« Making Sense with Sam Harris

#33 — Ask Me Anything 4

2016-03-26 | 🔗

In this episode of the Making Sense podcast, Sam Harris answers questions from listeners about the recent attacks in Brussels, dealing with anxiety, the science of immortality, fame, liberalism, the Golden Age of Islam, and other topics.

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
This punk ass, has brought you buy, audible, the world's leading source of audio books. If you would like to support it, good, honest trial dot com forwards, Lash SAM Harris, Welcome to the waking podcast. This is SAM Harris apologies in advance, I'm getting over yet another cold.
Beginning to wonder whether my commitment of vegetarianism isn't just day strategy cooked up by the coal virus to prepare me as a vector by which to lay waste to the rest of society. I have just gotten so many colds since I stopped killing animals or pain, others to kill them on my behalf losses and ask me anything podcast which I'm doing a day after the Brussels attacks. So the questions I have here really don't reflect what has been going on to its feel somewhat out of sync with what's been going on, they vote to say a few words about Brussels at the outset. Everything I've written about Islam and she hot ism and profiling and related topics should be viewed through the lens of events like this. I really don't have any
more to say about this kind of thing, but I ll just give you a glimpse of what my life is like on these issues. I am at a conference talking about things like artificial intelligence, and I opened my phone to discover that there is an article circulating calling me a white supremacist now. Needless to say, raise Ascalon has circulated it, saying what he thinks Think Harris means when he says profile anyone who could conceivably be muslim, even though, in the very paragraph where I make that claim, I make it clear that white guys, like me, also fit the profile, I'm talking about and then the very next day we have attacks like these in Belgium, and you see the pictures of the likely suicide bombers, and once again, there not blonde haired Old Ladys from Iceland, they're, not japanese, schoolgirls, Kay, or middle eastern young men and again, let me spell this out white guys, like me, have also been recruited to ices and Al Qaeda. So I'm not pudding
self or anyone who looks like me out of the profile but now everyone is in the profile. My only point about profiling is that we have to admit that we know what we're looking for. We are looking for jihadists, one hundred percent of jihadists are muslim, in a place like an airport, in addition to random searches and searching all luggage, our security personnel should be looking for people who stand a chance of being g artists now out in the world. They should be looking for muslim extremists who may be planning some sort of attack. Where should they look for them everywhere at random. Is that really what any one believes? It seems rather obvious that they should be reaching out to the muslim community more important. The muslim community should be scrutinised in itself pro,
filing itself. One might say if you are a moderate Muslim, you have to admit there is a unique problem of religious extremism in your own faith community, and if this offends you, you are part of the problem and if you dont want Muslims demonized, you have to stop obfuscate in this issue. Once more, you have to stop attacking people as bigots and Islamophobia. For expressing their totally sane concerns about Islamism and jihadism and ass for the presidential election, assuming is gonna, be Clinton, verses, Trump, it's time for Clinton to stop mincing words or line outright.
On this topic, there, no liberals who are suddenly going to vote for Trump, because Hilary says something politically incorrect. So to make this clear, I think Trump is dangerously unqualified to be present in his apparent unawareness of this is his total lack of concern for his obvious France is fairly terrifying, but in his own idiotic way at least he is naming the probable at least he's not pretending that we are also worried about the Irish or that Middle eastern Christians are just as likely to be suicide bombers as Muslims are,
just think of what a significant attack in the U S prior to our election could do. If Hilary continues to sound delusional on this topic, she has to start using words like Islam, extremism and Islamism, and she hot ism and political Islam and muslim terrorism. The so called war on terror is not a war against a generic problem of terrorism is a war, as much now was has said over and over against a global jihadist insurgency unless Clinton starts making sense on this topic, she's
went to give ISIS a vote in electing our next president, and you can be sure they have a favor candidate, so to say any more here. I think I will just be saying things you ve all heard me say a hundred times. Maybe that's just this one more point to clarify. I clearly have followed much its line in distinguishing Islamism from Islam, and I've been hearing many disgruntled noises from readers who think this is intellectually dishonest. So maybe I should make it clear how I see this. I am a critic of all religion. I think the notion of revelation in the notion that faith trumps reason is dangerous and intrinsically divisive and
there we have to get over and I have made no secret of the fact that I think is long is the worst religion on most points currently ruin the minds of a significant part of humanity. So my view hasn't changed here. There is a war of ideas that has to be waged and one with Islam and with anyone who believes that the Koran is the perfect word of the creator of the universe, but there's a distinction between nominal Muslims or those who are fairly non committal in their faith or those who have some interpretation of the faith. It allows them to ignore many of its edicts and Islamists and there's a difference between Islamists and jihad,
and here I follow margins definitions. Islamism is the commitment to impose its law on the rest of society is intrinsically political and she hot ism is that variant of Islamism. That intends to do this by force as opposed to winning elections or some other process- and I agree with much of that. The way forward is to convince the muslim world to be increasingly secular and liberal, and that is a much more promising door to try to force one point: six billion people through the doorway of atheists him now, in so far as I can persuade Muslims to be atheists and disavow. Their faith has also something I'm happy to do, and occasionally I notice some success on that front. But I think it is far less realistic in any reasonable timeframe.
