Guest ElizabethLee

Pre-Objectivist Political Leanings

Prior Politics; Liberal/Conservative/Na   89 votes

  1. 1. Before Objectivism, were you Political, Liberal/Left & Conserv?

    • Very much Liberal/Left
      8
    • Somewhat Liberal/Left Leanings
      14
    • Neither one at all
      20
    • Somewhat Conservative/Right Leanings
      29
    • Very much Conservative/Right
      18
  2. 2. Before Objectivism, were you Religious?

    • Yes, very much
      7
    • Yes, somewhat
      18
    • No
      64
  3. 3. Before Objectivism, were you Politically inclined?

    • Yes, very much
      29
    • Yes, somewhat
      34
    • No
      26

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82 posts in this topic

The fact that someone is a "non-mystic" says absolutely nothing positive. One needs to appeal to those who hold reason as a value in some measure in their lives and philosophy. There are many religious people who use reason during their work. They are more valuable than just someone who is a ''non-mystic".

What I am suggesting is to play the odds. As you can see from the poll here, most of us were not religious. Therefore, it is probable that non-religious people are more likely to become Objectivists, and effort to market Objectivism is better spent on non-religious people.

Betsy Speicher has written about why the Jewish religion may lead to Objectivism more so than other religions, and I suppose there are a higher percentage of Jewish Objectivists than the Jewish percentage in the US as a whole. I have seen statistics that Physicists are more likely to be mystical/religious than Chemists, and Chemists are much more likely to be than Biologists, who are highly likely to be Atheists. Thus, Biologists would be a better target audience for Objectivism than Physicists.

I am concerned, due to past experience, that groups of non-religious people are often filled with irrationalists. I hope to find that my experiences were not typical, and that others here might provide evidence.

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I would guess, and this is just a wild guess, that there are probably about 20,000 to 25,000 people who consider themselves Objectivists world-wide, and perhaps one-hundred times that number that have some interest in some of the ideas.

How many of those Objectivists, though, would meet your standard of being a real Objectivist?

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How many of those Objectivists, though, would meet your standard of being a real Objectivist?

Just one. :)

Seriously, though, all these figures are just wild guesses on my part. So, with that in mind, I would say one-eighth to one-quarter of the total.

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What I am suggesting is to play the odds. As you can see from the poll here, most of us were not religious. Therefore, it is probable that non-religious people are more likely to become Objectivists, and effort to market Objectivism is better spent on non-religious people.

Betsy Speicher has written about why the Jewish religion may lead to Objectivism more so than other religions, and I suppose there are a higher percentage of Jewish Objectivists than the Jewish percentage in the US as a whole. I have seen statistics that Physicists are more likely to be mystical/religious than Chemists, and Chemists are much more likely to be than Biologists, who are highly likely to be Atheists. Thus, Biologists would be a better target audience for Objectivism than Physicists.

I am concerned, due to past experience, that groups of non-religious people are often filled with irrationalists. I hope to find that my experiences were not typical, and that others here might provide evidence.

Anecdotal evidence will not provide you with any proof of anything as to whom to market to. (not to many to's, I hope!) Such evidence is purely coincidental and dependent upon experience. In order to develop a market stategy, one needs to do some objective evluation of the market. I'm not really interested in this subject that much so I would have no idea how to go about doing that. But computers were not originally marketed (in the early 80s) to those who thought they needed computers. "Build it, and they will come" I think is the proper attitude.

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Seriously, though, all these figures are just wild guesses on my part. So, with that in mind, I would say one-eighth to one-quarter of the total.

I think that's in the same ballpark as my estimate. Every conference gets about 300 attendees, and most Objectivists that I know don't go to every conference. So, if we assume 1 in 10 go, I'd guess about 3000 real, committed Objectivists with enough understanding of the philosophy. Being a bit more generous, maybe 3 to 5 thousand.

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I think that's in the same ballpark as my estimate. Every conference gets about 300 attendees, and most Objectivists that I know don't go to every conference. So, if we assume 1 in 10 go, I'd guess about 3000 real, committed Objectivists with enough understanding of the philosophy. Being a bit more generous, maybe 3 to 5 thousand.

