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Completely outnumbered by The Idiots

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By sheer numbers alone The Idiots cannot be dealt with.  The Rational could try speaking with them one at a time... but it becomes so apparent that such is fruitless and a waste of a valuable virtuous life.... for every conclusive rational sentence offered in response, volumes of inane babble, and for every one Idiot there seems to be 1000 others.

 

That is why so many of the SO FEW simply walk away, and go silent... to live their lives and not bother voicing the truth.

 

 

Is this an option?  Is it in the long term self-interest of a rational being?  or just an excuse for avoiding a seemingly impossible task?

 

 

This goes out to the many rational and virtuous members of this forum who I note have gone very silent recently, as well as likely countless others who have gone silent before I ever encountered them here.

Edited by StrictlyLogical
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I think you've just got to decide how much of the value of posting comes from clarifying your thinking and how much comes from spreading the right ideas to people. If you get a lot of value from the latter, as I do, then you have to decide if the person to whom you're responding is being honest or not. That, to me, is the more difficult question to answer. I think a lot of what I would have previously chalked up to dishonesty is really just a result of rationalism.

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You don't need unanimous or even majority agreement to move events.  You have to work your influence in particular and deliberate ways, though, and to do this in turn you have to identify who's worth persuading.

 

I still post here on OO with some regularity.  Does that exclude me from the rational and virtuous?  Do you exclude everybody who contributes to this thread?

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Personally, I don't plan on ever going silent, here or anywhere. What's the point of that? It's not too difficult to say a couple choice comments, in a whole slew of contexts. If I'm hitting a bunch of proverbial walls with non-Objectivists and it's really bugging me, I'll take a break or find some new people.

In person, the chances of finding enough like-minded or open-minded people to allow yourself to feel good about humanity, is slim. But online, you've got global tech companies providing you with free tools to find those people, and to keep the others away.

And, it's really not so bad as all that. People compartmentalize, and are mostly still civilized. It takes forever to figure out new ideas, even when people really have interest in them. So, cut yourself a break and focus on all the positive stuff. You'll probably be dead before anything catastrophic happens anyway!

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Hard to Kill (1990)
We're outgunned, and undermanned. But you know sumpin'? We're gonna win. You know why? Superior attitude. Superior state of mind.

 

The Ayn Rand Letter

[W]e have an indestructible weapon and an invincible ally (if we learn how to use them): reason and reality.

 

I've had Alex Epstein's talk about oil running in the truck for the last week. Oil sat, largely unused, often an annoyance to accessing other natural resources until the 1900's. Today, it is an integral part of our lives in so many ways Alex couldn't list them all..

 

Reason and reality are two natural resources. Like any natural resource, what we can do with them has to be discovered. Miss Rand showed us what one person was capable of with a self-developed proficiency with them.

 

Yeah, we may be completely outnumbered by the idiots, but think about it - would you want that weapon and ally in the service of your enemies?

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By sheer numbers alone The Idiots cannot be dealt with.  ...   ...

That is why so many of the SO FEW simply walk away,...  ...

Is this an option?  Is it in the long term self-interest  ...  ...

This goes out to the many rational and virtuous members of this forum  ...   ...

Did you mean your post to be about the forum, or about life in general?

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You should approach this forum like you approach everything: by keeping in mind what's in it for you.

 

I learn a lot here, and it helps me in my life. End of story.

 

Trying to draw any deeper meaning out of a BS session like the one here is folly.

 

Oh, and the real world is not an Ayn Rand novel: 1000:1 idiots to rational people is generous. More like 100,000:1 in my experience. Now does that have implications about the foundational generalized observations on human nature we've used to envision a perfect society? Different thread entirely...

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Did you mean your post to be about the forum, or about life in general?

 

It is a general question about participating in intellectual discourse generally.  Of course as a general question it applies to all areas and would apply also to this or any forum.

 

 

Is silence an option i.e. is it consistent (or inconsistent) with rational self-interest? I realize it is contextual, I asked the question here because many people who have gone silent on this forum are rational-egoists, and they are the ones who would have the insight I am looking for.

