virus: Objectivism vs Astrology in Cyberspace

David Rosdeitcher (
09 Feb 97 14:17:43 EST

Which ideas dominate cyberspace? Let's look at an instance in which 2
different idea systems, astrology and objectivism, were compared. Astrology is
an occult ideology in which positions of stars and planets correlate with or
determine events on Earth on a personal and global level. Objectivism, the
philosophy of Ayn Rand, is an ideology that holds each individual responsible to
guide his or her own life by their own rational judgement. Here are some
statistics about the popularity of these idea systems that were taken from the
AltaVista search engine:(Courtesy of Dave Pape)

Search Term Count of matches
*********** ****************
Astrology 86781
Objectivism 9861

You don't have to be an Einstein to see that astrology is certainly more
popular than objectivism in cyberspace. (Although the 9 to 1 ratio is low
compared to supermarket check-out counters.)What does this tell us? It doesn't
tell us which ideology is necessarily better but it may give us a clue that more
people hold a basic belief in a higher power guiding their lives than a belief
in the power of their own rational judgement.
The overwhelming concensus that a higher power guides people's lives is not
surprising since the society we live in is so full of higher external "powers"
such as authority figures(ie. certain friends and acquainces, religious leaders,
bosses, political figures) and large institutions (certain schools, some big
businesses, churches, governments). There could be a connection-either cause and
effect or correlation-between the favoring of astrology over objectivism and
most individuals being dominated by other individuals and institutions.
But, the popularity of ideologies can change. For instance, as mentioned
in a recent post, about 400 years ago there was a change from most people
believing that the Earth was the center of the universe with the sun revolving
around the Earth (geocentrism), to believing that the sun was the center of the
universe with the Earth revolving around the sun. (heliocentrism) The
heliocentric concept had its advantages, since it was a more accurate model for
predicting the positions of the heavenly bodies and therefore could benefit,
say, sailors who used the sky for navigation.
Speculations about such changes in belief systems, or even technologies,
over the next few years or decades can be uncertain since people are not
omniscient. But, there is reason to believe that the coming changes in idea
popularity that will occur, will be from those that favor higher external power,
(ie. positions of planets) to those that favor rational minds of individuals
(ie. objectivism). Such speculation is useful to open up more and better
possibilities, since actions are preceded by memes or concepts. This can apply
to technology (ie. flying machines, space colonies) as well as to dissemination
of ideas.
There's a new bestselling speculative novel called "The Truth Machine"
(recommended by Richard B.)by James Halperin that speculates on the technology
and culture of the 21st century. The main character is Pete Armstrong, a
computer whiz, who builds a "Truth Machine" which can detect if people are
telling the truth. This machine is considered to be important because with such
advanced technology and many sociopaths running around, it is important to know
which people are safe and which are dangerous since so many people have the
capability to destroy the world.
While this book was interesting and entertaining, popularizing certain
possibilities by using various new memes (ie. nanotechnology, genetic
engineering, etc) there were some fundamental mistakes, in my opinion, about
social changes. For instance, Halperin speculated that there would be a trend
towards centralization such as world government and the mandatory use of a
truth machine. I would suggest that there is evidence to the contrary-that there
is a trend towards decentralization and that the use of a truth machine as
described in the book would not work, since it is not "truth" but "honesty" that
would be the key issue. (Difference explained later) If there is an emphasis on
decentralization as opposed to centralization as well as honesty as opposed to
truth, then the philosophy of objectivism would not only surpass astrology in
popularity, but would surpass all major religions to become the dominant
ideology of the 21st century. Here's why.
In this novel, Pete Armstrong and his best friend, attend Harvard and then
they each go their separate ways, as Armstrong goes into the world of big
business with his software company and his friend goes into politics and becomes
President of the United States, which later merges into some sort of World
government. There seems to be an acceptance of the validity of current
institutions such as the academia, corporations as we know them, and big
government. With information becoming so cheap and available, all such
institutions would be undermined and new modes of education, trade and
government would arise. These modes would have a less hierarchical "chain-of
-command" structure and be more geared toward individuals networking with
others. The old structure required obeying higher authority while the new
structure requires critical thinking and creativity. In such a case, an ideology
favoring the rational and creative mind over external higher power would be
Here is why each of these 3 types of institutions would collapse with the
information revolution. Academic institutions are obsolete. Why would transfer
of information require any centralized location? Furthermore, such institutions
are clumsy with their lecture structure, credit hour system, authority and peer
approval pressure, etc. that they can be easily outcompeted by better forms of
education that could be literally at anyone's fingertips. Big businesses as they
exist today, with their levels of management, collusion with governments, etc.
will be washed away by decentralized networks. And, big-brother protection by
national and world government can be replaced with competition between private
security companies.
Within the current obsolete structures, acting like an automaton-a cog
within a machine-comes in handy and beliefs such as astrology would support and
blend well with such an environment. However, in a decentralized system where
everyone has to think for themselves, such authority notions would be a handicap
while critical thinking would be an advantage. This would encourage people to
adopt and spread the philosophy of objectivism.
The other main reason why objectivism will dominate all other ideologies is
the understanding that it is not truth, but honesty that is important. Truth,
which is used by current legal systems to deliver justice, is misleading. Truth
constantly changes from person to person, from time to time. So many things can
be called "truth" and can then be taken out of context to justify any action.
For instance, take a look at the Church of Virus. In a previous post I claimed
that CoV was a scam in which people make an assertion or thesis, which is
countered by another assertion or antithesis. And, that this antithesis is often
a way of distorting what the person said in the thesis, confusing the person and
creating scenario in which people have "belief crises" or synthesis. So, CoV is
a situation in which some people manipulate others. That was truth.
However, looking at CoV from another angle, the truth is very different. CoV
is a forum where a Hegelian model is used to stimulate conversation and ideas. I
find that having conflict with people who do not agree with me creates a
yin/yang dynamic tension that leads to more creativity (interesting posts) which
can later be used to make money. The truth about CoV might be different later.
Because there are so many truths, such an emphasis on THE truth can lead to a
corrupt legal system and a truth machine as described could not work. It is not
truth, but honesty that is the key concept for justice. Unlike truth, honesty is
the same for everyone-it is the act of putting facts in context-of integrating
reality. And what ideology supports honesty? Objectivism!