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How would you spend $1,000,000 to spread Objectivism?

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If you had a $1,000,000 budget to spend within a year, how would you use it to help people discover Objectivism on the web?

There is no commitment or promise entailed in this post, but if have a good suggestion, don't be surprised if your idea is implemented, or someone contacts you for more details.

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This is an interesting question. Would one have to spend the money starting right away or could one get a year to spend it from whenever one started the spending even if that wasn't right away? If there was the option to wait before starting the year to spend the money, I would like to try to have a brief questionnaire that I circulated widely to determine the most effective things to spend the money on. Questions would ask things like 1) where people who support Objectivism got their introduction to Ayn Rand/Objectivism (to see what kinds of things have been working so far), 2) if anybody does not or formerly did not support Objectivism once they heard of it, then what are the things they have heard which they do or did find off putting about it and where did they hear these things (find out what the most common stumbling blocks for people are in order to target those things and also if many of them are misconceptions to find out the common source of spreading misconceptions and try to get ideas on how to plug those up), 3) For current non-supporters, what are the primary sources of their present beliefs - where did they hear them and/or based upon what data did they come up with them (maybe we could utilize or sort of butt into these popular sources people look to for important information to give ourselves the same opportunity these other popular ideas have), 4) for those opposed, is there anything they find comforting about their present views which they believe Objectivism would threaten and if so what specifically (people tend to not want to listen to things that scare them. If we can dispel the sense of threat, it is easier to get people to listen.)

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What is needed is not more people to read Atlas Shrugged. Supposedly millions have and I don't see a flood of Objectivist intellectuals overrunning the world. The more people read Atlas Shrugged, the bigger the government is getting. Figure that out!

What is needed are two things.

1. Young kids need an appreciation for logic. If they are attracted to logic, that things must be logical, that logical things are good, they will find Objectivism attractive. I don't mean a giant course on logical fallacies either. I mean examples across the board of logical thoughts and how one can get certainty from logic. One simple lesson from my father went a long way with me. I was shocked that you could get certainty by thinking logically. I think I was about 5 years old at the time.

2. You need more people to read OPAR and the Virtue of Selfishness. You can't get Objectivism from Atlas Shrugged. You get a story and a couple of messages. The meat and potatoes is in OPAR.

So, with $1 million, I would pay people $10 bucks to read either one and take an in depth test. The winner gets a prize of some kind, like a suit of Apple products. The same could be done for OPAR, logic, VOS.

3. I would also challenge people to put Objectivism in their own words instead of being clones in style. Clone the values, not the style or verbiage, or obscure terms.

Many people think of Atlas Shrugged as a gateway drug to Objectivism. Maybe logic is. Try it out. You could get a scientific measure of its effectiveness and determine where to invest your future dollars based on the results.

That's just one angle you could try. There are others.

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I am inclined to agree with writer1972 that the young are no longer taught logic.

I believe that any program wanting to bring a larger number of people toward Objectivism will need to start by teaching people how to think. Also, it will need to be focuses at least in part in getting the attention of people who are young enough to have not fully succumbed to government school indoctrination.

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If you had a $1,000,000 budget to spend within a year, how would you use it to help people discover Objectivism on the web?

There is no commitment or promise entailed in this post, but if have a good suggestion, don't be surprised if your idea is implemented, or someone contacts you for more details.

Hmm... I suppose my answer is less about helping people discover Objectivism "on the web," and more about helping people discover it overall, but I figure...

That Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead (as well as VoS, ItOE, and many other initials) have already been written; there exists projects to get these works into adult hands, and student hands. There exists education in logic, and new scholarly work to engage modern intellectuals. What I think is needed is still more art to help change the culture, and possibly art that engages younger minds.

So, two ideas occur, both in the guise of writing contests:

1) Screenplays.

2) Early-child to young-adult fiction.

