« Making Sense with Sam Harris

#187 — February 20, 2020

2020-02-20 | 🔗

In this episode of the podcast, Sam Harris and Paul Bloom speak about the epidemic of child sexual abuse, the ethics of loyalty, eugenics, existential risk, the Bloomberg and Sanders campaigns, and other topics.

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
I shared with poor bloom thanks, you're doin it back on this. Station is it's always abroad, from what I'm normally do another five aspect this week. It is a very stark break because I've been, Some very gloomy conversations I just released non nuclear war, and I just recorded one on this phenomenon on that, we will euphemistically called call child pornography which, if it does anything more gloomy than nuclear. Now
relation is the details of what is going on in tat around child pornography M is just a ham released this when he notices, probably gonna drop after we release this podcast, but may the scope of the problem and are apparent unwillingness to actually confront it. He's just is impossible to understand so anyway that, for my head has been no matter. How dark you you'll, be bringing levity to my world. Very few people say that any normally kind of a downer conversation was also got views and child pornography, but maybe I'll say that until a the other thing I, let's out, we can talk about a bit more. You can talk about next, I'm actually the the guy interviewed Gabriel Dance at his there New York Times writer has been covering this in a series of long and heroin are calls- and they just interviewed him on a daily, the New York Times podcast today. So people,
preview of that. That's going on there may I think, I'm going to the daily conversations like twenty five minutes, but I think Gabriel. I spent two and a half hours waiting into this morass and it's astonishing that it is but it's just what you really can't get your mind around is are, lack of motivation to deal with it, because we actually can deal with it in their their technological solutions. To this there there is just as obvious a law enforcement solution, but we just an hour or paralyzed largely around. I think the fact that the details are just so dark that nobody wants to focus on it for long enough to tackle amidst its tabooed, even think about it and I do not mean it. Maybe there are other examples of this kind of thing, but there's just such an EC factor with a topic that that has more or less protected. These truly sinister people in and networks from much scrutiny, much less prosecution
So. I urge this house fascinating. I realize I began by saying I have used and child pornography and just gonna left hanging I think I think, rather than wait a few weeks in endless twitter have itself at me. I decided I should really Clara via good their wishes. Ass witches in I I have the same use everybody else has about is its morally monstrous to prey on children. But what I would add to this is that there are people who are sexually attracted to children, and I see that as nothing but a curse year. I would. I would wish that on my worst hit It is a terrible thing to have and it is unclosing nobody, nobody wakes up and says you know, I'm really work it so that I can only be attractive sexually because it is is hard to imagine a worse thing to happen to you now that as an excuse you morally, if you act upon it, it still, I think, should refrain
little about how we think about such cases. Yet it's actually a point. I make at some point in that podcast because it here, if you view, a failure as a sexual orientation, albeit an illegal and and unfortunate one. Yes, nobody decides to be a pedophile, but given that the product turn of child pronography is in every case the the commission of a crime so you're, essentially, that's why the word pornography is a euphemism, and these are just records of you. No child, rapes and tortures the differences. This preserves the the point you are making us his, though being ahead of us. Actual man is one thing, one doesn't choose it and it's perfectly legal and you know happy to be one. But if you're, a heterosexual man who likes to watch real women get really raped and our people debating a network that engineers the the rape of non consenting adults? That's a deprave,
in addition to your sexual orientation, for which you, you can't be held responsible and just by its very nature, anyone whose consuming child pornography much less distributing. It is part of that second sadistic phenomenon. And so it's yap. I completely agree with you. My position on free will commitment to that view. Obviously that's right and understood to be again. This is exactly I. I can't resist it's just that that what you described is plainly evil in Maastricht and should be punished the question of fantasies that hurt nobody but themselves or violent fantasies and perhaps involving depictions of acts which would be terrible if they took place. Those, I think, sit in a more complicated place for me, and so
we could talk about that later time. I guess yeah beyond this. This is what you are. I promise people we will not spend too much time on this, because this is a lot to cover, but I dont think I got into this with Gabriel Dance and any completeness. What do you think of this connects to your point about fantasy? What do you think about purely fiction? All products of this taboo material right? So in a fictional child pornography, the production of which entailed the rape or mistreatment of no one. That's obviously near is taboo: is the real stop your hand and also illegal this? I just I don't know whether this is true or not, but I believe some people suspect that if it were legal, it would to some degree satisfy the desire
pedophiles who are otherwise seeking child pronography. I don't know if that's psychologically realistic, but what do you think about the ethics there? I think you're asking the right question. It's plainly, icky and and again I wouldn't want to be condemned to have that taste, but I think the answer to question what I think about that restaurant in Paragould issue of what is Effexor. So if it turns out that these robot sex dolls or just people to pick himself his children, but they aren't really children if it turns out that that men who satisfy themselves over that become less likely to harm real children and it makes the world Your place then unbalanced. It seems like a good idea if it turns out just to sort of feed their desire and make them want more. It's definitely a bad idea. You don't have to be very mindful of the consequences of this, and I don't know what the consequences are yeah you, you ve, you utter the phrase that was uttered only once on this podcast before
