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Wednesday, August 3 - 11:29amSanction this postReply
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Rebel magician and entertainer Penn Jillette's new book Presto!: How I Made Over 100 Pounds Disappear and Other Magical Tales came out August 2nd. He gave a talk yesterday at a New York City bookstore to promote it.

Afterwards, I asked him if he was an Objectivist, and without hesitation or elaboration he said yes. Just to be sure, I asked him again, and he replied the same. I then asked him if he was an Objectivist "with any adjectives". He paused to think, and then said no. I told him I was a "free-thinking and non-cult Objectivist". He said yes to this, as if it described him too. I then asked him if he had ever taken any philosophy classes from Leonard Peikoff, David Kelley, etc. -- as I had previously heard -- but he said no. However, he said his magic partner Teller had -- with Peikoff. I got the distinct impression that Teller was an Objectivist too. 



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Friday, August 12 - 7:12pmSanction this postReply
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I have one question. Why do you call your self a "non-cult" objectivist?

 

Does that not indicate that by simply being an Objectivist, no prefix added, that you are a cultist more so that it separates you from the objectivists who might characterize as cultists?



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Thursday, August 18 - 5:22amSanction this postReply
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Teller had a speaking cameo in Atlas Shrugged II, the first and only time I have ever seen him talk:

Teller, of magic duo Penn and Teller, speaks in his role as a Taggart Transcontinental Security Officer. In his magic act, he never speaks.



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Thursday, August 25 - 4:33pmSanction this postReply
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Penn Jillette is an interesting and challenging person. I like his burning of the American flag.  But he is not an Objectivist. Like 25 million others, he was "influenced by Ayn Rand" but too many of his views are inconsistent with Objectivism.



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Friday, November 4 - 9:10pmSanction this postReply
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Liam -- Most serious Objectivists that seem to guide their lives closely based upon Randian theory can accurately be called religious or cultist. Sad, but true.  Their approach isn't fundamentally philosophical or rational, as is mine. Still less are they open-minded, free-thinking, and spiritually-liberated as people. So I think calling oneself a "non-cult Objectivist" is helpful in self-identification and solves a lot of problems conversationally. If you know a better way I hope you share it. ARIans, and the like, have given the unmodified term "Objectivist" a bad name.  



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Saturday, November 5 - 9:42amSanction this postReply
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Most serious Objectivists that seem to guide their lives closely based upon Randian theory can accurately be called religious or cultist. Sad, but true.  Their approach isn't fundamentally philosophical or rational, as is mine.

 

This seems to conflate motivation and other aspects of psychology with ideas.  I'm the first person to point out the importance of psychology, but I think the reference to "Objectivist" should be about the content of the ideas, and not the psychological style with which the person holds those ideas.

 

Since "cultish" is clearly derogative I don't imagine anyone is going to participate in a conversation by saying, "Why, yes, I'm a cultish-Objectivist."  Given that, I'm not sure that it has any benefit.  To talk about people who hold a set of ideas in a cultish fashion can useful - like Eric Hoffer in "The True Believer".  And to talk about ideas that might lend themselves to being held that way could be useful - in my book on Progressivism I mention that.  And to talk about a particular person holding a particular idea as if they were a cult member might be useful - particularly to a therapist.  But I don't see the value of puting this adjective into common use with Objectivism.

 

I'd also guess that "Most serious Objectivists that seem to guide their lives closely based upon Randian theory" is a set whose members are mostly not known.  We only know those few we are acquainted with, those whose posts we read on forums like this, and those few who are public figures.  I'm sure that I was somewhat "cultish" in my approach to Objectivism when I first discovered it... and for psychological reasons.  But I was an angry, rebellious teen and that was half a century ago and my psychology changed.  Others may have simply recognized the rationality of the ideas and accepted them over alternatives but not even put them in a place of immediacy in their life, just as there are many Christians who are Christians in name only - attending a church once or twice a year and for 99% of their life being more rational than not in every other area.

 

If someone made a crusade out differentiating their very proper, non-cultish approach to Objectivism from all other Objectivists couldn't that be seen as a cult-like activity?  (Just teasing.... not accusing :-) 



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