Saturday, February 06, 2010

Ayn Rand's Amazing Achievements, Pt 137

One of the most obvious signs of cultism in Objectivism is the desire for Objectivists to believe Ayn Rand was somehow a sui generis, all-purpose genius with a list of Amazing Achievements on a par with, as one commenter here has noted, Paul Bunyan creating the Grand Canyon by merely dragging his axe behind him. It is simply not acceptable to the cultist that she was a merely important historical figure, or a popular novelist, or a particularly clever and charismatic woman. This is so inadequate as to be insulting. No, they really want to believe that she is the greatest thinker since Aristotle, and that she solved all the major philosophical, economic, aesthetic, and political problems of the past two thousand years, as well plus a host more that no-one even knew about, all without the help of any other thinker since the Big A himself.

Of course anyone who's not a True Believer this is L. Ron Hubbard territory. We've already noted a recent example of this bizarre overestimation of Rand here. More recently, we spotted another example here, in a review at the Fun With Gravity blog of the New Criterion piece we linked to ourselves. The author, one mtnrunner2, seemed to think the following:

One would be challenged to find the historical sources for the following selected ideas that Rand originated:
- The sanction of the victim, i.e. the idea that only the moral permission of oppressed producers makes their exploitation possible
- The observation that Kant regarded the mind as ineffective precisely because it has an identifiable nature, which is in fact the source of the mind's efficacy for the living organism
- The derivation of the concept of moral value from the nature and requirements of life
- The idea that concept formation involves the retention of similarities and the dropping of specific measurements
- The idea of art as a selective re-creation of reality according to an artist's "metaphysical value judgments"
- Her presentation of the axiomatic concepts underlying philosophy
- The insight that focusing the mind, not choosing, is the essence of free will
- The definition of "value" as that which one actually acts to gain and/or keep (not merely what one claims to value)


Um...actually its not very "challenging" at all to debunk this. I did so in comments, which I now reproduce here.

The problem is that Rand's ideas are both good and original in the sense of the old joke: those that are good are not original and those that are original are not good. With that in mind, let's take up your challenge, point by point:

1)The sanction of the victim, i.e. the idea that only the moral permission of oppressed producers makes their exploitation possible

One of the recurring problems with philosophy in general, and Objectivism in particular, is verbalism: a fondness for high-sounding gobbledygook that appears impressive, but is actually either empty, or merely masks a commonplace. So let's unpack what you're trying to say here, which seems to be simply that people who produce things, and are oppressed, shouldn't put up with it. Now, there are any number of people who have said this sort of thing, from Spartacus to Karl Marx. How you can think this is some sort of historically unique insight on Rand's part is quite remarkable. So this is hardly original. Rand does add a twist, however, in that in her novels the "oppressed" are businessmen, architects, and inventors. Is this twist any good? Are they seriously"oppressed"? Well, speaking as a businessman myself, While I sometimes feel oppressed by many things, including the government. But even in that case, in a democratic society I can lobby politicians, vote, and change things. Further, most businessmen I know enjoy a as much if not more freedom than government officials or the workers they employ. Thus considering myself very much more "oppressed" than others seems to be either a rhetorical fantasy or a species of self pity, neither of which seems much of an argument. So, Not Original, and Not particularly Good.

2) The observation that Kant regarded the mind as ineffective precisely because it has an identifiable nature, which is in fact the source of the mind's efficacy for the living organism

This is a bad piece of gobbledygook. I will attempt to translate: Kant didn't believe man's brain worked, hence he was an irrationalist. Now this is potentially a wide debate, as Kant is a controversial figure, so I'll just note that this view, even if it is Good, which is doubtful, it is certainly Not Original to Rand.

3) The derivation of the concept of moral value from the nature and requirements of life

Actually, Rand produced no such "derivation" - if you mean logically, that is, and of course this is the only "derivation" that matters. If you think she did, please produce it, with formally labelled premises and conclusion. Or, produce your own version of what you think she was "deriving". I don't think you will succeed. So the issue here is not the quality or originality of Rand's insight, but simply its non-existence.

4)The idea that concept formation involves the retention of similarities and the dropping of specific measurements

Well, let's break this down. "Concept formation" is aimed at solving the so-called problem of universals, which in itself can be summarised in a non-gobbledygook way as the problem of why different things are similar. As such we immediately see why "the retention of similarities" is of no help whatsoever in this - it is about as good as saying things are similar because they have similarities. As for measurement omission, this is for once is Original. Here Merlin Jetton explains why it is Not Good.

