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PragerU and the Objective Standard Institute

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I see Dennis Prager is a co-founder listed in conjunction with PragerU. One of the commenters on the video appears to have alluded to the recent appearance of Craig Biddle on Dennis' Fireside Chat.

I was going to cite it here, but I don't see it now.

It is raising a few eyebrows on the PragerU side.

Edited by dream_weaver
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I saw it now. I assume some Prager people will have to integrate the fact that they are supporting an atheist with the fact that  "Even though atheists have a bad record".

It was very politically correct, no mention of selfishness or knowledge without God.

It's nice that it was published and some may be swayed. But I see a trojan horse in this project. I hope it belongs to Objectivism.

But yes, provided by a generous donation from "The Objective Standard Institute". Who knows, the next ally of Objectivism may be the church of Scientology. They believe in Capitalism too and they may sway some people too.

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1 hour ago, dream_weaver said:

I see Dennis Prager is a co-founder listed in conjunction with PragerU. One of the commenters on the video appears to have alluded to the recent appearance of Craig Biddle on Dennis' Fireside Chat.

I was going to cite it here, but I don't see it now.

It is raising a few eyebrows on the PragerU side.

 

Here it is:

https://youtu.be/vReb-quiAsY

 

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3 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

But I see a trojan horse in this project. I hope it belongs to Objectivism.

I mean, I like Gloria Alvarez from what I've seen of her, and as far as the video itself, it's not so bad. But I get the sense that this is watered-down, not because Alvarez or the Objectivist Standard don't get it, but because it's on PragerU. Reason seems to be treated as a side issue, as if the point of Rand is justifying capitalism. 

Unfortunately, I don't think so. PragerU is more of a bastion for conservatism with mostly videos with bad intellectual quality. The audience is for those who support traditionalism (and anyone who leans towards genuine individualism I think is being duped). It's the wrong platform.

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6 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

It's nice that it was published and some may be swayed. But I see a trojan horse in this project. I hope it belongs to Objectivism.

Recently an acquaintance posted a plug for a move to watch for the season of lent: Chocolat (2000). The quip offered for watching it was a passage from the sermon offered by young priest Pere Henri.

“…we can’t go round measuring our goodness by what we don’t do, by what we deny ourselves, what we resist, and who we exclude. I think we’ve got to measure goodness by what we embrace, what we create, and who we include."

Trojan horse is a poetic conjecture. Consider that poetry through another poetic passage. "I have foreshortened the usual course of history . . ." In the same paragraph are the words "learn to stand at reverent attention when you face the achievements of man's mind."

PragerU attracts many a mindset. Not every mindset enamored with a PragerU podcast is searching for "conservatism, with a bad intellectual quality". Can you put your finger on exactly what enamored you with the tenets of Objectivism?

I didn't come looking for Objectivism until later, . . . after encountering it, and recognizing that it resonated with something deeper in my core, . . . my 'sense of life', if you will. The radio station that carried the message wasn't transmitting a 'Trojan horse.' The radio station was transmitting a show that turned a profit, that the advertising agents could promote to businesses an audience that was intelligent and would buy their products, provided that their products were aimed at a rational audience.

If the only audience for Objectivism were Objectivists, the cart has truly been set before the horse. Such would be a denial of John Locke's identification of tabula-rasa from the outset.

 

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Should one Object to a Nazi organization carrying that video? Or a Pedophilia advocacy group include Rand in their promotionals? Or even a "Leftist" Libertarian group. The same arguments for exposure exist there too.

The fact is Rand is anti religion. It will be interesting to see how PragerU spins that in to their teachings.

There is a difference in randomly picking out a book in a library vs. one that was suggested by someone with a philosophy known to you. Inevitably there will be some associations made with the person who suggested it.

One could argue "at least you saw the book", and in that sense you are correct. It is good for exposure. If this is, in fact, a win win situation, there is no objection. Prager gets help with arguing for Capitalism and Objectivism gets known to more people. 

Hopefully the minds that are hungry for a philosophy that actually explains things in a way that are confirmable and don't contradict themselves, would be hooked on Objectivism like we were.

But will Prager encourage or prevent people from delving into Objectivism?

For those who are desperately trying to figure life out, and Prager looks good, they will only take the "Capitalism is good" and never look at the rest because Objectivism will be have to be shown to be poison. In that situation Rand will be a tainted figure and her ideas far more suspect than they should be.

Time will tell how many embraced Objectivism vs. how many were prevented from embracing it.

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The video doesn't use the word "selfishness" but it communicates Rand's stance against "sacrifice" of self to others and others to self, and it argues for "personal profit." I don't see this a trying to dupe people, it's trying to meet an audience at their level of conceptual development. They aren't Objectivists yet, so they probably won't understand Rand's idea of "selfishness" without reading her long essay on it. If you can't properly convey an idea in a brief intro, it might be best to leave it for later.

As for Rand's atheism, I don't think it's important to introduce her with her negative beliefs. Also, PragerU isn't primarily a religious group.

12 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

But will Prager encourage or prevent people from delving into Objectivism?

He's already encouraging them. That's what the video is about. It's basically a pitch for reading her novels.

