X-Message-Number: 11037
From: "Ken Barclay" <>
Subject: Appeal to authority
Date: Tue, 5 Jan 1999 18:49:25 -0800

Mr. Smith appears to cherish authority.  In #11023, he replies to Timor
Rozenfeld.  He refers for evidence to "Bell's Theorum" (sic), to
Aspect's experimental support, to "90 years of post-classical physics,"
and to Godel's Proof, in order to get in a dig at Ayn Rand and
Objectivism.   He continually calls upon Albert Ellis to buttress his
(no doubt sincerely felt) opinions about self-esteem, implying that
anyone who neglects to look Ellis up has no business discussing the
subject with Smith.  This is a particularly cowardly version of "let's
you and him fight."

Is Mr. Smith's grasp of Ellis and his other authorities as slippery as
his understanding of Objectivism?  Ayn Rand made no "assumption  that
any epistemology must be based upon a metaphysics."  In Objectivism,
metaphysics and epistemology are seen as co-equal foundations of
philosophy, the fact that metaphysics is conventionally presented first

He asserts that he does not "accept at least two of the three 'axiomatic
principles' of Objectivism."  That he doesn't identify which two is
handy for him, inasmuch as Objectivism doesn't have "axiomatic
principles."  The philosophy does begin with axioms, identified by the
ancient Greeks and made explicit by Aristotle.  But axioms are just
that:  beginnings.  Principles come later.

His rather clumsy swipe at "those supporting dogma" was probably
intended to refer to Objectivists, also.  If so, this only shows up in
greater relief his insecurity -- the reason he needs to appeal to
authority.  He can't conceive that anyone could read Ayn Rand and then
come to his own conclusion. But that's just what Objectivists advocate.
The resulting conviction is the opposite of the dependence on faith
implied by the word "dogma."

Reliance on authority is a refuge for those who have difficulty thinking
for themselves.  Mr. Smith placed himself in that category with his
"Cryonics Syllogism" in #10979:

"Signing up for cryonics is a no-brainer.
Most humans don't sign up for cryonics.
Therefore most humans are no-brainers ...(and not therefore suitable for

The obvious logical blunder in this "syllogism" was probably beyond him.

Ken Barclay

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