« Making Sense with Sam Harris

#41 — Faith in Reason

2016-08-01 | 🔗

In this episode of the Making Sense podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Eric Weinstein about the relationship between faith and reason and about some of the factors that make conversations on important topics so difficult.

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
My guess today is Eric Weinstein's, who was a mathematician and physicist and economist, and all round interesting guy currently the managing director of tea or capital. Now, as most of you know, who listen to previous pond Yes, my interviews are really more conversations than interviews. I would guess I usually take up about. I don't know forty percent of the space, but if this exchange seems a little more self referential than normal, I would just like to give you a little context as to why which I briefly do in the beginning of my conversation with Eric Eric actual he reached out to me, suggesting that it could help me think of a more clearly about how to engage the kinds of controversial issues I tend to deal with. So I we talk about many different things. The sub text is that he's per forming a bit of an intervention on me. So hope that explains. Why didn't ask him more questions about all the fascinating stuff he's into that? It'll have to wait until next time,
In any case, Eric is a very interesting guy, as you will easily discern also very generous in his efforts to talk some sense into me. So without any more preamble, I give you Winston. So I'm here with Eric Weinstein's Eric thanks for coming upon cast ethics, robbing me or so yeah. I- I was trying to member how we got connected and I know I now recognise. Why was confused. I heard you on TIM's podcast and I love that conversation. When was poised to get in touch with you, but then you got for I think, just on your own on twitter, having noticed, My collisions with people- and you expressed- and I have the quote here- but by e mail. You are. You are dismayed to find that people who you expected would be rather now and not at all. Anti intellectual worrying converse
nation, with me on various topics proving to be just that, and you said that they were, he found them trying to rescue the failed bits of multiculturalism at a seemingly any cause to logic and ethics. This was at the time NOME, Chomsky and Glenn Greenwell, who you said that you wanted to just reach out and see if you could help- and I am obviously I very happy you did- that- I am happy to have any help. I can get, but then in the set up to this podcast you had they somewhat comical and perhaps disconcerting experience of pinging some of your friends about me only to find that at least two of them also counted themselves among my enemies, and maybe I'm amazed is too strong a term for for one of them. But you are friends with Nassim Taleb that the quant author of the black swan and he has made his hatred, might not be too on the word, but here is certainly made his displeasure with me a fairly indelible on twitter, you know that is odd. For you to discover in the set up here.
And also David Eagle, many the neuroscientist to I had kind aborted debate within that was far less prickly, but still failure of communication, which, from my side happened, very much along the lines of these other failures. You notice, where there is a kind of I guess I I often think of it. As a my opponent or more, the interlocutor who becomes my opponent, finds him herself wanting to play a good cop. Cop retained with me, and I have a criticism of religion and in most cases here that people find and whether their religious or not, and in most of these cases, that the person is not religious, but I find it somehow synonymous with the breaking of some kind of taboo or they consider it uncivil and away, and they try to take a position against what I think it is undeniably just tv, the intellectually honest position to take at this moment and in human history.
The conversation breaks down and so yeah, but you and I talk about the limits of of reach. And on some level and see if we can advance the tools, we have mutually to have rational conversations. But it is interesting that that even The agenda we have here today in this conversation got suddenly arose, by you. May perhaps you can tell me, but I would imagine a crisis of confidence. Your aside, where you cause you're you're, reaching out to your network, does fig who is this guy and you receive some push back, but perhaps it in the midst of answering that you can say about it, who you are, and you are your history of intellectual interest in how you are you come to this conversation that be a pleasure, and I think one of the things that caused me to come down when it's obviously much more convenient to do this over Skype or over the internet
he's the I've. Seen too many good marriages and rich friendships breakup break up over asking you to code that there's something about the electronic medium which denies us empathy face to face contact and very often we get off on the wrong foot. We don't know how to write it in real life, yeah, and so in part, it's my distrust of whether these are essential conflicts. This could be, like you know the Trotzky leninist, stalinist verses, the Stalinist trust, gifts, and these are hairs breath of difference in that they tend to get much more exaggerated in terms of the heat that they generate, and then there is also this period. Trusting problem and, in fact, ran my office. We call it the limits of discourse problem after some, some of your adventures, misadventures, and the question is who can play? Who, when two people sit down to discuss the topic, is there any deceptive descriptors, which can predict whether the conversation will be rich?
or whether it will derail over more or less intellectually trivial features near. So what is it background briefly in in just your do I for history in your current interest? Where were you focused mostly amassing by by education? and the credential. I would be a mathematician I've helped science in mathematics, physics in economics departments, have worked in fighting in hedge funds and financed risk, and I am now managing director of till capital working with Peter Tail and say, go in a wide variety of things through the till foundation are macro trading, outfit and various venture funds and trying to make the world a better place in both the private
during public intellectuals. So I know Peter and not well. I guess I just met him a few times, but the first idea for this conversation was actually to have the three of us speak and scheduling may have made the difficult, but also, I think, it's a good thing, given what I have said on the pod cast about Trump and when his recent speech to the the currency, I just think we and I would love to talk to Peter Peter shouldn't. Take this part the wrong way, but I just think we would have had to have spoken about trumpet length in a way that would have just subsumed everything else in the conversation and am happy to speak about politics with you, but it's again, this is what is one of those issues that prove so difficult to talk about. So, like I don't know, I don't know what the outcome of my talking to Peter about Trump would be. But what do you think it is about politics? perhaps second only to religion that makes conversation either.
Lively impossible or just so difficult. The great question, of course I have a twenty sixteen version of of this answer. That might not be the same, as is the answer given in another election year I think right at the moment. The problem is that a lot of us- and I soon you and I are roughly the same age, I'm fifty years, pretty close forty nine you, I think that fundamentally word for trying to express ourselves through people who don't represent us in this. Isn't there time this is and there's no way. I can represent myself through Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders or Donald Trump. They don't share my experience. I dont have the same reference points that they do. My life doesn't resemble theirs. They went through different format of experiences than I did, and I think that Part of the problem is that we're trapped in prisons of language and were grouped in ways of thinking that were adapted to and I think, poorly adapted to the world of the nineteen.