That number sounds about right as a count of real Objectivists because it's about the same as the number of ARI contributors.

I'm sure there are non-Objectivists who contribute to ARI, but I think most adult Objectivists - once they get through with school anyway - would support ARI to some extent.

As for the number of conference attendees, if the number is still around 300, then it hasn't changed much for a long time. I remember being told that the number of people at the 1989 TJS conference was somewhere between 300 and 350.

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Back to the question of whether over-40 Objectivists would have been liberal or conservative previously.... I just got confirmation that two over-50 long-time Objectivists I know were conservatives before - as I had thought.

As a way over 40 Objectivist, I was a Goldwater conservative in 1964, after reading his "Conscience of a Conservative." Then I heard him give a campaign speech in Columbus. Ohio. A year later I read Ayn Rand.

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As for the number of conference attendees, if the number is still around 300, then it hasn't changed much for a long time. I remember being told that the number of people at the 1989 TJS conference was somewhere between 300 and 350.

That's my understanding as of a few years ago: about 300, year after year, but many of the faces change.

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I studied my first textbook specifically on 'how to spread ideas and make changes in a culture' about 1959. In 1975-76 I wrote and published a newsletter on the subject. In 1989 I applied the activity to Taiwan. Because of the preliminary preparations I made, within 24 hours after my suggestions for changes were floated in my published column in BUSINESS TAIWAN, Samuel Hsih, head of the Central Bank said it would be his policy to change. After several more columns, within 60 days, Premier Hau Bai Sun said it would be his policy to change, and then President Li Tung Hei said it would be his policy. It took a while to implement, but within about 2 years even the KMT cadre were removed from top positions in businesses and media so the professionals could determine policies.

There are two important groups to market to. The above is less common, as it was a laboratory perfect condition/opportunity.

The important target is to market to the young. That is why I so strongly support the Ayn Rand Essay contests. The only reason there are Objectivist college professors is that the students are demanding them, and the colleges need the money and must compete for students.

There is a reason that the "save the whales/environmentalists" get the campus support they do, and a reason that Objectivist campus clubs are not that popular. That can change also.

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That's my understanding as of a few years ago: about 300, year after year, but many of the faces change.

It may be worth noting that the geographical location of conferences can have an impact on attendance. I've attended conferences in California in 1997, 1999, 2001 and 2003 (if memory serves). I haven't attended any of the conferences on the east coast in the even years. But my intellectual convictions don't fluctuate with my travel plans. I'm sure I'm not alone in this pattern.

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There is a reason that the "save the whales/environmentalists" get the campus support they do, and a reason that Objectivist campus clubs are not that popular. That can change also.

Do you have specific suggestions in that regard?

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The fact that someone is a "non-mystic" says absolutely nothing positive. One needs to appeal to those who hold reason as a value in some measure in their lives and philosophy. There are many religious people who use reason during their work. They are more valuable than just someone who is a ''non-mystic".

I agree 100%. People who may be religious but are fundamentally rational in their everyday lives often prove to be Good Objectivist Material. I know. I've "converted" quite a few.

These are people who are valuers and they cling to religion because they think it is their only way to defend their values against nihilism and moral relativism. Once you show them that their values can be justified on a solid, secular, factual basis instead of the shaky foundation of faith, you can win them over completely.

Most atheists, however, tend to be non-valuing, nihilistic "aginners" who are just rebelling against conventional standards, so they really don't want what Objectivism has to offer.

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I'd guess about 3000 real, committed Objectivists with enough understanding of the philosophy. Being a bit more generous, maybe 3 to 5 thousand.

At the time I was born, there was only ONE Objectivist and she hadn't even worked out most of the details yet.

What an explosion of Objectivism just in my own lifetime!

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I've noticed that religious people who are or who are studying to become scientists/engineers are often easy to "convert." Perhaps it has something to do with the tension between their implicit outlook on life that drives them towards their love of science and technology (things make sense and obey cause-and-effect relationships) versus their explicit philosophy.

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At the time I was born, there was only ONE Objectivist and she hadn't even worked out most of the details yet.

What an explosion of Objectivism just in my own lifetime!

