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Get rich quick: read Atlas Shrugged

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By David from Truth, Justice, and the American Way,cross-posted by MetaBlog

A recent Zogby poll found that 8.1 percent of American adults have read “Atlas Shrugged.”

“The poll of 1,239 adults was conducted by Zogby International between October 10 and October 14, 2007 at the request of Freestar Media, LLC. Among the poll’s 80 questions was ‘Have you everread the book Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand?’”

“Could reading Atlas Shrugged promote financial success? The poll found that 14% of those earning $100,000 a year or more have read Atlas Shrugged while only 2% percent of those earning less than $35,000 a year have read it. ” [it worked for me!]

More interesting tidbits:

About the same percentage of men and women have read Atlas Shrugged, 48.2% men vs. 51.8% women. However, respondents living in the east (11%), west (10%), and south (9%) are about twice as likely as those living in the central/Great Lakes region (5%) to say they have read the book. Among the poll’s other findings: 38.7% of passport holders have read it, as have 10.8% of people who visit YouTube.com a few times a month.

TruthJusticeAndTheAmericanWay?i=gVIiu7C TruthJusticeAndTheAmericanWay?i=qcUqtWc TruthJusticeAndTheAmericanWay?i=vlrpElc

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http://ObjectivismOnline.com/archives/003044.html

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Could reading Atlas Shrugged promote financial success? The poll found that 14% of those earning $100,000 a year or more have read Atlas Shrugged while only 2% percent of those earning less than $35,000 a year have read it.

This doesn´t imply anything. It´s just a correlation and it can´t prove causation. The correlation may be caused by something else, something like that people who read more earn more, or the causation may be the other way around, the financial success make people read AS. So the question whether could reading AS promote financial success is not answered at all.

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This doesn´t imply anything. It´s just a correlation and it can´t prove causation. The correlation may be caused by something else, something like that people who read more earn more, or the causation may be the other way around, the financial success make people read AS. So the question whether could reading AS promote financial success is not answered at all.

It might be possible to suspect some causation if they included the age when it was read. Still, it's neat to know. Applies a little to the "why aren't objectivists billionaires" thread

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It´s just a correlation and it can´t prove causation.

Objectivism provides both a practical and moral validation for material success, as well as the ethical tools for achieving it. This statistic is evidence that the philosophy works, along with other surveys I've seen which show that most people are introduced to Ayn Rand will before their prime earning years.

Furthermore, I can testify to the success of the philosophy personally. Practicing the virtues of rationality, productivity, justice, integrity, and honesty has been essential to my professional success.

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This doesn´t imply anything. It´s just a correlation and it can´t prove causation.
It isn't a conclusive proof, but it also can't be dismissed out of hand. A correlation is sufficient proof that there is a causal link, and in lieu of concrete evidence that the causal principle is some specific other thing, evidence from correlation does imply something. Though I agree that more research needs to be done before concluding that the causal relation is certain.
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In this particular correlation, I would guess that the causation is working mostly the other way: those who have higher incomes are more likely to read AS. More correctly, the demographic profiles that "lead" to higher average incomes also "leads" to higher AS readership.

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In this particular correlation, I would guess that the causation is working mostly the other way: those who have higher incomes are more likely to read AS.
This could be; the way to establish this is to do a longitudinal study of people who haven't yet read AS, and see what factor correlates most tightly with an increase of income. Dunno that anybody has the patience or resources to do the study to resolve this definitively.
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Objectivism provides both a practical and moral validation for material success, as well as the ethical tools for achieving it. This statistic is evidence that the philosophy works, along with other surveys I've seen which show that most people are introduced to Ayn Rand will before their prime earning years.

Furthermore, I can testify to the success of the philosophy personally. Practicing the virtues of rationality, productivity, justice, integrity, and honesty has been essential to my professional success.

I completely agree with your first sentence. However, this statistic is not evidence that the philosophy works. The correlation may be caused by the fact I mentioned before, people who read earn more money. If this is so then poll surveying percentage of those who read any book would come up with conclusion that reading the book is correlated with earning more money. It´s just an example and it might not be so, but it shows why we can´t equate correlation with causation. Furthermore poll you linked probably involves a sampling error caused by the nature of people who write to internet forums. In addition even if people were introduced to Objectivism in their teens that would not imply causation from the reason I mentioned above.

In addition, sample of one person who report causation of his behavior or success does not mean proof. I do not mean this as an offense, I think I am better of knowing Objectivism too, but I can´t say that this is an evidence that Objectivism in general cause people too be happy and so on. The reason is that I do not know how happy I would be without Objectivism and self-reports of motives of behavior are often flawed.

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The figure that really stands out is 38.7% of passport holders. Anyone have a take on that?

better educated (better chance of having read AS) = better career = more money = more opportunity for a vacation and/or travel due to business = need for a passport??? :P

Edited by K-Mac
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All percentages might be a huge overestimation. There is not written how was the poll made, it might be the case that people who read AS answered question and more of those who did not, didn´t respond to the question and were not counted in results. We don´t know how big might be this effect because there isn´t written the ratio of people who were asked to those who responded.