Eighties beyond. I feel like the Reagan era more or less went from nineteen. Eighty two too fast then eight? And then we ve been in a zombie period where we we don't have new theories. We just sort of have these old theories that don't die, because we don't have any and replace them with, and they wonder the landscape wreaking havoc, and I think that what you're doing and what I would like to think that I'm trying to do in preps Peter is doing, is trying to come up with different languages and knew I'd new ways of speaking so that people don't end up in these cul de sac, intellectually, which seem too attracting most of the population, so I think in some sense, its SAM? It's our failure, it's your and my failure and Peters failure that we are not expressing ourselves as ourselves. Sire I'm here is your future running maiden. Financially, for twenty twenty, I think, were doomed and that that says
about me than you? I really think I'm if I can make an analogy: let's, let's assume that the marketplace of ideas is something we take seriously. We ve been in sort of an era previously, which you might think of it like him. To a fund era. Where there's only long only are you for multiculturalism are against it. Are you for duration are or against it, and I think that All of the really interesting positions right now are sort of hedge fund. Like positions, we call them relative value trades. So am I I'm worry a mild increase with a lot of scrutiny on refugees to to increase our a refugee take because I think it's humane and I think that they make great Americans, because they're so grateful that does but he took them in their hour of need. We screen properly and I'm against other forms of immigration skilled immigration increases where we tether people to their lawyers to reach one baby is so the ideas I I don't have a pro or anti position
immigration, I have a long short position and I think that because most people don't have an eye. That you can hold along short position. We're trapped in this nonsense, discussion about in in, in my opinion, three topics which are dividing us, which are trade, immigration and terror, and fundamentally because you and I have not done a great job of pushing out simple models. And good language for dealing with these things. I think that the generation before us talks in completely inadequate terms, and so it's up to us direct. So that is one of the reasons I M excited to be here near now. You're probably add race to that list. And then I think it's covers with eighty percent of our problems. So What is it that you worry now in terms of intellectual trends and bad ideas, letter regner
I may I have this line that I think is true, and I certainly have used enough to help us true that it bad ideas are worse than bad people and they're, not that many bad people in the world. I think you know that any appropriate metric was probably one percent. A pass walking around, but what you find more and more often when you pay attention is just sit there they're good people under this way. Are you more or less good people certainly psychologically normal people under the sway of bad ideas, and they think they're doing good, nor the committed to some principle that may even locally good or least ethically defensible, but doesn't survive, scale in order there not paying attention to the the Associated costs Ass of living that way or thinking that way, and what I personally find myself in encountering are people who are absent
we sure they are on the right side of an important issue, but their behaving to my eye patently on ethically- and I think a bribe does have something to do with what you just described as as being not obvious to them that you can that you can have a a nuance straight long short position on any of these topics and have that be not on coherent and intellectually defensible, but perhaps the only intellectually defensible position in the end. And yet it is because it doesn't survive the the broad strokes litmus test of. Are you for immigration or not war? Against Islam or not or for religious pluralism, or not it comes under immediate stigma and straw man attacks, and about that. That's that one thing that that I notice that worries me. But dear me, what was sort of shibboleth, send fake ideas and bad one Are you worried about this moment all of
I mean I'm really actually worried about the abstraction that makes this us makes it so difficult to think, because one of the things that term this is kind of a half compliment have critique for you is that I think it so hard to do what you're doing due to Said- recreate an entire intellectual world from scratch- that is, of a peace that is interoperable self, consistent, moral, decent but what which allows you to get everywhere, and I see you is sort of having this. It's almost like, you built a yacht that only you can sail if all of this the cables and rigging, and so that's not going to work as a You know I am, I am estimating your vocabulary must be something. Forty thousand words are more. I don't have that, and I think that we have two in fact, first understand that most of us had aren't going to be able to pull off the
that you're trying to do is to difficult I've called you, the intellectual Alex HOT huddled before, because you know you're like this intellectual free soul, where one one false move. Now. What do we watch me far higher? So so I think it can't be that we actually push people to do that, but I think that there is a hidden villain in the story, and I think that the, villain are these. A very often three letter innovations, Ws J and white teeth and see, aren't cfo x and what they are doing? Is it really interesting trick of subtracting narratives that have this long short character, and so I have come up with this man.
All which are unfortunately not doing the sun on video I gotta whiteboard, but if you picture and x Y access the decks and why access and the x axis some sort of elite rents, sick seeking policy, something that they elite rent seekers want. Can you define at rents, taking rent seeking, as the ultimate insult from an economist, says that you're trying to profit without really producing anything? And so, if you're in no, let's say what was as the founding myth of Carlisle Group, they figured out that Eskimos had some right to attacks right from a failed eskimo business and so turned out that you could sell those rights in some way and you could profit from it, works out that probably wasn't intended to be in a fur jewish businessmen. To figure this out. There would be some form of
seeking and so the real villains in the story, aren't the elite as we say, because I dont think you know top intellectuals and great scientists and fantastic athletes are the problem. I think it's. The elite rent seeks. And they have certain things there trying to accomplish, and most of us don't really know who they are. We they don't really want a lot of publicity, but their very skilled operators in our system and when they want to policy. What happens is that whatever organs are attached to that group, they tell a story that, where their smoke there is always fire and the smoke is opposition. To their proposal and the fire is some sort of moral failing, and so, if you You will permit me visually. Imagine that you're going counterclockwise around.
