Stephen Speicher

Response To Charges Against THE FORUM

367 posts in this topic

Harry Binswanger has informed us that we were not in violation of the stated HBL policies.

Glad to hear that. One Noodlefood blogger advocated having you arrested for violating HBL policies.

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---------------

Also, Tore Boeckmann, in an 4/29/05 post to HBL, criticized THE FORUM (like Mayhew, without naming it) thusly:

Even excluding the obviously pseudo-Objectivist ones, these groups [internet discussion forums] are characterized by a low level of understanding. There is more rhetorical posturing than actual thought. Innocently ignorant "newbies" who come with reasonable questions are often answered very misleadingly (or even met with ridicule) by pretentious self-proclaimed "experts" on Ayn Rand's philosophy.

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Considering that The Forum was just started in January of that year, was Mr. Boeckmann talking about The Forum specifically or just online forums in general or other specific forums? The quote you provided doesn't indicate which it might be.

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It really is amazing to see how the comments section on this post at Diana's blog has degenerated into a cesspool:

http://www.dianahsieh.com/cgi-bin/blog/com...071529208710466

Not surprisingly, the people who quit The Forum because of Stephen's "bullying" delight in finding a place where they can stretch their sneering wings to post crude, mocking, crass comments.

This should serve as an excellent example as to why we should be grateful for Stephen's "heavy-handed moderation".

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It really is amazing to see how the comments section on this post at Diana's blog has degenerated into a cesspool:

http://www.dianahsieh.com/cgi-bin/blog/com...071529208710466

Not surprisingly, the people who quit The Forum because of Stephen's "bullying" delight in finding a place where they can stretch their sneering wings to post crude, mocking, crass comments.

This should serve as an excellent example as to why we should be grateful for Stephen's "heavy-handed moderation".

It's funny how people can unite not around a positive, but around having a mutual negative -- in this case, various animosities against Betsy and Stephen. By all means I encourage those who share such views to join Diana's blog and announce themselves. It saves me the trouble of getting to know someone and then, much later, finding out what kind of person they are. If someone can so easily, on flimsy, unjust pretexts, morally condemn and launch vindictive ad hominems against them, I have no interest in dealing with them.

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Considering that The Forum was just started in January of that year, was Mr. Boeckmann talking about The Forum specifically or just online forums in general or other specific forums? The quote you provided doesn't indicate which it might be.

There is some history behind this to consider. Boeckmann had publicly and privately expressed hostility, first toward Betsy and then toward me, when we took issue with some of David Harriman's public statements 5 or 6 years ago. Boeckmann's opposition to "internet discussion forums" on HBL was preceded by the mention of Harriman's ideas, and my welcoming a debate with Harriman, shortly after THE FORUM began. The current campaign against THE FORUM occurred about the same time I started to answer your question on Harriman's essay and disagreed with Mayhew, another of Boeckmann's friends.

Do you see a pattern here?

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Here I am, late to the party again. I had no idea this thread was here. I'm glad it is.

1. Both Stephen and Betsy are being crudely smeared, and by extension, everyone who regularly posts here.

2. The FORUM has never been a place for people to "learn" Objectivism, nor does it claim to be such. People who are new to, or ignorant of the philosophy are told which lectures and books offered by Objectivist intellectuals might help them. I've always thought of the FORUM as a place where I could talk about things to people who didn't require a discussion of the basics, and a place for like-minded people to chat about whatever was on their minds.

3. One of the most important aspects of the FORUM I am most thankful for is that people are required to confine their discussion to the ideas being discussed without rancor, personal attacks, snide remarks, and all of the rest of the ill-mannered slings and arrows one is subjected to on other fora. Stephen never allows people to indulge in the kind of sneering, pseudo-superiority to be lorded over others who are discussing things in good faith. In my experience, such methods merely signal either that there is no valid argument to be offered, or the argument is weak and the author knows it. Either way, I don't waste my time trying to tease out some meaning from a diatribe.

