Check. Your. Premises.

The book will be The Moral Bias of Objectivism: How Moral Ideals Cloud Objectivity. You can sign up to be a beta reader if you like. I don’t know what this will be done. Maybe by the end of 2023. I’m not sure. I want to simmer on it and make sure it is right. Come back and see updates.

The Main Challenges to Objectivism, a Concrete List

  • We are not born tabula rasa.
  • Rand’s definition of “reason” is overreaching and means “the mind dominates the heart,” not simply that “A is A.”
  • Objectivism acts as a psychology, not a philosophy, but gets no critical review as a psychology, nor was developed by anyone with experience dealing with people’s delicate inner world.
  • Objectivism starts off with the premise that natural emotions are inherently untrustworthy and can lead to destruction and mayhem. As such, you need Rand’s Objectivist ethics.
  • Rand intends this ethics to be with you in all waking hours of the day for all decisions you make.
  • This ethics causes turmoil.
  • Objectivism denies that a person’s natural intuition, gut feels, or instincts play any role in life. This is roundly rejected as mysticism.
  • By codifying her views into an ethics, Rand sets them in stone. It becomes very hard to sway people from their beliefs when they believe those ideas are tied to morality itself.
  • This creates moral bias, a phenomenon in which one cannot evaluate something objectively because they are too morally attached to it, the main accusation in this book.
  • Rand has many ideas of what should and should not make one happy. Family picnics, driving hotrod cars, and more are considered to be irrational forms of happiness.
  • Rand’s characters, however, take sadistic pleasure in watching slave owners whip slaves, as well as have the “slow smile” of an executioner.
  • Objectivism has been historically dotted by excommunications and abuse. See especially Therapist by Ellen Plasil. An Objectivist psychotherapist used his position to sexually abuse Objectivist patients.
  • Objectivist members are notoriously caustic, judgmental and abusive. However, they absolutely will not attribute this behavior to Objectivism itself, a system with an entire moral (behavioral) paradigm dictating how to feel, behave, and explicitly advises to judge others.
  • Rand explicitly did not support gun ownership for the purpose of self-defense. She also explicitly admonishes that freedom is contextual. It is, as such, rather dubious to think she was here to promote authentic freedom or individual rights.
  • There is the sales pitch of Objectivism. And then there is actual Objectivism. I am here to show you actual Objectivism.

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The Challenge at a Glance

moral bias
when a person’s “should’ prevents them from seeing the “is”

My challenge is to the Objectivist view of human nature itself. We are not born, as is Rand’s explicit stance, “tabula rasa”—with a “blank slate.” Both our emotional and cognitive mechanism come with a lot of prewired—and damn important—stuff. Attempting to overwrite our emotional mechanism with a new programming is an incredibly serious thing that leads to emotional repression and abuse. Declaring that our cognitive mind is (totally) blank shuts down further inquiry into the enormous topics of psychology, human nature, and consciousness itself. Rand presents her view that human nature is tabula rasa as plain, simple fact—the source of reason itself—and, in doing this, she shuts down an enormous amount of superior, competing thought.

Ayn Rand had an incredibly pessimistic view of human nature. She greatly exaggerated what some call the anarchist instinct. Your natural emotions, according to Rand, might be manipulative, irrational, and/or sadistic, which could then lead to mayhem, destruction, or dictatorship. (This is her explicit position as outlined in “The Objectivist Ethics,” which can be found in The Virtue of Selfishness.) You as such need (Rand’s word) an ethics. You not only don’t listen to your natural emotions, in Objectivism, you boss your emotions around. You must go in and “program”—Rand’s word—your emotional mechanism. You tell your emotions how to behave: what type of life events will end up making you happy, sad, full of pride, etc. Anything less than the cognitive mind taking tight rein over the inner world, Rand warns, might otherwise lead to anarchy. Yes, this is emotional repression. And this view, in which natural emotions are seen as untrustworthy, potentially destructive and the thus need for a civilizing ethics, remains a view in alignment with Original Sin.

My yet deeper challenge to Objectivists is to check your very definition of reason. In other words, check your premises. Objectivists believe Objectivism simply means “reason,” as in “study to understand the world.” But Rand’s actual, explicit, bastardized definition of reason was that the cognitive mind should dominate emotions. Objectivism does not merely mean “study.” Objectivism acts as an entire psychology. Objectivists think Rand gave them a mere tool to dissect the world with, but she actually gave them a conclusion. Objectivism has an entire ethical paradigm and exact ideas on emotions and how to manage them. As emotions are the true feedback to a person, and Rand shuts down their wisdom, Objectivists become desensitized. Everything about how they experience the world becomes manipulated. When reason itself is intertwined with this shutting down of emotions, it creates a terrible rock and a hard place to convince Objectivists of anything at all different as related to emotions, of which they regard as untrustworthy and with little role in life. Objectivists routinely berate me that my arguments are “emotional drivel.” They are on auto repeat about how logical, scientific, and fact-based they are. In truth, claiming such “science” and “reason” is just a way to claim moral authority and grab power.

Rand sells her philosophy as promoting rational self-interest and freedom. That’s the sales pitch. And she directly warns, “It’s Objectivism or communism.” (She says exactly this in “Faith and Force” in Philosophy: Who Needs It, p. 75) It’s Rand’s philosophy or tyranny, abuse, and unhappiness, of which loyal followers tend to absolutely believe. But, in practice, Objectivism is anything but happiness or freedom. You see, if there is rational happiness, then there is irrational happiness. As I will prove in this book, all sorts of things are considered irrational in Objectivism. This includes getting “mindless kicks” out of driving “hotrod” (race) cars, leisurely vacations, even liking certain colors or music. Like all other overbearing moral systems, Objectivism proposes to tell you what true happiness is. This view, declaring what is “rational” or how one should “appropriately” react emotionally to life events, leads to the cult-like behavior Objectivists are currently and have historically been known for. And, no, these ideas do not engender freedom, of which Rand explicitly admonished is merely contextual.

Worst of all, however, is that Rand goes on—unforgivably—to set her abysmal, pessimistic view of human nature in stone by codifying it into an ethics. This creates moral bias—the main accusation in this book. When a person has decided that an idea is tied to morality, it is nearly impossible to sway them from it. Other views aren’t just bad. They are immoral. They are a threat to survival itself. No good thought can ever penetrate the system.

Bad ideas + Moral righteousness = ?

Atlas Shrugged is a decent book. There is wisdom and inspiration in it. But this does not mean that the author, a fiction writer, should be deciding matters of human nature or designing an ethics meant to be with a person for all waking hours of the day, for all decisions they make, as Rand explicitly intended. Rand played psychologist, and she was lousy at it.

The challenge is to the Objectivist ethics: the all-encompassing “rational” ethics that Rand puts on a person. It is unnecessary and destructive. The wild human—our inner selves—is already designed well. It doesn’t need to be “programmed,” “driven,” or otherwise leashed in any way We but need to understand it and nurture it. It’s time to give it its natural birthright: a moral defense.

Before you Go, some Homework

Objectivists usually get to about this point (or sooner) and stop reading. They think I am wrong about how Rand intended tabula rasa be used. (Hint: Objectivists do not have robust knowledge or wisdom about how Rand intends tabula rasa to be used.) Or, Rand was right about emotions, so there is nothing more to see here. They often point to Rand’s fiction (her fiction) as proof against my accusations. Or, they tell me I “don’t have any facts.” They don’t give me any facts about the facts I don’t have; nor do they give me a chance to give exact quotes, etc., which I more than provide below. They just laugh me off, immediately, on repeat about my “lack of facts,” and usually with a lace of insults to boot. They are sure to put me in my place as “irrational” and essentially a woman with “some opinions.” (Of which are again just “facts” and are not in any way emotional abuse). The issues I bring up, they tell me, are mere “primitive instincts”—and totally unworthy of study or thought (which is major moral bias in action!).

So, Objectivists, before you leave, here is my challenge to you: refute me with exact quotations from Rand. In other words, refute me with reason. Here are some specific issues that you can investigate, in order to find out the exact Objectivist position, followed by some recommended (non-fiction) books, in which Rand herself discusses the issues.

Investigating the Objectivist view on the inner world

  1. Outline, in detail and with quotes, Rand’s views on emotions. What does she mean that we “program” our emotional mechanism? How do we do that? How would you directly advise someone else to do this? How would you raise a child with these basic premises? Do you have success with this approach?
  2. Prove this quote from Rand as objectively true, “If you achieve that which is the good by a rational standard of value, it will necessarily make you happy” (emphasis mine). This quote can be found in “The Objectivist Ethics.”
  3. Prove any of Rand’s views on emotions as true to how authentic human nature works. You could perhaps investigate any of the following: that emotions are entirely derivative of one’s values; that the subconscious will drive you if you don’t drive it; or that a person’s subconscious is a “merciless recorder” of all the good and vile deeds one has done.
  4. Bonus points if you dive into alternative views. Perhaps that happiness is primary (naturally given) not secondary (achieved). Objectivists love to compare their philosophy to other philosophies. No, treat it as what it is: a psychology. Compare Rand’s views not to other philosophers but to other psychologists. Compare Rand’s views on the inner world to perhaps those of Carl Jung, Eckhart Tolle, Dr. Christopher Ryan, Dr. Haim Ginott, Dr. Shefali Tsabary, Brené Brown, Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, Dr. Elaine Aron, or Lundy Bancroft. How are the views the same? How are they different?
  5. Most of all prove that we are born tabula rasa: with no innate content in our mind and with no reliable emotional instincts that might have some innate wisdom. Outline how Rand intends this idea of man as tabula rasa to be used. This one isn’t optional.

If looking for places to start, most of Rand’s views on emotions can be found in Galt’s speech in Atlas Shrugged, in The Virtue of Selfishness, and, surprisingly, she writes most prolifically on them in The Romantic Manifesto, her book on art.

I’m not looking for your thoughts on these topics. This is a formal challenge to Objectivism itself. I am looking for exact quotes from Ayn Rand—whose work people will find, read, and whose basic premises many will adopt consciously or unconsciously. Do you think that these topics—about the inner world, emotions, and tabula rasa—don’t matter? Ok, well, they mattered to Rand. They matter profoundly to human living. I will be discussing them in detail in this book.

And, Objectivists. If you’ve otherwise already dismissed me, after three pages, and you will not investigate Rand (or human nature) any further, I insist you do not leave critical comments about my work, anywhere. And, if you do, well. Time permitting, I take comments that lack any intellectual discipline whatsoever and expose them. My consistent experience with Objectivists is that they:

  • Directly tell me they stopped reading what I have written at a certain point, usually after about one minute’s worth of reading. I’m just that stupid and use words that wrong.
  • Directly tell me they will never read anything I write, ever. This would “sanction” my work.
  • Call me a “clown dumbo” (an exact quote) or the like
  • Similarly call me “sweetheart” or “honey”
  • Say “Pbbbbffffflllt!”
  • Keep me on the hot seat by continuing to ask me questions (They absolutely hate when I won’t play this game.)
  • Tell me they WERE interested in my ideas, but [something I said of which they won’t say] utterly proved how unworthy of reading I am
  • Tell me they “think it’s funny” that I “attack Objectivism”
  • Immediately downvote my videos and leave negative reviews
  • Accuse me of twisting Rand’s views, without outlining how
  • Tell me to “do something better” with my time
  • Send me back to the ORC: Objectivist Re-Education Camp. I am constantly told to read and re-read Rand, “2, 8, probably 15 times!”
  • Re-hash Objectivist Talking Points, with nary an understanding of anything I’ve written
  • Tell me Rand’s fiction proves she had a light, benevolent, unsuspicious view of man
  • Tell me not what Rand said but what a “rational person” would necessarily think.
  • Tell me, after this onslaught of Randsplaining and attacks, that my response, exposing them, makes me seem angry or shrill

Again, I take these comments and expose them. What else can I do? Reason has failed, so I just aim to expose.

These responses from Objectivists, as just outlined, are moral bias in action. Their goal, from the start, is to defend their system. They see it as a debate, a war, or a game to win, which is a mindset Ayn Rand absolutely gives them (see her speech at West Point in which she advises to see investigating other philosophies a like investigating the enemy). They are weighted to defend their system, not use reason itself to find any kind of truth. Hence, all the bullying, insulting, aggressive tactics, which is 99% of my experience with them. They don’t even strive to understand their own philosophy. They have but a militant position against reading anything any critic has written and an inclination to bury, attack, and win. In my opinion, their instant accusation that I “mispresent” Rand, and the root of the problem, is that they have fallen for the false sell of Objectivism.

The other inherent problem in trying to communicate in any capacity with Objectivists (especially the men) is that they won’t accept natural emotions as a fact of reality. Literally, the Objectivist position is that natural emotions don’t exist—only emotions derived from your subconscious premises exist. And it’s fully expected that these derived, processed emotions be under control and otherwise put away. My typical experience with an Objectivist (as well as libertarians) is that they berate me over and over about how I “don’t have any facts.” They don’t give me any facts about the facts I don’t have. It’s just a constant beratement that I “don’t have facts.” You see, I’m talking about emotions here. You would have to accept that they exist, are important, and are worthy of study to understand *any* of what I am saying. Natural emotions are “facts.” You just can’t see them. In the absence of a respect for natural emotions, my argument, as I will outline, is that a person becomes very abusive. And here within lies the rub. I’m trying to tell you natural emotions exist, are worthy of respect, and how you are treating someone, say by calling them “triggered,” is abusive. You don’t see the emotion at all or its importance, because of your rather limited perceptions. As such, you keep berating me (and others) as “emotional,” “triggered, “irrational,” and “without any facts.” You think I’m irrational. I think you’re a bully. And the harder you tell me I’m irrational; the more I think you’re a bully. If you think natural emotions exist don’t even exist or otherwise consider them unimportant, I’m asking you to leave. No, really. I’m asking you to leave. I just fundamentally don’t think I can get through to you. Good luck negotiating women, marriage, and children.

What I have never seen any Objectivist do is what I am challenging them to do: actually defend your system and its enormous, sweeping conclusions, which cover literally all areas of life. Objectivists often sniff that I don’t focus on any of the good Objectivism does. They always point to Rand’s take down of communism or religion as the good it can do. No, I’m not looking at what Objectivism isn’t. I’m looking at what Objectivism is. I’m asking you to do the same. I’m asking you to look at Objectivism as it sells itself: as a philosophy for living life. How does it hold up, in daily life, and in all the other areas of life that it inserts itself?

In fact, if it is such a great philosophy for daily living, I am challenging you to wow me with how amazingly heroic you are. Instead of living in the world of political arguments, which is where you’ll find 99% of Objectivists, show me what you got. Get the business, get the girl, take down tyranny, raise the family, build the community (you need future progeny, right?). You would impress me a lot more if you stopped arguing and started showing. And you need to do this over decades, consistently. Can’t do it? Too much is in your way? I am the person that can blast through that, especially with this powerful idea of moral bias itself—a strike at power structures themselves and the underpinning always underneath them: a moral system.