Absolutely. What matters, too, is how quickly the influence on our culture grows. Over the long term, the influence over the universities will shape the culture, but to survive that long requires enough political stability that we not lose too much freedom. That is where the numbers game matters (though of course some people have more impact than others).

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At the time I was born, there was only ONE Objectivist and she hadn't even worked out most of the details yet.

What an explosion of Objectivism just in my own lifetime!

Thanks, Betsy! I haven't had a thought like that in quit some time. You're right; tremendous growth!

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Regarding the current number of Objectivists, I seem to recall Harry Binswanger speculate once or twice on HBL that it's around 10,000. I took that to mean committed Objectivists. I don't recall that he went into the kind of depth those here have as to the basis of his estimate. Does anyone else remember this?

Perhaps another hypothesis as to the precursors of becoming an Objectivist is that it is largely rooted in one's sense of life during early to mid-childhood (say, 2-7). During this time, children are moving rapidly through some signficant cognitive and emotional development. However, abstract reasoning is still at a very early stage, which means that emotions still have a powerful sway. Particularly emotions associated with core (but probably implicit) premises, i.e., one's sense of life.

While there's probably some small variation, I would hypothesize virtually all committed Objectivists had very postive senses of life. By this I mean that they held (again, implicitly) that the world is a good, benevolent place, that tragedies or problems aren't the norm, that they can and do understand reality, that happiness is a good state to achieve, and so forth.

Of course, most people go through some type of trauma and all periodically have problems of various difficulty. Even a very positive sense of life can be deeply shaken. I suppose it's possible that it can be broken, but I think it would take a LOT. So, I tend to think that a strong and positive sense of life developed during the right developmental period will take a person vary far (even if it's through some very dark paths ;) ).

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Regarding the current number of Objectivists, I seem to recall Harry Binswanger speculate once or twice on HBL that it's around 10,000. I took that to mean committed Objectivists. I don't recall that he went into the kind of depth those here have as to the basis of his estimate. Does anyone else remember this?

HB said there was something like 5,000 Objectivists, maybe 10,000. No explanation for the basis of the estimate was given, as far as I recall.

Perhaps another hypothesis as to the precursors of becoming an Objectivist is that it is largely rooted in one's sense of life during early to mid-childhood (say, 2-7)....

While there's probably some small variation, I would hypothesize virtually all committed Objectivists had very postive senses of life. By this I mean that they held (again, implicitly) that the world is a good, benevolent place, that tragedies or problems aren't the norm, that they can and do understand reality, that happiness is a good state to achieve, and so forth.

Unfortunately, at least based on my observations over the years, quite a few Objectivists suffer from a sense of life contrary to the one you describe. I say "suffer" because many new to Objectivism often speak of the conflict between their sense of life responses -- of that which they should be feeling -- in art and otherwise, as conflicting with their consciously accepted views. And for some this remains a life-long struggle. I do not know if you see patients who are Objectivists, but, if so, have your experiences with them been different?

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I'm just curious if anyone can put these numbers of Objectivists (1000, 3000, 10,000) in some kind of historical context. How many committed Marxists or committed Kantians would you estimate there are in the world who have a full, conceptual understanding their respective philosophies? How many were there 30 years after the founder presented his philosophy? How many today?

Is there anyway to put a factual basis for these estimates (guesses)?

(Personally, I'm happy there is at least one Objectivist!!! ;) )

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I'm just curious if anyone can put these numbers of Objectivists (1000, 3000, 10,000) in some kind of historical context. How many committed Marxists or committed Kantians would you estimate there are in the world who have a full, conceptual understanding their respective philosophies?

I think it was Dr. Peikoff who quoted Marx (or Lenin?), re: that issue, circa early 20th century: "There are now 3 Communists in the world. The revolution is assured." If I remember the quote correctly.

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I think it was Dr. Peikoff who quoted Marx (or Lenin?), re: that issue, circa early 20th century: "There are now 3 Communists in the world. The revolution is assured." If I remember the quote correctly.

Yes, I remember something like that too. So, there are 1000+ Objectivists who not only understand the philosophy but also have reality on their side!! The Objectivist revolution and victory is assured!!!!

