Atlas Shrugged: Intellectual Property

Atlas Shrugged, p.25-32

After solving her little railroad problem, Dagny returns to New York to report to her brother, Jim, on the state of the decaying Rio Norte Line. She proposes rebuilding it – actually, that’s not right. She’s already placed the orders to start rebuilding it, without consulting anyone. More, she’s canceled their contract with Jim’s preferred supplier, Orren Boyle’s Associated Steel, since he never delivers what he promises, and is placing the order with a competitor, Rearden Steel, who charges less and always fills orders on time.

“If we give Rearden such a large order for steel rails—”

“They’re not going to be steel. They’re Rearden Metal.”

She had always avoided personal reactions, but she was forced to break her rule when she saw the expression on Taggart’s face. She burst out laughing.

Rearden Metal was a new alloy, produced by Rearden after ten years of experiments. He had placed it on the market recently. He had received no orders and had found no customers. [p.27]

Jim reacts angrily to her making these decisions without his knowledge, but when she tells him to cancel them if he wants, he refuses. As Jeff noted in the comments last time, this is one of the major recurring themes of the book: it’s only Rand’s heroes who take responsibility and make things happen, while the only real concern of the villains (although they claim to value things like the public good) is to avoid responsibility and never be blamed.

According to Jim, “the best metallurgical authorities” are dubious about Rearden Metal, but Dagny brushes this off. She says that “I don’t ask for opinions”, and that she made the decision – remember, the decision to completely rebuild an important line of a transcontinental railroad using a new, untested alloy – relying only on her own judgment, without seeking any outside advice or consulting anyone.

Again, I’m not an expert, but this doesn’t seem to be how a large corporation should work. Having Dagny order a train crew to proceed through a red light on her say-so is one thing, but this is a major, multimillion-dollar business venture that could easily decide the future of the company. Shouldn’t you have, I don’t know, feasibility studies? Pilot projects? Trial runs on a proving ground, before committing to use this new metal to build hundreds of miles of rail through the Rocky Mountains? But no.

This warped idea of how a business should run springs from Rand’s hyper-individualistic worldview, where all of civilization is sustained by a handful of superhuman capitalists who act as the prime movers. Since Rand is the author, she can script events so that these plans always succeed. In reality, when executives make unorthodox business decisions on a whim, they often turn out disastrously – like Reed Hastings, the CEO of Netflix, who came up with an idea to split his company into two while soaking in a hot tub and had to retract it in the face of investor fury. (The spinoff company was going to be called “Qwikster”, which was already the Twitter handle of someone whose avatar was a pot-smoking muppet – something many observers took as a hint that this plan hadn’t been very carefully researched in advance.)

And that was just a DVD-rental service, whereas this is a railroad responsible for the lives and safety of passengers and crew. Jim’s skepticism, to me, seems more than warranted:

“Then what on earth do you know about Rearden Metal?”

“That it’s the greatest thing ever put on the market…. it’s tougher than steel, cheaper than steel and will outlast any hunk of metal in existence.”

“But who says so?”

“Jim, I studied engineering in college. When I see things, I see them.”

“What did you see?”

“Rearden’s formula and the tests he showed me.” [p.27]

This exchange made my eyebrows rise. Dagny has seen Rearden’s formula, really? He’s invented a revolutionary new alloy after ten years of work, and the first thing he does is disclose this precious trade secret to whoever asks?

Now, I suppose you might say that this is inevitable. After all, a well-equipped industrial laboratory could buy some Rearden Metal and work out what it’s made of anyway, so there’s no point trying to keep the formula a secret. But that leads into an interesting question: How does the idea of intellectual property work in Rand’s ideal libertarian world?

We know that Ayn Rand believed in patents and copyrights, not least because the idea of forcing the industrialists to give them up is an important plot point later in the book. But at the same time, she repeatedly makes the assertion that the only proper role for government is to protect people from crime and enforce voluntary contracts (something that Penn Jillette has also said). Anything else means initiating force against innocent people and is therefore an illegitimate use of power.

But there’s a serious contradiction here that Rand never comes to terms with. The concept of a patent means that if I invent something that someone else has already come up with, even if I invented it independently, the government (or as she might put it, “men with guns”) will come to my door and prevent me from making or selling it. That’s a highly intrusive use of government power to limit individual rights! (This isn’t just my opinion: other libertarian writers claim, in opposition to Rand, that intellectual property is an indefensible concept and ought to be abolished.)

There is, of course, a good argument for the existence of patents – they give people an incentive to invent new things, which encourages creativity that benefits all of society. There’s no motivation to be an inventor if just anyone can steal your idea and profit off it. But this collective-good argument shouldn’t be available to someone who believes that individual rights reign supreme above all else.

Other posts in this series:

About Adam Lee

Adam Lee is an atheist writer and speaker living in New York City. His new novel, Broken Ring, is available in paperback and e-book. Read his full bio, or follow him on Twitter.

  • http://freethoughthistory.com/blog.html Dan Allosso

    Seems to me Rand’s approach to intellectual property is pretty firmly based on her idea that there are only two types of people: geniuses and parasites. So the geniuses ought to have the right to dispose of their creations as they see fit (hence the “strike”). In the real world, I think most inventors stand on the shoulders of scientists who made the basic discoveries, a family and society that contributed resources to educate the inventor, a society that creates a market for the invention, etc. So in my mind, patents and intellectual property rights are inseparable from a discussion of the rights and responsibilities of people living in societies.

    It’s also a concern that Rand’s mindset seems to lead to (or at least provide cover for) the criminal activities of companies like Monsanto, which has been going into the archives of Land Grant Universities for years, and patenting what they find in the seed banks. And Big Pharma is patenting the genes in MY BODY? Come and get them, robber barons!

  • Bob Jase

    I love the sciency popular idea that everything derives from a formula – no need for processing or testing, just a formula on paper. Just half a step closer to real science than Johnny Quick.

  • http://avoiceinthewilderness-mcc1789.blogspot.com Michael

    Well, Rand would say it falls under protecting people from crime (i.e. stealing inventions) but you’re right, the independent invention possibility wasn’t much dealt with by her. She just said “whoever makes it to the patent office first wins” basically. Of course, this was part of an individual’s right to own property for Rand, problems aside. I don’t see how, on that basis, she justified limited patent terms on utilitarian grounds, as she had rejected them for all other cases though. You could argue the same for all property: that one individual and their successors being able to own land stifles growth too, etc.

  • badgersdaughter

    No. no, it’s quite simple really. He shares his formula with her for the same reason he sleeps with her later in the book. Rand might say they recognize each other’s essential integrity, or respond to what they identify as their highest ideals in each other. To her, sexual attraction and mutually beneficial business practices are just two facets of the same thing. Rearden thinks Dagny will protect his trade secrets because he thinks it is in her personal best interest to protect them, and he knows she can be trusted to look out for her own best interests.

