About
Content
Store
Forum

Rebirth of Reason
War
People
Archives
Objectivism

Post to this threadMark all messages in this thread as readMark all messages in this thread as unreadBack one pagePage 0Page 1Page 2Page 3Page 4Page 5Page 6


Post 120

Wednesday, May 24, 2006 - 8:57pmSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit
I'm just now starting to get familiarized with editing functions on this site.  Anyway, I wanted to add more to this last post:

Mike, there was a time back in the day on HPO where I would, from time to time, resort to not referring to certain people by name, because of the supposed inference that referring to them by name would grant them respect.  And you know what that behavior makes me feel like having been in retrospect?  Like an asshole, that's what.  There are things that I hope I've outgrown since then, and this is one of them.

As for granting people a certain respect, I'll let my own posts speak for themselves on whether they command a basic respect.  My own guidelines for whether someone deserves a basic level of respect is whether their posts generally indicate an integrity, a genuine openness to hearing argument and criticism.  But even for those that I don't think deserve that respect, I'd still feel somewhat of an asshole by not referring to them by name -- in terms of how it reflects upon me, not them.  I don't think naming someone by itself is a way of conferring my respect one way or the other.  (I'd place it more in the category of a courtesy, distinct from respect.)


Sanction: 11, No Sanction: 0
Sanction: 11, No Sanction: 0
Sanction: 11, No Sanction: 0
Post 121

Wednesday, May 24, 2006 - 9:16pmSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit
Chris, in post #111 (not 11 -- pardon the typo) you wrote this:

I remember getting the Navigator magazine and being all-too-often uninterested and unimpressed with the empty-sounding feel-good rhetoric. It seems now that this has become the dominant theme at TOC. I'm just not impressed with what I've been seeing coming out of there nowadays.


Chris, have you actually been reading our stuff lately?

I ask that sincerely, because if your last reading of our magazine was under the title Navigator, then you haven't a clue as to what we are saying "nowadays." Because "nowadays" -- for about a year and a half, in fact -- it's been called The New Individualist. And it's anything but tepid, Chris.

For samples of what we at TOC are saying "nowadays," try this op-ed by Ed Hudgins, our executive director, posted TODAY (that's "nowadays") right at the top of the RoR home page. Did you somehow miss it?

See anything mealy-mouthed in there?

As for our magazine "nowadays," consider the past two issues. How about my defense of Rand against the disgusting likes of Bill Buckley? Or this potent review of an incendiary book exposing the subversive efforts of American Islamists? Or perhaps my scathing indictment of the cowardice of Western journalists during the recent "Muhammad cartoon" episode? The latter two articles, incidentally, were published in the first magazine in America to reprint one of those "offensive" cartoons on its front cover -- The New Individualist. I could go on and on.

In answer to your question about naming names: I don't appreciate insults, especially insults made in ignorance; and I don't care to give further attention to those who equate "passing moral judgment" with cannibalism. So I don't generally name them and grant them the attention they so obviously crave.

However, I do not place you in that category. In your case, I was merely trying to spare you the embarrassment of mentioning you by name while exposing your evident ignorance of our recent activities. For instance, you claim that we aren't doing serious scholarship, when even a simple visit to the TOC home page proves you wrong. You call us purveyors of "empty-sounding feel-good rhetoric," when even a glance at the top of today's Rebirth of Reason home page proves you wrong.

But since you insist on being spotlighted, Chris, well, here you are. Named.

If scholarship is your thing, Chris, why didn't you apply for our advanced graduate program in epistemology and philosophy of mind? And if you want to know what we're saying in our magazine "nowadays," Chris, why don't you request a free copy of the latest issue?

I'd like to think that if you re-acquaint yourself with TOC, you might, in justice, find some words from your post #111 that you'd like to take back. And you might also, in justice, be in a better position to pass judgments on our full-time critics and their criticisms.

Post 122

Wednesday, May 24, 2006 - 9:25pmSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit
Chris,
Perhaps you mean me when you refer to "Mike"?
I have read some of your sweeping judgements but I canít find the reasons for them in your posts --that has been disappointing.
Michael


Sanction: 4, No Sanction: 0
Sanction: 4, No Sanction: 0
Post 123

Wednesday, May 24, 2006 - 9:26pmSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit

 Mike you wrote in your P.S. to #117:
P.S. ..and, of course, I donít mind mentioning Robert Bidinotto, a person as sharp and as astute as they come-- if one comes up on the opposite side of the his argument it would be wise to humbly crawl away, quickly lick their wounds, spend a few years getting a life, and then bring some well-meaning reasoned thoughts to the table.