17 hours ago, Eiuol said:

Reason seems to be treated as a side issue, as if the point of Rand is justifying capitalism.

But that is the point of Rand. It's one of many points she made, but she was a radical for capitalism.

12 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

For those who are desperately trying to figure life out, and Prager looks good, they will only take the "Capitalism is good" and never look at the rest because Objectivism will be have to be shown to be poison. In that situation Rand will be a tainted figure and her ideas far more suspect than they should be.

If Prager or PragerU starts labelling Objectivism "poison" then you might have a point. But we shouldn't stop spreading the message because random people in the crowd will try to cancel us. And people have been trying to taint Rand for a long time, that's no reason to avoid PragerU. It's a reason to go in there and present the positive case.

Edited by MisterSwig
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18 hours ago, dream_weaver said:

PragerU attracts many a mindset. Not every mindset enamored with a PragerU podcast is searching for "conservatism, with a bad intellectual quality".

Have you actually looked at the videos there? I don't know how you could visit the site and come back saying that the intellectual quality of the videos are good, or that there isn't a clear conservative stance in an improperly biased way. It doesn't attract high quality mindsets. It doesn't attract people interested in intellectual discussion. It doesn't attract people interested in a variety of outlooks to understand the world. I don't just mean they are wrong, I mean they give bad arguments, don't argue in good faith, or water things down so much that you only get a caricature. You might find the occasional decent video, but that's only after sorting through a huge amount of trash.

In other words, there is little intellectual value to PragerU for anyone interested in ideas. 

4 hours ago, MisterSwig said:

I don't see this a trying to dupe people, it's trying to meet an audience at their level of conceptual development.

What is the audience then, and why is it the audience that we should care about?

4 hours ago, MisterSwig said:

It's basically a pitch for reading her novels.

What makes you think so? Should we think that PragerU has editorial control over the video? Because I was judging by what Objectivists would try to convey in such a video. If PragerU wants to encourage people to read the novels, then the video is basically being made by Prager himself - he just wants you to read the capitalism parts and forget the rest. That would explain why we don't hear the word selfish, why we don't hear about the world being perceivable and directly graspable. Things like that. It was forced to be watered down.

4 hours ago, MisterSwig said:

But that is the point of Rand. It's one of many points she made, but she was a radical for capitalism.

She often emphasized that she was first and foremost an advocate of reason. If you say that capitalism is the point of Rand, that sounds like saying her philosophy is based on capitalism. But that's a derivative view, not her primary value or biggest importance of her philosophy. 

4 hours ago, MisterSwig said:

And people have been trying to taint Rand for a long time, that's no reason to avoid PragerU.

This is just because Objectivism has had advocates with terrible public speaking ability and oration. We have Yawon Bwook, but he isn't compelling. Peikoff is pretty good with lectures and education, but I don't think he had the most compelling rhetorical skill when he was more active. A bunch of intellectuals have great content out there, but that's really for academic purpose or people really diving in. Rand was good at making controversial statements, as well as expressing her beliefs with conviction, which is interesting on its own, but not really persuasive. I don't think she was good with rhetoric for persuasion and she was wildly sensitive to criticism in a bad way. If PragerU sounds like a good option, I'm just imagining how low things have gotten. Is the public opinion really so low that we have to scrape the bottom of the barrel to get attention? 

We need better public figures. Not looking for any platform that will take us. 

Edited by Eiuol
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1 hour ago, Eiuol said:

Have you actually looked at the videos there? I don't know how you could visit the site and come back saying that the intellectual quality of the videos are good, or that there isn't a clear conservative stance in an improperly biased way. It doesn't attract high quality mindsets. It doesn't attract people interested in intellectual discussion. It doesn't attract people interested in a variety of outlooks to understand the world. I don't just mean they are wrong, I mean they give bad arguments, don't argue in good faith, or water things down so much that you only get a caricature. You might find the occasional decent video, but that's only after sorting through a huge amount of trash.

In other words, there is little intellectual value to PragerU for anyone interested in ideas. 

No. My interaction has been very peripheral with them. A fireside chat, and a few mentions I've come across over the years.

If it doesn't attract people interested in intellectual discussion, this thread is moot. The discussion generated so far on this and a few other threads prompted me to posit this development and reference the principle players I noted in common.

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3 hours ago, Eiuol said:

I mean they give bad arguments, don't argue in good faith, or water things down so much that you only get a caricature.

I have not seen the bad videos you refer to, most I've seen from PragerU are put on by people other than Prager himself and generally are of higher quality than his rambling chats.

Could you provide a few links to a few select videos which you believe are representative of how "bad" the quality (in your opinion badly argued, of bad intellectual quality, and improperly biased) of the majority of videos is? 

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9 hours ago, Easy Truth said:
10 hours ago, MisterSwig said:

Also, PragerU isn't primarily a religious group.

Depends on the definition of "primarily".

It's not the main focus of PragerU, as reflected on the page I linked and in their variety of videos.

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6 hours ago, Eiuol said:

What is the audience then, and why is it the audience that we should care about?

