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Ayn Rand was a crackpot

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 9/19/2012 Category: Miscellaneous
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,572 times Debate No: 25706
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Resolved: Ayn Rand was a crackpot.

If you can prove that Ayn Rand was a logical/rational, clearminded and relatively balanced person, you can win this debate. (Hint: She isn't!)

Round 1 accept, 2 arguments, 3 rebuttal, 4 conclusion (sum up your facts, no new evidence)

Crackpot: A person who is eccentric, unrealistic, or fanatical.
Ayn Rand: Ayn Rand was a Russian-American novelist, philosopher, playwright, and screenwriter. She is known for her two best-selling novels, The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, and for developing a philosophical system she called Objectivism.



I accept the debate.

I note by the wording of the resolution that Pro has the burden of proof. If Pro has not fulfilled his burden, then Con wins by default. (If the opponent, however, wishes to argue otherwise, it is no matter, seeing as that I will offer my own arguments as well.)

Since the opponent wants to emphasize the semantic of what constitutes a "crackpot", I demand that the definition be changed to a conjunctive statement, rather than a disjunctive one, seeing as that in the case above, it would suffice for Pro to prove just one part of the definition (e.g., she is eccentric) and say that he has proved that Rand is a crackpot. Nevertheless, our commonsense intuition of a crackpot is necessary and sufficient of all these parts: "eccentric, unrealistic, AND fanatical".
Debate Round No. 1
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Debate Round No. 2


Wonderful! I'm glad you did, and I look forward to a good, civil debate.

Just a quick note before we begin: What my opponent may deem Ad hominem arguments are perfectly fine to be used in this situation, because the personal character of Ayn Rand is being assessed.

I do have the burden of proof, and yes, you "win by default" if I cannot prove that Ayn Rand is a crackpot. However, as I say below, I can and will use any part of the definition of crackpot to prove her crackpottish qualities.

You "demand", eh? Quite the feisty one... Because I am so incredibly generous and warmhearted, I have prepared definitions of "crackpot" by 4 major dictionaries as follows:
Merriam-Webster American English Dictionary: Crackpot: "one given to eccentric or lunatic notions." Site: [] Crackpot: "a person who is eccentric, unrealistic, or fanatical." Site: []
Oxford English Dictionary: Crackpot: "an eccentric or foolish person." [Site:;].
Cambridge American English Dictionary: "a crazy or strange person." Site: [].

Note the recurring words and ideas: (1) Eccentric/Strange (2) Lunatic/Unrealistic (3) Foolish/Crazy
Eccentric/Strange refers to a devation from usual custom/pattern;
Whereas Lunatic/Unrealistic refers to innapropriation to reality and fact;
Wheareas Foolish/Crazy refers to lacking in sense, judgement or discretion.
All three of these are seperate and different, and can each be used (solitarily or multilaterally) to prove that Ayn Rand was a crackpot. The definition of crackpot is not necessarily limited to any one of these, be it Eccentric, Unrealistic or Fanatical. It is instead different things that alone each define crackpot but as all put together more easily define crackpottish characteristics. Just like you can determine what species a bird belongs to by its feather and not the rest, a crackpot can be described by any of these characteristics. That is my final judgement on this subject.


Ayn Rand is eccentric and strange, as well as being a lunatic, and unrealistic, in a wide detachment from reality. There is simply no disputing this.

1. Eccentric:
deviating from conventional or accepted usage or conduct especially in odd or whimsical ways (Merriam-Webster AED)

Ayn Rand held beliefs that were eccentric at the time, such as Atheism. According to estimates compiled by researchers at the University of Glasgow, Scotland, the percentage of religions in the world in 1900 is as follows:
Atheism: 0.03% [Which Ayn Rand belongs to]
Christianity: 72.4%
Judaism: 1.6%
Islam: 26%

"Ayn Rand was an atheist. According to her one-time associate Barbara Branden, Rand became an atheist at age thirteen. Branden records Rand writing in her diary at that age: "Today I decided to be an atheist." Branden then reports her as later explaining, "I had decided that the concept of God is degrading to men. Since they say that God is perfect, man can never be that perfect, then man is low and imperfect and there is something above him – which is wrong." [Branden, PAR, p. 35.] Branden continues that Rand's "second reason" is that "no proof of the existence of God exists." [Source:]

Ayn Rand was an Individualist, which according to Stephen Cox of the Atlas Society, was "outmoded, discredited, and even dangerous [during 1943]."