I don't know that I would want to spend my million dollars in one year; that kind of money could fund an annual writing contest (or two) for a long time with a decent prize (or tier of prizes). Or, they could fund one such contest with a provocatively large potential winning for publicity's sake, or for later promotion for the winning entry (or to publish the fiction/produce a low budget version of the winning film?).

If I were also administering the contest, here is what I would look for: I would want to encourage people to produce children's fiction and/or screenplays which express distinctively Objectivist themes.

The winning entries would hopefully be high-caliber, able to compete in their respective marketplaces. It is through these entries-turned-products that I would hope to have reached "the culture," and also through the artists who would have been further exposed to Objectivism en route to producing their submissions, and who will create more throughout their lifetimes.

So yeah. That's my idea.

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When it comes to convincing people nothing talks louder than success, simply because demonstrating something explains it better than talking about it. So with a million dollars I’d:

1. Invest it/Start a business in something for which I’m passionate

2. Codify it’s rational principles in a value and mission statement

3. Hire the best minds as needed

4. Promote it internally and externally for it's ideas

5. Make no apologies for it’s virtues

6. Make money (ROI)

7. Let the example stand for those who see your success/happiness

8. Have an outreach program for those who want to learn more

Incidentally - I’ve done steps two through seven on a department and division level and have had success. Naturally I couldn’t promote Objectivism since it was not my business but using the values to create leadership principles then working with people on those principles can be very rewarding and the results amazingly.

Taking it to the corporate level then opening the discussion further would be tremendous.

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I'm going to try to stick specifically to the question as much as possible: how to help people discover Objectivism on the web. More specifically, I'll take "discovery" to mean becoming interested in and exploring Objectivism thoroughly. There are a variety of effective non-web solutions that I'm fond of, in particular the free copies of Rand's fiction being given to schools, because that's actually what got me interested in Objectivism.

To begin with, I wouldn't go with building on top of anything existing. Facebook may be good for like-minded people to talk, but is not a medium good for getting people to expand ideas. It's primarily a segmenting force that won't really lead to someone coming across *any* idea will have some preconceived notions. Twitter is essentially the same in terms of disseminating ideas. Reddit isn't too bad actually, and I do know people who are trying to liven up the Objectivism page there, but because it's a casual medium, won't really bring about discovery. But it is useful for newbies. Even if these methods were good, they don't need much money to operate or develop.

I do think a goal of teaching people to think is admirable and a great cause to support. I truly do believe thinking skills are fantastically neglected in most schools these days, even in college. Still, that in itself won't lead to serious consideration of Objectivism. I took reason and logic very seriously from a young age, but something still had to nudge me to discover Objectivism. I have two good friends who are very intelligent, but they are types to either outright condemn Objectivism due to some legit bad experiences (experiences mentioned to me that I didn't cause), or are not quite so inclined to explore something that has one or two core principles fundamentally opposed to their current philosophy. So, even if you do teach people how to think, what would you do next? Thinking of a web solution to discovery would focus on a late high school/college age group, when people are considering their explicit life philosophies. I think there are *enough* intelligent and rational people to make it worth focusing on the steps after teaching effective though.

The survey idea would be useful as information and should be done anyway, but the answers to those questions are at least generally known enough to warrant acting now/soon. Some replies in the "impotent debate tactics" thread I think are quite accurate as to why some people are repelled by any mention of Objectivism in my observation. A survey in specific areas/demographics would be useful, though, before implementing a plan, and can be done with minimal cost. For other solutions (probably for the ideas in the paragraphs below), it might not make any difference.

A contest appeals to me. They tend to work for getting people to become involved with anything. I think of how the DARPA grand challege to have an autonomous car complete a very long course had a cash prize of two million dollars. It sure got people to care, and it got me to discover that autonomous cars exist. Contests seem to work because they bring out curiosity. ARI already does their essay contests, so it would be useful to find out how participation has increased over time for that. A contest involving some kind of art is getting at a great way to harness the use of a lot of money. I say art in particular, because when it comes to philosophical ideas, art conveys ideas quite well with all the subtleties involved. Personally, I'd want to make an actual *good* production of AS, but a million dollars is quite low for any such thing to be done. Contests, though, can bring out some high quality art creations that can be treated as an art exhibit.

