Cultural Anthropology of Atlas Shrugged

Posted by  $  MikeMarotta 2 months, 1 week ago to Science
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All definitions here come from the Anthropology glossary at Palomar College, San Marcos, California.
(https://www2.palomar.edu/anthro/tutor...)
They are inline with what I learned, not special, just convenient to quote.

Remember when Dagny was in the Valley and found out that she could not buy gold?
special purpose money -- objects that serve as a medium of exchange in only limited contexts. In societies that have it, usually there are certain goods and services that can be purchased only with their specific form of special purpose money. If you don't have it, you cannot acquire the things that it can purchase. You may not be able to easily obtain the special purpose money either. The Tiv people of central Nigeria provide an example. In the past, they used brass rods to buy cattle and to pay bride price. These rods were acquired by trade from Sahara Desert trading peoples who ultimately obtained them from the urbanized societies of North Africa. If a man could not acquire brass rods by trade or borrowing them, he would be prevented from acquiring cattle and getting married.

Why did they have the Strike?
applied anthropology -- the branch of anthropology oriented towards using anthropological knowledge for practical purposes. The work of most applied anthropologists has the goal of helping small indigenous societies adjust to the massive acculturation pressures that they are now experiencing without their suffering culture death and genocide.

Who was in charge in the Valley?
acephalous -- a society in which political power is diffused to the degree that there are no institutionalized political leadership roles such as chiefs and kings. Bands and tribes are acephalous. Most foragers and simple horticulturalists have highly egalitarian, acephalous societies. The word "acephalous" is Greek for "without a head."

The Valley had many characteristics of a non-market economy.
non-market economy -- ... Work teams are small and usually only include members of the local community. Large-scale collaboration on subsistence jobs is of short duration if it occurs at all because most tasks are relatively simple and require only a few people. Work related interactions between people are of a face-to-face personal kind. People who work together hunting, gathering, herding, or tending crops are usually kinsmen or lifelong friends and neighbors. ... There also is the pleasure of working with friends and relatives. In addition there is potential for increased social prestige from doing the job well. Impersonal commercial exchanges rarely occur in non-market economies. They usually take the form of either barter or gifts. Every household usually provides for its daily needs from its own production. Non-market economies can only function successfully in isolation. They have always been destroyed by prolonged contact with societies that have market economies.

(Yes, the complete definition includes some characteristics contradictory of the intention of the Valley. Such as "Little or no attempt is made to calculate the contribution of individuals or to calculate individual shares. Social pressure generally obligates individuals to freely share food and other products of their labor with whomever needs it or asks for it in the community." While no one asked for help, it was, nonetheless offered benevolently. Again, that benevolence is typical of a market economy.)

What was the moral force that enabled the society of the Valley?
inner-directed personality -- a personality that is guilt oriented. The behavior of individuals with this sort of personality are strongly controlled by their conscience. As a result, there is little need for police to make sure that they obey the law. These individuals monitor themselves. The inner-directed personality is one of the modal personality types identified by David Riesman in the early 1950's.

What were the moral forces that opposed the Valley, or required its creation?
other-directed personality -- a personality that is shame oriented. People with this type of personality have ambiguous feelings about right and wrong. When they deviate from a societal norm, they usually don't feel guilty. However, if they are caught in the act or exposed publicly, they are likely to feel shame.
tradition-oriented personality -- a personality that has a strong emphasis on doing things the same way that they have always been done. Individuals with this sort of personality are less likely to try new things and to seek new experiences.

What anthropological principle explains the creation of the Valley?
social velocity -- the common social phenomenon in which disruptive interpersonal conflicts increasingly occur as the number of people in a society grows. Richard Lee coined this term as result of observing the phenomenon among the ju/'hoansi of southwest Africa. Band fissioning occurred before a community reached the full carrying capacity of the environment. Families decided to leave and form their own bands because the conflict settling mechanisms were not adequate to resolve differences. It was not food scarcity but, rather, social discord that was the cause of the break-up


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  • Posted by freedomforall 2 months, 1 week ago
    It appears they have created a "science" with no rational basis. Scientology is more rational than this gibberish.
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    • Posted by  $  2 months, 1 week ago
      You can dismiss anything you dislike. However, you offered no rational-empirical explanations of your concerns.

      I understand your prejudice. It is common among those who endorse the culture of engineering to denigrate social science. It point of fact, if you read textbooks in sociology, and anthropology, you will see that they explicitly identify the scientific method at every universrity level. Moreover, their university curricula - at least as I experienced it - include formal classes in criticism. On the other hand, the engineering classes I had lacked that. Engineering was a cookbook fixed and formalized like the recipes from Betty Crocker with no concern for the development of the study or criticism of its practices.

      You call it "gibberish." Do you deny the existence of "special purpose money"? It is an empirical fact.

      Acephalous societies exist and, more to the point here, are the apparent ideal of the libertarian rightwing.

      You did not demonstrate a single failing in what I presented.

      The fact is that Ayn Rand wrote about a fictional society and many of its features can be explained, independently, by a study that she did not consider. That fact rests on the reality of anthropology. Rand could no more escape it than she could the physics of distance = rate * time when narrating train travel.
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    • Posted by  $  2 months, 1 week ago
      See my response to Lucky above: https://www.galtsgulchonline.com/post...

