Stephen Speicher

Response To Charges Against THE FORUM

367 posts in this topic

A general theme in this thread regarding the recent discussion seems to be that Mr. Boeckmann and Mr. Mayhew (and others?) want their views to be accepted on faith. I have a hard time deducing that from anything that anyone has said. From what I gather, the arguments are instead: 1) Internet discussion boards are not the best places to learn about Objectivism. And discussion boards moderated by a professional(s) Objectivist intellectual are better discussion boards than ones not run by a professional Objectivist intellectual(s) to learn about Objectivism. 2) Before attacking essays by ARI intellectuals - especially if you proclaim support for ARI - you should at least read the article you are attacking, do some research on the topic, and keep in mind differences in knowledge about the subject matter.

Regarding #1: I fully agree with Mr. Boeckmann. And holding this view does not imply the desire to accept things on faith. Rather it implies what I consider to be obvious (though I may be mistaken) that learning from people with more knowledge is generally easier and of more benefit than learning from people with less knowledge.

Regarding #2: I think Mr. Speicher stated more than once that he was not an expert regarding Thales and the Greeks. However, before going into attack-mode you would think it proper for him to actually read the essay in question, rather than "skim" through it. Further, his "wondering" about "other possible errors" seems like nothing more than a smear against the scholarship of Mr. Mayhew when one would think being a recognized ARI intellectual would warrent better treatment from a proclaimed ARI supporter. Finally, I do not have the time to search for attacks against other ARI intellectuals in THE FORUM but one that stands out in my mind I did search for and could not find (it was removed?) was the thread that sought to discredit Dr. Peikoff's view on the election and the direction of the culture from the fact that he rarely read entire newspaper articles.

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From http://www.dictionary.com

Civil

1. Adhering to the norms of polite social intercourse; not deficient in common courtesy:

2. Marked by benevolence

I suggest that the Objectivist community should read the above a few times. I continue to visit The Forum because I find it to be an interesting community. But, in particular, it is a civil community. I refuse to support anyone who is not civil. The Objectivist community appears to be breaking up into two camps - the civil and the uncivil. Within each camp there are important (and perhaps unresolvable) differences. When two civil parties disagree, benevolence still reigns. When there's uncivil disagreement, watch your neck.

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A general theme in this thread regarding the recent discussion seems to be that Mr. Boeckmann and Mr. Mayhew (and others?) want their views to be accepted on faith.

Can you cite sources for this?

I have a hard time deducing that from anything that anyone has said.

Does this mean that you are can't find evidence to support what you stated was the theme of this thread, or that no one has said what you say they said?

From what I gather, the arguments are instead: 1) Internet discussion boards are not the best places to learn about Objectivism. And discussion boards moderated by a professional(s) Objectivist intellectual are better discussion boards than ones not run by a professional Objectivist intellectual(s) to learn about Objectivism. 2) Before attacking essays by ARI intellectuals - especially if you proclaim support for ARI - you should at least read the article you are attacking, do some research on the topic, and keep in mind differences in knowledge about the subject matter.

Regarding #1: I fully agree with Mr. Boeckmann. And holding this view does not imply the desire to accept things on faith. Rather it implies what I consider to be obvious (though I may be mistaken) that learning from people with more knowledge is generally easier and of more benefit than learning from people with less knowledge.

How many "internet discussion boards moderated by a professional Objectivist intellectual" are you aware of? Please provide the links. I'd like to join.

That may be how you interpret what Mr. Boeckmann said, but the meaning of his words go far beyond that.

Regarding #2: I think Mr. Speicher stated more than once that he was not an expert regarding Thales and the Greeks.

And your point is what? That he can't criticize the statements of someone whom you regard as an expert?

However, before going into attack-mode you would think it proper for him to actually read the essay in question, rather than "skim" through it. Further, his "wondering" about "other possible errors" seems like nothing more than a smear against the scholarship of Mr. Mayhew when one would think being a recognized ARI intellectual would warrent better treatment from a proclaimed ARI supporter.

If some author says in his first sentence of an essay that socialism is an ideal, does one have to read the entire article to criticize his first sentence?

Then you would also disagree with the smear campaign against a recognized ARI supporter who is being smeared by proclaimed intellectuals?

Finally, I do not have the time to search for attacks against other ARI intellectuals in THE FORUM but one that stands out in my mind I did search for and could not find (it was removed?) was the thread that sought to discredit Dr. Peikoff's view on the election and the direction of the culture from the fact that he rarely read entire newspaper articles.