To expect one point: six billion Muslims to a pastor size than it is to expect them to reform their religion in the direction of secularism and liberalism, and I will now pretend to be optimistic on that score either. Many of you think that is just a fool's errand. What more reasonable project do you have to recommend? So my view here is that wherever a distinction between Islam and Islamism doesn't exist, we have to create it. Muslims have two created and non Muslims have to I insist that they do and if you're feeling powerless here. If you feeling there's nothing, you can do that useful after an event like this, the one thing you can do is lose your patience for people. Obfuscate in the problem lose your patience for life,
It is not a lie to say that there is a difference between Islamism and Islam, because one can, be created. There are many Muslims who do not want a global caliphate. There are many Muslims who do not want homosexuals thrown off of rooftops. There are many Muslims for whom is law in some form is important, but who are no more religious, then the least religious person you met yesterday and these people need to be supported. These people need to win a war of ideas and where they're not waging one, they have to be encouraged to wage. It.
And the only way I know to do that is for all of us to keep speaking honestly about the nature of the problem. Ok, I got your questions on, read it and when I last look to this page, there were over thirteen hundred of them. So, needless to say, I will not make much headway, but I really thank you for delivering so many questions and voting them up, and I can only assume that the ones that came first now were the ones that in fact, were reliably voted up. Some of these questions surprise me, but maybe dig around a little to find others that are of interest. So there are many questions on anxiety and one person wrote anxiety is a monster that is crippling and paralyzing keeps you in a loop of debilitating negative emotions, even when one desperately once out. What are the causes? What can we do to help themselves? What steps big or small do you suggest
while. The neural physiology of anxiety is pretty well understood by don't think understanding it in any detail really helps you. There are drugs. You can take to mitigate the effects of anxiety. I should say up front. I have have no clinical experience and this is not my area. I would think that, if anxiety is really crippling, there's some role for drugs to play, whether its beta blockers that impede the effect of adrenalin on your heart rates, you don't get them racing heart experience. Or anti anxiety, drugs that work on the neurotransmitter gamma, but in general the people who work with anxiety therapeutically to my understanding, don't recommend you take those drugs and that you do something more along the line of cognitive behavioral therapy which say you you exposed.
Yourself and manageable ways to the things that provoke anxiety and you re frame them conceptually. You become opened a feeling, the effects of anxiety and realize you can get through it, and Certainly a role for meditation unmindfulness mindfulness to play in this part of the process. For instance, many people are afraid to fly, and even those of us who aren't especially afraid to fly can feel anxious in significant turbulence. Now. Why do we feel anxious? While we have some thought that turbulence might be dangerous right, that it makes it more likely? The plane will crash and, of course, truly significant turbulence. Ken cause a plan to crash. But this, as we know from these statistics of plane, crashes is a very
a very rare thing. So there are there to levels to respond to this experience so as to mitigate anxiety, so picture this year, an airplane and it begins to bounce. Now, unless you're in that rare and horrible experience of being actually thrown around the cabin so as to get injured, is very likely that the bouncing is not physically painful right. This is you're not being harmed by this sensation and in other contexts, he would subject yourself to even more violent, bouncing and not be worried about
at all. You might go on some ride at an amusement park which exerts greater force on you bodily, and you do it, because your seeking that experience out now on an airplane, it's totally unwelcome to you, because you're afraid of died. But if you just take the raw sensations, they are not. Your problem is what they portend. It's your interpretation of them. That worries you. There are at least two levels at which you can deal with. This first is to think conceptually about the nature of the problem and about what you fear is a rational to worry that your plane will crash. If your experience in turbulence no it actually isn't. The likelihood of dying in a plane crash is minuscule over the course of your journey. You should begin to worry, as you leave the airport and get in an upper or a taxi or drive yourself home in your own car. That's when your risk of mortality begins to peak
So if you understand that, if you understand every moment in a plane is in fact say. For then many moments. You spend on the ground, certainly safer than you're walking as a pedestrian fixated on your smartphone and stepping into the crosswalk. That's when you're adrenalin should surge or when you're, driving and glancing down at your phone to see what tax just came in. Those are the moments where the sweat begin, beating up on your forehead. So when you're in a plane and has begun to bounce, it is in fact unreasonable to worry that the bouncing means much of anything, if you understand that that actually can have enough
