James Valliant, in The Passion of Ayn Rand’s Critics makes the following criticism of Barbara Branden.
“Ms. Branden alleges that dishonest grandiosity is apparent in Rand’s claim that ‘the only thinker in history from whom she had anything to learn’ was Aristotle. This is something for which ‘Rand should have been challenged,’ according to Ms. Branden, who also claims that Rand ‘dismissed’ as worthless if not immoral, the whole ‘history of philosophy, with the sole significant exceptions of Aristotle and aspects of Thomas Aquinas. . .’ (99)”
“It is simply a fact that Rand was influenced by very few thinkers when it came to philosophical fundamentals. Does Ms. Branden wish to imply that Rand should have been more influenced by others?” (Page 46.)
I think it’s clear what Branden is saying. First, that Rand (like any philosopher) inevitably absorbed ideas from other thinkers. So while Rand may have said that her sole philosophical debt was to Aristotle, she was likely influenced unconsciously by other thinkers, even if she didn’t remember exactly who and when. Second, Rand had an excessively negative view of the history of philosophers and, contrary to what she thought, could have learned from other philosophers’ ideas and perhaps incorporated some into Objectivism.
Now, say what you want about Branden’s point, this is her opinion about the enterprise of learning and how it likely worked in Rand’s case. Nothing that Valliant says in the several paragraphs that follow proves Branden wrong, much less shows that she is lying.
This is typical of Vallient’s methodology. It might be called “overanalysis.” Statements made by the Brandens or a critic of Rand’s are interpreted in such a way as to create a contradiction.