So, finally, Objectivists, if I am just that dumb, before you go, if you are even still with me, here are some resources totally outside of me that either directly or indirectly challenge Objectivism. If you are like I was, someone who knew Objectivism was failing them but didn’t know where to turn, these can also help shake up Objectivist thinking, for the better.

Resources that Directly or Indirectly Challenge Objectivism

  • The Sociology of the Ayn Rand Cult by Murray Rothbard. Read from a prominent libertarian who watched the Objectivist movement go down live.
  • My Years with Ayn Rand by Nathaniel Branden. He coined the very term “Objectivism” and made the movement what it was. He says his biggest regret was telling people their natural (subconscious) emotions had no validity. He describes the history of Objectivism: what happened when Objectivist principles were applied to real, live people. This book is a must for any new person considering walking the Objectivist path.
  • Therapist by Ellen Plasil. This book, unfortunately, is out of print. But even looking through the reviews will give you a flavor of what happened. A prominent Objectivist psychotherapist used his position of power to deny his patients their own intuition, in order to sexually exploit them. This is verbatim my main accusation against Objectivism: it denies a person’s natural intuition in favor of what is “rational.” This is a power tactic used by abusers to exploit people. Have you ever wondered why Objectivist psychotherapy isn’t a thing? Well, it used to be! Such a social embarrassment as having it be known that one of your top guys is actually just a sexually exploitive creep tends to tank business. Jungian psychology, however, is still very much alive:
  • The Undiscovered Self by Carl Jung. Picking up a book by Carl Jung is a must. We are not born tabula rasa. We are born with archetypes, primitive images developed over millions of years that carry huge emotional weight for any being with a consciousness, in our mind.
  • Shrugging Off Ayn Rand by Michael Prescott. I could not agree more that Rand disassociates a person from the more intuitive part of their mind.
  • Civilized to Death by Dr. Christopher Ryan. Ryan explicitly discusses the faulty thinking of tabula rasa and how “civilizing” ethical paradigms have taken over science and are crushing our true needs as humans.
  • Anything that challenges Cognitive Behavior Therapy. Cognitive Behavior Therapy works by working on a person’s thinking (the “cognitive” part) and their behavior (the “behavior” part) This is Objectivism almost verbatim. In fact, if you wanted to see what good and bad there is to Objectivism (and there is some good), one could study the good and bad of CBT. However, this psychology has its problems. It tends to deny authentic feelings and unconscious motive, as Dr. Aron describes in The Highly Sensitive Person, which is also my accusation leveled at Objectivism. Look also for therapies that counter CBT and push for more visceral healing, deep in the body. Speaking of which:
  • The Body Keeps the Score by Dr. Bessel van der Kolk. I believe the control Rand tries to take over the inner world is to try to handle trauma. This book offers much better ideas on how to do that.
  • Psychology books. Any book by any successful psychologist, which almost by definition will have far better ideas on emotions. Dr. Shefali Tsabary is a great place to start.

Ultimately, this idea of a blank state is an older idea that used to be widely accepted, uncritically. It is the base of all moral paradigms: that you can and ought to change a person’s emotional mechanism with the “right values.” Today, anyone educated about neuroscience will challenge this basic premise: that we even can, let alone should, change a person’s core emotional mechanism. I consider this to be the issue of our time. Dr. Deborah MacNamara writes in Rest, Play, Grow, a book about parenting:

Neuroscientists agree that the human brain has preset, hardwired emotions at birth. This view of emotion exists in stark contrast to the blank slate theory, according to which human behaviour is learned and innate and emotional drivers do not exist. Emotions have a purpose and work to do; they are meant to pack a punch and to move us in a way that aids survival and growth. (ch. 6)

Maybe it’s time to check your premises.

The Structure of This Book, a Counter to Objectivism

This book is divided into four parts. In its counter arguments, it follows the structure of Rand’s Objectivism itself.

As any well-read Objectivist knows, Rand divides her philosophy into five parts. The foundation of her philosophy consists of two of those parts: metaphysics and epistemology. Metaphysics is the study of what is. Epistemology is the study of how we know it. The third part of Rand’s Objectivism is morality, a code of behavior. It is, as she argues, based on metaphysics, as it is based on the metaphysics (the unalterable nature) of who man is. Her morality dictates that man’s unalterable nature is a creature of reason and therefore living as a rational producer is the ethical ideal. The last two parts of Rand’s philosophical system are politics and art. These are based on the morality portion of her philosophy, because they are based on the vision of the ideal man, as put forth in her morality. Rand’s favored political paradigm, capitalism, is catered to her moral ideal of man the rational producer. Rationally superior art, in Rand’s Objectivism, projects the ideal of man, which is as rational producer, or confirms and validates this ideal for him.

My counter to Rand will follow this structure, except it will focus primarily on studying man’s inner world and how it operates.

My counter argument starts at the base of Rand’s philosophy, at the level of metaphysics and epistemology. Part I of this book is entitled “The ‘Is’: Metaphysics and Epistemology.” Like Rand’s Objectivism, it will focus on what is and how we know it. This book is about human nature itself, however, so Part I focuses on what human nature is and how we come to know it. It focuses mainly on the inner world: emotions, happiness, and the subconscious.

My primary (foundational) accusation against Rand is that she had a poor understanding of human nature itself. As such, Part I discuss matters related to this. I discuss the “is” of human nature: what Rand’s view of human nature is, what actual human nature is, what the nature of emotions is, etc. It’s the main issue of this entire book and of all moral paradigms: are natural emotions trustworthy or not? If emotions are inherently untrustworthy, we need an ethics to restrain them. If trustworthy, we do not.

I also discuss how we know what we know—again, as related to human nature. This can get truly discombobulated as we study our own species using our own reason, with all of its inherent biases. Although we are with ourselves every day, as Carl Jung writes, man remains a mystery to himself. I raise questions like: What is “reason”? Do we use it to study (as an observational force) ~or~ to make all decisions (as an active force)? Are mere feelings a threat to objectivity? Are they a threat to good decision making? What otherwise is a threat to objectivity? I give my answer to this last question: moral bias is a threat to objectivity.

Part I discusses the main issue in this book: if our inner world has some innate wisdom to it such that it can be trusted ~or~ if our inner world is inherently suspicious and must be programmed with a morality. This is the issue in this book. The latter position is the premise on which all of Objectivism (and all religion and current western psychology) rests. Challenging it will affect all of the other areas of its philosophy, to include its morality and politics.

This is also core to the main accusation in this book: that moral paradigms prevent objectivity. In this case, by trying to control it, Objectivism prevents us from getting curious about our inner world, and all the benefit that doing this would provide.

This thus gives rise to Part II of this book, which discusses how to then behave, given these two competing views of human nature. Can we trust the innate wisdom of our emotions in making decisions? Or should we be controlled by an ethical system? This would be the equivalent to the morality portion in Rand’s Objectivism. However, I reject an all-encompassing morality as such, and therefore I don’t call this section this. Instead, Part II is called, “How to Behave: The Innate Wisdom of Emotions versus Moral Paradigms.” As this book is a counter to Rand, who rejects the innate wisdom of (natural) emotions, I will outline what healthy role natural (subconscious) emotions can play in our daily lives. I also discuss the utter havoc that moral paradigms do to one’s inner life and to the relationships one has with others. In this book, I call out Objectivism. However, I call for a rejection of any and all all-encompassing moral paradigms. They create shame, anxiety, unease, and deep envy. They also create for caustic, distant relationships with others. I have many quotes to show this, as pertaining to Objectivism, as well as my own personal experience, having lived as an Objectivist for ten years.

In Part II, I also conclude that morality itself cannot inspire fruitful, positive action. It, instead, can only prohibit certain unideal actions. Morality itself cannot do what it promises it can do: it cannot inspire heroics and it cannot command positive (proactive) ethical behavior. Morality itself, as such, can only inhibit us, when and where we think it’s ideal to inhibit natural human behavior. That’s it. That’s all it can do. As far as successfully living life, I call for us to turn away from using a moral system to guide life and to move towards science, or, rather, more specifically, to the natural observation of the world, past and present, in this case, as applied to human nature itself. I call for emotional intelligence tools to replace what moral paradigms attempt to do. They serve as far superior solutions to deal with the original problem that all moral paradigms purport to solve but cannot: that emotions can sometimes be destructive.

I also discuss in Part II the narcissistic and psychopathic tendencies of both Rand and her fictional characters. I discuss how much Objectivism, with its focus on “laser-like reason” and a suppression of natural emotions, follows along with how a narcissist thinks, as following the work of Sam Vaknin who, most agree right or wrong on any other issue, is remarkable at describing the mind of a narcissist. The entire premise of Objectivism is that your natural self—your “true” self—is potentially bad and you need an overlay—a  morality—put on top of it. This is just like a narcissist, who puts on a “false” self over their “true” self. Objectivist circles are filled with narcissistic abuse, gaslighting, and manipulation for a reason. It’s not random that this happens.

Objectivism, like all moral paradigms, ultimately lends itself to abuse. I will give my own experiences with this, and I will give well-documented cases of historical Objectivist abuse. Being able to control people’s emotions, which is exactly what Objectivism attempts to do, is a hunting ground for abusers. If you can control this—a person’s emotional mechanism—you can control all sorts of things about a person: what “should” make a person happy, if they are allowed to be angry, if they can be “negative,” who they should regard as a hero, who is rational or who is irrational, and so on. Religion has long perfected this art of gaslighting people about their entire inner world. Rand just put a more modern spin on the whole thing. The issue here is whether or not people can have their own emotions -or- if they have to be “programmed” (Rand’s word) to have a “better,” more “rational” inner core. And I don’t think there can be any other issue more important or more fundamental to human existence. I’m asking you to pay attention.

Part III discusses the practical applications of these two competing world views, as outlined in Part I and Part II. It is, as such, the technology of applying a new, better science to matters relating to human nature. It would be equivalent to the “politics” portion of Objectivism, but I want to get away from this idea that politics itself (government) guides or shapes most or any of human life. This section is, as such, named, “The Application: Designing a World around the Wild Human.” And, no, I won’t apologize for the seemingly paradoxical nature of this phrasing, because I love it—and I mean it. It discusses how this alternative, competing view on human nature (that emotions have validity) would change the way childcare, medicine, relationships, and more are approached.

To make the understatement of all understatements, if we valued the wild human, we’d be free. This vivacious inner force, teeming with emotions, that I am describing—the wild human—demands to be free. This is the issue of our time. When science meets the wild human, it’s game over for tyranny. And by “science” I mean “the natural observation of the world,” not that garbage currently being used, which seeks to cut, hack, inject, and mangle humans in the name of health. When we have a conscious, deliberate respect for the wild human, such that we study it and hold it up in honor, we will have a free, thriving species. I think this is what people have been longing for but haven’t quite fully imagined yet. It’s nothing like we’ve ever seen before: it’s civilization meets the wild. But, as human nature works, when you can imagine it, you can then realize it.

If we valued the true vivacious force within, all of our staple institutions would be different. We’d undoubtedly have more respect for the natural development of children. We would, as such, favor benevolent, instructive, but ultimately child-led learning. Our relationships would be more egalitarian. We’d have more, open, freer, raunchier sex. Whether or not we trust the innate wisdom of our body or we believe our rational mind should control and fix it has profound implications in medicine. And, with a respect for the wild human, government can do nothing but scale back. Far more behavior would be tolerated than is now. It would definitely mean an end to the drug war, for instance. It would also mean an end to the endless rules put on us, as is done now through insidious alphabet soup government agencies, as is done in every totalitarian society (read: America as is now). These are all “rational” measures, meant to keep us “safe,” of course. This is how all dictatorship works. Oh, they let you be free…if. And that’s Rand’s exact position on government: you are allowed to be free…if. No, freedom is absolute and uncompromising. No top-down government can fix any problem any human faces. Free humans can always solve their own problems.

Rand promises people happiness and freedom with her philosophy, but in truth all of her favored systems are highly authoritarian in nature. The favored educational approach in Objectivism is, as I will outline in detail, highly traditional and authoritarian. Sex is a judgment against your moral character. Men are considered superior to women. And, no, Rand actually explicitly did not grant you gun rights to defend yourself (she explicitly writes that you must delegate your own self-defense to the government) and nor did she grant full, unbridled freedom. She said, if given a rational reason (and aren’t they all?), government control is warranted. As such, she grants that one little crack, that one little thing that has always let government tyranny in: Authorized Emergency Powers.

So, Part I, II, and III of this book follow congruent to Objectivism itself. In Part IV, the final section, I discuss how to stand up to abusive moral paradigms. I discuss how abuse is, always, couched inside a person’s moral paradigm. Abuse is not “unconscious.” People are very deliberate and specific about what punishment, war, or totalitarianism they want to inflict on their fellow man. They feel profoundly morally justified. We think abuse is some dark, evil character that strikes in the night. In truth, it’s out in broad daylight, and the majority find it totally ethical. In Part IV, I discuss how to stand up to these abusive moral paradigms, to shift the world more towards one of authentic respect, towards ourselves and towards each other. I call this section “Ending Abuse: The Heroes We Need.” It’s what a truly moral moral paradigm would do. It’s what heroism can do when put towards a worthy cause and when fueled by emotional intelligence.

Heroism fueled by emotional intelligence. It’s almost as if it’s what is possible when the masculine and the feminine meet. Indeed, this book is an anthem to the wild feminine, a natural force that is both nurturing and cruel. It is a force that would do its thing if it weren’t, as Rand says is the most feminine look of all, chained. This book can be considered an utter battle cry against all patriarchal paradigms, of which Objectivism undoubtedly is. (By the way, Objectivists, what percentage of women are in your ranks? It keeps dwindling, doesn’t it? Think this isn’t a “valid argument”? It is the most valid argument possible. It is Femininity—Shrugged.)

Finally, in the Epilogue, I summarize some of my challenges. I also discuss why it will still be so hard to penetrate the entrenched Objectivist mind. Certain, specific tactics are used to enmesh a person to a moral system, resulting in the phenomenon I describe in this book: moral bias.

What’s in this for you?

I admit that I originally struggled greatly with who my target reader is for this book. In truth, it’s unlikely to be Objectivists. It certainly will not be the ones still hypnotized by Rand, anyway. (Perhaps the ones starting to see that Objectivism is failing them might be a reader.) I also think Objectivism provides enough of a solution to people with narcissistic and psychopathic tendencies that they will never be persuaded against it, and, in truth, need not to be (except to stop their abusive tendencies).

