Sam Harris - Idiot?

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RealPerson
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Re: Sam Harris - Idiot?

Post by RealPerson » Sun Mar 17, 2019 6:10 pm

Sam Harris is a very intelligent person and far from an idiot. He does have a big blind spot: he believes all humans should abstain from any lies at any time. He was deeply influenced by a class he took in college, discussing the damage done by lying. He promised himself to never lie or accept lying. His definition of lying seems to be anything that is not factually true.

That explains him public position against religion. It also explains his total disbelief that Trump got elected, as DT is known to not always be completely factual. It is part of the same blind spot. It does not make him an idiot. It makes him human, like all of us. The interview linked in the OP shows an unusually unflattering picture of Harris. If you examine the bulk of his work, or view more representative samples on YouTube, you will find him to be highly educated, intelligent and quite reasonable.

IlliniDave
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Re: Sam Harris - Idiot?

Post by IlliniDave » Sun Mar 17, 2019 7:45 pm

enigmaT120 wrote:
Sun Mar 17, 2019 5:31 pm
Sorry for the distraction but what you and another have posted previously reminds me of the dark matter/dark energy ideas.
Hadn't really thought of that, but postulating dark matter does seem to be a case where the "theory" is modified to fit the evidence, dark matter I believe just being a placeholder name for the undiscovered whatever it is that accelerates the universe's expansion. That's arguably the proper way to do it, in contrast to what was mentioned above.

Freedom_2018
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Re: Sam Harris - Idiot?

Post by Freedom_2018 » Sun Mar 17, 2019 7:48 pm

Ok.

Following is a sample of a conversation I would have with my parent/s when I was 8-10 yrs old. My parents are very religious and very literal. I mean there is no interpretation of the bible, word for word they just take it as it is written in the book (say in the King James Version or something like that).

Me : Mom, where is Mahatma Gandhi (father of the nation of India, shot to death by a fanatic Hindu in 1948) now?

Mom (with a stern expression) : He is in hell.

Me : You mean to say the father of our country, the one who preached and practiced non-violence towards all living beings and who went on a hunger strike to quell the religious riots in India and almost died in the process, is in hell? Burning over a hot fire and screaming? What about my friends from school (almost no one was a Christian in my class). What about Prasenjit Bose (my best friend at that time)?

Mom : Yes (looking a bit pleased), in hell where he belongs. Prasenjit and his whole family will also go to hell. That is what happens to those who don't believe in Jesus. Have you done your homework?

Me (a little angrily) : What about some baby who was born deep in African jungle and died right away? His people had not heard of Christ since no missionaries went so deep in the jungle. Is the baby's soul in hell also? Small baby being burnt and poked in hell ? What about those people who died much before Christ was born. Where are their souls?

Mom (getting annoyed) : You talk too much nonsense. Go and do your homework or I will tell your father (I feared dad more than hell).

Me : So you don't know do you? Don't know...don't know..lies...lies..all Christian lies (joyfully running out the room)

Mom (yelling after me) : I will definitely tell your father...today he will show how heaven and hell (alluding to the beating that was to come later for my intransigence).

I was a big anti-religious person can you tell? As I grew older I taunted my parents, the priests in the church with all sorts of questions to which they couldn't give any answer to my satisfaction. Wasn't I clever? I had demolished their stupid religion with my incisive questions. How dumb could so many people be? Stupid religious people!

Then yesterday I watch something like this

Sam Harris demolishes Christianity : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vSdGr4K4qLg

or this one (Sam Harris on free will) : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pCofmZlC72g

I just had a flash back to being 10 yrs old. Why are people listening to a 10 yr old's arguments? Jeez.

In the intervening years, I've had lots of life experiences that while still maintaining my incredulity about innocent babies and Gandhi's of this world being roasted in some imaginary hell beneath our feet, make me realize that there are always those who take everything literally and then there are those who understand the archetypes and myths for what their greater purpose is - hopefully informing people how to live a moral and productive life which are the underpinnings of a stable society. I mean one does not look at a Van Gogh painting from 1 inch away to see the sloppy dabbing of paint in thick clumps but instead stands back to look at the image and that is what invokes in us a sense of say empathy for the human condition within the context of what the artists was experiencing in his own life. Now someone like Jordan Peterson or Schopenhauer or Solzhenitsyn or Carl Jung or any director from Hollywood who has made a half decent movies and millions of ordinary men and women understand this simple thing.

Maybe this guy is not an idiot. Maybe he is just 10 yrs old?

I could type more but it is St. Patrick's day (no I am not in the least religious) and soda bread, lamb chops and Irish whiskey are calling to me in the kitchen and so is my green paper hat.

Slainte

prognastat
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Re: Sam Harris - Idiot?

Post by prognastat » Mon Mar 18, 2019 9:53 am

First off, surprisingly no one is refuting "a 10 year old's argument", you fail to do so in your criticism right here too rather talking about how your were enlightened by the greater purpose. This has done nothing to actually address the point he makes or cover your change from agreeing with him to somehow disagreeing. Unless you don't actually disagree, but rather that this greater purpose is for the greater good in which case you are just excusing it.