4. I, too, have had my share of posts deleted. Being an adult, I didn't stomp my foot, pout, and announce to the world that I was taking my ball and leaving. Rather, I tried harder. I'm grateful someone cares and pushes me to be better.

I wrote to Stephen earlier that, in all my years of social isolation--especially being isolated from other Objectivists--I had a rather naive vision of Objectivist discussions. In my mind's eye, they mimicked the scene in Atlas, where they were all trying to persuade Dagny to stay in the valley. They argued with conviction and passion, while coldly laying out their reasoning. Always present was the benevolence and respect we all hope to encounter in life, but seldom do. I have now been disabused of that particular fantasy. There are those "Objectivish" folk who do not have a genuine respect for the facts of reality, objectivity, or the reasoning mind, and so, feel no genuine benevolence towards others. Thankfully, there is the FORUM, where such scenes play themselves out daily (even when the scene lacks the drama :) ). For helping me maintain my own sense of benevolence, I thank Stephen and Betsy, and everyone who puts the effort required to post here.

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I would like to comment on methodolgy, and offer just one example at this point. Concerning a comment I made, Diana replies

Regarding the comment from kishnevi that "I would like to point out that publicly posting comments made in a private forum such as HBL without the permission of the original poster and/or the moderator may not merely be a violation of contractual obligations, but tortious or possibly even criminal independently of any contractual issues."

Paul, you need to pay a bit closer attention to the facts. That comment was not written nor endorsed by any "NoodleFood blogger" -- as you've falsely reported on The Forum. It was written by some random person whose identity is not even known to me. Personally, I regarded the remark as beyond absurd, particularly the bit about "possibly even criminal." I meant to object to it at the time, but it slipped my mind.

Given what you've said about me on The Forum, you're kindly welcome to go away. Please do not post in the NoodleFood comments again.

So, because I used apparently the wrong word, calling the "commenter"[?] a "blogger" I am falsely reporting information, not paying attention to the facts; I couldn't possibly be making a mistake and, as a result, incorrectly reporting information. The fact that I didn't know it was some random person and the fact that she didn't respond with condemnation because it "slipped" her mind is somehow my problem for not paying attention to facts. I'm not sure what word to use for those who comment on Noodlefood, but bloggers seemed like a good word to me initially. She then asks that I not comment anymore on Noodlefood because of what I said here on The Forum. I didn't see any request for "kishnevi" not to post anymore considering he/she made the "beyond absurd remark." Apparently absurd is OK, but presenting arguments that disagree with her ideas is saying something about her personally that is not to be argued.

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I--------

Apparently absurd is OK, but presenting arguments that disagree with her ideas is saying something about her personally that is not to be argued.

Grammatical correction: "Apparently absurd is OK, but presenting arguments that disagree with her ideas is saying something about her personally, and that is not to be argued."

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I'm so disgusted with the outrageous and unjust attacks on Noodlefood against me, Betsy, and THE FORUM, that I just have to vent. This is not presented as necessarily a statement of fact or as a logical argument, but as a sincere expression of some outraged thoughts and feelings:

Noodlefood is a topsy-turvy world, where the ideas of Objectivism are being subverted daily by those who claim allegiance to the philosophy but engage in the same tactics as the enemies of Objectivism.

You can take the girl out of the TOC, but apparently you cannot take the TOC out of the girl.

We have the spectacle of a supposed Objectivist intellectual who in the name of the philosophy writes an entire article composed of one long smear, unleashing and licensing an assortment of malcontents to engage in the same.

Apparently, when some "intellectuals" cannot argue the facts, the smear becomes their intellectual weapon of choice.

Tore Boeckmann's pathetic attempt to smear me and my scholarship was right in line with the tactic used by Mayhew. (At least Mayhew used one sentence while Boeckmann required more than a bloated 1200 words.)

