« Making Sense with Sam Harris

#197 — April 12, 2020

2020-04-12 | 🔗

In this episode of the podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Caitlin Flanagan. They discuss the different sorts of experiences people are having during the Covid-19 pandemic, what it has exposed about our education system, the 2020 election and the many problems with Joe Biden, why the press has been slow to cover Biden’s #MeToo allegation, the perceived double standards in the press and within feminism, and other topics.

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Welcome to the making sense by cast the SAM Harris, just a note to say that if your hearing this, you are not currently honour subscriber feed, him only be hearing partial episode in the pot used. If you like, access to full episodes, you'll need to subscribe SAM Herriston work, there you'll find our private rss feed to add your favorite pot catcher. Along with other subscriber only content, and as always, we need more money to be. The reason why someone countless into the pockets of you can't afford a subscription there's an option at San Aerostat, Org towards less to free account, and we grant a hundred per cent of those requests. No questions asked I am here with Caitlin Flanagan Kalen. Thank you for jointly. Thank you for having me.
If people only knew how difficult it was under a pandemic, conditions to get a valid connection has been brutal, but your inheriting, my bad tech karma, because I just break technology where Rico. Oh, I assumed that you always had perfect connection. It's just bad luck, but It happens enough that I'm used to it, but it's great to have you here and I actually did glad on Twitter when we first scheduled this, and we got some hundreds of questions. I have a few those seated in here, but let's just start with, what's on your mind and what this expert in quarantine has been like for you thus far when I first want to say on that, Thank you saved my life because I have. I am a person that has all these underlying conditions and it was not taking this seriously as so many people.
We're not and I'd even ban, and I have to go the Doktor Latona even asked the nurse. You know what about this cove it or corona. Is this a problem and she's at all? It's not a problem. It's a flu and you just takes- drink a lot of flu it and you take some tylenol and it was so appealing to think that it was nothing. You know you wanna believe the Good NEWS, always and saw, was going along thinking. Everyone was hysterical and then you just happen D sent me an email Shorty mail about something out and at the bottom you said, you know be careful. This is shaping up to be a really big deal and that caught me I fat SAM, is really smart, and this is the kind of thing he would be released smart about and that kind of sad in my mind, but I still had to go to work lunch and, as I was in the work lunch noticing, the restaurant wasn't nearly as crowded as usual. The guy interviewing- and I are phones kept going off with all these different things being cancelled.
And while he was sitting there, a job he had booked. That was really important. His family economically, financially, I should say, dropped out, and so it was kind of just seeing someone in real time losing work and in come and I walked out there and I remember- I never eat enough at a work, lunch, I'm very nervous and work lunches, and I always you know, donate and I stopped it was locked in the car and I stopped in a a drugstore a candy barn. I sat on there. It was a bench, a bus bench, a bus, stop bench and ensure boulevard and all of a sudden, I just that need to go home. You know SAM Harris said this, I'm seeing a lot of signs in it and I need to get home and I so I really
Firstly, we have to thank you because I would have been and still maybe and really serious serious trouble. If I get this well, I am glad to be a service there. Was this really uncanny part of this mass induction into reality? where I was essentially a week ahead of everyone in my life tat, I began to feel like a character in a movie where
man and one other friend, who was even probably twenty four hours ahead of me, and it just was it bizarre experience, but our conversations with family members and friends and and what lies it SAM, I'm sure you ve covered this before, but I'm so interested. What was it that they got you attention? What was it that made? You realize this was a really serious thing. A few things about one I've been primed to think about this. I've been waiting for a pandemic on some level, actually thereupon cast. It was six months ago on this topic and I have a template for this sort of thing happening. Although I am fairly amazed at how little detail was in the template and how strange, as experience has been as it has unfolded, but the
prospect of this happening. Wasn't foreign to me. The dominoes start afar pretty quickly. Frankly, I feel pretty late on this. It really was until the end of February that I was paid attention and people who were really pay attention were
a month earlier than that. I was for whatever reason, oh so, distracted by the things. I wasn't really noticing the reports from from move on, but I also just happened by sheer coincidence. I happen to know someone who got this very early and net headings Dylan, and I see you a guy who's, not especially old, who is in fifty two as have the prospect of this was just like the flu seemed far fetched, albeit for reasons that are not statistically sophisticated. I could have happened. I know someone who died from the flew to and my intuitions move there, but it got anchored made a sense that no people, my age, are going down from this, and I dont know people dying from the flu or being intubated and spending more than a month ago.