The X Y plane? So the first quadrant I call the dupes, sometimes the ivy ivy covered dupes. These are people who have gone to maybe elite schools. They think that they are the elite, but in fact, in other, probably making less than half a million a year, they may have a second home but they're not really in control. And they don't realize that they are in fact, being propagandizing is very difficult to work with this, because their convinced that they're, the ones in the now in the second quadrant, you have first principles thinkers. Contrary ins and people who are fiercely independent, the third quadrant, you have Trotwood nights people who were opposed to the elite. Policies, but also may have the moral failings that the elite who wished to deter them with and in the fourth quadrant you have the the shadowy rent seeking elite So what happens? Is that the? Why axis is the moral virtue vice access
The media narratives like a straight line running from the South West to the North EAST. It says that there is an absolute correlate and between people who, agree with the elite policy and moral virtue, and so what's happening constantly is if I'm a restriction is done, an immigration, but I'm also a file, a lifelong Love of travel. I care about learning language is most of my friends. Come from foreign places, there's some sort of a story that you couldn't possibly be a restriction to send a file. You couldn't possibly both support the police and be absolutely outraged at their killing of innocent sin, unforgivable circumstances, and so what were? What were we're finding is that, every time we try to tell a story about
being in the second quadrant. We get mapped to the third quadrant because we oppose these things, but we don't have the moral failings that they would expect in and worse. People who aren't putting this kind of intellectual energy, but who have an instinct that the elite policies are wrong. They end up in the tripartite quadrant in Quadrant, three, unfortunately because they're intuition says I think our immigration must be completely out of control. Who calls illegal aliens undocumented workers. If I take an illegal drug is that an undocumented drug. If I do it in a legal act of violence undocumented at that. The orwellian newspeak triggers many people and if they can't figure out how to hold the right long short position. They may just have an instinct to come to act
we start behaving badly. Maybe believe that Mexicans are the source of our problems if their crossing illegally over the border, rather than becoming mostly landscape, hers, you know, or people in the service industry and so in part. What I'm looking to do is to take the small number of people who are strong enough to try to voice this. This way of thinking and say you know, it's entirely possible to oppose these policies, which are nakedly, rent seeking and still be quite virtuous, that expansion of the left right model to the fore. Quadrant model, I think, is going to liberate a lot of people have been drifting to the right, who wonder what happened to what? What wended day it become a crime to support liberal ideas within what is traditionally thought of his left of centre politics.
When you started that description of the four quadrants, though I imagine that you and perhaps I think you suggested that that it is very much a top down, somewhat STAR chamber effort to bend him Kennedy to the will of the elite- and I guess at that- may be going on as well as just I feel, like my encounters with really confused dogmatic thinking from both the left and the right has been more democratize and that's what I got it's hard for me to imagine that some of the the alone writers say who attack me were people on the list to now. My friend Montana was caused. The regressive left people who were who for whom any criticism of Islam as a set of ideas and of its consequences in the world, become synonymous with bigotry and even races I feel like the people who purvey that confusion are just
journalists trying to get by and bloggers few people who are not in touch with whatever rents seeking a lead. You imagine maybe behind the scenes. So how maybe I information gathered tutored are two things going on that are fundamentally disconnected, or is there actually communication between the these names? We don't know, and the journalists and pseudo journalists who we do there is. I mean, first of all, that the people who your time, imbalance alone, I would probably have been the first quadrant. They would think of themselves as a very intellectual, very knowledgeable who, but let's look at the exact constructive, how you gonna try with some of them. They dont mind you being against religions, but is very important that you are against all religions equally, that no religion is worse or better than anyone any other village right. So this the idea is, that is in some sense, the policy. The all religions must be treated the same way.
And I let's take my religion and Jainism rather than anything involving Islam. So I come from a jewish background. You cannot tell me that we Jews are no more nor less violent than the genes do dorani suggests that savagery is in our past. We, we probably started this whole abrahamic murderous frenzy against the apostates, and we have to take responsibility for now. We don't kill apostates anymore because of some fancy. Footwork too. The activate the bad code, but the idea is that somebody who was neither jewish nor Jane, would feel incredibly uncomfortable making the comment that I just made right, and so the idea is that he who breaks the equality between a really Djinns, who voices any difference that summer, better or worse on different points must have
a moral failing which that they are secretly bigoted, and so the idea is that you are breaking the inference pattern. You don't seem to be it that that there's no vied that you give off generically. That indicates to me that you particularly hate any particular religion or group of people but the idea is that by breaking that one principle, the next move is that you are allowed to infer the moral failing that must have led you to do that, and so, let's now sub swap out the two religions that we just talked about and talk about, let's say Islam and Christianity. So if you wish to say that there is more of a connection at the moment between Islam and terror, then Christianity and terror, at least twenty. Sixteen. This is premier fish, obvious, there's just from statistics through that. Nobody whose
looking at that, what's going on, I think can claim that suicide bombings are higher in Christianity than they are in Islam. However, much I should say just as a caveat there, that you will have people and their been articles written on this topic, I think even in salon claiming that right wing christian terrorism in the- U S is a worse problem, then must from terrorism, and they get to that number by first starting counting the bodies after September eleventh right and then, who obviously has been very few terrorist incidents of any type in the? U S since then, and they throw in attempted terrorist attacks. And you too eager ego terrorist acts of eco terrorism, for instance, you destroy car dealership. That's domestic terrorism is getting his countered against islamic terrorism. So in any case, that's their people who believe
eve, contrary to all make a rational analysis of the evidence that christian terrorism in the- U S is a much bigger problem and is unlikely bigger problem going forward an end, I'm not against a careful Amelia. I have prejudices against. I might point out something that almost never gets pointed out that if I'm not mistaken, all of the people who have successfully penetrated the- U S, capital, building as suicide the terrorists have been jewish, be, I think, there's only one guy right here and it has an israeli now, of course that can go crazy on twitter, but I think this is what we would call steel manning. Our opponents point we can point to which we can help our opponents make their case and then try to show them that
becoming we come in good faith, because you, what we're really interested in is not pointing fingers at any particular group, were interested and figuring out how to restore civility much better argument against. That would be to say that every you know a ten warthog is an instrument of terror, and I really want to talk about message. Violence in the way that states communicate message, violence which probably something that non Chomsky but wanted to say, and I think that that that's it that's a fair point, but where, where it gets suspicious, is waste to see the motivated reasoning, which is how do I shut you down, so that you don't point at something which feels very dangerous? And I think that you have an instinct to point it very dangerous things not to make the danger worse, but we do yet have a truly terrible too
problem in an ex ante exposed to view. If it's your child is murder. You did you know that your terror problem just gotta get bad as it gets. However, You- and I are both worried about, is where we are headed future instability and how we could get into a mess that we will not really be able to get out of without significant damage and injury to the american experiment. That I think that both of us are very excited about, even if we're, build about where it is at the moment, and I think what you're really doing is you're looking forward in your extrapolating and you're thinking ahead, you're getting penalised in some sense. For that act. Interesting, maybe I'll unpack that over, because that's that's all too true! So I but you you this phrase. Steel man, in which I haven't heard much but obviously is the opposite of, draw man in someone's argument and I think it's a crucial feature.