Now that I have that off my chest, here is one factual point:

I have studied the history of astronomy in detail, including much scholarly work on Thales and other early Greeks, and have dozens of papers and books related to that particular subject right here in my home. I have immediate access to more than 36 million scholarly papers in the sciences, arts, and humanities, and I avail myself of this resource on a daily basis. The smear that I do casual, un-erudite research by using Google, is patently absurd.

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2. The FORUM has never been a place for people to "learn" Objectivism, nor does it claim to be such. People who are new to, or ignorant of the philosophy are told which lectures and books offered by Objectivist intellectuals might help them. I've always thought of the FORUM as a place where I could talk about things to people who didn't require a discussion of the basics, and a place for like-minded people to chat about whatever was on their minds.
I disagree with one aspect of this. Most posters to the Forum are experienced Objectivists, but there also are newbies who ask questions. The key is that the relationship is one of open discussion, where someone puzzled over some topic raises a question and discussion leads to a conclusion.
3. One of the most important aspects of the FORUM I am most thankful for is that people are required to confine their discussion to the ideas being discussed without rancor [..]
Yes indeed, and I'm glad that there is some place for civility and objectivity.
I wrote to Stephen earlier that, in all my years of social isolation--especially being isolated from other Objectivists--I had a rather naive vision of Objectivist discussions. In my mind's eye, they mimicked the scene in Atlas, where they were all trying to persuade Dagny to stay in the valley. They argued with conviction and passion, while coldly laying out their reasoning. Always present was the benevolence and respect we all hope to encounter in life, but seldom do. I have now been disabused of that particular fantasy.
I, too, shared that misconception for a long time. I met Objectivists first over the internet while I was in college, then in person on a regular basis after graduation and moving back to Southern California. But it was a few years later, at a conference of all places, that I had the same realization you describe. Yes, I was well aware of the various pseudo-Objectivist groups and individuals (including Diana) from internet discussions, but had never seen that aspect in person. And I thought that conferences were havens away from such people. I forget the circumstances that precipitated the revelation, but I noticed that even here the power of personal politics was in force. I think most people at the conference were interested in understanding Objectivism, using the philosophy to understand the world, and celebrating certain common values, but there was a palpable sense I got from some that there were other motives at work.

Case in point: When I moved to So Cal I asked about Objectivists Betsy knew in the area who might be interested in getting together socially. She mentioned one couple immediately, and I spent a few years running a small social group which included them quite often. I considered them, if not very close friends, at least friends. I moved to another part of SoCal and didn't keep in touch as much as we had. When I ran into them at a conference (3 years ago, I think) we talked for a few minutes and when Betsy's name came up, I was extremely shocked to hear the wife ask, in a snide tone, "Why would you want to spend time with her?" This was totally out of the blue, without provocation or explanation. Her husband quickly hushed her and no further discussion ensued. At that point I excused myself and left.

I mention this because these attacks against Stephen and Betsy are not something that started out of the blue in November. For some reason there are people out to get them, and these recent topics (the election, the DIM discussion, Tracinski's article) are, in my opinion, an excuse to rationalize the hostility. But such people eventually show their true colors, and times like now are best used to identify who is a true friend and who isn't, who is an intellectual ally and who isn't.

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I disagree with one aspect of this. Most posters to the Forum are experienced Objectivists, but there also are newbies who ask questions. The key is that the relationship is one of open discussion, where someone puzzled over some topic raises a question and discussion leads to a conclusion.

Ed, thank you for pointing out my poor construction.

My point in that sentence was that newbies are always encouraged to go to the original AR texts, and the materials offered by recognized experts. A discussion may help one to clarify a point, or reach a deeper understanding, but I haven't read a discussion where a newbie is given nothing but the opinions of "Objectivish" folks sans reference to pertinent scholarly material. I've read discussions that came to a halt when it became obvious that the questioner had no acquaintence with the most basic ideas of Objectivism; whether they understand those ideas or not, any discussion requires a starting point.

