Betsy Speicher

61% know of Ayn Rand and 35% like her

2 posts in this topic

This better than even an optimist like me expected.

A recent YouGov survey reveals that while a majority of Americans have heard of Rand, fewer agree with her.

According to the survey, 61% respondents have heard of Ayn Rand. Across political party affiliations, Democrats and Republicans are about equally likely to have heard of the author. Independents are slightly more likely to have heard of her than members of either party.

Across political ideologies, a different pattern emerges: those who identify themselves as Liberal and those who identify themselves as Conservative are more likely to have heard of her than Moderates (with respectively 75% and 71% of Liberals and Conservatives saying they have).

Among those who have heard of her, opinion on her philosophy remains fairly evenly split:

35% hold a generally favorable opinion of her philosophy,

31% have a neutral view

35% see it unfavorably

A slim majority of Republicans have a positive view (51%), while a majority of Democrats have a negative view (62%).

Numbers of respondents who actively follow Ayn Rand’s philosophy are smaller. Of those who have heard of her:

5% consider themselves an Objectivist (a follower of her philosophy)

20% say they have been influenced by her philosophy, but are not Objectivists

61% flatly say they are not Objectivists

We also asked respondents how they felt about a statement which encapsulates a key element of Ayn Rand’s philosophy—"The proper moral purpose of one's life is the pursuit of one's own self-interest"—but did not specifically tell respondents it was her idea.

The majority (57%) of respondents disagreed with the statement, while around 8% said they completely agreed with it and 27% said they somewhat agreed. Across political party affiliations, a similar number of Democrats and Republicans agreed (respectively 37% and 33%) or disagreed with the statement (respectively 55% and 58%).

(Full article)

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Nothing in that says anything about what the people polled think it means, which a such a poll could not do. It's unlikely that the vast majority of those "who have heard of her" know much of anything about her philosophy beyond some vague political notions and slogans. You can't even conclude understanding from those who call themselves "Objectivists", and even the pollster didn't understand it well enough to ask meaningful questions: The statement "The proper moral purpose of one's life is the pursuit of one's own self-interest" while "not specifically tell[ing] respondents it was her idea" is meaningless. How were they supposed to know what "self-interest" and its pursuit meant to Ayn Rand if it was neither defined nor identified as her specific concept, as opposed hedonism, sacrificing others for yourself, etc.?

Name recognition with vague impressions is a long way from understanding; Ayn Rand is not running for office or a product to buy, she created a philosophy. It's barely a first step towards a possible motive to read.

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