5) The idea of art as a selective re-creation of reality according to an artist's "metaphysical value judgments"

Again, let's strip away the pretentious verbiage and see what this theory actually amounts to. "Selective recreation of reality" seems to simply mean an artist chooses a subject. Not exactly an amazing insight. But why does he choose it? Because of his "metaphysical value judgements", apparently. Once again, this seems to be padded with verbiage like "metaphysical" in an effort to make it sound more intellectual. We might just as well say "value judgements" or even "values". So we then see Rand's theory as: an artist chooses a subject according to his values. So a gloomy artist will choose gloomy subjects, and recreate them in a gloomy way, a happy artist will choose happy subjects and recreate them in a happy way, etc etc. Childish as it sounds, that's all this amazing theory predicts. Not exactly Original, certainly Not Good.

6) Her presentation of the axiomatic concepts underlying philosophy

It is true that Rand's axiomatic concepts are original. What is lacking is arguments as to why they are good. They are in fact so vague that they can fit just about anything you like. For example, Bertrand Russell presented "Existence exists" to one of the British Idealists - I think F H Bradley - and he had no difficulty accepting it. So: Not Good, at least as a refutation of what Objectivism opposes.

7) The insight that focusing the mind, not choosing, is the essence of free will

Funnily enough, one has to choose to focus the mind, creating something of a problem for this "insight." Not Good.

8) The definition of "value" as that which one actually acts to gain and/or keep (not merely what one claims to value)

Let's see. I pull out Von Mises' "Human Action" and what do I find?: "It is customary to say that acting man has a scale of wants or values in his mind when he arranges his actions. On the basis of such a scale he satisfies what is of higher value...and leaves unsatisfied what is of lower value..."(p94) So not only can we find it in Mises for starters, please note the phrase "It is customary...". In other words, it's merely a commonplace observation. So, Not Original in the least.

So in summary, it is quite easy to answer your challenge. I know that wild claims regarding Rand's brilliance and originality are widely promulgated by her followers, such as the Institute that bears her name. But what is remarkable to a non-Objectivist such as myself is how uncritically you've accepted them. Hopefully my passing comments will give you some pause for thought.


And how did mtnrunner2 react to someone actually taking up his awesome "challenge" ? He simply asked me not to post there again.

Hat tip: Neil Parille

31 comments:

Anonymous said...

Actually I did ask the objectivists to list the achievements not just of Rand, but of 'their' scientists, Dr's, artists etc. over at the New Criterion site. Apologies if I nicked any of your ideas when debating with them but I've still to receive a single name from an objectivist.

We know from Rand that her teachings are pro-man, life and mind and that every other school of thought is anti-man, life and mind yet it does seem strange that all the Dr.s, scientists, artists, along with everyone else flocks not to objectivism but to, well anything and everything else. Strange, as the objectivists will tell you they have a high regard for science, medicine and art.

I did jokingly say at that site that Dianetics propbably has influenced the world more than Atlas Shrugged. I guess in a way that is true as I do believe that there are more scientoligsts in the world than objectivists.

Yes I do agree that like Hubbard, Rand was selective in her telling of her life story and her followers, like Hubbards, maintain this 'fiction' even today. Both have and had followers who will viscioulsy attack you in print and verbally if you dare question their guru.

I mean if you can't take it, why give it?

Steven Johnston

Michael Prescott said...

"And how did mtnrunner2 react to someone actually taking up his awesome 'challenge'? He simply asked me not to post there again."

Proof once again that Objectivism is "bluff, buttressed by abuse of all critics."

Anonymous said...

Wow, just got back from there, those objectivists have their eye on you lot. Come the Randian revolution I guess we know who will be the first up against the wall, anyone that posts here. So because of that I’d just like to state I love Ayn Rand.

Steve Johnston

Anonymous said...

Meanwhile over at the newcriterion I did ask, if objectivism has such a high regard for science and medicine why I’d never met or heard of an objectivist scientists or Dr. The response I got was that as my understanding of science was so faulty they doubted I’d notice one. Great, said I, surely an objectivist would be able to recognise one, so you name the names. Sadly no one there so fit to answer that question.

Steven Johnston

Neil Parille said...

