Sunday, September 01, 2019

Preface to Independent Judgment and Introspection

My new book, Independent Judgment and Introspection: Fundamental Requirements of the Free Society, will be published on October 1. You can preorder it now at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Information about the book can be found on its website Here is the preface.

The boy in the Hans Christian Andersen tale of “The Emperor’s New Clothes” is often admired for his independent judgment, that is, for his courage to speak a truth that the adults feared to acknowledge openly. Two questions, however, can be asked about independent judgment as a character and personality trait. One, can everyone really practice it (besides naïve children) or is it the province of true creators and innovators, such as Socrates and Galileo? And, perhaps giving rise to doubts expressed in the first question, a second asks, how does one handle the hazards of independent judgment, such as the prospect of offending other people, sometimes resulting in death (Socrates) or house arrest (Galileo)?

Independent judgment is correct perception of the facts of reality and courage to acknowledge and assert those facts. The two questions above arise because of complicating factors; intelligence and interest can affect one’s initial perception of facts and other people can affect both the initial perception and assertion of the judgment. Psychology plays a dominant role throughout.

Great innovators, especially those who challenge centuries of convention, are highly intelligent. They also are extremely interested and motivated in their areas of innovation. Those of us who do not possess the same intelligence or interest, whether college professor or blue-collar worker, can nevertheless use our intelligence in areas of interest to perceive and assert what we do see. Intelligence combined with interest determines who is likely to see ahead of others, and those of us who do not see initially can learn from those who do, but intelligence is not a prerogative of the highly educated. Independent judgment can be practiced equally by a garage door repairman as by a scientist.

So why don’t more people practice independent judgment? Which is to ask, why don’t they join the boy in the tale of “The Emperor’s New Clothes”? The answer is fear, real or imagined, of what might happen to them. The real fear of death or incarceration that can result from speaking one’s mind poses a needless moral quandary. We have no moral obligation to drink hemlock, as Socrates did, to preserve our independent judgment. Many in the Soviet Union managed to maintain theirs by expressing it to family and trusted friends, sometimes speaking in a foreign language to prevent nosy neighbors from overhearing their conversations and reporting them. They were conventional on the outside, in public, to preserve their lives, but independent on the inside, at home, to preserve their self-esteem.

Most of us do not face the real fears of a Socrates, Galileo, or citizen of the Soviet Union. Our fears of expressing independent judgment stem from what others might think of us. Disapproval, maybe rejection, is the worst that might happen, yet the anxiety caused by self-doubt can be so strong as to blur our perception of the facts, thus preventing any expression of an independent judgment. When choices based on self-doubt build up over time, habits of perceiving reality through clouded lenses become established patterns of behavior. Seeing the world through the eyes of others, whomever those significant others may be, becomes the norm. Conventionality is the result.

Can independent judgment be taught? Yes, but it must start at an early age. Children, of course, need to be given love and support, but they also need to be given freedom, within limits appropriate to their maturity, to choose their own values. And they need to be allowed to learn from their mistakes. Most parents are loving toward infants, but when the children move into their “terrible twos,” parents begin controlling and in some cases hitting. Often, the controlling continues throughout childhood and becomes a constant in traditional schools. Choice and self-assertion are seen as a disruption of authority and disobedience. In reality, they are signs of developing self-esteem and personal identity. When they are erased by the controlling, authoritarian behavior of adults, children quickly get the message that getting along means going along. It is a rare child who matures to adulthood with independent judgment intact. Perhaps this is why we tend to think that only certain people can fully achieve it.

Independent judgment is a fundamental requirement of the free society. Unless each adult citizen possesses a significant amount of self-esteem expressed as independent judgment, such a society cannot last.

The aim of this book is to explore the nature of independent judgment and its relationship to the free society. Throughout the journey, we will find that psychology, especially the skill of introspection, plays a significant role in developing and maintaining independence in the individual and in generating the desire to live in a free society.

The book begins by chronicling the historical war on independence, that is, how the character and personality trait has been ruthlessly destroyed in children from the earliest times of civilization and how it is routinely prevented from developing today. It next examines the nature of psychology as a science, psychology’s epistemological foundations and its relation to political individualism and moral egoism. The book further analyzes how independent judgment develops in the individual, probing the depths of psychology to demonstrate how seemingly uncontrollable subconscious premises guide our lives and how we can identify and change those premises through introspection.

Several mistaken conceptions of independence are discussed, including the Socrates question, “do we have to die for our independence?” along with a clarification of the meanings of autonomy and responsibility, the relation of independence to intelligence and epistemological certainty, and a comment on three well-known deference to authority studies from the mid-twentieth century. Finally, the book elaborates the meaning of introspection and the defensive habits we must identify and correct through introspective skill, and it then recommends to parents and teachers methods of teaching that skill to their children and students. The overall aim of “educating for independence,” as the last chapter is titled, is to correct, and preferably prevent, thinking errors that lead to psychological problems.

It is those psychological problems that prevent the development of independence and happiness and, in turn, the uncompromising desire to live in a totally free society. Independent judgment and introspection in each individual are the fundamental requirements of expanding personal and political freedom.

Thursday, August 08, 2019

“Don’t Hire College Graduates”

In the early 1970s I worked in the client services department of a mid-town Manhattan firm. I was the only college graduate (in philosophy!). My boss hired a recent business school grad, with a bachelor’s degree, not an MBA.* The guy whined and complained about the “menial tasks” he had to perform and acted like he should be running the company. He quit before he could be fired.

Shortly afterwards, my boss paid me a nice compliment, asking “How can I find more people like you?” I replied, “Don’t hire college graduates.”

I still stand by that advice, though I have to qualify it. In our credentialed world, the college degree is a union card that opens doors and provides opportunities that otherwise would be more difficult, though not impossible, to find without the degree. Many students today—and their parents—already know this as they have become expert at gaming the system.

Learning? Yes, you can get lucky and find a handful of professors who actually teach and can communicate what they know. Most learning, however, after all the thousands of dollars have been spent, must be accomplished on your own, and most likely will occur after you leave the ivory towers. (Companies will spend a lot of dollars training you, regardless of your degree.)

My point about the uncredentialed is that “deplorably” ill-credentialed people can make highly competent and responsible employees. Even in technical fields, non-graduates have been known to know more about, and work harder on, the job than the “well-schooled.”

More generally, “don’t hire college graduates” is metaphor for arrogance-busting of the “well-schooled.” I include here the wealthy (and not so wealthy) bi-coastal elites who despise and denigrate the “deplorables” of middle America’s flyover country (which is not to say that middle American values are found only in the hinterlands and that arrogant elites are found only on the coasts.)

One advocate of middle American values and bias-free news reporting, who was not a Republican conservative, was the late Tim Russert, moderator for sixteen years of NBC’s Meet the Press. Russert was educated with a law degree but not one from any of the “good schools” that the elites cherish. His background was blue collar and he emphasized how valuable that experience was for him.

Not long before his death, Russert was interviewed by former CBS newsman, conservative Bernard Goldberg, who asked him about the significance of that background. Russert replied,
There's no substitute for it. . . . I've worked on garbage trucks. I drove a taxi. I tended bar. I delivered pizzas. I worked with liberals, conservatives, blacks, whites; that's how you grew up in this interesting world, and people were always simply judged in the end on their quality as a person: Did they tell the truth? Did they honor their commitments? Did they show up for work on time?
These are middle American values that apply to both the degreed and non-degreed. “Judge the quality of the person, their commitment to truth-telling, their willingness to honor commitments, and their willingness to show up for work on time.” All of which means working hard and being responsible. College degrees do not shape moral values like these. If anything, in today’s culture, they may erode them.

These values carried over in Russert’s work as a newsman and interviewer. He was a straight shooter who learned the skill from his sanitation worker father. “Always give the other guy the benefit of the doubt,” Russert said his father would say, “but hear him out. Hear him out. And don’t dismiss him and don’t brand him as anything.”

So what did Russert’s more “well-schooled” colleagues say about him (as reported by Russert)? Well, we can imagine the colleagues saying, with appropriate snootiness, Russert attended “middling schools , , , [and] admits to being a practicing Catholic.” And, Russert, with good reason, speculates they probably also say, “If he didn’t go to Harvard, if he’s not Ivy League, how can he be smart?”

Does snootiness go with hard work in a business? Not really. Business is humbling. The goal of a business, in contrast to a government bureaucracy, is to satisfy the customer’s needs and wants. Angry customers? You have to learn how to pacify them.

A memorable episode from my NYC days was a customer barging into the office early in the morning, with smoke coming out of his ears, fuming over an order he had not received when promised. I had not even taken the lid off my cup of coffee! As a bureaucrat, I would probably get away with saying something like “Take a number and wait until I’m ready to talk to you!” Since my job depended on keeping customers happy, I dropped everything to talk to the client, checked on what was going on in our back production room, and made sure that he would get his order promptly.

That is the essence of business and it doesn’t require a college degree. I don’t recall whether I said this to my students, but here is the lesson learned from such experiences: you know how to work in business after you have had to pacify an irate customer. Or rather, make that an irate New Yorker!!

The client was understanding. He was from middle America, though I hasten to add that this was not a blank check for me. I had to deliver the promised service and ensure that such failures would not happen again. A number of my coworkers were also from middle America, which created a family atmosphere, far more enjoyable than being a student. My coworkers from New York also shared most of my middle American values, but they did somewhat remind me of our current president!

My hiring advice to employers? Judge the person, not the credentials.

* The NY Times help wanted ads in the early ‘70s listed column after column of jobs headlined “Col Grad,” meaning employers were looking for college graduates regardless of major. By the late ‘70s this had changed to “MBA.” My liberal-arts-major colleagues and I realized we probably should get a new credential to join the MBA guild. We did. For the reason why I use the word “guild” to refer to education, see chapter 5 of Montessori, Dewey, and Capitalism, especially pp. 156-58.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

On Abortion and Cake-Baking

What do you not get, dear conservatives and dear leftists, in the expression “Stay out of our bedrooms and board rooms?”