Right now, what I have in mind is a contest that is very different than the one presented already. That still applies to "on the web" because it'd involve an online implementation. I would suggest a visual art contest that would result in an actual art gallery, but that's too "physical" so to speak. The context is a web-focused one, so I want to stick to that. A video contest may work. 1st/2nd/3rd place cash prizes for the best entries that present heroism defined as the effort for the best one strives to achieve in life. A length of 30 minutes minimum to assure that directors need to develop a notable message. That may need to be further narrowed, but so far in my thinking, that's sufficient to get people motivated. As large a cash prize as possible is best, but money would still need to be leftover for getting the contest known, especially where budding directors can be found. A website devoted to the contest would work great, and not directly associated with any other organization, and worth devoting money towards. Once the contest ends, judges will look at aesthetic quality about how well heroism is displayed. Then, all entries would be treated as an online art gallery. The issue is, how many entries, and how to decide on which entries? Lastly, that gallery would be promoted as a site with a variety of films that portray an ideal in common: heroism. That very last step is what I think is the most difficult. Not the most expensive, but the trickiest to pull off.

All throughout that contest, the site would explain how heroism is really a big part of what Objectivism is about. A heroism that isn't inborn or a matter of luck. If someone sees that and understands politics are a very secondary to Objectivism, then I think they'd be very inclined to exploring Objectivism in whatever way they prefer. Most people seem to see Objectivism in terms of politics (even most Ayn Rand fans), so bringing focus on aesthetics would bring focus to Objectivism as a *philosophy* of striving for a great life first and foremost.

Yup, that was a long-winded post! But I'm thinking big.

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I imagine a free online university, something along the lines of Khan University with an Objectivist twist would be useful. A repository of courses, talks, Q and A regarding Objectivism and Philosophy, political Science and what not, which has no inconsistencies or conflicts with objectivism. A good deal is copyrighted, I suppose, but it could build over time. Free access would be key to having a wide spread effect.

A second idea would be a wikipedia style online dictionary with perhaps, a slightly more strict contribution standard. Objective definitions, genus, differentia....ahhh...so much clarity of thought.. especially if it was all hyperlinked and grouped by genus and differentia. Ill make the first contribution

Dictionary: dik-shu-nar-ee noun Genus-Reference Book, Differentia-language guides; Genus Cohorts-encyclopedia, almanac, etc; Species-translation dictionaries, thesaurus, etc : A book or list of words, provided in alphabetical order complete definitions, examples of use, genus and differentia, pronunciations, etymology, etc. used for clarity of conception in spoken or written communication.

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If you want to help people discover something new, I'm a big beliver in "show, don't tell."

I think we're at a point now where quite a few people have heard of Objectivism, but they have dismissed it for one reason or another. From the people I've spoken to, one big reason for that is they can't imagine how an Objectivist society would really work. Even if they're mostly supportive of the ideas, they imagine that it would be impractical.

Another important issue here is that we're fighting a serious headwind. Movies, books, TV, radio, news, schools and churches are filled with a steady flow of implicit arguments against Objectivism, and in favor of things like altruism.

The most effective solutions are going to be offline, but I think we can use online mechanisms as a stepping stone.

What are the most effective ways to persuade people to adopt a new way of looking at the world? Ultimately, I think it has to be by example. Short of that, in the online space, what I think we need is:

1. A series of professional videos about putting Objectivism to work in your daily life, with complementary written materials that provide additional details

2. Encourage, collect and distribute video, audio and written work from Objectivists that talks about how Objectivism has helped them

3. Encourage authors, educators, writers, producers and directors to include Objectivist ideas in their work

4. One or more regular online TV shows and written columns that put an Objectivist spin on current events

5. Provide links, reviews and other related information about Objectivist-owned businesses, products and services

"Encouragement" could take the form of providing a platform for visibility, or contests, or sponsorship.