      Errors in theory are well-known. We make progress nonetheless, as the errors are corrected. That applies to anthropology and sociology no less than to physics and chemistry.
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      • Posted by Lucky 2 months ago
        Soc studies do not have theory in the correct sense of the word, not even hypothesis but assertion. These co-exist, contradict, and are used in government to command. Progress is not in made as the assertions are imprecise so not falsifiable.
        Errors are not acknowledged or corrected but are bypassed as newer fashion overlays the older.
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  • Posted by Lucky 2 months, 1 week ago
    Yes, the scientific method is presented in the texts and the lectures of the social sciences (I speak from some little experience). Noting this there are other points to consider.
    The failures of medicine are buried, the architect and civil engineer are remembered by their edifices, social studies academics have tenure and propound until pensioned retirements. There is no objective test, judgment is only from other 'club' members. They lecture to a cohort that, generally, is innumerate but has verbal skill. This skill is used, as with lawyers, to present a case, to twist.

    The scientific method barely makes a formal appearance in science and engineering education, there is no need. The scientific method is what they do, not what is to be regurgitated in first quarter exams. The plane designer sees the first flight, the plane takes-off, it flies, goes up and this way and that, all the laws of nature are obeyed.
    The complexity of inter-connected electrical power grids is immense, (see current events in Venezuela). Politicians, lawyers, and social scientists are given power by the gullible, who never learn, scientists and engineers are over-ruled, but nature is not to be over-ruled. Result- massive failure of the entire electrical system in Venezuela.

    Why do I love Atlas Shrugged? Let me count the ways.
    Rand described the above with brilliant clarity.

    If there is value and reality in anthropology, there is more of it in Atlas Shrugged than in all of our U departments of social studies.

    Paul Dirac- one of the greats, I greatly admire his personality. Did he admire the USSR? I was not aware of that. Maybe he got an impression that the scientists he interacted with in the USSR had an easier time than he had in the UK.
    Maybe in the same group you could put Richard Dawkins, superb work and standing up to bigotry, but he then commits moral posturing in supporting popular enviro-crap.

    A person is rightly judged according to their achievements in their field. That Dirac and Dawkins have demonstrated logical anomalies does not detract from their achievements.
    But what are the achievements of the various .... studies departments? The diversion of human resources to wasting paper (if that were all) from more productive use of those talents in street sweeping.
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    • Posted by  $  2 months, 1 week ago
      The innumerate are not limited to the social sciences. See Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman.
      "Kahneman and his collaborator, the late Amos Tversky, found by careful sampling that scientists who should know better routinely rely on their intuition and therefore produce research results that have a 50% chance of being wrong."
      (Reviewed here: https://necessaryfacts.blogspot.com/2... )

      More to the point, in my undergraduate social science classes, we were all required to take a 200-level class in research methods wherein we each criticized two peer-reviewed publications per week. Nothing like that exists in the physical science curricula, which is why they suffer from periodic embarrassments such as "Plastic Fantastic." Furthermore, in my graduate classes, it was a common complaint that in order to publish in a peer-reviewed journal, you had to provide mountains of statistics. Tom Lehrer made fun of that with his song "Sociology." ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mB97Q... ) But it remains that when you discuss populations of people, statistical sampling is an appropriate tool. That being as it may, human beings are not billiard balls. The explanatory modes of physics are not appropriate to the social sciences. Ludwig von MIses's Human Action has no equations. Are free market economists "innumerate twisters of argument"?
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      • Posted by Lucky 2 months ago
        When you do not want to admit that your results are meaningless, resort to statistical analysis, very easy to do with packages, no understanding needed.

        The comment about Mises is correct and appropriate. Same other free market economists. Mainstream economics, Keynes, is heavy with statistics. Smokescreen with nothing behind.
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    • -1
      Posted by  $  2 months, 1 week ago
      Thanks for the reply. As you note, medical doctors bury their mistakes. Infamous engineering failures from the Tacoma Narrows Bridge to the Hyatt Regency skywalk and now the Boeing 737 are known. We do not condemn an entire study for its failures. In fact, the Geocentric astronomy of epicycles and epherants was better at prediction than the Copernican theory. We know all of that.

      Lucky wrote: "The scientific method barely makes a formal appearance in science and engineering education, there is no need. The scientific method is what they do, not what is to be regurgitated in first quarter exams. The plane designer sees the first flight, the plane takes-off, it flies, goes up and this way and that, all the laws of nature are obeyed."

      What you seem not to know, speaking of aerodynamics in particular, is that despite 100 years of advancement in fluid mechanics, the basic facts of
      lift are still taught wrong in many (if not most) aviation textbooks. I learned it wrong** when I learned to fly in the 1990s. (I soloed in 2000 and logged 100 hours total, half of them solo, including night flight.). See NASA here:
      https://www.grc.nasa.gov/www/k-12/air...
      Yet, I was able to fly. I controlled the airplane. It passed the inspections of the FAA repeatedly. Yet, we failed to understand the very fundamental principle that makes flight possible.

      Despite all of that, we do not condemn the entire study of aerodynamics the way so many here react to the social sciences, which do, in fact, teach science qua science. Engineers in particular suffer from a materialist, anti-intellectual, cookbook curriculum that appeals to religious fanatics. Just sayin'... If you want to condemn...
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      • Posted by ewv 2 months, 1 week ago
        Engineering failures are not kept hidden while continuing to promote false theories. Entire books are written about engineering failures as a means of additional education to avoid them. Early failures such as numerous bridge collapses in the 19th century were a result of lack of theoretical principles; others are because of misapplication of or ignoring known principles.