Mr. Johnston,

A different way of putting it would be this: If the Objectivist theory of concept formation is so important, name a single scientific discovery since ITO that would not have been made but for Rand's conceptual theory.

-Neil Parille

Anonymous said...

Thank Neil, just asked that very question. Though put the question in inverted commas as don't want to take credit for it, but respected your privacy and did not name your name. I'll update you if any objectivists respond.

Steve

Anonymous said...

You mean like this? From, what has to be the worst objectivist site out there and that is saying something! Solopassion. Written by that cut-price Peikoff Lindsey Perigo (who he?)

Steve

"Along the way, she demolished several age-old dilemmas and dichotomies. She disposed of the "is/ought" dichotomy—that you can't derive values from facts—by pointing out that an entity's actions are determined by that entity's nature and that a volitional, conceptual entity such as man can appropriately derive values, by thought and choice, only from facts. She pointed out that trying to derive values from other sources—such as "divine revelation" or range-of-the-moment whims can lead only to disaster, and in so doing busted the intrinsicist/subjectivist dichotomy.

She pointed out that volition is a causal agent, and so resolved the free will/determinism controversy.

She pointed out that facts without logic are as useless as logic without facts, and so busted the rationalist/empiricist dichotomy.

She pointed out that consciousness is not rendered invalid by the fact that it has organs—that we are not deaf because we have ears that can hear—and so busted Kant's noumenal/phenomenal dichotomy.

She exposed the lethal incoherence of requiring that we must know everything in order to know anything (see modern physics).

She pointed out the logical absurdity of the traditional ethic of self-sacrifice for the sake of others—if I am here to sacrifice for you, and you are here to sacrifice for me, what good does that do either of us? What is the point? She highlighted its logical/practical effect, all too eloquently exemplified during the twentieth century in which she lived: humanity's being divided up into those who make sacrifices and those who receive them; thence, bloodbaths and concentration camps.

She pointed out the existential monstrosity of an ethic that says we should act from duty and eschew happiness. "The purpose of morality is to teach you, not to suffer and die, but to enjoy yourself and live." With that, she launched a revolution.

Ayn Rand showed that we can not only contemplate the stars, but we can also reach them—in part by dispensing with the notion that we'll find a "God" there. "My philosophy, in essence" she said, "is the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute."

Anonymous said...

Well Neil, here is one reply I received to your question.

"As for scientific discoveries, all science -- to the extend that it is true (ie. corresponds to reality) follows the epistemology outlined by Rand at least at the implicit level (http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/implicit_knowledge.html). "That which is merely implicit is not in men’s conscious control; they can lose it by means of other implications, without knowing what it is that they are losing or when or why." (Rand)"

Daniel Barnes said...

Steven:
>Well Neil, here is one reply I received to your question:
"As for scientific discoveries, all science -- to the extend that it is true (ie. corresponds to reality) follows the epistemology outlined by Rand at least at the implicit level (http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/implicit_knowledge.html). "That which is merely implicit is not in men’s conscious control; they can lose it by means of other implications, without knowing what it is that they are losing or when or why." (Rand)"

I wonder if anyone can actually make any sense at all of that reply...;-)

Perhaps I will attempt an Objecto-Speak Translation later.

Michael Prescott said...

That quote from Lindsey Perigo is one of the sadder things I've read recently. Is he really so silly as to think that Rand resolved all those age-old philosophical disputes with a few cliches?

"She pointed out that volition is a causal agent, and so resolved the free will/determinism controversy."

Huh?

Observing that volition is a causal agent does not even address the free will/determinism controversy. The question is not whether volition causes things, but whether volition is caused by things (e.g., by electrochemical activities of the brain, or genetics, or environmental conditioning).

"She pointed out that consciousness is not rendered invalid by the fact that it has organs—that we are not deaf because we have ears that can hear—and so busted Kant's noumenal/phenomenal dichotomy."

I would bet money Perigo has never read anything by Kant. Contra Rand's goofy interpretation, Kant did not say that human consciousness is invalid. He did say that human consciousness operates within a framework of categories, like time and space, that are imposed on the phenomenal world.

"She exposed the lethal incoherence of requiring that we must know everything in order to know anything (see modern physics)."

What?

I don't even know what this means, or why he thinks the words "see modern physics" would help explain anything.

Truly a pitiful performance.

