified it they are second-handers, so their feelings will be hurt by the expression of contempt. only if the expression is justified. Of course, if I condemn a person who is a first-hander by mistake, that will be unfortunate, but the harm done will be limited, since a first-hander will not care so much about what I think of him. What would Howard Roark do if I went up to him and said - "I think that you are a morally depraved scumbag, and I feel contempt for you!"? He would probably just laugh in my face, so no great harm would be done.

Of course, I should nevertheless not engage in gratuitous injustice. But I do not see that any harm has been done by my explaining why I feel contempt for the statistically typical members of mankind here. Because I have not condemned any specific individual, so nobody here is justified in thinking that I have criticized him personally (and of course, it is unlikely that anyone here will be a statistically typical member of mankind anyway).

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I don't think Ayn Rand was hard on people of lesser ability nor did she think they were "little people" at all. Observe the respectful way she wrote about Eddie Willers and one of Roark's best friends, Mike the electrician. I fondly remember what she said in her 1972 Ford Hall Forum speech:

Please do not misunderstand me. I am not critical of people who are merely of lesser ability. I am critical of anyone who habitually chooses to habitually default on the responsibilty of thinking, like *both* Robert Stadler (who was a man of great ability) *and* the inhabitants of Starnesville (who were presumably men of small ability). Sure, the Stadlers do more harm, individual for individual, when they choose not to think, compared with those "little people" who choose not to think. But the choice not to think is equally volitional for Robert Stadler and the inhabitants of Starnesville. So I feel just about as much contempt for the "little guy", when he chooses to automatize the habit of not thinking, as I feel for the man of great ability who makes the same choice.

And, of course, I do not think that such men as Mike the electrician is a statistically typical man. I do not think that I myself have been more *economically* productive after my pschosis than Mike the electrician (I have been a factory worker for 30 years), but I think that I am a much better person than most of the Swedes around me, because I make better choices than they do, specifically in regard to how I use my mind.

And I do think that Ayn Rand was pretty much realistic when she wrote the short story The Little Street. The people here in Sweden, at least (many or most of them), are like the characters in that story. I have seen that with my own eyes.

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