So, who is my specific target audience? Lots of answers are possible, but when I watched a semi-famous lawyer strip down a very genuine-hearted man, I knew instantly who my main target audience was. The man was trying to start a software company to provide a service to counter Big Tech, who was censoring many people. The lawyer put the man on the defensive, making him answer all sorts of questions about where he stood on weighty moral issues. The man, intimidated, was sure to agree he was on board with certain agendas. It was so clear to me that this man had no idea what he was going up against. (And if you knew, you’d know: they are pathetic—easily beatable). I realized, then, who my target audience was: anyone who wants to protect themselves or others from this type of abuse. And there is actually no more worthy or powerful audience.

And, so, a few reasons of what is in this for you. Indeed, the first:

#1: Protect yourself and others from abuse, personal or political

In his notes, Christopher Columbus described the people he found in the West Indies as the best people on earth: gentle, always laughing, and physically attractive. They were generous and easily did as asked. Columbus then wrote that they would be easily conquered and enslaved. The Europeans all but decimated them as a people.

Those people in the West Indies are, metaphorically and literally, the natural, wild human, as developed in a basically peaceful setting over hundreds of thousands of years. The Europeans who decimated them are, metaphorically and literally, the kind of predator we face: a human one. I don’t think humanity has figured out how to deal with this kind of predatory force yet. This is what I am aiming to resolve: the natural human inclination towards an assumption of kindness, which exists in the majority, that a certain type of human predator has figured out how to exploit. We otherwise remain sitting ducks to many forms of brutal war and dictatorship.

I’ve watched so many people be abused, indeed such as Ellen Plasil, as well countless other people, such as after a person decided to be their “agent” or whatever and strips a person of all of their wealth, through exorbitant fees or even conservatorship. I’ve made up my mind: we need to guard the innocent against predators, and on a moral level. (Well, the innocent who are willing to protect themselves, anyway. I do not bother with the rest.)

I find virtually no one wants to talk about the topic of abuse. People get very shifty and uncomfortable and move to change the topic. But here is my best argument to face the issue head on: people familiar with abuse cannot be abused. The risk is reduced significantly, anyway. If you think you are already immune to abuse, without knowing the inner workings, you are in fact the most vulnerable. In this book, I outline abusers’ typical tactics: lovebombing (fictional books, movies, TV, etc., make this easy), gaslighting, triangulations, insults, belittling, etc. And, by the way, governments use these, too! If you want to fight big government, learn how to fight predatory human behavior, because that’s what it is.

I also outline how abuse is, totally contrary to popular mantra, not “unconscious.” It is, rather, inside a person’s explicit moral paradigm. Abusers don’t think they are wrong. They think they are profoundly morally justified. As such, no amount of “karma” or “time heals all” is going to stop them. We have to, at all times, be on guard for this predatory behavior. This is a fact of human nature: predatory behavior is built right into us. It will always be with us. But, as of now, abusers are ethically sanctioned, and we are paying a dear price for it. With current moral paradigms, abusers can wantonly abuse, and most are under the commandment to “turn the other cheek,” such that we are total sitting ducks to totalitarianism. People, as such, look to “kings” (or their equivalent) or “saviors” to stop it. No. You must accept that you will always have to be on defense against this, in big or small ways—and we should have power in numbers. People who “take the high road” to any of this are not morally righteous. They are sell-outs to humanity.

Carl Jung wrote,

Indeed, it is becoming ever more obvious that it is not famine, not earthquakes, not microbes, not cancer but man himself who is man’s greatest danger to man, for the simple reason that there is no adequate protection against psychic epidemics, which are infinitely more devastating than the worst of natural catastrophes.

I am here to give you adequate protection against psychic epidemics.

#2: Better ideas on joy and success

Objectivism presents itself as a rational philosophy for living life, but it, like any other moral paradigm always begging for second chances or pleading that people don’t understand it or follow it well enough, doesn’t deliver. Objectivism utterly failed me, anyway. Its core principles failed me. Better, different ideas helped me.

I started to doubt Objectivism, in very grave seriousness, some time in my late 20s. I remember lying in my bed one night, distraught, knowing I was being failed by it. I knew my values were “too harsh” and I needed “softer” ones, but I had no ideas which ones. None of the “I’m such an open-hearted person” people seemed to have any good advice. I’d love to say I thought myself out of Objectivism, but I really didn’t. I mostly hit rock bottom, and, in doing so, found better ideas. When I started to get help for specific issues I had, most of them medical, I started to improve in ways I never even thought I could. This is me in my late 20s, as a software engineer, still living as an Objectivist and then me in my late 30s, having found better ideas.

It’s a matter of settling into your unique authentic strength.

I think the most important difference is that I no longer think happiness is an “achievement.” I think joy is the default. It’s the normal. Joy, health, strength, and beauty are the default. They are the springboard in life, not the end goal. We are gifted with abundance, not scarcity, at birth, which we then go do things with. I play to my strengths; I do not try to purge weakness.

This is opposite of what Rand says, and what any other moral paradigm says, usually. Rand’s explicit position, as I will outline in this book, is that happiness is secondary (derivative). In Objectivism, it’s success first, happiness second. She writes, as if it is obvious fact, that happiness is an “achievement of one’s values” and you cannot “reverse cause and effect.” All moral paradigms do this. They say you start out with nothing terribly good at first or at birth and, through their paradigm, become better.

Instead, I live by a philosophy that happiness is primary (naturally given). It’s happiness first, success second. As I go about life anymore, I know joy is what should be. Health and happiness are all but my birthright. They are not a carrot on a stick dangling in front of me. If something takes me from my joy, it’s temporary. I can snap back to it quickly. It is enormously powerful in promoting good mental (and, thus, physical) health, as well as life success.

I know it’s backwards to modern thinking, but flinging off toxic, abusive moral paradigms may be the very best thing you do for your everyday joy and your long-term life success. Moral paradigms attempt to control a person’s emotional core in order to achieve some heroic end goal. They change all the plumbing of your natural emotions in order to make it match what they think is necessary for successful living. I’m telling you that these moral paradigms are entirely in your way. Instead, you are born with vitality, joy, talent, and the potential for success. This emotional energy is what can carry you through life. Happiness is not an end goal. Happiness is fuel. A feeling of inner vivaciousness is everything. Feeling alive feels great, doesn’t it? I am arguing that any moral system that tells you how you are supposed to feel is inherently incompatible with this. Lift the veil—lift the controlling morality—and see what is possible to you.

#3: Shedding moral bias brings inner peace

Shedding moral bias is also truly powerful. Moral bias, as I will outline, operates by exploiting a person’s fear. Our leaders do this, over and over. It is crisis after crisis after crisis, in which groups are created and divided, one group is good and another is bad. There is always a war: a War on Drugs, a War on Poverty, a War on Terrorism, it just goes on. People live in fear and get riled up…later to realize that all of these wars were for absolute naught.

Moral bias, as I will argue, is a trait built right into the human psyche and is rather easily enflamed by fear. When unnecessarily enflamed, it causes a tremendous amount of unnecessary anxiety and work. People see problems where there aren’t any, and they sit, on edge, totally focused on it, to their great detriment. And be warned: even the threat of big government itself is one of those manufactured fears that they use to hang over your head to continue to control you.

Truly shedding moral bias (and I had my own that I had to shed) allows you to see your fellow humans as the humans they are—a wonderful thing, truly better than any man-made moral ideal. You’ve been kept from how wonderful and powerful this is for centuries. I’m looking to demoralize people in order to humanize them. So, no, I’m not your local rosy, charismatic salesperson here to “sell” you on my system or to tell you I can solve all of your problems or guarantee you joy or success. Sorry. Not sorry.

#4: Be more open to good ideas on living life

Though I can’t outline an exact path to joy and success for you, I might be able to uncloud your biases, such that, should you come across a better path, you are open to seeing it.

I am routinely flabbergasted that truly good ideas on health, finance, education, and more are produced, and yet cannot take hold in the majority. For instance, it is well established that you do not need someone “actively managing” your financial investment accounts. In doing this, “expert” financial advisers attempt to hand select “better” stocks and charge a fee for this service. Just put your money in an index fund, perhaps the S&P 500 (which by the way already is “actively managed”: they pick 500 stocks for you), and it historically performs better than an “actively managed” account. Burton Malkiel utterly proved this in 1973 in his book A Random Walk Down Wall Street. And, yet, to this day, people peddle the idea that you should pick a financial adviser who does exactly this. People end up paying this advisor a percentage of their earnings, which drains their wealth far more than any advantages of the “actively managed” account (of which there aren’t any). Why? Why does this keep happening?

Because of moral bias. These predatory financial advisers need to be seen as dazzlingly morally better in order to exploit you. They need to be seen as an amazing, trustworthy, and responsible ideal, while they prey on your ignorance and fear. They are a sturdy, trustworthy, inviting house on a hill for a person lost out in the cold. (Learn to start asking who put you out in the cold.) And, beware: “humble” moral leaders can be just as bad. One of the most predatory financial advisors out there now, as I write this, who makes overblown promises, who has horrible math, who happily charges you for actively managed accounts, and who relies on people’s ignorance and sense of shame, is Dave Ramsey: the popular Christian financial advisor. Yes. This is 100% moral bias in action.

Moral bias also prevents one from taking the tiny steps they might need to in order to improve their situation. Moral bias makes you believe that you need some big, heroic, grand, time-consuming, or expensive solution to solve your problems. For instance, to escape one’s abusive, narcissistic mother, one needs to go to the best architectural engineering school, in a college several states away. Meanwhile, they can barely pay their bills. Scrounging up some money to go to their local state school would jumpstart them and put them on the path towards betterment. Or, as another example, one has been a local college DJ for years, working for free, but they are getting older and need real money. Jobs in the industry exist, but they won’t take them: it’s their big next break or nothing. This phenomenon, which I’m sure you are familiar with, can be explained by moral bias: people are too attached to their perceived ideal.

Ayn Rand shuts down all sorts of good ideas and actions that can improve or heal a person. She has sharp, critical things to say on matters related to education, psychology, and more, the victims of her tongue lashings of which would help a person far better than she would.

Shed moral bias so you can truly see the wisdom and beauty in other ideas.

#5: Set the wild human free

I am calling for the liberalization of the inner world: a shedding of controlling moral paradigms. Just like how the liberalization of economic markets results in a greater abundance of goods, a liberalization of the inner world would result in more abundance. But, in this case, it would be a greater abundance of the stuff inside us: joy, peace, presence, inner vitality, sexuality, etc.

I’m here to convert you to wildness

I do think this is a far superior way to live. I use these principles in how I set up my own life and family. I take them to my community, in the work I do and the activities I do, as best I can. I’ve seen the benefits live. And do I really need to sell you on the raunchier sex thing?

And, so now, an attempt at the all-but-impossible: to cut through people’s inherent biases, likely buried deep in their unconscious. Perhaps it can pave the way for something truly ideal, what I think people naturally long for but can’t quite put into words: a world designed around the wild.

Ayn Rand’s Faulty View of Human Nature

Ayn Rand had an abysmal, pessimistic view of human nature itself, and then unforgivably set this abysmal, pessimistic view of human nature in stone by developing an elaborate moral and political philosophy around it.

Ayn Rand is most known for her two entrancing, still popular fictional novels: The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. These novels are most known for their inspiring heroic figures, who obtain enormous success in the areas of business, science, architecture, and more. After writing her fictional novels, Rand went on to develop her philosophy, “Objectivism.” Her philosophy proposes that it stands on the base of reason, gives you the moral right to pursue your rationally selfish goals, and protects individual rights through the political system of capitalism. I will outline the philosophy in detail in this book.

Rand’s Objectivism is proudly hierarchal. Her politics are based on her view on morality. Her view on morality is based on her metaphysics. Her metaphysics dictates that there is an unalterable nature of man qua man. She develops a vision of what the ideal man ought to be, based on the “objective” nature in which humans survive, which is, she argues, through reason and production. Certain behaviors are held up as morally superior to others. The problem? Rand’s view of man is based on a faulty view of human nature itself: tabula rasa.

Rand writes in “The Objectivist Ethics” in The Virtue of Selfishness:

Man is born with an emotional mechanism, just as he is born with a cognitive mechanism; but, at birth, both are “tabula rasa.” (30)

This is the main quote I challenge, and the one I will pick apart mercilessly.

The mind is not born blank

I used to write that there are two things in this quote that Rand says are “tabula rasa”: a person’s cognitive mechanism and emotional mechanism. And it was the second thing—the emotional mechanism being “blank”—that I took especial issue with. (Though she mentions it first, emphasizing its importance.)

However, as I continue to research further and further, it’s clear that our cognitive mechanism is not born “blank” either. Jungian psychology decimates this idea. My own child development work continues to add to Jung’s research and theories. Living beings are born with images in their mind.

At a minimum, as a child, you were born with the idea of “breast.” Babies have a “rooting reflex,” which is far more than just a “reflex,” as if it’s just a matter of hitting someone’s knee and the knee kicks back. A baby seeks out a breast. It feels right. Upon birth, there is this natural instinct to seek this particular thing out. They have a basic idea of its shape, feel, and size: they have an innate image in their mind of what it should be. Without this preprogrammed disposition, the baby would die.

This is Jungian psychology. Animals are weighted to go seek out particular things that feel right and be repelled by things that don’t. These are “archetypes”: primordial images that carry huge emotional weight (i.e., drive action). I made this picture of it.

Unlike Rand, Jung developed his theories after successfully dealing with many psychiatric patients. But if you prefer “real” science, the kind where they abuse mice, a study in 2013, published by Nature Neuroscience, offers food for thought. Scientists shocked mice every time they went near a certain smell. What they found is that the offspring of these mice also wouldn’t go near that smell. We are born with innate, ever evolving behaviors.  

You could say that this is a small issue or that it really doesn’t matter that much when it comes to human life beyond a few “mere” rooting reflexes. It is not small, and it does matter. I will outline how this very much matters in your everyday life in this book. But, as one example of how much this matters: my own child developmental research caused me to develop the idea that human consciousness itself forms due to an image projection capability in the mind—of which projects innate images hardwired at birth, out into reality. The most observable, familiar example that I can give of a child’s image projection capability is a child’s imaginary friends, which they often develop around age 4-1/2, which is also when, I am guessing, you started to remember the daily events in your life, i.e., when persistent consciousness set in. It’s an image that their mind conjures up and projects from the inside out. This is the brain’s image projection capability. It’s almost as if the brain needs a few images—stuff—to get the process of developing consciousness started.

My work documents the age-related “stages” children go through. It is times when children “act up” but on the other side is an astonishing burst of new mental ability. I take elaborate, detailed notes of children and document their natural developmental path. I compare stories between children, as well as photos, to see what persists among them; what seems to matter and what doesn’t. I have tens of thousands of followers of my work. I have hundreds, probably thousands, of notes at this point of how much my work helps parents.