The expression, of course, is metaphor, but it’s not too far from the literal truth. Individual rights means everyone, but especially the government, should stay out of our personal lives and our business and professional lives. It means what we do in our personal and business and professional lives—between consenting adults, which means we don’t infringe on anyone else’s rights—is none of your business.

The result of this principle is, or would be, if implemented consistently, laissez-faire capitalism.

Dear conservatives and dear leftists, you both conflate legal and moral issues. You both agree that what you consider immoral should be illegal and therefore moral transgressors must be punished.

If abortion is murder, for example, why not execute the aborters? Something similar can be said about small business people who refuse to bake cakes for gay weddings. No, you conservatives and leftists have not gone so far as to recommend execution—yet—but both of you have no qualms about putting victims of your legal shenanigans in that modern version of the dungeon called solitary confinement, “for their own protection,” as you put it. (Think Jerry Sandusky and Paul Manafort.)

In an earlier post, I quoted Ludwig von Mises, who said, “Every advocate of the welfare state and of planning is a potential dictator. . . . He refuses to convince his fellow citizens. He prefers to ‘liquidate’ them. . . . [He] worships violence and bloodshed.”

Are we there yet? You both preach self-sacrifice, otherwise known as altruism. According to both of you, we should all be sacrificing ourselves to some “higher good,” whether God or “society” (which means the state) . . . or you.

Suffering is supposedly our natural fate and you intend to make us suffer. Individual rights? That’s selfish!

Let us now take these self-sacrificial issues one at a time.

Abortion is not murder, nor does our soul begin at conception, or even at birth. At twelve weeks, the fetus is a couple of inches of cells in the woman’s body. Let’s emphasize that: in the woman’s body, not in your body. Each woman owns her body and, as does every adult individual, has the right to do with her body whatever she wants. (Suicide laws in most states have been properly abolished.)

We are, after all, overwhelmingly talking about the first trimester (91.1% of abortions performed) and we are talking about ending a potential, not actual, human life. Beyond the first thirteen weeks, each woman still has a legal right to abort, especially if her life is at risk due to a difficult pregnancy. This is what the “right to life” means! It begins at birth. This is the legal issue.

The moral issue is narrower.

Is it really the moral duty of a young woman to become enslaved to a child she does not want?  I’m not just talking about malformed children. What about the psychology of physically healthy children who have been raised by a mother (and father) who did not want them?

As for the soul . . . the soul is our consciousness and fundamental motivating values, our core and mid-level evaluations, as psychologist Edith Packer (chap. 1) identifies them, that give us a personal identity. The soul-making process takes many years, with development beginning most likely in toddlerhood, though infants, through the treatment of their caregivers and their experiences of pleasureful satisfactions and painful frustrations, may begin to develop a potential soul.

Conception and the months of pregnancy give us genes that determine our skin and eye color, not our souls.

Suffering, I guess you conservatives would say, is the plight of both children and parents, but especially parents, because they are the ones who chose to have sex. And this is where we have arrived in the discussion. It is sex that must be controlled, by the government, and you are the ones who want to be in charge.*

Now dear leftists, there’s nothing subtle about you and your recycled Marxism and collectivist clichés. Your issues are blatant power grabs. Ultimately, you or your followers or descendants, if current trends continue, will soon start worshiping violence and bloodshed, if it hasn’t already begun. As did Robespierre, you are already dressing up violence as virtue.

Sacrificing a baker to an alleged “public good,” coercing him to make a cake for someone he does not want to serve, is only the beginning. As your policies dictate, the dungeon, or rather, solitary confinement (and, of course, eventually the guillotine), is where hinderers of your march to power, whom you propagandize as violators of morality, should go.

The issue is the primacy of property rights and you know it. Capitalism is a system of private property, private ownership of the means of production, which includes the baking of cakes. I can do whatever I want to on my property (and say anything, if we are talking about free speech), provided, again, that I’m not violating other peoples’ rights who are residents or guests. So you, dear leftists, get out!

But that is precisely what you cannot tolerate—being unable to control other people on their own property—so you brandish your government guns like any other petty or psychopathic criminal.

“Without property rights,” as Ayn Rand says, “no other rights are possible.” Property rights are sacrosanct and should be untouchable. They are the implementation of the rights to life and liberty.

The destruction of capitalism has always begun with the destruction of property rights. It continues to be a fundamental part of your campaign.

Dear leftists, I sympathize in today’s intellectual climate with conservatives and side with them in their war against you and your medievalist friends who want to reinstitute a modern version of serfdom with you in charge of the fiefdom. Most conservatives seem to understand your envy and hatred of the good, the capitalist good, that has brought us out of the abject poverty you want to send us back to.

Abortion is not an insignificant issue, but you leftists have no principles with which to argue your case—“pro-choice” or not. You so obviously want power.

*This is not an endorsement of every abortion. The moral decisions of getting pregnant and raising children, as well as aborting a fetus, are serious and must be carefully thought out ahead of time. It is decidedly immoral to get pregnant just to collect welfare or because one feels like it; it is also decidedly immoral to abort based on whim. Parents must provide information and support to their children about sex, birth control, and abortion, including information about abortion’s potential for physical and emotional pain,. But this means the government on both sides of the political aisle must get out of the abortion business. This means in particular no tax-payer funds or regulations to or for either side, and especially it means no tax-payer funds to “nonprofits” like Planned Parenthood and the various conservative counterparts! (Scare quotes intended, as many so-called nonprofits are highly profitable.) And, as I have written before, both sides have the moral obligation of removing legal and regulatory obstacles to adoption and the legal and regulatory encouragements of unwed teenage pregnancies. (On this last, see Thomas Sowell and Walter Williams.)

Friday, June 07, 2019

Chance Emotional Generalizations and Introspection

An emotional generalization is an emotion experienced in several or many similar situations that becomes a subconscious conclusion influencing our subsequent choices and actions. It is not formed by explicit conceptual identification and is therefore a “chance” occurrence.

Emotions, which exist in both humans and higher animals, are psychological counterparts of physical pleasure and pain. The process in infants and animals to generalize emotional experiences occurs automatically, but humans in later life, preferably beginning in toddlerhood, can use conscious thought to control part of the process, to make and identify generalizations and correct mistaken ones.

Most of us, unfortunately, leave our generalizations from emotional experiences to accident or circumstance, not explicit conceptual identification.

For example, a toddler who is yelled at by his father and called bad names for spilling a glass of milk may feel fear, anxiety, and hurt for the way his father reacted to the objectively harmless event.

The boy likely cannot name the emotions he has just experienced or determine why he feels what he feels, although he is presumably aware that his reaction is to his father’s response to the spilling of the milk. He feels pain and the threat of pain, drawing negative conclusions about himself. This is a one-time experience.

If similar situations of being yelled at and called names arise in the future, not just involving his father, but also his mother, other relatives, and teachers, the boy’s subconscious mind may generalize, having repressed the origin of the feeling, and draw the subconscious conclusion—what Edith Packer (chap. 1) calls a core evaluation—“I can’t do anything right. I must be careful around other people.”

As the boy grows older and becomes an adult, he may experience the same emotions to yelling and name-calling even when the sounds are not directed at him but nevertheless are within earshot.*

This scenario can be observed in higher animals, such as a dog who as a puppy was abused by a male owner through yelling and hitting. The puppy experiences painful feelings that become stored and associated with males, especially who yell and hit. When moving to a new family, the puppy and adult dog may still react fearfully and defensively when meeting the new, but kind, male owner and other males in the household or neighborhood. The dog may also run out of the house whenever a human voice is raised.

Emotional generalization in the higher animals is essentially how their behavior is guided.

The difference between the higher animals and humans is that we can identify the nature and cause of our emotions and correct the ones that are out of context and based on false underlying premises.

This is an important component of what the capacity to reason in humans means. Through introspection we can identify and regulate our cognitive mental processes by conceptualizing them, that is, putting words to them, as opposed to bouncing from one chance emotion to another.

The skill of introspection is what we all need to learn and practice and, especially, is what needs to be taught to children when they are young, probably as soon as they begin to speak.

Introspection is what psychotherapists—whether or not they acknowledge the validity of introspection in science—encourage their patients to learn in order to resolve the psychological problems and conflicts they are suffering.

Introspection in children, if it were taught, would go a long way toward preventing the development of many unfortunate problems and conflicts.

Emotions are psychosomatic responses to a situation—a person, object, or event—that presuppose a previous perception of what is factual about the situation, along with an evaluation of the facts. Either can be true or false. “That bang,” for example, “was a gunshot [fact], which constitutes a threat to me [evaluation]. As consequence, I feel fear.”

The emotional reaction is automatic, but every emotion rests on implicit, often subconscious, judgments of fact and value. It is the fact and value judgments that can be identified through introspection and changed. As it turns out, the bang was the backfire of a car [corrected fact], which does not constitute a threat to me [corrected evaluation]. This knowledge corrects my mistaken judgments. As a result, the emotion of fear disappears.

Conceptualization is the tool needed to identify the facts and values that stand behind all of our emotions. Introspection is the method by which we use the tool. Unfortunately, neither has been taught to us, certainly not in childhood, and, if at all, minimally in adulthood.

Without knowledge of how to introspect, we are left at the mercy of chance emotional generalizations, many of which we have formed unaware (subconsciously) in childhood and adolescence and which essentially determine and control our adult lives. Chance, unexamined emotional generalizations are what lead us to think that we are helplessly determined by our genes and environment.

