Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Summary of My Thoughts on the Peikoff/McCaskey Affair

Over the past few weeks I've been digesting the details of the Peikoff/McCaskey affair and the subsequent fallout in the online Objectivist community. A few days ago I wrote a short, 4-page essay about this issue and the possible implications for the future of the Objectivist movement. While I wrote this in large part to clarify my own thoughts, I originally intended to publish it in full.

But I have a tendency to get wrapped up in controversies of this kind, and I've grown weary of the heated polemics on both sides. For this reason and others, I'm only going to post three general conclusions that came out of my reflection and research. I don't plan to spend too much time defending these conclusions; I'm ready to move on to other things.

1. Over the last decade, the ARI has experienced unprecedented growth in its income, project support, positive publicity, and large-scale dissemination of Objectivist ideas. I believe that this degree of success is due primarily to the expert leadership and organizational management of Yaron Brooke and his team. The new tendency to hire business and public relations professionals in leadership positions, rather than PhD intellectuals, is a very positive trend for the ARI which I hope will continue in the future. This is not to say that the ARI board of 1990 was of poor quality, but that the current group is better equipped to carry out ARI's mission.

2. Based on the unprecedented success of the current ARI leadership, I believe that they are more than competent to make board-level decisions without threats from Dr. Peikoff or anyone else. Such threats are unnecessary and display a disregard for the board's track record of success and professionalism. While I am sure that the board can benefit from Dr. Peikoff's experience and philosophical expertise, his forcing a decision on the McCaskey issue by threatening to leave the ARI called into question the board's integrity. His behavior has led many to question whether Dr. Peikoff has de facto control and veto power over board decisions. I believe that it is primarily this aspect of the affair, along with Dr. Peikoff's harsh tone in his written responses, that has caused such an uproar in the Objectivist community.

3. The explosion of publicity of Ayn Rand's ideas, along with rapid technological advances in communication (Facebook, blogs, Twitter, etc.) has significantly decentralized the dissemination of Objectivist ideology. While the ARI is still HQ for the Objectivist movement, it is no longer the sole voice of rationality in today's culture. This, too, is a positive trend. For a number of reasons, I would encourage those interested in intellectual activism to strongly consider forming their own non-profit organizations without a strongly dependent relationship with the ARI. There are certainly benefits to associating one's organization with the ARI, but this is not the ideal set-up for every activist venture under the sun.

--Dan Edge


The Pretentious Ignoramus said...


I don't have the slightest idea of what you are talking about.

Dan Edge said...

Ditto, that's why I deleted the rant by "Peonard Leikoff."

--Dan Edge

Anonymous said...

" While the ARI is still HQ for the Objectivist movement, it is no longer the sole voice of rationality in today's culture."

Uh...no longer the "sole voice of rationality"? So, there were no "voices of rationality" from 1982 to 1985?

Dan Edge said...

What little hair I have left feels all split now!

That was a figure of speech. Of course there were other positive individuals and organizations aside from ARI, but the ARI was so much bigger and more well known than any of the other rational voices that they may as well have been the only one. Got me?

Unknown said...

Harriman acccepts QM math but not acausal explanations of QM.

Dan Edge said...


Acausal explanations of QM are proven though experiment. Harriman does not address this, and offers little in the way of scientific references for his academically unorthodox positions.

My fact checks of Harriman's public writings and lectures resulted in many errors. John McKaskey, Travis Norton, and others demonstrated some of these errors in detail. Harriman is dead wrong on QM.

--Dan Edge