What I would generically call intellectual honesty if you can argue against opposition minimum. You should be able to Summarize- Poland's view in a way that he wouldn't find fault with and better still, if you summarize it in a way that they do, better than here she would come up with on his own. Then that is the thing. You take down in your argument that is the way any really civil and productive debate should operate. And what I find most difficult to deal with our pockets. Listeners will will have heard this a thousand times, but are the they miss representations of my positions, where believe the critic isn't even interacting with a view I hold and I'm getting smeared for this fake view, I think I say it has general principle of public conversations and just ones. Interpersonal dealings with people who you'd be a donut
we will still manning, is something we should just have an hour. Our heads are something we we need to do and expect should be done towards us and in these countries, but the other. The other point you, U makers, is true, which is- and this is often a point of confusion- I it's not that I think that the immediate risk of death from terrorism. For any, America, nor any westerner really are really even person in the muslim world, though that they run a far greater risk than we do outside of it. It's not that I think that risk is a media we intolerable and worse than any other. The other thing we could be worried about. You are far more likely to die in a car accident in the. U S, then, as result of terrorism, but What I worry about are, as you said,
we're about where this is all headed and and at least two senses there. There is obviously the risk of much bigger forms of terrorism. You can with you, we can worry about clear terrorism and biological terrorism, and I think it would be at this point actually surprising if some somethin you two orders of magnitude bigger than we ve seen, doesn't happen in the next fifty years right so it is this is this is not science fiction? It's not an irrational fear. I think, given how bad we are stopping the proliferation of technology and given that technology is only become more potent and given that there's your nuclear materials that are not getting on invented and given that the you know they produce Operators in the terrorist only have to be right once as the security people say, and we have to be right all the time. The idea that we're not gonna have at minimum made.
Already bomb go often in a major city, rendering some part of it uninhabitable for four decades. That seems actually far fetched to me and given our capacity to overreact, two things so that even so take what may in fact be the worst case scenario. You have a nuclear bomb on the goes off in the port of LOS Angeles or in Times square and kills it's a small one and it kills a hundred thousand people outright. A hundred thousand People more than a hundred thousand people die in our society every year from medical errors are the last time I looked, it was nice. My two hundred thousand people die from. I act genetic insults, because doctors and nurses don't wash their hands or give the wrong medication etc, and yet so we absorbed those deaths year after year after year, and we absorb every other species of death, whether it seen from smoking or car accidents or our own use of firearms, and yet.
If a bomb went off in a city and killed a hundred thousand people. Our reaction to this rightly or wrongly I mean you can certainly to fit, you could defend a different reaction to that. Then a reaction to heart disease say, but our reaction, That and our overreaction to that would very likely the range of human history for a generation, at least. So I think you have to price in our capacity to overreact, to these things into the real world cost of these things happening and so Netteke it s just took to expand upon what you want already just said, I think it's it say and end the promises. It does usually not time enough to spell out everything in which, in the acts of Saint listen. We need to be worried about this phenomenon of global jihadism and there's a reason why we are appropriately worried about what is being said and not being said in one community among all, the other. Religious communities were worried about the reform
This law were not worried about the reform of Methodism men, Mormonism and Scientology, and for good reason, and that set something that at a certain point, and require a ten minute defends it has to be. We have to have the shorthand version of that that's accepted everywhere. We talk about these things. Well, one of the things that I say that's unpopular in some quadrants is the things that rhyme tend to be more true. Now, it's not that universal obviously also raises the gloved don't fit. You must equip that that may or may not be right, but in general humans, when they have something very important to say, try to hold it to a fairly well and they make it mimetic they make it easy to remember, probably some sense, sensor sort of syntactic should for the brain so that it remembers the wisdom- and I
leave. It is important to have the hyper linked statement so that when you, if you don't agree with the statement, you can click on it, you can see the paragraphers in the paragraph yields to the S ably yields to the book, a penny, but how much information you need to support an idea it's there. So you made a statement, for example, that global jihadism is actually one of the most serious things that were facing some. Mrs come on. Sam. You know. Shark attacks are incredibly rare, but because of shark weaker were in a constant state of terror. Ok, well, then, that person would need to click on the hyperlink to see why it, is that you actually aren't going down that path, and so I think it's important that the user and the listener be able to be in dialogue with your statements or think you need to make the same statement for different levels that fail over into it went into the next, when you, when you're making these points- and I think that there are too few of these homes- statements at top level. That neatly point
to the back up, because in general, whenever I run something to ground that you're trying to say, I mean I get it at first. I may not understand it and I mean it so I often am arguing with my misinterpretations of you and every time I think I've got you on something. I discover some Pakistan book some talk where you back Lee covered it, maybe not everyone, but it's happened me enough times in listening to you that I'm I'm feeling that I now expected the default. I need a better made him to speak for me in in those guys did it then come to mind as an example of something that was actually problematic that Europe,
de ground and were satisfied or or not. I think, for example, some of the spirituality stuff. I think that is why I have some things I haven't run aground yet, for example, I think you said things a pupil kit, MRS you said the people can change their beliefs, the way they change their clothes. I am actually pretty good at. I maintain different rooms. In my mind, I actually have when I call a jihadi sandbox where I live, listen to the machines. I watch the videos I read inspiring the beak and all these things and I let the jihadi and may become animated so that I can study my own reaction, and I wonder you sometimes. I see you as a like me, being really critical of you is the guy running into a universal screening of the godfather and say what's wrong with you people, don't you realize it's just photons going to protect it against the wall, You know I need to know in part how you reconcile
While my need for fiction theatre distortions of belief, I believe that, in fact, in my least distorted states, it's usually achieve by having lots of different fictions falsehoods and incomplete pictures that together yield a fit fairly complete picture, but not fond of the double distortion of somebody wearing glasses or their eyes or distorted, and the glasses are further distorted, but the compound? Of the two is an undistorted picture, so there are ways in which I worry that the sort of new atheist project really has a very limited market, because it's very important for me, for example, on Friday night too, the way my eighth ism and go into a jewish traditional about dinner, where it's not that were wink, wink, nudge, nudge, Goin, have about dinner. We actually can go through it and try to do the prayers.