Then you can become willing to just experience the raw sensations of turbulence. Then you can cease to interpret the experience as a sign of actual danger. The other level which you can address this and and these are totally compatible moves. I recommend both of them is to become mindful of the feeling of anxiety itself. What is it and what does it mean? Well, it's just sensation is just a pattern of energy in your body, and it actually doesn't mean anything at the level of raw sensation. You might have thought about it and very likely much of your thinking in that moment, is purpose toward trying to figure out how not to feel that way or not to let it get worse. But if your step out of your thoughts and just become willing to feel the raw sensation of anxiety, actually just
surrender, your resistance to it just feel it as energy. It can lose its meaning they can become very difficult to do so. Anguish from what under another framing would be a positive experience like excel It meant the? How do you know the difference between being anxious about something about to happen and be an excited for the most part? It is the thoughts you're thinking when you're feeling that arousal there's a cognitive conceptual overlay. On top of this raw feeling, you can consciously refrain things or you can step out of it altogether and just feel the raw energy of this experience and when you do that, anxiety can be like any other experience. That has no meaning for you as a person really- and it doesn't say anything about you so someday like indigestion, or it let's say your. Let's say you have a rash on your elbow and its itching k that
doesn't say anything deep about you as a person that has no psychological implications. It might be unpleasant and might be extraordinarily unplug. But it doesnt reach into your sense of who you are the deepest way to respond anxiety again. I'm not saying that there is no case in which drugs are valuable or even necessary. There may very well be, but for anxiety in its more ordinary range. The deep way to respond to it is to become willing to feel it to cease to interpret it as important and to function in the midst of it. And then it will pass anxiety, rises and falls like any other emotion, and if you're not continually thinking the thoughts that make you anxious, it actually can't stay around very low. And this is true of other unpleasant emotions like anger and sadness, and their content
really resurrected by our thoughts, and we are spending, most of our time. Thinking without knowing that we're thinking so mindfulness in particular, is a very good antidote to this problem, but the trick is you can't apply it an antidote. You can't be mindful of anxiety so that it will go away. You can't push it away with meditation, or at least that attempt is more likely to fail which are really after in those moments is genuine equanimity. Real acceptance of the energy of this emotion become interested in it become willing to feel it. Just let it burn bright in you and discover that it doesn't matter simply come and it goes, and you can function next question, what are your thoughts on immortality or at least living there? very very long time has pursued by researchers like operate. A grey do think it's possible. Do you think is desirable,
already familiar with operate a grey. You should watch some of his talks. Ethics given too- talks. He has some very good. Arguments against peoples, ethical intuitions here many people seem to think that if we could cure aging and death and become immortal or live thousands of years, there's something unethical about that project that it's it's either so unnatural as to be unethical or it represents some kind of selfishness that we should be suspicious of. I think Aubrey is rejoinder to those intuitions is compelling, as to whether as possible. I think it probably is, in principle, possible at aid Aubrey described asian as an engineering problem they're, not many ways in the end to grow old and die. I think he points to seven different ways in which our bodies begin to break down. On your cancer is one of those ways, the depositing of junk inside of cell.
Calls or between cells is another way to just not that many ways that an old person on the verge of death differs from a person in the prime of his or her life. So I agree that if we understood those ways completely and we could intervene biochemical and make the necessary changes will then we may find that aging is now no longer a problem. We can keep preparing ourselves I think that would be a good thing. I get Europe as our brain argues. Aging is the worst thing there is, and the only reason why anyone's tempted to accept it is because it it appears currently unavoidable, but if you think all seiners should be cured and you think cancer should be cured well, then aging is the super problem. You should once loved, because each of these evils, along with many others, are mere symptoms of aging guy agree
with our right yeah, I think if there is any way in which I am sceptical of his discussion of this topic, it may be just a basic uncertainty about whether he's too optimistic about the the timeline here I think it say an incredibly interesting area to work in. I think the taboos around declaring once intent to cure aging are fascinating, both ethically and culturally, and I think Aubrey AM has has some very useful things in area next question: I remember you mentioning getting flack from Maajid about not liking hip hop, I'm curious. What sort of music you do listen to Stravinsky Radiohead, and you was not that I don't like hip hop. I got a lot of grief about this. I just I'm not a hip hop fan, I'm just not. I don't listen to a lot of hip hop, but I don't recoil at the sound of hip hop on this.