I suggest you read the thread before formulating an opinion of its contents. Apparently you seem to have been reading too much of the smear experts to think that the thread was removed because you can't find it. It would have been more honest to simply ask for someone to find the reference for you.

Here's some threads for you to gather some facts.

http://forums.4aynrandfans.com/index.php?showtopic=4756&hl=

http://forums.4aynrandfans.com/index.php?showtopic=4852&hl=

http://forums.4aynrandfans.com/index.php?showtopic=4957&hl=

http://forums.4aynrandfans.com/index.php?showtopic=4940&hl=

http://forums.4aynrandfans.com/index.php?showtopic=4629&hl=

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"Can you cite sources for this?"

Scrolling down I see Thoyd Loki's post and Vespasiano's. Do you want me to find more examples?

"Does this mean that you can't find evidence to support what you stated was the theme of the thread..."

I said "A theme" not "the theme".

"How many discussion boards are moderated by a professional Objectivist intellectual..?"

HBL for one.

"And your point is what, that he can't criticize the statements of someone you regard as an expert?"

No, actually that I think Mr. Boeckmann was wrong to imply that Mr. Speicher was not taking into account differences in the level of knowledge on the subject, between Mr. Mayhew and himself.

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"Can you cite sources for this?"

Scrolling down I see Thoyd Loki's post and Vespasiano's. Do you want me to find more examples?

"Does this mean that you can't find evidence to support what you stated was the theme of the thread..."

I thought that you were referring to Stephen's arguments. I have not argued for those points either.

I said "A theme" not "the theme".

OK. But why did you list that theme as the "general" theme?

"How many discussion boards are moderated by a professional Objectivist intellectual..?"

HBL for one.

That is email based, not internet based.

"And your point is what, that he can't criticize the statements of someone you regard as an expert?"

No, actually that I think Mr. Boeckmann was wrong to imply that Mr. Speicher was not taking into account differences in the level of knowledge on the subject, between Mr. Mayhew and himself.

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I don't understand why a forum must be moderated by a professional Objectivist intellectual.

If the moderator has a great grasp of Objectivism, why does it make a difference?

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I thought that you were referring to Stephen's arguments. I have not argued for those points either.

Actually Mr. Speicher said, "we are well aware that there are those who would like Objectivists to unquestionably take them on faith and hate those who don't." This was originally stated on the Tracinski by Mr. Speicher and then quoted by him on this thread.

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I don't understand why a forum must be moderated by a professional Objectivist intellectual.

If the moderator has a great grasp of Objectivism, why does it make a difference?

The moderator does not need to be a professional Objectivist intellectual for a discussion board to have value or to be able to learn from said board but when seeking answers to questions regarding Objectivism, having a moderator who actually knows the answers and is experienced explaining is certainly a plus.

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Perhaps I am misinterpreting what you wrote, but the implication of your statement seems to be that someone who is NOT a professional Objectivist intellectual does not "know the answers" and/or does have experience explaining Objectivist concepts.

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A general theme in this thread regarding the recent discussion seems to be that Mr. Boeckmann and Mr. Mayhew (and others?) want their views to be accepted on faith . I have a hard time deducing that from anything that anyone has said. From what I gather, the arguments are instead: 1) Internet discussion boards are not the best places to learn about Objectivism.

It is true that the internet is not the best place to learn about Objectivism, but that was never the primary goal of THE FORUM. Stephen and I set it up as a benevolent place where Ayn Rand admirers could discuss anything that interests them: politics, sports cars, the fine points of epistemology, video games, recipes, metaphysics, football, etc. and publish their essays, poetry, photos, music, etc. If someone wants to learn about Objectivism, we generally recommend reading Ayn Rand and OPAR, attending Objectivist lectures, listening to "Understanding Objectivism," etc.

And discussion boards moderated by a professional(s) Objectivist intellectual are better discussion boards than ones not run by a professional Objectivist intellectual(s) to learn about Objectivism.

Probably true, depending on who the particular Objectivist intellectual is. Still, I think that reading Ayn Rand is much better than any internet venue -- even a good one like HBL.

2) Before attacking essays by ARI intellectuals - especially if you proclaim support for ARI - you should at least read the article you are attacking, do some research on the topic, and keep in mind differences in knowledge about the subject matter.