  • pattrsn

    “She says that “I don’t ask for opinions”, and that she made the decision – remember, the decision to completely rebuild an important line of a transcontinental railroad using a new, untested alloy – relying only on her own judgment, without seeking any outside advice or consulting anyone.”

    So either Rand’s heros have some special insight into reality such as psychic powers or a direct line to god, or they have the ability to alter the laws of probability so that whatever they decide to be true becomes true, or they are just incredibly fantastically and entirely coincidentally lucky.

  • Infophile

    After all, a well-equipped industrial laboratory could buy some Rearden Metal and work out what it’s made of anyway, so there’s no point trying to keep the formula a secret.

    This isn’t necessarily the case, as Bob Jase alludes to in a comment above. For a real-world example of how tricky this can be, look at Damascus steel. Despite the fact that we have samples of it available, no one has ever figured out how it was made – that secret is lost to history. The chemical composition isn’t hard to figure out, but alloys aren’t simple compounds or mixtures. Forging a metal depends heavily on how and when things are combined, at what temperatures, how quickly its heated, etc. So it’s certainly not impossible that Rearden might invent a new alloy and sell it to the public, without the public being able to figure out how to make it (after all, Coca-cola does that very thing in the real world).

  • Lagerbaer

    That’s another common trope in fiction: The nay-sayers are never right. That’s because we love drama, and it’s very satisfying to see a daring plan work out against all odds. That’s why Han Solo can fly through an asteroid field. That’s why in Star Trek we shoot the anti-particle beam from the main reflector dish (bonus points if you get the reference) even if that’s never been tested.

    In fact, it’s the “Million-To-One-Chances always work out” trope :)

  • Korey Peters

    I apologize for the off-topic nature of my post, but I’d like to present evidence against the benefit of patents: http://www.micheleboldrin.com/research/aim.html It seems that the more research that is done about the benefit of patents, the worse they appear. I think the idea that “patents encourage innovation” is one of those ideas that seems intuitively true but is demonstrable false.

  • http://freethoughtblogs.com/axp/ Russell Glasser

    Good stuff. I’ve always felt that Ayn Rand, a novelist, never really had a firm grasp of what it took either to run a business OR do science. Her contempt for government butted up later in life with her real world need for Medicare.

    There’s this anti-science strain running through the Republican party in general, and a lot of times it is expressed as a scorn for expert opinions. Education policy crafted by people who have never been teachers, climate science denounced and reports changed by people who have never done science, sweeping economic policy designed without any reputable economists or real world test runs, etc.

    I think what many people don’t understand about science is that it is above all a collaborative effort. The whole point of HAVING science is that any one individual opinion is fallible, so the whole system is to motivate collaboration and consensus among people who have studied the same facts. Characters in Atlas think this they should by “the deciders,” and that’s probably why one of the story’s primary villains is a scientist.

  • Kat

    Doing science: http://electroncafe.wordpress.com/2011/05/04/scientific-process-rage/

    Dagny’s insouciant attitude towards nay-sayers has all the hallmarks of upper management in many branches of industry; they want x/y/z to be so, they issue a new policy to their workforce *absent input from those expected to implement it* and then wonder why it fails in real life. Worse, the workforce may sometimes unwittingly collude by making it appear that the faulty guidelines work (by finding ways to “game” the system or selectively ignoring unreasonable requirements) despite their shortcomings; this is how we keep our jobs & make customers/clients happy, despite official obstacles.

  • Leum

    What this really shows is that Rand had no idea how science and engineering work. She’s seen his formula and test results? And she just “knows” that they’re accurate and done correctly? No. Very no. If Reardon has test results that show his alloy is good, other people would have tried it on small-scale projects. Hell, Reardon would have certainly made a few models to show his new alloy’s superiority. The fact that no one else has picked up on Reardon Metal after a few years, the fact that he has no models, all of this indicates that Reardon Metal is bad, bad, bad idea.

  • Azkyroth

    Rearden Metal was a new alloy, produced by Rearden after ten years of experiments. He had placed it on the market recently. He had received no orders and had found no customers.

    cheaper than steel

    Isn’t it sad that I’ve become so innured to Rand’s stupidity ALREADY that this is the only part whose wrongness jumps out at me enough to comment on it?

  • Azkyroth

    Just half a step closer to real science than Johnny Quick.

    Johnny Quest was an improvement. Rand’s grasp of science and engineering is at Johnny Bravo levels.

  • CelticPeace

    “There is, of course, a good argument for the existence of patents – they give people an incentive to invent new things, which encourages creativity that benefits all of society. ” Agree – ever notice the countries with weak copyright laws, never invent anything.
    The “heroes” in the book gave up too easily, and went off to Neverland. They should have fought back and bought a President like the industrialists in this country did (Rockefeller, Carneige, JP Morgan, etc) or worked inside the government like the green energy companies and Wall Street insiders are currently doing.

  • 2-D Man

    There are a lot of factors that go into choosing a rail material.
    For starters, how well is it going to resist corrosion? It better not be too well, or there might be dissimilar metal effects on the spikes or the train wheels.
    What about its thermal expansion coefficient? How much more often is an expansion joint going to be needed?
    What is its annealing temperature? Is all the work-hardening going to be undone every August?
    Is it going to have the fatigue resistance that we see with steel? If loaded properly, steel doesn’t fail in fatigue.
    This metal might be tough, but is it rigid enough to hold up a train, or will there be vibrations that cause derailments? If it’s too rigid, it might lack formability. Worse, train wheels might not be able to make a smooth finish on the tracks, increasing the coefficient of friction, rendering the tracks inefficient and the wheels into a fine powder.
    Is a tougher, stronger metal even needed? How often do tracks break due to insufficiencies in material properties? It really doesn’t matter how strong your material is if the ground underneath it shifts.
    And then there’s the object of libertarian worship: the market. Sure, Rearden’s metal is cheap when he’s doing a few experiments here and there, or unsuccessfully selling it, but when someone orders an entire rail line of it, are the raw materials available in those quantities? And does Rearden have the manufacturing capabilities to meet that demand?
    Those are the questions that I start wondering about when I hear about this miracle metal. And I’m not a metallurgist, or a railroad engineer.

  • CelticPeace

    Kat says “Dagny’s insouciant attitude towards nay-sayers has all the hallmarks of upper management in many branches of industry; they want x/y/z to be so, they issue a new policy to their workforce *absent input from those expected to implement it* and then wonder why it fails in real life”. I agree, I’ve seen that happen many times. It is the same in government as well. Policies designed to help people backfire and end up hurting them – i.e.. War on Poverty, or War on Drugs, or many other “wars”. It may be that we do not consider the full range of unintended consequences, or ignore possibilities in hopes it will work out.