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I'd like to thank a friend and fellow member of the Forum for alerting me to the flare-up of this thread since February 2.

So, I have a few points.

(1) In the interests of full disclosure, to begin with I should make it clear that I have known the Speichers online for ten years, and in person for a good part of that. Not mentioning this connection might falsely be construed as concealing it should it be brought to light, considering that I do fully and enthusiastically support Stephen and Betsy against the ridiculous attacks on them personally and against their wonderful Forum. As a matter of fact, my privileged position has given me a host of concrete reasons -- beyond the enormous evidence of their conduct of the Forum that is available to anyone -- to realize their unswerving committment to being rational, factual, and fair about anything and everything. "Unswerving" means with no departures. This is not to mention their being in fact so rationally benevolent as individuals that a slur on their motives is clear evidence of severe ignorance and suggestive of worse.

(2) It can't be possible to proceed solely from the fact of a disagreement over what Isaac Newton's stated ideas actually are and mean, to an enmity for and denunciation of Stephen Speicher. Rational disagreement with Stephen, even if he were not expert in that area, would be bizarrely insufficient for that. The record Newton left is open to everyone. Stephen's evaluation of it is a (in my own judgment irrefutable) conclusion that is not hard for others to arrive at too, given what Stephen points to. At any rate, reasoned disagreement with his case would obviously be eligible and welcome on the Forum. As I said, the denunciation is just bizarre. Taken in isolation, it's incomprehensible.

(3) The value of the Forum, and the Speichers' admirable conducting of the Forum, are manifest to me. And obviously to a horde of other members, many of whom have chimed in already. Betsy and Stephen learned vital lessons from their observation of other online venues and their long-time participation in them. They made it their business to understand what it takes to support civil and rational discussion of Objectivism and of the world -- while entirely and overtly respecting and revering Ayn Rand and her philosophy, while never endeavoring to rewrite it or allowing it to go misstated, and while effectively curbing practices (and not only the highly offensive ones) that undercut the admirable goals of the Forum. They have done original, first-hand hard thinking in arriving at what it takes. The Forum stands head and shoulders above any other post-moderated site or list I'm aware of. Until Stephen and Betsy came along, I would have been justified in suspecting from the evidence that it could not be done.

(4) I know from a long history of reading and thinking what Objectivism consists of -- what it is, is on record after all. I believe I agree with the whole of it. I believe I agree with the whole of OPAR. I agree with Dr. Peikoff's "Fact and Value". I pass all sorts of proper litmus tests (without speaking pejoratively here, but sincerely, since I think being an Objectivist would entail all that). And I know for a fact that whom you know, and who does or doesn't like you for whatever personal reasons, has nothing to do with being an Objectivist, and has nothing to do with who objectively ought to be your genuine ally and who objectively ought not.

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I wrote to Stephen earlier that, in all my years of social isolation--especially being isolated from other Objectivists--I had a rather naive vision of Objectivist discussions. In my mind's eye, they mimicked the scene in Atlas, where they were all trying to persuade Dagny to stay in the valley. They argued with conviction and passion, while coldly laying out their reasoning. Always present was the benevolence and respect we all hope to encounter in life, but seldom do. I have now been disabused of that particular fantasy. There are those "Objectivish" folk who do not have a genuine respect for the facts of reality, objectivity, or the reasoning mind, and so, feel no genuine benevolence towards others. Thankfully, there is the FORUM, where such scenes play themselves out daily (even when the scene lacks the drama :) ). For helping me maintain my own sense of benevolence, I thank Stephen and Betsy, and everyone who puts the effort required to post here.

What a lovely post this is, and how closely the things you mention mirror my own thoughts not only about Stephen and Betsy, but also the value of this Forum generally as well as the lack of benevolence and respect towards others that characterizes so many of the "criticisms" (read, denouncements) being directed at it and, by extension, those of us who participate in discussions here.

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I just took some time to carefully read over the threads in question again. You know, the threads where "the attacks" occurred.