So I would pick Radiohead other of the three choices. The issue with me and music is one: I'm not a musician. So I'm not I'm, I'm fairly uneducated in this area and There is a lot of music I like, but I don't spend a lot of time listening to music, because I can't work to music, certainly not music. With lyrics, I can't read to it. I can't write to it. I just been a lot of time trying to ignore the music. I just wanted silence. Works better for me and when I'm not working, I'm a bit of an information chunky, and so I'm listening to audio books or podcast or the news in the car while travelling. So it's it's just a lot of time from music to get in and if I'm going to listen to music, I often just put on Spotify or somethin now, and I in fact I don't even know what I'm listening to. I just have some
in that some a eyes somewhere as piping into my brain, based on the few Radiohead songs, I have selected, and maybe that will be the future of ideas to at a certain point. You won't know what book your reading or what lecture listening to something like Spotify will just start feeding. You disconnected ideas, next question: why aren't your books translated into Arabic, I'm an Arab who is fortunate enough to be fluent in English, but many Arabs are not as fortune as I am. I read all your books, I love them all. I just wish they can reach a larger area bodies, especially the
Look is long and the future of tolerance. I've been sheepish about letting my books get translate into air. A beggar hasn't been much demand, as you might imagine, but on the few occasions when someone has asked permission to translate one of my books, there has been a long time since, since this has happened, but I remember declining because I just want to have someone Rushdie's experience of learning one day that one of his translators gut, killed and when you're talking about Arabic or or do or any other language from a muslim majority country. I begin to worry about the sort of thing. So that's why? Maybe that will change? Can you please you a pipe CAS with Richard Lang, disciple and close friend of the late Douglas Harding about the headless way? the westernized version. Absorption. I imagine getting as ocean master on upon cast could be tough and their message a little abstruse.
But the way Lange and Harding talk about seeing is thrilling, I don't actually know Richard Lang. I've seen a couple of his videos online and he seems to make perfect sense on this topic. As did Douglas harden, I will talk about this practice more- and I talk about it in particular in the meditation app on building. But it's a little difficult for a pike has so much of it is visual. The exercises that Douglas Harding recommended and which I am sure Lange
each is are based on changing your relationship to your visual field, and I write about this a little bit in my book. Waking up, we define our sense of self visually in particular, sought the only way you still if you feel like a self with your eyes, open your that you're going to feel like a self with her eyes closed, but the experiences selflessness can be very striking with your eyes open because it changes your felt sensitive of. Subject, object, perception with respect to everything that you see and the way that Harding described this in particular in his book on having no head is as the experience of her Listen, it's! He would. He would look out his visual field and then he would look for his head would recognise that his head was not among the contents of his visual field.
As you listen to me now, you might do this just with your eyes open, look at whatever it is. You can see and notice that your face or your head is not among the things that you see, in fact where your head is supposed to be, there is just the world and If you become sensitive to this consideration, if you look for what you pay whom you are looking out of and fail to find it
you can have a, as the questioner says, a thrilling sense of having lost the feeling of subject, object, perception and this itself can become a basis of mindfulness. This can be the thing you pay attention to when you meditate, as opposed to your breath or any other object of attention and some very powerful changes in your conscious experience can happen. The more you do this, but as far as talking about this at length on a pod cast, it's a little difficult because much of what needs to be said needs to be indicated visually, and so did the definitely want to sell more too It is an audio, but I will try to be precise about it in my meditation app. What are your preferred new sources while it nothing especially esoteric here? I read the New York Times every day. I read these landmark. I listened NPR. I want
Ouch television news, rather often whether it's the evening news or sixty minutes or front line or vice documentaries I'll go to the BBC website, sometimes at all often somebody social media will send me a link to something more esoteric like english language paper in Pakistan, for instance, So I do see things that are off the beaten path, but for the most part I have very,
standard and uninteresting sources of news, but I do consume a fair amount of it. One of the virtues of social media that, if I haven't noticed something through any these channels, I very often hear about it from one of you, SAM. I heard you say once before that the left has one advantage over the right, in that it has a self correcting mechanism, will now that the left seems to be going off the deep and we need those mechanisms, I'm not sure. I I said that, or at least I don't think, I said that it was an advantage, in fact, at a disadvantage. The self criticism of the left is a disadvantage. In its tug of war, with the right, the left each its own, in a way that the right never seems to what you find on the left is a criticism of one's own tribe, which can lead to a kind of masochism now short of masochism. Obviously, self criticism is a intellectual
to its very good to wonder whether or not one is wrong or whether not once opponent politically might have a point to wonder whether or not ones group has treated other groups, especially less powerful groups on foot early and not to have any of those concerns, really streamlines ones. Politics, because every you can just think about in group and our group with a clear conscience, then conservatives, certainly more authoritarian ones, certainly bigoted ones, certainly xenophobic ones. They can do this with a clear conscience. So it's on the left were virtues of tolerance and self criticism. Fairness tend to be found where the the spectre of self doubt begins to loom, and you find people on the left and people like NOME. Chomsky are the ultimate example of this.