Ventilator, yeah, so large, a sort of woke me up and again it is move so quickly. It has been interesting to see how long a week is uncovered time. Well, we ve got a unit, isn't it and I think that's the emotional Seeing that everybody's you know everyone's had a personal crisis. And you know we all know what that's like and the feeling of shock and of panic and sword. Getting our vision very, very narrowed into. What's you know when there's a crisis people get their priority straight and about two minutes You know most of the time we bumble around and we wonder what what am I supposed to be doing with my life and is this the right direction? And could I advance my hell for my children in different ways, and then there is a crisis and you you get down to the material aspects of life.
And what really matters and were all sort of having this. At the same time, this incredible feeling of dislocation of fear of the intensity of love that we have for the people. We love You know you can't really think about that too much and regular conditions, because it which, as tear you apart and you, could never leave them for a minute. So we're all in this. In very intense experience- and I kind of think of it as well I was a kid. We were in Ireland, a lot in Dublin and indeed When Bay. When the tide goes out, there's a certain strand and the tide. Will you know when it's low tide. All of a sudden, you see everything it was underneath the water for the last twelve hours. You see that the pebbles and see glass in the big, dangerous rocks that would have hurt. You if you'd gone out and then it gets covered up, again and you can't see any of it met brown water and I think that's what it is now or seeing the big rocks
and we're trying desperately to avoid them? In our personal life, keep the people we love safe in and we know that. Things. What you know everything here's beyond our control, one thing that we can't lose sight of his how different anyway, we are all in some kind of common predicament, but there are so many different kinds and experiences to be having now- and it's easy for me to lose sight of that, because I'm in touch with many people who are having a pretty similar experience to the one I'm having and not so in touch with people who were in some ways have any opposite. Experience shows that entirely drive in touch with a fair number of doctors who are working in her performing surgeries and her who were on the front lines of this, but there the people out in the world who are part of critical infrastructure who are still working and exposing themselves.
It is in exposing others if their unaware that their sick and then are the people like ourselves who are sheltering in place and those are obviously very different experiences and then there's the people who were locked down as we are, but who have their lives totally disrupted you? They can't work because their work was synonymous with not being locked down, Ilsa their running a restaurant or working in a store, both of which are closed and then their people who either dont have families. Now there are experiencing social isolation of a sort that they may have never experienced or be to go for years and years without touching and then.
There, the people like ourselves, who am your having spoken about this, but I can assume you're, probably experience in the least to some degree, a silver lining in effect here, because your locked out with your family and there's been something really beautiful about discovering some of the things on the beach that were truly precious, that you were not necessarily seen honour. Our by our basis will I think that were really seeing this division between. Are you a laptop jockey or not? You know if your work is able to be done entirely in this immaterial. Space of you know dad at it that's transported back and forth between computers, then you're, probably not taking a financial hit, and it's interesting the New York Times its that's will endlessly,
they made me until the day I die where they they cover a very well and very broadly the the situation in all times, but now in particular, of what it's like to be out of work or to be low income at this time or to be sort of fragile in terms of your financial status and then have it all ripped away. They cover it very well, but all of their social coverage is you know their cooking recommendations are endless. And their watch this on Netflix and what a great time to reorganise the pantry and you realize that if they're a product they know their consumer very well and the consumer is probably a laptop jockey, but but even within that social class, where we are lucky to live, I think it's even that's even deeper
and I mean including the nature of love, but I think it's bombed just quite suddenly into the material world and the realisation of how far we have gotten away play from it, and I've been the thing that amazes me. Sam more than anything else know the toilet paper shortage is you'll, be jokes and whatever about that, and I'm sure books will be right, and I mean all of this- a decade or more to understand? Is the thing that amazed this means that America is out of yeast and he doesn't mean he is and brownies yeast means bred animals begins in a huge number. That's one of the most elementary human activities there is there. Is this calling to make bread there's no bread shortage, as we can get sly the same sliced bread that we always god but people are being drawn? I think- and you know I don't sound- I don't know