  • Jeremy Shaffer

    Policies designed to help people backfire and end up hurting them – i.e.. War on Poverty, or War on Drugs, or many other “wars”.

    That’s assuming said programs were meant to help people in the first place. As a means to help people with drug addiction or to dissuade people from using illegal narcotics or to keep them largely unavailable the War of Drugs is an abject failure. On the other hand, as a means to subjugate and maintain a permanent underclass, prop up corrupt law enforcement and justice officals and an ever expanding police state it works wonders.

  • Alejandro

    The book is called “Atlas Shrugged” not “Rand’s guide to choosing materials for a new railroad”. People complaining so much about technical details are completely missing the point (specially 2-D Man…wow…he really gives the expression “missing the point” a new meaning). Off course this is not how a real engineering company would act, but I do not think the central point of the book was to teach railroad owners how to run their bussines either.

  • http://avoiceinthewilderness-mcc1789.blogspot.com Michael

    Rand explicitly rejected literature realism, embracing romanticism instead. That explains her larger than life heroes and the other stuff.

  • phasespace

    Alejandro, you haven’t really been following the comments in the thread, have you? What the comments are showing is that Rand’s protagonists consistently make poorly considered and ill-founded decisions that magically turn out ok. Then Rand has the gall to tell us that such careless decision making is a good thing, because some people are magically not prone to causing huge problems when they engage in it. It’s pure, unadulterated bullshit.

  • http://www.nolenortho.com Darren

    Not sure if this has been touched on.

    Rearden would have had Dagny sign a non-disclosure agreement, then he can show her whatever he likes and she is prevented, much as in with patent, from disclosing the details or making use of them.

    For my $0.02, I have a few pending patents myself. While I mostly want to “help the world”, so far they represent almost three years of getting up 1-2 hours early 3-4 days a week to work on them before my children woke and I had to go to my day job. Not to mention the ~$10,000 invested (and that is a bargain, BTW).

    On top of that, the technology is in the medical device world (surgical adhesives, bone cements, wound dressings) where bringing a product to market requires years and multiple ten of millions of dollars. No investor will consider dollar one without a patent.

    I am all too aware that a better system is sorely needed…

    That said, I just want to see someone walking around knowing my tech is holding their bones together. :)

  • CelticPeace

    Jeremy says “That’s assuming said programs were meant to help people in the first place”
    Note – I was giving them the benefit of the doubt, although I too question the motives and goals of many of these government programs. The old axiom – I’m from the federal government and I am here to help, is your clue to run like hell, hide the children, and cover your pocketbook (many states as well).

  • 2-D Man

    Off course this is not how a real engineering company would act…

    Look, Alejandro, if you’re going to write a book about people, it’s important to incorporate an accurate idea of how people behave. If you’re going to write a book about people who make engineering decisions….

    but I do not think the central point of the book was to teach railroad owners how to run their bussines either

    Yes you do. You’ve thus far attempted to defend the authour and her fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants-kamikaze characters in every AS post. The only contention you’ve shown with the stated concept has been with the word “railroad”.

  • CelticPeace

    Jeremy says “That’s assuming said programs were meant to help people in the first place”
    Note – I had always given the creators the benefit of the doubt, although now I often question the motives and goals of many of these government programs. The old axiom – I’m from the federal government and I am here to help, is your clue to run like hell, hide the children, and cover your pocketbook.

  • Loren Petrich

    CelticPeace, would you want the Federal Government dissolved and the US turned into 50+ independent nations? Like what happened to the Soviet Union. Or would you prefer something like “I’m from the Federal Government and I’m here to hurt you”?

  • Loren Petrich

    Back to the main subject, patents and copyrights and the like are monopolies granted by governments, the libertarians’ great villain. In fact, property in general can be interpreted as a kind of government-protected monopoly.
    In fact, law is nothing but government regulation. Does anyone believe that lawyers and judges and cops and jailers are all vigilantes?

  • 2-D Man

    The old axiom – I’m from the federal government and I am here to help, is your clue to run like hell, hide the children, and cover your pocketbook.

    That’s not an axiom. That’s a talking point from a Ronald Reagan campaign.

  • Loren Petrich

    I’m sorry if I seemed sore in my earlier post here. :(:(:( I was annoyed at the perpetual kvetching about government from libertarians, especially kvetching about government doing obviously good things.

    Back to intellectual property, the purpose of granting patents is to encourage making inventions public as opposed to keeping them secret. However, some people have discovered that they can have great careers causing trouble with patents, like patent trolling.

  • http://avoiceinthewilderness-mcc1789.blogspot.com Michael

    Many libertarians in fact oppose intellectual property, Randians not among them obviously, and some go so far as to feel all government monopolies (such as on law enforcement) should be abolished. This is the anarchist minority.

  • Alrixa

    I remembered when I read the book like 15 years ago, I read it almost in one sit… just stopping to go collect from my customers. That week I didn’t produce anything, I simply was absorbed in the reading until I ended it.
    Definitely for me, the book is a romantic novel not about patents, railroads, train companies,engeneering, scientific method, succesful decision making, or anything alike. It is all about a kind of human spirit defined for all of you as libertarian, for me is a lot simpler: it is a description of the spirit of ‘do it’. A spirit contrarian to be a ‘free loader’.
    Excuse me you all, but your analysis is acceptable about Rand’s social philosophy ideas but not about the novel. It is like criticizing Sagan’s ‘Contact’ great novel buy saying that how can it be scientific to make mental trips. His novel is not about that, it is about hope.

  • Azkyroth

    Does anyone believe that lawyers and judges and cops and jailers are all vigilantes?

    Thinking things through has the same effect on Libertarians as thinking in the first person has on Terry Pratchett’s Auditors of Reality.

  • Azkyroth

    I remembered when I read the book like 15 years ago, I read it almost in one sit… just stopping to go collect from my customers.

    How did you pay for all the tissues?

    That week I didn’t produce anything, I simply was absorbed in the reading until I ended it.

    Emphasis mine. …see what I mean about thinking things through?

    It is all about a kind of human spirit defined for all of you as libertarian, for me is a lot simpler: it is a description of the spirit of ‘do it’. A spirit contrarian to be a ‘free loader’.

    The “spirit” the book promotes is the problem, stupid.

  • pattrsn

    It is all about a kind of human spirit defined for all of you as libertarian, for me is a lot simpler: it is a description of the spirit of ‘do it’.

    Think of all the time and tissues you wasted when all you had to do was open a magazine and see a Nike ad.