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better educated (better chance of having read AS) = better career = more money = more opportunity for a vacation and/or travel due to business = need for a passport??? :P

Seems to make sense. If passport holders are indeed the most educated and intellectual people in America, 38% among them is quite impressive!

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How would they do that? There is probably no way to achieve 100% response rate.

One of the techniques they might use is to collect statistical information on the selection bias of different groups, and then weight the response of groups accordingly. For example, if they are only able to reach 25% of cell-phone users and 50% of land-line users, and the two groups are equally distributed and mutually exclusive, the cell-phone users responses will have twice the weight. Of course reality is much more complicated and messy, which is why professional polling organizations are necessary for accurate results.

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One of the techniques they might use is to collect statistical information on the selection bias of different groups, and then weight the response of groups accordingly. For example, if they are only able to reach 25% of cell-phone users and 50% of land-line users, and the two groups are equally distributed and mutually exclusive, the cell-phone users responses will have twice the weight. Of course reality is much more complicated and messy, which is why professional polling organizations are necessary for accurate results.

The problem is that people who won´t respond would have probably nearly same in both cases.

So or so, we can´t know because they gave no information about, how they performed the poll. I don´t know whether the situation is same in USA, but when I read results of some polls made in Czech Republic they often exaggerate the importance, misinterpret data and overally the polls are poorly conducted.

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This doesn´t imply anything. It´s just a correlation and it can´t prove causation. The correlation may be caused by something else, something like that people who read more earn more, or the causation may be the other way around, the financial success make people read AS. So the question whether could reading AS promote financial success is not answered at all.

Exactly. People who make less than 35,000 a year probably don't have the time or motivation to read anything. When was the last time you met a blue-collar joe who was big into Philosophy, anyway?

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I completely agree with your first sentence. However, this statistic is not evidence that the philosophy works. The correlation may be caused by the fact I mentioned before, people who read earn more money. If this is so then poll surveying percentage of those who read any book would come up with conclusion that reading the book is correlated with earning more money. It´s just an example and it might not be so, but it shows why we can´t equate correlation with causation. Furthermore poll you linked probably involves a sampling error caused by the nature of people who write to internet forums. In addition even if people were introduced to Objectivism in their teens that would not imply causation from the reason I mentioned above.

Exactly what I was thinking when I read the original post. What would actually lead to some conclusion or causation would be to compare readers of longer, and preferably intellectually hefty novels, eg Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, etc. I wouldn't compare readers of AS with readers of other reportedly "influental" novels like Siddartha, which most teenagers can plow through over a weekend. Simply having the discipline to get through a 1200-page novel might show some aptitude for success completely independent of the philosophical content or personal inspiration in the novel.

I would like to see an exhaustive studies of the 100 most-read or most-influential books mapped to success, happiness and other measurements. I think this would go along way to empirically proving that ideas matter.

As far as the passports go, I think intellectual hunger and wanderlust tend to go hand-in-hand for most people. When you read about the world you want to see the world. I have never made more than $60,000 a year, but I have traveled extensively outside the US.

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  • 10 months later...

Zogby repeated the survey this year, and the number is unchanged (which one would expect, of course). Once again, they say that 8.1% of American adults have read AS. (+/- 2.7%). That would imply a lower end of the range at 5.4% (8.1 - 2.7). That works out to roughly 10 million people.

I'm not sure what the latest numbers are, but a while back I read that 5 million copies of Atlas had been sold. If that was world-wide, with the bulk in the U.S., and if an average of 2 or 3 people read each copy, we'd be back at the 10 million mark. So, the survey result is believable.

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I know that the philosophy works, because it works great for me, and it makes so much sense, but this poll really doesn't prove that: obviously, people with a (college) education( A) make more money( B ); they(A) also read more( C ); ==> people with a (college) education(A) read more of everything( C ), including Atlas Shrugged(C1)===> people who make more money because of their education read more Atlas Shrugged.

This conclusion isn't the same as C1 ===>B (meaning reading Atlas Shrugged causes wealth) or even C===>B(meaning reading in general causes wealth).

However, my logic relies on two things that are, I think you would agree, true more often than not (A==>B and B==>C),

and explains the corelation between C1 and B; if one would have to choose between my premise to explain this corelation, and yours (C1 ==> B ), they would probably pick mine, because we know a lot more about my premises. (in fact it would

be hypocritical of anyone who went to college or is there currently to dispute them, or at least the first one)

If you were to prove, however, that people reading Atlas Shrugged make more money than people who went to college, and read other philosophers(C2), then my logic would not explain: C1 causing more B than (A and C2), ( or even just that A and C1 is better than A and C2), so people would be left with your theory, as an explanation to that.( of course the reverse of ypur theory wold still be just as good an explanation)

Edited by Jake_Ellison
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