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Post 0

Friday, August 31 - 2:46pmSanction this postReply
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I scored 66%. I found it heavy on the ITOE side of things, which, admittedly, I've only read once or two (and it's the one book I don't currently own). Can't say I'm a whiz at the "technical" side of the epistemology, can I...



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Friday, August 31 - 4:29pmSanction this postReply
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72 here. I'm not displeased with this as I haven't read ITOE in about 6 years



Post 2

Monday, September 3 - 8:02pmSanction this postReply
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I scored 87. I found some of the questions strange and not justified by Rand's actual writings. For example, one of the questions that I got wrong is the following:

"It is self-evident that an entity must act in accordance with its nature." I answered: False.

I received 0 Points.

I should have received credit (1 point) for this answer. It is not "self-evident" that an entity must act in accordance with its nature. I have never heard Ayn Rand say anything like this. What she did say is: "Nothing is self-evident except the material of sensory perception." The idea that an entity must act in accordance with its nature requires a conceptual understanding that is not grasped simply by direct sensory perception.

Whoever drafted this test doesn't understand Objectivism, if what is meant by "Objectivism" is Ayn Rand's philosophy.

Evidently, the Ayn Rand Institute did not authorize this test, especially in view of the references given by its author(s) to Nathaniel Branden's books.





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Monday, September 3 - 8:05pmSanction this postReply
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William, I did a double-take with that one, as well...



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Post 4

Tuesday, September 4 - 6:26pmSanction this postReply
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I scored 87. I found some of the questions strange and not justified by Rand's actual writings.

 

Dear Mr. Dwyer,

 

I am the person who produced the test. The vast majority of the questions come directly from Dr. Peikoff's OPAR; a few questions come from Nathaniel Branden's Basic Principles of Objectivism lectures; and a few others come from various lecture courses, etc. So far, 89 people have taken the test and the average score is 74%. The test consists of 100 questions (each question is worth one point) and my website states the general sources for the questions. The test is free and the only requirement is that people provide their name and their email address. This is my first attempt to formulate a test of this kind, and I am open to reconsidering some of the questions or answers.


For example, one of the questions that I got wrong is the following:

"It is self-evident that an entity must act in accordance with its nature." I answered: False.

I received 0 Points.

I should have received credit (1 point) for this answer. It is not "self-evident" that an entity must act in accordance with its nature. I have never heard Ayn Rand say anything like this. What she did say is: "Nothing is self-evident except the material of sensory perception." The idea that an entity must act in accordance with its nature requires a conceptual understanding that is not grasped simply by direct sensory perception.



The question that you did not answer correctly was taken directly from Leonard Peikoffís OPAR.


Cause and effect, therefore, is a universal law of reality. Every action has a cause (the cause is the nature of the entity which acts); and the same cause leads to the same effect (the same

entity, under the same circumstances, will perform the same action). The above is not to be taken as a proof of the law of cause and effect. I have merely made explicit what is known implicitly in the perceptual grasp of reality. Given the facts that action is action of entities, and that every entity has a natureóboth of which facts are known simply by observationóit is self-evident that an entity must act in accordance with its nature. "The law of causality," Ayn Rand sums up, "is the law of identity applied to action. All actions are caused by entities. The nature of an action is caused and determined by the nature of the entities that act; a thing cannot act in contradiction to its nature."-  (My bold emphasis added) Ė OPAR, p.15.


Whoever drafted this test doesn't understand Objectivism, if what is meant by "Objectivism" is Ayn Rand's philosophy.


Evidently, the Ayn Rand Institute did not authorize this test, especially in view of the references given by its author(s) to Nathaniel Branden's books.


I would suggest reviewing the entire page referenced from OPAR, which provides even more content regarding this issue. It appears that the person who you think does not understand Objectivism is, in fact, Dr. Leonard Peikoff. If it can be demonstrated that Dr. Peikoff has made an error, I will replace the question.