Where are these alleged attacks?

If these are attacks, then there is a group of people out there (authorities and not) that do hold the following opinion:

"Any questioning of the conclusions of a recognized Objectivist authority is wrong. Period." Well, bring on the priests.

Tore Boeckmann says just this in the following statement:

Objectivity demands that if you are only barely familiar with a field, you do not criticize, question, pontificate to or write about distinguished authorities (i.e., experts) in that field without, at the very least in some manner of form, taking the difference of knowledge into account.

This was done repeatedly by Mr. Speicher (stating his position of knowledge) in the Tracinski/Mayhew thread. Maybe you are supposed to drool and grovel your inferiority like an invalid, because I think Mr. Speicher mentioned it too many times. And if his level of knowledge qualifies as "barely familiar", that certainly levels the playing field.

Think about it. If someone like Mr. Speicher is "barely familiar", and is not "a recognized authority", then he is to remain quiet (Mr. Boeckmann's supposed requirement for objectivity is clearly just hot air, it is ignored even when used), then that shuts a lot of mouths.

Mr. Broeckmann was trying to cut off the tallest poppy (or at least the tallest one that wasn't obeying the rules). Scholar-or-barely familiar. Mr. Speicher gets barley familiar (although he has to grovel on his knees about his ignorance repeatedly), I get - can someone start a pop-culture subforum? Somehow I think I get off better, I may win a game of Trivial Pursuit!

If anyone thinks I have gone over the edge in my conclusions, go read the threads in question carefully. Then go read what the hucksters are saying in aisle 5 , and judge for yourself. That is, afterall, what this is all about.

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In light of both the denouncements which have been directed at the Forum from other Objectivist intellectuals and the general tenor of same, I withdraw my earlier retraction of the following item which was posted on the "What Went Right" thread:

I’m confused . . . or, rather, I'm having the rather "creepy" sensation that there are some who, in their comments both here and in some other Objectivist venues, are arguing that Ayn Rand (or Dr. Peikoff, etc.) and, by extension, Objectivism is the standard of truth. I've certainly never had the impression from my reading of Miss Rand's body of work that she set herself up as such or that she would ever have wanted herself or her work to be seen as "articles of faith". Correct me, please, if I am wrong about this.

As an Objectivist myself, I've always thought that REALITY is the standard of truth and that to be an Objectivist is, first and foremost, to be committed to both reality and the faculty of reason. Have I been mistaken?

I'm prompted to ask these questions not out of flippancy or disrespect, but precisely because one of the issues Rob Tracinski raises in his "What Went Right" series is what he perceives to be a kind of Rationalism amongst Objectivists, a Rationalism that seems to inform those comments I find "creepy" in the first place.

Said denouncements and their tone have served clearly to confirm and, therefore, to validate what had been, at the time of my original posting, only vague presentiments on my part. In addition, I view these denouncements as also suggestive of the disgusting notion that certain individuals, by sole virtue of a consensus recognition of their academic credentials, are themselves “standards of truth”.

After further review or the most recent, relevant statements and exchanges, it is my view, and mine alone, that these denouncements are, in fact, calls for Authoritarian conformity.

I am not in the custom of tolerating, in any fashion, exhortations to Authoritarianism such as those being put forth both implicitly and explicitly by Diana Hsieh, Nick Provenzo, Tore Boeckmann, Dr. Mayhew, and some others with respect to this Forum and its hosts and participants. Furthermore, I have determined that such Authoritarian tendencies disqualify the named individuals as either exponents of or legitimate “authorities” on the philosophy of Objectivism.

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I would be interested in Stephen's response to the charges that Mike has made on Noodlefood. My questions will follow.