        Unlike the social sciences' reliance on bad philosophy and its confusion of statistics with scientific conceptual understanding to promote wrong ideas in the name of "science", engineering failures are understood, avoided and corrected using known proper principles. Failures in engineering practice are not comparable to the failures of social science theory, which are fundamental.

        Education in the physical sciences incorporates proper principles and methods continuously; it does not treat scientific method as a separate subject, confusing it with statistics, then misapply or ignore it elsewhere.

        Serious aerodynamics texts and courses do not present wrong theories,
        The explanation of the principles of airfoils using the theory of fluid dynamics was developed by Prandtl over a century ago and has been incorporated, along with increasing subtly and experiments, in textbooks ever since -- for example Glauert's The Elements of Aerofoil and Airscrew Theory, 1926, 2nd ed. 1959.

        Dumbed-down "explanations" of aerofoil lift, intended for those who cannot understand the theory and principles of calculation, sometimes substitute incorrect rationalizations; rationalizations are everywhere in the social sciences. Such rationalizations misconstruing aerodynamics are not comparable to the social sciences.

        "Engineers in particular" do not "suffer from a materialist, anti-intellectual, cookbook curriculum that appeals to religious fanatics." Engineering is inherently "materialistic" because it deals with the material physical world, which is not "suffering".
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        • Posted by  $  2 months ago
          And when did you learn to fly an airplane? I did from 1999 to 2004. I soioed in 2000. I assure you that most aviation textbooks did not present the correct theory of lift. No one studied from some arcane book from 1924. All along, the aviation trade magazines did, indeed, harp on the fact that the theory of lift was not properly taught. Pilots are not stupid people for whom the science of flight must be dumbed down. I had Prandtl and Richard von Mises and others on my shelf. And I was not alone in that. You are not presenting anything new. But your facts lack context because you lack experience in the practice.

          Continuing, the great invention of the Wright Brothers was the propeller. Prandtl aside, no one had a working propeller until the Wrights realized that it is a wing. They pioneered the wind tunnel. They made some mistakes along the way but overall they did marvelous, practical work, apparently without the theoretical understanding that would seem to have been necessary. In fact, the best theoretician of flight of their day was Samuel P. Langley, who put two planes in the Potomac and none in the air. Octave Chanute was a civil engineer who did good, important work on the technques of flight. He build and flew gliders. The Wrights looked to his work as critical to their own. But they invented the propeller. For all of that, they published no peer-reviewed theoretical works on aerodynamics in academic journals.

          Aviation is just another example of how science and technology progress, advance, and expand.
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          • Posted by ewv 2 months ago
            One does not have to learn to fly an airplane to understand the principles of flight and the history of the theoretical foundations. The year you first soloed as a pilot is not relevant. My own "lack of experience" that you assert, includes learning fluid dynamics at the graduate level and using it in my career.

            The fact that most pilots learning to fly do not have the physics and mathematical background required to understand full aerodynamical explanations does not make them "stupid". Nor is it necessary for a pilot to understand it at that level.

            The commonly seen overly simplistic pseudo-explanations that do not properly explain aerofoil lift have nothing to do with the false claim that the entire professional field has been in disarray for a century, in an attempt to claim that it is no better than the dismal social sciences. Serious aerodynamics texts and courses do not present wrong theories. Those who try to present simplified "explanation" of anything in physics are often wrong or providing incomprehensible rationalization.

            Glauert's The Elements of Aerofoil and Airscrew Theory is not an "arcane book". It was the first English language text incorporating Prandlt's correct essential explanations made widely available by 1926, almost a century ago. It was widely used, updated for the second edition printed as late as 1959, and re-issued in 1983 as a classic reprinted as late as 1993, including now a Kindle version. Many more modern texts have long included the correct explanations. The subject matter is not disputed and has not been presented incorrectly in serious courses. It is not a hundred year old equivalent of cargo cult social sciences.

            The digression into the Wrights and the first experimental airplanes at the turn of the 20th century doesn't help. That is not the history of social science either.

            None of it justifies the anthropology pseudo-scientific "identification" of the Valley in Atlas Shrugged.
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        • Posted by  $  2 months ago
          I get my prescriptions filled at Walmart because I like to walk around the store. Sometimes, I buy things. Mostly, I while away the time enjoying the marvelous displays of so many consumer goods. The lavish colors, the arrays of shapes, the inventive solutions to common problems, all speak to the advantages of an open system of competing social science applications. We call it "marketing."

          If not for marketing, there would be exactly one kind of each thing. (That was what shopping in the USSR was like. They had one theory of social science and one way to apply it.) Human beings are not billiard balls. Sociology cannot be physics. It would be inappropriate on many levels, not the least of which would be coercively experimenting on humans to test theories. Yet marketing is continuous, voluntary experiment.

          Colors, shapes, sizes, packaging, arrangement, all of it is the result of social sciences, applied sociology and applied anthropology and applied psychology. The short-comings of university professors who offer wrong-headed theories in social science are not unique to them. You are well-aware of the problems in physics.

          As for the engineers, as successful as they are in manipulating a reality that they cannot convert to their religions, they are, nonetheless religious.
          https://www.galtsgulchonline.com/post...
          Scientists are not. We confuse the two professions, but culturally, (as noted by sociologists), science and engineering are different cultures.