The notion of child sex robots, Kate Darlin, who is as a robot ethicist at MIT first introduced me to the the concept, more or less as a as a fait accompli, the Mamma we get robots better. Truly humanoid. Some genius will give us sex robots and the moment that arrives some perverse person will give us child size. So robots. I hope we avoid the path in the in the multiverse that is leading towards child sex robots, but I suppose, if care, if it has, the consequential list affects you hope, then it would be a good thing on balance and is a good illustration of the contracts which we always get into indictment, morality, which, as yet your considered moral views which might lead you do an uninterrupted of claim that child sex robots are a good thing and make the world a better place in our got. Feelings would say,
in an honest disgusting, that's terrible someone who creates child sex robots should be strung up, but I think you and I agree and cock about this- that moral progress involves turning away or EC reactions and focusing in a more considered and liberal way on consequences. Right. Ok, so I see I dragged you kicking and screaming into the land of egg, but when you think about it, EL limit. Let me actually this. This is an issue not incredibly far from it is another moral dilemma, pet who am I pulled The man from that this diamond psychology, professor yell university and size that Coronel University, giving a series of talks- and I was at a seminar talking some students and some terrific graduate students undergraduates and we end up talking but research, ethics and somebody brought up the case of this person works in a lab and he thought about his lab made hypothetically
if she was engaged in scientific misconduct of some sort, maybe in his examples fairly, while both scientific misconduct- and so you know, we kind of agreed that he should encourage her to stop doing it and turned herself in particular, some data got compromised, but then the question came up. What would happen if she wouldn't? She refused, and he said very matter of fact way. Well then I would turn around and everyone's nodding. This makes sense and something about a sat funny would mean. Is it well? What does she was your friend? What does she was a good friend and student thought about us at nice till Turner in MRS? What what if this was a you know, your girlfriend, your partner, where's, your wife, an end or some hesitation in conversation got a little bit awkward and- and I thought of a couple of different things here, but we are talking here about loyalty and- and I had to observe elections from this and are going to want to throw them out you and gay
nonsense, it is. But one is I worried at my own intuitions world ETA whack, and maybe this is generational thing. I give loyalty of that sort, fairly high value You know if my lab, my best friend, was a serial killer. Yeah, I'd I'd, call the police, but of my best friends, doing stuff, which I thought was wrong. Birds and fairly minor. I don't think I would, I think, my loyalty. What would would override my moral obligation, then that's got me to think about how subversive loyalties: loyalty pulls you, together with your allies, your friends in your family, and sits uneasy uneasily with broader moral goals, including sort of broader utilitarian picture. You tend to defence why were you thought about that? wondering to make it a bit more personal. You get involve a lot of controversies in debates in your often defending your friends
on twitter and social media and elsewhere, and it's really easy to defend your France when you think that the right, but do you ever defend your friends when you think that a wrong, yet this is this is a really interesting topic and I've been thinking about it lately, because this is one of the variables I see in politics at least such dysfunction and something it the Trump prizes above everything else. Every one of his abominations seems to be a kind of loyalty test for those around him, the people who will prevail and he's, not liner. There are pretending normal, essentially passing a loyalty test at all times, and I have worked Sean forever about how degrading I find that, but I think loyalties, a virtue. Obviously, until it isn't right has one of these right. One of these virtues they can be kind of by violent and I'm not sure what other examples there are
But what interests me is it, so it is kind of parasitic on the notion and experience of friendship so to say that some one is a loyal to a friend or is a loyal friends. That's all is redundant because, being I your friend entail some degree of loyalty. That's rain, but also family has a second raised. Right were loyal to children, were loyal to her parents or siblings yeah and then derivative of that people become loyal to organizations or two you loyalty, nation is patriotism, but I think the edge cases are interested in and we reached the edge when you know a friend or a family member or member of the organisation to which were pledged. Our country does something terrible right, and at that age I think being heard two loyalty, as though it were the the moral virtue that trumped all others. I think that clearly, as pathological
my country right or wrong just becomes blind nationalism! If your country is doing something, obviously illegal and wrong and counterproductive, you can turn up the styles as high as you want at some point. You are crazy. For supporting your country. Any apparent cost so to speak of groups for a second is everything I tend to complain about with respect to tribalism and identity, politics really just looks like a perversion of loyalty to me. It's just that. You know if a member of your group is behaving like a psychopath you should be able to acknowledge that and if you can't acknowledge it, because you have a different set of ethical books, your keeping for people in your group, then from people outside your group, Well, then, that is tribal ism or identity politics and is PS. I can't be a foundation for a universal ethics right right to be universal. You have to be able triangulate on something is happening within your group and judged