Speicher's quoting of Boeckmann is odious beyond its violation of HBL policy. What isn't known to apparently everyone posting on the thread at The Forum is that Boeckmann's comment from two years ago was part of a protracted discussion spanning days about the value of attempting to learn philosophy from a message board. Why is this odious? Because Mr. Speicher ripped the comment out of its context and then used it to paint this (false) picture that there is some cadre of Objectivist intellectuals intimidating students into agreement with them. FYI, Boeckmann hadn't said ONE WORD on HBL about the topics of Tracinski, Mayhew, or The Forum debate surrounding those topics (the last time he participated was in early December, when he provided a quote for a quote quiz). But Stephen decided to drag Mr. Boeckmann (by taking something he said out of context and using it to attack him) into this debate.

What is also omitted on The Forum is the context of Mayhew's comment about The Forum. Reading the thread in question, one is left with the impression that, out of the blue, Mayhew decided to begin bad mouthing The Forum. Also not the case.

So to sum up, Boeckmann and Mayhew were quoted out of context (Boeckmann being dragged into a conversation he had nothing to do with), those out of context quotes were used to impugn their characters, and non-HBLers are incapable of putting those quotes back into their contexts. [sentence with foul language omitted.]

(Mayhew was right to decline to answer the question he was asked. In the past, the Speichers failed to comment on HBL, but instead conducted threads on HBL topics on The Forum, using HBL posts (wihtout refering to them) to direct the conversation. A recent example would be Stephen Speicher's obvious interest in Greg Salmieri's theory of possibility, yet his total absence in the discussion on HBL. Speicher's comments in that The Forum thread make it clear he was responding to issues raised on HBL. Given this, and the subsequent use of out of context quotes on The Forum, Mayhew was right to fear that his HBL comments on Aristotle and the Greeks would be ripped out of context and used as fodder for The Forum discussions.)

Paul's Here should familiarize himself with ALL the facts, not just the selective quotations available on The Forum, before deciding that there is group of rationalists out to get the Speichers. To anyone who thinks the Speichers are being unjustly maligned, but don't know what has (actually hasn't) happened on HBL, you quite literally do not know what you are talking about.

I have provided the entire quote, so that Mike doesn't charge me with ripping quotes out of context. In an attempt to familiarize myself with ALL the facts, and not just the "selective quotations available on The Forum," I'd like to know the following information. 1) Is it true that you dragged Boeckmann into this conversation that he had nothing to do with? 2) Did you rip the Boeckmann quote out of context from a 2-day discussion on the subject and use the quote to attack him? 3) What was Mayhew's context when he commented about The Forum?

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My only online connection to Objectivism has been HBL and THE FORUM (the latter of which I joined just this past October). I have been to other Objectivist sites, but not joined any discussion groups or really read any threads. I have been to one conference and participated in a handful of events in a local Objectivist club. Needless to say, I have not met or known many Objectivists.

I read the noodlefood thread linked in a previous post, including the full article by Tore Boeckmann and Diana Hseih's comments that followed. What I saw was disturbing for me on many levels. Yet, it also brought into clearer focus some experiences I've had during the occasions when I have met Objectivists.

At a basic level, my knowledge of the Speichers and how wonderfully they have treated me made many of the comments I saw absolutely vicious and unfounded. This was thoughtlessness of malicious proportion.

Next, although I have been pro-individualist and anti-collectivist since before I even understood those terms, I also understand the rational meaning of the phrase "being on the same team." My default view of other Objectivists is to be open to them, including their ideas, criticisms, and so forth. I assume that people who fundamentally believe what I do deserve a hearing. And when I disagree, I also believe they deserve respectful disagreement.

This is not what I saw, and it saddens me. We are presumably fighting for the same things. At a time when there is literally no leadership and the void is being filled with socialism, fascism, or theocracy, the last thing that's needed is the kind of junk I saw in that thread.

As a psychologist, I'm offended at the implicit and explicit attempts to psychologize the Speichers or anyone else. As one who knows his field deeply, I understand the power of psychology generally, but also in ideological warfare. Psychology is not a weapon, and I've found that only those who understand it least try to wield it the most.