Secondly, he is making multiple points even in just this one segment of one debate. Let alone the rest of his career.

Also it doesn't sound like you've experienced much growth on the part of your personality that felt glee in feeling superior to other people from when you were 10 to now and rather have just changed the target of your judgement. Then you judged the religious, now you judge the irreligious. This might be worth some introspection to see where these feelings are coming from and if they are entirely healthy.

ZAFCorrection
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Re: Sam Harris - Idiot?

Post by ZAFCorrection » Mon Mar 18, 2019 1:44 pm

I am just judging Sam Harris off one data point, but I remember watching one of his videos in the mid-2000s where he was talking about the basis of morality. It was something about maximizing well-being. Then he threw up a slide of some woman wearing a hijab, or whatever, and simply stated something like "this clearly doesn't maximize well-being." Point being made to a predominately white (read: non-muslim) western audience, he moved on. It was breathtakingly sloppy reasoning (maybe she was wearing it because it was sunny outside?), so haven't looked at him much since. But now he is IDW bonafide, so maybe useful stuff exists.

Freedom_2018
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Re: Sam Harris - Idiot?

Post by Freedom_2018 » Mon Mar 18, 2019 3:05 pm

@prognastat : I tried to understand what you were saying but honestly I could not comprehend your writing. So I had someone else also look at the whole thread and see if your post made sense to them (since its been over 6yrs since I engaged in any work, I sometimes wonder if my comprehension is not up to the mark). They couldn't make sense of your post either. So I don't know how to reply you. Their feedback to me though was that I tend to ask questions that might push people's buttons and I do admit to that tendency out of a desire to know what makes people tick and why. I do this much more in real life too but assuredly it is without malice or glee (though perhaps at 10 it was more of a rebellion against parental tyranny so some momentary glee might have been involved, tempered later by my father's leather belt :-)

I just want to know. I find people, human value systems and such stuff fascinating. In real life there is often collateral damage if one goes too far (much to my frustration). I do offer an examination of my innards too but very few take me up on the offer perhaps because of the implicit reciprocity built into it.

Anyways, I have no like/dislike feeling for Sam Harris. Would give him a ride in my car if his automobile broke down and would use it to ask him why he thinks the way he does...because I do think his thoughts are a bit misguided and being a public figure he has influence. And even if we had a vigorous disagreement, I would never ask him to get out of the car :-)

@zaf - had to google 'IDW bonafide'. Learnt a new phrase : Intellectual Dark Web. Honestly the IDW stuff seems quite normal, doesn't it? Just people expressing their viewpoints and supporting it with their reasoning. For a second I had thought the IDW was something to do with NAMBLA and the like. Phew..relieved :-) I think his podcasts/discussions with other speakers on his website might be a little more interesting.

daylen
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Re: Sam Harris - Idiot?

Post by daylen » Fri Mar 22, 2019 1:22 pm

Critique of The Moral Landscape.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wxalrwPNkNI

----------

On a side note: I do enjoy his podcast, but he is blind to his own assumptions.

thegreatvoid

Re: Sam Harris - Idiot?

Post by thegreatvoid » Fri Mar 22, 2019 9:41 pm

Love Sam. Used to listen to all his podcasts, but stopped because it turned from educational to Entertainment. Wish he was less joe rogan/ tim Ferris. Selling his app ( when he clearly doesn't need the money, because he comes from Jewish Hollywood Money )

He should do some research/ write a book, rather than do political commentary

Jason
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Re: Sam Harris - Idiot?

Post by Jason » Thu Apr 11, 2019 6:50 am

Campitor wrote:
Sat Mar 16, 2019 5:26 pm
History is replete with smart men doing or believing in stupid things:

[*]Mathematician Paul Erdos would take amphetamines.
I was just introduced to Paul Erdos yesterday through an essay written by Charles Krauthammer. I had never heard of the man so I went down his bunny hole. I found this article.

http://movies2.nytimes.com/books/first/ ... n-man.html

I think there is something to be said for not unequivocally accepting the opinions of super-geniuses outside of their primary field of specialty. Paul Erdos was an exceptional mathematician but an extremely strange individual. I will not speculate but it was a known fact that he slept in the same bed with his mother until he was in his late teens. The amphetamine thing kind of cracked me up because it was like he was the Keith Richards of math. Instead of guitar riffs he played with primary numbers.

On a tangental note, their was something ERE-ish about his life. His insatiable and singular obsession with mathematics combined with his willingness to collaborate allowed him to build up a network of associates throughout the world who would temporarily house him in exchange for co-authoring papers with him. He claimed to have little possessions and apparently gave most of his reward money away after receiving it. He never married or had children. I would certainly let him do my math homework but outside of that, I would not be searching for his opinion on other matters.

jacob
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Re: Sam Harris - Idiot?

Post by jacob » Thu Apr 11, 2019 7:16 am

IIRC, my Erdos number (the degree of Kevin Bacon separation wrt scientific publications) is 7.