two out of the real to say this, but I noticed that, are you know I've written about this? A lot that our homes have become this weird place? We don't have a deep can as much as we think we have a deep connection to our homes and as much as hdtv the redecorating channel as many fans as it has even for those kind of well. They people, remodeling homes, they're, not deeply they're, not centres of production, there centres of somethin, you know port lug in your your chips and your sodas and and watch the tea. And then ass, you go to the soccer game to the job to the vacation, but all of a sudden Now our homes are places to display arson. Or our well thought it sort of. Thank God. I have a son Open enough in and thank God, I've got this freezer and people are we if we try- to live alive. It's just sort of like mine body spirit. We to live a life that we can just. We'll have totally in your head. But then you get your point, you realize know you
gotta live in your body to, and I think that we have gotten in that kind of feeling of just our homes. Are these pit stops and their these disputes areas in there and then anybody who is in that laptop jockey level of the economy, which is a very small percentage, but with a huge influence on society. Their arms are often much too big, then they can't hear their children in them. They they can't even find a really warm close place to be together, and I think that It's just one way down the line. It's nothing to really think about or be concerned about now, but I think when the water comes back in and one where well Again- and this is over- I think- will be thinking about that you know: is there a way to live our lives where the things that were exposed to us that are upheld I degree of worth- gets their away that were willing to sacrifice other things to keep that that revelation
here. We don't know we're in a mystery right now, well reorganise many things were from people who are successfully working from home. Now, they'll be faced with a choice about whether or not to return to the former pattern of being in an office building for their job, and I gotta think many of the companies that successfully pivoted to a distributed workforce may stay distributed just four for quality of life reasons, and what are you he's gonna do to education. This is this is to me having been a teacher and writing a lot about education. This has been the most interesting thing to me. Well, everything's interesting as a time were everything's interesting, which is why we're all exhausted but you know. America, in this incredible thing you know had is off to the teachers of America that in two weeks they scrambled to get a distance learning pro
am together for basically every child? It's not a good programme. It's not high quality. How could it be two weeks doesn't hopefully switch. You know, methods of teaching. That's really you now. Obviously, it's not very practical, but the thing that parents I talked to a lot of them so interested the thing that parents complain about more than the quality and more than how harassing it is all these different systems and passwords and in a really little kids need a full height of help with that, the thing they complain about is house what it is that before they know it, but they imagine their children, would have seven hours. They'd have sort of seven hours of coverage the way they do when they drop a child at school here, but the actual instructional time in an american school for the core subjects that the maiden break off a child boy that Ninety minutes- that's me,
and he met her. That's been pretty startling to discover I struggled on how to take the temperature of the thing. So what have defaulted users asking my oldest daughter, Her perception of how much his learning at home now and her perception is that she's learning more and it's in a fraction of the time which makes media like ok, school, at least at this age, is essentially day care. Plus, you know a play date with friend is not really optimized for learning. If you can learn as much in two hours
as she does in a full. They have school what's going on over their right, and I think that the wealthier communities, when the private schools it doesn't add up to a problem because a wealthy parent they get a test score an standardize test and if its low reading score, that's perceived as an emergency and tutors sometimes are expensive. Tutors are brought in and you know, unless there is a problem in a reading and math in particular, you can remediate quickly and reading to an extent so and wealth your parents. Nowadays, they you hear people to run private school talk about this all the time. Well, for your parents care tremendously about the experience of the school day, they want their kids to be engaged every minute in in a sort of delight for you no way and
and so they willing to have that happen. But when you look at em in California, its education, its it is in crisis, it is aiming SAM. Just do this when you get off the with me. If you have some time go online and take the basic proficiency reading test that sixty percent of kids flunk can't pass that better in school at twelve grade level and you'll be shocked and these kids, Year after year after year? You know you start. We know this is what the Con academy is really stressed when you start following beset behind in math. Year goes by two years: go by your lost, you're just lost and you can't catch up and you don't have the private tutor. So what we are really doing, as you say as where covering the day for working parents, we have a tremendous spirit has when it's the wealthy parents are gonna remedy eight