I understand that when I'm making some critical comments against TOC and come up against the [whatever executor at] TOC, I expect I could very well be hit with some big humbling refutation.  It doesn't mean that my comments aren't well-meaning and/or reasoned.  I mean quite well indeed: I want to see the best job being done to promote Objectivism.  I think that's what lots of people really mean behind their criticisms and "personal" spats.  Some of the more obnoxious claquers at places like Diana's blog seem to revel in the fact that TOC has gone into decline.  I'm not saying to pay attention to their glee -- but I do point out what I take to be a rather irrefutable fact: that TOC has been in some dramatic decline.  What's so hard about speaking to the fact that TOC used to be a place that spoke the right kind of message and was experiencing growth due to that, but now appears to be receding from that period of growth and whose name now seems too synonymous with the Brandens?

Maybe I should ask this: would Bob deny that by an objective measurement, TOC is not where it used to be?  Is the TOC not experiencing fallbacks from a financial standpoint to where it's not attracting top names (besides the Brandens, that is) to speak at its conferences?  What happened to those days in the late '90s when it appeared so robust, and why is it so hard to get excited about its offerings any longer?

And why are those who point out this disappointment and raise such questions treated discourteously and dismissed hastily?

(Edited by Chris Cathcart on 5/24, 9:29pm)


Post 124

Wednesday, May 24, 2006 - 9:46pmSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit
Uncle!  Uncle!  You can stop naming me now. :-)


Post 125

Wednesday, May 24, 2006 - 9:54pmSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit
sure. ;)

Sanction: 32, No Sanction: 0
Sanction: 32, No Sanction: 0
Sanction: 32, No Sanction: 0
Sanction: 32, No Sanction: 0
Post 126

Wednesday, May 24, 2006 - 11:32pmSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit
Chris, in your latest round of questions (post 123), you are conflating a whole bunch of issues.

1. Let's start with the fact that some people once associated with us no longer are. That is a fact. And there is a good reason for it. Over time, every program develops a constituency. And whenever we decide to jettison programs or personnel who are not performing as well as we'd like, people wedded to those programs and personnel obviously don't like it, and will argue and protest. A number will leave. Some who leave will decide to trumpet their gripes publicly. A few, apparently having little better to do with their time, elevate such griping into a fulltime occupation.

But to be effective, every business or organization has to find its unique competitive advantage in the marketplace (in our case, in the marketplace of ideas), and then focus its efforts and resources there. None of this indicates a lack of commitment to Objectivism. Quite the contrary: it indicates a commitment so serious that we want to use the precious resources given to us to their best possible advantage in advancing Objectivism. It is a matter of prudence, and of honor.

2. You write: "What's so hard about speaking to the fact that TOC used to be a place that spoke the right kind of message and was experiencing growth due to that, but now appears to be receding from that period of growth and whose name now seems too synonymous with the Brandens?" This conflates a host of issues:

a. What is "the right kind of message"? Fulminations and personal insults of the sort that you find elsewhere? Or hard-hitting messages of principle directed toward serious issues, and read by many thousands, some quite influential? Because that is what we are accomplishing.

b. "...experiencing growth due to that [message]..." First, since our message hasn't changed, fluctuations in growth couldn't be due to our having a different one. Second, growth -- by what measure? After a couple of tough years in the wake of 9/11, we have bounced back financially. And our outreach efforts are generating more and more public attention. For example, even after steady growth throughout 2005, visits to our Web site have soared an additional 35% within the past four months alone.

Or take The New Individualist. Subscriptions to our newly revamped magazine are pouring in, as are requests for free sample copies. The magazine has more than doubled in size, and we're making arrangements to put it on newsstands. In editorial quality, information, variety, style, sheer readability, entertainment value, aesthetic appeal -- and commitment to principle -- I'll stack The New Individualist against ANY Objectivist, libertarian, or conservative publication. To back my point, I extend a personal invitation, Chris: send me your address, and I'll mail you the three latest issues. You can judge our efforts for yourself.

In passing, let me also note that even in the scholarly arena, TOC is rarely credited for things it accomplishes. For example, Objectivist philosopher Stephen Hicks's important book on postmodernism has gone through five printings. That book, Dr. Hicks says, benefited greatly during its gestation from his sabbatical at The Objectivist Center, and from feedback and discussions there with TOC scholars, whom he credits in the book. (Only a schedule conflict prevents Dr. Hicks from participating in this year's Summer Seminar.)

c. "...and whose name now seems too synonymous with the Brandens."

It was the Nazi Goebbels, I believe, who said that if you repeat even an outrageous lie loudly and often enough, millions of fools will come believe it. Chris, WE didn't make our name "synonymous with the Brandens"; Certain People have made that claim.

And it is a lie. Not a mistake. A lie.

As the liars well know, Nathaniel and Barbara Branden have nothing, zero, nada to do with the policies, direction, or views of TOC. They have no input. They are not on our Board of Trustees. They are not on our Advisory Board. They never have been.