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You don't need unanimous or even majority agreement to move events.  You have to work your influence in particular and deliberate ways, though, and to do this in turn you have to identify who's worth persuading.

 

I still post here on OO with some regularity.  Does that exclude me from the rational and virtuous?  Do you exclude everybody who contributes to this thread?

 

I stated: "This goes out to the many rational and virtuous members of this forum who I note have gone very silent recently..."

 

I did not mean to imply ALL of the many rational and virtuous members had gone silent, only that my question was directed to those many rational and virtuous members who had.

 

 

To paraphrase more succinctly:  "This goes out to the Y who I note have Z" does not logically imply "All Y have Z" 

 

(where Y is "many rational and virtuous members" and where Z is "gone very silent recently")

 

 

Thus the answers to your questions the first and the second respectively are: No and No.

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What do you mean by "going silent"?

If you had previously been a vocal advocate for rational egoism, let's assume it was because you understand all about it and honesty believed it to be "the way." Now, though, you are tired of being vocal. Does that change your core understanding and belief? Will your life stop reflecting and exemplifying rational egoism? If your answer is "no," how could you ever go silent about it, when your existence itself communicates the truth?

Otherwise, I echo the point already made: if you don't have interest in something, it doesn't matter if The End is imminent, you ain't gonna do it.

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Is silence an option i.e. is it consistent (or inconsistent) with rational self-interest? I realize it is contextual, I asked the question here because many people who have gone silent on this forum are rational-egoists, and they are the ones who would have the insight I am looking for.

One simple reason that a person "went silent", whoever it may be, is that forums aren't as popular as they used to be.

 

Even if that's not an issue, if you want to know about discourse, dealing with stupidity or irrationality is not something to suffer through. Decide to stop engaging if the person is unwilling to listen or is combative. That's all you can do. Spend more time with people who you care about. If you have to find reasons to continue talking, and a lot of justifications, you're probably wasting your time - even if the person is decent and not irrational per se.

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By sheer numbers alone The Idiots cannot be dealt with. ...

I see two aspects in your question, and I'm not sure which one is your focus: Objectivists talking to the world; or, Objectivists discussing intellectual topics with each other? [i'm using "Objectivists" in it's broadest meaning. Think of it as "Ayn Rand fans", if you will]

 

Talking to the world: It's really hard to convince people past a certain age. A chance meeting with someone who seems to take ideas seriously is one thing, but how to address larger numbers? One could pursue it as a career -- via a think tank or a place like ARI or IJ. I suppose if you're a brave soul, you could hang out some place where thoughtful opposition argue their position, and see if they will let you challenge them. That commitment of time won't work for most people.

 

My attitude is that some man-made aspects of reality might as well be metaphysical for my context of action, across my life. If I see a possible shift toward positive or negative, it is like predicting good or bad weather. 

 

People living in the U.S. have a lot of opportunities to have an interesting and fulfilling life. Sure it could be much better if only.... XYZ. But, if XYZ is not going to change during my lifetime, it might as well be metaphysical. If I was going to be a software-programmer, or a doctor, or a businessman, or a musician, or a cook, or an author in my ideal world, chances are I can be so in this real world too. Some careers may be nixed completely due to high levels of government involvement; but, there are still a lot of good options left. One can choose well, even while not choosing the hypothetical ideal. Perhaps taxes are a pain, but if my father and grandfather could be happy with less material wealth than I own, I know I can be so too... even if I deserve more.

 

 I think most Objectivists end up somewhere around this conclusion. So, they focus on what they want to do with their lives, within the context they find around them and judge to be relatively permanent across their life-time.