"Easiest to specify is the book's political and ideological significance... More than any other work, The Fountainhead reawakened popular enthusiasm for a way of thinking, and a way of life, that in 1943 was regarded by virtually every sector of intellectual opinion as outmoded, discredited, and even dangerous." [Source:]

Ayn Rand held many controversial positions during her lifetime. She:

(1) Supported abortion rights. [Burns, Source 1, Heller, Source 2]
(2) Opposed the Vietnam War and the military draft. [Rand, Source 3, Burns, Source 1]
(3) Supported Israel in the Arab-Israeli War of 1973. [Burns, Heller]
(4) Saying European Colonists had the right to take land from American Indians. [Burns, Heller]
(5) Called homosexuality “immoral” and “disgusting”, while advocating the repeal of all laws against it. [Heller]

Being a social and intellectual deviant in many ways earns her the title of Eccentric/Strange.

2. Lunatic/Unrealistic

Ayn Rand was a hypocrite. “Morally and economically,” wrote Rand in a 1972 newsletter, “the welfare state creates an ever accelerating downward pull.” Yet, from 1974 to 1982 (her death), she collected $11,002 in Social Security, to help pay for treatment of lung cancer caused by cigarettes. [Source 4]

Ayn Rand enjoyed smoking two packs a day and, according to William R. Thomas of the Atlas Society, “she liked the symbolism of a person being able to hold fire at his fingertips, representing man's control over nature.” [Source 5] In Atlas Shrugged, one character said “When a man thinks, there is a spot of fire alive in his mind–and it is proper that he should have the burning point of a cigarette as his one expression.” Even though at the time she was diagnosed with lung cancer (1974) there was widespread evidence that smoking did cause cancer, she denied that and continued to assert that there was no “conclusive, nonstatistical proof” that smoking caused cancer. [Heller, Source 2]

Ayn Rand was racist. She said that “The Arabs are one of the least developed cultures. They are typically nomads. Their culture is primitive, and they resent Israel because it's the sole beachhead of modern science and civilization on their continent. When you have civilized men fighting savages, you support the civilized men, no matter who they are. Israel is a mixed economy inclined toward socialism. But when it comes to the power of the mind—the development of industry in that wasted desert continent—versus savages who don't want to use their minds.” [Ayn Rand Institute, Transcript, Source 6] What an awful, false generalization of Arab culture.

Signs of lunacy and detachment from reality most certainly include hypocrisy, denial of well established scientific fact, and racism.

All in all, Ayn Rand was most certainly a crackpot, in the full sense of the word.

[1] Burns, Jennifer (2009). Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN978-0-19-532487-7.OCLC313665028.
[2] Heller, Anne C. (2009). Ayn Rand and the World She Made. New York: Doubleday. ISBN978-0-385-51399-9. OCLC229027437.
[3] Rand, Ayn (2005). Mayhew, Robert. ed. Ayn Rand Answers, the Best of Her Q&A. New York: New American Library. ISBN0-451-21665-2.OCLC59148253.
[4] FOIA Request.



The opponent's condescending attitude is off-putting. I don't know what civility there is in calling one's opponent "a feisty one".

First, I note how pedantically charged in semantic Pro's argument is. Even though he says the argument is informal to the degree that ad hominem is allowed (since Rand's character is the main subject here), Pro argues in such a ostentatiously formal way that it only serves to show off his "skill" of deduction and is not the least convincing. This of course needs demonstration:

Pro bases his argument off of the definition given by popular dictionaries of crackpot. He says that crackpot consist of being eccentriic, lunatic/unrealistic, or foolish/crazy. He says that if he proves these three conditions, he will have proven that Ayn Rand was a crackpot. Let me grant him that, even though dictionary definitions are not written in such logical method as would befit pro's hyper-rigorous treatment.

My accusation rests not so much on his definition of crackpot, but how absurdly he treats and "proves" each individual components. It is here that Con flies off from a track of semi-valid argument to a completely ludicrous one.

1) Eccentric/Strange
In proving that Rand was eccentric, Pro makes a huge and indeed fallacious assumption. First, he cites a definition from the apparently philosophically-authoritative source of Merriam-Webster, where eccentricity is basically when one deviates from the convention. Let us say we accept this definition. Now, take a look at how Pro argues that Rand was eccentric. Let's take one example: he says that Ayn Rand was eccentric because she was an atheist and only .03% of the people were atheists at her time. This argument is absurd, because it judges Ayn Rand's eccentricity from the standard of her time--this we must not do; we should rather try to judge whether Rand was eccentric from our convention in the modern time. Why? Because if we try to judge an individual by the standard of their own time, then many others of greatness were crackpots, or at least eccentric, who we would not take to be so. Take Galileo, for example. He proposed and believed that the earth was round when almost no one of his society believed it to be so. Would in our modern day of the heliocentric theory, say he was eccentric? We may say he was an eccentric in his time, but we would not consider him, if he were among us, eccentric. After all, what is the point of considering whether someone was eccentric/stupid/crackpot or the like? Because we wish to know whether or not to take him or her seriously in the modern day. Otherwise, there is no point--Galileo was an eccentric during his time, so what? We would not call people, who were eccentric (as defined in the given definition) in the past but right all along, eccentric as such, but would call them pioneers.