Straight up and some point, my daughter was in a jewish preschool and they asked or something leaving. In God, she said Oh, I only believe in God on Fridays, and I think that that's actually a more healthy perspective that something which I dont know whether you you ve talked about doubt when there are no. I haven't why I don't know that I can sign on the dotted line with your daughter statement, thereby think of something a little euphemistic creeping in their perhaps for her or for you, but I think the general picture you paint of a multiplicity of beliefs which aren't necessarily reconciled in any single brain, or certainly
any single moment and a kind of piecemeal world view that we change in and out, depending on context. I think part of that's inevitable. I it's in- and I said this somewhere, we probably was. It was my first book, the of who, just it s, probably computationally inevitable. I think I think there was a an example I gave where, if you just look at the computational requirements of checking a list of propositions, more logical contradiction, and it is as an MP complete problem where these, as you add, propositions the run type. For even a computer, the size of a universe with components, decisive protons, with switching speeds at the speed of light, you still would after fifteen billion years. You be fighting to add, I think, was the three hundredth belief to the less rights, as I warned that we are not going to be perfectly coherent, even if, even if our minds worked as just checking a list of propositions formulas, syllogistic error, so that there were
be contradictions and there is a dangerous neurologically speak a committee in there that is pulling the gears. Levers of of emotion and behaviour, and we have a very strong emotional attachment to certain things which can cloud are cooler. Judgments about what is real, but I just think that that ensue islands and in clear thing in generally, we do our best to at least in those relations, one where I asked you. What do you really believe is real? We do our best to only promote to kind of Canada city, you know, you're in our world view those things that we think we can defend based evidence and arguments and logic, and that we can be wrong, about that is it did the possibility, leave her incoherence in one's world view can be pretty startling, because neither people who, in this in this case in the end, a faith my way
if I were in Paris and we had as a conscious decision to say not enough not to go near. The american embassy was brilliant and then we were also- and those of you who I haven't heard that you can listen to that. I think it was my last point passed on the worm, re actually reading the under faith on the part gas, and I read this episode but and we were trying to get you get it hotel room with a view of the embassy garden and the phrase American Embassy was just functioning into, does discreet and- and possible ways in our minds of aims, which has had a folly adieu and it wasn't reconciled for us until a friend said Don't you realize we had actually checked into the hotel with a view the american embassy in any friends at what the hell are you doing, you're right since the fourth of July you're right next to the american embassy, and then we than the wall came down and we realized we had had been both seeking and seeking to avoid proximity to the american Embassy all day long now, that's a and especially crazy instance, which
Even now. I can't understand how how was true of me, but now No doubt there. Many things, I think are true, which are incompatible other things, I think, are true and only conversation with oneself in and experiences reading and the argument with others can can bring those two light. So, for instance, Europe you're jihadist and box. I by also have that jihadi sandbox and I have a blog posts that I've reference a few times in the pond cast entitled Islam and the misuse of ecstasy, where I try trial. Ascribe in a series of of embedded videos. Just how deep my sympathy with the surface features of of muslim religion and spirituality runs, and I think the call to prayer, where is one of the most beautiful things ever to appear on earth. I tell you: I love the sound of it. I love the sound of it. Yeah yeah and there's a great one that I went to in that blog post and I love co,
the music industry for telecom, the pakistani solving What what a shower? I that's unfortunate. I never got a chance to do that. And I love the poetry of roomy, and I and I even get what they talked about, this on any of your shows not not at length. But I have to say I wanted to come down here and talk to you about this particular. Surely one of the things that's going on is that you do not spend enough time talking about all of the fantastic contributions of this culture and you play in one case at the really appalling lack of scientific achievements of Muslims. Let's say since the Nobel Prize has been given out. I think
and three in the sciences, and one of them was said to the great Ahmadi Muslim who contributed to the standard model of physics. So he would be considered not a Muslim in Pakistan right. But I, one of the problems. Is that you're not advertising the emotional valence that I've secretly suspected? You must have so you know when I when I, when I struggle with this, I have a friend group that is disproportionately islamic and it's been when a great sperience isn't my life. Since I was sixteen. My my my closest friend can welcome me into his family, his culture, has completely eye opening experience and misery friend from high school or from college, and here
his family leave engaged in traditional practices with the hand, kissing and touching feeds, and all sorts of just a few touching was a different kind of field. There were respect, but the family was suck rages me his sister was brutally gang raped in India, and the father supported his daughter, talking about it open. Lee, when you would imagine that there the feelings of shame and issues of honour would have been dominant, and so in my life I have travelled always openly as a Jew in the islamic world and I've been treated incredibly well. I believe that if the Nazis, wherever to recur, the floorboards under which I would be hidden, would likely be muslim. Floorboards So it's very painful to not have this long short language where,
in general. I've been in. You know in the largely islamic social context, since I would, since I was sixteen people, don't ever address you as o crusader. You know I mean that the kind of speech that you get used to watching ISIS videos which most people don't watch but I've I've watched a great deal of them just because I need to know about this you're talking about two completely different worlds that are connected, and I think it's really important to advertise. More more heart were empathy, more emotion, because otherwise, the very dry analytic way in which you go about thinking about this. I think it's gets too much play in a certain sense, your so logical that the fact that the text say these very clear things or that there's ambiguity, but there's a hierarchy for resolving the ambiguities it. This appeals to your analytic, mind