I do a nearly week-by-week study of child development before I publish any of my books. I plot the development often down to the day. In doing this, I started to notice a pattern. Children seemed to routinely go “up” into fantasy play and then come back “down” to reality. In doing this, they refine new skills, upgrade their core personality, and have a sharper understanding of reality. And each of these “hills” follows a predictable cycle. There were sub-stages to each hill. But each hill was kicked off with a child who developed highly wild, imaginative, overly optimistic thinking. It seems as if Mother Nature “gifts” children with this thinking (these images), which then spurs their development. In this wildly optimistic thinking, they think things like they can shrink, they can jump over rivers, that they can move entire houses at will, etc. I argue this acts as an impetus to go try these things. It thus engages them with reality. And, in doing this, they get enormous experience with reality, spurring their mental development. In other words, children’s notorious wild imaginations are not just gibberish. They are doing extremely important work. They are setting consciousness itself into place.

So, routinely, over and over, children are given a gift. At age-related times, some kind of “programming” seems to be released in the brain. I can’t be sure, but I think the programming is released during sleep. Dreams themselves are another example of the brain’s image projection capability.

The human mind is highly weighted to want to see certain things and also do certain things. With archetypes, you really can’t separate what is seen from action: the innate, primordial images are entirely designed to drive action. These images, which are put through the mind’s image projector, make you want to seek out something. Jung identified many archetypes related to humans. We still ineluctably go towards and away from things, as humans, both as children and as adults. There is a mother archetype. You are weighted to want a mother. If you don’t have one, you will go seek one out. As a girl, I can tell you I was always scanning sidewalks for cracks. I look back on that, and I see a living being whose consciousness seems weighted to forage for plants. As an adult, it still affects me. I am a highly sensitive introvert and highly weighted to keep my distance from people. Understanding and honoring this helped me enormously in social situations. It is opposite of the Objectivist view, which says you can control the content of your cognitive and emotional mechanism such that you can force your inner soul to do what you want it to do. I cannot. I do not have a “self-stylized” soul. I have a self-honored soul.

If you were dying of thirst in the desert, your mind would conjure up images of bodies of water—mirages. The brain wants to see what it wants to see. This has huge implications to human living, education, mental health, and more. This process can go well or horribly. In childhood, if it went well, you developed object constancy, and you have the impression, in general, that the world around you is stable. If not, you might think the world is a scary place that simply swirls around you. “Lying,” which to the disordered person isn’t even a comprehensible idea, is your normal. Towards the end of developing consciousness, if humans are well loved and comfortable, it tends to go well. If they are in utter despair, abused and/or neglected, similar to if they are dying in the dessert, it goes horribly. People in extreme despair, such as when dying in the desert, can’t even basic objects correctly. And this has huge implications, big and small.

But at any rate, it utterly disproves this sentiment:

Man is born with an emotional mechanism, just as he is born with a cognitive mechanism; but, at birth, both are “tabula rasa.” It is man’s cognitive faculty, his mind, that determines the content of both. (emphasis mine)

I do not think the cognitive mind determines the content of the cognitive mind. There is “stuff” in the brain that is there, outside of our will. In declaring such things as if obvious fact, Ayn Rand shuts down an enormous amount of curiosity about life, human nature, and consciousness itself.

Programming the emotional mechanism

However, that irrelevant formation of consciousness thing aside, it is a person’s emotional mechanism being “tabula rasa” that this book will focus on. Let me quote Rand again but this time focusing on the emotional mechanism:

Man is born with an emotional mechanism, just as he is born with a cognitive mechanism; but, at birth, both are “tabula rasa.” It is man’s cognitive faculty, his mind, that determines the content of both.

A person’s cognitive faculty determines the content of both. The stuff in it. Said another way: the cognitive mind determines the stuff in one’s emotional mechanism. She goes on:

Man’s emotional mechanism is like an electronic computer, which his mind has to program—and the programming consists of the values his mind chooses.

This is what I take issue. According to Rand, you can program—her word—your emotions. You can make them behave as you want. You can control what life events will end up making you happy, sad, infuriated, etc. She’s not saying you can control your response to your natural emotions. You control the initial emotion itself. She writes:

Man has no choice to feel that something is good for him or evil, but what he will consider good or evil, what will give him joy or pain, what he will love or hate, desire or fear, depends on his standard of value. (31, emphasis original)

Rand says you will, no matter what, indeed, feel something. But what you feel—her word—is up to you. You can control, say, if you’ll be ecstatic from seeing a great heroic achievement or, as a random example, if you’ll be ecstatic over seeing a slave owner whipping his slaves. (P.S. It’s not a random example: see We the Living.) You can control what event from the outer world will give you “joy or pain,” what you will “love or hate,” and “desire or fear.” I’m directly quoting her here.

A profound distrust of natural emotions

You must program your emotions, according to Rand, because they could otherwise be all wrong. Here is Rand admonishing “hedonism” and why we cannot rely on our own natural emotions,

If “desire” is the ethical standard, then one man’s desire to produce and another man’s desire to rob him have equal ethical validity; one man’s desire to be free and another man’s desire to enslave him have equal ethical validity… (33)

In short, if you turn inwards to learn what makes you happy, this is hedonism, which may lead to robbery and enslavement. To avoid this hedonism-to-slavery pipeline, we need Rand’s ethical system, which doesn’t just dictate to not enslave one another, but admonishes us towards “rational” behavior and happiness. We must program our emotional core such that we respond “appropriately” (rationally) to life events.

How it works: set yourself to value the right things. Then, when such things happen, you react in an emotionally appropriate way. From Rand:

Happiness is that state of consciousness which proceeds from the achievement of one’s values. If a man values productive work, his happiness is the measure of his success in the service of his life. (31)

If you set yourself to like productive achievement—then you’ll like it! Problem solved.

Wait. What was the problem again?

In Objectivism, we need not simply have a few rules that say things like “don’t rob people” or “don’t murder people.” We need to tinker with the emotional programming of people, to avoid such disastrous fates. Further, we need to make sure people don’t do things that aren’t “rational.” So many things could be disastrous and would not aid in your rational, objective survival—such as “getting mindless kicks” out of driving “hotrod” cars. In Objectivism, all sorts of things that might bring one happiness are considered irrational. This includes family picnics, certain music, certain paint colors, and more.

Objectivists never believe me about this. Here. I’ll prove it to you. The following is found in The Romantic Manifesto, Rand’s book on art. This book is, surprisingly, the book in which she is most prolific about emotions. A “sense of life,” as according to Rand, is a set of things that all evoke a similar emotional reaction in a person. To explain it, Rand offers the following two sets of things that a person might emotionally react to. The common emotional reaction to each defines a person’s sense of life. I number the sets for clarity.

… [1] a new neighborhood, a discovery, adventure, struggle, triumph—or: [2] the folks next door, a memorized recitation, a family picnic, a known routine, comfort. On a more adult level: [1] a heroic man, the skyline of New York a sunlit landscape, pure colors, ecstatic music—or: [2] a humble man, an old village, a foggy landscape, muddy colors, folk music. (27, numbering mine)

The first set are basically what Rand approves of. The second set, not so much. In more words than this, Rand describes a person who “lacks self esteem” as finding, in the second set of items, “relief from fear, reassurance, [and] undemanding safety of passivity.” This includes, indeed, family picnics and muddy colors.

Muddy colors, by the way, are just colors that have some gray added to them. It is an interior design term meaning “grayed,” and it is also sometimes called a “dirty” color. I learned this from reading books by color expert Maria Killam. A Brookside Moss from Benjamin Moore is slightly “muddier” than a Split Pea. And if you like this sort of thing, according to Rand, you lack self-esteem. I’m directly quoting her.

I find relief from fear in this paint color

Between Rand and Nathaniel Branden, all sorts of things are considered irrational, including driving race cars, hanging out with friends whom you “feel free to be yourself” (as they have no standards), and quiet ladies parties. You must, according to them, seek a “demanding pleasure” and one intimately tied to cognitive functioning and productive achievement. Boom. True happiness. And these views are peddled as the views in alignment with reason™, objectivity, and truth.

You know what people absolutely love? Being judged about what makes them happy.

Discipline your emotions to avoid mayhem

The explicit Objectivist view on emotions is that, in the same way you learn to walk, which becomes automatic and performed at the call of the mind, so you can—nay, you must—make your emotions behave as you want. Anything else can result in sadistic things like enslavement or irrational things like family picnics. Your only choice, according to Rand, a fiction writer, is whether you take control of this process or let it happen haphazardly. She writes,

The enormously powerful integrating mechanism of man’s consciousness is there at birth; his only choice is to drive it or be driven by it. (Philosophy and a Sense of Life, 27)

This is the relationship between the subconscious and the conscious, according to Rand. Either drive the subconscious or it drives you. It’s extremely Freudian: a person’s unconscious is a dark, abysmal place that you best not go, except to tame. She accuses those who don’t take the reins over this process, in which they control their inner functions, as having a “soul like a shapeless piece of clay” (26). Ouch.

The best metaphor I can give for the Objectivist view on emotions is that emotions are seen as like a wild horse that will indeed buck around no matter what. They are seen as wild and unreliable—possibly dangerous. Thus, you have to go in and discipline them. It is perhaps best summed up by what an Objectivist wrote to me once,

Rand doesn’t argue that people are born emotionless …

Yes, I know that.

… but that emotions don’t exist outside of (prior to) values and that therefore you can change your emotions by changing your values.

Yes, that’s what I challenge. I do not think you can nor should “change your emotions by changing your values.” Notice also that this Objectivist said that emotions outside of values don’t even exist.

Programming our unreliable emotional core

Otherwise, yes, Rand wants you to go in and control your emotions. She doesn’t just advise that you be aware of your emotions. She doesn’t just say that you don’t use emotions to learn Calculus. She wants you to go in and program the nature of the very emotion itself. You control your inner world: what gives you “joy or pain,” what you will “desire or fear,” “love or hate”: what emotional response you have to life events.

“The mind leads, the emotions follow.”—Ayn Rand

In Rand’s system, a person’s inner world, their emotions, their very core, is a blank canvas—wet clay—waiting to be programmed. And this view, that one’s inner world is otherwise a rotten, gelatinous potential force of mayhem and laziness and thus must be whipped into shape by an ethical paradigm, remains a view in high alignment with the idea of Original Sin. It is this that I challenge.

In Rand’s system, a person’s inner world, their emotions, their very core, is a blank canvas—wet clay—waiting to be programmed. And this view, that one’s inner world is otherwise a rotten, gelatinous potential force of mayhem and destruction and thus must be whipped into shape by an ethical paradigm, remains a view in high alignment with the idea of Original Sin. It is this that I challenge.

Before you go, again, some premise checking

Many Objectivists get to about this point in reading and decide there is nothing more to see here—because Rand was right about emotions. They can control their emotions, they tell me. They have even personally changed their values and then changed their emotions, for the better.

Objectivists, can you at least agree that this paradigm is not the one that everyone will adopt or will do well with? Can you accept that the very specific ethics that Rand puts forward—that the thinking mind be in control at all times—doesn’t work for everyone or even in every situation for everyone? I outline how very specific Rand is about her view of reason and how it operates in the next chapter. And, no, you cannot argue that I “simply value emotions over reason and that’s ok.” Rand ties this to morality. As such, her ways are morally superior, and any other way becomes immoral. Can you accept that other ways of being, different thoughts on how emotions and reason interact, are viable and even might have some wisdom? And, again, no, Cognitive Behavior Therapy, which has its issues, does not prove Objectivism wholly wise or accurate. You need a far better argument than this.

Check YOUR Premises

I find I really can’t get any further with Objectivists unless we check some of our premises—and the ramifications they then have. No matter what I do or say, Objectivists typically won’t accept my challenge. Even after they read (the first version of) this book, I was told that I “raise some interesting points.” But not enough to challenge the mighty Rand. They say the good ideas I present (in Part II) about emotions can be happily folded into the philosophy. I get told my argument is some unimportant nuanced thing. Or something.

You see, at its core, Objectivists believe they have just a basic foundational philosophy from which all good things flow. Objectivists believe that Objectivism simply means “reason.” They think it means “think on your own,” and so therefore any and all life conclusions are based on the reasoning mind and can change with new information or context. Therefore, if someone comes along and says something like “Relationships are the key to human happiness,” they think this is just a new reasoned conclusion that one can simply adopt into their life. But, you see, it cannot. It directly conflicts with Objectivism’s very specific views on happiness.

Objectivism does not just mean “reason,” as to mean “good ideas are adopted after study.” I find the issue is that two different definitions of “reason” are being used, constantly being conflated. If we needle out what these two definitions are, we might get somewhere.

Definition of Reason #1: Study to draw conclusions

The first definition of reason is what everyone think it is and is meant: you study to come to a conclusion. It’s a way to understand the world. If you’ve taken all data available to you and figured out that Mars orbits the sun in an elliptical pattern, you’ve done this. If you sat down to study child development, comparing stories at age-related times, you’ve done this. If you’ve got a map out to plan a trip, you’ve done this. Study, come to a conclusion, totally loyal to all available facts before you. As Objectivists always admonish, “A is A!”

Definition of Reason #2: The cognitive mind should be in control for all decision making

The second definition of reason is that the cognitive mind should be in control at all times. It is a way to be. It’s what Rand directly intends. She writes:

The virtue of Rationality means the recognition and acceptance of reason as one’s only source of knowledge; one’s only judge of values and one’s only guide to action. It means one’s total commitment to a state of full, conscious awareness, to the maintenance of a full mental focus in all issues, in all choices, in all of one’s waking hours. (28, emphasis mine)

With this definition, you use your cognitive mind—not any gut feel—to make all decisions in life. “Reason” is “one’s only guide to action.” You don’t just use reason to plan a trip or build a lunar lander. You also use it when deciding if you want to break up with someone or quit your job. You do a rational analysis for all—Rand’s word—choices that you make. You use it during all waking hours—Rand’s description. Relying on gut feels, intuition, or instincts is blasted by Rand and her followers as “mysticism.” In Objectivism, your heart’s desires (your inner core) are trumped by your mind’s desires (your ego), always.

Nathaniel Branden writes that this was one of his biggest regrets when promoting Objectivism: the dismissal of what emotions might be trying to tell a person. He writes,

No one pointed out that feelings or emotions might sometimes reflect a more accurate assessment of reality than conscious beliefs. In other words, nobody asserted that the subconscious mind might be right while the conscious mind was mistaken. (My Years with Ayn Rand, ch. 9)

Branden writes in My Years with Ayn Rand that the issue of “the mind versus the heart” was the most important issue to Rand. It itself was in fact tied in her mind to “the supreme importance of reason in human life.” He writes that when he met her for the very first time,

She wanted to know what I thought about “the mind versus the heart,” thinking versus feeling, and did I agree that feelings by themselves were not a reliable guide to action? Of course I agreed.

