Not So Objective "Objective Medicine"
Dr. Richard G. Parker's Inquisitorial Mindset
G. Stolyarov II
A Journal for Western Man-- Issue XXXVIII-- July 21, 2005
Passing the moral judgment that a person is evil beyond any possibility of recovery ought not be a light decision. Ayn Rand herself had written that, for a rational man, such a realization must be an immense burden and disappointment, an awakening to the impossibility of the good ever materializing in a person or an aspect of human endeavor. No rational man should ever wish to pass such a judgment, nor should he be glad or eager to do it—there is no joy in recognizing the absence of values, which is what evil denotes.
I have been surprised—indeed, shocked, from recent experiences, at my own observation that some Objectivists, alleged admirers of Ayn Rand and her ideas, not only hasten to jump to negative moral judgments about people, but do so at the lightest pretext, and with consequences of the greatest magnitude. They are not only prepared to condemn and insult another person of like convictions at the first sign of sincere, deeply-rooted disagreement, but are quite unwilling to factor the explanations and context of those whom they accuse into their considerations. The court within their minds admits no defense testimony, no presumption of innocence until proof of guilt, no impartial jury. The verdict is always “guilty as charged,” before the proceedings can even begin. The charges themselves are, too, not hinged on objective evidence as much as they are on wishful thinking; the accuser wants the accused to be guilty of some infraction egregious enough to justify the utmost condemnation. Thus, either a fault is fabricated out of nothing, or a real characteristic or action taken out of its proper context, turning a harmless aspect into an irreparable sin. Furthermore, all evidence to the contrary of the accusation, all indication that the person accused has in fact a record of good and of accomplishment behind him, is either relentlessly erased or evaded.
The best name for this mentality is the inquisitorial mindset, after the medieval Holy Inquisition, whose paradigm was not so much to punish actual crimes, but to stamp out any ideological divergence from the Catholic Church. “Heretics,” when apprehended, were already presumed guilty, by the Inquisitors’ standard of guilt. They might have been freethinkers, scientists, purveyors of alternative religions, atheists, agnostics, or simply wealthy and influential men not within the aegis of the Church. Their crime was not so much what they did, but who they were, i.e., different from the Church’s idea of who they ought to be. When evidence as to their “guilt” was lacking, the Inquisition “furnished” the evidence through lengthy interrogation sessions in torture chambers, after which the victim was quite willing to “confess” just about anything. On the basis of this “evidence,” the Inquisition then formed a case for imposing the ultimate penalty upon the accused. Of course, the courts, too, were not receptive to defense testimony that might exonerate the "heretic", nor did they hold presumptions of the defendant’s innocence. When the death sentence was passed—and it usually was—the victim no longer had the ability to justify himself at all. Any statements from the victim’s point of view were relentlessly hunted down even after his death, as evidenced in the massive burnings of “banned books” arranged by the medieval Church and the Inquisition. At times, anyone who doubted the heretic’s guilt after its pronouncement, anyone who dared seek out the other side’s point of view, was branded a heretic himself.
I have been disappointed in the past days to find that such an inquisitorial mindset persists in our time, displayed even by some Objectivists. Although the institution of private property greatly mitigates its consequences, the fundamental thought patterns of those exhibiting it remain the same. Sadly, one person who has become afflicted by this paradigm is a former associate of mine and writer for The Rational Argumentator, Dr. Richard G. Parker, the owner of the organization called “Objective Medicine.” [NOTE: As of my observations in August 2009, Objective Medicine seems no longer to have a web presence, and the hyperlink above will not refer the reader to its website that existed in 2005.]
I do not publish this denunciation of Dr. Parker’s actions lightly, nor do I do this before attempting multiple private attempts at reconciliation with him, which included futile tries to dissuade him from following what amounted to a flimsy and unsubstantiated grievance against me. Yet Dr. Parker was unwilling to even consider any explanation I could furnish. From him, all I had received was silence and his organization’s intellectual death sentence. I am astounded to note how effortlessly Dr. Parker had passed his damning verdict, how eagerly he rushed to carry it out, how ready he was to wipe out any trace of me or The Rational Argumentator from any electronic medium he had control over. Yet, it seems, in this case, his interests and mine are diametrically opposed. While it is his desire to conceal and even erase the past and the truth, it is my fervent conviction that nothing can ever justify such actions. Honesty is an Objectivist virtue, and it includes honesty about the past and events that had transpired during it.