To be sure, some, perhaps many, people are disarmed and overcome by a psychological attack. But that doesn't prove that those who wield psychological power truly understand it. The proof lies in what such actions betray about themselves. I won't elaborate, but Dean Sandin summed it up nicely when he wrote: "It can't be possible to proceed solely from the fact of a disagreement over what Isaac Newton's stated ideas actually are and mean, to an enmity for and denunciation of Stephen Speicher." That kind of progression, and how quickly, are very significant psychologically.

My relatively few experiences with Objectivists have been a mix of good and bad. As related to the current issue, I have certainly observed irrational aggressiveness (which is really defensiveness), snobbery, and phoniness. I haven't enjoyed seeing it, and it is just as disturbing reading it.

I'm not directing my comments at any particular person, and certainly not all the people who have been posting on that thread. I'm not interested in a fight as much as I wanted to state my reaction and perspective. However, if one is brought to me, especially one using psychology as a weapon, rest assured that I will validly respond in kind.

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In an attempt to familiarize myself with ALL the facts, and not just the "selective quotations available on The Forum," I'd like to know the following information. 1) Is it true that you dragged Boeckmann into this conversation that he had nothing to do with?

No.

Boeckmann was the first to involve himself when he directly attacked Betsy, me, and THE FORUM in a letter dated January 21, 2007. This letter was e-mailed to a number of Objectivist intellectuals. For obvious reasons I cannot post the letter, but what he wrote on NoodleFood is tame by comparison.

Thus, Boeckmann himself is the person I was referring to when I wrote:

Then there are those who spread rumors and smears behind the scenes, like the well-known intellectual who sent letters to other Objectivist intellectuals attacking THE FORUM, calling Betsy and me rationalistic imbeciles, and saying that I was bolstering my "pseudo-self-esteem through finding errors in the writings of his intellectual superiors."

Note that despite Boeckmann's protestations about my use of the phrase "intellectual superiors" (Boeckmann: "He even puts this phrase in quotation marks, as if it came from me, which it did not."), Boeckmann knows full well that the quotation really DID come from him.

Perhaps my reference to the unnamed behind-the-scenes smearer is what drew Boeckmann out publicly. At least now people can see a part of Boeckmann's surreptitious campaign against us and THE FORUM. Now that his secret is out, will Tore Boeckmann publicly post, in its entirety, what he sent to fellow Objectivist intellectuals? Will he let everyone see what he has been up to, in secret, so they can compare what he wrote with the facts? Actually, if I had Boeckmann's permission, I would be most happy to post an unedited version of his January 21st letter right here.

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I’ve honestly had a hard time with this, because I didn’t know the particular details of the issue being brought up and have such great respect for both Stephen and Robert Mayhew.

But, then I realized I have known both Stephen and Betsy via the Internet for quite a while now, and that knowledge of who they are should be sufficient for me to fully endorse them as people I admire and respect. So, even if Stephen is wrong on this particular issue, he is at core a good person, as is Betsy. In fact, in my estimation, they are not just good, they are supremely good people. Not only that, but they have been Objectivists going back to the 1960s. They are serious about and dedicated to the philosophy, to say the least.

Parenthetically, I do agree with Tore Boeckmann that the best way to learn a subject is via a quality teacher and a quality book, and that most forums aren’t best for that purpose, but I also agree with Paul (in this thread), that most of us don’t consider this forum as primarily a place for learning. Secondarily, yes, but I don’t believe that’s its main purpose.

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2) Did you rip the Boeckmann quote out of context from a 2-day discussion on the subject and use the quote to attack him?

I don't think so. I believe the section I quoted, standing alone, is something Boeckmann would agree with. Ask him. What I did do was place it in a new context as well and compare it to other statements he made. That may cast him in an unfavorable light, but I don't believe I misrepresented his actual views.

3) What was Mayhew's context when he commented about The Forum?

Aside from him referencing and pointing to his own essay, there wasn't much more than was quoted.