This issue was so important to Rand that she almost wrote another book about it. From Branden,

For some years, Ayn had contemplated writing a book about “the mind versus the heart,” her thesis being the superiority of the mind and the evil of placing the heart above it. She decided against writing the book because she felt she had covered the issue adequately in Atlas Shrugged. The intensity of her concern with this issue, which surfaced in countless discussions, became a profound if unacknowledged message to distrust emotions. (emphasis mine)

Branden describes eloquently about what Rand’s idea was and that it was tied in her mind to reason itself,

When Ayn began discussing the idea that all emotions are the product of a person’s conscious or subconscious premises and that emotions reflect conscious or subconscious value judgments, I saw that this was a principle of enormous importance to her. It was tied in her mind to the supreme importance of reason in human life. “Emotions are not tools of cognition,” she said. She would say this often, always with great intensity. (emphasis mine)

This was Rand’s idea of reason and the role it plays in life. It was not just “study.” It was not just that “A is A.” It was not “understand the world through your senses and logic.” It relates not just to our mind and its understanding of the world but our mind and how we run the inner world. It is a philosophy that proposes to tell you to use “rationality” in all waking hours of the day. Your mind must be in the command and control center—not any silly emotions—making all decisions in life. This is what Objectivism, a system with an elaborate moral and political philosophy, is.

This is not reason. Frankly, I find this view of reason appeals far more to people who had caregivers in their youth who were emotionally out of control (likely Cluster B personalities: Narcissistic or Borderline Personality Disorder) than any person of genuine reason. Children from such dysfunctional homes (who might not even know they were dysfunctional) often grow up to utterly despise emotions themselves, because their caregivers used emotions in such highly manipulative ways. But deciding the cognitive mind must be in control at all times (as if it’s going to clean up all of these potential problems) is not what reason is. People of genuine reason are often highly absent-minded in everyday life. “Driving” the inner mechanism, “programming” your emotions, using your “mind” in all waking hours of the day—this is not reason. It is something else entirely. After explaining it more thoroughly in this book, I will give it a name.

Logic that goes round and round

Rand does a bait and switch. She sells you on the idea of “reason” by pointing to skyscrapers and trains. And then she switches “reason” to be “something you do for all choices you make, all waking hours of the day.” You go from supporting industry and technology to supporting an entire particular psychology in a blink of an eye. Her explanations are so fast and quick you probably didn’t notice.

Now I want you to go back and consider how Rand even developed her ethics. This is how she opens her case for her Objectivist ethics:

Is ethics the province of whims: of personal emotions, social edicts and mystic revelations—or is it the province of reason?

Right away, reason and emotions are split. Rand immediately puts emotions on the back burner in her proof for her ethics. She lumps “personal emotions” themselves in with “social edicts” and “mystic revelations.” She doesn’t even usually call them “emotions” but demotes them quickly as “whims.”

She then develops her proof for her Objectivist ethics. It entirely rests on the premise of tabula rasa. Tabula rasa again is not just that a person is born without robust conceptual knowledge. According to Rand, again a fiction writer, a person is born without reliable emotional instincts. She argues that since man “has no” reliable instincts, unlike animals, he thus needs a code of ethics to guide his life.

So, did you get that? Studying ethics itself must be done with “reason,” which by definition, according to Rand, means, “study, independent of one’s feelings.” And her conclusion is that man must use “reason” to live, which to her means, “think and make decisions, independent of feelings.” Do you see how the very tool she uses to dissect the issue, “reason,” is also the conclusion? Do you see how some kind of bias might be at work?

Objectivists always think the proof for Rand’s ethics goes like this:

  1. Man is a creature of reason.
  2. He should use reason to survive and build things.

In actuality, the proof goes like this:

  1. Man is a creature of reason.
  2. He has no reliable natural emotional or instinctual programming.
  3. He thus must use reason to make all decisions in every waking hour of his life.

Rand uses tabula rasa to outright crush all emotional or instinctual drivers in human life. The result is a domineering, authoritarian way of going about life.

Step 2 above is an outright false conclusion, and, as such, so is Step 3. Step 2 is the premise of tabula rasa. It is what I am trying to get you to doubt as you move in and out of Rand’s proof for her Objectivist ethics.

Rat Park Study: Hyper Vigilance or a Carefree Existence

Why does this matter?

The issue here is the role of the mind. Should the cognitive mind dominate the inner world or can we trust our emotions? That’s the issue. And the implications are enormous. The best way I can explain it, as simply as I can without going into detail of how it affects education, medicine, health, relationships, politics, and more (the topics in the rest of this book) is with the Rat Park Study.

Previous to the study using “Rat Park,” studies done on laboratory rats were conducted in which rats were given the choice of water or water that was laced with some kind of drug similar to cocaine. These studies, using caged rats, showed that the rats would pick the cocaine-laced water over plain water to the point of dehydration and death. Their inner whims were totally unreliable.

But when one psychologist, Dr. Bruce Alexander, attempted this same experiment in the 1970s but put the rats in “Rat Park,” the results were different. Instead of being caged, the rats were allowed to roam, play, socialize, and have sex. These rats, on average and over time, tended to choose the plain water (Sederer). They didn’t need the cocaine.

This could not explain my challenge to Objectivism (or modern science) better. If properly cared for, humans can be trusted. Using nothing but their own internal compass as a guide, they pick water. If denied love, comfort, and relationships, indeed their inner “whims” become unreliable. They pick cocaine.  

“Rat Park” but for humans, an abundant, happy world, in which inner and outer world are in conscious, present, joyful harmony, is what I am fighting for. With it, humans tend to well. Without it, not so much. And our modern world can be described as caged rats behaving as caged rats—which ends up further justifying the need for cages.

Psychologists and even philosophers, for decades, have cited the original rat experiments, done on the caged rats, as a reason for the rational mind to dominate the “lower” parts of the brain. Rand similarly starts her Objectivist ethics by declaring that the inner world is chaotic and in need of discipline. She has elaborate thoughts on how to discipline emotions, including happiness, to do what we tell them to. I’ll describe in this book how she intends a person do this: how one should “program” their emotional mechanism.

My basic argument is this is unnecessary and even destructive. These parts of the mind, the inner world, do not need dominated. If traumatized, people sometimes need a strong thought paradigm to program and restrain their inner world, such as the caged rats would. But if properly cared for, which is a gentle and loving pursuit, those “inner whims” can be trusted. Your natural, more intuitive choices—with happiness as the standard—will be right. This inner world is in fact a guiding light, especially when parenting and educating children. It’s the exact place where we can thrive as humans.

Moral paradigms, in and of themselves, crush this vitality. We need to move away from highly “rational” rugged individualism, which is really just control and authoritarianism, and towards proper caregiving of each other, on a personal level. And don’t confuse my argument as one for socialism or altruism. I am proposing proper caregiving.

When Dr. Alexander did this study in the late 1970s, it was rejected by major scientific magazines. It’s no wonder why. It challenged every basic premise science at the time had—and still has. It challenged the idea of a disciplining morality itself. It challenged behaviorism. It challenged our very view of human nature—and who the real oppressors were. (Read: religion). It highlighted what they didn’t have a phrase for, but I now provide: it highlighted their moral bias. I write this book, targeting people’s ethics, entirely to shake up these stale moral paradigms that block such scientific progress. Our cages are in our mind: in our moral paradigms.

Programming emotions is abuse

Attempting to program one’s inner core is a very serious thing—and it’s done by people who think that the proper management of emotions is some small issue that doesn’t even really matter.

No, this is heavy stuff. Whether or not we can go in and program our emotions—our inner core—is huge. The implications are enormous. It affects inter-personal relationships, parenting, education, our state of happiness, psychology, therapy, and more. Absolutely critical to my own personal healing (Objectivism utterly failed me) was developing a friendly relationship with my inner core. More that just I write about how important this friendly relationship with one’s inner self is: it is a soul connection. And moral paradigms, which seek to control the emotional core of a person, utterly strangle it.  

Far superior ideas on emotions exist. I pit Rand’s view that we dominate our emotions with one that our emotions, developed over millions of years of evolution, are here to tell us something. We cannot and should not override our natural emotional programming. It is an incredibly serious thing to try to override any life organism’s natural emotional and instinctual programming.

Programming (manipulating) emotions is, as I will argue, fertile ground for abuse. People usually dismiss this accusation of mine, that Objectivism leads to inter-personal abuse. Well, it starts here with Rand’s views on emotions. Objectivists can readily see that treating physical objects outside of the law of identity results in abuse. If you treated sulfuric acid as if it were water and drank it, you would be harmed. Similarly, when you treat emotions outside of the law of identity (without respect for their identity) so it also results in abuse—and how.

Rand accuses “subjectivists” and others as treating the outer world as if it’s like clay to mold, when it isn’t—every object has identity. In “The Metaphysical Versus the Man-Made” she writes:

Observe that the philosophical system based on the axiom of the primacy of existence (i.e., on recognizing the absolutism of reality) led to the recognition of man’s identity and rights. But the philosophical systems based on the primacy of consciousness (i.e., on the seemingly megalomaniacal notion that nature is whatever man wants it to be) lead to the view that man possesses no identity, that he is infinitely flexible, malleable, usable, and disposable. Ask yourself why. (28)

But she does exactly this with the inner world. Your inner soul, your thoughts and feelings, according to Rand, are programmable—pliable, malleable, like wet clay. Who gets to do that molding? As I will argue in this book, this is how abuse work: it is through people’s moral paradigms. Abusers claim the moral upper hand and work through a victim’s own sense of shame. Tabula rasa—blank slate theory—is a necessary premise for all moralists, which means, all abusers. This is what I am putting up a fight against. Your soul need not be open to moral programming. We’ve been plied for abuse through the power of morality long enough. It’s time to say: no more. Our emotions deserve far more respect than this.

Rand was no psychologist—but she was a moralist

Although Rand advocates using reason and objectivity to come to conclusions, she personally studied no humans in a disciplined way to make her enormous, sweeping conclusions about human nature, the main topic at the heart of her entire philosophy. Rand played psychologist, and she was lousy at it. She sets the poorest example of reason possible. Can we at least see this—that she had no disciplined study? Certainly not one in which she successfully treated people.

“I really don’t know much about psychology. I leave that sewer to you, Nathan.”—Ayn Rand

I will be outlining ten Objectivist Blindspots in this book. That Rand thought she knew all she needs to know about human nature itself, when she didn’t, is Objectivist Blindspot #1.

Truth is the cry of all, but the game of the few. George Berkeley.

Far worse than this, however, is that Rand then codifies her weak understanding of human nature into a moral code. And she entirely intends this all-encompassing rational morality to guide a person for every choice in all waking hours of one’s life.

This is bad enough—moralities come with a lot of toxic stuff, including shame, anxiety, excessive judgment, and abuse. But, in addition, in codifying her weak understanding of human nature into an all-encompassing morality, Rand shuts down an enormous amount of scientific inquiry. Whether it’s condemning “Progressive” education, certain types of music, or alternative views on happiness itself, Rand shuts down an enormous amount of curiosity—about topics utterly vital to human health and thriving.

And, no, despite being advocates of “reason,” no amount of new evidence can update Objectivist thinking. It’s been made abundantly clear that “Objectivism is the philosophy of Ayn Rand.” Leonard Peikoff’s first book after Rand’s death was of this title, entirely for this reason: what was said has been said. Outside thought is unwelcomed and will not alter the official philosophy of Objectivism. An Objectivist might update their thinking on matters relating to the outer world. But when it comes to the inner world, their views are set in stone. If someone were to say, “emotions play a role in making life decisions,” they would be shut down to this. (I find they outright mock it.) Here is Branden describing a conversation with Rand about then recent research on depression:

When I tried to tell her of some new research that suggested that certain kinds of depression had a biological basis, she answered angrily, “I can tell you what causes depression. I can tell you about rational depression, and I can tell you about irrational depression. The second is mostly self-pity, and in neither case does biology enter into it.” I asked her how she could make a scientific statement with such certainty, given that she had never studied the field. She shrugged bitterly and snapped, “Because I know how to think.”

She knows how to think. So, no, new evidence cannot and does not update Objectivist thinking. Not when it comes to anything related to the inner world or which threatens Rand’s idea of an all-encompassing rational morality. (Or which threatens any moralist’s anything.)

This is especially dangerous, because it’s in alternative views, especially on education, that many of the problems that come up in Objectivism can be resolved. Rand’s intense moralizing creates intense unease, shame, and anxiety, as I will show in this book. Different ideas on emotions, education, and psychology can resolve these issues. But as Rand has condemned these other ideas as irrational and immoral, they cannot penetrate the Objectivist mind. The disease prevents the cure.

Objectivism enflames moral bias

I accuse Rand’s Objectivism of moral bias. Moral bias is when a moral ideal (a code outlining ideal human behavior) seems so obvious, so amazing, so glittering, so virtuous, that it renders one blind. It shuts down curiosity into the value of other ideas or ways of being. When a person sees other ideas as inherently evil, one will not recognize their value.

Moral bias also renders a person blind to the damage they cause in pursuing their ideal. We see this with other systems like communism, in which people notoriously could not see the damage of communist regimes in pursuing their ideal society. We also see it in religion, in which for centuries they have behaved atrociously, but people still pass it off as “organized religion not scripture,” with scripture remaining literally holy. But it’s seen in Objectivism, too, as I will outline extensively in this book.

moral bias
when a moral ideal (a code outlining ideal human behavior) seems so glittering, so virtuous, so desirable that one cannot see the value lost by shutting down other theories and ways of being and cannot see the damage they are causing in pursuing it

Moral bias is a serious thing to reckon with. I believe it is the very thing humanity has been grappling with, causing strife, war, and oppression, all the while we maintain that it’s some random, evil, “Devil” out to get us. I’m arguing that it’s not. I am quite different from other thinkers. I do not think the problem in humanity is “psychosis.” Nor do I think the problem is in “feelings.” Instead, I argue that moral bias is a dangerous trait built right into the human psyche. It’s in you and it’s in me. Humans are very prone to it. Moral bias sits mostly latent, until it is triggered by fear. When fear presents itself, humans divide themselves into groups, in which one group, they, are smart, responsible, and moral, and the other, some obviously despicable group, is irresponsible, irrational, and destructive. (Sound familiar?) It leads, easily, to warlike behavior. It’s horrifying, actually. I call moral bias the “Hair trigger away from war and dictatorship” trait in the human mind. And that’s exactly how war and dictatorship erupt: set to a hair trigger. Given the right cause, fear, and hero, all humans will succumb to it—including me. (And I have.)