The online implementation would be something that brings these ideas together in one place. Part of the concept here is to move the discussion steadily away from theory and toward practice. Don't tell people how things should work; show them things that are working.

Regardless of what happens with the OP, I'd love to be a part of something like this.

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What is needed is not more people to read Atlas Shrugged. Supposedly millions have and I don't see a flood of Objectivist intellectuals overrunning the world. The more people read Atlas Shrugged, the bigger the government is getting. Figure that out!

Probably because far more people have read and are influenced by material promoting bad ideas than there are people that have read Objectivist material.

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I imagine a free online university, something along the lines of Khan University with an Objectivist twist would be useful. A repository of courses, talks, Q and A regarding Objectivism and Philosophy, political Science and what not, which has no inconsistencies or conflicts with objectivism. A good deal is copyrighted, I suppose, but it could build over time. Free access would be key to having a wide spread effect.

I like this suggestion the best. What would benefit Objectivism the most is making all of Rand's writings and writings of her students and commentators available online in one easily accessible place. This should be used to start an Academy where professors can organize courses (charge per course, like the Mises Academy), where anyone who wants to can easily sign up and learn about Objectivism, interacting with the teachers and staff. There should be a website with daily publications and postings. There should be scholarly journals publishing papers every few months. There should be money used to aid scholars in doing research, writing books, or in transcribing the vast archive of taped lecture series and CDs to book format. There should be organized conferences and classes given a few times a year, where anyone can attend. I'm actually surprised that this is not the case, although hopefully the new Ayn Rand Campus site will be like this. Edited by 2046
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David, go for the youngest,

Objectivism was itroduced, and spread, through Ayn Rand's works of fiction. Her philosophy emphasizes the integrity of thought and action (of spirit and physical body) and therefore she chose to explain it through example. Those series of examples constitute her fiction works - and leave less room to misunderstandings than her non-fiction works alone (which pre-require the reading of her fiction first).

Most of her fiction works, and all of her major fiction works, feature a good many pages describing the characters' childhood, youth and development. That development is re-enacted as adults as they resolve some conflict and "evolve" towards the end of the drama.

Young very clever children are attacked very early by a depressing demotivating process of "formal education", but their minds are still spongiform enough to understand more than one "comfort zone" point of view - as they don't still need that comfort and social acceptance is still not *that* vital to them. They are philosophical "virgins" if you fancy.

I say very clever for two reasons. The first being that the literally above-average children can identify better with a philosophy that defends the exceptional minority - and are more susceptible to destruction by the formal education system. The second being that children are inherently more intellectual (and thus free their intelligence potential) than older people. Children are curious and live to enjoy the day's discoveries as an end in itself. A small kid interested in dinosaurs, insects, planes, history, etc, is "normal" or "ok". An adult that is interested in such things, is, unless a distinguished well paid professional, a geek, a "dispersed" person, and plain inexcusable (by society) for wasting society's (or tribe's or family's) time and resources instead of procreating and dying as genes, church, state, and "plain common sense" would command.

The philosophy of Ayn Rand validates intellectual curiosity, and exemplifies its eventual success in the characters' stories.

Young children are for all practical purposes, the property of their parents. But they are also influenced against their parents' will by school and media. It would be a good, moral and productive thing to allow children to chose and select their own input.

Objectivism can gain a good foothold in current and future generations by appealing to "Children Liberation" which must necessarily begin with exceptional children, such as high IQ or high performance kids. Some are asperger-like, others are extroverted or self-assured and are filing for their early emancipation at court. Both should be helped and both actually need help because of their lack of rights, or status similar to servants (dependents).

Humans are still born in bondage.

How to reach them? By utterly reshaping society or/and the court rooms until children are able to read what they desire, for as long as they desire even if it overlaps with their "nap", "sports" "socializing" or worse "formal education homework" time.

