Thursday, May 19, 2011
Inside The Cultist Mind: 2
So anyway, I finally got around to getting a copy of David Harriman's "The Logical Leap: Induction In Physics". I've been in no hurry because, not unlike Atlas Shrugged: The Movie, everything I'd read about it pointed towards it being a typical Objectivist trainwreck.
I've started into it and already it is clear the book has nothing to add to the well-known problem of induction. Nothing, nada, zip, nil, zero, nah-thing. I will be amazed if I can encounter in it a single argument that has not been made, and debunked, at at least 70 years before and more like 150 - the only detectable difference being that this old wine will have been rebottled in Rand's obscurantist Objectivist jargon. Hence reviewing it solely for the purpose of examining Harriman's alleged arguments, though I will touch on these, seems even beyond my considerable tolerance for thankless tasks.
However, what is interesting is not what the book says, but the way Harriman says it. My initial impression of "The Logical Leap" is that, like James Valliant's "The Passion of Ayn Rand's Critics", it's an epic fail in everything it sets out to do, either as argument, or history, or both. But what makes Valliant's demented tome indispensable is precisely its idiocies; with "TPARC" Valliant unwitting gives us, with MRI-like clarity, a fascinating look inside the Rand-cultist's mind. "The Logical Leap" appears to offer us the more of the same. Harriman already has impeccable Rand-cultist form, being busted secretly rewriting Rand's personal notes to make them more Galt-like. The Logical Leap's shamelessly apparatchik stylings have also proved too much for some of the less doctrinaire Objectivist types, prompting a major Objectischism on its publication. Whether Harriman is as full scale a weirdo (here, here) as Valliant remains to be seen.
So I'm going to propose, unless anyone really wants any different, that I write more about how this book functions as a piece of apparatchik propaganda - and even cultist idolatry - rather than seriously examine its long-debunked, vacant and jargon-encrusted arguments. I'll also probably do this as a series of notes as I proceed rather than do a full blown review. It'll be more fun that way.