  • CelticPeace

    Loren asks “CelticPeace, would you want the Federal Government dissolved and the US turned into 50+ independent nations? Like what happened to the Soviet Union. Or would you prefer something like “I’m from the Federal Government and I’m here to hurt you”?”

    Loren – I do not want to see the Federal Government dissolved. There are many things that are best handled at the Federal level. I would like to see things kept at a local or state level whenever possible. Like big business, the Federal Government is not the institution close to many problems and issues, and due to size is can be less innovative, efficient, responsive or accountable in many situations. Some were pointing out the problems inherent in big business, and my point was many of these same things are inherent in big government. One difference between government and business, is that government is supposed to watch business. Big problems result when government gets too cozy with business (banking industry), or picks favorites (crony capitalism), or takes over certain roles (mortgage industry) that would be better handled by private business. The government helped drive the bubble that resulted in the financial crisis.

  • GCT

    The government helped drive the bubble that resulted in the financial crisis.

    Yes, by deregulating and being hands off – which is what you are advocating more of.

  • CelticPeace

    GCT says “Yes, by deregulating and being hands off – which is what you are advocating more of.”

    Where do I advocate deregulation or a hands off approach ? What I would like to see is more effective regulation. In many areas of the government, regulations work fairly well (food, drugs, etc). In other areas the government does not effectively regulate. You point out a good example of ineffective regulation in the financial crisis – banking, mortgage entities. Government policies regarding lending, not just lack of regulation, also helped drive the bubble. Often government is too tight with the businesses being regulated.
    We need to fix the government official to lobbyst cycle that seems to be getting more prevalent.

  • GCT

    Big problems result when government…takes over certain roles (mortgage industry) that would be better handled by private business.

    That’s what you said. That’s not what happened, nor how the bubble burst. The problem was runaway banking institutions that gambled money they didn’t have and cooked their books due to lax regulations. The government was way too lax, as was admitted by Rand acolyte Alan Greenspan. The Libertarian or so-called “Small government conservative” position of Laissez Faire failed miserably.

  • Alejandro

    @2-D Man: Except that this is not a book about decision making in an engineering company, and the grounds on which you critize the book are ridiculous. Corrosion? Fatigue resistance??? Seriously??? Did Rand had to write a whole chapter detailing the technical properties of a material that doesn’t even exist for you to be happy about this point?

    And no, I don’t believe the central theme of the book is how to run a business, neither I believe the “heroes” of the book do the right thing in every situation, I wonder where you got that from. The main theme of the book is that greater governmental control over business and the destruction of the profit motive leads to economical stagnation and eventual collapse ( a lesson we already learned from the soviet union).

    @GCT. If anything, banking is the most regulated industry in the universe. But lets say you are right and these crisis could be avoided by having the government telling the banks not to be reckless and preventing them from making certain risky investments so they won’t go bankrupt. Couldn’t we apply this logic to other industries as well? Maybe big automakers would not go bankrupt if we just had the government telling them how they have to invest their earnings… and maybe a ton of other big companies will have a lower chance of going bankrupt and leave a bunch of people without jobs if they just do business the way the government tells them to. Before you know it, we have a system where decisions regarding production and investment are made by the government…there is a name for that. Its called planned economy, and it has never worked in real life.

    And so far we are making a very big assumption, namely, that regulation is efficient. But regaulators are human after all. Have you considered what happens when regulators are incompetent, corrupt, or just plain stupid? Look at Enron. The government had regulator in Enron at all levels, yet they still ripped everyone off. (And before you mention it, I do agree with stronger regulations regarding financial transparency)

  • Alrixa

    We are so ignorant and media influenced that we think the spirit of ‘do it’ was invented by Nike, is exactly like saying that morality was created by religion.
    I cannot see any ‘problem’ with the spirit of ‘do it’, however I can see a lot of them with the spirit of ‘free loaders’… which I think a lot of you are like. I can see just envy and jealousy in all of you doing this kind of analysis about this novel… what you envy is precisely the spirit of ‘do it’ because you just want everything for free. Why you don’t go to the proper forums of philosophical and political analysis and discuss with real experts instead of being rejoicing in your ignominy. Why? Simply because you are real ignorants of the subject deeply seen.
    People can believe what they want, what they cannot do is interfere with the lives of others. That’s why human rights and human law are the important things here. What I do not tolerate is Theocracies or societies dictating what you have to believe, but other than people can believe in what makes them feel good… even if it is the most aberrant of believes.
    You are those kind of people who kill the metaphor in poetry saying that words are only univocal, ha ha, even the good Wittgenstein became a kind of mystic at the end of his life. Philosophy of language and mathematical logic finally lost in the great debate, as Einstein finally lost against Bohr. That’s why science is not taken much into consideration by general people, because its proponents say that science has nothing to do with poetry, art, the sense of life, morals or ethics.
    You call yourself friendly atheists, but I cannot see any friendly-ship in your answers. You are like CFI activist atheists, when they are between themselves they put posters of mystics, tarot readers or popes and start darting at them shouting ‘kill the fucker’, ‘assassin the bastard’… are you the next saviors of the world? You are not different from religious fanatics, you are just different in grade but not in essence. If you get to the White House you will now kill or incarcerate religious people just because they believe in what you hate.
    Following your way of argumentation, I can blame Carl Sagan’s Contact novel by saying that in the bottom of the bottom of the bottom he was a hidden religious/mystic fanatic because he believes in mental trips as he proposes it as THE solution for the map incognito. He is not really a scientist, he in fact is a closeted religious zealot who proposes mental trips as the method of knowing extraterrestrials. Does this pseudo-scientist really have something to say to a free thinker like me when he is a covered believer? He is a cheater because he took public resources to live out of them, he was a freeloader of people taxes. Anyone putting him as an example of secularism is a total gullible freak.
    Is this line of argument even viable? Your answer, based on your analysis of Atlas novel, is a solid YES.
    I would like you to stop the arguments ad hominem and start arguing philosophically. Argue against the argument, not swearing the argumentator just because you cannot with his/her arguments.

  • 2-D Man

    Did Rand had to write a whole chapter detailing the technical properties of a material that doesn’t even exist for you to be happy about this point?

    Well, that’d be one way to do it, but it’s kind of a brute-force approach and difficult to follow.

    I don’t believe the central theme of the book is how to run a business…

    Yep. You’ve got me there. It’s entirely possible that that isn’t the central theme of this book. Are you done wallowing in tedium?

  • CelticPeace

    GCT – Fannie and Freddie, quasi government agencies, helped contribute to the mortgage debacle. And government policies requring loans be made to high risk people did not help either. Having said that, Yes the way the banks were packaging sub-prime loans was probably the biggest factor in the financial crisis, plus the evrything was based on the housing market continuing to grow. However as 2-D Man has pointed out – it wasn’t a lack of regulation, it was the fact that the regulators were not aware of the problem and did not foresee the consequences. Government tends to manage based on past crisises vs. foresee future problems (airline security). I do not have all the answers – just pointing out that government has inherent deficiences to be aware of, just like corporations do.