I designed this test for people to assess their general knowledge of Objectivism and some of its most basic and logical implications. If this test were limited to only Ayn Randís work or works endorsed by Ayn Rand, references to OPAR would not qualify. Nathaniel Branden's Basic Principles lectures were endorsed by Rand, so they would fall into the category of "official Objectivism." Peikoff's OPAR is based on his 1976 lectures, which I have listened to, and as far as I can tell, OPAR is generally consistent with that material (material which Rand endorsed). I have worked very hard to make sure that the test questions fairly represent the philosophy. Ayn Rand clearly cannot endorse this test, so I had to use my best judgment in forming the questions.

My hope has been that this test would foster a deeper interest in Ayn Randís philosophy of enjoying life as a rational being. I would hope that this test would stimulate people to research and discuss the questions in a friendly and supportive manner. Of course, I anticipated some disagreement and debate regarding select questions and answers. I urge those individuals who take the test to judge for themselves whether they think the test is fair, and to offer candid feedback regarding its philosophical accuracy (which I very much welcome). I do prefer, however, that such feedback (hopefully constructive criticism) be emailed to me directly (cultureofreasoncenter@gmail.com) rather than posted on a public forum without giving me the chance to review, discuss, or correct the issue.

The highest score so far is a 95%, closely followed by a 92%. The overwhelming majority of the participants who took the test have given very positive feedback. I do plan, in fact, on making more tests, some of which will be exclusively focused on works by Ayn Rand. I hope to find encouragement from my fellow Objectivist friends as I struggle forward to produce more tests, which is an extremely intense and time consuming process.

 

Sincerely,

Donovan Albanesi, B.A.

The Culture of Reason Center










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Wednesday, September 5 - 3:28amSanction this postReply
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Thoughts on Donovan's post, please?  He's a thoughtful, sincere young man and can take it. :)



Post 6

Wednesday, September 5 - 5:32amSanction this postReply
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Donovan,

Lifting a single sentence out of its paragraph/chapter can remove its explanatial context. For example, the one that Bill commented on by itself might suggest determinism, depending on how far you go towards nature causing/determining action.

I'm sure Bill appreciates your effort. He's just a little upset that he couldn't score 100%, so obviously there are flaws in your test! Disclaimer: Multiple leaping assumptions here.



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Post 7

Wednesday, September 5 - 4:13pmSanction this postReply
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I took the test and then entered my name and my email address, but I haven't received a reply and have no idea what my score might be.

Did one of you guys break the test? :-)
------------

I agree with Bill. It is not self-evident that an entity must act in accordance with its nature. That is a fairly complex proposition. Bill quoted Ayn Rand, where she said, "Nothing is self-evident except the material of sensory perception."

I think that what happened was an honest error on the part of Dr. Peikoff. I suspect that in his mind he was thinking that his line of reasoning should make it clear ("clear" not "self-evident") that the conclusion that an entity must act according to its nature is one that follows logically from his premise.

I like the idea of having tests, but usually tests need to be tested and usually need to be cleaned up a bit. We all know of the many ways that a question can be misleading or ambiguous when it is pulled from its original context. And Dr. Peikoff, Ayn Rand, and Nathaniel Branden should not be see as omniscient - it is the philosophy we want the tests to be on, and not a scripture-like approach to what was said or written.

I'd suggest that the test be broken into a series of smaller tests - each one on a different area within Objectivism - like Ethics, Politics, Epistemology, etc. And, it would be good if it was educational - by providing a mini-tutorial (and references) on missed questions. (Just some thoughts)



Post 8

Wednesday, September 5 - 5:22pmSanction this postReply
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Ha. Steve's reading my mind. I was going to suggest to Donovan that breaking the test down into the branches might be better. 100 questions is H.U.G.E. From what I understand, he's using some kind of test software to generate the exam, and wants to make more of them.




Post 9

Wednesday, September 5 - 7:09pmSanction this postReply
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Thanks for the polite and intelligent post, Donovan (welcome to RoR).

I may end up thanking you for the online Objectivist test, but not until after I take it. 95% seems like kind of a hard score to beat, but I may have it in me.

:-)

Ed




Post 10

Wednesday, September 5 - 7:43pmSanction this postReply
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Dear Mr. Wolfer,

Please make sure to check your spam box. I just forwarded your results to you. If you still do not have them, you can email me. You may have entered your email incorrectly.

Best regards,

Donovan Albanesi



Post 11

Wednesday, September 5 - 8:54pmSanction this postReply
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Thanks, Donovan.