I think both you and I have an analytic bent and we would be much more tempted were highly religious, to go down this sort of well. You know it says here in the text that this is true and if I really believe this is the infallible word of the creator and that I am going against God not to follow directions, we would be tempted by that interpretation, and so I think in part it's a little bit perverse, that you almost have more sympathies with the literal versions of of the religion than you do. What you call and I think it somewhat disparaging nominal members of the of these religions. If I can tell one story from my own, because I surely better, I grew up in an atheist household and my wife, who is from India, grew up as a in Bombay, and so
our commonality was Judaism, so we got married in a jewish context. Now, when I went to the rabbi, I said I want. I want to do this by the book. So he left me, he said why don't you write the the for freer here, your wedding contract, so we we wrote, something would give back to MRS this says. I can't work with this. This is garbage, so is, as you know, to come back, come back with another words we did it me said this is poetry. This poetry is this: is the bride price of virgins treated like contract, so we went back to the original try to do a modern version of it in an answer to that end, I some more fact version and finally says this is the worst I've seen I've been marrying people for decades. So, finally, I exploded Adam said rabbi gold. I said you know I've put hours and hours into this, and I dont think it can be done and he looks at me says:
and I said what what is it about so well, he said you're trying to get married in a more than five thousand year old Dixon and you have an idea that there is a by the book and is very important, that you understand that it is impossible to be addressed by the book, because this particular contracts as I'd price of virgins, will be in the some currency that hasn't existed for years and that the economy, itself cannot be? A formality. Attacks actually has to mean something, and since nobody knows what zoos is anymore. It's literally impossible to fulfil. Now I don't know if that's exactly writer, exactly rob his why was as it's all create your own Judy as there is no true Judaism, and I think that that was liberating for me as I was having a very hard time following summary, rules, not others. I don't really like pork really good,
shadow and pepperoni is as a pleasure and I had. It was always to farther to walk to the synagogue on Saturdays. So I think that is very high. We want to realise that there is no way usually to fulfil these texts and as a result of this up with what magic was talks about Tibet. Multiple interpretations are the beginning of de radicalism action. I think what you struggle with a lot is that you're very sympathetic to the literal and you're much less sympathetic to the doped with now, sense or you know. Clearly our Judaism and modern era is doped with Christianity, which I think is pretty good thing because too far I get very alienated, but I think it's important realize that the nominal versions of these religions are in some sense the true versions of these religions, with
in the civilised modern era and the literal attempts to go back to six century or some dozens of years before Christ era. This is not so did to remind all the way. To the point of my not expressing my sympathy with the. Liturgy in iconography and spirituality and and food architects, music, yeah of of these cultures enough, I guess that's the way. I have decided to go long short. There is not so much focusing on those features, although I have a little but more to point out that my my real sympathy and solidarity is with the people who are suffering most under theocracy and that those are in this case actual other Muslims who are not disposed to live under a theocracy. So liberal Muslims as muslim women. It's apostates, it's free thinkers and
you I try to come around. I don't do it in every paragraph. I try without letting too many that's a lapse on the clock to come round to the point, just the the stark acknowledgement that Obviously no one suffers. The consequences of global Hobbism and Islamist there proceed more than Muslims to an end when this, the Muslims I hear from in the Ex Muslim, In the end, the liberal Muslims, who I am always thinking about, in addition to worrying about the civilization of consequence of jihadism Ghana, and I am also aware that my son, Kathy will spiritual aspiration and spiritual experience here, my my like my finding something intelligible and in the poetry roomy doesn't survive. Collision with the doubt in the brains of many of much of my audience. Mrs Mathieu died. I speak atheists and secularists who who have
no idea what I'm talking about when I talk about meditation and they certainly have no idea what room he's talking about and many of them don't want to know until there's there's you know it's not that I don't really, I'm not censoring myself on the basis of that, but it's just room is not so interesting to me too much of my audience or lease hasn't been thus far. The other reason why a focus on liberalism is because I think they're there isn't a there. Isn't a cemetery here and a real advantage to the literalist dont know how we ever get out from under this thing, because the shoe for me is it that there is a more and less plausible reading of any scripture. Ran this. I ran into it with moderate in our conversation together, so so the implausible readings. Don't, sir I very well, because they are in fact implausible it is. It is simply you can't really read any of these traditions to speak of the abrahamic ones, Judaism
Christianity and Islam. You can't read any of their scripture and get at it plausible reading the value that homosexuality is just as good, ethically speaking as there is actually or that women are an end, must be the political equals and the moral equals two men right. So it's. What you have to do is you have to bring those modern values to the text and cherry pick and leverage in ways that is a bit of ay, a pantomime of scholars It's not real at me. You you, you know what you want the answer to be in advance, rigorous! It's not like it's not like your discovering those values in the text, because actually the antithesis is in the tax and wet wherever those topics are touched for the most part they certainly clearest on on the case of of homosexuality is just anathema right. So it's you know since anathema in the Hebrew by