  • GCT

    @CelticPeace and Alejandro,
    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/24/business/economy/24panel.html

    On a day that brought more bad news about rising home foreclosures and slumping employment, Mr. Greenspan refused to accept blame for the crisis but acknowledged that his belief in deregulation had been shaken.

    He noted that the immense and largely unregulated business of spreading financial risk widely, through the use of exotic financial instruments called derivatives, had gotten out of control and had added to the havoc of today’s crisis. As far back as 1994, Mr. Greenspan staunchly and successfully opposed tougher regulation on derivatives.

    But on Thursday, he agreed that the multitrillion-dollar market for credit default swaps, instruments originally created to insure bond investors against the risk of default, needed to be restrained.

    So, can we put this argument to rest, or will you guys continue to persist in being wrong?

  • GCT

    @Alrixa,
    When you can learn to form coherent thoughts, perhaps we can show you why you are wrong. At this point, however, your atheophobic rant doesn’t even rise to that level.

  • CelticPeace

    GCT – interesting – you are relying on the “Rand acolyte”, Alan Greenspan, to prove your point. He does say that derivatives “added” to the crisis, not that they were the cause of the crisis. Note – he was a top ranking government appointed offical, who obviously was not on top of the situation at the time. The problem is – government is supposed to be watching business, but who is watching government ?

  • GCT

    You’re moving the goal posts now. He clearly laments the fact that deregulation led to a situation where people acted in accordance with Rand’s ideas, and it went horribly pear shaped. There are other quotes of his from that time that are more explicit if you’d like them, but it’s the same idea. He was a Rand acolyte. He implemented policies that he thought would work because the free market always works…except that it didn’t work. He deregulated as a rule and a guiding principle.

    So, who is watching government? What does it matter when you push government out of the picture? Which is exactly what happened.

    BTW, no one is claiming the government is fool-proof or that government officials won’t make mistakes, just in case you decide to go that route of non sequitur argumentation that comes up all too often from libertarians.

  • CelticPeace

    GCT – I do not think there is any substantial disagreement between us. The financial crisis was initated by a housing market bubble that burst. Everyone was counting on the housing market continuing to rise, which did not happen. The practice by banks of hiding risky sub-prime loans in various derivatives made the problem much worse, a lack of transparency causing a loss of confidence in the finacial markets. The government did not see the problem coming (or ignored it) until it was too late. You are correct – the government is not fool-proof and that government officials make mistakes. The same can be obviously said for the corporate world. I have “eyes wide open” with regard to both. Note – I do not consider myself a libertarian. We need a careful balance of corporate innovation and effective government regulation. I have enjoyed the discussion.

  • pattrsn

    I cannot see any ‘problem’ with the spirit of ‘do it’, however I can see a lot of them with the spirit of ‘free loaders’… which I think a lot of you are like.

    A cliche does not a libertarian make. It takes at least two.

  • GCT

    @CelticPeace,
    No, there is disagreement.

    You don’t get to simultaneously claim that the government is the problem, meaning they need to get out, and that they are the problem because they didn’t regulate enough. It can’t be both ways.

    Also, see here:

    http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2011-11-05/business/35283739_1_credit-crisis-financial-crisis-wall-street

  • Adam Lee

    Fannie and Freddie, quasi government agencies, helped contribute to the mortgage debacle. And government policies requring loans be made to high risk people did not help either.

    It’s true that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were caught up in the subprime mortgage bubble and, like most other large U.S. lenders, made loans they shouldn’t have made that subsequently went bad. However, the claim that there was a government law or policy requiring banks to give loans to people who wouldn’t otherwise qualify is false, one of those zombie myths about the housing crash. There never was any such law.

  • Alrixa

    To me atheism is only a disbelieve regarding the gods of civilizations. To be what you call human takes a lot more than that. For example, the ability to have under control personal issues like false pride or not falling seduced by arrogance, power, sex, and money, takes a lot from different parts of human spirit. Obviously it is not atheophobia but just the feeling that there is more than that. I just wanted to show how anyone can make from your line of argument a reversed one; I was just trying to play with you inner strings. Doing as you do to see your reactions.

    The most persistent villain in history has not been religion but power and wealth. Religion is just a kind of license the bad intentioned uses to force or kill or torture or take possession of another’s belongings with divine authority. Because general people take religion emotionally, politics, leaders, riches or high range quasi secret associations use religion or mysticism or symbolism of power to get what they want. So, it is not religion but human behavior (not human nature) what the problem is. There are lots of general people who make no harm to anything or to anybody by believe what they believe. Is the uncontrolled ambition mixed with the gregarious sense of general people what the problem is, and that is beyond believing or not in gods. The extreme susceptibility of general people to loneliness and their deep need to feel they are here for a higher purpose is what makes them vulnerable to politics, corrupted leaders or schizophrenic messiahs, prophets or sorcerers. That is even what makes them to believe in deities. Focusing on religion is extremely wrongheaded, incredibly dumb and misses the big picture by wide a mark as it is possible to miss a big picture.

    Sam Harris is an ignorant when he puts ALL the problem in, say, aggressive religions like Islam. I think this simple phrase of Seneca can help a lot: for simple people religion is truth, for sages religion is false, but for politics religion is useful. Religion is just as a knife, I can use it to share an apple with you or to cut you down in pieces. It is not the knife what the problem is but MY use of it. On the other hand, religion has really helped a lot of people regarding for example drugs or alcohol… again, I am talking about simple people and simple people need to be led. General people are mostly still in the level of making gods from humans, general people are still willing to pray to humans… I guess that tells you everything you need to see how easy would be deluding them about something.

    “There is nothing special about Islam, but there is also nothing special about religion. On one hand, there is no shortage of atrocities where religion was not the primary factor. On the other hand, there is no shortage of atrocity-free religion”.

    Our goal, therefore, should not be destroying religion but to invent and promote alternate solutions for general people to do better. You can do a lot with secularism, but you can do a lot more with, say, politics or the arts or psychology or, why not, love. Even if it sounds to gospel, what we need is good willed or good intentioned leaders, is as simple as that. People using the knife (science, technology, power, religion) to share instead to kill. Believing in gods is just a psychological tool to get along with the coldness and indifference of existence; so, our goal should be showing we are doing well with having reduced our demands in the need of an afterlife rewarding or punishing and that we are satisfied with a more mundane sense in our lives.

    I’ve always wonder why big fish atheists don’t belong to your atheists associations?