Conservatives (or people interested in conservatism) who are mostly under 35 years of age. We should care about them because they are interested in ideas and values, and they have a history of liking Rand's novels and some of her political philosophy.

6 hours ago, Eiuol said:

What makes you think so? Should we think that PragerU has editorial control over the video?

Yes, it's their channel. Plus, if you watch Prager he literally sits in his library and explains how he loves his thousands of books. So it's a good sign that he allowed this pitch to read Rand.

6 hours ago, Eiuol said:

It was forced to be watered down.

There's no evidence it was forced to be watered down. That's speculation until someone at OSI or PragerU reveals the editing process.

6 hours ago, Eiuol said:

If you say that capitalism is the point of Rand, that sounds like saying her philosophy is based on capitalism.

But you know that's not what I said or meant. And I don't think anyone watching that video is going to think philosophy starts with capitalism.

6 hours ago, Eiuol said:

If PragerU sounds like a good option, I'm just imagining how low things have gotten. Is the public opinion really so low that we have to scrape the bottom of the barrel to get attention? 

I'm not sure what that means. Who is the bottom of the barrel? Prager? Who's at the top of the barrel?

Edited by MisterSwig
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5 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

Could you provide a few links to a few select videos which you believe are representative of how "bad" the quality (in your opinion badly argued, of bad intellectual quality, and improperly biased) of the majority of videos is? 

"It's time to grow up"
"Wind subsidies are killing Eagles"
"nuclear energy: abundance, clean, and safe"
"What are your kids learning in school"

Not that these videos don't ever say anything correct, but they are filled with misleading statements, the complete lack of citations, saying what "they" are up to by sheer assertion, and poorly formed arguments. These are just a few examples, and it was just from a very cursory look.

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2 hours ago, MisterSwig said:

We should care about them because they are interested in ideas and values, and they have a history of liking Rand's novels and some of her political philosophy.

Okay, but I think that's too vague. If that's the audience, and you think they might be persuaded to something meaningful, I don't think trying to make it more palatable by removing some essential points is somehow appealing to their current conceptual development about reason. I think you still need to find who among the audience is the focus.
 

2 hours ago, MisterSwig said:

Yes, it's their channel.

Then what reason do I have to expect that he didn't somehow alter the content, perhaps as I said, to make it more palatable? Of course this is speculation, but it seems like a reasonable possibility for him to do such a thing. But it certainly is watered down to the extent that reason is not the emphasis. Even if no one said for it to be that way, it's watered down nonetheless.

2 hours ago, MisterSwig said:

But you know that's not what I said or meant. And I don't think anyone watching that video is going to think philosophy starts with capitalism.


I know it is not what you meant, but why did you say it as if it was your thinking? That's why said I said "sounds like". If no one watching the video is going to think that Rand is just offering a political philosophy of capitalism, then there is no reason to make capitalism the main focus of the video. A brief mention is fine. 
 

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One about Nationalism is interesting to watch. Keep in mind, if there is an outcry about a PragerU video, he will simply say it was not one of my own videos (i.e. one of his rambling chats)  ... and this link has comments by ARI https://newideal.aynrand.org/the-vice-of-nationalism/

 

Then there is rejection of a knowable objective morality (not that it's primarily religious): 

 

And

And then there was one that ARI commented about regarding his explanation of the enlightenment.

https://newideal.aynrand.org/pragerus-dishonest-explanation-of-the-enlightenment/

 

And the pièce de résistance (that was posted before in another thread) ... drum roll ... click on below

https://www.prageru.com/video/what-does-separation-of-church-and-state-mean/

Keep in mind, these are not primarily religious, they're just ... mystical ... in a good way of course.

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9 hours ago, Eiuol said:

I know it is not what you meant, but why did you say it as if it was your thinking?

Because what you originally said is indeed my thinking.

23 hours ago, MisterSwig said:
On 3/22/2021 at 3:11 PM, Eiuol said:

Reason seems to be treated as a side issue, as if the point of Rand is justifying capitalism.

But that is the point of Rand. It's one of many points she made, but she was a radical for capitalism.

The point is "justifying capitalism." That means explaining why capitalism is rational and good.

Afterward you dropped the justifying part.

19 hours ago, Eiuol said:

If you say that capitalism is the point of Rand, that sounds like saying her philosophy is based on capitalism.

And that's why I said you know that's not what I said or meant.

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I don't know what you mean then, actually. When I said "the point" I was thinking what should be the primary goal of reading Rand: to understand what reason implies and means. 

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10 hours ago, Eiuol said:

I don't know what you mean then, actually. When I said "the point" I was thinking what should be the primary goal of reading Rand: to understand what reason implies and means. 

Do you mean what should be the goal for a conservative? I don't think we should focus on what other people's goals should be. That's up to them. Maybe they want to know Rand's views on a particular topic, maybe they want to study her whole system, or maybe they hope to enjoy a good novel. It depends on the values they have. As advocates for Rand's philosophy I think we should focus on what we want to teach others about it. And that might differ from person to person. Doesn't mean one has to be wrong. There's a lot of points to make about Objectivism.

I thought you meant what was Rand's goal. 

Edited by MisterSwig
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