This is really the column one produces when one performs the final incantation on the left, you wind up with total masochism. We are always wrong. We are the worst we deserve. Whatever is coming to us. That is the the crevasse into which much of the left has fallen. Morally and politically that's their view, for instance, of U S, foreign policy and things like the war on terror. There is a kind of asymmetric warfare between left and right. Me have someone like Trump, for instance, Rhine for President, where he does not pay the price for his obvious dishonesty. The way someone like Hillary Clinton pays the price for hers in front of her audience. Trump can get up there and speak in an almost information free way. Just give
voice to pure bombast and platitudes and contradict himself over and over again reveal his ignorance on topics of huge importance and merely bully and blow obviate when that ignorance has pointed out, and he seems to pay no penalty for this. Whereas someone on the left someone like Clinton her sanders if they were committed, precisely the same sins then say nothing of substance and saying it dishonestly much of the time. I think they would receive much more criticism from their own is now again. This is, I don't make too much of this difference. The left is insane in its own ways and capable of of shocking dishonesty and have complained about this. A lot with respect to my own antagonist
but they're? There isn't asymmetry here that is interested in politically consequential. The left does eat its own in a way that the right dozen that's not an advantage. Politically, though, it is connected to virtue that I think the left tends to have more than the right, which is a capacity for self criticism and capacity to wonder whether or not you should take your opponents point of view more seriously and that when constrain and by basic human sanity They had a desire to maintain civilization against its enemies is a very good thing. Next question: fame is often noted for its potential to inflate ones. Ego over the years, as a writer, you certainly established a fair bit of celebrity for yourself. Did you find that the initial on
set of your fame altered your sense of self slash ego at all, even temporarily. If so, how do you credit your background in meditation for helping you keep level headed? I certainly don't think of myself as famous although obviously some number of people know who I am and I sometimes get recognized in public. I actually occupy a kind of uncanny valley with respect to fame, so think of what the experience of a genuinely famous person is like a real famous person goes into public, knowing that he or she will be recognised. There's no doubt of that right so
take the extreme example. You've got someone like Tom Cruise, so you have a movie star when he or she goes in the public. There's no question about whether or not they'll be recognized, and so they they begin every encounter with another person. On the assumption that that person recognizes them, that's got to be weird, but there's. Play no basis for surprise when the person says hey. I love your worker when that person proves that he or she has recognised the famous person. Now I don't live in that space at all. I'm the only place where I have that experience would be it like. Eight. The ultimate case would be if I went to an atheist conference where every
at every attendee at the conference would know who I am then I have the normal experience of being a famous person where I walk out into the lobby and people recognize me. They come up and talk to me and there is no basis for surprise, but my experience of quote fame is to know that most people have no idea who I am and it's a perfectly rational was action to assume that I can walk into a restaurant or walk into a room and the perfectly anonymous. And yet I have the experience of p. Bull, with some regularity coming up in introducing themselves. Having recognize me and I all he's fine, this surprising and most of these encounters heard are totally pleasant, in fact, no one, has ever come up to, say anything unpleasant. There's nobody has come up, who has then prove to be anything other than a real fan. Who has something positive to say about my work, so this leads me to believe in fact,
no, that there are many people who are recognising me who hate my work right and are simply not saying anything and that's a little weird, so we can expect a kind of uncanny Valley here, where I am walking around, assuming that I'm not at all famous, because in the spectrum of things I'm barely recognizable, and yet I continually get recognized and continually gets surprised that This person knew who I was, and this can often be weird because this can happen long after an encounter has started, so I could be having dinner and ordering food from the way and only the end of the meal after many men. Of interaction with his person the person then say, oh and by the way I really love your work, and then I am left in the very weird position of wondering whether or not- and this is the save feature of my mind- that I would not have known
existed. It makes me wonder whether or not I conducted myself in that exchange. The way I would have wanted who had I known. I was SAM Harris, the writer or SAM Harris, the public person for this person, and that's that psychologically, and innovative. The fact that, if somebody knows who I am, I am slightly concerned to protect that persons, view of me as a writer or a thinker republic person in a way that I'm not if it's an anonymous encounter in there just meeting me. I don't know what to make of that, so my experience of quote fame is a weird one. I just get surprised by it and don't really know what to make of those experiences. Another component,
which is purely a positive one, is that it is a far as other people know who I am it'll gives me a kind of agency to reach out and connect with people whose work I value in and with whom. I want to have a conversation, so its useful for me to have done something publicly. That people recognise if I want to start a conversation with other people, plain similar games that part of its been purely positive but ass to whether not its inflated, my ego I can't say that it has. I think, if anything, moving in circles with other people who are accomplishing alot prices going to a conference with mistress filled with smart, successful people, even ones who are only in the audience right or not. Speaking, at the conference in a place like TED Bein, a classic example that doesnt tend to inflate once ego early doesn't inflate,