The best advice here is Edith Packer’s (p. 278): “If parents and schools could teach children the connection between thoughts and emotions, if they could teach a child that when he feels something, he’s really thinking something—so that the child would learn to ask himself, ‘What am I thinking when I experience this emotion?’—it would be invaluable.”

* I hasten to add that not every child will react the same way to this father’s behavior. A rare child might say to himself, “What’s the big deal? I didn’t do anything wrong. Father is being ridiculous.” My example is not of environmental determinism, but of a serious influence that hampers many a child’s healthy development. The father needs to learn how better to relate to his son.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Identity Politics and Psychological Defense Values

If put into words, intelligence defense values would say something to the effect, “I’m smarter than you” or, “I’m smart; you’re not.” I have mentioned them before, but this post is about the less savory version.

Defense values are a special case of defensive habit, more commonly called “defense mechanisms,” that aim to fend off self-doubt and anxiety by giving us a pseudo-self-esteem—a salve, as it were, for the self-doubt and anxiety. Defense values may be any value, rational or irrational, that we use as our source of (pseudo) worthiness and efficacy.

The way the values are held in our minds and pursued are what makes them defensive. Feeling a jolt of excitement, for example, when thinking or talking about the value and especially bragging to others are signs that a defense value may be operating.

When expressing or practicing a defense value, we tend to feel special in the eyes of significant others, whomever that group of others might be, and superior to outsiders. Defense values are other directed and always carry an air of condescension. For example, “I make the best creamed spinach” (on earth, is the implication). Or, “I have a very high IQ” (a lot higher than yours). Or, on the irrational side of values, “I shoplift and never get caught” (unlike you, you sucker who doesn’t even try).

If someone does not like your creamed spinach, or does not like creamed spinach at all, and you feel crushed as a result, that is another clue that a defense value may be operating.

Defense values are always comparative and are therefore key to understanding group identity and identity politics. People gather together in groups, formally and informally, and think of themselves as belonging to groups, based on a common value. They identify with each other based on that value, whether it be one’s family, a cooking or gun club, a rogues’ gallery of criminals, or just shared philosophical, religious, or political values.

It matters whether the values are held in the members’ minds genuinely or defensively. Genuinely held values derive from the confidence of an authentic self-esteem that generates pleasant interactions among the groups’ members. Defensively held values generate psychological dependence that requires us, so to speak, to look over our shoulders to ensure that we are successful at impressing certain people, securing their approval, or maintaining our superiority over them, or all three. Such interactions lead to group rules of “political correctness,” whether or not the group is political in the literal sense.

Individual psychologies, of course, are complicated and exist along a continuum, so some members of a group may hold a genuine self-esteem, others may not, with many gradations in between. The more defensive the membership is, the more enforcement of certain “politically correct” rules comes into play. Extreme defensiveness of a group may generate such severe rules that admission to the group requires one to be a “true believer,” to identify with the “holy cause,” as Eric Hoffer (chap. 2) puts it.

This is the psychological source of the leftists’ identity politics that we have today. It does not display a strong personal identity based on an authentic self-esteem that practices courage, integrity, and independence as its primary virtues.

Defense values, like most defensive habits, begin in childhood and become so automatized that we are not aware of them, or of how they have developed, or that the habits are less than healthy and may be contributing to a less than happy life. They feel like, “That’s me, and I can’t do anything about it.”

Psychologist Edith Packer (esp. chap. 4, 5, and 10) identifies defense values as developing earlier in childhood than the other “helper” defenses,” such as repression, compulsiveness, projection, etc., although compulsiveness often quickly accompanies developing defense values.

Ironically, and sadly, it is profuse praise of children that encourages the development of defense values. For example, a young boy energetically helps mom or dad clean up a mess of spilled milk. The parent gushes, “You’re such a good little boy!” Repeated enough times, the  boy will begin compulsively to seek out similar praise. A girl who is good at school and is praised frequently with “You’re so smart” is on the path to developing an intelligence defense value.*

Family conversation can reinforce and cement the intelligence defense value by a parent (or both) repeatedly gushing: “So and so went to an Ivy League school and was top in his class,” or: “So and so teaches at that top-rated school, which means she is so smart to be there that she could not possibly be biased, ineffective, or unfair as a teacher.” Over the years, a child inhales the parents’ intelligence defense value that also expresses a good dose of condescension.

If we discover that we have an intelligence (or any other) defense value, we should not feel guilty or bad about ourselves. We should, however, work to replace the defenses we do have with genuine values.

To be sure, not all children accept parental values as illustrated in these examples, but such values are significant “environmental” influences on many children.

Intelligence defense values are endemic to certain groups in our culture. Academics are one, at any level, but especially at universities, and the higher the rating of the university, the stronger the intelligence defense value and, usually, the greater the condescension. And politicians and bureaucrats of the “deep state” are a second. Indeed, in some European countries, it is a badge of honor for a young person to land a job in the bureaucracy; the last thing such a person would want to do is work for a “greedy,” profit-making business. (This also, unfortunately, seems to be the case of many ivy league graduates in the United States.)

The self-esteem that derives from these group memberships is “pseudo” because self-esteem does not derive from other people. Authentic self-esteem is confidence that we are worthy—meaning loveable, worthy of being loved—and competent—mentally competent—to live our lives as healthy, happy human beings. Initially, we should derive this confidence from being loved by our parents and significant others around us, along with sincere, nonjudgmental respect from our teachers, and we should be (or should have been) taught how to introspect the contents and processes of our minds to identify and correct mistakes. As we mature, self-esteem becomes a quiet confidence, a quiet pride in effort and achievement, that gives us the courage, integrity, and independence to stand up to disapproval or criticism or fears of being challenged or condemned.

When the intelligence defense value becomes tied to a group identity, especially one involved in today’s identity politics, it can become a nasty political correctness and condescension, expressing envy and hatred toward anyone who is different or who disagrees.

Group conformity is the source of such behavior and group conformity is the desired result. It is external control psychology in action (1, 2) and has another name in the political sphere: collectivism.

At the level of politics, where facts cease to be relevant, fines and imprisonment can be recommended and imposed by the group’s enforcers. This leads ultimately, in the totalitarian state that this eventually establishes, to the recommendation and imposition of executions.

Frail egos do not tolerate differences or disagreements.

*The correct principle to use when relating to children in these situations is Haim Ginott’s: Describe, don’t evaluate. Let the child draw the evaluative conclusion. As Ginott says (1, chap. 2; 2, chap. 5), “Direct praise of personality, like direct sunlight, is uncomfortable and blinding.” . . . “It creates anxiety, invites dependency, and evokes defensiveness.” (Interestingly, advertising man David Ogilvy gave the same advice to his copywriters: Describe the product factually. Avoid evaluative terms, especially superlatives. Let the consumer draw the evaluative conclusion.)

Friday, April 12, 2019

Naïveté, Gutlessness, and Concessions: On the Anatomy of Compromise

“The issue is never the issue. The issue is always the revolution.” This is the motto of the left and I quoted it in an earlier post.

Its meaning? Say and do whatever will work to achieve power. Cloak your words and actions in “democracy” or, as in today’s “anything goes” cultural atmosphere, call anyone who disagrees with you a racist or fascist or, perhaps worst of all, someone who is deplorably lacking in compassion and, of course, is selfish. When one issue fails to work, move on to the next, with relentless energy.

In our Goebbelsian culture facts don’t matter. Truth and objectivity are out.

BS is the accepted method of communication, which means: say what sounds good and true to advance your agenda, not what is good and true.

How do we oppose this leftist juggernaut and why do the leftists seem to have so much energy? The answer to the second question, aside from their envy-ridden and hatred-driven motivation, is that the leftists’ most important value is politics and the drive for power and control. The rest of us have lives and careers beyond politics.*

Opposing the leftist juggernaut, in answer to the first question, is more challenging and requires, of course, thorough knowledge to answer any arguments the left may put forth, though intellectual argument today is rare. It even more importantly requires realism not to be naïve in the face of their pretended sincerity, and courage to stand fast against their onslaught. It requires the refusal to compromise our principles.

Insincerity needs to be called out as such, not swallowed as its opposite and taken seriously. Fabricated accusations of all kinds are rampant today and need to be named and condemned with moral indignation, as we would do to any nonpolitical friend or acquaintance who lied to or BS’d us.

Why so much insincerity? It’s built into leftist theory: Marx’s rejection of a universal Aristotelian logic (polylogism), updated today as postmodern group identity theory, and Marx’s premise that anyone who is wealthy, especially business people and their companies, stole their wealth from the group currently held up as having been exploited. No one who is wealthy or a capitalist deserves truth or objectivity, even if such virtues were possible.

To take these leftists seriously makes us vulnerable to compromising our principles. When we compromise, the left moves forward with greater and greater confidence, because they do not compromise. Their greater consistency is precisely what today has moved them further and further left, perhaps too far, having underestimated the “deplorables” of middle America.

Ayn Rand (in Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, chap. 14) has provided an interesting “anatomy of compromise” to help us understand what we must and must not do in debates. She suggests three rules (paraphrased): (1) when two people or groups hold the same basic principles, the more consistent wins, (2) when two people or groups collaborate, the more evil or irrational wins, and (3) when opposite principles are clearly defined, the more rational wins, but when hidden or evaded, the more irrational wins.

All three can be seen operating in debates about or with the left. Indeed, the rules have been present and operating in US politics for many decades. The right (conservatives and Republicans), by “me-tooing” and often outdoing the left with leftist policies, are the biggest compromisers.** Both sides accept altruism and self-sacrifice as the correct ethics and both sides accept the use of initiated coercion by the government to violate individual rights as the proper method of governing society.

Let’s look at these premises and apply Rand’s rules. The left is far more consistent (rule one), which is why they are winning. The left wants full (totalitarian) governmental control. The right makes concessions by trying to uphold a mixture of freedom and control, that is, the “mixed economy.”