          Thal all being interesting, you said nothing about the facts cited in the original post, except to point out that Ayn Rand knew nothing about them. People here - including the producers of the movies - have offered theories on how Galt's motor could work. And that seems acceptable. Ask yourself why sometime.
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          • Posted by Lucky 2 months ago
            engineers, . . . manipulating a reality that they cannot convert to their religions, they are, nonetheless religious.
            This statement then refers to the many Jihadists who are engineers and medics.
            All B are C, but not all C are B.
            and Are engineers trying to convert reality to their religion?
            Do engineers care about the religion of reality? Who is this reality that engineers cannot convert?

            We confuse the two professions Include me out.

            as noted by sociologists Quite so.

            Rand knew nothing about the facts in the original post-
            I would hope so, at least about so-called facts which are definitions according to anthropologists.

            How the motor could work. This implies that engineers need an explanation from anthropology about wanting to solve an engineering problem.

            All this time I have been admiring Rand, and Dagny and Reardon, and the many engineers in Atlas Shrugged without the anthropological explanation of their potential as Jihadists.
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      • Posted by  $  2 months, 1 week ago
        Engineers of Jihad
        here:
        "This is all the more puzzling for engineers are virtually absent from left-wing violent extremists and only present rather than over-represented among right-wing extremists."
        https://www.researchgate.net/publicat...
        and here:

        "... Islamist and right-wing extremism have more in common than either does with left-wing extremism, in which engineers are absent while social scientists and humanities students are prominent."
        https://press.princeton.edu/titles/10...

        and here:
        "These results deconstruct a common myth, that of Islamists as poor ignorant masses: 69% of the surveyed Muslim countries’ nationals went to university. ‘The core of the Islamist movement emerged from would-be elites, not from the poor and the dispossessed’ (p.33). The percentage of engineers among them is 44.9%. It is followed by that of Islamic Studies’ scholars, at around 18%, and then by medicine students with 10% (p.11). Scientists represent a tiny percentage, while Humanities’ graduates are absent from the pool (p.16)."
        https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/mec/2016/05/0...

        The point is not to debunk engineering, but to understand why so many here are quick to rebuke the social sciences. The social science explanation is that this is a difference of social orientation, not an argument about demonstrable facts and integrated theories. The errors of Marget Mead or Geoge Boas are no more egregious than Newton's refusal to accept the wave nature of light that his own experiments demonstrated. It does invalidate physics.
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        • Posted by Lucky 2 months ago
          Engineers of Jihad-
          A good point, no puzzle tho'. It explains.
          Their front line innovators are engineers and medics.
          Humanities’ graduates are absent from the pool
          Obviously, what good are they for anything? Giving orders maybe.
          Our governments and opinion leaders are from political science, climate science, ..lawyers, Keynesian economists..
          It is not all bad for us, apart from the leadership, who does the work?

          The word 'error' does not well describe the work of Margaret Mead.
          More like fraud. She gave the results that were expected, behavior that is the rule in that field.
          Conversely, Newton had experimental results he could not explain without contravening explanations for other experimental results, he withheld promoting both as correct (even tho' now it may appear to us from evidence this may be the case).
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          • Posted by ewv 2 months ago
            "Error" does not describe Newton, either, for opposite reasons from Mead. There was no definitive wave theory of light for Newton to "refuse" to accept, only Huygens' attempts to explain some aspects of light propagation as having properties of waves and his (now well known) artificial mathematical construction of waves as re-propagation of spherical wavelets.

            The science of light was in its infancy, with experiments indicating unexplained phenomenon, and Newton's own experimental results contradicting others' early wave interpretations. Neither the early attempts of Newton's unidentified corpuscles nor Huygens' longitudinal waves had reached anywhere near the conceptual understanding and experiments of the much later interference experiments of Young, Maxwell's (transverse) wave equations, or quantum mechanical photons showing that light behaves in different respects with aspects of both "wave" and "particle" properties.

            The early ideas of both Newton and Huygens were major contributions in understanding some basic properties of different aspects of light, with Huygens concentrating on geometry of propagation and Newton primarily on color decomposition and diffraction in physical optics. They were the beginning of a science still groping with experiment and hypothesis towards the next steps in a new realm, not "errors" or "refusals" to accept correct theories.

            In contrast Margaret Mead was unscientific from the beginning. Her famous research in Samoa as a graduate student, widely accepted in her field, turned out to be largely wrong and hopeless in methodology. Her "research" was influenced by natives playing her with stories near the end of her visit when as a restless unfocused student she still didn't know what to write.
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            • Posted by Lucky 2 months ago
              Agree.
              Many years after reading 'Growing up In Samoa' I went thru Freeman's review.
              He had gone to Samoa, found the two young women that Mead spoke with at length, they were now elderly but remembered having a great time telling stories to Mead. They were smart enough to work out what Mead wanted to hear, then that is what they said. Mead just lapped it up.
              The telling part is the reaction to Freeman, fierce condemnation by the mainstream, tho' there are a few who accept the review as having more cred.
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              • Posted by ewv 2 months ago
                I'm glad you know about Freeman's Fateful Hoaxing Of Margaret Mead. It's very interesting and informative.