mine. It makes me worry that are not doing enough in most cases so making a successful connection with the world, which has one cause of fame, doing something that other people, want to pay attention to that has if anything, made. My ego healthier in the sensitive issues reduced a certain kind of concern. I now know that if I have something that I want to say, I will have an opportunity to say it in one form or another, whether that's right, Aigner, podcasting or giving public talk or being interviewed by a journalist. These opportunities you keep coming up and many of them, I can even manufacture myself now that, for me, ended a certain kind of isolation and frustration. That was a very good thing to end
two years there, I was someone who had a lot of ideas and didn't have anything to do with them. That was frustrated. So, if you're in that situation, I know what that's like the remedy is to keep putting your stuff out there until people notice it and they the opportunities to do that, are only increasing next question on stoicism. You said you were discipline, didn't how you handled some recent battles, what you're strategies moving forward to evolve and hair when you sit up for the next one, will many questions of that sort of come in since my recent misadventures on this podcast my conversations with Merriam, noisy and Omer Aziz have definitely cause me to recalibrate a few things. I am going to pick my battles a little more carefully and probably anticipate the rough spots
that I have. I was surprised by how badly and went with Merriam and probably shouldn't have been. I wasn't am astonished at how she's behaved since circulate in almost any terrible article about me that that appears online and the most recent one where I was called a white support, assist, is no exception. So I don't know that I could have anticipated that, but with someone like Omar Aziz, I think I could have known and and would now know, based on what he wrote that it productive conversation there was gonna be impossible and I. Cut my loss as much earlier in the past. Many many people were mystified by why I spent so much time trying to convince him dead. Margin in my motives for writing a book warrant mercenary. We were not engaged, as he said, in a get rich, quick scheme. People, bizarrely,
think that this has something to do with my being offended by the charge or my wanting to prove myself rights or amidst the criticism I've gotten, although there hasn't been that much is MR fine? The only reason why I was pushing so hard on that point was that it was the simplest possible claim about which There really was no basis for debate, because I know I wrote the book. I know what the realities of publishing or and if Omer wasn't able to back off the charge at all. In the face of my, Counter argument and counter evidence, I knew that the conversation was essentially doomed end. It was essentially doomed, but I persisted just on the odd chance that something useful would come out of it. Many of you think something did. Many of you are happy. Airily said
cast. You think it was useful. Why Amr thought it would be good for him to have it released, is anyone's guess as far as I can tell no more than one in ten thousand listeners think he did a good job and came out intact. But I would not willingly have a conversation again. I don't think that conversation was good for the world. I think it was an example of how bad things are frankly in these, so called moderate muslim community. The contempt he expressed or someone like Modred, is so well subscribed that is genuinely troubling because Margaret, as you have heard, I think if you ve been paying attention, it has wise and rational person here as you're going to find. So I worry about the breakdown of conversation on these points and I dont think broadcasting our failures in the end, a suspect,
Please, for so I I would have been happy naturally said podcast. I don't think I should have released the package with Merriam. I think it did her last in harm many people who used to be a Merriam nemesis fan are no longer, and that was not at all my intention in inviting her on the pike ass so going forward. I think I need to recall a bright a little, but I think I need to pick my battles better and should I find myself in a circumstance like that, I I had to do a much better job on my side of the conversation and the problem really. Is that I'm at the end of my patients on this topic? I just think that the problem of islamic theocracy, and the layer of liberal obscurantism that surrounds? It is excruciatingly, boring and yet usually consequential. There are few things that that make me as impatient as that conversation
if I'm going to have a conversation like that. I have to be much more mindful of the circuits that are being tripped in me, because just it's a recipe for what you heard, which is me at my These patient. This whole area can turn me into a humorless jerk, and that's not, who I wanna be so next Western SAM I've never heard you talk about abortion, but then some was pointing out that I, Did on the q and a on TIM Ferris has podcast, which is in fact true. I did that their at some length, I think so there you will find it question about the history of his we are always hearing about how IRAN was a relatively more liberal nation before the islamic regimes took over. We hear about how the problem of radical Islam is relatively new in the world and that historically, Islam was not as violent if we granted. This is true
Does it make religion more or less scary, considering that, apparently, these violent interpretations can arise suddenly and possibly without even historical context? Well, these facts, insofar as they are facts cut both ways, as you point out its both a hopeful sign that you can point a period in history where Islam looks comparatively benign, because that reveals is possible to have a far less belligerent form of the faith operating. But it also proves that you can fully reboot the so called extremism within the faith by simply pay more attention to what the doctrine actually is or what its most plausible interpretations are, the something I go into a little bit of my book with Majid. So it does cut both ways, and I can't I I think the history here is largely irrelevant