the non wealthy parents, you know they probably in a different addressed by the time that test score comes in, you know, and the test scores the farthest thing from an emergency to a low income person so and if anybody thought who was looking at it and said she, the number one thing that holds these kids back is math and reading. Then we would teach a lot of math in reading, but California. We have one hundred and eighty days school year and that doesn't mean you're going to get a hundred eighty lessons in reading, because you have assemblies and special schedules and all sorts of things that block you were not required a number of hours in these essential subjects. So I think we're all getting a look at things. We don't want to think about. We don't want to change. We don't wanna base facts about you, are lower income level of education. We don't want to face facts about G, if my kids, really just having an experience at school, is that the best kind of x
Europeans, and you know who having the last laugh Now- are the home schoolers, because, as all the laptop jockeys are running around looking for a pass word, and you know being so upset that they like it at ninety minutes later, everything's done, by the homes growers are on top of that now Not. I know how to do this. I spend about thirty seconds thinking about the irony here, because the homes growing movement release my perception of it in the. U S is that it, so I know what the actual percentages, but it seems like The man was, Christians are over represented in that movement, and I've been hearing from them over the years for obvious reasons, but just to recognise that these people have to be the absolute. Sports. In long everyone's facing right now, but the other interesting thing- and I mean this- is back to our decadent life before We are in imminent threat of dying I was getting on home schooling, the very wealthy because they realise that school is an interference thing that gets you in the Ivy league you get in
Ivy League, if you from a wealthy family, because you have such a developed talent that is recognised, usually on a national or even international level, and that school is a harassing block of time, and so they hire people to get the kids through higher level curriculum for sure, but they want to be free from school so that they can develop the thing that gets you into the Ivy league. So it's just a real I guess it. You know it is once again with the haves and have nots. You know this squeezing out of a middle class entirely. And there's just entirely different experience. So how much of a reset do you think we're experiencing here? How different do you think the world will look in a year or eighteen months after the epidemiological and economic implications of all of this run their course
Again, I don't know the timeline actually is by its hard to see how whatever the new normal is, will seem anything like normal, shorter than twelve months from now. Will I have no idea that you know just in America the notion that once again up against Donald Trump, we have the weakest democratic,
candidate in my life to hang on occasion, I was less put opinion the great Joe Biden for a moment, because it has a lot to talk about their but actual less raison d that, but I just wanted to point one thing out here that there is at least to, if not paradoxes, ironies that were going to be slamming up against now. The first is one that I pointed out on Twitter yesterday as to several other people, which is that if social distancing actually works as intended wishes to say, if you know we plant in the curve, which seems like we're doing in many places such that the healthcare system doesn't break the level of contagion and morbidity and mortality is more flew. Like then, smallpox like that
people who have been resisting social distance in the people who been crying hoax media hoax and they will feel totally vindicated ain't. I'm in touch with some is re heat end, their absolute imbeciles, their smart people and many of them, but they ve managed to craft for themselves a truly unforeseeable worldview, like only bodies piled to the sky, We are convinced them that they were wrong about this, and maybe not even then, and then there's just as very strange element to this confirmation by us, which is the cities. The blue counties were the first and hardest hit.
This right. So in trumpet stand, the virus is only now arrive in right, it's just it. It's was perfectly tailored for misinformation and conspiracy, theory and confirmation bias and just a complete failure of public health. The split along political lines, something like ninety seven percent of Americans are actually under lockdown orders now, so I gotta think the social distancing is happening even in the rest of red counties to some degree, but up until very recently, there were new scenes of people. You know we in pact churches and how does it can interact with our politics in the coming months but it's been a pretty depressing spectacle to watch on social media. Well, I'm always amazed by will first place. The thing to really know about America were really strange. Place were really weird place. We put on it story that we all believe that has to do with us
of all heading in the right direction together. But I remember one thing to my Father: who was: he was a freshman in college, win, Pearl Harbor was bombed and Tina went off to the Pacific and did his thing, and finish college, and you know I never thought about it at all and then Tom broke. I came up with the notion of the greatest generation and I hope that my gosh, you know my own father, you know live childhood in the depression and then you know going off to war and ice. It dad. You know you're the greatest generation and he looked up and said. If you had known one of the enlisted men on my ship, you would never use that power for hasty Gran. Any just said the level of ignorance of racism.