The right is, and has been for decades, collaborating with the left by granting them sincerity and apologizing for them by saying, “they mean well” (rule two). But they don’t.

And the right is foolish when it thinks the concept of rights used by both sides means the same thing (rule three). Rights to conservatives and Republicans usually means individual rights, but to the left it means group identity. In accordance with rule three, this difference is hidden and evaded. It should be exposed for what it is: group privilege to take wealth away from those who have earned it.

The worst premise accepted by the right is that of altruism and self-sacrifice as the proper ethics of a free society. The left also accepts altruism, but is quite clear about its meaning (rule one): everyone must sacrifice to the state; everyone, especially the well-off, must pay higher and higher taxes so their wealth may be redistributed to the groups that are allegedly less well-off and allegedly have been victimized by those who are wealthy; and the United States must sacrifice itself and its wealth to all other countries in the world, especially those in the so-called third world.

To collaborate with the left by saying, “we are just as compassionate [altruistic] as you are” is a disastrous trap. The left simply responds by saying, “No, you’re not, because we want to do this, this, and this,” that is, move further and further left. Those on the right, as a result, often end up saying nothing, as unfortunately was demonstrated by many congressional conservatives and Republicans over the past two years (rule two).

To fight the leftist juggernaut, conservatives and Republicans must endorse rational self-interest and reject any form of self-sacrifice as a valid morality. They must then explain it clearly and openly (rule three).

Naïveté, gutlessness, and concessions and compromise are not the path to maintaining the freedom and prosperity of this country. The left wants to tear it down. Giving in will only hasten the process.

What is slowing this destruction is the sense of life of our current president and his constituents, the “deplorables” of middle America. As I have written before, sense of life is an emotion, but emotion is not enough to defend the American way of life and Western civilization. Strong, articulate intellectual arguments are needed, as well as realism and courage to stand up to the left.

* There is an analogy between the political and criminal personalities, and no doubt some in politics exhibit a criminal element, because they relish the coercion and control of others. “Take my crime away, and you take my world away,” is what one offender said to Stanton Samenow. Replace the word “crime” with “politics” and you have one explanation of the leftist’s motivation and energy.

** The press and business need to be mentioned. Many journalists blow with the wind and today that direction is to the left. They are not introspective to identify their hidden biases, or, in some (many?) cases, are explicit in their biases and therefore are complicit with the left. And contrary to their pretensions, courage is not a virtue of most of the press. Nor is it of most business people, especially those who cave to the email blasts threatening them with boycotts unless they remove advertising from certain cable broadcasters. Granted that business people are busy running businesses, they need to understand that they are the primary targets of leftist attacks. It would be nice if they showed some spine.

Saturday, March 09, 2019

Insight and Eloquence in Thomas Sowell’s A Man of Letters

Awhile back I ordered economist Thomas Sowell’s book A Man of Letters. I seldom read entire books of letters, but Sowell’s was quite enjoyable, both insightful and eloquent.

The book consists of Sowell’s letters from 1960 to 2006 with emails intermixed in the later years, along with editorial comments between the letters.

Sowell is known for his strict adherence to facts through the extensive research he has conducted over the decades. Let me cite several examples that shine through his letters and comments.

On IQ and other forms of assessment testing, Sowell offers data that show race does not explain differences, as white groups both in the US and abroad have similar IQ scores as blacks. In the US, some black schools have IQ’s equal to or better than the national average and black women outscore black men (p. 110).

Commenting on his Harlem high school classmates, Sowell writes, “The kids I had trouble keeping up with had an average IQ of 84. . . . A few years later I was able to hold my own in a class where the average IQ was over 120.” Sowell says he is “appalled at some of the questions [test makers] ask to test ‘intelligence.’” His conclusion: nearly all mass assessment testing is “biased against the poor and the disadvantaged” (pp. 154-55).

On the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which Sowell was not a huge fan of, he points out the steady improvements in the standard of living of blacks as well as their increased success at securing higher-level employment throughout the 1940s and ‘50s. In the 1960s, however, after passage of the bill, improvements slowed with new trends of increased crime, unemployment, and unwed motherhood taking over (p. 44).

In his younger years, Sowell’s research convinced him that minimum wage laws increased unemployment, especially among poor blacks. In a letter to a black mayor in Alabama who wanted to relax the wage laws, Sowell of course praised the mayor but went on to emphasize how necessary it is for young blacks to obtain work experience, no matter how “menial” it may be. “They need the work experience even more than they need the money,” he writes. Work experience of any kind teaches young people the meaning and value of work.

“In my research on racial and ethnic groups around the world,” says Sowell, “I discovered again and again that groups who are hung up over ‘menial’ work get overtaken and left behind by groups who consider a job a job” (pp. 204-205).

And as for “preferential treatment”—his preferred term instead of “affirmative action”—his letter from 1972 to the economics department chairman at Swarthmore College may sum up his attitude. The letter to Sowell said the college is “actively looking for a black economist.” Sowell’s reply: “Many a self-respecting black scholar would never accept an offer like this. . . . You and I know that many of these special recruiting efforts are not aimed at helping black faculty members or black or white students, but rather at hanging on to the school’s federal money.”

The result of “quotas” and “affirmative action,” says Sowell in his editorial transition, is “the ‘new racism’—that is, more racial polarization than had existed on those same campuses decades earlier" (pp. 97-99).

Numerous letters are to his longtime friends economist Walter Williams and Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. In a 1991 letter to Williams, about the contentious nomination hearings of Thomas, Sowell writes, “Clarence is still young enough to be shocked at being knifed in the back by someone he went out of his way to help . . . My theory is that Clarence’s problem arose precisely because he did not sexually harass Anita Hill. . . . As for Clarence, he has done himself proud in the way he has handled this thing (pp. 232-33).” [That is, his righteous moral indignation at the falsehoods hurled at him, falsehoods not unlike those slung at a recent Supreme Court nominee who also dared to defend himself with equally righteous moral indignation.]

In an editorial comment, Sowell tells this anecdote about Clarence Thomas’s “human touch” and “respect for other people” (something the press did not grant him). When Thomas in 1982 became chairman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, he was entitled to a chauffeur, an elderly man referred to by everyone at the time by his first name. Thomas immediately addressed him “Mr. Randall,” with the staffers subsequently following suit. Writes Sowell, “When riding in the car with the two of them, I was struck by their considerate politeness toward each other.” It was difficult to tell “who was the chauffeur and who was the head of the agency” (p. 234).

In response to a 1981 letter inviting Sowell to write a bi-weekly column in the Washington Post, he submitted two on a topic he said “needs to be confronted clearly.” After their publication, the columns “sparked the bitterest attacks” on him “before or since.” The columns are reprinted following the invitation letter.

“Blacker Than Thou” and “Blacker Than Thou (II)” are the columns. The bitter attacks stem from his revealing “the dirty little secret of internal color discrimination among blacks in a white newspaper.” The discrimination derives from the differences—physical, cultural, and educational—between lighter skinned blacks and the darker ones. In the days of slavery, the lighter skinned tended to be slaves who were freed or who worked as house servants. The darker skinned blacks were field slaves.

Over the last century and a half the lighter skinned and their descendants were more privileged than the darker ones, absorbing the dominant culture and attending school, including college. Many subsequently adopted “holier than thou” condescension toward their darker brothers. Not coincidentally, the lighter skinned blacks have tended to become “the militant black leader[s] not only distant from but snobbish toward the people in whose name [they speak].”

Sowell does not hesitate to name names. Patricia Roberts Harris, cabinet secretary in Jimmy Carter’s administration, is quoted as saying that people like Walter Williams and Thomas Sowell “don’t know what poverty is.” Harris and Sowell attended Howard University at the same time, but, as Sowell says, “under entirely different conditions.” Sowell worked full time and attended school at night. Harris, on the other hand, attended school full time, was a “campus social leader,” and also a member of “an ‘exclusive’ sorority” (pp. 166-76).

As for Sowell and Williams? Both were raised in fatherless homes. Thomas Sowell lived initially in North Carolina without hot running water or electricity, then moved to Harlem where he had to quit high school to make money. Williams grew up in the projects of Philadelphia.

I believe Sowell has insightfully and eloquently made his point.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Meanness and the Moralization of Concretes

Many years ago, a friend debated a woman on a radio show about environmentalism. My friend, of course, argued for free markets while the woman argued for the use of the government as solution to nearly all problems.

After the show, I asked my friend what the woman looked like. He said, “She looked mean.”

His statement has stuck in my mind all these years because I think it says something about the motivation of the left, even though judging people by surface appearances can be risky. Just because someone looks mean, or sad, or happy does not indicate the essence of their psychology deep down.

And not all leftists would have the same mean look as this woman. Some are ignorant (of many things, not just the nature of socialism, but also of history). Others may act like our best friends, as con artists are capable of doing, and some may be close relatives.

Be that as it may, meanness is essential to the nature of socialism because government-imposed regulations and laws that violate individual rights are imposed through initiated coercion and enforced through initiated coercion. At some point, punishments of violators of the regulations and laws must increase from fines or minor jail sentences to major imprisonment and executions.

This is where the meanest, or rather, morally worst, as F. A. Hayek refers to them (1; 2, chap. 10), rise to the top of the “compassionate” socialist ladders and become vicious dictators.

In today’s culture with the collapse of epistemology and ethics, intellectual arguments are no longer given for socialism and socialist policies. What passes for reasons why such policies should be followed and approved are, well, “mean looks,” also known as “virtue signaling,” often of a peculiar character that might be called “the moralization of concrete objects and actions.”