that is actually someplace, Omer, really wanted to go and we would have gone had we gotten further into his article. But this- here too, a muslim golden age. For a time where the doctrine of jihadi was just meant, an inner spiritual struggle. That is largely fictional and I think we are now living through a time where a politically correct pseudo history is being put forward as something that that exonerates religion and com, in particular in the role, is played and inspiring tribalism and conflict. A few thoughts on this, the notion of a muslim golden age. I always find minded telling when someone is arguing about how important islamic civilization has been to the career of our species
that preserving the work of Aristotle always appears somewhere near the top of the list, and just think about that for a second Aristotle was great get me wrong, but he's a single non muslim philosopher and he wasn't perfect. Rightly he said many things that impeded the progress of science, I think, is important. For future generations was primarily as a counterpoint to a thousand years of Abraham religious craziness that practically ruined human history, and I count Christianity as the main offender here. Yes, It is true to say that a millennium ago the muslim world was ahead of the Christian West, but that doesn't say anything good about. Islam is just reminder of how terrible Christianity was and ass for the ultimate sick. If against of islamic civilization. Yes, there were Muslims making advances in optics. I think Homer said this somewhere his article and one often
this, but they weren't using these advances to build telescopes and understand the cosmos they were using them to design religious calendars and, more accurately pinpoint the direction of MECCA here is the basic fact that the muslim community, just has to grapple with. There are single, zip codes in New York in Massachusetts,. They have produced more of enduring value scientifically artistically, ethically politically and the entire muslim world has produced in a thousand years, and if you think that claim is inaccurate or that it contains a shred of bigotry. Your line to yourself. Most of you have heard me mentioning the: U N Arab Human Development report, which reveal the country of Spain translates more of the world's literature and learning into spanish each year in the entire
arab world is translated into Arabic since the ninth century, we're talking about Spain, which has not leading the world intellectually. At the moment, Arabs are, of course, only five percent of world population, but they produce only one percent of the world's books and a higher percentage of those are religious than anywhere else. Again, that's just the arab world, but do you really think that add in Indonesia and Malaysia and IRAN to the list would suddenly make islamic culture look as creative as western culture or indeed, as jewish culture, less run. These Embers Muslims outnumber Jews by a hundred to one. We can talk and round numbers here, their fifth million Jews and one point, five billion Muslims in the last ten years in the last hundred years. To community, has produced more of lasting value to humanity, intellectually artistically or in any other way.
I'm talking about scientific breakthroughs and talk about new businesses and museums and films. Cures for diseases, new methods of purifying water, the goods of the good stuff beyond beating your wife or force in her to live in a bag or killing victims of rape are performing clear, rectum ease on girls. You know the other good stuff. If you are a so called moderate Muslim Or a liberal who is even now pulling the brakes on this train as it leaves the station? Please don't pretend not to know the answer to this question and don't pretend that answering it or indeed ask it. It is an expression of bigotry. This has nothing to do with Muslims being mistreated by the west. The Jews were nearly exterminated in the middle of the twentieth century. They were victims of an actual genocide, as opposed to the imaginary
genocide that we often hear about from islamist apologists, describing the treatment of the Palestinians. For instance, who knows how many brilliant and productive people were reduced to ash by the Nazis? Judging from the people who made it out people who did more to stay about our scientific worldview and Torture and the arts, then probably any other community in modern history, we probably lost some of the most intelligent, creative people who ever lived, and don't kid yourself that this has something to do with the resources. Either. Kuwait is a small. Wealthy country, to spend a lot of money on education is far below The world average in math and science, like twenty percent below what do you think explains this?
It has not historically and accurate. Nor is it a sign of bigotry to observe that most of human progress arose in the west. Science is a western breakthrough. Liberal democracy, the rule of law, equality before the law, freedom of thought and expression, a universal conception of human rights, so duration of church and state, these are almost entirely western inventions and they are the foundations of almost everything that is good in our world and when other cultures have adopted these values like Japan and South Korea, they have flourished. Take the focus off Islam for a moment, because this seems to help for some bizarre reason consider India, Hindu, India consider the castle
them and the practice of Saturday the practice of forcing a widow to burn herself alive on her husband's funeral pyre. These bizarre and barbaric practices are entirely the product of indian religion, the caste system persists and it's terrible, and it largely explains why India is still so backward, despite incredible economic gains. There are more malnourished and illiterate people in India than anywhere on earth. The practice of Saki was effectively stamped out by the british and the Portuguese and the Dutch, which is a very good, Can we say that western notions of human rights and political equality are better and these indian traditions, of course, is it a sign of bigotry to say this? No, in fact, it is bigoted to say the Indians. Just might be better off with their barbaric traditions me,
the indian windows- are better off being burned alive after their husbands die. That is bigoted. That is a failure of compassion, maybe they'll illiterate street sweeper, who has accepted his law, life and the abuse heaped on him by his neighbours, because in his belief in karma rebirth, maybe he's better off than if he were sent to Oxford and educated. That is bigotry And no one is tempted to indulge that bigotry on the topic of Hinduism, but when we talk about Islam all of a sudden