I did check my Spam box, and then double checked it - but no results. But I received the results you just sent with your email.

I scored 82%. (It would have been 83% if I'd marked the question regarding the "self-evident" issue discussed above the way I knew the test wanted it. :-)

I'm confused on some of the questions I missed and the expected answers. On a couple of them I feel I understand the concepts involved but couldn't make sense of the questions or answers. What I'd really like to see is what answer was expected and a reference to the source - it is always important to see the that context. Otherwise it isn't easy to pick out which questions need to be improved, as opposed to which areas I need to study more.

Thanks,
Steve



Post 12

Thursday, September 6 - 9:10pmSanction this postReply
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Hello, Donovan!

Thanks for your response. Just to recap, I wrote: "Whoever drafted this test doesn't understand Objectivism, if what is meant by "Objectivism" is Ayn Rand's philosophy. Evidently, the Ayn Rand Institute did not authorize this test, especially in view of the references given by its author(s) to Nathaniel Branden's books." You replied:
I would suggest reviewing the entire page referenced from OPAR, which provides even more content regarding this issue. It appears that the person who you think does not understand Objectivism is, in fact, Dr. Leonard Peikoff. If it can be demonstrated that Dr. Peikoff has made an error, I will replace the question.

I designed this test for people to assess their general knowledge of Objectivism and some of its most basic and logical implications. If this test were limited to only Ayn Randís work or works endorsed by Ayn Rand, references to OPAR would not qualify. Nathaniel Branden's Basic Principles lectures were endorsed by Rand, so they would fall into the category of "official Objectivism." Peikoff's OPAR is based on his 1976 lectures, which I have listened to, and as far as I can tell, OPAR is generally consistent with that material (material which Rand endorsed). I have worked very hard to make sure that the test questions fairly represent the philosophy. Ayn Rand clearly cannot endorse this test, so I had to use my best judgment in forming the questions.
What qualifies as Objectivism can only be based on Ayn Rand's writings or the writings of others that she expressly endorsed. True, OPAR is based on lectures that she did endorse, but not everything in OPAR is in those lectures. Despite the otherwise extraordinary quality of Peikoff's work in promulgating Rand's philosophy, in this case it appears that he has misunderstood her concept of the self-evident.

I don't think that this kind of test is a good gauge of one's understanding of Objectivism. I found the questions in many cases to be unclear. I simply had no idea what the right answer was supposed to be, and I've studied Rand's philosophy since 1963. I've heard all the lectures given under the auspices of NBI -- and I have all the books. I have not heard Peikoff's more recent lectures on the DIM hypothesis, which cannot be considered as a part of Objectivism proper.

So, I know Rand's philosophy pretty well, and some of the questions appeared to me out of left field and having little if anything to do with Objectivism. Peikoff is certainly entitled to write whatever he wants and to give whatever lectures he chooses, but he cannot claim them as Objectivism unless they were endorsed by Rand herself.

Honestly, I think you should scrap this test either because the questions omit the relevant context making it difficult to ascertain precisely what is being asked, or because the material is from sources other than Rand's writings. You could specify that the test includes what might be termed "the Objectivist corpus," and not just Objectivism proper (i.e., Rand's explicitly enunciated philosophy). But as we have seen, some of the interpretations of her philosophy contradict what she actually said, so that could pose a problem for how one would go about answering the questions and what the correct answers actually are.

That said, you've obviously put a lot of effort into preparing this test, and it sounds like you know quite a bit about Rand's philosophy and about the writings and statements of her students and supporters. So you are to be commended for your efforts. But I don't think that the test you've compiled is a good way to test someone's knowledge of Objectivism.

(Edited by William Dwyer on 9/06, 9:12pm)




Post 13

Thursday, September 6 - 9:14pmSanction this postReply
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I exchanged emails with Donovan on the test. He was kind enough to send me answers to the questions I got wrong. I'm finding that I don't agree with some of the expected answers. (Surprise! :-)

I took the time to explain my objections to one of the questions, but I don't think Donovan agreed with my points and perhaps just isn't interested in hearing objections to questions from everyone that has them.