                They try to protect their icon Mead, but rush to condemn real scientists. Here we see Newton falsely attacked for an alleged "refusal to accept the wave nature of light that his own experiments demonstrated" (which isn't true) in comparison with Mead's mere "errors".
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          • Posted by ewv 2 months ago
            In the mideast, particularly Iran, there is a relatively large amount of university level education, including engineering. Engineers are subject to the same Islamic influences as others in that part of the world. Their prevalence among jihadists there has nothing to do with the content of engineering courses or the political violence by the left in this country and civilization, and is irrelevant to your correct observation of the difference between engineering and social science in education and in thought process within the professions.

            His assertion that "Engineers in particular suffer from a materialist, anti-intellectual, cookbook curriculum that appeals to religious fanatics" makes no sense at all. Neither does the claim that "Islamist and right-wing extremism have more in common than either does with left-wing extremism", another out of context anti-conceptual smear against "right wing extremists" package-dealing individualism with fascism in alleged contrast with collectivists. But that is what we get from anti-conceptual juggling of "statistics" with false premises in the name of "science".
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  • Posted by Lucky 2 months, 1 week ago
    Once again there is a thoughtful thread started by MikeMarotta.

    Reading the list of questions, I get a message that the material shows ignorance of and probably hostility to Rand's ideas in Atlas Shrugged.
    Then, I see it is a selection of anthropology definitions from Palomar College as compiled by MikeMarotta.

    Then I think, aha! Anthropology. This is a so-called scientific discipline, among the famous participants are- Margaret Mead, Claude Lévi-Strauss, Ruth Benedict, and Franz Boas.
    The only thing worth remembering about Margaret Mead is the description of her work- "It is not even wrong".

    I read 'Growing Up in Somoa' in the 19sixties and was much impressed, then.
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    • Posted by  $  2 months, 1 week ago
      I am reading a biographby of PAM Dirac. He visited the USSR several times, even during Stalin's purges. He was not alone in his inability to apply to politics and philosophy the immense mental power that he applied to physics. Nor were the physicists alone in listing to port. That does not invalidate their scientific studies.

      Similarly, John D. Rockefeller claimed to be a Baptist and attended church regularly. When I posted here about George P. Mitchell, those who endorsed his great works in fracking also excused his involvement in the Club of Rome.

      As I pointed out to FFA above, Rand could no more write about an imagined new society without writing anthropology than she could have train travel without physics.

      I came to the anthropology definitions by way of work. I am documenting software that tracks family structures and family members. Wanting to make sure of my terms, I googled them. Reading the definitions for "fictive kin" and other terms, the fact of "special purpose money" jumped out.

      We wring our hands over the failings of public education, yet think ourselves immune from its deleterious effects. You think that you know money. Maybe you hold gold coins. Maybe you read Human Action. Do you have anything to add here about special purpose money?

      As for the indirect barter of a money economy, if all that were involved were calculated self-interest, why do both parties say "Thank you" at each exchange?

      In my last years of university 2005-2010, I would say that nearly every professor was politically left of center. (I had one undergraduate economics instructor who had his market principles nailed down pretty good. But both grad school profs were Marxists.). Moreover, not one of the professors who gave me the A grades resulting in my summa cum laude baccalaureate would recommend me for graduate school. I got in anyway -- and with no GRE, at that. But that was their problem, not mine. I learned a lot. I made it a point of honor to learn everything I could, even and especially, from those whose other assertions were wrongly based or erroneously expressed.
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      • Posted by Lucky 2 months, 1 week ago
        Profs left of center- I hope I am not alone here but a prof being l of c does not bother me much. But when entire U depts and much of the educational industry are well to the left, then I am uneasy, something is wrong.
        Maybe, the emphasis on feelings such as the entertainment industry thrives on, carries over to other areas, people buy what celebrities are paid to endorse, entire political campaigns are based on feelings, acting skill is used to get votes as well as to get buyers. Post-modernism abets chicanery in environmentalism and politics- there is no reality, only feelings matter- We have to save the planet. Want fair shares and free everything? Socialism gives it.

        Mitchell in the Club of Rome! Yes I looked this up.
        The club said we will run out of everything. Mitchell showed that resources were not defined by a fixed number but quantity was subject to the market, prices and technology.
        If I have the timing right, the Club of Rome thing was well before he demolished the idea.

        As it is getting late, criticisms about my lack of knowledge of money, special or general, are valid.
        Proposition- This could be solved by me getting my fair share (ie, more).
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        • Posted by  $  2 months, 1 week ago
          My wife and I are going to lunch this afternoon with Jurgen Schmandt who wrote this biography of George P. Mitchell.
          https://necessaryfacts.blogspot.com/2...
          (Also at the table will be his wife, Denise Schmandt-Besserat, who demonstrated that the invention of numbers larger than three led to the invention of writing. See https://sites.utexas.edu/dsb/ )

          We do not discus politics much because they are liberals. But they are nonetheless scintillating intellectuals. I recommend that within the biographies of Ayn Rand, you read about her long relationship with her editor Bennett Cerf. Good ideas are where you find them. Anthropology and sociology have much to offer if you seek to understand the civilization you live in.
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  • Posted by CircuitGuy 2 months, 1 week ago
    Was the Gulch an ideal society? At the beginning I hoped it would be as I read hints about it. But by the end, I got the idea it was just one part of an example of what not to do. The productive people kept overcoming obstacles until finally they hit their limit. They gave up, and everything went to the devil.

    Maybe Rand intended to raise the question of how to go back from the ashes to a market economy without it all happening again.
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    • Posted by ewv 2 months, 1 week ago
      You don't have to guess. Ayn Rand stated her purpose. Atlas Shrugged shows in fiction the role of the mind in human existence and what happens when it is withdrawn. The function of the 'strike' in the plot was to artificially accelerate the progression in the story.