Jason
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Re: Sam Harris - Idiot?

Post by Jason » Thu Apr 11, 2019 8:16 am

I had a feeling that was coming.

My favorite anecdote was when he was four years old he was in a store with his mother and it occurred to him that he was going to die. From that day forth, he always wished he was younger.

chenda
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Re: Sam Harris - Idiot?

Post by chenda » Fri Apr 12, 2019 2:54 pm

He was also a spiritual seeker and has an interest in Buddhism and Hinduism, and has written a book on such things. He seems to have only one foot in the materialist camp and I wonder if one day he will leap the other way. Sam that is not the weird maths guy.

platypus
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Re: Sam Harris - Idiot?

Post by platypus » Sun Apr 14, 2019 2:14 pm

Jason wrote:
Thu Apr 11, 2019 6:50 am
I think there is something to be said for not unequivocally accepting the opinions of super-geniuses outside of their primary field of specialty.
I wonder if the world has always been this way (where experts opine on things outside their area of expertise and people eagerly listen), or if it's a new trend.

daylen
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Re: Sam Harris - Idiot?

Post by daylen » Sun Apr 14, 2019 3:57 pm

@platypus Definitely to a much greater degree now with technologies such as social media, but I imagine it has always been true in agrarian civilizations where role specialization is prevalent. Successful people tend to become more successful (Pareto), and humans tend to compare themselves to others when searching for advantages (wealth inequality increases suicide rate regardless of absolute wealth).

This is a major problem, but it is still just a surface effect of something deeper. Many people are looking to celebrities (all kinds) for lifestyle design, but celebrities tend to be abnormal in some way. Fame and fortune tend to amplify natural dispositions.

jacob
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Re: Sam Harris - Idiot?

Post by jacob » Sun Apr 14, 2019 4:25 pm

daylen wrote:
Sun Apr 14, 2019 3:57 pm
This is a major problem, but it is still just a surface effect of something deeper. Many people are looking to celebrities (all kinds) for lifestyle design, but celebrities tend to be abnormal in some way. Fame and fortune tend to amplify natural dispositions.
Also people (MOPs?) use celebrities to reflect aspects of themselves. If they like you, they reflect/project their best qualities in you. If they don't, they reflect/project their worst qualities. I've found that most opinions are ultimately subjective reflections ... or maybe that's just my reflecting back.

luxagraf
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Re: Sam Harris - Idiot?

Post by luxagraf » Mon Apr 15, 2019 9:02 am

jacob wrote:
Sun Apr 14, 2019 4:25 pm
Also people (MOPs?) use celebrities to reflect aspects of themselves. If they like you, they reflect/project their best qualities in you. If they don't, they reflect/project their worst qualities.
https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/553506 ... -there-who

Jason
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Re: Sam Harris - Idiot?

Post by Jason » Mon Apr 15, 2019 3:38 pm

In a twist of irony, I was thinking about the time I watched Ben Affleck get his Hollywood ass handed to him in a debate on Islam. I didn't realize that the ass hander was one Sam Harris. So when you break things down, it's a debate between one guy who's mother created Golden Girls and another guy who tapped J-Lo.

https://www.realclearpolitics.com/video ... maher.html

I will disagree with Sam Harris on many things. But I agreed with him here. Why Ben Affleck felt that he was qualified to debate Islam is beyond comprehension. It's like a debate between two rich frat boys and it was obvious which one made it to class.

Loner
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Re: Sam Harris - Idiot?

Post by Loner » Mon Apr 15, 2019 8:11 pm

He lost my respect when he ridiculed himself trying to debate Chomsky. He showed himself incapable of discussing reasonably, and that is all the worst because he seems to hold reason as the highest human quality.

From the start, Chomsky shows that he is interested in discussing and exploring viewpoints while Harris refuses to engage in conversation and tries to look morally superior (yet fails). It looks he just wanted some creds for debating someone more famous than him. As a result, he came across like anything but a serious intellectual.

Surprisingly, even though he ended up looking stubborn and ill-intentioned, he decided nonetheless to post the exchange on his website.

 https://samharris.org/the-limits-of-discourse/

I have not read him since.

Jason
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Re: Sam Harris - Idiot?

Post by Jason » Tue Apr 16, 2019 3:43 pm

There is a documentary "Collission" where Christopher Hitchens travels the country debating Christianity. Despite personally holding antithetical views to him, if Jesus Christ agreed to come on stage and walk across a pool of water, I wouldn't have debated him. He was that knowledgeable and brilliant. I do not feel the same about Sam Harris.

RealPerson
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Re: Sam Harris - Idiot?

Post by RealPerson » Tue Apr 16, 2019 4:21 pm

I have to admit that this thread has cast Sam Harris is an entirely different light. I had not delved as deep into his writings as some of you apparently have. Thanks for giving me this additional insight.

As for Hitchens, it would have been unwise for anybody to debate him, very possibly Christ himself. He departed to soon from our world.

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