Dial on the liberal moral compass, begin, spinning uncontrollably and suddenly becomes impossible to navigate questions of right, right and wrong and good naval. I got my hobbyhorse rockin again next question this, I think, should probably the last one. Can you tell us anything about your upcoming book on artificial intelligence? There some other comments here and questions. It seems that some of you have figured out who I'm doing this book with one of you says. I bet it is Ellie, Israel, Caskey and then one of you even found a photo of the future of light,
If institutes conference in Puerto Rico, I was at that places both of us in the same place. Yes, that is indeed the case. I've been talking to a laser, we're doing a dialogue based book, although that is a somewhat on the back burner for both of us going low slowly, but we ve been having some very useful conversations and getting them transcribed. I think we'll do something like what I did with Modred put out a short book in dialogue format, although we don't have a full manuscript yet so I can't guarantee the outcome, but I really have enjoyed talking to a laser and many of you probably don't know who he is, but he's he has a very interesting one find- and we can talk in about a I narrowly, but also just the ethical implications of building systems more intelligent than ourselves and the possibility of building minds that can experience more of moral relevance in this universe that we can, which is, has a greater
aids of consciousness and well being and suffering. This is a fascinating area, a laissez faire nice guy and certainly let you know how that conversation proceeds just a few more rapid fire questions, I'm just scrolling down here. What are your thoughts on they transgender debates? I really have none. I know very little about this area. I dont actually know anyone who is transgendered. I don't have any strong intuitions about about it. Apart from a committee, and to political equality, which seems obvious. I think at one point in my conversations Douglas Murray, he said some things that people interpreted as being disparaging of transgendered people and I well. I was faulted for not pushing back at that point now. When I took Douglas to be just railing against political correctness on this and
really every other topic I this just. If I have to declare my ignorance and thus far lack of attention to the issue psychologically and and scientifically, which is the spirit of the question I'm getting her so I will pass at by my position on male circumcision. I've been strangely quiet on this topic. Apparently, maybe the fact that I may circumcised mail has something to do with that. Thank the analogy that people draw between male and female circumcision is a deeply unhelpful one. It is. It does a lot to minimize the horror of what is happening to little. Girls throughout this world. There really is no analogy to draw their. I can't say that I miss it quarter of nail circumcision, I dont think I would have circumcised a boy had had one. Nor can I say that I have paid some price cycle. Article or otherwise, for I have
been circumcised. So I think it's much less of an issue for me, though I do share hitches bewilderment at the fact that anyone thought this was an important thing to do too little boys and my bias is certainly to be against it at this point, because it really is apart from some tenuous health claims, it does seem to be a practice almost entirely anchored to religion by dont be misled here. What girls are going through in countries like Somalia and Egypt bears no relation to the circumcision of boys and is very important to keep that straight in one's head?
What would I be working on if nine slash eleven hadn't happened and I hadn't written the end of faith? How would my work be different, much of what I've done since then? I would still have done in my interest in consciousness, and ethics and topics like free will and the nature of human violence and the possibilities of introspection. Meditation quotes spiritual experience, even my interest in religion. All of that was there, but if I assume that nine eleven didn't happen- and there was not some special problem with jihadism at this point in History- probably eighty percent of what I have done since then would be more or less unchanged. I just wouldn't have spent any time talking about Islam or pushing back against its apologists- I can only that would have freed up a fair amount of energy, but as far as topics, I think that the kinds of things you heard me talk about on the spot cast and books
The more landscape and waking up than free will and line all of that was probably on the menu anyway I certainly intend more and more to think about and write about and speak about the topics I would have covered in the absence of the ongoing war on terror, because I've said virtually everything, I think on that topic, so as a general matter, it's time to move on, even though, when buildings began to blow up in the capital, cities of the free world and innocent people are murdered by religious loom, sex and pampered imbeciles lie with impunity about the nature of this problem. From time to time, I will feel like I can't hold my tongue, but I'm hoping to be more and more efficient in that area in a case has been another. Am I hope he found a useful once again. Apologies for the lingo
cold, and thank you for listening to the podcast. It really is an honour that so many of you asked questions when I put out the appeal for them. Thirteen hundred questions. That's really quite amazing. I will continue to do these sorts of things as long as you guys find it useful. As always, your support of the pod can is greatly appreciated through patron or the other means on my website that SAM Harris DOT, orgy forward, slash, donate and leaving reviews on Itunes and elsewhere is also extremely helpful until next time, if you enjoy, despite
ass. There are several ways you can support it. You can reviews on Itunes or stature whereby happened, listen to it, you can share and on social media with your friends, you can do ass it on your own blogger, podcast or you can support it directly and two ways you can do this. You can leave it on she threw my website. SAM Harris DOT, orgy forward, Slash donate. Or you can try membership and audible.
Transcript generated on 2020-03-24.