 

 

Talking to each other: Objectivists are at various stages of integrating their philosophy. They might be really early, with lots of questions. Or they might be past asking all the most frequent questions. The forums grew rapidly when they were new, and as people were checking them out. Since philosophy is just the background knowledge about life, at some point one moves on to focus on the nitty-gritty of living life and trying to make the most of it. At that point, discussions and interactions about specific values seem more important than another discussion on abstract philosophy (or, whether it is moral to bomb downtown Tehran). Some might still have an interest in discussing application of philosophy to current events. But, others might find it more interesting to discuss topics relating to their career, or to a hobby. In an area like that, one will usually encounter rationality from non-Objectivists who think straight about that topic, and who can teach you a thing or two, even if it would be pointless arguing with them about  philosophy.

 

Forums also played a social role. Many prior members migrated to Facebook etc. and lots of the initial friendships had started on forums.  Some still have philosophical discussions of FB, but there is also specialization. A few might be interested in economics, another set on paleo-diets, another on a certain type of exercise regime, another set on medicine, some with interests on some particular country. If people are pretty much past questioning their philosophy, is there much value in hanging out and discussing it? Worse, is there any point arguing the same point that someone argued a year ago, to your satisfaction? I think this is an optional value to some people who enjoy it, but definitely not to most. 

 

Compared to FB, forums are a much better format to discuss intellectual issues in depth. Long-form seems to be shrinking; but I think there must be enough people who miss it. I think there is probably a space that is not being filled by either today's forums or by FB: a space for Objectivists who are interested in slightly more long-form intellectual exchange, but have no interest in re-hashing the nitty gritty of their philosophy either with newbies or with opposing voices. 

 

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On a more technical level, if the term idiot is to represent the irrational, then there may be some contention here. A book on economics I had read, referenced that in terms of check writing and usage of credit cards, less than 10% engaged in fraudulent behavior, citing that much more than that would make such transactions impractical and actually implausible in today's world.. (It would likely require quite a bit of searching to relocate this tidbit.)

 

Eiuol, states that forums are not as popular as they used to be. This makes me ponder balkanization. Forums represent groups focused around a central theme, while balkanization represents continued fragmentation into smaller regions (blogs?) or states pitted against one another.

 

Consequently "Completely Outnumbered by Idiots" suggests a "we vs. them" mentality where the a relatively small core of "Objectivists" are completely outnumbered by the "Irrational". Based on my opening paragraph, I do not think this to be the case.

 

Edited: previous, added.

sNerd, we almost hit the "send" key simultaneously. Your post is longer, I'll cede you started first. :)

(albeit, I still don't see the lure of Facebook for intellectual pursuit.)

Edited by dream_weaver
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Eiuol, states that forums are not as popular as they used to be. This makes me ponder balkanization. ...

Balkanization is a good analogy (though virtual "geography" allows one to be in multiple little city-states all at the same time). Why not though? If one is in a place with lots of Ayn Rand fans, one will like some and not like others. One will find some of value while others detract. It seems natural to create a smaller group and include only people whom you value. 

Edited by softwareNerd
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Am I the only one astonished by how small this community is? These days there are upwards of ~1B people on the internet, yet there are, by my counting, approximately 2 internet forums solely dedicated to Ayn Rand's ideas, and this one is clearly the more "serious" of the two.

 

Really? Is what we talk about really that esoteric?

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Thanks all for your various answers. 

 

As with a great many other things "going silent" can be in a person's rational self interest in the proper context (no surprise there)... although I would have loved to see a silent reader pipe up about this, the more active members have expressed this valid truth.

 

As for being outnumbered, it is all too apparently true.  It is sad, but it is essentially a "metaphysical" truth ... during my lifetime anyway.

 

Thinking is hard work, keep it up.

 

Cheers!

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Our forum has had a Facebook page quite a while. We really have not used it much. We post a link to a forum thread every week or so, but not much else. Many people who were members have "liked" that FB page. If Mr. Silent won't come to the forum, perhaps the forum has to go to Mr. Silent... and the odds are that he is on FB. 

 

StrictlyLogical (and anyone else, of course),... if you have some ideas in that direction, or any other ideas about how to interest such people, without spamming them with too much stuff, those will be welcome. 

 

If there some ideas, then the next step would be to have someone volunteer to run with them and see if they work. 

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