Daniel Barnes said...

Mike P:
>Truly a pitiful performance.

I think La Perigo's comment about "modern physics" is particularly revealing of the Objectivist mindset.

When it comes to modern physics, he knows a lot about Mario Lanza. Yet somehow Rand has persuaded him that he is supremely qualified to pronounce judgement on something he knows literally nothing about.

It could be that Perigo is simply a bit of an airhead - I've met him, and he is nice enough in person if not exactly a towering intellect - but of course this strange sense of entitlement applies to many more Objectivists than just him.

Hence I can't help but think this is an underlying part of Objectivism's appeal: that it promises you a kind of ultimate intellectual power for the price of simply reading a potboiler or two. "You too can solve the mysteries of the ages for just $12.99!" That kind of thing.

Dragonfly said...

MP: [Perigo:] "She exposed the lethal incoherence of requiring that we must know everything in order to know anything (see modern physics)."

That's funny, it's exactly the other way around: the argument I always hear from Objectivists is that if you say that our senses are imperfect and that we cannot know everything, would imply that we cannot know anything, which seems to be one of her main arguments against Kant: his ideas would make knowledge impossible (which of course leads immediately to the rise of Nazi Germany, as Peikoff has proved).

What modern physics has to do with it escapes me. Strange enough, people like Peikoff don't hesitate to use things that are made possible by that very same corrupt modern physics, such as computers.

Xtra Laj said...

One of the best sections of Scott Ryan's "Objectivism and the Corruption of Rationality" was his discussion of how Objectivism doesn't understand the debate behind "The Evidence of the Senses". In fact, many people who use their common sense to approach the issue often fall into the same trap as Objectivists.

The problem is not with the Evidence of the Senses, but with the instant judgment that we make based upon the Evidence of the Senses. That instant judgment is generally reliable but is quite fallible for a variety of reasons that we are all know: how tired we are, what we are focusing on at the expense of other interactions etc. Speaking of the "Evidence of the Senses" apart from the instant judgment that we make based on that evidence (called "perception" by most, though different schemes/labels are possible) usually shows that one hasn't grappled sufficiently with the problem. A sensation cannot be right or wrong - it just is. You can't discuss evidence without speaking about propositions/judgments. It is by conflating sensation with the judgment that we make on the basis of it that Objectivists fail to see the problem with the reliability of the senses.

In fact, most people are selective in how they interpret the environment for various reasons, both evolutionary and behavioral. An artist looking at a TV is unlikely to be fascinated by precisely the same things a physicist is, and there are many experiments that show that witness testimonials are quite unreliable because witnesses are biased to remember things that are often not relevant to what they claim to have witnessed.

Anonymous said...

I think the saddest thing about the site, SOLO, is that Lindsey is surrounded by people that think the sun shines out of his proverbial; the same is true for James Valliant. Anyone that disagrees with them and refuses to draw the line is, in their eyes 'sub-human'. This does make for a very interesting or effective debate.

NB. This week at SOLO is Obama a fascist, a socialist or both? They really do compare Obama to Hitler there. Perhaps Lindsey and Valliant and co can give a timeline for this descent into fascism in the US. When is Obama going to suspend parliamentary democracy, ban the republican party and set up the concentration camps?

Steven Johnston

Michael Prescott said...

Interesting, mostly critical take on Rand in this current essay from RealClearPolitics:

http://tiny.cc/RU2qn

Xtra Laj said...

Michael,

That's a really good article. As long as an article mentions the human nature perspective, I think it is good.

While I didn't love the New Criterion article, I brought it to our attention here in part because of Rand's callous treatment of O'Connor in the name of fixing bad psycho-epistemology. Any critic who doesn't address the human nature issue and show how far Rand was from reality will always miss the point, and if you read any of the comments in the New Criterion article, you will see that this anecdote has been completely glossed over by both her defenders and detractors. It's funny how they think that for someone who claimed her philosophy was practical, her actual behavior and its results are irrelevant to the truth/correctness of her philosophy.

Anonymous said...

Daniel, you have to take the credit for asking such a good question. Here is a reply from the Atlas Society.