Addressing the "differences in knowledge" issue first, here is something Ayn Rand recounts in her introduction to The Night of January 16th:

I felt an odd kind of sadness: my mind went back to a certain argument I had with Woods during the rehearsals. We were sitting in the front row of an empty theater and he was saying indignantly: "How can you be so stubborn? How can you argue with me? This is your first play and I've been in the theater for forty years!" I explained to him that it was not a matter of personalities, age or experience, not a matter of who said it, but of what was said, and that I would give in to his office boy, if the boy happened to be right.

Like Ayn Rand, Stephen and I are only concerned with whether something is right.

Also when someone claims that my position is wrong and offers evidence and gives his reasons, he is doing me a favor -- not "attacking" me.

When I disagree with a rational man, I let reality be our final arbiter; if I am right, he will learn; if I am wrong, I will; one of us will win, but both will profit.

As for Boeckmann's insinuations about Stephen's knowledge, research, and expertise on the matters in dispute, Stephen wrote:

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.
Regarding #1: I fully agree with Mr. Boeckmann. And holding this view does not imply the desire to accept things on faith. Rather it implies what I consider to be obvious (though I may be mistaken) that learning from people with more knowledge is generally easier and of more benefit than learning from people with less knowledge.

You won't get an argument from Stephen or me on that.

Regarding #2: I think Mr. Speicher stated more than once that he was not an expert regarding Thales and the Greeks.

While Stephen does not claim to be an expert on Thales, contrary to Mayhew and Boeckmann, he is well-read on the subject. Most of the Objectivists who know him from THE FORUM, or from his pre-FORUM days on HBL, are aware of the enormous breadth and depth of his knowledge.

Speaking of the dispute, don't the facts that Stephen presented here show that Mayhew was wrong about Thales and the eclipse? After that, didn't Stephen expose more of Mayhew's factual errors here and here?

Finally, I do not have the time to search for attacks against other ARI intellectuals in THE FORUM but one that stands out in my mind I did search for and could not find (it was removed?) was the thread that sought to discredit Dr. Peikoff's view on the election and the direction of the culture from the fact that he rarely read entire newspaper articles.

When you do find it, you will find that arguments here were made both for and against Peikoff's view, as they were on HBL, and all in the spirit of "When I disagree with a rational man, I let reality be our final arbiter."

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Actually Mr. Speicher said, "we are well aware that there are those who would like Objectivists to unquestionably take them on faith and hate those who don't." This was originally stated on the Tracinski by Mr. Speicher and then quoted by him on this thread.

There is no indication that he was referring specifically to Mayhew or Boeckmann in the quotes you cite, or including them among a group of people whom he was referring to. I'll leave Stephen to address that issue if he wants to.

By the way, if you are going to cite a quote from another post, please include the link or at least state which post number the quote is from so I don't have to look through the entire thread to find it.

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"Like Ayn Rand, Stephen and I are only concerned with whether something is right.

Also when someone claims that my position is wrong and offers evidence and gives his reasons, he is doing me a favor -- not "attacking" me." Betsy Speicher

If this is good cop/bad cop, put me in the industrial green room. I'll bring the rubber hose.

All forums should be run like this one.

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Actually Mr. Speicher said, "we are well aware that there are those who would like Objectivists to unquestionably take them on faith and hate those who don't." This was originally stated on the Tracinski by Mr. Speicher and then quoted by him on this thread.

Yes, and here is the full quote.

We are well aware that there are those who would like Objectivists to unquestioningly take them on faith and hate those who won't, but they don't dare say that publicly. Some are cowards who give pseudo-reasons for their hatred and then refuse to answer questions about their attacks. 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." (I am not making this up!)

With opposition like that, courage is easy.

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

"How many discussion boards are moderated by a professional Objectivist intellectual..?"

HBL for one.

-------

I just noticed this and I think you need to be aware of this very serious issue. If you're going to quote me (or anyone), make sure you quote the exact words. Else the meaning may change.

I said

How many "internet discussion boards moderated by a professional Objectivist intellectual" are you aware of?
(emphasis added)

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

"How many discussion boards are moderated by a professional Objectivist intellectual..?"

HBL for one.

-------

I just noticed this and I think you need to be aware of this very serious issue. If you're going to quote me (or anyone), make sure you quote the exact words. Else the meaning may change.

I said

How many "internet discussion boards moderated by a professional Objectivist intellectual" are you aware of?
(emphasis added)

Speaking as moderator, I agree. We take correct attributions seriously on THE FORUM, and as our members can attest I have deleted many posts that err in this regard.

