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Salon.com Article "..weirdness of Rand", why is her concept of

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The American media have been doing this for, by now, almost sixty years.  Rand is the classic case of the old adage "there's no such thing as bad publicity."  You'd think they'd have figured this out by now.

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"Rand's views on government and personal industry are polarizing, but she had another strongly held belief that pretty much everyone will agree was tapdancingly daffy: she insisted that all the scientific evidence outlining the dangers of smoking was just a big ol' pile of bullshit."


Does anyone have a source for this claim? The article links to Jennifer Burns's "Goddess of the Market," but I don't see her source.


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The claim there is different than the one in the book even! It says that she thought the statistics of the health risks were not reliable evidence. Perhaps she was rationalizing, perhaps not. Still, it's no where near saying all scientific evidence of smoking risk was bullshit... That's a failure of reading comprehension of the writer's own references!

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The source could well be The Passion of Ayn Rand.  P. 380, when her doctor told her to quit: "With a gesture of defiance Ayn took a long, deep puff from the slim cigarette in its gold and black holder.  'But why?' she demanded.  I've explained why statistics aren't proof.  You have to give me a rational explanation.  Why should I stop smoking?'" (Italics in the original) (You have to wonder where BB got the verbatim quotes.)


P. 383: "For many years questions had been raised by NBI students and at Ayn's own lecture appearances.  Each time she had lit a cigarette with a defiant flourish, then discussed the 'unscientific and irrational nature of the statistical evidence.'"

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"did Rand do herself a disservice by redefining what it means to be selfish? "


No. People do themselves a disservice by not really caring enough to read and understand what she wrote. I don't see why Rand or us objectivists should take any blame for that. Besides, Rand absolutely used the term "selfish" properly, and also explained exactly how she was using it. She also uses the term altruism properly, and used it according to how it was used by Comte, the guy who coined the term. Most people define selfishness in terms of the emotions associated with a person's decisions. In other words, that when you do what you desire to do, then it's selfish. But every action carries with it the emotions of the actor. Because the actor (the person doing the action) acts according to his values, and emotions are the automatic response of his values. With that understood, the term "selfish" defined in terms of personal emotions loses all real meaning.


Rand instead defined "selfishness" in a metaphysical way -- in a realistic way. Are you doing something good for yourself? Then it's "selfish." Are you doing something bad for yourself? Then it's not selfish, it's self-destructive. It has nothing to do with emotions.

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  • 2 months later...

Yet another anti Rand article in Salon.  They must have a department dedicated specifically to this woman.


A few highlights:

Rand’s impact has been widespread and deep. At the iceberg’s visible tip is the influence she’s had over major political figures who have shaped American society. In the 1950s, Ayn Rand read aloud drafts of what was later to become Atlas Shrugged to her “Collective,” Rand’s ironic nickname for her inner circle of young individualists, which included Alan Greenspan, who would serve as chairman of the Federal Reserve Board from 1987 to 2006.  ..




I have known several people, professionally and socially, whose lives have been changed by those close to them who became infatuated with Ayn Rand. A common theme is something like this: “My ex-husband wasn’t a bad guy until he started reading Ayn Rand. Then he became a completely selfish jerk who destroyed our family, and our children no longer even talk to him.” ...


While Rand often disparaged Soviet totalitarian collectivism, she had little to say about corporate totalitarian collectivism, as she conveniently neglected the reality that giant U.S. corporations, like the Soviet Union, do not exactly celebrate individualism, freedom, or courage. Rand was clever and hypocritical enough to know that you don’t get rich in the United States talking about compliance and conformity within corporate America. Rather, Rand gave lectures titled: “America’s Persecuted Minority: Big Business.” So, young careerist corporatists could embrace Rand’s self-styled “radical capitalism” and feel radical — radical without risk.  ...





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