Dear Mr. Johnston:
>
> You have asked a good question. I will say right now that I cannot
> think of a significant scientific discovery that owed an intellectual
> debt to the Objectivist epistemology as such. Nor should there be one.
>
> The Objectivist Epistemology defends the idea that we can form
> objective knowledge based on perception. It defends logic, both
> inductive and deductive. It defends the scientific method. It defends measurement.
>
> There is more to it than that, but the point is that modern science
> and technology depend for their existence on people using objective
> methods and reasoning based on the presumption that knowledge derives
> from the observation and measurement of nature.
>
> It is possible to show how major scientific achievements exemplify
> Objectivist epistemological principles, and how they do not exemplify
> Platonism or Pragmatism. For instance, when Einstein showed that all
> velocity is relative, and that there is no universal measure of
> velocity, many self-described defenders of objectivity were shocked.
> And yet, consider, that the Objectivist epistemology emphasizes that
> all measurement, indeed all knowledge, is relative to the knower's context.
> Furthermore, we can categorize facts in many ways based on their
> identities. Nature has joints, but there is no one way to carve them.
> It would be odd, once one considers it, for there to be some fixed
> point of reference for the whole universe. In fact, Einstein's theory
> exemplifies Rand's understanding of objectivity.

Xtra Laj said...

In other words, we think that when others are doing great things, they are thinking like we would like them to. We can't prove it, but we know it. We also know that if others thought the way we would like them to, others would arrive at great inventions too. We are 100% sure of this claim and you are stupid if you disagree - we can't prove it, but we know it.

- The Badass Society.

Armando said...

"In fact, Einstein's theory
exemplifies Rand's understanding of objectivity."

In what way? That it's relative? ;)

Anonymous said...

Here is the rest of the response. Actually a lady the Atlas Society did say she only knew of one scientist who is an objectivist, he is a grad student! Now I don't know if you can strictly be labelled a scientist if you are a grad student but no mind. At least she admitted that you can be a great scientist and believer and/or an altruist at the same time. So we are making progress in getting them to see at least that truth.

Steven Johnston

One could go on. The Objectivist epistemology has positive
> implications for epistemology, but they mostly call our attention to
> good practices many people already do. The epistemology's particular
> utility is in answering a variety of philosophical objections to the
> possibility of objective knowledge. Thus it is no accident that in our
> draft of the Logical Structure of Objectivism
> (www.atlassociety.org/cth-45-1354-LSO.aspx ), David Kelley and I do
> not detail the Objectivist theory of concept formation, but rather
> show how the positive epistemological claims that Objectivism relies
> on involve the possibility of objective knowledge, the primacy of
> perception, and the contextual and hierarchical nature of knowledge.
>
> I hope you find this answer helpful.
>
> --Will Thomas

Xtra Laj said...

"The hierarchical nature of knowledge..."

That's the claim that all knowledge starts from evidence produced by sense perception and that some concepts are more fundamental/foundational than others. It can be a useful practical tool for understanding certain ideas better, but I think Objectivists overestimate its role in an individual's arriving at correct ideas. It's just one method of testing and developing understanding - there are other routes.

Anonymous said...

Sent this to the webmaster at Solo:

Hi William (@solo),
>
> Got this reply from the Atlas society, you said every single
> scientific advance owed a intellectual debt to the ITOE, Mr Thomas
> says he cannot think of a single one. Very big discrepancy there, you
> go from either all or none!
> Give me some time and I'll join and pose the question there.
>

I got this reply back, can anyone fathom this?

"I did not say that. I said that every scientific discovery is based implicitly on an epistemological method and that to the extent that it is correct, it corresponds with IOTE (which is also correct!)"

Xtra Laj said...

Steve,

He is repeating what the Badass society said.

You see, Objectivists claim that Ayn Rand described in ITOE with great precision how to form concepts properly and that every scientific advance relies on people forming concepts as she formed them. Other people might use such methods by accident, but Rand was the first to properly reveal and show what they were doing when they got it right. If you use her method, it will be clear to you that concepts like "God" and "extremism" are invalid concepts - they are concepts formed by the arbitrary grouping of existents (or concepts, possibly invalid) with no proper epistemological basis.

So while you might not know it, when you are thinking correctly, you are using Rand's methodology. But when you arrive at an improper or invalid concept (whatever that is - read ITOE or OPAR for details), you are not thinking correctly.

Of course, the idea that forming proper concepts is the key to good thinking is dubious, but Objectivists get a lot of mileage out of it because they are generally ignorant of the limitations of such thinking and don't practice in fields that reveal the limitations of such thoughts. By the time they are exposed to better philosophy, they are already trapped in the iron ring of ideas that is Randian thought.