In fact, we rarely even hear from them.

Like many scores of people with specialized knowledge about aspects of Objectivism, they have been invited as occasional speakers to our events -- in Barbara's case, only once previously. We also carry some of their writings and tapes -- many of those consisting of material they produced UNDER THE AUSPICES OF AYN RAND back in the days of NBI. However, because we do NOT focus on the life and biography of Ayn Rand, we have NEVER carried in our bookstore and catalogs their biographical books about Rand (or, for that matter, ANY other Rand biography), nor have we invited either of them to speak about Rand's private life, or their relationships with her.

Our position on this point has remained absolutely consistent since the founding of TOC in 1990. It is our critics -- not us -- who want to dwell on the private lives of Rand, Nathaniel, and Barbara.

In short, the claim that we are "followers" of either Nathaniel Branden or Barbara, or that they somehow run or influence our operations, is a complete falsehood intended as a smear. I say "intended" because in fact we consider these claims to be hilarious. Barbara and Nathaniel would be stunned and amazed to learn of their unknown power over TOC -- and of our devious ability to hide our abject servitude to them so successfully, for so many years.


Chris, I do not get the sense that you are insincere, or malicious. I simply find your comments baffling in some respects, and confused in others.

Finally, I would like to point out something else. It has taken me a LONGGGGG time to respond to your post. It is so fast and easy to sling charges and claims; but refuting them takes a great deal of time. I have done so this time because I sense you are honest, but confused. And because I don't want your confusions to go on record unchallenged.

But confusion is one thing. Lies, smears, and character assassination are quite something else.

Chris, I ask you: If I were to respond to every outrageous claim and charge by the guttersnipes (who manufacture about ten new ones per hour), what do you suppose my daily schedule would look like?

So do you think it is fair to expect me to reply to those who spend hours each day spreading nothing but falsehoods about the private lives, characters, and views of others, instead of getting on with their own careers and producing something of real value?

Or should I instead get back to work on the next issue of The New Individualist, and let such work stand as the most compelling refutation of the claims of the guttersnipes?



(Edited by Robert Bidinotto
on 5/25, 9:35am)


Sanction: 5, No Sanction: 0
Sanction: 5, No Sanction: 0
Post 127

Wednesday, May 24, 2006 - 11:43pmSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit
Here is what I thought when I was thinking of perhaps attending conferences: When I looked at the sites, I definitely didn't look at the names as much as I did the topics covered. In any talk/lecture, I'm interested in content, and how it's taught. If it's a conference with other people, afterwards I'd like to ask questions, approach the topic with different perspectives, and generally engage in exploratory learning-oriented discussion.

What sold me to TOC this summer was the Neuroscience/Cognitive Science talks... and Dr. Freidenberg is a Cognitive Psychologist, which is fascinating to me. However, cognitive psychology is a part of the more general cognitive sciences. I'm still not sure who Walter Donway is, he seems associated with Dana, which is cool, but I don't know what his experience is in neuroscience. If ARI got a cognitive science/neuroscience speaker with a correlative background, I'd be interested.

However, I'll be in NY and won't be able to go to either.

Sanction: 19, No Sanction: 0
Sanction: 19, No Sanction: 0
Sanction: 19, No Sanction: 0
Post 128

Thursday, June 1, 2006 - 6:08amSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit
Chris -- I echo Robert Bidinotto's points. That includes the fact that I don't think you are insincere or malicious. We welcome civil discussion and criticism. In fact, the reason I'm executive director is that we looked closely at our organization and listened to valid criticisms -- mine included! -- and decided we could be more efficient with a different arrangement.

In addition to The New Individualist I call attention to my op-eds and Reports from the Front, which I email to our folks -- sign up for our email list if you're not on it! -- and that I post on our website and usually on RofR. When an op-ed is printed in the Washington Times (circulation - 200,000) or other major papers, we reach a good-sized audience.

I also should probably better publicize the many public talks I give in which I pronounce unique and explicit Objectivist principles -- defending rational, responsible self-interest; pointing to the evils of accepting the premises of one's would-be destroyers; the fact that, as Rand said, individuals' interests do not conflict as long as individuals do not desire the unearned.

We are trying to bring our message to those who are not already Objectivists. I think our approach is much more effective than, say, reveling in personal attacks and name-calling, as is too much of the staple on SOLOPassion.

I've worked in the policy area for two decades and am used to organizations like Cato, Reason and many others, and individuals working together for the same cause, even when they have disagreements on some matters. As I've said elsewhere, it's sad that so many Objectivists equate moral behavior with denunciations and adolescent rants against one another.


Post to this threadBack one pagePage 0Page 1Page 2Page 3Page 4Page 5Page 6


User ID Password or create a free account.