Universal abstractions, which are what ethics works with and attempts to demonstrate by reference to an objective standard, have disappeared from discussion. Aside from dirty air and water being declared immoral, today it is likely to be red meat. Or a wall around your home (or country). Or fossil fuels. Or plastic shopping bags, straws, gasoline cans with air holes, many books said to contain “bad” ideas, which, of course, then also means certain ideas, especially those that can be interpreted as “offensive” and therefore “bad,” and so on, ad nauseam. The list is potentially endless.

A universal abstraction says something like “do not lie,” which then applies in all concrete instances in which lying could occur. Or, to state the principle in a less deontological form, that is, allowing for personal consequences, “do not lie unless under threat of physical force or invasion of privacy.” This latter abstraction is what underlies and justifies self-defense in our Anglo-Saxon legal system.

Note that neither principle singles out to condemn as immoral any one concrete object or action. In ethics (or morality—the words are synonyms), broad abstractions are applied to concretes. It is the actions of individuals that can be moral or immoral. The concretes are neither.

Two principles, opposed to each other, do lie behind most discussion today of political issues. The first says: “Objects (usually products) and actions that are inherently harmful or dangerous must be regulated or banned.” The second states: “Acts that initiate physical force against another must be banned, whereas acts between consenting adults that inflict no harm should be legal.”

The former is the Progressives’ guide to lawmaking in the United States, though it probably goes back to the Divine Right of Kings, Roman Emperors, and any chieftain in control of a tribe.

Two questions undercut the universality of this principle: (1) what is meant by inherent harm or danger? and (2) who is going to decide the issue? What one person considers  inherently harmful or dangerous may not be so viewed by another. Think skydiving several times a week versus crossing a busy intersection. People differ in their assessments of potential harm.

In controlled societies, rulers in charge claim to know what is best for their subjects. Chieftains, emperors, kings, and bureaucrats and legislators all decide what is inherently harmful or dangerous. Controlling and banning more and more objects and actions, all of which is accomplished through coercion—because that is the only way to maintain such control—is what eventually leads to dictatorship. Dictatorship by excessive law, or just by fiat.

The second principle above derives from John Locke’s theory of individual rights, as clarified by Ayn Rand. The starting—the beginning, the initiating—of physical force, as opposed to the defensive repelling of an attacking thief or potential murderer, is what must be banned from human relationships.

This universal principle, applied consistently to every area of our lives, gives us laissez-faire capitalism. When all of us are left alone to pursue our own values according to our own judgment, we—each one of us—can then decide for ourselves what is inherently harmful or dangerous. We then—each one of us—can decide for ourselves whether or not to engage in such an inherently harmful or dangerous action.

It is frankly no one else’s business whether we choose to take the easy path or the more challenging one. This is what is meant by a free society.

Now we may sometimes get a mean look from someone close to us, say a relative or spouse, who says something like, “You’re crazy. You can’t do that. It’s dangerous!” But whatever “it” happens to be, the relative or spouse is not likely to be pointing a gun at us.

The mean look of my friend’s environmentalist debater, on the other hand, along with many other of her leftist colleagues, consider their holier-than-thou virtues to be signaling only one thing: “You are immoral—for thinking this concrete object or action should not be regulated or banned. We know best and aim to make it law that you will be fined or imprisoned if you continue to use the object or take the action.”

This is a government gun talking and this is how government guns, when the law is passed, violate individual rights.

Mean looks do say something and do have consequences. Are the people with mean looks well-intended?

Monday, January 07, 2019

Intellectuals in Residence at Corporations, the Self-Righteous Press, and Bias versus Objectivity in Public Relations and Journalism

In the early 1970s, in mid-town Manhattan, I worked for a service firm to the public relations industry. My clients were both senior and junior public relations professionals. We printed their press releases and mailed them to the media. My work involved interaction with the pros, mostly by telephone, but also in person, and I read a lot of their press releases.

One thought I had at the time was that the personal identity of many public relations professionals is that of “intellectual in residence at corporations.” My thought continued, “Given the present intellectual atmosphere [the Progressive’s denigration of big business], that’s not good for the future of capitalism.”

My clients were highly competent and honest, but the profession—then and today, as well as in its beginning in the early nineteenth century—was, and still is, imbued with the unexamined and unacknowledged Marxist premises that “we, the ethically astute intellectuals in the company, must communicate to the public our apologies for selfishly making a profit.”

Appeasement of the critics, not moral indignation toward them and condemnation of their ideas, was, and is, the accepted norm. A slightly exaggerated press release headline, for example: “We gave $xx millions of dollars to charity last year, so please don’t attack us.”

Considered something of a PR coup, to give a real life example, The Texas Company—Texaco—for 63 years sponsored the Saturday radio broadcasts of the Metropolitan Opera. Texaco’s public relations message: “See? We’re not greedy, materialistic money grubbers. We support high art.”*

The problem is that business executives are not intellectual. They are ignorant of a proper defense of business and capitalism and are decidedly timid, lacking courage to defend themselves with moral defiance against the attackers. So, they let their spokespersons speak for them.

Now let’s switch to the press and the journalistic profession. This is an easy switch, because journalists and PR pros are trained in the same schools of journalism (now called schools of communication). Job hopping is frequent between the two professions. In my day, PR was the more lucrative and preferred hop.

Journalists, today and in the past, unfortunately, often are the ones who self-righteously lead the attacks on big (and small) business, although they are supposed to be uncovering facts and presenting the truth of any story. The result is charges from critics of the press of yellow journalism (in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries) and of bias and fake news today.

The job of the journalist, however, as stated by the American Press Institute, is to use objective methods in the search for and presentation of facts and truth. The difference between the two concepts? The facts are that the bus hit the car. The statement of the facts—the bus driver was drunk and wanted to kill people—may or may not be true. How good, that is, how objective was the reporter’s method? How did the reporter acquire and verify his or her statement of the bus driver’s motivation?

If methods are less than objective, bias, those unexamined and unacknowledged premises, enter to influence the reporter’s statement of the facts.

In previous posts (1, 2), I have touched on bias and objectivity. I stated that bias per se is not bad because it just means leaning in one direction. (This blog for the past twelve years has unmistakably leaned in one direction.) Unexamined and, especially, unacknowledged underlying premises, as I stated in the earlier posts, create what I called “negative bias.”

A negative bias disparages opponents by ignoring or denying the existence of valid alternative viewpoints and by expressing moral outrage at anyone who challenges the writer’s or speaker’s fairness. Dissenters and critics are often punished.

Such negative biases dominate university classrooms and today’s media. Publicly financed universities, as well as most private ones, and most mainstream media, are explicitly committed to freedom of expression for all viewpoints.

They also are supposedly committed to reason, facts, and truth, but they fail miserably on all counts.

Some private universities and media state an explicit viewpoint as their driving philosophy and therefore lean in one direction, but they are aware of and acknowledge that viewpoint.

Many universities and media, unfortunately, practice explicit suppression of alternative viewpoints, often because they are oblivious to what guides them—or are willful in the suppression.

Indeed, those journalism schools, where PR pros and journalists are trained, have for many years been teaching that objectivity is impossible. This derives from the post-modern destruction of Aristotelian logic and has become prescription for the spectacle we are witnessing today: whoever shouts the loudest and longest wins the argument, though I am being generous to call what goes on today an “intellectual argument.”

Objectivity—in journalism or anywhere else—is the accurate perception and communication of our objects of perception. Our method of awareness is guided by Aristotelian logic to correctly, that is, non-contradictorily, identify the facts we are examining.

This means being aware of and acknowledging predispositions (underlying premises) we may hold guiding our investigations and presentations.

To youth who are looking for an academic career in an applied field that desperately needs rehabilitation, I recommend a job in one of those schools of communication, to teach future public relations professionals and journalists the valid concept of objectivity and the role of bias in our perceptions.

* I hasten to add that these two examples are one specialty—sometimes called “image” or “social responsibility” PR—in the larger field of public relations. Journeyman professionals may spend their efforts on product publicity, personnel announcements, writing and editing the internal employee magazine, or entertaining certain reporters to convince them to write a feature story about the company.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

On the Correct Roles of Induction and Deduction in Human Life: Two Sentences from Ayn Rand’s Theory of Concepts

Original thinkers often state their identifications succinctly.

Ayn Rand’s notion of measurement omission (Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, chap. 2) in the formation of concepts is one such identification. Here is another (p. 28):

The process of observing the facts of reality and of integrating them into concepts is, in essence, a process of induction. The process of subsuming new instances under a known concept is, in essence, a process of deduction.

These brief and to the point sentences state not just the two fundamental methods of cognition, but more importantly, the correct roles of induction and deduction in human life.

And by “human life,” I mean science as well as everyday life.

Induction is the process of generalization, of forming universal concepts based on our observation of particular objects or events. The definition of a single concept states a principle—all humans possess the capacity to reason, for example—and the combination of several or many concepts and principles builds our knowledge of reality and, in some cases, establishes the physical, biological, and human sciences.

Induction is conceptualization. From an early age, probably before we can assign words to them, we all practice the inductive formation of universal concepts.

This was my example in an earlier post of our daughter, before she could walk or talk, laughing heartily at her first sight of a bouncing ball. She identified a universal, because her mind, to quote Aristotle (Posterior Analytics, 100a13), “is so constituted as to be capable of this process” (though the universal is not “in the thing,” as Aristotle assumed).

Rand’s identification describes in general terms the true nature of induction and makes the biological and human sciences as exact and valid as the physical sciences.*

Deduction is the process of identifying particular objects or events as instances of the general knowledge we have already acquired. The process, more accurately, is one of application.

Deduction is what Sherlock Holmes did and what medical doctors do, and what we all do in our everyday lives. We apply general knowledge to specific cases to guide us in making choices and taking actions.

Technology and the applied sciences are sciences of method and therefore are largely deductive, deriving their basic principles from the more fundamental sciences on which they rest, for example, engineering from physics and chemistry, medicine from biology, and economics from psychology with several business disciplines drawing their basic principles from both psychology and economics.