I would encourage Matt Miklautsch to familiarize himself with the standard quoting facility that most all members avail themselves of on THE FORUM. Please check the TUTORIALS and the QUESTIONS forums for explanations of how to use the quote feature.

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The fact of the matter is that Stephen pointed out that from his research factual errors were made by Mayhew in his criticism and cited his sources. The way he put it may have not been the most tactful criticism, but it was honest and fair. He said nothing about Mayhew as a person, but dealt with the issue at hand.

I didn't know who Thales was before this (but I read the thread, I hope I'm qualified to comment, this is just a sarcastic parenthetical), but it seems to me since Mayhew obviously disagreed with what Stephen said, it would be more appropriate to simply say that he disagreed with his conclusion and if you do you own research or investigate such and such sources you will see for yourself. Or he could have just said he disagrees. The fact that Stephen disagreed with with what he wrote did not warrant or justify what was said about the FORUM by implication (particulary "Objectivish" and "self-proclaimed experts", if there is someone who thinks Stephen is not an expert in Physics after being active on the FORUM, I guess they want Einsten or Planck, or have a problem with Dr. Bernstein on Capitalism? Salsman on Economics? If that's not what he was referring to, somebody please correct me).

On another note, I'm 19 and I've read all of Ayn Rand's novels and many of her non-fiction works. I do not visit this site to "learn" Objectivism. I come here to discuss issues, values, current events, etc. with like-minded, rational people. Numerous times I've read posts by members that have prompted me to investigate (often, via the Objectivism Research CD-ROM :) ) issues in greater detail. It's been nothing but beneficial. No one lures people here or tries to pitch their opinions as "gospel" truth. It's honest discussion with clearly stated moderation policies. We should reserve the vitriol for the terrorists, altruists, etc. who are the real threats to us, not Objectivists who have disagreements about history.

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We here on the FORUM have been admonished that we are to take the word of Objectivist intellectuals over that of those who are not "experts". I would like to address what makes someone an "expert", about Objectivism and in other areas of knowledge.

First, about Objectivism: I will turn 60 this year. My knowledge of Objectivism comes straight from Miss Rand, and those who taught during her lifetime under her supervision and tutelage. I have applied all that I learned from these sources for almost 35 years of my life--day in and day out. For me, Objectivism isn't a question of academics, but a guide for my life, which is what a philosophy is supposed to be. Philosophy becomes nothing more than an academic exercise, or a mental game, if the nonacademic person is unable to understand it. This doesn't mean that having a deep understanding of the technical philosophic questions isn't important, but that if a philosophy isn't accessible to the lay person, if the lay person must defer to experts, then that philosophy isn't a philosophy for living. Such an attitude means that reason is not sufficient to determine the facts of reality. It means that one must rely on others to tell him what is and what isn't true. It means that we all require some version of an elite, specially trained philosopher-king to determine the most important questions in one's life.

This isn't Objectivism, of course. Objectivism, out of every other philosophy, is directed towards the sovereign mind of each individual. Objectivism demands that we all become experts in our own lives, and expressly forbids allowing another's judgment to supplant one's own. Objectivism gives proof and validation to the individual as to why this is true, and how to go about ordering one's life so that it conforms to reality. One benefits from another's expertise, but one does not automatically accept another's opinion.

Understanding Objectivism has allowed me to understand the world around, and my life in that world. The greatest importance of this understanding, for me, has been spiritual. My understanding isn't confined to questions of politics, or the history I love to read, or my career, or the culture around me. Understanding Objectivism is what has seen me through several personal tragedies, including losing a husband and my only child, and the loss of my career and my ability to live a normal life. During these times, the knowledge I gained from Objectivism offered me a profound spiritual comfort that supposedly only religion gives. But religious platitudes could not help me cope with any of these events. Religious knowledge turned out to be no knowledge at all, but only the admonition that I couldn't know what was happening to me, so I must give up trying to understand, or seeking a way to continue my life--or even wanting to continue my life. Worse, religion told me that it wasn't important to know or understand, because, after all, it is only this life on earth, and this life ultimately has no importance. Only Objectivism offered me the spiritual guidance I needed, precisely because it didn't involve platitudes, but the necessary understanding of the nature of man's life on this earth, and how that understanding guides one in accepting that which one can control, and that which one cannot; that the object of prime importance on the most fundamental level is my own life; and that it is possible for me to overcome adversity and earn happiness. In this, I have become an expert.