In fact, the definition given of eccentricity does not suffice. It may be from a published dictionary but a purpose of a dictionary's denotation is to give the reader the basic connotation, the basic gist of the word. It is not meant to be enforced in a pedantic way. I say that eccentricity in terms of belief (because that appears to be our focus here) should be "the propensity to be given to unjustified and wrong belief". This fits best to our conception of eccentricity, because concept of Brownian motion is known only by the narrow subset of the population who are versed in physics. Yet, one would not call them eccentrics for believing that because it has been scientifically justified through countless calculations and observations. But any enlightened or scientifically-educated person would call the creationists eccentric, even though they consist of 46% of United States citizens according to the gallup poll [1], because we find their belief to be unjustified.

In fact, Ayn Rand's atheism is justified, as Pro cited, by her belief that God's existence has yet to be proved. She also states her belief in the perfection of man as such, and using it as a fulcrum, rejects the notion of God as "degrading". Of course, the "perfection of man" needs some expansion and that is provided by her metaphysical statement that none can transcend existence, which God does. Of this, she says " "A leaf ... cannot be all red and green at the same time, it cannot freeze and burn at the same time... A is A." [2]

Other "evidences", which I will not argue unless provoked due to tiredness, can be argued in the same manner.


Now I will go down point by point arguing against the Pro's evidences for Rand's lunacy/detachment from reality.

1) Rand was a hypocrite, because she criticized welfare state but still collected a large amount of money.

i. One of the core ethical principle of Rand's philosophy of objectivism is that one should maximize one's welfare. Rand is only adhering to her own philosophy--what's more important, one's own philosophy, or a complaint she made some time ago?

2) Rand was detached from reality because she said that cigarette was not bad for you, when there were many evidence contrariwise.

i. But in the 1970's, cigarette consumption was still in its heyday [3]. The brainwashing pro-smoking advertisement was banned just in 1970 [3]. One can surely understand her ignorance, as one would the ignorance of a child
brainwashed by a skinhead his entire life.

a. Of course, here, perceptive readers will point out the seeming doublestandard on my part. Why do we consider whether Rand was a lunatic or unrealistic with the past standard, while we judge her using the modern standard in the case of eccentricity? This is because the purpose of inquiry is different--whereas the purpose of questioning an individual's eccentricity is to see if we should take him seriously in the modern world, the inquiry of whether an individual was lunatic/unrealistic is dependent on the intellectual environment in which the person lived and given the context, the way in which the person drew his or her conclusion.
In this case, Rand, as was many people from the 1950's~70's, could have been brainwashed by the cigarette company and thus reluctant to the counter-advertising, which began to surface in 1967 [3]. By that time, she was 62.

3) I do not defend racism. Nonetheless, can we say that because of this, Ayn Rand was a lunatic and an unrealist? Remember the time period she was born in and grew up in--it was a homogenized America, where racial slurs were not looked down upon, and where America was the supernation of the world. She was 58, when Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famous "I Have a Dream" speech.
Many thinkers had racist/sexist/straight-out-weird thoughts, but this does not deter our belief in their rationality and awareness. Aristotle had sexist view of the genders. Heidegger was a Nazi officer. Pythagoras and pythagoreans killed over irrational numbers.

I note that Pro ignores the third point of his definition of crackpot: foolishness.

Seeing as that I do not have much characters remaining, I find no room for my counter-argument. I remind the readers that if Pro has not proved his burden of proof, i.e., prove that Ayn Rand was a crackpot, Con wins by default.

I have proved that Pro's argument that Rand is eccentric and that she is a lunatic is insufficient. Not only that, his argument is insufficient even by his own standard, seeing as that he has failed to consider whether Ayn Rand was "foolish". Pro has thusly failed to fulfill his burden of proof.

I don't know why we skipped Round 2, but I look forward to Pro's conclusion/response. Let us keep the condescension and snarkiness down to the minimum this time.

[2] Peikoff, Leonard (1991). Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand. New York: Dutton. ISBN 0-452-01101-9.
Debate Round No. 3


First, I don’t know why it autoposted to round #3, and I am sorry if that was my fault. We can continue this debate if you wish in a second debate.

The characters for this argument were not enough, and it would be unfair to you to have to censor your speech, so I have posted the argument onto the following link:

Please leave a message in the comments if you can't access it so I can help you read it. Thank you.

I'm sorry if this breaks the rules, but I'm not sure how else to go about this.



Hume forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
4 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Posted by GrayJaeger 4 years ago
She had a truly invigorating stance on the world. She had good reasons, yet you had to distance yourself from humanity and into just "a living being", just not so much that you seem to be a jerk. Something few can do, and something she did mess up on a few times, but she would try.

I enjoyed reading her books, though. Ha ha ha.
Posted by 16kadams 4 years ago
You can't post from a second link
Posted by MouthWash 4 years ago
Posted by TUF 4 years ago
You guys forgot r2...
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