This identification of deduction as application dispenses with the detached-from-reality deduction for the sake of deduction that has dominated the academic world since the Middle Ages. Deduction as application demonstrates how much deduction we practice in our everyday lives.

We all induce and deduce—some of us better (more accurately) and at greater length (in intensive study) than others. What Ayn Rand’s identifications mean is that induction and deduction are not a monopoly of scientists, philosophers, or academics in general.

Where then does measurement fit in the sciences? Conceptualization is universalization, which means its essence is measurement omission, which means the essence of theoretical science is measurement omission. This means that measurement is an aid to theoretical science, not its essence.

Measurement is crucial in the applied physical sciences when, for example, we want to send astronauts to the moon and back. Measurement in the biological and human sciences, however, is not quantitatively exact in the sense of constructing advanced mathematical equations to predict the behavior of animals or humans.

In the human sciences it is that annoying thing called free will—annoying to many human scientists, most of whom are materialists and determinists—that prevents the human scientists’ “elegant” equations from making any practical sense, or from being replicated in subsequent studies.**

The biological and human sciences are exact and valid, if the conceptualizations made by the scientists working in those fields have correctly identified the aspect of reality they are studying. The identifications are not equations, but they are quantitative. For example, psychological depression can be severe or mild.

“Measurement omission” does not mean that conceptualization ignores measurements. One individual case is quantitatively distinct from the next one, as two balls can be two different sizes and can be made of different materials.

Precise measurement is what technology and applied science, especially in the physical sciences, must critically pay attention to. Measurement in the applied biological and human sciences does not have to be so precise—because it cannot be.

“Truth,” to quote another succinct identification of Ayn Rand (Objectivist Epistemology, p. 48), “is the product of the recognition (i.e., the identification) of the facts of reality.” Truth, for Rand, is not a correspondence theory, but one that identifies facts. It is a recognition or identification theory.

And what is our guide to truth? Logic, of course, as “the art of non-contradictory identification” (Objectivist Epistemology, p. 36), not the mathematical or symbolic stuff that is taught in universities today or the medieval rationalism that permeates the older logic textbooks.

Induction and deduction are what we all use every day in our practical lives.

Induction and deduction, respectively, are conceptualization and application. Measurement is an important component of the two, but it is not their essence.

* See John P. McCaskey, “Induction in the Socratic Tradition,” in Shifting the Paradigm: Alternative Perspectives on Induction, ed. Louis F. Groarke & Paolo C. Biondi (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2014), 161–192, on his efforts to revive Socratic induction, a tradition promoted and debated both before and after Francis Bacon, but eventually overtaken by the nineteenth-century positivistic, Millian hypothetico-deductive method, a form of rationalistic, propositional inference. Socratic induction—generalization from particular things or concretes to universal abstract ideas—is consistent with Ayn Rand’s epistemology as inductive concept formation through measurement omission.

** “Man is that which fits economic equations,” as Ayn Rand (Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, p. 7) so simply and aptly caricatured the very rationalistic, pseudo-deductive doctrine of pure and perfect competition in economics.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Triumphs of the American Sense of Life

“Boy, you all want power. God, I hope you never get it. I hope the American people can see through this sham. . . . I hope [they] will see through this charade” (Senator Lindsey Graham, Kavanaugh Hearing: Transcript, September 27, 2018).

Fortunately, the American people have seen through the sham and charade, but those holding and seeking additional power continue their campaigns to gain more.

Is the American sense of life strong enough to slow down and defeat the leftists’ rabid—and rapid—march toward dictatorship?

I have written in earlier posts (1, 2) that our current president won his election two years ago by tapping into what Ayn Rand calls the American sense of life. He did not, and still does not, condescend toward the “deplorables” of middle America. He respects them, and unlike many (most?) politicians, is straightforward and honest with them.

Sense of life is a composite emotional sum of who each one of us is as a person. It consists of what Edith Packer calls our core evaluations, as well as our level of self-esteem. It expresses our view of ourselves and our attitudes toward other people and the world in general (Lectures on Psychology, loc. 180-86, Kindle).

Ayn Rand describes sense of life as a “pre-conceptual equivalent of metaphysics,” “a generalized feeling about existence . . . with the compelling motivational power of a constant, basic emotion—an emotion which is part of all [our] other emotions and underlies all [our] experiences” (The Romantic Manifesto, pp. 25-26).

Sense of life is what an artist projects in a work of art and what patrons of the arts respond to. It is also what one does or does not fall in love with in a member of the opposite sex and what one initially likes or dislikes in another person.

An astute observer of emotions might notice that one person is “eaten up with envy” and another “really loves life and is at ease with himself” (Packer’s examples). These are descriptions of the two individuals’ senses of life. It is possible and not uncommon for individuals to hold contradictory core evaluations and therefore a contradictory sense of life.

A nation is a sum or average of its individual citizens’ values and behavior, which means a country’s sense of life can be identified, albeit not easily, and described based on its citizens’ dominant traits and emotional expressions.

Ayn Rand identifies the dominant American sense of life as essentially individualistic and hardworking, with fundamental values placed on achievement, initiative, effort, earning your own way, genuineness, a strong reality orientation, and a defiance of authority. Typical Americanisms that describe the sense of life are “you can’t push me around” and “my money’s as good as the next fella’s” (Philosophy: Who Needs It, chap. 18).

The American sense of life insists on the right to the pursuit of happiness and Americans generally are happy and optimistic—happier and more optimistic than the citizens of many, perhaps all, other nations in the world. The American sense of life represents the freedom, accomplishments, and well-deserved benefits of capitalism, while most of the rest of the world is mired in varying degrees of statism and dictatorship, including abject poverty.

This American sense of life, therefore, is best (though certainly not exclusively) represented by the so-called deplorable dregs of society, the ones who live in flyover country and are mocked by the bi-coastal elites, especially those members of the communist-fascist left and their sycophantic followers. The elites, which include most college professors and the condescendingly leftist press, derive their sense of life from European intellectuals and aristocrats. They do not share the same sense of life as the “deplorables,” or at least in the same degree.

The “deplorables” are the ones who voted for our current president in 2016 and supported his program and candidates in the recent midterm election. The elites are the ones who labeled, and continue to label, anyone who exhibits the American sense of life a racist and a bigot.

If we go back a few decades in our political history, we can see the American sense of life in operation in several presidential campaigns. In 1964, the press and leftist elites, for example, were beside themselves when someone like Senator Barry Goldwater could win the presidential nomination of the Republican Party, especially after their incessantly relentless charges of racism and bigotry against the senator and anyone who supported him. Sound familiar?

At that time, Ayn Rand commented on the press’s loss of respect and influence, as well as their considerable myopia and the criteria they must have been using to report the news: “It is as if newsmen, with ‘their ears to the ground,’ had heard everything except an earthquake in full progress.”*

It was their leftist (and European) anti-American sense of life that clashed with that of the deplorables and prevented them from seeing (or feeling) the earthquake. Unfortunately, Goldwater’s subsequent campaign collapsed in anti-intellectualism, causing him to lose by a landslide.**

In 1972, however, the American people were offered explicit socialism in the form of Senator George McGovern. His opponent, the less-than-inspiring Richard Nixon, won forty-nine states. The American sense of life spoke—against McGovern, not for Nixon.

Later expressions of the American sense of life can be seen in the Reagan years and, less enthusiastically, in the years of the two Bushes. The sense of life came back in 2016 and also this year, though not nearly as strongly as the previous years, especially 1972.

The problem with a sense of life is that it is an emotion and emotions are not infallible, nor are they permanent, especially as new generations are educated in the anti-capitalist government-run schools and constantly confronted with the ferocious onslaught of leftist propaganda.

If the American sense of life is not articulated explicitly in terms of philosophy, economics, and psychology, it cannot survive—especially in today’s postmodern Orwellian climate of doublespeak and deliberately chaotic disingenuousness.

The American people and their sense of life have thus far heeded Senator Graham’s call not to fall for the shams and charades of the left. The American people also have not fallen for the Soviet tactic of condemning as “mentally incompetent” both Senator Graham and Judge Kavanaugh for their angry and correctly expressed moral indignation at the left’s flagrantly unjust and dishonest attempt to prevent the judge’s confirmation.

No, our current president is not perfect, though he is committed to defending the American way of life, flawed as his conception may be. He is the best public figure to come along in many years to express the sense life.

Intellectual articulation of that American sense of life is available in the works of Ayn Rand, Ludwig von Mises, George Reisman, and Edith Packer. These fundamental ideas urgently need to be read, discussed, and understood—and taught in universities, which unfortunately is not likely to happen for some time—then expanded upon so they may trickle down to the press and politicians.

And to the “deplorables.”

Those who feel the American sense of life understand emotionally what the American way of life stands for. They need to understand it intellectually.

* “‘Extremism’ or The Art of Smearing,” The Objectivist Newsletter, September, 1964. This section on the media was deleted from the article’s reprint in Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal (chap. 17).

** The European sense of life, says Rand, sees oneself as fundamentally a servant of the state. Europeans, generally and in contrast to Americans, worship the state and consider it an honor to work in the government. “If you told a [European],” says Rand, “that his life is an end in itself, he would feel insulted or rejected or lost.”