      The story of the Valley in a sub-plot was intended to show how rational people deal with one another when free to do so. It was not "one part of an example of what not to do" until the people in the Valley "hit their limit". The story of the Valley, and the whole novel, ended when the 'strike' succeeded and it was possible to go back to the 'outer world' and pursue values in a civilized country led by the men of the mind unobstructed.

      There is no duty to not "give up" under the injustice of demands for sacrifice. Normal people tend to withdraw when punished for their success and ability -- they leave, cut back, retire early or change what they do for a living. That does lead to everything "going to the devil", by gradual degrees in different realms of activity. That result is caused by the irrationalists, not those avoiding punishment.

      But the "strike" in Atlas Shrugged was not a prescription for political action to reform a culture -- that takes the spread of the right ideas. She had hoped and expected that the positive philosophical ideas and their illustration in the novel would lead people on the right track without having to suffer the kind of collapse dramatically illustrated in the plot, which was noticeably paralleled by certain events in contemporary society.

      Ayn Rand rejected the anti-intellectuals, who miss the point of the novel, advocating a preposterous "strike" to deliberately make everything "go to the devil" in an attempt to bring down the country, as if that were either possible or a substitute for a rational philosophy required to drive the culture and its politics.

      Her fundamental purpose in writing Atlas Shrugged was to illustrate in fiction her philosophical idea of the "ideal man". It is a consciously philosophical novel that can only be understood in terms of understanding the proper philosophical ideas.

      None of it had anything to do with the supposed anthropological "explanations" posturing as "science" as they ignore the meaning and purpose of the plot and the theme of the novel, evading the philosophical ideas explicitly presented and illustrated. Such anti-intellectual "science" claims to observe "data" consisting of primitive tribes and people otherwise acting on premises the opposite of the heroes in the novel (and the author) while ignoring the "data" spelled out in the novel.

      Like the anti-philosophical "strikers", that is anti-conceptual. It is mimicry of science with no understanding, an instance of what Ayn Rand called the "anti-conceptual mentality", and what Richard Feynman called "cargo cult science". It is preposterous non-science.
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      • -1
        Posted by  $  2 months, 1 week ago
        If you can refute any of the assertions in the original post, please offer your facts and reasons.

        Physics and anthropoligy both struggle against errors in discovering, understanding, and applying truths. Despite the errors in the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics, your computer nonetheless exists because of our understanding of subatomic particles.

        Despite errors in explanation, anthropology and sociology have progressed from their inventions in the 19th century. Central to that progress was abandoning the idea of "social physics" sought by both Auguste Comte and Herbert Spencer. Spencer improved his understanding of how societies function; Comte remained woefully ignorant. The error was seeking simple formulas to explain human action. People are not billiard balls. Comte and his followers still want to act on that, making people into objects to be manipulated.

        William Graham Sumner was probably the last great ideological individualist of the previous century. But in our time, I point to economists George Selgin and Dierdre McCloskey. On the OrgTheory Blog by Brayden King, Fabio Rojas and others take an individualist approach to market systems and social interactions. They are not alone.

        As I said above, "I came to the anthropology definitions by way of work. I am documenting software that tracks family structures and family members. Wanting to make sure of my terms, I googled them. Reading the definitions for "fictive kin" and other terms, the fact of "special purpose money" jumped out." Does the original post contain any errors of fact?
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        • Posted by ewv 2 months, 1 week ago
          The "anthropology" pseudo-explanations of Atlas Shrugged are nonsense and show no understanding of the plot or theme of the novel, or Ayn Rand's stated purpose in writing it. The character of and motives for the Valley in the novel are what they were presented as and described as in the novel and by Ayn Rand's own statements about what she wrote and why. That is the "data", not African tribes and observations and interpretations of people acting on premises and ideas contrary to the philosophy described and illustrated in Atlas Shrugged.
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          • Posted by  $  2 months ago
            You did not addressed a single point made in the original post.

            I know that you hate African tribes and Native Americans and all other non-industrial, non-market people. So, I understand that you recoil against any comparisons between our lives and theirs. The fact remains that as a science anthropology identifies facts about cultures and societies. The Valley was a society based on a culture. The "view from the outside" reveals features of that society. Coming from an industrialized, market society, anthropologists recorded the existence of special-purpose money in a different culture. I point out that that feature existed in the artificial society of Atlas Shrugged.. The rest followed by reading definitions of facts from the science of anthropology. If you wish to reject the scientific identifications of the original post, then address them.

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            • Posted by ewv 2 months ago
              I do not "hate African tribes and Native Americans and all other non-industrial, non-market people", and such a gratuitous ad hominem based on an attribution of "hatred" is not relevant. There are no "comparisons between our lives and theirs" other than "opposite".

              The fundamental difference between individualism and tribalism and the assessment that one is better than the other are fact, not anti-science "hatred". Cultural relativism is not "science" and neither are ad hominem dismissals.

              There are no "scientific identifications" in the original post. It is irrelevant pseudo scholarship that contradicts the plot and the meaning of Atlas Shrugged that it claims to "scientifically" "identify".

              "Social velocity" is not a "principle [that] explains the creation of the Valley". To think that one would have to ignore the content of the book and much worse. Likewise for the claim that "inner-directed personality -- a personality that is guilt oriented" "was the moral force that enabled the society of the Valley", as well as the rest of the "identifications". Galt's speech was "guilt oriented"?