That said, a lot of that money could go to attorneys, and-or to whatever sites 5 to 10 year olds frequent. Content production of hero stories with proper moral messages should also help, and it's as simple as identifying good unpublished or under-published authors and give them the life-blood they need to achieve their potential.

references, and examples,

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Advice-Clever-Children-Celia-Green/dp/0953677222

http://es.scribd.com/doc/48901608/Advice-to-Clever-Children-Celia-Green

Regards,

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I have no specific ideas besides the myriad ways Objectivists currently try to spread Rand's ideas (friends, family, ARI, schools, universities, legal battles) but generally speaking -- I think resources for introducing her ideas to people should be targeted at young people who have less cultural muck to shed, and then old people who have already accepted Rand's ideas but need support, such as legal support, in fighting to defend those ideas against the rest of the world.

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then old people who have already accepted Rand's ideas but need support, such as legal support, in fighting to defend those ideas against the rest of the world

Indeed! Including respect-deserving veterans who never chose to wear any label, but share and admire Ayn Rand's opera, and complement her work. An example of such a person in need of real assitance would be Celia Green.

I am not the perfect messenger, and you may shoot down my ideas, but judge Celia Green's work and its relationship with Objectivism yourselves!

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I'd never heard of her

Indeed! Including respect-deserving veterans who never chose to wear any label, but share and admire Ayn Rand's opera, and complement her work. An example of such a person in need of real assitance would be Celia Green.

I am not the perfect messenger, and you may shoot down my ideas, but judge Celia Green's work and its relationship with Objectivism yourselves!

I'd never heard of her before your post, but in perusing her website I'm a bit put off. She seems to blame quite a bit on her father, early school life, and the world at large for someone her age. I can see the cross over of her views with Objectivism but they do seem to seriously conflict in a number of ways.

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I imagine a free online university, something along the lines of Khan University with an Objectivist twist would be useful. A repository of courses, talks, Q and A regarding Objectivism and Philosophy, political Science and what not, which has no inconsistencies or conflicts with objectivism. A good deal is copyrighted, I suppose, but it could build over time. Free access would be key to having a wide spread effect.

A second idea would be a wikipedia style online dictionary with perhaps, a slightly more strict contribution standard. Objective definitions, genus, differentia....ahhh...so much clarity of thought.. especially if it was all hyperlinked and grouped by genus and differentia. Ill make the first contribution

Dictionary: dik-shu-nar-ee noun Genus-Reference Book, Differentia-language guides; Genus Cohorts-encyclopedia, almanac, etc; Species-translation dictionaries, thesaurus, etc : A book or list of words, provided in alphabetical order complete definitions, examples of use, genus and differentia, pronunciations, etymology, etc. used for clarity of conception in spoken or written communication.

Is there any particularly substantial difference between your first idea and the Ayn Rand Campus program that has just opened on the ARI site today?

As for the dictionary, I've been planning to do petty much exactly that for a while once I finish college. :)

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I like this suggestion the best. What would benefit Objectivism the most is making all of Rand's writings and writings of her students and commentators available online in one easily accessible place. This should be used to start an Academy where professors can organize courses (charge per course, like the Mises Academy), where anyone who wants to can easily sign up and learn about Objectivism, interacting with the teachers and staff.

That's great and all, but wouldn't you say that appeals only to people who have already decided to explore Objectivism thoroughly? It would be far more beneficial to focus on getting people interested in the first place. Once people are interested, learning resources can serve their function. In general, how to spread ideas involves in chronological order: 1) getting people to generally care about the most fundamental principle to the philosophy (in this case, reason) 2) getting people to pay attention in a positive way towards a philosophy (as I've observed, that's usually art, or in other cases, outright propaganda) 3) getting people to explore in-depth the specifics of a philosophy (in this case, diving into elaborations made by Rand and others). I'm focusing on 2, you're focusing on 3, others are focusing on 1.