The honest truth is that, from September 2002 to July 2005, The Rational Argumentator and Objective Medicine had been involved in productive intellectual cooperation, including the sharing of literature pertaining to the rational methodology of medicine and the quest to free medicine from the control of government. From looking at Objective Medicine’s website today, one would find no traces of two articles that had been integral to it in the past three years: Cost-Cutting at Patients' Expense: The Inherent Deprivation of Statist Health Care by Edmund Daleford and Rhazes: The Thinking Western Physician, authored by myself. This is so because Dr. Parker had, on July 15, 2005, swiftly erased all traces of said articles and all mention of The Rational Argumentator from his pages, due to a grievance with me that was not only completely unjustified, but also completely unrelated to the articles in question, or to the subject of medicine altogether.
This bizarre and convoluted incident began during a debate of mine via e-mail with another self-proclaimed Objectivist, Adrian Apollo. The debate concerned an issue of cosmology, namely, Euclidean space/time, and I was surprised that this highly abstract topic would come to arouse such bitter feelings in my adversary. Quickly, Mr. Apollo’s e-mails degenerated into insults and personal accusations, which, after extensive attempts to point out the error of such methods, I did not allow to grace my mailbox further. Dr. Parker had been an audience to the exchange, as Mr. Apollo had included him in the recipient list for every message. When I decided to admit no further messages from Mr. Apollo unless he apologized for his conduct, he sent an e-mail to Dr. Parker including the following recommendation:
“Richard, are you promoting this guy on your Objective Medicine website? I beg you to reexamine his work and reconsider. This sort of thing is very harmful to Objectivism, when somebody like this guy distorts it the way he does.”
It was then that I realized that, having been beaten in an argument with me on all intellectual counts, Mr. Apollo was bitter to the extent that he would launch a subtle, systematic effort to discredit me in the eyes of Objectivists, all because I did not share his admiration for the ideas of much of 20th century science and his disdain for the concept of Euclidean space/time. Mr. Apollo’s intentions here could have been nothing but malicious: he was not seeking to discredit my particular view on cosmology, since the endeavor of Objective Medicine had nothing to do with cosmology. In the spirit of his love of personal insults, he was seeking to discredit me as a person, no matter what I wrote or advocated, or on what subject. In other words, Mr. Apollo is a prime example of a purveyor of the inquisitorial mindset, eager to rush to pronounce a person categorically evil and unworthy, not because there is evidence for this assertion, but because he wants this guilt to be true. Mr. Apollo’s justification for desiring my intellectual downfall was, like that of all Inquisitors, irrational. I had beaten him in a debate, and I disagreed with him, ergo, I was evil on all counts. I had hoped that Dr. Parker would understand the flimsiness of Mr. Apollo’s attacks, and thus sent him the following message on July 13:
I do not think you can gain an adequate understanding of this debate without reading it in full. Very shortly, I might oblige by publishing a full transcript of every message involved in chronological order. It will then be evident how many arguments of mine Mr. Apollo could not provide a response for, whereafter he had shifted to attack me personally because he could not delve into the intellectual facets of this debate in appropriate depth. I will not entertain any more of his conduct, and I certainly would not wish for it to reflect negatively on any productive value exchanges that we have had (of course, in an entirely different realm, too. What goes on in this debate is an issue of cosmology, not medicine). However, what I do wish to bring about is a public exposure of the exchange, so that Mr. Apollo will not be able to get away with further slandering and personally insulting remarks against me without being held publicly accountable for them. (The transcript will also be instructive to readers as to how not to craft one's argument.)
Whether or not you choose to follow this debate, I would urge you not to simply take Mr. Apollo's word for it in summarizing it-- his summary will be inherently incomplete and written for the purposes of maligning me. I ask you to either read the full exchange, from both sides, to understand what truly went on, or to refrain from judgment altogether.