So, I’m not entirely picking on Objectivism. But moral paradigms like Objectivism enflame moral bias. My argument again is that moral bias is there, latent, in the human psyche. It was there in primitive man, and it’s here now in modern man. It’s that thing that easily riles up a person. It makes them sit, mesmerized, as someone talks about how virtuous mankind is. It’s the thing that easily says “raze them” when a person feels a sincere threat comes around. My argument is that this is a trait that works well in the raw wild but has turned highly maladaptive in civilization. In the wild, one has to quickly focus and overcome all odds. But we are no longer tempered by the wild and the many happy obstacles it provides. We, instead, have free reign. This trait of ours never has anything to push back on it. This trait is simply totally out of control now, as modern history can easily show. Tribal cultures may have had their violent episodes, but they never had a Hitler or a Mao. To be sure, my argument is that they were capable of this. It’s just that they were limited in their technology, infrastructure, and too happily preoccupied by living to do this. They had a happy equilibrium. We do not.

I am proposing our cognitive mind must recognize and temper this trait of ours. We can reach equilibrium, but we are going to have to now actively achieve it. If we identify this trait in ourselves, we can manage it—and no longer be exposed to sudden, brutal war and dictatorship. (And, no, Americans, you are not exempt.)

Defending the wild in us

We basically have it all wrong. Many have long warned about natural sin or danger in humans. We’ve long blamed emotions, selfishness, or disobedience. Feelings themselves, the sweet things they are, however, are not the problem. We don’t need to squash our mere feelings. This trait is not rooted in feelings. It’s close to, possibly inside, the rational mind. People tend to be very explicit about their moral values and their justifications for whatever punishment, war, negligence, or totalitarianism they want to inflict on their fellow man. It’s not unconscious. They are very aware of what they are doing. Abuse is in a person’s moral paradigm. They think what they are doing is good. A parent who spanks their child thinks they are inflicting positive behavioral modification. Domestic abusers feel they are rightfully punishing a woman who was “running her mouth.” Sean Connery gave this exact justification for why he would hit a woman. Every dictator thought they were fighting for a better society. Objectivists explicitly write it’s ok to bomb innocent civilians, if it means winning a war. (See Craig Biddle’s “Defeat Terrorism in Five Easy Steps.”) When people commit acts that are truly evil, they think they are doing something good. Really think about that. And think about your own moral bias, too.

We don’t need to reprogram people’s emotions. We need to challenge their moral values: their Gods, their flags, their Utopian visions, their justifications, their rationale. (No easy feat, by the way.) And by getting it wrong, by blaming feelings instead of moral paradigms, we continue to add fuel to the fire. We are in a despondent cycle. These moral paradigms are designed to contain sin. But they ARE sin itself.

Challenging Blank Slate Theory

All power structures need blank slate theory or something similar. They need to believe that people by nature have no reliable emotional core and should be looked at with inherent suspicion. All power structures need this basic premise. They need to believe that they can or even have to control the emotional core of a person—the stuff deep inside us. It is a tyrant’s best ally. It allows a total onslaught against a person’s personhood: their thoughts, feelings, hopes, fears, what they should be grateful for, who they should regard as a hero, etc. All power structures arise because of moral paradigms. Power structures need moral paradigms. They need their heroes and their saints—as separated from blasphemers and traitors. From Butler Shaffer,

The concept of morality –whatever it’s specific form—is particularly suited to those who covet power over others. Advocates of any moral philosophic system share with other exponents of structured human relationships the belief that a totally inner-directed person is a threat to social order, and that people must be conditioned to accept the external direction of their value systems. Moral doctrines not only assume an essentially malevolent human nature in need of institutional restraints; but also, in this secular age, take on many of the functions of religious institutions in searching out a multitude of heresies, blasphemies, and sinful acts.

This blank slate theory, so heavily adopted in (commonplace) science now, is de facto taking us back to a time similar to when Original Sin dominated. It distrusts, guts, and disrespects so much that makes us thrive as humans. I will explain this extensively in this book. I cannot explain it in a mere few paragraphs or how much it affects literally all areas related to human life. I need time to explain it—and a mind open to understanding it. I am all but begging you to understand this issue. The better ideas simply must win.

Tabula rasa—the idea that we have no reliable instinctual programming, such that we can and should program a person’s emotional mechanism—was, at best, simply the predominant view at the time that Rand wrote. (And I do emphasize, “at best.” Carl Jung lived before Atlas Shrugged was published. There really is no excuse.) Blank slate theory is being challenged in virtually all areas of science related to human nature (as the good ideas are allowed to surface, anyway, under the weight of power structures). We have emotional drivers in us meant to pack a punch and aid in our survival—and it’s far more than just running away in fear from a snake. Understanding this is core to understanding who we are as a species and how we can thrive.

Rand’s system is very hierarchical. Her morality is based on her metaphysics. Her politics are based on her morality. The many, many judgments she makes are deeply rooted in her view of the ideal man. And her view of human nature itself is wrong. Challenge tabula rasa, and Objectivism comes tumbling down like the house of cards that it is.

What is Moral Bias?

Moral bias is when a moral ideal shines so bright in one’s mind that it clouds their objectivity.

I developed this idea after noticing it when doing my child development work. I study the age-related “stages” children go through. It is those notorious times when children “act up” at age-related times, but on the other side of this behavior is an astonishing growth in mental ability. The child’s brain was going through an “upgrade.” As such, I take a particular interest in the “misbehavior” of children (their wild). My book series is Misbehavior is Growth. My popular website, with free summaries of the milestones I document, is www.theobservantmom.com.

What I noticed is that people’s perceptions of morality interfered with objectively understanding children. Not just regular parents, but social scientists as well. For instance, a study might find that children who stay up late also showed higher rates of “misbehavior.” The ubiquitous conclusion from such a study is to get children to bed early such that they do not “misbehave.” But my child development work shows that these things naturally correlate. During any of these “stages,” where children tend to act up by becoming whinier, more aggressive, etc., they also very often stay up late at night. The child will want to get back out of bed, be with you, and, at any rate, just plain won’t fall asleep. Too much is going on in their mind. And, yes, it will correlate with times of “misbehavior,” such that a study would find as much. But there is nothing you can do about it. No amount of trying to put them to bed on time prevents it; it is natural development. The moral ideal clouding objectivity in this case is the ideal of a “calm child”: a mythical rainbow unicorn that doesn’t exist.

When we study the planets, we study them as is. We never ascribe their wild behavior to immorality. But when we study humans, our ideas of morality (what we think “should” be) get in the way, big time. This is moral bias. For centuries, moralists have hurled at us that what “is” does not determine the “ought.” I hurl back at them: you are so focused on the “ought” that you cannot see what is. Or, as in the case of Rand, you have a very poor idea of the is, then erroneously develop the ought. (And, actually, hers was an “ought” too: the “ought” to prevent anarchy and lawlessness.) The amount of good that can happen by shedding moral bias is enormous.

moral bias

when a person’s ought prevents them from seeing the is

As I started to think of many, many issues, I realized how much moral bias clouds objectivity. It alone can explain so much. I realized it follows a typical cycle. In short, a moral ideal shines so brightly in one’s mind that they are on an unwavering mission to enact it. This sound heroic, but it is regardless of if they are enacting any positive change or otherwise doing damage. It invariably starts from a position of weakness, in which a person feels shame, is not succeeding, is full of fear, is distrustful, or chaos has ensued. It is always an attempt to bring order to real or perceived disorder.

Let me use a simple example to explain moral bias. Let’s say someone has decided that running two miles every day will lead to weight loss. So, they go to do this. They diligently run two miles every day. But little happens. They don’t lose weight. Unable to update their thinking, they think the problem must be that they just aren’t committed enough. Perhaps they need to run more miles every day. Perhaps something else is going on, such as they are eating too much. In truth, as they see no results, they will likely stop running every day. They’ll run every other day. Then only twice per week… then never. This is what naturally happens when one doesn’t get results. But, if plagued by too much moral bias, they’ll just beat themselves up over it. “I failed.” “I couldn’t keep it up.” Nothing will alarm them that this is actually not the path to weight loss—and it is not. Read any book on intermittent fasting to find out why.

The Traits of Moral Bias

Using this example, here is a breakdown of the traits of moral bias, how it operates, and how you know you are dealing with it.

How to achieve success is predefined

The moral ideal in this example of running two miles every day is “athletic body, free of excess weight.” To achieve it, one has decided you must run regularly. How to achieve the ideal is, with but some minimal amount of wiggle room, otherwise set in stone.

You can also consider this the “the moral ideal is holy” trait of moral bias. In some systems, they regard this ideal as literally holy.

Shame or fear initiates the system

Shame is when you feel unworthy or less than somehow. In this example, you feel shame because you are overweight. These moral ideals are always pursued stemming from a place of weakness, not strength. Fear is probably the more usual initiator of moral bias. This could be fear of a violent threat, an illness, or even fear of big government. And, actually, fear drives the person who is running for exercise as well: fear they might not get a date, and so on. One is combatting illness, obesity, threats, sin, etc. Through x, y, or z, you will become [strong, beautiful, free, good, great].

The fear that kicks off the system is often made-up, minimal, or the byproduct of another system of moral bias. At any rate, the proposed system was never going to solve the initial problem.

Failure to achieve the ideal is your fault

If, when you don’t reach the ideal (as you won’t), it’s not the system’s fault. It’s always your fault. The moral ideal and how to get there are obvious. Run and you lose weight. If you can’t do this, you are lazy.

Damage in pursuing the ideal is ignored

In this example of running regularly, if you experience damage in pursuing your ideal, such as you twist your ankle, you might rest for a bit. But nothing about this solution to weight loss makes people think that maybe asking an overweight person to run two miles every day is a bad idea. Such injuries are seen as things that strike out of the blue.

The damage in this example is relatively benign, but when it applies to political-moral ideals, the damage becomes much more horrific.

Fake heroes are born

There is no actual success or heroism in the moral system. But if someone puts up a good show that they are attempting to pursue the ideal (usually a very showy, often tragic and martyred performance), they artificially get to be held up in a community’s good graces.

When people have running success, they often “virtue signal” about it. This is when you blast to the world how amazing and virtuous you are. They might put bumper stickers on their car that say “13.1,” which shows that they ran that number of miles. I once saw a car utterly plastered with such stickers, and it was double parked, preventing me from having a parking spot. All that running success, and they remain a jerk. (I can’t tell you how much I love those bumper stickers that say “0.0.”)

In other moral-political systems, you get to claim moral status for often simple acts, such as wearing holy robes. If you do achieve any seeming illustrious end goal, such as running a marathon, staying celibate, or achieving career success, it is often flaunted in front of others.

If the threat that the hero is fighting is one that frightens some set of people enough, that hero gains impunity. They are, after all, warding off a blazing forest fire—give them some grace. Not everything they do is going to be perfect, you know.

Soon, they learn they can completely cash in on this. Their actions become totally above reproach. If what they are doing is perceived as being vital enough to survival, others are to bow to them and walk on eggshells around them. People might be ordered to have hero worship for them, such as by being ordered to have gratitude or attend parades.

In that all this hero-worship comes with so many perks, the hero often gives up before attaining their goal. (The problem was often made up, anyway.) Why continue all that hard work when, at some point on your martyred path, you have been given wealth and women? Here are some examples of this.

Hero:Threat

  • NRA: the threat of gun control
  • Libertarians: the threat of big government
  • Trump: the threat of immigrants
  • Clinton: the threat of Republicans
  • Clergy: the ever-present threat of the devil

Have any of these vanquished the threats they constantly warn about?

The only thing that changes in these examples are the perceived threat, the moral ideal, and the fake hero who cashes in on it. Yes, all of these things have historically had people who cashed in on their hero status. Sexual abuse of others is usually their favorite perk.

And, of course, people will not define this behavior, in which the hero acts unethically, as wrong or a product of the system. They’ll chalk it up to “human nature.”

The authentically talented are discarded

The byproduct (or perhaps the entire purpose) of a self-righteous moral system is that the authentically talented get cast to the side. People are so blinded by the goal of the moral system that it’s all they can see. Scientists persecuted by the church is the best example of this. In some systems, certain people aren’t even allowed to talk, by definition, such as how religion does to women. Their voices are silenced—they are even murdered. As such, their wisdom cannot penetrate the system.

Authentic feedback cannot penetrate the moral ideal itself

As its members go about pursuing their ideal, they cannot update in thinking or goals. The path to success is defined. You reference the code/rules/an expert, not your own authentic feedback. As the runner gets no results, they can’t see that this isn’t working. They just beat themselves up. (Politicians, on the other hand, just beat YOU up.) The moral ideal itself is holy—unquestionable.

Feedback is either actively dismissed or it is inverted. For instance, some might say that the damage being caused for any given solution “just means it’s working.” “No pain, no gain,” they rationalize. It’s often built right into the system that you can’t challenge it, e.g., “Who are you to judge?” You often aren’t even allowed to expect results, as in religion when they throw their hands up in the air, after you point out their bad behavior, “Everyone is a sinner! We just admit to it!” The system’s victims are desensitized and inhibited. They are not allowed to trust their own eyes, ears, feelings, or direct experience.

A great indicator of moral bias is when someone who rightfully complains about the system is pointed towards the rules that define the system and then asked, “Can’t you read?” Can’t you read—the system is the system. Stop complaining.

“Can’t you read the sign?”

The further away the result is from the system, the better for moral bias. If results are typically seen many years later, this is a breeding ground for moral bias. Take for instance when religion says your choices won’t affect you negatively until after you are dead.  Convenient. Systems heavy in moral bias are always asking for more time: two more weeks, five more years, “we’re working on the problem,” etc.

This is one of your best insights to ward of moral bias. Predatory behavior (and moral bias is predatory) is a game of timing. They want you to give them the benefit of the doubt and stall to act. If you identify this game as soon as it starts, it puts you at an advantage. Put time on your side.

Conclusions were drawn based on a poor understanding of the topic

When developing the moral ideal (the heroic solution to a pressing problem), not nearly enough study ever went into understanding the inner workings of what one is trying to fix. No well-performed study showed that running is a good solution to the problem of being overweight, in which tried-and-true, lasting results occur. Based on common sense, it just seems like it would work. Or perhaps some pen and paper exercises, such as calories burned versus calories consumed, showed it will work. This latter, pen-and-paper method is rationalistic science and a tyranny in and of itself.

One thought they can control what they can’t

Typically, an overly ambitious view of what one can control is at work. Nothing about the system works without this belief that you can directly control/change/fix something, of which they really can’t. (The only thing you can successfully do with sheer will is destroy things, and not the things you intend to destroy either.) In this case, just run and the fat melts off, as if you can all but nearly poke and chisel it off.

The benefits were overblown

The purported moral ideal is way more dazzling in theory than it is in reality. In this example, anyone selling a weight loss program might make you think you’ll look like your favorite celebrity. Religions promise seas of milk and honey in heaven. Predatory financial advisers promise great wealth, based on horrible math.  

