A reader pointed out that there are some controversies surrounding Stefan Molyneux, who I recommended watching and donating to yesterday. This is true. This made me think I should write a few lines on the topic of knowledge, and who to trust.
Sadly, most people are often willing to throw out all of their own intellect and simply try to catch a free-ride on someone elses. For these people, there’s not much I can do. You will become hangarounds and cult-followers, the intellectual counterparty of the Gaga-concert goer. Only if you have enough respect for your own intellect, and for knowledge itself, and always question what others say honestly and thoroughly, will you ever be able to construct intelligent and perhaps on a few rare occasions new thoughts.
So, it goes without saying that if I recommend something that someone else has written or said, I am recommending that specific work and not the whole of this persons career. There are VERY few writers out there that I would endorse wholesale, quite simply because I rarely find someone I always agree with (assuming one is well-read the chance of this happening is astronomically small). That is not to say that there is no “right” and “wrong”. On the contrary – only by understanding that there is a right and a wrong, that an objective reality does exist, can we ever properly strive to find truth.
Fact : Some of the things I have said on this blog are likely to be wrong. If I knew which ones, I would tell you. I do not, because I do not know which of my beliefs are wrong. I am currently holding those beliefs I believe are right, but one must always admit that somewhere, one will likely have done a mistake or two. The truth is always elusive.
Now then, I hope that clarifies things regarding my recommendations. So, what are these controversies surrounding Stefan Molyneux? Well, apparently he is very prone to recommending that people simply shut off all contact with parents that haven’t treated their children nicely (for a site decicated to documenting this, in addition to what seems to be some rather heavy poo-flinging, see here). He is also prone to conclude that psychological problems people have often stem from their childhood. In both these instances he is of course correct – the problem is how you define “bad treatment” and how willing you are to accept that your parents are not perfect, and to what extent you will forgive them for their mistakes.
Obviously there are cases when people, perhaps on the recommendation of others they consider an authority, will make bad choices. But note that the choice is always made by the one who received the recommendation, not the authority. If you choose to make someone into an authority (in your mind) and further choose to follow their recommendations then this person is not to blame for what you do. Obviously, all of us should be aware that there are people with weak minds, people suffering from mental disorders and so on out there, and that when dealing with these people you should not tell them things that may cause them to go nuts. But its not your fault if they do.
Thus, for all the histories I hear of people who decided to close down all contact with their family and relatives after having followed Mr. Molyneux, I cannot put the blame on him. Sure, he should be very much aware that his recommendations are thoroughly colored by his own background, and that due to the large scale of people following him* there are likely to be some people who will take his words as a reason to do something wrong. Would I perhaps recommend that he be less prone in vilifying other people’s parents? Yes. Do I think he is “trying to get people to cut off their parents and give him money to support his liberty project”? No, not really. He is a man with very many opinions, some of which I do not endorse. He is a man of some influence in certain circles. He should perhaps be more careful with what he says, and how he says it. That, incidentally, goes for many people.
Think for yourselves, is my basic message here. I in no way endorse everything that Molenyux says. He is an atheist, and I generally consider atheists as people who lack the ability to consider the more complex problems of our metaphysical existence. He – just like most atheists** – like to make religion out as a great evil only used for oppression. I vehemently disagree. But that does not mean that when he talks about the economy, about our rights, about the welfare state and about such things he is wrong. Interestingly enough, in one of the videos I link what he brings up again and again is the necessity of having two parents in order for a child to grow up well.
Next time, I will tell you a little about my initial meeting with freedom and liberty, which does to some extent tie in to this discussion. As for so many others, it usually starts with Ayn Rand.
*From what I’ve read, there is a couple of dozens of people who have allegedly broken contact with their parents after hearing his arguments on why people should do so, were their parents abusive or not caring and loving enough
**Do make sure to understand the distinction between atheist and agnostic