Rand And The Conservatism Of Doubt

Andrew Sullivan —  Apr 12 2011 @ 4:57pm

In the above segment of Rand's appearance on Donahue, the portion relevant to the following email begins at the 6:00 mark  (and continues into this segment). A reader writes:

There is another flaw to Objectivism besides its encouragement of selfishness, something which is in some ways just as dangerous if not even more so. It is what makes Objectivism to be the exact opposite of science, despite the fact that Rand herself seemed to admire scientists and engineers. It is what places Objectivism in opposition to your own beliefs on the conservatism (though sadly not against mainstream conservatism).

Rand believes in the perfectability of genius. To her, to be a genius is to be incapable of making an error.

They never overestimate their expertise in fields outside of their own ability, they are never uninformed or cling to outdated beliefs. This is why Rand's heroes never listen to other people. To be a genius is to be correct. If someone else is a genius, then they must agree with you. If they disagree with you, obviously they are not a genius and they must be ignored.

One of the core elements of science is cultivating doubt. You create models and you test them. You submit articles to peer review. The scientific community is on the whole not closed in mind. Special relativity and quantum mechanics were both revolutionary and controvertial in their time, and yet because their results were tested out time and time again, science went along. True science cultivates skepticism and demands proof. Genius can still be flawed and fallible; that's why we have peer review.

Rand filled her works with these infallible geniuses who were never wrong, who were always correct in the end, despite what other people said. Rand herself was not famous for being terribly open-minded to criticism either.