Alternative ideas are seen as inherently evil

As the moral ideal and its path are so obvious to the person, alternative ideas aren’t even considered. In the example of running, perhaps getting the deep rest that fasting provides, so opposite of the seeming heroic effort that running requires, would seem wildly nonsensical—even laughable.

In other systems with moral bias, other ideas and the people who hold them are seen as wildly irresponsible, hedonistic, immoral, treasonous, etc. Their alternative ideas can never penetrate the system because they are deemed immoral right from the start. People with these alternative ideas are also often falsely accused of the very transgressions that people within the system are guilty of.

In systems of moral bias, snarkiness and bravado abound. People are very confident that theirs is the obvious solution and only disobedience, laziness, or malignant intent are the reasons for failure. Trite bromides are thrown around, which apparently hypnotize people. “What does GOD want?” “Pick up THE book.” “Just get your butt up and move!” As from Craig Biddle, an Objectivist, “Defeat terrorism in 5 easy steps.”

There is a bottomless pit in demands for resources

When you see any person or country get closer and closer to their moral ideal, and yet things keep getting worse and worse, you are dealing with moral bias. As the problem is obviously not their moral ideal and its obvious path for success, it must be a lack of resources. You just don’t have enough time to do all the running you need, including all the warmup, etc.

When operating under moral bias, there is an endless call for resources: more money, more effort, more discipline, more understanding, more enforcement, etc. Their heroic motto is of course, “Don’t quit!” Even when they have an enormously disproportionate amount of power, they still feel victimized and disadvantaged—like they’ll never actually win their battle, as they are fighting against overly powerful, dangerous “others.”

They cannot see their own behavior

Probably the biggest disconnect with moral bias is the lack of results versus the purported system. With running, the most overweight person will lecture others to get up and start running more. The system itself needs defended, no matter what. They can never see their own behavior as it relates to their very system.

Whatever their moral system, when it is challenged, the person defies all their principles. A person who advocates politeness becomes impolite; a person who advocates grace becomes ungracious, and so on. Challenge Christianity and watch how mean they get. Challenge Objectivism and watch how belittling they get. They cannot uphold their own principles. Christians cannot maintain their love. Objectivists cannot maintain their reason. This is moral bias in action—probably the most maddening trait.

To the moralist, their moral paradigm shines so brightly in their mind that it itself needs defended—not actually practicing any of their actual principles. They do unnecessary mental gymnastics. Christians don’t just support love. Love is by definition Jesus and so any attack on Jesus is an attack on love. Objectivists don’t just support reason. Reason itself is tied to Objectivism. That’s a powerful thing to do in someone’s mind. Love = Jesus. Reason = Objectivism. People are trauma bonded to their moral ideologies. They attack anyone who challenges them. You just attacked their mother, grandmother, AND brother, who’s in jail.

If there is one trait that I would fix to fix moral bias, it’s probably this one. It’s the paradox of moral bias. They use their moral system to control their thoughts and behavior to be “good.” And yet any attack on the moral system causes them to not be good whatsoever. They think they can control thoughts, behaviors, and life, but they cannot escape the moral paradigm itself. They can judge—but not how they judge. They can see—but not see that the very apparatus they see with is by nature limited in what they can see.

Tight regulations are deployed

The entire system is based on weakness. There is a problem without a good solution, and simply adding energy into the system might fix it.

To see to it that some success is seen, tight regulations are put in place. The system is hyper monitored. These regulations are not put in place to see how and why something works. They are put in place to catch people when “bad.”

And, in truth, the regulation aren’t even meant to catch anyone when bad. They are meant to deflect blame. They are meant to put the heat on someone else, as someone in leadership is acting nefariously, doesn’t know what they are doing, or, at any rate, doesn’t want to look bad. Rules or laws that the public naively think are meant to catch perpetrators will always protect the powerful, who love to have a moral, responsible, authoritarian, unquestionable standing in society.

If you see such tight regulations, in the workplace or government, you can probably trace it back to the beginning of moral bias. Some person screwed up somewhere, feels shame, doesn’t understand how to fix the problem, or is trying to get away with something bad, and now they are excessively relying on pointless rules and regulations.

This is one of the easiest parts of moral bias to challenge. The monitors themselves tend to be unpopular. Big Brother is watching you!

Simple solutions would have worked

All of moral bias ends up being one big, unnecessary show. Simple, boring solutions would have worked to fix the problem. In the example of weight loss, a healthy weight should be far easier to attain than it is in modern times. We didn’t have such an obesity problem until the past few decades. And, before this, people weren’t running marathons to stay slim. Some other factor is at work. Fasting, in the absence of other health problems, is indeed quite simple. It was also the norm before about 1970 when “Five small meals a day” advice went into place.

Moral bias results in an over-response to a small problem. Some problem—be it low wages, drug use, obesity, whatever—cannot be tolerated in the least. They are here to utterly obliterate it. They have no ability to patiently work through problems in any sensible way.

Some people cash in on it

Want to lose weight? I have a SPECIAL gym with some extra-special whiz bang thing that will fulfill your hopes and dreams. We all know that last special whiz bang things didn’t quite work. This one is different. It’s black, not blue.

It’s easy to cash in on moral bias: results don’t matter anyway.

It creates other systems of moral bias

In their carnage, this system creates genuine victims, who genuinely have something to be scared of. If government gets too big, out of fear of a threat (poverty, drugs, virus, etc.), other people will respond, as they have been victimized in this war-like rampage. In this case, it is possible some will respond with intelligence and genuine intent, but not always or even usually. Others cash in on another hero opportunity—and another opportunity to steer society back to their favored moral system. (Typically religion: “We’ve abandoned Jesus! That’s why everything is bad!”). And now they are the heroes fighting big government. It is highly predictable that at least one or more counter force enters a cycle of moral bias. The heroes in the subsequent cycle still claim martyred status, still denigrate others (“socialist!” “stupid young’ns!”). They become above reproach. They have doubly the reason to believe the nature of man is bad, lazy, sinful, and power hungry.

Moral bias systems can also compound each other. Let’s say someone starts a “war on poverty.” This is system of moral bias #1. Now another person is worried that cheaters can take advantage of the money being handed out. Again, fear initiates systems of moral bias. So, they institute a policy that all asking for money must be checked for drug use, need, etc. This is system of moral bias #2. Now the original program has extra regulations added to it, making it that much more expensive. Moral bias, again, results in a bottomless pit in its demand for resources. Big government basically is big moral bias.

government

The place where people’s delusional ideas of how the world ought to operate are kept alive.

The more it fails, the stronger it gets

All of the problems created just serve to get more resources, ever feeding the system (until it’s eventual enormous collapse, anyway). As the problems are created, it’s taken as yet more proof that the original shame-based or fear-based problem really does exist. The system enters its never-ending despondent cycle in which people are broken/scared, to then be saved. This can also be called the “self-fulfilling prophecy” trait of moral bias.

People rip each other to shreds over the fallout

Nothing works and there is an obviously terrible problem (now problems) lingering. It doesn’t go down well. Family members might mock you, “It ain’t the dryer that made your pants not fit; it’s the refrigerator!” There is an utter stench of fear, paranoia, shame, anxiety, hysteria, and abuse in the air—followed then by sickeningly sweet pity, fake empathy, and outright, threatening demands for compassion. Everyone huddles over their despair in the problems created—finally, we as humans have united! Well, I mean, except those immoral swine keeping you in this state. Everyone stands on that precarious ledge, full of tortured, martyred, self-righteous emotions, fighting that one step they are away from death. Depending on the level of hysteria, a system heavy in moral bias is the most effective way to destroy families, communities, organizations, and nations. Even if they survive—it ain’t living.

Tell me: what systems can you name that are steeped in moral bias?

Moral Bias: The Process

Here is the basic process of moral bias. 

Moral bias starts with a made-up or highly minimal problem. It always starts with the question, “BUT WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO?” What are you going to do if some awful, evil thing were to happen? What is going to happen if your family member succumbs to drug addiction and puts you in the poor house? What if a tornado strikes? What if you are caught unprepared for a deadly illness? You know all your choices, every single day in every single waking hour matter, right? Have you put extensive thought into all of them?

A tried-and-true plan is put together. It is tied to morality itself, because failure means death. The end goal of the moral ideal is to be obtained at nearly any cost. Authentic feedback is directly shut down or inverted: feedback that shows the system is not working might be taken as proof that it actually is working. For instance, when a medical solution causes harm, someone declares the pain “just means it’s working!” Continued failure is always ascribed to lack of discipline or resources. The system needs more.

The practical result is that nothing gets solved or fixed. In fact, many problems are then created. In truth, problems were made up that weren’t there—the whole thing is predicated on lies and/or false premises. Moral crusaders with excessive moral bias are like arsonists who purposely start fires, play firefighter, then look at you, while struggling with their hose, sweat dripping down their face, admonishing, “So what’s your solution? Are you just going to stand there lazily? Don’t you know how complicated and hard life is?” The rest of the population, utterly terrified by the blazing fire, is unlikely to hear your point of view.

Society quickly gets divided into two groups. There are the heroes and the recalcitrant. The heroes get special privileges (of which are usually not much to be jealous of, as, all around, life is not very pleasant for anyone at all). People are admonished to be grateful for said heroes. You are commanded to thank them, pray for them, attend parades for them, etc. In truth, even they aren’t taken care of well. I saw a person post on social media once, “Does it seem like your station doesn’t care about your mental health? That’s because they don’t.” It was about firefighters. That punched me in the gut. Even our “heroes” do not get any actual tender, loving care. It’s all one big show. The only people who cash in on any of it are political leaders and maybe some celebrities. In combination, we can call this group “the elite.” Well, perhaps people who sell “fire insurance” can cash in, as well. (Likely the role exorcists and the like played in past societies.)

The whole thing will crash and burn. It’s entirely predicated upon the idea that people are too weak to solve X problem and they need extra heroics to combat it. So, there is an assumption of weakness—and no one partaking knows how to actually build health, fight off the threat, or make anything “great.” In their mind, it is a weak, ineffective person versus a wildly violent, mostly unstoppable threat.

As their solutions continue to not work, and they cause yet more damage, that they actually are weak and ineffective becomes a reality. Instead of getting stronger themselves, they seek safety from a perceived threat. They bunker down. They build shelters and hide in them. They want to build walls to keep out threats. It’s time to get BIBLICAL! Suit up! Fun stuff, right?

This panicked “GET YOUR FILTHY, DANGEROUS WAYS OFF OF MY PERFECTLY CLEAN, HOLY, HUMBLE, RIGHTEOUS SELF” reaction is probably the last stage of moral bias. No clear thinking is possible after this. The system needs to totally collapse before anything can be rebuilt. On a related note, please see the excellent, A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities That Arise in Disaster by Rebecca Solnit.

A disruption in the feedback loop

I think what moral bias comes down to is some trigger in the natural world should be seen as a clue to update or change, but it’s seen, instead, as a problem to vanquish. If the “Check Engine” light is on in your car, instead of checking the engine, you seek to get rid of the warning. What should have been healthy, authentic, if momentarily unpleasant, feedback is seen as a problem to utterly annihilate. The natural feedback loop, which puts us in harmony with our natural environment, is utterly disrupted.

The best example I can give is a big one: child sacrifice in the ancient world. Child sacrifice was in response to natural threats, such as a huge hurricane coming. The hurricane should have been seen as a clue: get out of there. Go mainland. Instead, they resorted to horrific, nonsensical methods to try to vanquish the threat entirely—in this case, killing children. That this system never actually solves the problem is clear. This is probably the best, and perhaps the very first example in recorded human history, to explain how moral bias works. Moral bias is again when a moral ideal is so valuable in one’s mind that they can’t see the damage they are causing in pursuing it. It seems to have formed due to the formation of civilization itself, in which humans decided to stay in one place, instead of being migratory. Instead of listening to nature, they want to dominate it. They have to—they’re stuck. The ultimate moral ideal that drives moral bias is thus “the ideal of staying in one place to live.”

This idea truly explains a lot, especially when you think of it in light of being a malignantly broken feedback loop. You can imagine moral bias as someone who has set their vehicle’s cruise control to 100 mph and is on a mission to get to any given place. Nothing will ever cause them to slow down. They hit animals on the way, fly through school zones, etc. They totally disregard the damage they are doing or any feedback that says they should slow down. But, imagine instead of getting to any random place, the driver is a father going to save his child in a car wreck. This is how people on their crusades always see it. In truth, they initially justify the behavior as a father getting his child. In time, it continues simply because they like driving 100 mph. But the original justification allows it and continues to serve as the then excuse.

This is why whether or not a cause is “legitimate” or not matters so much. When you see any given system dividing people’s goals and activities into “essential” or “non-essential” or “necessary” versus “for pleasure only” or indeed “rational” versus “irrational,” you are dealing with moral bias. What they are basically saying is, “My goal is so noble that all gloves are off.” And this is the only paradigm they understand—so “for pleasure only” pursuits are seen as wildly nonsensical and irresponsible. Their missions—unsavory yet necessary in their mind—can and will result in utter horror. It’s the cost of doing business to them. It’s how life is: it’s naturally brutal. I’ve never seen a system with moral bias that didn’t have a sentiment that life is rough (a “purposeful struggle” as Rand describes it), that it’s a “dog-eat-dog” world, and/or that “no one cares about your feelings.” These systems tend to swing wildly from pure ruthlessness to martyred calls for pity. Thus, for example, in some systems, their demands for “grace” when attempting to follow the “law,” the two of which can never reconcile. Or, to maintain consistency, as in Objectivism, they throw grace out the window. “Nobody’s perfect” they sometimes moan, because, in their system, no one can even come close to anything that looks authentically ethical. (Unless they’ve decided “perfect” can include ruthlessness.) Their systems result in horror. It gets especially bad when the crusader decides everyone must join in, which they routinely do, such as signing up a nation’s youth for the draft.

Breeding psychopathy

The errant feedback loop has a malignant benefit to it—the secret sauce to why the whole damned thing can work (until it doesn’t, anyway). In the drive for the moral mission, any person who might challenge the system is easily damaged or killed. In the example of child sacrifice, in truth, the king-Gods probably didn’t want to admit what the looming hurricane implied: setting up civilization there was a bad idea. In the obviously terrible solution to it, child sacrifice (the only tools these crusaders actually have at their disposal are destruction), those who might put up an effective fight against it—young healthy children—have now been killed. It has also sent a clear message to the others: stop complaining. The psychopathic, with a bit of luck and while still living on borrowed time, continue to live. The sensitive, outspoken, strong, and healthy do not. The whole thing works as long as you have no conscience whatsoever. Well, until it doesn’t. The whole thing tends to go up in flames, eventually.  