Here is one of the questions I didn't like:

Fill in the blank: ___________ is a psychological precondition to the achievement of a free society.
Rationality
Reason
Self-esteem
Rationality
Objectivity

I could make a good argument for several of the answers.
----------------

SPOILER ALERT: DON'T READ BEYOND HERE IF YOU HAVEN'T TAKEN THE TEST UNLESS YOU DON'T WANT TO TAKE IT.

Here is another that I didn't like:

Consciousness has two fundamental emotions:
love and hate.
courage and fear.
joy and suffering.
confidence and doubt.

Donovan says that OPAR indicated 'joy and suffering' as the answer. (I chose 'confidence and doubt' but didn't like any of the choices - actually, I don't like the question).

I wasn't able to find where in OPAR the 'correct' answer came from. If anyone can find that, please let me know.

OPAR page 159 "Emotions are automatic consequences of a minds past conclusions..." This is correct and from it we should grasp that emotions are not fully subject to volition (they are "automatic" and we can only choose how we will experience them... that is how we focus, or avoid focusing on them).

And we should understand that emotions come from outside of consciousness (as do sensations) and we then can become aware of them (or not if we are into repression).

Those past conclusions were internalized in a different form, as a trigger that will generate the emotion under
certain conditions.

Consciousness is the faculty of awareness of that which exists. This includes sensations (like an itch or a taste), and percepts (which we automatically form), and concepts (which we form volitionally using our focus and reason), and emotions.

The past conclusions that were the source of the stored triggers, the triggers themselves, and the emotions that flow are all related, obviously, but they are also different and focusing our awareness on one of them isn't the same as focusing on the others.

Based upon all of that, consciousness would not HAVE, or possess, what we normally call emotions - rather they are separate and we can choose to be aware of them - just as our consciousness does not possess an elephant, but it may become aware of one.

In my answer to the question, I chose "Confidence and Doubt" because when we are in the process of identification or of a choice presented as a process of identification where options are available, and while in that process we still haven't resolved a final choice, then we are likely to feel a doubt. It is the emotional feedback that tells us we still haven't resolved our identification or understanding of the items or the options they represent. On the other hand, when we feel confidence relative to a choice or an understanding it is our signal to move on. In that limited sense ONLY 'confidence and doubt' are a part of the process of consciousness - of that process of awareness.

Love, hate, courage, fear, joy, and suffering are all emotions that are automated (sub-conscious) responses that represent past evaluations that were internalized to become emotional triggers, responses that our process of awareness is presented with (as it is presented with a percept, or a sensation).

Bad question.




Post 14

Friday, September 7 - 12:03amSanction this postReply
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Steve Wolfer wrote:

I exchanged emails with Donovan on the test. He was kind enough to send me answers to the questions I got wrong. I'm finding that I don't agree with some of the expected answers. (Surprise! :-)

I took the time to explain my objections to one of the questions, but I don't think Donovan agreed with my points and perhaps just isn't interested in hearing objections to questions from everyone that has them.
____________________________________________________________________________

Hi Steve,

It is not that I necessarily disagree with what you wrote me regarding the question on objectivity. I will need time to give some thought to your argument. At this point, I still agree with Dr. Peikoff. As I indicated in my email, I appreciate the feedback. I simply doubt that I can debate every person that has an issue with the test questions, especially if they have many disagreements.

____________________________________________________________________________
Steve Wolfer wrote:

Consciousness has two fundamental emotions:
love and hate.
courage and fear.
joy and suffering.
confidence and doubt.

Donovan says that OPAR indicated 'joy and suffering' as the answer. (I chose 'confidence and doubt' but didn't like any of the choices - actually, I don't like the question).

I wasn't able to find where in OPAR the 'correct' answer came from. If anyone can find that, please let me know.
____________________________________________________________________________

"Just as the body has pleasure-pain sensations to protect it, so consciousness has two emotions, joy and suffering, as a barometer of the same alternative, life or death. Joy is the result of gaining a chosen value, one held on the conceptual level (as against an innate, physiologically set value). Suffering is the result of loss or failure on this level.
This brings us to happiness, which is a fundamental and enduring form of joy." - OPAR p.336

All the emotions I listed as answers are opposites, but joy and suffering are the broadest of the choices. If you feel confidence or doubt, how would you describe the nature of those feelings? Based on introspection I would say that doubt doesnít feel good and it indicates risk. Doubt, fear, and hate are all types of suffering.