Postscript. Small detail can sometimes capture differences between national senses of life. A charming anecdote I would often tell my students when discussing cultural differences comes from Italian journalist Beppe Severgnini, in Brian Lamb’s Booknotes interview on C-SPAN in 2002 (at 00:17:04 in the video). When asking a question, said Severgnini, of an Italian, a Brit, a German, and an American, he would get the following responses (my paraphrase): the Italian would answer with another question, the Brit would tell a joke, the German would give a little essay, but the American would give an answer. Elsewhere in the interview, Severgnini commented on how Americans love competition, because they do not mind losing. It just means they try harder the next time. In Italy, he said, losing, especially failing at a business, means you are labeled for life as a loser.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

That Heaven on Earth Called Socialism Is Elitist Totalitarian Violence and Destruction: The Modern Jacobins Promote It through Deception and Fraud in Their Continued War against Capitalism

“The issue is never the issue. The issue is always the revolution.”

This revealing statement is attributed to a member of the radical 1960’s Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), in David Horowitz’s pamphlet “Barack Obama’s Rules for Revolution: The Alinsky Model” (p. 9).

The saying is and has always been the guiding principle of leftists going back at least to Marx and Lenin, and probably to the Jacobin leader, Robespierre, of the French terror in 1793-94. Lenin, after all, was an admirer of Robespierre, calling him a “Bolshevik before his time.”

Put in cliché terms, the statement says, “The end justifies the means.”

Horowitz elaborates the meaning of the SDSer’s statement: “In other words the cause—whether inner city blacks or women—is never the real cause, but only an occasion to advance the real cause which is the accumulation of power to make the revolution” (p. 8).

This is the gospel of Saul Alinsky, Marxist teacher of our former president and his secretary of state. Our former president, of course, said on the eve of his election that his goal was to fundamentally transform American society. Alinsky denied that he was a Marxist, but that is also part of his gospel because facts don’t matter in revolutions.*

To elaborate Horowitz’s elaboration of the SDS statement, Marx and Machiavelli were too timid. Revolution is war and in war deception and fraud are justified; lying, cheating, ritual defamation (character assassination), smears, intimidation, threats, psychological terror, sit-ins and other obstructions, and, if you can get away with it, assault, battery, and more serious forms of violence, all should be part of your arsenal.

If one cause is not successful in securing power, immediately promote another one. And then another, and another. Be relentless. The enemy is naïve and will not believe that what they are facing is naked dishonesty. And the enemy is anyone who disagrees with you, especially anyone who promotes the values of Western civilization, namely individual rights, political freedom, and capitalism.

Now this “Alinsky model” of revolution is still consistent with Marx and the communists. David Horowitz has written extensively on the subject, largely because he was a red-diaper baby and himself a communist sympathizer for many years, but has since become a conservative.

Horowitz’s parents were members of the American Communist Party, but never admitted it in public. They preferred to call themselves progressives. The Communist Party explicitly promoted this kind of deception.

The Communist magazine in 1937 urged teachers who were Party members to teach Marxism and Leninism in every class, but never let anyone know that they were communists. Teachers “must take advantage of their positions, without exposing themselves,” and they must “inject [Marxism-Leninism] into their teaching at the least risk of exposure and at the same time conduct struggles around the school in a truly Bolshevik manner” (quoted in Sidney Hook, Out of Step, p. 499, Hook’s italics omitted).

Facts don’t matter because lying and putting on a front are the essential requirements for winning revolutions. In today’s political climate, this means that opponents are viewed literally as evil monsters who must be defeated and destroyed at all cost, which includes making up whatever will sound good and succeed.

This, too, is consistent with the Marxist/Leninist/communist mantra. When it is opportune, leftists, whether old or new, will not hesitate to call themselves advocates of democracy, freedom, reason, and justice, and then denigrate, or rather, smear, their opponents as the opposite, usually in the vilest terms they can find. Today, in particular, they like to call themselves liberals and progressives and their opponents fascists or Nazis.

Of course, by “justice” they mean “social justice,” which is the opposite, and obfuscation, of giving each person his or her due. “Social justice” means taking wealth (legal plunder) from those who have earned it and giving it to those who have not. More generally, it means cutting the “fat cats” down to size, motivated by envy or what Ayn Rand called “hatred of the good for being the good.” (Capitalists are the “fat cats,” whereas wealthy leftist “fat cats,” funders of the activists, are never called out as such or criticized.)

What about the end that justifies the means, the socialism that the revolution aims to establish? A line sometimes heard spoken to socialists and communists is “I admire your end but not your means.” Such a statement, however, is a disastrously unfortunate concession to leftists because it is a compromise of Enlightenment principles. The end of socialism is as despicable, if not more so, than the means claimed necessary to achieve it.

Government ownership of the means of production, that giant post office Lenin wants us all to work for, cannot be achieved without massively initiated coercion that must be run by a just-as-massively coercive and elitist bureaucracy or deep state. Unless propped up with remnants of capitalism (as Lenin did with his New Economic Policy) or from the generosity and imports of capitalist outsiders, socialism must inevitably collapse in ruin (as did the USSR).

Socialism—and all its variants—is an act of violence and destruction, as we have witnessed throughout the twentieth century and today in certain countries, such as Venezuela.

Why don’t leftists see the violence and destruction? Horowitz says they first set up their ideal as a heaven on earth, a Garden of Eden in which the lion lies beside the lamb and horns of plenty are given to everyone. Then, they ignore all consequences of socialism when put into practice and blame the violence and destruction on depraved dictators who have usurped the leftists’ rightful power and destroyed their heavens on earth.

The fantasy projection of a socialist state, allegedly creating a “New Man” or “New Woman,” was built on the principle of self-sacrifice that today and in the recent past has implemented the destruction of individual and private property rights on a scale never before seen. It has created nothing but sacrificial lambs, millions of which have been slaughtered on the altar of the elitist beasts—“lion” is too benign a word—of the “collective good” and “revolution.” 

Facts are facts, and delusions of grandeur, like heavens on earth and Gardens of Eden, are just that, delusions.

More likely, they are rationalizations for highly destructive and viciously heinous ends, as well as viciously heinous means.

No amount of “virtue signaling” can justify dishonest, coercive methods of establishing allegedly noble—though actually despicable—ends.

Robespierre, interestingly, was apparently the first virtue signaler. “Terror,” he said, “is only justice prompt, severe and inflexible . . . an emanation of virtue.”

Terror as the implementation of virtue? Was Robespierre well intended and noble, and did his end justify his means?

* Alinsky’s world is “corrupt and bloody” (p. 24), divided into the “Haves” and “Have-Nots.” Machiavelli’s The Prince was a guide to the Haves on how to keep power, whereas Alinksy’s Rules for Radicals is a guide to the Have-Nots on how to take power away from the Haves (p. 3). His world is a Hobbesian war where “the end justifies almost any means,” (p. 29) because morality is time and situation bound, that is, subjective. Nevertheless, to “clothe” methods and arguments “with moral garments” is one of his rules (p. 36).

Postscript. David Horowitz is not one to kowtow to the communist/fascist left. He speaks with courage and vigor. For example, “when rioters and ‘protesters’ defend criminals and attack the police it is not a protest. It is an attack.” In other words, the acts are criminal and the criminals should be arrested. On the recent “show trial” of Judge Brett Kavanaugh, nominee for the Supreme Court, Horowitz calls it “the equivalent of a modern-day lynching.” And on the howling (and screeching) of today’s toxically hostile feminists, he says, we need to “grant women true equality by confronting their lies and their reckless accusations with the same candor and frankness we would if they were coming out of the mouths of men.” Because: “despite half a century of women’s ‘liberation’ and ‘hear me roar’ proclamations the feminist attitude towards women is still Victorian. Women are fragile violets who wilt before the raised voices and impassioned claims of male innocence.” (Italics added.)

Friday, September 07, 2018

Is Homosexuality Psychologically Healthy? Or Are We Talking About the Propagandistic Politicization of Sex?

Science and politics are the two subjects of this post. Let us take the science first.

Character and personality are volitionally created—not “socially constructed”—psychological products that generate and guide our actions. Same-sex behavior between two consenting adults, as a non-coercive relationship, is neither immoral nor a sin, nor should a contract between the two, or any other business or personal relationships involving same-sex attractions or behavior between consenting adults, be illegal. Individual rights apply to all human beings, not special “classes” or “groups.”

Psychology, however, is not the same as morality or politics.

Psychology studies the conscious conclusions we draw, and subconscious integrations we make, to direct our lives. If we hold objectively rational (that is, healthy) convictions, assuming a more or less friendly environment, we will likely live a happy life. To the extent that our convictions are irrational (unhealthy, not consonant with reality), to that extent we will be unhappy.

The job of psychologists and psychiatrists is to help us correct mistaken conclusions and incorrect subconscious integrations to enable us to live that happier life.

The leading theory on the origins of homosexuality derives from Freud, who did not write extensively on the subject, but whose followers over the past one hundred years have extended the theory considerably and even cleansed it of much Freudian jargon.

Joseph Nicolosi calls it the trauma theory of attachment loss (1, 2, 3). Typical pattern for a pre-homosexual boy includes an absent father, a mean father or other adult male (who may or may not be physically or sexually abusive), or an aloof father. The challenge of a young boy is to separate from his mother and be welcomed, as Edith Packer puts it, into his father’s club, to be dubbed a “male.” If this does not happen, problems arise and intensify (Kindle loc. 2497-2503).

Such a boy is often a sensitive, non-athletic child. As a result, he may be ridiculed by other boys, leaving him with no or few male friends. He may then become overinvolved with his mother (or sometimes girls of his own age, in a nonsexual way). He concludes, or more likely draws a subconscious emotional generalization, that he is not masculine and cannot become a man.

The boy is subsequently drawn erotically to other boys as an attempt to compensate for or repair his masculine deficit and attachment loss. He is often drawn to older boys or young men who are only too eager to welcome him to their club. But as one adult gay man said, it was not the sex so much that he wanted as to be held. And another said he just wanted a best friend (Nicolosi, pp. 111, 136). Loneliness, shame, and sadness are common emotions, profound grief and sadness, according to Nicolosi.