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A P.S.:

I would also like to add thanks to Paul for that interesting question, but in general I am not interested in repeating Noodlefood rants here on THE FORUM. In the future a pointer to a posting on Noodlefood will suffice.

Also, considering that there is such an outpouring of so many wild charges running rampant on Noodlefood, though I responded to Paul's questions I do not want to encourage requests for responses to the stream of accusations and distortions being posted there. It would be a full-time job to untangle them all and the facts are here on THE FORUM for anyone to judge.

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When I see the kind of unfounded malicious slander that's thrown about, I go back to a perspective that I held even before I first read Ayn Rand, which is expressed by Francisco in Atlas Shrugged:

"Dagny, there's nothing of any importance in life—except how well you do your work. Nothing. Only that. Whatever else you are, will come from that. It's the only measure of human value. All the codes of ethics they'll try to ram down your throat are just so much paper money put out by swindlers to fleece people of their virtues. The code of competence is the only system of morality that's on a gold standard. When you grow up, you'll know what I mean."

The bastards who feel it necessary to malign anyone who disagrees with a clique, as opposed to responding by reasoned debate, are, I think, those who really have accomplished the least amount in their lives. Ayn Rand did not need to engage in such pettiness, and it would have bored her to death and I'm sure she would have contempt for those who cower from debate and argumentation with thinkers, as some soi disant Objectivists routinely have done in every forum. Nathaniel Branden, for a time, felt that it was safe to behave that way because of a second-handed feeling that he had the imprimatur of Ayn Rand's approval; and so it is, I believe, with a number of latter-day second handers who believe the same thing, albeit after her death. But history and reality are pitiless judges, and what counts at the end of day are one's achievements, and the truth and justice of the situation is that the biggest cowards and slanderers are those of the least achievement, who will probably not merit even a footnote in history. When I originally put together my CD-ROM, it was for my own personal use, and when I decided to try to commercialize it, I decided that a focus almost exclusively on Ayn Rand's own works, was the real value. For those who believe that their minor efforts to become intellectuals in the footsteps of Ayn Rand are meaningful, yet engage in unfounded slander against thinkers, I say: You're not worthy of the title of thinker or Objectivist.

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I don't understand all the fighting that goes on. I don't understand one question? "Why?"

If people are bristling for a fight, there are always plenty of socialists or theocrats just around the corner to take on.

But what does trying to bring down Objectivists actually achieve? Does it create new wealth? New products? New technologies? No.

Does it persuade others to achieve to higher standards? No.

Does it provide new aesthetics? No.

So I don't understand why it all goes on. I would much rather focus on building my new technologies and businesses.

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I don't think so. I believe the section I quoted, standing alone, is something Boeckmann would agree with. Ask him. What I did do was place it in a new context as well and compare it to other statements he made. That may cast him in an unfavorable light, but I don't believe I misrepresented his actual views.

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That's an excellent point and I hadn't thought of making that connection. What does the charge of quoting someone out of context mean? It certainly doesn't mean lifting a quote and analyzing it in a way the author does like. It means lifting a quote and putting it in context that changes its meaning from what the author originally meant. It is Mike who claims that you ripped the quote out of context and "used it to paint this (false) picture that there is some cadre of Objectivist intellectuals intimidating students into agreement with them." Yet that is not what you said. You said reality is the frame of reference for discussing and understanding Objectivism; Boeckmann said that understanding Objectivism requires the leadership of an expert, a genuine authority (Post 30). It is Mike who is taking you out of context.

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I don't understand all the fighting that goes on. I don't understand one question? "Why?"

If people are bristling for a fight, there are always plenty of socialists or theocrats just around the corner to take on.

But what does trying to bring down Objectivists actually achieve? Does it create new wealth? New products? New technologies? No.

Does it persuade others to achieve to higher standards? No.

Does it provide new aesthetics? No.

So I don't understand why it all goes on. I would much rather focus on building my new technologies and businesses.

Indeed.

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