____________________________________________________________________________
Steve Wolfer wrote:

Here is one of the questions I didn't like:

Fill in the blank: ___________ is a psychological precondition to the achievement of a free society.
Rationality
Reason
Self-esteem
Rationality
Objectivity

I could make a good argument for several of the answers.
____________________________________________________________________________

All of the options are important preconditions to the achievement of a free society, but only self-esteem is a psychological condition, i.e., a mental/emotional condition. Rationality is the prime virtue (which leads to the psychological condition of self-esteem). Reason is the uniquely human faculty, and objectivity consists of volitional adherence to reality.

"A dictator is not a self-confident person. He preys on weakness, uncertainty, fear. He has no chance among men of self-esteem. But in an age of self-doubt, he rises to the top: men who do not know their own course or value have no means to resist his promises and demands." - Peikoff, The Ominous Parallels

I am looking forward to more replies.

- Donovan




Post 15

Friday, September 7 - 4:49amSanction this postReply
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The participants in this thread might be interested in Joan Blumenthal's Objectivist Newsletter review of Hoffman's The Tyrrany of Testing.  The book makes a case (not a very good one in my opinion) that "objective" tests (i.e. multiple choice or true/false) are pernicious.



Post 16

Friday, September 7 - 7:41amSanction this postReply
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I may be satisfied only just because I got a high score, granted.  With that caveat, I found that test to have been constructed well, with evidence of care for epistemology. The test had no trick questions.  As a technical writer and trainer, I pay attention to methodology.  I taught technical writing and other topics at my community college before I became a corporate trainer.  It was that experience that took me back to Introduction to the Objectivist Epistemology.  I put as much of it into practice as I could understand and concretize.  (I also wrote an article on the subject of training for Midnight Engineering.)  One of my motivations in learning to fly was to experience the process of learning and teaching. As a writer for local aviation periodicals, I could go around to various operators and take a flying lesson.  I had probably 20 different instructors; and I passed the written examination to become a ground school instructor myself.  Then, 2005-2010, I returned to college and university to complete the degrees I never needed before.  Again, I experienced a range of styles from people whom I regarded first as peers, then (a few of them) as mentors.  Basically, in my professional experience, Donovan Albanesi's "Objectivism Test" gets high marks.

I did also ask for citations to the ones I missed.  But only to help my learning.  I might question whether or not Dr. Peikoff or Ayn Rand was right about something they said, but I do not question that they understood Objectivism well enough to be authorities on the subject.  In the example cited above, I also chose Rationality as the principle precondition for the achievement of a free society.  But now that I see the right answer, I accept that.  (I do not own OPAR. Clearly, I need to.  I have a nice library including some rarities and little-known works.)  I might argue the truth of it, but without a doubt, this is canonical Objectivism and anything I proved would not be, but would be "Marotta's Amendent to the Precondition of a Free Society."

If you reject the canonical works by Rand, Peikoff, (early) Branden, et al., then how do you determine what specific claims are or are not correct statements of Objectivism?  Does Objectivism become Wolferism or Dwyerism?  If they offered actual counter-arguments that were convincing, I could go along with "Dwyer's Corrollary" or "Wolfer's Correction" but so far, all we have is grousing.

As Steve correctly pointed out, tests do need to be validated.  That is what this is.  So far, only about 100 people have taken it.  Albanesi is working on it and is open to corrections and other suggestions.  He posted it first to MSK's OL and then I brought it here. As I am persona non grata on Objectivism Online and Rand Fans, someone else will have to take it there for them.

(Edited by Michael E. Marotta on 9/07, 7:47am)




Post 17

Friday, September 7 - 9:48amSanction this postReply
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Hi Donovan,

On this question:
Fill in the blank: ____________ is a psychological precondition to the achievement of a free society.
- Rationality
- Reason
- Self-Esteem
- Rationality
- Objectivity

You explained your answers, saying, "All of the options are important preconditions to the achievement of a free society, but only self-esteem is a psychological condition, i.e., a mental/emotional condition. Rationality is the prime virtue (which leads to the psychological condition of self-esteem). Reason is the uniquely human faculty, and objectivity consists of volitional adherence to reality."