G. Stolyarov II
For future reference, it will be instructive to note that, in this message, I had revealed an intention to perform an action that Dr. Parker would later pass the ultimate moral judgment on me for. It is also instructive to note that, in his first response, Dr. Parker had made absolutely no objection to my proposal to publish the exchange with Mr. Apollo in full, including every message that both he and I had sent as a part of the debate. Dr. Parker’s full response on the same day read as follows:
Mr. Stolyarov II,
I have only skimmed the excerpts of your paper available on your website so I cannot speak to the details of the paper. I can only judge this discourse by the exchanges I've read between you and Mr. Apollo.
I presently see no reason to discontinue the exchange of values we've made thus far.
One word of benevolent "caution" however. There is available a fairly extensive literature (by literature I also mean audiotapes) on many aspects of the philosophy of physics in an Objectivist context (available from the Ayn Rand Bookstore). I would strongly encourage anyone who wishes to write and formulate ideas on these issues to go over this literature carefully and to reference them extensively whenever making claims about the Objectivist position on such and such. This might go a long way to avoiding this type of unfortunate exchange.
Also, are you familiar with the site Objectivismonline.net? The link is:
It is probably the best online site for Objectivists to exchange ideas.
So, at this point, after I had revealed my full intention to Dr. Parker to publish my debate with Mr. Apollo, he stated, nonetheless, that there was no reason to discontinue our exchange of values, and, furthermore, was willing to point me to certain intellectual resources. This is a fact which made his subsequent actions seem even more bewildering.
I proceeded, as promised, to publish a transcript of the debate, under the title Apollo v. Stolyarov or How Not to Behave in an Argument, which omitted nothing from the exchange and clearly indicated my added comments in reflection after the fact where they were included. It is true that this transcript was an embarrassing portrayal of Mr. Apollo as an argumentator, but it was an honest one. I had attributed no comment to Mr. Apollo that he had not made, nor had I omitted anything from our correspondence. If somebody fears the revelation of the truth, this means he has reason to be ashamed of it, which hardly reflects on him as an objective, rational individual devoted to the facts of reality. The intention behind the publication was not only to discredit any accusations that Mr. Apollo was spreading about me, as those accusations could only be substantiated by omitting or concealing some of the truth, but also to provide a more general example to my readers as to which behaviors in an argument are counterproductive and indicative of poor intellectual habits.
Indeed, my fears about Mr. Apollo’s targeted smear campaign against me turned out to be more than justified. On July 15, I received the following shocking message from Dr. Parker:
Mr. Stolyarov II,
It has just been pointed out to me that you have published, on the internet, correspondence between yourself and Adrian Apollo without his consent. Not only is this a serious violation of Objectivist principles, but you've thereby probably violated US copy write laws.
I will remove from Objective Medicine's web site all of your written material and any reference to your organization "The Rational Argumentator." Furthermore, I request that you immediately remove from your web site(s) any and all material that I have written and any reference to Objective Medicine. I will also remove you from Objective Medicine's e-mail list.
I and Objective Medicine are no longer associated with you and any organization that you have created or may create in the future.
G. Parker, MD
Immediately after I received the bewildering e-mail, I had checked Objective Medicine’s website to note that, indeed, the articles had already been removed. Dr. Parker did not care to see my reasons for publishing the exchange, a suggestion to which he himself had found no objection just two days earlier. He was rushing to an action whose underlying premise contradicted three years of productive association. There was no attempt at seeking an explanation, nor at looking for extenuating circumstances, no attempt to exonerate the good or find redeeming values. The “notification of intent and discontinuation of association,” in Dr. Parker’s words, was all he had sent.
I knew the source of the accusation, of course. “It has just been pointed out to me” is an unusually passive voice to be employing, specifically in the context of desiring to conceal the originator of the information. Yet there could have been no one else who was both bitter enough to seek to discredit me to Dr. Parker and was aware that Dr. Parker was an audience to my debate with Mr. Apollo. It was clear that Mr. Apollo had continued to spew his venom during the prior two days and sought to use my act of publishing the transcript, which, I repeat, Dr. Parker had no prior objection to, as a means of slandering me further. I also understood that Dr. Parker had unconditionally believed Mr. Apollo’s accusation, and was using nothing else as a basis for his subsequent actions.
I immediately wrote back to Dr. Parker, seeking to explain the truth as I saw it.