  • Azkyroth

    However, the claim that there was a government law or policy requiring banks to give loans to people who wouldn’t otherwise qualify is false, one of those zombie myths about the housing crash. There never was any such law.

    But it HAS to be the brown people’s fault SOMEHOW… *eyeroll*

  • GCT

    @Alrixa,
    Your rant has graduated from incoherent to quasi-coherent, but it’s incredibly off topic.

    So, I’ll just say this: you’ve gone from being atheophobic to atheophobic and incredibly condescending. You’re also stuffed to the gills with religious privilege. Sorry, but when religions teach that faith is an acceptable way to learn about the world and have doctrines that are bigoted, evil, and ugly, you don’t get to sweep all of that under the rug as if it doesn’t matter. Your rant is a whole lot of wrong, but again, it’s off topic and not worth dealing with here except to point out what I’ve pointed out.

  • Alrixa

    The topic is Rand’s novel, and I’ve said already my opinion on it.

    Well, what’s the point then? I think you’d say the point is to be happy. To be happy, or comfortable, or relaxed or whatever is for you to be OK, has nothing to do with religions or gods but with what you consider to be important. It doesn’t matter what is important for you, what matters is that important doesn’t intervene negatively with my life. If that is satisfied, I don’t mind what you believe or how you learn about the world.

    Now, let’s deal with education and ignorance. At this level we have to encourage science and secularism simply because they have a falsifiable method of proof and religion doesn’t.

    I think we would be more accepted in general if we call ourselves differently than atheists. Simply because when you talk to a person as if you simply were giving some light to the subject, they will take you more into consideration. We don’t want them to reject their faith, we want them to think it better.

    We, by now, have developed laws and thought down human rights to keep all of us safe of each other. Is that not enough? You want a f**g war instead? Do you prefer kill or incarcerate believers? Have you thought about how hard is for general people to handle the nonsense and indifference of the universe when you stop believing in gods and in higher purposes?

    And remember, any cause has its ideals. Any cause produces in its followers a sense of doing the correct thing!

  • NIklaus Pfirsig

    The underlying rationalization for patents and copyright protection is flawed and naive. The premise is that, by granting an author or inventor a limited monopoly, where the original innovator can reap a reward for for developing the idea. In hypothesis is that this guarantee of profit encourages innovation.

    The problem is that in reality, monopolies are bad for everyone. Small inventors seldom have the funding to put a new invention into production, and are often screwed over by the companies that licenses their patents. The only true right conveyed by IP laws it the right to sue, and when its a little guy against a corporation, it’s east to pick the winner. This is a point repeated often by Don Lancaster in his “Case against Patents” and related articles..
    In any case, the modent leagal system has been leveraged to abused patent protections to stifle innovation and subdue competition .

  • Azkyroth

    We, by now, have developed laws and thought down human rights to keep all of us safe of each other. Is that not enough? You want a f**g war instead? Do you prefer kill or incarcerate believers??

    I think in your case, being spanked and sent to bed without supper would suffice.

  • Alrixa

    Well, Azkyroth, that is a very good starting point. Just spank and send to bed without supper to believers, instead of killing or incarcerate them. You are showing real advance in your manners man, congratulations! That is exactly what I want to promote here. A little bit more tolerance.

    Let’s talk about catholics as an example of my point. They have suffered the deepest effect of western secularism; they have been exposed to humanism, and influenced by it, as any other christian denomination. Despite they still believe in a lot of nonsense when you do some pressing about their beliefs, they are the less dangerous of christians because for them religion a a kind of social thing instead of being a definitory one. I really doubt that if the pope order a religious war, ALL the catholics are going to respond. It may be that just the spaniards will follow that hard call, not even mexicans.

    Most catholics just take their religion as a tool to get along with their deep necessity for a transcendental purpose. Other than that they are pretty civilized. The protestants, on the other hand, are a lot more fundamentalists in their behaviour. And that is because the type of interpretation they do about their scriptures. However I haven’t seen any extremist behaviour from all the central states in you country which are mostly protestants. On the other hand, I can see a lot more damage done for atheists scientists working for, say, big pharma, big food, big seeds, big weapons, big oil or big corps. I know that a lot of them are doing a regrettable work with a lot bigger damage to the world that the damage being done by believers.

    Now, we obviously have to fight the indoctrination of christian religion in public schools and to fight the desires of fundamentalists religious leaders to get power positions. But that has nothing to do with street people, they are just struggling to get along with their lives.

  • CelticPeace

    GCT – there is disagreement only with the strawman you have created –

    “You don’t get to simultaneously claim that the government is the problem, meaning they need to get out, and that they are the problem because they didn’t regulate enough. It can’t be both ways.”

    I said government is part of the problem, but I did not say they need to get out. That is YOUR strawman. I said they need to do a more effective job of regulation. Government is part of the problem and also needs to be a big part of the solution. I said the larger problem hindering this, is the coziness between business and government, the revolving door between government officals and lobbyists.

  • GCT

    @Alrixa,
    You do know what the first rule of holes is, don’t you? Again, your off-topic rants are depressingly atheophobic, religiously privileged, and incredibly condescending. It’s a whole lot of wrong which is all off-topic.

    @CelticPeace

    I said government is part of the problem, but I did not say they need to get out. That is YOUR strawman. I said they need to do a more effective job of regulation.

    Was that before or after the quip about how if the government says they’re going to help, it’s time to run away? C’mon. You can’t have it both ways.

  • CelticPeace

    GCT says “Was that before or after the quip about how if the government says they’re going to help, it’s time to run away? C’mon. You can’t have it both ways.”

    YES – I would like to see the government more effectively regulate big business. Right now it is not working so well, so YES run away if the government says they are here to help you, because they have probably not thought through the unintended consequences (Exp. TRUST me “your insurance premiums are going to go down”). So YES – I can have it both ways. Besides – it is more of a “quip” as you say.

  • GCT

    You’re still trying to have it both ways.

  • CelticPeace

    GCT – Note – I worked in an industry that was heavily regulated by the FDA. It very much needed to be regulated, and for the most part the FDA was very effective in regulating the safety of our drugs. I also worked on environmental safety (from a volunter standpoint) back in the 70s and 80s. There was good consensus on much needed regulation – Clean Air Act, Water Act, Wilderness, etc. However – in the current era, I was not a fan of the Health Bill, mainly because it does nothing to reduce costs. It has become a looming “train wreck” (as Max Baucus called it). I am OK with Social Security the way it was originally envisioned. However it is unsustainable long term and needs to be fixed. Plus they raided the trust fund to pay for other things, so the demographic shift is going to hit harder than it otherwise needed to. And there are other areas of the government I do not trust at all – CIA, FBI, Homeland Security in general. They start wars that do not need to be started and are our eroding away our freedoms through other scare tactics.