Rationality is a chosen mental state which is virtuous - it's exercise is volitional, which is a mental/emotional exercise and it involves reason which is a mental faculty.
Reason is a mental faculty.
Objectivity is a mental state, achieved using volition which is a mental/emotional exercise, and logical reasoning which is mental operation.

If you were expecting the word "psychological" in that question to limit the answer to "Self-Esteem" you weren't seeing that the other options are also part of our mental life.

The proof of this being a bad question is that I can say: Rationality is a psychological precondition to the achievement of a free society. And that is a true statement. Nor do I see that the answer of "self-esteem" would be superior.
----------

Again, I like what you are doing, but I think it is very important for a test that is intended to last over time, be seen by a large audience, and to have educational value be vetted... to have the wording improved where there might be an ambiguity... to throw out any bad questions, replacing them with good questions.

I'm using some of the questions I missed to offer suggestions, but I'm sure there are also some I got right that could use tweaking as well, but I didn't make a list of those.



Post 18

Friday, September 7 - 10:18amSanction this postReply
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Michael,

You wrote, "I might question whether or not Dr. Peikoff or Ayn Rand was right about something they said, but I do not question that they understood Objectivism well enough to be authorities on the subject."

Neither Bill, nor I, are claiming that Dr. Peikoff or Ayn Rand did not understand Objectivism well enough to be authorities on the subject. Really! And, mostly we are not questioning them, but rather the wording of questions created by Donovan.
---------------

You wrote, "In the example cited above, I also chose Rationality as the principle precondition for the achievement of a free society. But now that I see the right answer, I accept that. (I do not own OPAR. Clearly, I need to. ...) I might argue the truth of it, but without a doubt, this is canonical Objectivism and anything I proved would not be, but would be "Marotta's Amendent to the Precondition of a Free Society."

Again, it is not Dr. Peikoff, but the wording of a question that was taken from OPAR that I question. I also reject the statement that if Peikoff or Rand said it, it becomes Objectivism. That works fine for religion with its holy scripture, but it isn't how Objectivism works.
--------------

You wrote, "If you reject the canonical works by Rand, Peikoff, (early) Branden, et al., then how do you determine what specific claims are or are not correct statements of Objectivism? Does Objectivism become Wolferism or Dwyerism? If they offered actual counter-arguments that were convincing, I could go along with "Dwyer's Corrollary" or "Wolfer's Correction" but so far, all we have is grousing.

How do you determine what is right? Reason.

Why would you say someone is rejecting the works of Rand, Peikoff, or Branden? No one in this thread has rejected their works.

I think this test of Donovan's has considerable value, and I'm making an effort to improve some questions, not grousing. And what you've contributed so far amounts to cheap shots at Bill and I.
-----------------

I'm hoping that Donovan will author a new release. He has had less than 100 people take the test, but that is enough to examine and see what questions are being consistently missed by those getting high scores, and to seek out advice on wording from those who have taken it. I also hope he breaks it down into sections (politics, ethics, epistemology, etc.)

Right now, there is too much of a reliance in some questions on specific wording in OPAR as opposed to wording that is general to Objectivist concepts - i.e., that anyone understanding the concept would get the question right, not just those who have read OPAR.



Post 19

Saturday, September 29 - 9:49amSanction this postReply
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The second test is now online at the Culture of Reason Center.

You do not need to identify yourself before you take the test, only to get your results emailed to you. Your score is not publiciized. (I got an 89%).

The citations are given with each question.


1) What is philosophy? [PWNI, p.2 + RP, p.45]


  • A set of ideas to be accepted on faith.

  • The science that studies the fundamental nature of existence, of man, and of manís relationship to existence.

  • A set of principles to guide human action.

  • The science that studies the nature of knowledge.





The key at the bottom of the page explains that PWNI = "Philosophy: Who Needs It?" and RP = "Return of the Primitive: the Anti-Industrial Revolution" and so on. The reference key also show the distribution of questions from the sources.

(Code for the bulleted list came from http://www.w3.org/wiki/HTML_lists Macintosh users and others can get the same functions for formating text with a little bit of HTML. Wikipedia provided to the code template for the change in Font.)




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