May I remind you that e-mail is not considered private under U.S. law? As a matter of fact, all e-mail is considered the property of the recipient to do with as he pleases. Mr. Apollo is also free to publish anything he might have received from me and comment on it in any fashion.
Furthermore, I have not been dishonest in disclosing any materials. I have published all transcripts, verbatim, and inserted my comments only when clearly indicating this. I have done so to prevent dishonesty on Mr. Apollo's part in smearing my name and to reveal the whole, unadulterated truth for those who wanted to see it. He is, of course, free to say what he pleases, but those interested in truth will now have the other side to also examine.
I will not-- I repeat-- I will not remove anything of yours from my publication. You had given me prior consent to use it, and I still have evidence to this effect. This consent did not come with an expiration date attached. Furthermore, my publication is my property, and I reserve the right to alter it, or not, as I please. Thirdly, it is intellectually dishonest to engage in the "mutability of past" by going back and eliminating the content of a publication after the fact, for whatever reason. I cannot believe that an Objectivist would request for me to undertake Orwellian techniques.
I do urge you to reconsider this move, however. I see that Mr. Apollo has succeeded in slandering me, even though I have never sought anything above absolute honesty, decency, and pursuit of truth. You will be acting rashly and irrationally by making the decision you have indicated in your e-mail, and I implore you to step back from the abyss.
G. Stolyarov II
Indeed, Dr. Parker’s “reasons” for discontinuing our association were plain silly. First, neither the substance of my debate with Mr. Apollo nor my publication of it had anything to do with Objective Medicine or the subjects with which it concerned itself, and certainly nothing to do with the content and ideas in articles that were published there. Second, United States law correctly classifies e-mail as the legitimate property of the recipient, for anything else would have been absurd. If e-mail were the sole property of the sender and could not be disclosed without his permission, forwarding messages would be illegal, which, incidentally, was how Mr. Apollo had gotten word of my treatise on cosmology in the first place. If my publication of the debate had been a violation of property rights and Objectivist principles, then so would be the act of forwarding e-mails, in which case I do not think any “Objectivist” at all can be considered to adhere to property rights and Objectivist principles under such a definition.
It is true that I have a general policy of asking senders of messages permission before publishing e-mail correspondence. However, I undertake this more as a courtesy than as an immutable principle of conduct. I see it of value to keep my correspondents informed as to the publication of any of their words, which normally ought to be an honor. However, having just breached all contact with Mr. Apollo for his deplorable conduct, I could not quite ask him for permission, could I? Nor, in all honesty, would I have had any chance of receiving an affirmative response, seeing as Mr. Apollo knew that the truth was the only thing that could discredit his accusations. Thus, I took quite the legal course of action by publishing my own property on my own magazine, also thereby affirming the Objectivist virtues of Honesty and Justice, which require the exposure of the truth in order to allow for accurate evaluations of people and their ideas.
Furthermore, the act of erasing somebody’s past work, whether or not it ought to be legally justified depending on private property considerations, is a moral infraction tantamount to that of the Inquisitors. It is an attempt, often a deliberate one, to destroy certain evidence which demonstrates the contrary of the image of a given individual the Inquisitor seeks to portray. The Inquisitors went after the writings of “heretics” so as not to give future observers seeking the truth any material which might discredit the Church's side of the story. Moreover, my characterization of this method as Orwellian is also quite instructive. In George Orwell’s 1984, the Party of Oceania employed a precept known as the “mutability of past,” on which basis history was continually “rewritten” due to present political considerations. Current “enemies of the Party” were expunged from the records when the evidence showed that they had performed valiant services to the Party in the past. Current enemies who were past friends were recast as perpetual enemies, with no record of past friendship (E.g., ”We were always at war with Eurasia.”). Orwell himself modeled the events of his book after what had transpired in Josef Stalin’s Soviet Union. Anyone who saw the blacked-out pictures of former Communist party members or opponents of Stalin from that era realizes the sheer horror that “altering” or destroying the evidence of the past inevitably brings about, and knows that those who undertake it are always people with something to hide and something to fear from the objective portrayal of truth.