standard, certainly the stand you would apply outside your group and that arise oil to the same argument applies, though, for friends and four friends is more complicated. Her friends, I think, there's more of a pull for loyalty the bar just get higher further Denmark, higher and sir, and certainly for your child. You know I would do all sorts of things from my child. Would I I don't know if I shall murdered somebody would. I lie to get em off, so he doesn't go to prison, that's coffee you know what I am there was a movie having the same What a murder another child to take away that China's organs to save my own child, probably not my preference and somewhere again, it's it comes down to mitigating harm from me, so we'll take it back from the far extreme. If, have somewhat give a friend whose doing something
actively wrong. I mean we can use that scientific misconduct case or depends on what you mean by misconduct. But your loyalty to the friend should try slight into a commitment to their well being right and wondered if they're doing something wrong that you think they should stop. When, on some level you view it is bad for them and making them at minimum is making them a worse person right revealing them to be worse than you which they were. If you want to improve them in some way, if we want to improve their ethics, if you want to bring them into compliance with intellectual standards, you think they should share in it the scientific case. Will then you your urging them to stop and correct their misdeeds based on a concern for them, at least in part. It seems to me right. There are cases where it could keenly line up that way where the most loyal act is also act. That is the best for the community in the best as a whole, but anyway,
I agree that in some cases where they really diverge, yes said it, then the question is what are the real motives and the real consequences of the transfer since I now I can imagine a murder which one illegal, because its murder could still be viewed as ethical or a close enough to the killer ethically gray enough such that it's not. Clear that you even think they did the wrong thing right and then the question is you're helping them to conceal it or you are not turning them in that becomes much easier to think about than. If you think this person, who is it, who is a friend of yours, did something completely insane statistic and ride poses a further danger to society. That's right! Well, I thought we might get on to talk about Richard Dawkins. Recent adventure on twitter and an end, but put aside his
What happened? I imagine I admire Dawkins Lava, don't know him personally, I think you do know personally the safe harbour, the hypothetically your view, Messer friend, but suppose you thought he was really under. Inside of it. You may, I might imagine you might you know at minimum not be vocal about that? If it were ever was are you didn't like you may sort of announced and say this is really irrational and immoral, but if somebody you, you say. Ah I'm sure I'm sure he was well intentioned, everybody makes a mistake or you might just be silent, and I think that is actually the right way to go. I think that that, as his friend you have some burden of, you should treat him in a different way. Retreat any yes, yes, I am stand. That- and I think by default I followed that pattern. I do think that, being more and more the goal and compassionate would
wouldn't require that you wouldn't require they. You treat your ends worse, but it does require that you treat stranger is more and more like friends, I think so you know. I am increasingly suspicious of the impulse to Duncan somebody who I who I consider an enemy, or at least somebody, who's worked very hard to make themselves my enemy, and I do look for opportunities to do the opposite. Amateur, for instance, as recline forget what his perch VOX, is now is one of the founders of oxen he's. No wonder the editor in chief, but I'm here. Somebody who I do think has treated me terribly and never apologize to the contrary, he's actually someone who just simply can't see that he is treated me on ethically and dishonest way and actually done considerable harm to my reputation. These just strike me as objective facts. I may why
outside of my reaction to them, but recently I saw you, he just released a book and was- I am an excerpt from it in things in your time's up at their might, should impose, and I read it and thought it was. It was very useful on earth. We should have some great political analysis in there and so on. Twitter, I, with it Have you got that we disagree about many things? I circulated that, as you know, a great piece of political insider forget I phrased it, but basically just pure praise just telegraphing than I hadn't completely lost my mind and forgotten how much blood there was under the bridge for us so first, while that feels my better to me. That's leading me in a much better direction, as a person psychologically then my endlessly rehearsal All the reasons why I have every right to despise as recline, and so that's one example, whereas, like
knowledge of difference, you're describing and serve as a friend who does something embarrassing, I will certainly inclined not to add any tops been today, the bad press there get in and if its somebody who, who is, a neutral person or somebody who have reason already not like you know, it is certainly more attempting to give their reputation a a push towards the brink, but I don't know I just feel like there's a court correction that I'm looking for more and more in my life, which is leaving everything to converge on the standard. You seem to be articulating four friends right and I understand that you- and I have had this discussion many times before, and it's a good discussion to have for your always pushing for in partiality and then being an optimist and how much of a sort of pure, impartial morality we should have- and I see some of it, but I see so many case