Edited by Eiuol
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That's great and all, but wouldn't you say that appeals only to people who have already decided to explore Objectivism thoroughly? It would be far more beneficial to focus on getting people interested in the first place. Once people are interested, learning resources can serve their function. In general, how to spread ideas involves in chronological order: 1) getting people to generally care about the most fundamental principle to the philosophy (in this case, reason) 2) getting people to pay attention in a positive way towards a philosophy (as I've observed, that's usually art, or in other cases, outright propaganda) 3) getting people to explore in-depth the specifics of a philosophy (in this case, diving into elaborations made by Rand and others). I'm focusing on 2, you're focusing on 3, others are focusing on 1.

Yeah, that's a good point. I don't know what you can really do about 1, without at the same time involving 2 and 3. Ayn Rand's books pretty much take care of 2 (this is how most people become interested in these ideas in the first place), and so people who are searching on the internet for Ayn Rand's philosophy have pretty much already done 1 and 2 and it would seem to me that 3 would be the best area to focus on. (Of course 3 can be broken up into beginning, intermediate, and expert levels.)

Plus, this would have the added advantage of getting people interested in exploring the in-depth specifics of Rand's philosophy in the first place, which I see as a huge lacking area in itself. Usually people that read Rand move on to other philosophers who seem to have more in-depth support. Having such resources will go a long way to show that Rand is not a superficial thinker and that there are many nuanced and often misunderstood or not-well-known points about her philosophy that makes it a viable alternative to some of its competitiors out there.

Edited by 2046
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Is there any particularly substantial difference between your first idea and the Ayn Rand Campus program that has just opened on the ARI site today?

As for the dictionary, I've been planning to do petty much exactly that for a while once I finish college. :)

I'm not familiar with it. If they're doing that, then great!

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I had another idea.

Satire is highly effective and underused except by the political left(John Stewert, Colbert, etc) I realize this would be personality dependent and require a team of extremely skilled comedic writers to not fail miserably, but a newscast making fun of the idiocy on both sides might be a good way to affect some change...maybe it wouldn't be that hard...there's a lot of low hanging fruit in current leftist economic policies. No idea what kind of production value a million bucks buys but excellent writing and acting talent can make up for a lot.

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I suppose more exposition would be best. Buying ad space at google and, maybe tuning it toward younger audiences triggered by comments on emails or searches on existential subjects. Just like the Christians do with those viral "is Jesus really God?" ads but less deceptive.

I'd never heard of her

I'd never heard of her before your post, but in perusing her website I'm a bit put off. She seems to blame quite a bit on her father, early school life, and the world at large for someonate her age. I can see the cross over of her views with Objectivism but they do seem to seriously conflict in a number of ways.

Yes you are correct, and by the way her books put off even her fans. She's not an Objectivist, but she's part of that same intellectual minority Objectivists endure. She's read Ayn Rand and far from criticizing her along with about every other philosopher in history, she quotes her and recommends her. If Objectivism is ever to reach the farthest corners of Earth, it should certainly reach England before during the process.

Her remarks on the potential of children and the crushing weigh of "tribal" society suggests actual hope for the former if the latter is removed.

I had another idea.

Satire is highly effective and underused except by the political left(John Stewert, Colbert, etc) I realize this would be personality dependent and require a team of extremely skilled comedic writers to not fail miserably, but a newscast making fun of the idiocy on both sides might be a good way to affect some change...maybe it wouldn't be that hard...there's a lot of low hanging fruit in current leftist economic policies. No idea what kind of production value a million bucks buys but excellent writing and acting talent can make up for a lot.

Mike Judge and company do just that. Beavis and Butthead show idiocy in gestation. King of the Hill shows human and government idiocy at the municipal level, and Idiocracy at the national one. and unlike Celia Green's and Fabian Tassano's Mediocracy, Mike Judge is somewhat popular.

Edited by volco
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A second idea would be a wikipedia style online dictionary with perhaps, a slightly more strict contribution standard. Objective definitions, genus, differentia....ahhh...so much clarity of thought.. especially if it was all hyperlinked and grouped by genus and differentia. Ill make the first contribution

You should consider contributing to the Objectivism Wiki: http://wiki.objectivismonline.net

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