              Atlas Shrugged is a philosophical novel illustrating the role of the mind in human survival: the role of ideas in how people act. Rational individualists do not think and behave like primitive tribes and neither did the heroes in Atlas Shrugged. One does not "explain" and "identify" the Valley by ignoring everything said about it in the novel and substituting pseudo scientific academic pronouncements based on alleged "scientific" observations of its opposite.

              The claim, in the name of science no less, that:

              "the fact remains that as a science anthropology identifies facts about cultures and societies. The Valley was a society based on a culture. The "view from the outside" reveals features of that society. ... The rest followed by reading definitions of facts from the science of anthropology"

              is a non-sequitur of floating abstractions deliberately ignoring the subject matter while laughably pretending to be a scientific deduction. Rejecting such nonsense is not anti-science "hatred".
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        • Posted by Lucky 2 months, 1 week ago
          Heisenburg's Copenhagen interpretation remains a hypothesis, it was genuinely held and had good thinking behind it. Yes, it was part of the scientific thinking and experiment that led to computers tho' I doubt the principle had a part in the ancestry line of computers.
          Our no-longer-contributor Dale Halling did a rebuttal for us on here, coupla years ago, I remain fence sitting.

          What contribution have all the social studies and pseudo sciences made?
          They contributed to the vocabulary used by socialistic progressivistic political movements, victimology, antifa, wimins studies, exploitation, racism, blah blah ..

          Psychology-
          Psychology, not just of the Freudian variety, has proved singularly useless in explaining Man to himself or in guiding him in how to live. No doubt it has helped some people in some circumstances, but its intellectual harvest after so much effort has been meagre and its cultural effects have been devastating.
          . . the disease that it pretends to cure, . . might be said of psychology as a whole. It places a distorting lens between ourselves and genuine self-reflection. It has encouraged, if not caused, mass neuroticism and narcissism. Know thyself: read no psychology
          .
          .. Psychiatrist Anthony Daniels who writes in The Spectator

          Economics-
          A field of study with potential for understanding has been swamped by Keynesianism, started perhaps as a joke!
          Our contributor Vinay did a great debunking recently in thesavvystreet.
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          • Posted by ewv 2 months, 1 week ago
            The "social sciences" are no where near the comprehensive and spectacular success of the physical sciences, but have, in some versions, achieved some important understanding (as in some economists, not the field in general). All of it, including physics, is undermined by destructive philosophy. Social sciences, in the human realm, are especially generally bad because of bad moral and political philosophy.

            The Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics is an example of the destruction, but had nothing to do with the use of the physics in practical applications such as computers. The uncertainty principle, in particular, is a mathematical relationship between Fourier transform pairs, but in its philosophical formulation is only bad philosophy.
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            • -1
              Posted by  $  2 months ago
              And by the same standard, the philosophical errors of even "most" social scientists does not invalidate the facts that were identified and theories that explain them.

              You have not addressed a single point of the original post.
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          • Posted by  $  2 months, 1 week ago
            If you start off condemning what you do not understand, then your understanding will never expand. You will be like the hillbilly who went to the Bronx Zoo, saw a giraffe, and gaffawed, "Heck, there ain't no such animal!"

            Psychology: The Human Potential movement which ultimately informed Nathaniel Branden's Objectivist psychology and led thereby to this Biocentric theories and practices. What you call "mass neuroticism and narcissism" is just the Me Generation bringing on successive generations of self-interested individuals. Sure, people are silly. Sure, people are stupid. But the mistakes do not negate the advances we have made, in large part because of the ideas of Ayn Rand. (See my comments above about aerodynamics.)

            Economics: Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations was shot through with errors. So what? So was Newton's Principia (if you read it). We make progress one step at a time. To condemn economics as a study is to write off Menger, Mises, Hayek, and those who lead now such as Seltman, and Caplan.

            Benjamin Franklin and the 18th century "electricians" thought of positive charges flowing like a liquid, the "electric fluid." Then, we were offered little balls with minus signs jumping out of orbits and running down wires... Even in 1920 power company electricians spoke of the fields of electrical transmissions. So, they had jumped (like quanta) into the modern understanding as soon as physicists expressed it. But that did not percolate down into the science classes. And yet, those kids who were misinformed put a man on the Moon. (And quantum electrodynamics returned to the "fluid" model. At least, that is what Feynman was awarded a Nobel Prize for.

            The sociology of science is a field dominated by anti-science sociologists. Yet, if you clear away the dross, the precious few drops of gold can be extracted for your own benefit. ... if you want to benefit...
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            • Posted by Lucky 2 months ago
              Caution, another long boring post, sarcasm, no anecdotes on flying.

              In a shelf behind my computer is my copy of The ABC of Flying, Pleiades, London, 1945, I did not buy it new. There is actually no theory given for lift but there is description. There are several plates showing aerofoils in wind tunnels.

              I know there are several explanations for lift, some are wrong, they give some intuitive feel as to how there is lift. One explanation, the correct one, did not immediately gain over others. Is this a weakness of engineering, science, aeronautics? It may be said yes, unlike in social studies where the scientific method is taught, discussed, and practiced (pause to retain composure and replace book on shelf).
              Quote Engineers in particular suffer from a materialist, anti-intellectual, cookbook curriculum that appeals to religious fanatics. Unquote.