which are kind of zero sum. Where were you have to do a and b and you have to choose between them and the option of feeding everybody the same this isn't available. But I gotta say we agree with the general point, which is. I am trying very hard to be nicer on Twitter and I am trying to recognise in I think maybe exception, Donald Trump, but that that everybody in these are real people here and nobody's a villain in your own heads and people have that unfortunate lives and the sort of public shaming the impulse, which I think people everybody has it. They just have different targets. It is an unhealthy and corrosive impulse. So I am in favour treaty, everybody nicer,
twitter and elsewhere. He. I think it is a hard balanced strike because I think, becoming completely anodyne and just not participating in any public criticism of bad actors. I dont think that is the the sweet spot at a certain point. You that you have to say something about a phenomenon, especially if you are particular take on it- is his under represented in and when we are talking about something like Trump The only real danger is boring yourselves and everyone around you, but I do think the ethics are pretty clear. We have, figure out how to get this guy out of office. So you want to be critical. You want you d, want to take that away. That's right, but friend of mine, own Flanagan One's going to ask a question. Dalai Lama translates they asked a question was a good question. He said if you had had a chance, would you
kill Hitler and the Dalai Lama is translated into thought about it. He smiled, and he said in his answer- was yeah. I would kill Hitler, but wouldn't be angry Adam and I will do it with ritual and grace and kindness and, to some extent, an arduous good advice, rehab killing Hitler, but it's pretty good advice for twitter, which is, if you have to correct somebody vice dispersant wrong. This isn't a moral view. You shouldn't take this adolescent glee at issue anger, you should this, you know trying to help people here. I totally agree with the anger carpet, and this also you can accept her something we spoke about whether we spoke about, killing Hitler last time or or the time before that an end, it does raise the ethical question of at what age is it appropriate to kill Hitler, because, if you go back and kill him as a seven year old, you do look like a moral monster because he's not quite Hitler yet right so interesting to consider when that would happen, and I think
someone should produce say a Youtube animation of the Dalai Lama going back and killing Hitler with ritual on it without any hatred. As a cartoon, I was thinking that you would imagine that a science paper which has a graph and a graph is the best time to kill him. We could float that as a poll on twitter or somewhere, I'm sure there would be a bell curve around me, the appropriate age, I'll do that. Ok, so back to our darkened yeah, who, yes, I do consider a friend and I did not the act, one where the other to his tweet may better, when people what the tweet was, though I went out on twitter before this recording and ass her questions in this came up, as you might expect a few times, so it was a series of tweets, I believe to forgive me if it's somebody else's Mary, but it's it's one thing to deplore: eugenics on ideological, political or, more grounds is quite another. To conclude, that it wouldn't work in practice. Now, if this is kind of help,
because this really is. I can immediately understand the Spirit which he tweeted at a mature with approximate cause of him, deciding to screw up his ay and weak. This way was, but can we agree, is very bad at her visit was hilarious about this issue It really is you take one look at it having been around and around the block with this kind of thing- and this is just point: to explode in the minds of every person on earth has just waiting for another reason to vilify Richard yeah. I don't know what got into his head around this. Do you know what his point was? This is point that, as biological creatures are intelligence and creativity and kindness can be shaped through breeding or what. What was this point? I think this point might have been a topical and political one. I think there's somebody in in the press in the UK right now just got nominated as an adviser to Boris Johnson or something, and then someone did a little
and archaeology and his twitter feed and found some celebration of eugenics, hurt or somethin an answer that could have been what Richard was reacting to hide it yeah, but anyway he's making the obvious point that eugenics is a thing and forget added its history as a move and among scientists and suitor scientists. In a hundred years ago, as the facts of dawn when, as human genetics were only starting to be absorbed is obvious that whatever is under genetic control, whether that's the where physical bodies perform and look or the way our minds emerge our brains. Basically everything about you is genetically influence to some degree, you should be able to breed for
that or engineer toward some goal in the same way that they can further tweets. He uses the example of cows, giving more milk and all that so the biology of of it is not debatable, and that's just his point as a biologist like of course With this kind of thing is possible and acknowledging this possibility is not at all a suggestion that its desirable that we institute any kind of programme to do this, so you just separating the both political and moral reaction to the idea based on prison. Play, some notion of what its social consequences were originally and would be in the future and separating that from from this claim that it wouldn't work in practice, an usher. What which claim he was responded to their but yeah ETA contacts? It was weird I mean I like him. I don't know him. I mean I'm a huge, follow four of his work and I think you see, as you know, an
ordinary scholar and end has a lot of interesting. Is that I think nobody in their right mind would think that he's really defending eugenics to send it's a. You know a comically unfair take on this, but, as somebody pointed out, the very structure what he said same structure? As you know, it would be wrong to burn down problems house on moral grounds on political grounds, added ideological grant. But you know if you not gasoline and enough tender yeah. You can burn down and have it if it has the sort of taunting trawlers claim- and I tol except at that- that it wasn't intentional anything. It probably speaks idea, twitters around Irene, every sorts of comments. Let me take the opportunity to get at it
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Transcript generated on 2020-02-21.