  • Alrixa

    Accepting calling myself an atheist is a kind of granting truth to what I myself deny existence. I am a lot better off with talking about myself as a freethinker. Free from what? Free from dogma and absolute authority. Where all of you see the devil I just see grounds from illustration, an opportunity to let the torch of knowledge to illuminate.

    Is precisely because you cannot see power, wealth and the susceptibility of being corrupted or deluded by them as the real enemies, that I call you not better that religious fanatics. You need a cause, you need a villain, you need a sense in your life; and as many people need a war to develop a sense in their miserable lives, you need a believer to fight to feel your life is worthy. And because you are at the opposite side of the supernatural believer spectrum, you need something to believe is the villain to combat against it! You life is so empty that you need an object to conflagrate with, something to keep you busy. Poor you, keep doing your atheist activism so you can be happy as the cruel kid is happy killing insects!

    I really doubt science has had a deeper role in the secularisation of the western culture than, say, the Reformation with Lutter and Calvino. And the giant effect created by these two has had the greatest influence in secularisation, helped a bit latter by science with Darwin and Freud. And the great theme of these two reformers was power, wealth and its corruption effect in religious leaders.

  • GCT

    @CelticPeace,
    This is going nowhere now.

    @Alrixa,
    Again, you post a bunch of condescending atheophobic bullshit. You, evidently, don’t know the first rule of holes.

    Where all of you see the devil I just see grounds from illustration, an opportunity to let the torch of knowledge to illuminate.

    What the hell are you talking about? Oh, I get it. You’re one of those people who thinks they are superior to all others because…well, because your opinions and ideas can’t possibly be wrong. They are.

    Is precisely because you cannot see power, wealth and the susceptibility of being corrupted or deluded by them as the real enemies, that I call you not better that religious fanatics.

    This makes absolutely no sense. Where is the corruption rife in the atheist movement? Where is the power and wealth in a despised minority seeking equal rights? Your screed here just shows how far we have to go to gain acceptance and equality.

    You need a cause, you need a villain, you need a sense in your life; and as many people need a war to develop a sense in their miserable lives, you need a believer to fight to feel your life is worthy.

    Geez, I hope you don’t expect these hours of frothing at the mouth and your pop psychology to be billable. I’m not paying for such shoddy analyses.

    And because you are at the opposite side of the supernatural believer spectrum, you need something to believe is the villain to combat against it!

    Nope, I just want equal rights and to not be treated as a second class citizen. I want to be able to live my life free from your atheophobic religious privilege. You’re no friend to our cause.

    Poor you, keep doing your atheist activism so you can be happy as the cruel kid is happy killing insects!

    Yes, because advocating for equal rights is no different than frying ants in the sun with a magnifying glass. Maybe that’s true on your world, but not here on Earth. So, that begs the question, what planet are you from?

    I really doubt science has had a deeper role in the secularisation of the western culture than, say, the Reformation with Lutter and Calvino.

    You want to make the argument that religious fanaticism had a larger role in secularizing western culture than other factors like science, go ahead. But, let’s see some evidence instead of you just religiousplaining to us.

  • CelticPeace

    “@CelticPeace, This is going nowhere now.”
    Weak response. Just drop off if you don’t want to continue the discussion. You don’t always have to have the last word.

  • GCT

    Well, when you can actually be consistent then maybe I’ll expend more energy. You’re all over the place though. First it’s “Get the government out of here,” then it’s “I like regulation,” followed by, “The government messes up when it regulates.” Some consistency would be nice.

  • CelticPeace

    I never said “get the government out of here”. I did say the local or state government could do a better job than the federal government in some areas. I also said we need more effective regulation. There is nothing inconsistent about saying we need more effective regulation, because the government often does not regulate effectively. What I am advocating is government reform.

    You are right – this is going nowhere.

  • Alrixa

    Just because of the The Reformation, people started to be a lot more receptive to whatever other thing could be heard. All the questioning about Catholic tenets taught general people to consider other options in thinking and doing… even in stopping believing or believing differently. The very simple truth about ‘questioning the pope’, for example, was a preaching tool for the protestants which, at the same time, was very useful for the promotion of thinking as contrary to just accepting. The Reformation even facilitated the assimilation of new ideas, concepts and visions of the world. The questioning logic promoted by reformers even helped to promote doubt and made easier the reasoning of scientific concepts.

    The very same christian philosophy or, better , christian theology, had dealt for a very long time with arguments not just from different christian interpretations of the scripture but with strong and very old arguments against the very existence of god, the soul, the afterlife, the resurrection, the eucharist, etc., etc. They themselves opened the door for skepticism and, therefore, for secularism. The most famous skeptic arguments were in the very same annals of Catholic thinking and rethinking about dogma since a very long time before. Just remember “the writing frugality and simple thinking” of Thomas Aquinas.

    Ironically, the very corpus of Greek wisdom was rescued, analyzed and reported by muslims for the first time. It was them who strongly collaborated to the starting of western secularization process, they supplied algebra, a lot of architectural solutions, etc., to western world throughout their long presence in Spain. The commerce, the encounter with other cultures and geographies, and the awareness of a big range of totally different faiths, religious institutions and political systems, made for secularization a lot more than science… science came in second place. Thanks to previous relativization of Catholic domination, it was a lot easier for science and its applications to succeed. Science made its appearance when the road was already traced and flattened, it just needed to be paved.

    Why science hasn’t had the same effect in Islam or Hinduism as it had, according to yourself, in the west? Because it was not science but a longer process called gradual secularization. They have no philosophy or legal system as the west. In short, I would say it was, in general, that western or european people had a better predisposition to think and to accept the evident greatness of ancient Greece and Rome. Another very important thing is that christianism or, better off, St. Paul made salvation and grace available for everybody. Trust me, freedom and democracy are western exclusives in their origins and had very little to do with science. All the rehearsed thinking and thinking to boil down to earth this ideas placed westerners in a privileged place to better accept openness and tolerance.

    I guess I would like to recommend the reading of Pascal Boyer’s books like ‘Religion Explained’; there you can understand why general people believe what the do believe. There you can find the real deeps of man’s most ancient behaviors. Doing this you can start leaving the surface to get deeper into the labyrinth. That can even help you to improve the effectiveness of your associations and activism.

  • Alrixa

    Just let’s take as an example my own case. I was a strict and celibate Hare Krishna by almost 10 years. One day occurred to me that it would be very nice if I started to study philosophy in a Christian university to widespread our message more effectively. I already had studied Agronomic Engineering after high school; in fact, my conversion to hinduism happened at that very moment, during the last year of my bachelor’s degree. The rejection of my new faith never even close came from the science I had already learnt from high school or Agronomy, but from the Aristotelian and Socratic logic and from the cultural and intellectual knowledge I got from western philosophy, including obviously The Reformation. I learnt the skeptic arguments from Thomas Aquinas, Tertullian and, say, St. Irenaeus.