In truth, The Rational Argumentator’s articles on Objective Medicine’s website were pieces of evidence vindicating me and my organization against anyone who thought that TRA’s purpose was to distort and destroy Objectivism. Quite the contrary, TRA’s articles, both on Objective Medicine’s website and elsewhere, demonstrate beyond doubt that it is an organization which finds much value in Objectivism and in the rational, systematic, innovative examination of reality in general. Thus, in order to perpetuate a dishonest portrayal of me, the inquisitorial Dr. Parker, prodded on by the inquisitorial Mr. Apollo, needed to wipe out the vindicating evidence, not only by destroying TRA’s articles on Objective Medicine’s website, but also by removing any mention of The Rational Argumentator that readers might have otherwise used to find out my genuine purpose and motivations for themselves.
Dr. Parker did not respond any further to my attempts to get him to listen to reason. I regret to say, but the impression thereby obtained of him is that of a highly intellectually dishonest individual. He has created pseudo-justifications to sever our association, on grounds he had never objected to in the first place. He has swiftly and systematically erased evidence of the past which would give a contrary opinion to his rash and unsubstantiated judgment. Furthermore, he had ignored my repeated attempts to present my side of the story and show him the error of what he was undertaking. Clearly, then, his is a case of wishful thinking maintained desperately by the evasion of the truth.
Fortunately, the institution of private property mitigates the harms of the inquisitorial mentality by allowing those individuals concerned with the truth to publish it in full on outlets that they own. After sending another message to Dr. Parker in which I gave him a two-day deadline (expiring today) to reinstate TRA’s articles on Objective Medicine, I similarly received no response. Dr. Parker missed his last of many opportunities to show me that he was not inquisitorial. Therefore, I have no reservations about passing judgment on him at this point. I do this, however, grimly and in disappointment that Dr. Parker’s mentality had caused him to dissolve what could have continued to be a productive association.
I am not inquisitorial in my ways, and thus I will not delete any evidence of Objective Medicine’s past association with The Rational Argumentator. I will indicate that this association has been broken in revoking Dr. Parker’s Johannes Gutenberg Award, seeing as the award is meant to recognize those who reprint and spread TRA materials, and Dr. Parker no longer does this. However, it is no secret that Dr. Parker was once the recipient of said award, and was once productively affiliated with TRA. Furthermore, I can safely assure readers that I will not remove any of Dr. Parker’s articles from The Rational Argumentator, as I would never, under any circumstances, embrace the premise behind the “mutability of past.” The entirety of Dr. Parker’s published work to date can be found on TRA. Therefore, there is no need for readers to examine the pages of Objective Medicine, except to verify my claim. These pages offer no more original content, seeing as Objective Medicine’s owner is no longer concerned with much besides destroying his own website’s content and ostracizing past contributors. I do not agree with everything that Dr. Parker writes, especially on the issue of abortion, but, in my view, such disagreement is no grounds for breaking an exchange of values, and I thus do not regret ever publishing anything of his. No matter what my personal displeasure with certain individuals might be, I will never use it to inhibit the spread of valuable ideas. At the end of this article, I will give readers a list of all of Dr. Parker’s works and links to them.
What Dr. Parker thought he would accomplish by undermining the content and influence of his own organization, I know not. I know only that he pursued this course of action with a zeal and closure to evidence characteristic of only an Inquisitor. I question the accuracy of his organization’s name, seeing as Dr. Parker’s policy on passing judgment has been shown to be anything but objective.
Articles by Dr. Parker:
1. Government Controlled Medicine: The Destruction of the Physician-Patient Relationship:- September 18, 2002
2. A National Health ID Card: Another Assault on the Physician-Patient Relationship:- September 19, 2002
3. Drifting Toward Socialized Medicine:- September 21, 2002
4. The Politics of Compromise: The Republican Prescription for Health Care:- September 26, 2002
5. Abortion-- the Context from an Objectivist Physician:- October 11, 2002
7. HMOs and "Patients' Rights:" Rationing Medicine:- March 2, 2004
G. Stolyarov II is a science fiction novelist, independent filosofical essayist, poet, amateur mathematician and composer, contributor to organizations such as Le Quebecois Libre, Enter Stage Right, the Autonomist, and The Liberal Institute. Mr. Stolyarov is the Editor-in-Chief of The Rational Argumentator. He can be contacted at email@example.com.
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