Xtra Laj said...

The key word is "implicit" - it is the Objectivists' favorite word for imputing ideas, motives or practices to others that others do not proclaim. Such things obviously exist, but Objectivists often fail to show the required skepticism about the efficacy of such mind-reading. e.g. "Nyquist is an implicit subjectivist" means "While Nyquist would never call himself subjectivist, it is obvious to me that he is really a subjectivist",

Anonymous said...

Where did the Japanese script disappear to?

My wife is Japanese and I could have asked her to translate this, if anyone is interested of course.

We could then find out if this person is pro or anti-rand.

Interestingly, last time I was in Tokyo I did venture into the English sections of their large book stores and nope there was nothing by or on Rand. That is not to say she has not been translated into Japanese.

Steven Johnston

Daniel Barnes said...

Hi Steven

The Japanese script is, I believe, spam. It pops up from time to time.

It often links to games sites, free gold for World of Warcraft etc.

Daniel Barnes said...

BTW your exchanges above with The Atlas Society and Solopassion are interesting, I will comment further when I get a moment.

Anonymous said...

Yes, but I dare not push it any further with SOLO, once they find out I am anti-rand they just shower you with abuse. I all end up getting a bit "you sub-human *beep*" and this from a man (linz), who is praised as a great communicator!
Though the word that springs to mind from his replies is "randroid", is that unfair?

To be fair to the Atlas society they do seem a bit more open-minded and polite.

Steven Johnston

Daniel Barnes said...

Steven:
>Though the word that springs to mind from his [Lindsay Perigo's] replies is "randroid", is that unfair?

Hi Steven,

I think Lindsay Perigo is one of these people who gets high on Randian rhetoric, but doesn't actually grok the issues in any depth. As I say, my impression is that he's a bit of an himbo.

See, for example, his self-humiliating discussion of logic with The Atlas Society's David Kelley and and Auckland University's Robert Nola. Perigo gets completely schooled, ultimately falling back to the desperate position that Objectivism does not, in fact, use standard logic. ("'Standard logic" this may be; Objectivism, I submit, it ain't.") Well, I've said the same thing all along, the difference being that he seems to think this is somehow a point in Objectivism's favour. Quite how Objecto-logic works seems, to be kind...unclear. Nonetheless the fact that Objectivists have to appeal to their own special "logic" as well as their own special language in order for their arguments for their arguments to function gives us a good indication of what's really going on here.

Daniel Barnes said...

Steven:
>Though the word that springs to mind from his [Lindsay Perigo's] replies is "randroid", is that unfair?

Hi Steven,

I think Lindsay Perigo is one of these people who gets high on Randian rhetoric, but doesn't actually grok the issues in any depth. As I say, my impression is that he's a bit of an himbo.

See, for example, his self-humiliating discussion of logic with The Atlas Society's David Kelley and and Auckland University's Robert Nola. Perigo gets completely schooled, ultimately falling back to the desperate position that Objectivism does not, in fact, use standard logic. ("'Standard logic" this may be; Objectivism, I submit, it ain't.") Well, I've said the same thing all along, the difference being that he seems to think this is somehow a point in Objectivism's favour. Quite how Objecto-logic works seems, to be kind...unclear. Nonetheless the fact that Objectivists have to appeal to their own special "logic" as well as their own special language in order for their arguments to function gives us a good indication of what's really going on here.

caroljane said...

In a breathtakingly creative push on the "Atlas Shrugged Essay Contest" envelope, the ARI is currently running an "Atlas Shrugged Video Contest", and the voting is coming down to the wire.Sadly however, a leading contestant has become embroiled in an intellectual property spat with his collaborator.

This contretemps provides disinterested observers such as myself with much food for thought on many topics, as these young objectivist filmmakers struggle with the age-old questions: what are the rights of the visionary vs those of the mere technician? What are the odds of winning a popular-vote contest? how much creative control can you claim by offering 2000 rupees, repeatedly, to one who rejects them?

I know it's the holidays but these potentially seminal issues should be thought about, so I am thinking. Even though it cuts into my crowded schedule of working part-time, neglecting my family and never doing any housework.These are no times for anyone to refrain from comment on trivial events which are none of their business.

If I can do it, so can you.