    It was after that when I started reading about science, mainly about evolution, physics and philosophy of science. In fact, I remembered myself passionately arguing against the deterministic view of science while being already a freethinker. And since those years I have thought about general people don’t take science much into consideration because they simply feel science is so far from their art, music, poetry, literature or friends.

  • GCT

    @Alrixa,
    So, I guess we can add racism to your list of sins. You also seem to think that the singular of anecdote is data. Let’s see, oh yeah, the idea that skepticism comes from religion is a howler to be sure. I will note that at least you added in the Muslim influence, which is better than most people, but you then discarded it in order to be a racist – I mean, everybody knows those brown people from the desert are predisposed against democracy, amiright? I would ask you what studies you could cite, but I’m afraid that I’d get another wall of annoying text that shines a further light on your racism, religious privilege, atheophobia, etc.

  • dbhalling

    Your problem is that you do not understand property rights. You obtain a property right because you created something – including an invention. For someone to use your creation without your permission is stealing. It is no different than you printing up copies of Atlas Shrugged and keeping the profits without paying a royalty. Or broadcasting the NFL games, but paying no royalties.

    You clearly do not understand property rights or objectivism. You believe in mooching off of others efforts and are nothing but a petty thief both materially and intellectually.

  • GCT

    Perhaps you should actually read the OP before commenting.

  • Science Avenger

    The problem with the Objectivist conception of creating something is that it implicitly assumes creation in toto ex nihilo, as if the inventor started with fire and worked his way up to a starship. The history of invention is very different, a consistent story of multiple actors making cumulative progress one brick on top of another and with many false starts. It’s more like a relay race with multiple runners, all clearing one hurdle before handing off the baton. Objectivism would have us act as if the last runner deserves 100% of the credit for the results, despite doinglittle more than anyone else in the chain, not to mention the societal structure that aided the process every step of the way.

  • dbhalling

    Typical Socialist point of view. Here is my answer from Atlas Shrugged

    ”…’he didn’t invent smelting and chemistry and air compression. He couldn’t have invented HIS metal but for thousands and thousands of other people. HIS Metal! Why does he think it’s his? Why does he think it’s his invention? Everybody uses the work of everybody else. Nobody ever invents anything.’ (Jim Taggart) She (Jim Taggart’s Wife) said, puzzled, ‘But the iron ore and all those other things were there all the time. Why didn’t anybody else make that Metal, but Mr. Rearden did?’”

    Rand anticipates Open Source socialists. This idea that no one invents anything is the standard argument of collectivists, but it does not stand up to scrutiny. Why has inventing been concentrated in the last two centuries in relatively small populations of the U.S. and western countries?

  • dbhalling

    You also do not understand patent or IP rights. Every contributor gets credit for instance see the Joseph Swan and Edison debate.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightatheism Adam Lee

    Oh man, this is great. I was waiting for one of the Randian true believers to come along! You can usually tell who they are by the way they treat events in a work of fiction as the definitive guide to the way things happen in the real world.

    So we know that you’re not faking reality, please tell us: how do you know what countries new inventions are concentrated in? How are you counting the total number of things invented in the last two hundred years? What is the source of your data?

  • Science Avenger

    Can the trite labelling of everything that doesn’t agree with you as “socialist”, it just makes you look like an ignorant blowhard. Reality is what it is, whether you label it or not. And spare us the quoting of a book of fiction as support for your arguments, especially to me. I was a hardcore Objectivist for many years (Loren Petrich might remember me from the old newsgroups, I was “Pistol”), I can quote Rand at length from memory.
    Second, in typical fashion, Rand attacks a straw man: the position of anyone familiar with history (you know, what actually happened, as opposed to a fantasy of what might happen) is not that no one invents anything, but that no one invents anything without a lot of help. If you think otherwise, I await an example from the real world with great eagerness.
    Finally, the answer to Rand’s ignorant question of “why didn’t anybody else make that metal” is that in REALITY, someone else did, or was about to, usually right after the inventor of record did (ie Darwin and Wallace). Only in Rand’s fictional world is the opposite the case.

  • Science Avenger

    And what grand presumptuous leap made you think I didn’t understand that?

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightatheism Adam Lee

    Well, that at least is obvious. It was a truism of Rand’s that anyone who truly understood Objectivism would agree with it.

  • dbhalling

    Right – North Korea, the Middle East and Africa are the source of all our inventions.

    You statement is absurd on its face. You do not need a study to know that places with the most invention are also those with the strongest patent laws.

    You Adam are a sophist with no interest in the truth

  • arensb

    What is the source of your data?

    References:
    - My ass, personal communication, 2013.

  • Science Avenger

    Right, why study anything to verify that what you say is correct (or discover its not) when you can just assume the world conforms to your vision. Sophist indeed.

  • dbhalling

    Right, anyone who needs a study to point out the obvious is not interested in the truth. e.g., that free market countries produce more wealth than statist countries – the same is true with patents, but you are not interested in the truth.

  • Science Avenger

    You are blithely ignorant of the history of discovery, invention, and science, which is littered with theories that were “obvious” to their proponents and turned out to be wrong. Ever look at quantum mechanics? Every result is “obviously” wrong. You sound like the creationist that argues with equal veracity that its obvious an eyeball couldn’t evolve.
    You are also grossly ignorant of the realities of the various economic systems in the world, which have varying degrees and applications of free market and socialist principles. The notion that it’s an either/or deal is simplistic to be kind. Statism, not free markets, won WWII, built the interstate highway system, and got us to the moon. And many inventors are not motivated by money, so its OBVIOUS that they’d invent just as much regardless of what the patent laws are. See how easy that game is to play?
    Rand’s explanation of all this? Blank out.

  • arensb

    To quote Granny Weatherwax in Terry Pratchett’s Wyrd Sisters:

    “I’ll grant you it’s obvious. Trouble is, just because things are obvious doesn’t mean they’re true.”

  • Lagerbaer

    I just had to dig out this post, because of the recent announcement by Tesla Motors to release ALL the patents for their electric car http://www.teslamotors.com/blog/all-our-patent-are-belong-you

    In many aspects the founder of Tesla Motors matches the ideal of a Randian hero, being sufficiently “self made”, having created value (the electric car) where there was none. And thus it gives me immense pleasure that he then turns around and does something that’d make Ayn approach relativistic velocity spinning in her grave.

  • Daron A

    From memory, Rand was pretty keen on property rights. Intellectual property rights to sole exploitation of an invention or idea for a limited period fall under this heading.


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