Janelle Hallman writes similarly about homosexual women and their relationships with their mothers (1, 2, 3, 4). Young girls tend to conclude that it is either unsafe, due to abuse, or undesirable, due to an absent, depressed, or alcoholic mother, to be a woman. Like boys, they tend to have no or few same-sex friends. Like boys, they often say lesbianism is not about the sex; they say, “I just want to be held, and I don’t want to be alone.”

Girls growing up, though, have a somewhat easier task than boys in the sense that they do not have to separate from their mothers. If there is attachment, Hallman interestingly suggests, this may explain the emotional differences between boys and girls. Psychologically healthy girls retain and readily show more than boys the emotional warmth and relationship-building skills of their mothers.

If there is no attachment, or a damaged attachment, feelings of abandonment and other problems result. The little girl may feel that there is something wrong with her, she may become afraid of or even hate men, and she can develop a subconscious hatred of herself. She is then drawn erotically to other women as compensation or reparation for the emptiness and loneliness in her psyche. The relationships begin quickly and just as quickly become highly emotionally dependent and possessive.

In a small percentage of cases, Nicolosi points out, an exception to the trauma theory is an infatuation of some adolescents that does not last long and is usually not further pursued after the initial infatuation’s ending.

What does the research say? Is homosexuality genetic, that is, inborn? No, this has been a settled issue for geneticists, which includes work by gay researchers, since at least the early 1990s (Nicolosi, pp. 42-43).

New Zealanders N. E. and B. K. Whitehead (1, 2, 3) have reviewed over 10,000 studies and publications to arrive at an emphatic no to the question of whether homosexuality is inborn.

In addition, many studies have been conducted comparing mental issues of homosexual men and women to heterosexuals in both the so-called tolerant western countries (Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, New Zealand) and the so-called less tolerant ones (UK, US, Australia).

Name the mental issue and gays unfortunately suffer it at least three to twenty times more than heterosexuals (1, 2, 3): three times the depression, six-and-a-half times the agoraphobia, twenty times the borderline personality disorder, five times the bipolar disorder, seven times the obsessive-compulsiveness . . . and so on. Suicidality and substance abuse are widespread and occur more frequently than for heterosexuals.

All numbers are the same in both tolerant and less tolerant countries, which effectively eliminate discrimination or social stigma as a causal influence.

Homosexuals have five times the number of partners as heterosexuals. Promiscuity, even after marriage, is rampant for both sexes—so common that activists have redefined it as normal and healthy (“extradyadic sex” and “open relationships,” they call it). Ability to stay together and maintain an intimate relationship is rare; at most the median for gays, depending on study, is three to five years, whereas in the “divorce-prone USA” (the Whiteheads’ words), median for married heterosexuals is twenty-five years.

Add to this: there are more ex-gays alive in the world today than gays. As gays get older, the tendency (frequently without therapeutic intervention) is to go straight and sometimes to marry and establish a traditional nuclear family, where, the research overwhelmingly shows, children do far better than in either single-parent or gay-parent homes (Nicolosi, chap. 11; Whiteheads, chap. 12; Regnerus; Allen).

Not a small percentage of gays of both sexes experience opposite sex attraction, which is now called “sexual fluidity.” All this term means is that attraction is an emotion and emotions have causes, which means emotions can change, either by oneself through introspection or with the help of a therapist or confidential friend.

Is something missing in gay relationships?

This brings us to the politics of sex, beginning with another pathway to homosexuality. The gay activists—“Stalinist gay activists” and “Stalinist feminists,” as lesbian Camille Paglia (pp. 67-92, excerpts here) calls them—appeal to young kids and adolescents to sell them on homosexuality as a healthy alternative lifestyle.

Leftist activists, after all, are abject subjectivists who see no differences between men and women or masculinity and femininity or, for that matter, men and boys—as in pedophilia, now euphemized as “intergenerational intimacy,” with the logical consequence of subjectivism that there should also be no difference between humans and animals (or between humans and trees) . . . in sex. See also Heyer.*

What the activists are doing is appealing to adolescents (and also to politically inclined adults) to adopt homosexuality as a defense value, to feel “cool” or “special” or to be a “celebrity” in the eyes of their peers for doing something different. A defense value is a pseudo-self-esteem, an attempt to fend off anxiety that makes us feel special in the eyes of significant others and superior to outsiders. Bragging is a sign that a defense value is operating, and the value can be rational or irrational. A criminal, for example, may brag, “I shoplift and never get caught.” See Nathaniel Branden, pp. 143-53, and Packer, loc. 2672-2702.**

Adolescents who fall for the activist line and say they are gay usually have not had any or substantial physical experiences. Perhaps this is why 98% of sixteen-year-olds who say they are gay a year later say they are not.

More on the politics of sex. From about 1970-73, gay activists harassed, intimidated, disrupted scientific conferences, and, in some cases, threatened members of the American Psychiatric Association to “persuade” them that homosexuality is not psychologically problematic. Because of the harassment and intimidation, only 54% of the membership in 1973 voted on the issue, 33% in favor of a resolution to normalize homosexuality. The activists won. (See also Whiteheads, chap. 12)

During the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s, the press, those exemplars of courage and independence, flip-flopped (Paglia’s words) to preach the party line of the activists. The press still preaches the party line, including the falsehood that “the gay gene has been found.” This demonstrates why we cannot get our science from the press (or from television or Hollywood).

Gay activists now control the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, and the Centers for Disease Control. These organizations determine what gets funded for research and what gets published.

Conclusions reached from research funded by non-activist sources, usually religious organizations and conducted by religious researchers, are not friendly to the gay activists. Hurling vile invective at the researchers is the modus operandi of Stalinist activists, including attempts to have researchers fired from their academic positions.

Vile invective is also what Dr. Nicolosi was victim of over the course of his career. Even his Wikipedia entry, as well as discussion of “reparative therapy” under the entry “conversion therapy,” has been repeatedly falsified. For a year, Nicolosi reported, he would change the falsehoods to the truth only to see almost immediately his corrections changed back to falsehoods by the activists. The falsehoods are still there today.***

Frail egos, adapting Paglia’s words, cannot tolerate differences or, especially, “that some people may not wish to be gay.” Criticism of activists, therefore, and disagreement with them are not allowed.

The activists’ ultimate goal is to ban all ideas and discussion that homosexuality may not be totally healthy. (Never mind the issues of HIV and AIDS.) The activists especially want to use government guns to ban psychotherapy for anyone seeking to examine unwanted same-sex attractions or behavior, and they have had some successes on this front (1, 2, 3, though the recent California bill has been withdrawn).

A final note. There are many reasons to feel proud of ourselves, for example, pride in our personal and professional accomplishments and pride in our rights and freedoms as individual human beings, but I don’t feel particularly proud (or not proud) of being a man or a white person or a heterosexual, or of having self-esteem. I don’t think about these issues in that way. To brag about them would be a pseudo self-esteem or defense value.

I believe the activists are doing a considerable disservice to gays for telling them they should feel proud of their sexual orientation, especially considering how many suffer serious psychological problems. Telling gays (or anyone) they should feel proud of their psychological problems does not enable them to feel proud. It likely intensifies the problems.

Over the several decades of my life I have enjoyed gay friends and gay co-workers. At one point, for about a year, two of my co-workers became after-work drinking buddies, that is, until I had to plead poverty and the need to start banking my hard-earned Scotch money. Sadly, these two friends have since died of AIDS.

I respect gays and their rights as consenting adults, and I feel sympathy for them. Are they happy?

As for the Stalinist activists . . . I feel an unrestrained anger. They deserve moral condemnation.

* The propaganda of the activists even promotes homosexual sex as superior to heterosexual intercourse, though a significant problem has to be that gays can only mimic intercourse, which many do, often in unhealthy ways. Lack of complementary gender differences, the “mystery of the opposite sex,” also has to be a problem. Romantic love? In our present culture, romantic love is rarely discussed—favorably or at all—for heterosexual relationships, let alone for homosexuals. As for today’s “women’s advocates,” I prefer to call them “toxically hostile feminists,” because they poison young girls’ minds by teaching them to distrust and hate men. For many of these in-your-face Stalinists, their motto is “who needs men?” They do not teach Betty-Friedan-style or Ayn-Rand-style that little girls psychologically need to think about and pursue productive careers. Paglia, not one to mince her words, makes this comment about the “lesbian dildo craze” of Stalinist feminists: “If penetration excites . . . why not go on to real penises?”

** And today, the activists appeal to young, pre-teen children, committing a vicious child abuse by encouraging hormone treatments of minors based entirely on a feeling of the child. (Have epistemology and psychology, not to mention morality, sunk this low?) Transgenderism, says psychiatrist Joseph Berger, is “emotional unhappiness.” Johns Hopkins University, a pioneer in transgender surgery, abandoned it in 1979, because sex was all the men seeking the surgery talked about (not family or children) and they were depressed before and still depressed after (1; 2, pp. 220-28). On detransition from transgenderism, see Heyer. Economist Walter Williams has facetiously declared himself a springbok trapped in a human body. Does that make him one? Reality is dispensable in the Stalinist activist world.

*** Nicolosi’s work is said by the activists (of course) to be “discredited” and “pseudoscientific.” The Popperian word “pseudoscientific” is used to denigrate claims of clinical psychologists who do not use the “experimental-positivistic-behavioristic” methodology (Maslow’s words) of logical positivism. The activists also falsely describe Nicolosi’s therapy as “conversion” and “reorientation,” neither term of which he endorsed. Nicolosi called his therapy “reparative,” to help his patients repair their gender wounds. Nicolosi, like all honest therapists, simply sought to help patients work out their problems in order to live a happier life. Unfortunately, Dr. Nicolosi passed away unexpectedly in March, 2017. (And the words “vile invective” are too kind to describe what activists have said about him since his passing.)