My point here is that experience counts. Without life experience, what any individual possesses is a set of conceptual abstractions. These concepts are fundamental, but until this "book learning" is tested by and applied to reality, one cannot own the deepest, and for the individual, the most relevant, understanding of the way philosophy actually works. I owe Ayn Rand my profound gratitude for defining the conceptual abstractions, and for her innovations which gave me the proper tools required to live a full life. My understanding, and the happiness I've accomplished, however, come from the expertise I've gained in use of those tools.

The experts are necessary and important, but my years have taught me that there are degrees of expertise--there are experts, and then there are experts. They are a guide, but the final authority is one's own knowledge and understanding. Without that, you may as well believe in fairies, for all the good any philosophy will do you.

Regarding specialized knowledge, such as that Dr. Mayhew has earned through years of study, my deference only goes so far. Once again, my years of experience has taught me that specialize knowledge is pertinent when it comes to knowledge of the facts. I've had many teachers who were knowledgeable about the facts of their field, but who made monumental errors in the interpretation of, and conclusions drawn from, those facts. Before I accept any one's conclusions, I apply my own standards--those demanded by reason, i.e., logic applied to the facts, always understanding the context of my own knowledge and understanding. That is all any of us can do. If I have questions, I ask them. If a particular expert can't be bothered to address those questions, I go elsewhere to seek my answers, and make a note not to seek out that expert to inform my ignorance again. If there is one thing the world is full of, it is experts. Their value varies wildly, and must be judged just like every thing else.

While I do not claim to possess Dr. Mayhew's knowledge and expertise in the realm of ancient history, I have years of experience reading scholarly works, including refutations given by one scholar about another's work. I found Dr. Mayhew's arguments against Rob Tracinski's articles sadly lacking. In the first paragraph of his argument, he ascribes a motive to Tracinski's examples in a tone that implied something underhanded and nefarious. He characterized Tracinski's arguments as tenditious, while counting on the reader's deference to his own bias. I expect a particular point of view from Objectivists--in fact I count on it. However, I also expect a reasoned explanation for a particular interpretation of the facts. I had many questions about Dr. Mayhew's argument, and was very interested in his point of view, but was soon informed that he wouldn't deign to answer them in this FORUM. That is his privilege and I have no problem with his refusal. I have a problem with his use of invective while refusing, i.e., with his method and his manners.

If you want an example of a true scholarly refutation, I recommend reading Dr. Peikoff's Fact and Value, where he does a beautiful job of refuting David Kelley's ideas of tolerance and moral innocence.

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First, about Objectivism: I will turn 60 this year. My knowledge of Objectivism comes straight from Miss Rand, and those who taught during her lifetime under her supervision and tutelage. I have applied all that I learned from these sources for almost 35 years of my life--day in and day out. For me, Objectivism isn't a question of academics, but a guide for my life, which is what a philosophy is supposed to be. Philosophy becomes nothing more than an academic exercise, or a mental game, if the nonacademic person is unable to understand it. This doesn't mean that having a deep understanding of the technical philosophic questions isn't important, but that if a philosophy isn't accessible to the lay person, if the lay person must defer to experts, then that philosophy isn't a philosophy for living. Such an attitude means that reason is not sufficient to determine the facts of reality. It means that one must rely on others to tell him what is and what isn't true. It means that we all require some version of an elite, specially trained philosopher-king to determine the most important questions in one's life.

This isn't Objectivism, of course. Objectivism, out of every other philosophy, is directed towards the sovereign mind of each individual. Objectivism demands that we all become experts in our own lives, and expressly forbids allowing another's judgment to supplant one's own. Objectivism gives proof and validation to the individual as to why this is true, and how to go about ordering one's life so that it conforms to reality. One benefits from another's expertise, but one does not automatically accept another's opinion.

. . . .

Regarding specialized knowledge, such as that Dr. Mayhew has earned through years of study, my deference only goes so far. Once again, my years of experience has taught me that specialize knowledge is pertinent when it comes to knowledge of the facts. I've had many teachers who were knowledgeable about the facts of their field, but who made monumental errors in the interpretation of, and conclusions drawn from, those facts. Before I accept any one's conclusions, I apply my own standards--those demanded by reason, i.e., logic applied to the facts, always understanding the context of my own knowledge and understanding. That is all any of us can do. If I have questions, I ask them. If a particular expert can't be bothered to address those questions, I go elsewhere to seek my answers, and make a note not to seek out that expert to inform my ignorance again. If there is one thing the world is full of, it is experts. Their value varies wildly, and must be judged just like every thing else.