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Yes, I remember something like that too. So, there are 1000+ Objectivists who not only understand the philosophy but also have reality on their side!! The Objectivist revolution and victory is assured!!!!

I told ya so! "You'll know Objectivisim is winning because ...."

I'm glad others, like Paul, are coming to see what a HUGE advantage Objectivists have in that our philosophy is TRUE. As I often say, "Reality is always the winning side."

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Unfortunately, at least based on my observations over the years, quite a few Objectivists suffer from a sense of life contrary to the one you describe. I say "suffer" because many new to Objectivism often speak of the conflict between their sense of life responses -- of that which they should be feeling -- in art and otherwise, as conflicting with their consciously accepted views. And for some this remains a life-long struggle. I do not know if you see patients who are Objectivists, but, if so, have your experiences with them been different?

No, I haven't seen any Objectivist patients. In fact, I personally know very few Objectivists, so my hypothesis may have been better defined as a loose speculation. However, if I understand what you describe, I still think it's possible to start out with a very good sense of life, but have that sense of life negatively impacted or even changed over time for many reasons. Thus, by the time they discover Objectivism, such a person's sense of life is more mixed.

By contrast, it's very difficult for me to imagine that someone who has developed in his early years an essentially malevolent universe sense of life will discover or be attracted to Objectivism. I assume (perhaps incorrectly) that there must be some amount of benevolence at the core of one's sense of life to have Objectivism be appealing. So, I still wonder if those who have become mixed in their senses of life nevertheless have benevolence at the core, which formed at a young age.

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Unfortunately, at least based on my observations over the years, quite a few Objectivists suffer from a sense of life contrary to the one you describe. I say "suffer" because many new to Objectivism often speak of the conflict between their sense of life responses -- of that which they should be feeling -- in art and otherwise, as conflicting with their consciously accepted views. And for some this remains a life-long struggle. I do not know if you see patients who are Objectivists, but, if so, have your experiences with them been different?

No, I haven't seen any Objectivist patients. In fact, I personally know very few Objectivists, so my hypothesis may have been better defined as a loose speculation. However, if I understand what you describe, I still think it's possible to start out with a very good sense of life, but have that sense of life negatively impacted or even changed over time for many reasons. Thus, by the time they discover Objectivism, such a person's sense of life is more mixed.

Leaving aside the specifics of how one arrives at the resulting sense of life, I think your choice of "mixed" best describes the sense of life observations I noted.

By contrast, it's very difficult for me to imagine that someone who has developed in his early years an essentially malevolent universe sense of life will discover or be attracted to Objectivism.

I have spoken in depth with at least one Objectivist who fits this bill, and I attribute his initial and sustained interest in Objectivism to his high regard for intellectual honesty.

I assume (perhaps incorrectly) that there must be some amount of benevolence at the core of one's sense of life to have Objectivism be appealing. So, I still wonder if those who have become mixed in their senses of life nevertheless have benevolence at the core, which formed at a young age.

I think you are probably right. However, it is interesting to note that aspects of a sense of life can be borne from two separate forms: a man's view of himself on the one hand, and, on the other hand, his view of and relationship to the rest of reality. So a "mixed" sense of life can at times have rather complex components.

As a p.s. to this post, I just want to note that if any of our members have not yet visited Scott's psychology website, you should by all means do so.

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I think you are probably right. However, it is interesting to note that aspects of a sense of life can be borne from two separate forms: a man's view of himself on the one hand, and, on the other hand, his view of and relationship to the rest of reality. So a "mixed" sense of life can at times have rather complex components.

This is an interesting discussion, and while I don't have a lot to say about it so far, I would add an important subdivision to "relationship to the rest of reality." I think it's important to distinguish between reality generally, and other people. In some cultures, it would take a very unusually foresightful perspective to not inductively conclude that one lives in a malevolent universe, qua other people - but otherwise take a benign, or benevolent, view of the rest of existence, including one's own ability to deal with it (besides, again, other people.) The more irrational the culture, the more an intelligent man can appreciate being alone and the solace of peaceful time alone in both contemplation and action.

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