I am not at all speaking to the troops if today, for whom I have a great respect, and obviously we're talking about men who were raised in the thirties and the heat mostly southerners on his ships, but where a strange country- and I really realized it when there was a video of a woman- I dont aware, but she was somewhere in trumpet and an she was driving somewhere and I think, a cop andor and a cameraman at the same time came. A person were witnessing this moment where the policeman was saying. You know you have to go home. This isn't safe and she said uncovered in Jesus is Blair nor retorted, the fierce or finally found their Superbowl commercial yeah but it's, but on the other hand, can you imagine to live in that live? She is much more a piece with death and we,
are still really have that believe which to us is a mean, doesn't even sound like a good thing. I sure covered in Jesus is blood like a very good at my wish. We had said blood of the lamb or something even more culture completely, but for some reason I thought Jesus is blood was mark, I dont know, but to be covered in anger. I'm sure this goes back say the people who are really understand their religions. Are the fundamentalists like we all like you know. They say the worse things about them, but, unlike in a you read the Koran you like once pre bloodthirsty book, that's right, but we all come along and you I'm gonna Catholic, been I just started, we all pick and choose. We use our birth control whatever, but then there are these people who really believe this stuff, and you know there are snake handlers and- and why do we not not bringing?
you into this obviously, but who do we gotta, like Saint John, the divine and then like, have a nice branch afterwards with Joan Didion or whatever? Why do we think that we are better than they are? You know they seem to really understand, will take the branch with John did here? Did you ever branch after church? Yes, you during which avi praying or your soul. Your reference to birth control reminded me of one of your recent delightful tweets right at the beginning of our quarantine. Where were we of packages with Clorox, and I think you wrote- I haven't been this nervous about getting something wrong since I got my first diaphragm in eighteen, eighty three, what brought her a willingness to say it was really. I mean it was a joke, but it was sure, remember being young person. You think you're doing it right and with most things, if your mostly doing it right in your mostly getting the benefit, but our member. This thing that I get this wrong. It's gonna be this incredible disaster like there's. No,
little bit or not, it's all a hundred percent. But mentioning that you know you ask what's gonna change, I think we're going to see a very positive change and sexuality being hers I have you know, being my generation, which was you know after the sexual revolution before AIDS had really spilled into the heterosexual population, are was even understood. Sex was this of tremendous pleasure and tremendous closeness to the young man whom I dated or whom I was in a relationship where a kind of cereal monogamy as data- and it was this just intensely exquisite. That would keep you in relationships longer, and that would give you an illusion of more you know. Closeness of the IMF be no true mines on something, and now I hear
many young people, especially young women, whom he would think well boy. They have the keys to the kingdom, there's nothing to hold them and their miserable, and I think
a little bit more discernment a little bit higher stakes a little bit more sense that ok, let's get to know each other, let's find out a lot about each other, let's find out who are testing on this, not just the callous std testing. But I think this could really change this idea of ultimate randomness for especially for heterosexual youngish women. The idea that that is a pleasurable thing for the majority is a it's an error and in thinking as not accurate about women, so I think that this may begin to change that porn, driven culture which has been so bad for most young women talk about women in a circle because we're going into politics
want to drop your twitter handle here, because I am aware this can be pay wild, but everyone should follow you on Twitter. What your twitter handle. It sat Caitlin Pacific, so, yes, oh everyone should follow. Caitlin Kalen has figured out twitter and delightful. Thank you. Ok! So the election, my God, what we ve done here like we have a nation of three hundred. Thirty million people we couldn't find one either doesn't have dementia or doesn't seem to have aid Well, if you'd like to continue pursuing this podcast you'll need to subscribe. Sam Aristotle work you get access to a full length, episodes of making says podcast into other subscriber only content, including bonus episodes and Amy
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Transcript generated on 2020-04-15.