Oldsalt:

This is an "I wish I had said that" moment. I turn 48 next week and it is my goal to develop by my 60th birthday (preferably sooner!) the degree of quiet patience you have brought to this discussion with your latest posting. I was particularly taken with the two excerpts quoted here which, taken together and in the context of your entire post, really do sum up my own thoughts . Thank you.

While I look forward always to furthering my knowledge of Objectivism (and . . . yes . . . new and interesting perspectives and additional and/or more thoroughly developed insights can be gleaned from the exchanges that take place here), to learn about Objectivism is not the reason I come here. My primary joy in participating in The Forum for Ayn Rand Fans is of a social nature . . . this is one of the very few places, if only in a virtual sense, where I am able to enjoy the company of others with a view of life and the world that parallels my own. Given the kind of thinking I encounter so frequently in my daily activities within the context of my actual environment, I would find it impossible to overestimate its precise value to me. I view this Forum as a tremendous gift, and I am ever grateful to Stephen and Betsy for their generosity in bringing it to us.

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And the smears continue from Diana. First rationalism, now out of context quoting of deleted posts. How low can we go?

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Now there's a commenter on Noodlefood wondering why Stephen Speicher is deleting posts here when he left (by accidObjectivism Online because someone had deleted posts of his. The commenter is asking: "Why was doing the very same thing, in his own forum, that he left Objectivism Online for?" However, as I recall the situation on Objectivism Online, Mr. Speicher had a post edited without his knowledge, and only later found out about it. Now, is editing someone's post without saying so "the very same thing" as deleting posts while notifying the poster and giving reasons? Hardly.

(Okay, just after writing this I see that Kyle Haight has already answered that comment. However, he doesn't mention the fact that Mr. Speicher wasn't even notified of the editing.)

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Hey, wait a minute. My post came out wrong for some reason. I wrote partly

"...when he left (by accidObjectivism..."

That "(by acci" part should't be there. Actually, in my first draft I wrote in one place "and only later (by accident) found out about it", but I removed the "(by accident)" part because I wasn't sure how he found out about it. For some reason half of it ended up at another part in the post. Gah. Stephen: feel free to remove "(by accid" and this post.

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Now there's a commenter on Noodlefood wondering why Stephen Speicher is deleting posts here when he left (by accidObjectivism Online because someone had deleted posts of his. The commenter is asking: "Why was doing the very same thing, in his own forum, that he left Objectivism Online for?" However, as I recall the situation on Objectivism Online, Mr. Speicher had a post edited without his knowledge, and only later found out about it. Now, is editing someone's post without saying so "the very same thing" as deleting posts while notifying the poster and giving reasons? Hardly.

(Okay, just after writing this I see that Kyle Haight has already answered that comment. However, he doesn't mention the fact that Mr. Speicher wasn't even notified of the editing.)

Please don't confuse Diana's herd with the facts. It makes for much better reading when their arguments float like a butterfly.

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I would suggest that we leave these people to what is obviously their idea of a serious subject for philosophical debate. They've gone so far off topic, anyone just tuning in would wonder what all the hoopla was about. Does anyone remember that this all began as a discussion about the nature of ideas in history? And now they are flinging increasingly desparate accusations about so and so doing such and such to whozits and whatzits, in the manner of one high school clique gossiping about another high school clique. How is any grown-up to take this seriously? What for?

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I posted this on Noodle Food:

"Putting aside personalities involved in this current dispute, I would like to concentrate on the fundamental question behind it. There is nothing new about Establishment experts having to deal with those with less credentials challenging their assumptions.

If you read Dava Sobel's "Longitude" you would be aware that it was a rather humble clock maker against Sir Isaac Newton. In the early 1700's the problem of knowing one's longitude was so urgent, that the government offered a huge reward for it's solution. Can you imagine, a watch maker against the intellectual Establishment led by the brilliant Isaac Newton? Did the final verdict handed down by reality diminish what Newton had achieved? No, but it would have reflected better on him if he had made allowances for the possibility that others could teach him something. Even a simple watchmaker, who concerned himself with how he saw reality, not the experts.

This is not to diminish in anyway the value and ability of experts. Without them, progress would hardly be a word. My point is only that even experts need to make allowances that other may have a bettter idea, and not to take such ideas as attacks on themselves. "

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