is anathema saint. Paul is certainly the anathema in in the Koran and studies, and so it's it say if you want gay people twenty four century to have all the rights and privileges and respect that you do and a right to want Well, then, you have to find some rash now by which to ignore these tax now or at least those parts of the text So the one thing I would like people to be is just honest about that process, but that would be the problem. Is that once you become honest about that process, there is something fundamentally corrosive about because you you are bringing me, human values to this project and back on your own moral wisdom, twenty two areas, the twenty first century, upgrade to Europe. Ethical firmware
You are a value in those modern moral intuitions more than you are value in the word of God. In that case, and being honest about that, I think is is in fact necessary for modern people are really modernize an end. Tolerate plurality of views and and in this case accept things like gay marriage, but in the face of that the fundamentalist literalist always has. The advantage of being able to say you see these apostates are not living by the letter of the tax. It says right here what you should do so at home he was living the letter of the text and one might say, ISIS yeah, I'm interested. May I remind you that there are even about job but limp. Let me again dragged back to Judaism I'm always happier, playing in my own backyard than hopping the fence into somebody else's. I think SAM, the even what you just said, is not does not exactly right
the way in any again, I wish this was originally made, but it came from a bends. Young gold were just just left us and what he said to me, as you said yourself, is that our rules for freeing slaves after what is seven years or something like that were progressive in that time they said. Do you wish to be loyal to the Spirit of Judaism, which was progressive in its in its day, literal Judaism? But if you tried to implement slavery now you be absolutely regressive. So you are in fact forced into choosing between letter and spirit, and why is it that you have decided that the letter is the true and the spirit of the false? And I think that you know you you. You were pine at this with the Koran, and I think this is an incredibly important issue, which is that the Koran resists an enemy to dip into science cycle, but they sort of regulated expression model. So, if you think about the discovery
The operation and dna me you have something that digests sugar. And you dont want that at protein produced mass? When there's no sugar rounds, Europe, you have some repressive that sits on the dna when there sugar around their oppressors, lurid off that and the proteins are transcribed and they digest the sugar, and so there are parts of the code that you want to be active, sometimes and not act of others. So the problem, of course, with is long, as is that it really is very well constructed to resist a lot of this innovation, which I think, what is by the way that this concept you're not supposed to There are around the literal, but the fact is that regular It expression has always been a part of these religions, and so, if you fight somebody who is claiming none of its a literal does. This is just just literal, and
we have to live by the letter of the book. You point out the contradictions. You point out all these things. You point the thing that spirit you can start to say you know, god if, if God exists, is certainly open source. We ve cracked, the nucleus The cell, the nucleus of the of the autumn, we ve, learned a tremendous, God is inviting us to understand how he or she has put this whole construct together. And so is it clearly the Koran, is not the last word. Nor is the Torah because in fact, God is left so much information ash. Should he or she exist that wasn't available, then, which is our text. If I you know, I split into a tube at some points that after twenty three in me- and I was astounded that it came back in a Jew, is like ninety six point. Eight ask lousy. George.
And so with port with multiple parentheses around her neck does rather late. But I think that part of the problem is that I mean it's almost like the ISIS variant really appeals to your logical, consistent mind, saying if it is about the Tec, in the text is perfect. This is that this is the closest any nation on earth has come to trying to carry this, and you know I was always bothered- why is it that that homosexuals are thrown off of buildings and I had to check chase down, as you must know, do the hundredth where it says you know that Saddam might should be taken to the tops of cliffs and turn off in building stand in for cliffs and then in a
Ultimate weirdness is the denial that there is any link whatsoever between these texts and lets, say this particular method of execution of these posts sodomized, and I think that actually entirely possible to push back against these things by looking at the fact that everybody who set themselves up as a literalist is in fact going to be failing by one form or another, and so when you realise that we are all failing to live within these religions, that is impossible to be as they instruct everything opens up. So I think that in part this is actually a SAM Harris TRAP, based upon your capacity to DE camp and to explore internally consistent ideologies which you do not share before I,
push back against any of that book about Jesus yeah. Let me just say that I have come to Jesus Jesus in the sense that I acknowledge that the trend that we have to fog is just what you described. We need modern Rising reformists, looser interpretations of all these traditions, and that's that the end game for civilization, the endgame, is now for everyone to wake up on a Tuesday, green with me that all of this is divisive nonsense and I have to be the hang up their shingle as as atheist or sceptics. But first of all my costs, concerns that any analogy to Judaism is very likely misleading as a Judaism, really is an fur from for many reasons, the illogically historically as a matter of just demographics. At this moment, and it's it's true to say of Judaism and impossible, to say of most other religions that you can find people. Who for whom their religion, their Judaism, is very important,
and they might even be rabbis and they might even be conservative rabbis, although they ve they're, not gonna, be alter orthodox and they believe almost nothing in the books right. They just ate their their wedding the tradition they like the music they like she bought they like the food. The food is so great that I think is objective. We true said. You know the only problem with jewish cooking. Now, seventy two hours later, you hungry again. So I think I suggested to Judaism are dangerous because so many Jews, even quote religious shoes, are deeply secular and some.