In short, give someone a moral mission and they turn into the most immoral person on the planet. The idea of morality itself is the cause of humanity’s worst immoralities.

In my most evil moments I was convinced that I was doing good–Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

This is indeed the power of morality. This is why playing around with morality is playing with fire. I will argue in this book that morality can only successfully prohibit certain unideal actions. Morality cannot inspire positive action.

A psychological trait that has turned maladpative

I propose something biological must be at play here. Moral bias, I am arguing, is a trait built into the human psyche, and it’s enflamed by fear. When the mind is filled with fear, the fear is the only thing that a person can see. They shut down all other data streams to their mind. They definitely shut down empathy. They go into do-or-die mode.

This trait of the human psyche is likely very beneficial when living in nature, where tornadoes, fires, etc., can erupt. People must move swiftly. They must see themselves as undeniably morally worthy of living. In civilization, I propose, this trait becomes highly maladaptive. We have little ability to act to resolve natural threats anyway, so the trait spins haywire. We come up with some damn stupid solutions, otherwise. 

But, as if this part of the brain must still be fed, we are easily and routinely sent into crisis mode by our leaders. We still want our horror movies. And it’s not healthy. When the smallest threat comes around, as if it snaps us out of our humdrum existence, far too many enjoy the endless possibilities of what could happen. An overreaction based on panic ensues, of which people seem to enjoy. I call moral bias the “hair trigger away from dictatorship” feature in the human psyche. And I argue it’s built into the human condition. With the right fear, the right cause, and the right hero, everyone will partake. Everyone, including me.

moral bias

a trait of the human psyche that becomes maladaptive when humans settle in one place, causing one person or up to an entire population to become stupid and soulless as they pursue what they perceive as their morally justified mission for survival

Living your whole life based on an all-encompassing morality, I argue, in and of itself, is not healthy. Perhaps if we can wrestle away do-or-die moral paradigms, we will help resolve this now maladaptive trait.

Objectivism’s Moral Bias

Objectivism is by far not the only system that has moral bias in it. But, it is a great system to unpackage in order to explain the idea. Objectivism is as “drive your stake in the ground and fight until you get what you want” as it gets. Objectivism is basically moral bias defined. Rand is so explicit about her system, such that we can examine not just the effects of moral bias but the explicit justifications. Consider the very end of John Galt’s speech in Atlas Shrugged, in which Rand outlines the main aspects of what became her philosophy of Objectivism. Read the following analytically.

Such is the future you are capable of winning. It requires a struggle; so does any human value. All life is purposeful struggle, and your only choice is the choice of a goal. Do you wish to continue the battle of your present or do you wish to fight for my world? Do you wish to continue a struggle that consists of clinging to precarious ledges in a sliding descent to the abyss, a struggle where the hardships you endure are irreversible and the victories you win bring you closer to destruction? Or do you wish to undertake a struggle that consists of rising from ledge to ledge in a steady ascent to the top, a struggle where the hardships are investments in your future, and the victories bring you irreversibly closer to the world of your moral ideal, and should you die without reaching full sunlight, you will die on a level touched by its rays? Such is the choice before you. Let your mind and your love of existence decide. (978)

Rand invokes hardship, “all life is purposeful struggle,” then summons you to her battle. She also utterly exaggerates her promises. No one can promise you that any path you take will guarantee you success, e.g., will “bring you irreversibly closer to the world of your moral ideal.” This is core to moral bias: the idea that the moral ideal is inherently perfect and will work. If you read this passage again, you might find a similar speech can be made by any dictator. Replace “should you die without reaching full sunlight,” with “should you die on the battlefield…” Moral paradigms create power structures and there is also always a warlike nature to them.

Here is a breakdown of the traits of moral bias as outlined previously and how it applies to Objectivism.

Shame or fear originates the system

In Objectivism, natural emotions are distrusted. Natural emotions, left unshaped, Rand warns, can be hedonistic or sadistic, leading to destruction and mayhem. This is the foundational premise of the Objectivist ethics and the reason why one “needs” her moral system in the first place. Fear initiates the system, in this case, fear that natural emotions would bring about anarchy and mayhem.

How to achieve success is pre-defined

In Objectivism, “rational” thinking and production are the tried-and-true paths to the congruent twin goals of success and happiness.

Conclusions are drawn based on a poor understanding of the topic

Rand has a weak understanding of human nature. We are not born tabula rasa—with no reliable emotional or instinctual programming. This was Objectivist Blindspot #1: Objectivists think they know all they need to know about human nature, when they don’t.

This is also Objectivist Blindspot #8: They give no real consideration to quality parenting and how integral it is to human success. I said quality parenting. Not the Objectivist idea of parenting.

One thinks they can control what they can’t

Rand says your emotions can and should be “programmed.” I argue emotions cannot be programmed (changed)—not without serious damage done to one’s inner life. This is Objectivist Blindspot #3: Objectivists believe that they can directly control emotions when they can’t. It leaves them unprepared when raging emotions take over. And, oh, do they take over!

Authentic feedback cannot penetrate the system

In Objectivism, natural emotions are shut down as a reliable guide to action. Thus, if you are sad or in despair, these emotions cannot do the work they are meant to do. They cannot alert you that Objectivism is failing you. This is Objectivist Blindspot #5: Authentic emotions cannot jolt the Objectivist out of Objectivism.

Alternative ideas are seen as inherently evil

From “Progressive” education to certain types of music, certain practices are seen as outright evil in Objectivism. This is Objectivist Blindspot #6: Rand shuts down alternative ideas that can heal as immoral.

Failure is your fault

In Objectivism, failure comes down to “your choices,” with no recognition of bigger factors at play. This is Objectivist Blindspot #7. Let’s just call this one “shame.”

Damage in pursuing the ideal is ignored

Objectivism has no built-in upholding of empathy for others. Many Objectivists, for instance, have no issue with killing innocents in war.

There is a bottomless pit in demands for resources

When Objectivism is failing people, Objectivists typically declare that they don’t understand Objectivism or that the person “isn’t integrated.”

Tight Regulations are Deployed

Rand let’s your own subconscious be the regulator. She calls it a “merciless recorder” of all the good and vile deeds you’ve done in life. Big Brother is watching you: your own subconscious. It’s totally healthy; it is.

Fake heroes are born

Oh—and how! Objectivism is entirely built off of fictional characters. The heroes in Atlas Shrugged especially are clearly based on real men, and yet Rand scrubs it clean such that the industrialists are epically heroic and the rest are looters. Vanderbilt, Rockefeller, Carnegie, and Ford were clearly used to create her characters but, in real life, were hardly the entirely virtuous men whose only awakening is to see how evil the world is.

Simple solutions would have worked

Emotional intelligence tools are far simpler to employ and more effective than Rand’s all-encompassing rational morality, as to solve the original problem that emotions can be destructive.

The authentically talented are discarded

Many ideas are shut down in Objectivism, so those advancing those ideas are discarded. Objectivists have dripping disdain for John Dewey, for instance. They consider themselves entirely above the entire field of psychology, as well.

Objectivism also gives scant attention to women. They are given a second class status in Objectivism—made worse because they won’t even acknowledge that they do this. That there is something that makes women valuable and indeed authentically heroic is not even acknowledged. They discard the talented in the most effective way possible: pretending the talent doesn’t even exist. This is Objectivist Blindspot #9: it denies the identity, talent, and needs of half the human race.

People rip each other to shreds over the fallout.

Being in Objectivist circles is no fun place. They wantonly tell others “but I don’t think of you,” which is a famous line as found in The Fountainhead. “Excommunications” have dotted Objectivism’s entire history. You all but wait for Objectivists to blow the puff of smoke in your face. This is Objectivist Blindspot #2: its members are caustic and abusive but will not attribute this negative behavior to Objectivism itself.

The benefits of ending moral bias

I hope it’s obvious by now how much damage moral bias can do. I bet you can name systems heavy in moral bias already. We in America tend to mercilessly mock a system like communism for having continued to push its virtuous ideals with no results. Many if not most government programs are widely regarded as “failed.” We often call it the “failed” War on Drugs or the “failing” public school systems. These programs are products of intense moral bias. They are made all the worse when government gets involved. Without the power of government, which has the power to use force against and across an entire nation, these systems of moral bias would die rather quickly. But these programs that have been institutionalized by law and normalized ethically by the majority are very, very hard to dismantle. (And normalizing it ethically is the more important factor. We are ruled by collective consciousness. Watch moral attitudes change and watch how quickly laws do get changed. Unfortunately, this is complicated by the fact that turning something into law often makes it seem ethical.)

So, reducing war and tyranny would be the biggest benefit of challenging moral bias. Not a bad deal, eh? But, I think, you might find that shedding your own moral bias helps you. Moral bias is a product of unfounded fear. It causes a tremendous amount of unnecessary worry and work. I will admit to my own moral bias. After the September 11 terrorist attacks, I was appalled by Muslim terrorists. I had it in my mind that they could possibly even invade the United States. I had an unusually high fear of Islamic terrorism, and I bought into all the war rhetoric of that time. While I still argue that Islam, like all religion, is rooted in moral bias and thus dangerous, I realize now that my fear of me personally being targeted by any Muslim terrorist was way overblown. Yes, the problem exists. But the likelihood I personally would ever be a victim was quite low. Humanity, surprisingly, tends to outweigh terrible moral systems. As such, even adopting a deeply evil religion like Islam, most Muslims remain good people. Latent moral bias has to be enflamed by fear for it to become a problem. Shedding moral bias makes you far more likely to see your fellow humans as the humans they are. It is far more peaceful to live without unnecessary fear.

The biggest benefit of understanding this, however, is that you won’t become the victim of it. In the same way that people in the Mafia are the biggest victims of Mafia violence, so people who buy into moral bias are the biggest victims of moral bias. If you understand moral bias and reject overblown, false moral paradigms, you are far less likely to be a victim of those who exploit it. They need to prey on your fear and your willingness to put trust in a seemingly heroic, moral person. They want to be there, to help solve your problems. Maybe they want to help you launch a career, work through an emotional issue, help pay your bills, or help you lose weight. They want to control your every decision. They do this through ineffective, overblown means that rely way too much on your sense of personal doubt and shame. They also shield you from truly good ideas, of which tend to be much simpler and cheaper to employ. And they definitely shield you from your own inner power.

The positive of ending moral bias

  • Reduce the propensity for war and dictatorship
  • Inner peace
  • See your fellow man as humans
  • Don’t get exploited by predators claiming a moral status
  • Be more open to authentically good ideas

The risks of ending moral bias

Unfortunately, I do think moral bias is built right into the human psyche. Even I have a hard time reckoning with that. Every new generation of humans born will be prone to it. I have a hard time justifying the need to tame or change something that is built into human nature. What are the hazards of minimizing moral bias?

Some, even people I respect, have argued that war and dictatorship (what I am trying to minimize) play a role in life—and not for the reasons you think. It is argued, for instance, that war and dictatorship are a natural, unconscious remedy to overpopulation. It is well known that governments have killed more of their people in the last century than all others before that, combined. There has also been a population explosion in that last century. Is war and dictatorship an unconscious equalizing force? If so, if moral bias were tamed, as I am proposing, would it cause unintentional outcomes?

Here is my counter argument. Very often this very overpopulation problem was a result of moral bias. For instance, religious dogma dictates to have as many children as possible. It pushes women to have children far faster than they can naturally and happily bear. This causes serious damage to the health and happiness of those mothers and doesn’t allow enough resources to properly raise children. There are then also severely under-loved, under-nurtured children—and there a lot of them. This can cause a lot of problems. And, so, in its own weird way, war and dictatorship gets this problem under control.

But what if we were to stop this insane cycle at its root? What if we were to stop pushing and prodding the world and especially human life to be the way we think is ideal—when it is not ideal at all? Remove the insane moral paradigms from the start. Ultimately, I think we have to end moral bias. These wild fluctuations in war, dictatorship, and destruction, could destroy the entire planet.

I’m not looking to rewire this natural trait in the human mind. I am looking to end moral paradigms that exploit it. I think the resulting, more peaceful equilibrium would be worth it.

Demoralize to Humanize

How to end moral bias?

Personally, I think the antidote to moral bias is life experience. As you let life penetrate you and experience its authentic feedback, you update your thinking and ways.

The problem is that moral bias prevents life experience from penetrating a person. It stands like a 3-headed dog, filtering all life events through its moral paradigm. All systems of moral bias have a filter. “What would Jesus do?” “What does a rational analysis say?” It’s in this filter that the damage from moral bias is mainly done.

It is also, unfortunately, not enough to simply show better, alternative ideas. Alternative ideas that are healthy can break up moral bias in some people’s thinking. The problem is some of these alternative systems are shut down as immoral, even criminalized. So, their truth never sees the light of day. Further, even when it does, those who are too stuck with their moral bias see other’s success as a random fluke.

As such, to tear down moral bias, I propose we must stand up to the false moral ideal itself. We must tear down people’s Gods. We must burn their flags. We must punch their hubris right in the eye. Few are willing to do this. But it is what is necessary.

Being that person to shoot down false moral ideals is not for the timid or weak-minded. You have to be just a bit of a ball buster to do it. You have to tell people that their heroes are anything but; that their behavior is unethical; that they themselves—the seemingly innocent and even moral members of society—are corrupt, unempathetic, tyrannical, and abusive.

I am that person that can do this. When I do, people often accuse me of dehumanizing the members of a particular ideology, such as Christianity or Objectivism. I am not dehumanizing you. I am demoralizing you. Literally, I am trying to take away your moral paradigm. I argue that your moral paradigms lead to moral bias and all of the fear, shame, despondent cycles, brokenness, and abuse that moral paradigms bring when you purport to solve problems that you will never actually solve. I know you aren’t used to someone being like this, but I assure you I intend no harm to anyone as a person—just their biases, false premises, abusive ways, and pipe dreams. It is in fact entirely my goal to humanize people. I discuss specific tactics to take down powerful moral structures in the last section of this book.

And then, after this, be sure also to explain moral bias itself. (This very book does a decent job of this, no? Please recommend.) If moral bias is a trait in the human psyche, we will always be prone to it. And we are. I run into it with the religious. But I also run into it with socialistic atheistic people who believe, to the depths of their souls, that their system is righteous and pure. Education is key, but it has to be the real kind of education. Teaching about moral bias is the antidote to indoctrination.

Truly: shed moral bias and watch the world totally transform.

Amber was an Objectivist for 10 years until she had it with the narcissistic abuse, gaslighting, and manipulation that is routinely dished out in Objectivist circles. She now exposes this narcissistic ideology parading around as freedom and happiness for what it is. The book will be The Moral Bias of Objectivism: How Moral Ideals Cloud Objectivity. Contact Amber at helloamber@gmail.com.