              So, are cookbook approaches, tables, charts and numbers used to derive answers instead of proper analysis as used in social studies?

              That view is wrong. The cookbook approach shows that there is an established body of knowledge, compressed into easy accessible form, of charts tables and now as apps, for use by technicians and designers. This body of knowledge advances and retreats, as found useful or otherwise. Such applications incorporate assumptions, the technician knows how to use the cookbook, the engineer manager has to know about the assumptions/limitations and, when satisfied, sign-off. This is the professional judgment aspect not seen in vids of people at work, and sadly often missing from job descriptions.

              Engineering, science, medicine, biology, and the rest are replete with examples of research, statements, published papers, that are wrong, incompetent, and fraudulent.
              For papers the percentage is, what, 20%, 50%? We do not know but we can guess as sometimes it comes out. The mechanisms for checking are poor.

              How does this compare with social studies where the scientific method is...etc?
              Meaninglessness cannot be checked.

              Disaster investigation: There are many appealing aspects of Richard Feynman. His book in which the Challenger investigation is described is fascinating. There is the drama of the experiment done on TV, the careful words, the logic flow. Above all, engineers were used to do the work, to take the blame, but expert engineering advice was over-ruled. Education and interests of those at the top varied, but reality was not the main concern.

              Ok I am nearly done.
              I'd like to see a list of those few drops of gold.
              Make it a new thread, I may be able to put something on!
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            • Posted by ewv 2 months ago
              There are no golden benefits from disparate, out of context factoids plucked and distorted from the history of real science, misrepresented, and re-assembled into an incoherent argument of pseudo-scholarship for social sciences as the basis of "identifying" Atlas Shrugged as its opposite in the name of "science".
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    • Posted by  $  2 months, 1 week ago
      In the book, Galt says that the Valley was not intended to be a permanent society. Moreover, they kept importing goods, services, and most importantly, people. But as soon as they could, they left. The entire Valley had two children, both boys. That was not going to work out long term.

      The Valley was intended as an ideal society, The Utopia of Greed. If you read the socialist story, Looking Backward, it is easy to understand that and the Valley as different versions of Plato's Atlantis and the many other thought experiments. We tend to denigrate that, but imagining a different society is as inventive as new metals such as bronze and steel and new engines such as windmills and water mills.

      The archaic Greeks invented new ways to organize their cities, going from monarchy to tyranny, to oligarchy to democracy, as they went from religion to philsophy, and farming to merchantry. Coins were invented at the same time as geometry. And they experimented with government. Twice in the long history of the town of Cyrene, factions were fighting in the streets. It was civil war. So, they sent to Athens for philosophers to come and write a new constitution.

      Obviously, Ayn Rand did not know about all of that. But, neither did she need to know much about mathematics and physics, only enough to tell a story.
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      • Posted by CircuitGuy 1 month, 4 weeks ago
        "Galt says that the Valley was not intended to be a permanent society
        [...]
        The Valley was intended as an ideal society, The Utopia of Greed."
        I do not understand. The answer is probably a secret they hide in books.

        I thought the Gulch was symptom of the problem of an overbearing gov't, not a model for society.

        It's odd that the ancient Greeks worked on this problem, but we went for thousands of years without a real experiment in a democratic republic.
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        • Posted by ewv 1 month, 4 weeks ago
          The Valley was Midas Mulligan's private property. He invited Galt, Ragnar and Francisco to stay there one month each year, then others were invited. Later some began to stay there full time, but it wasn't self-sufficient until the very end of the novel.

          It was not intended as a model society because only select individuals were invited and it was all private with no government. But they had intended (in the plot) for it to last longer than it did because the collapse of the outer world came sooner than expected.

          Ayn Rand did not write it as an independent nation or model society, only as a way to illustrate within the plot how rational people deal with each other when they are free to do so and have the right ideas. It was more than people relating to each other within a broader social context because it was a self-contained way of life for a while, but it was much less than a full "society".

          The symptom of the overbearing government was the (artificially accelerated) collapse. The Valley, wasn't a symptom, it was a deliberate initiative of rational people, in the context of a plot in which they were (unrealistically outside of fiction) deliberately trying to let the outer world collapse. They then proceeded to live properly under normal conditions when they went back to the world after the collapse (after the end of the novel).
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          • Posted by CircuitGuy 1 month, 4 weeks ago
            "Ayn Rand did not write it as an independent nation or model society, only as a way to illustrate within the plot how rational people deal with each other when they are free to do so and have the right ideas."
            I somewhat understand, but a "model society" and a place where rational people freely interact with one another sound similar.
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            • Posted by ewv 1 month, 3 weeks ago
              The Valley was an abstraction in romantic fiction focusing on how the characters portrayed thought and acted in relation to each other. It is a limited, artificial situation described as a select number and kind of people living there by invitation. It did not include the essential features required in an actual social system which includes an entire population of whoever happens to lives in the country in whatever numbers, a government structure, foreign relations, etc. Even the characterization of the small numbers in the Valley as permanently economically self-sustaining, protected in isolation, is artificial and impossible in reality.

              Remember that it is "romantic" fiction, not "naturalism", as Ayn Rand described the distinction in her anthology on esthetics, The Romantic Manifesto.
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  • Posted by  $  blarman 2 months, 1 week ago
    Though I'll debate the actual "science" present in anthropology because there is so much rampant speculation involved, I appreciate the topic and thread! Thanks!
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