Believe almost nothing supernatural in the service of their religion and I've seen I debated than the one instance I keep coming back to his I was debating. I think it was. It was hitched debate that hitch and I did with two rabbis David Wolfe and rabbi arts, and I think it was, and at one point I said something at presuppose that I think was Whoopi who's. Who's conservative he's not reformed. I said something to presuppose that he believed in a god who can hear our prayer. And he turned to me so just aghast he's a bullet. What makes you think, I believe in a god who can hear our prayers rise, and then I was momentarily flabbergasted cycle. So what are we, what you actually believe, nay, either get given that you do. This is your fault time job, but you can't really map that on to Islam or Christianity. Certainly it is american variant in any,
realistic way, but my other my problem with were somewhat you said there is that, yes, you can take the the claim about slavery in the hebrew Bible. Yes, that you can say what is the letter here, but in their despair, the modern, eyes in spirit or the liberal liberalizing spirit of the text, but I just have two issues that one is that it was possible even two thousand years ago to understand. Ethically the slavery was wrong and to have a tradition that just repudiated. Certainly never endorsed it. That kind of wisdom was, you know among the genes with the Buddhist, I'm sure they're, a greek philosophers who, I can't think of it. The moment who thought slavery was wrong. It was possible to have that insight and my other fundamental concern is just that it would be put
symbol for you and I to invent religion right now. That was better than any existing religion. They would, in fact, which we could make a just as irrational. We could. We could put a hell at the back of it like believe this list of propositions and be committed to these behaviors or you will spend eternity and hell after death, but the list of Oppositions and behaviors we would come up with, would be fundamentally benign and constructive and a much better operating system for a global civilization. The twenty first century, then any of these religions unsure about oh here will then but if you're not sure about that, then take your favorite of the old school religions and just from remove a few of the bad precepts, you know just change the better homosexuality and slavery, and you you ve, been in thirty seconds, you ve improved, do
is I'm in Christianity and Islam, so while in part a mature the best way of making this point that there are several things I care about other than truth, and one of them is fitness in the sort of sense of the natural and sexual selection. I also care about meaning and ask her about productivity, and so I see you is during much more about truth among those four objectives. Then I do I buy more balanced, so somebody put a gun to my head and asked me a question general want to give them the answer that will cause them not to shoot me. I summit will be the same for you. I think that meaning is it is. It is a different thing. So when I go full atheist in that compartment of my mind, I often have some trouble recovery is as much meaning as I'd like I can do more than the religious think that I can do, but there are some problems about in a repeated game, with boundary conditions and reasons,
Heaven and hell are not necessarily stupid. Even if they don't exist, I think, is important to have often religions that are far enough back that it's not salmon. Eric said you know new faith like Bilin TED's, excellent adventure, because it helps to bury it in mysticism so that it is not clear what its origin is. Joseph Psmith obviously is pretty recent. A crazy, I think that fitness is something which Dawkins has really wrong, and the best version of this would probably be something coming from my brother, Brett, Weinstein's, evolutionary theorists, but I'll give my version of his perspective or sometimes our shared perspective, which is that it cannot be the case that religion is a virus in some sense of the mind. It's clearly part of fitness, because it's just too expensive
in most cases that it would be driven out. So when you have these mysterious things that are not obviously positive that seem to carry a burden for their for their host in general, they have to be delivering some kind of a benefit because, as I see it would be easy to exercise them, and so because Dawkins seems to view this, as this is a tax, unfitness wide another. He would go that far. Maybe he said that somewhere, but he's he's against the eye The aim of group selection level, my advantage Many biologists are they just think that it is not a ultimately coherent idea. But I felt for me, I asked you: don't have a dog and advice. I just think that I view Lisbon as a a subset of just r r r efforts at cognition and its, it is essentially the first science and, I think, a
recently failed. Science mean that these are all this accounts of what and even in the world, and we just happened. I still have these books on hand and the traditions that have they respond, so you ask oh how the world, how did we get here and how did the work of the world come into being before us? The first account of the of these processes, his religious, and when you ask you know how should we behave here so as to to maximize human flourishing? The first account of our ethics is also religious, and we we ve continued the conversation on all these fronts for thousands of years, but in most culture as most of the time that progress has been somewhat. We more or less shackled to this, the ballast of of the tradition, this being dragged, kicking and screaming into the future and science is the most refined version of that conversation that has cut us, but it off from philosophy
where we have more of a methodology for testing claims. But I don't I don't see this funding a different EU, if you're gonna me just to list some of your beliefs about the universe. Most of my beliefs are beliefs that I have accepted on the basis of some authority, I haven't run all the experiments myself even thought experiments. Most of what is in my head, as claims about reality that I think are true that I would bet money on. If you, you know, asked me to his wager on different pieces of my worldview, these are claims that I have accepted based on this wider conversation in science and in other areas like history in journalism of aid, if I'm, if I had a bad areas, Donald Trump really running for president, while yes, I'm given what I mean on television and read in the paper. I am reasonably sure of it as astonishing. That is but
you know, I haven't met the man. I wasn't at the convention, I dont have TAT attack tile sense of of what's happening there. I have just I've, just read certain things right and seemed a certain informational record of what's happening, and religion is part of that is, is just the increasingly least plausible part of it. Given the basis of it of its claims to truth. So I don't know any such idea grew somehow got it with this. I guess what I see is that, under the rugged flourishing you have swept up, the fact that religion is a tool for one group too out compete another added, let's aided genetically or some of the innovations coming for Christianity, to move from inclusive fitness of gene to me, sort of Hamel, Tony medics. If you will wreck- and but have you read? I act a cover. This briefly on one podcast needs is a little dance for people of parse by all
But did you ever read Steve thinkers objection to groups election on edge, dot, org? if we have published on edge the I know you're familiar with right so anyway, Steve went after group selection in a fairly copper, of Way, and in a way that that I found convincing, but I mean it obviously theirs making a group selection. I note that you could make a multi level selection argument that would sound like a group selection are human rights must allow them. There's no problem like epigenetic sounds like Lamarck in the evolution of some kind around. That's part of the problem with our science and ended the religious nature of systems of selective of the field, the steady systems of select
pressure that in trying to exclude and lock out soft thinking that comes from religion, yet hardened prematurely into a dogma and well, I think Darwin got most things right from its very unclear to a lot of us that that the cotton compromising of the mechanisms of selection in fact carry the same weight as the the abstract theory. The abstract. There is actually more powerful and highly encourage you at some point and my brother on on the opposite another programme, because I think he's doing research in this area. I think most of it is pretty credible
I do think that what you're looking at something like inclusive fitness, multi level, selection rather than group selection and a really delicate and interesting interplay between gene and mean, will also us less table that, let us just accept- of that. I accept that that role Japan, has for the purpose of this conversation. I accept that that certain groups, based on their religious world view, have out competed other groups and that therefore, our ancestors, benefited from their religiosity in some ways and the end, those groups that weren't sufficiently religious and in three all to their myths, couldn't figure out how to survive a collision with those cultures restless lustrous, except that for the purposes of of your argument that doesn't suggests to me that at this moment, where we're on,
the cost of building a global civilization where all boundaries have come down and now we're figuring out just you know what to do with nation states. It doesn't suit suggests to me that that religion is conferring any kind of adaptive advantage, certainly not in evolutionary terms, and it's not can is not improving our ability to collaborate peacefully with strangers in other groups, and it may in fact be in a tight on my short list for device of ideologies that could cause the biggest bombs to fall on the biggest cities at some point in the future. And so when I asked, if you ask the question just how useful is it or adaptive? Is it or how is suggestive of the fitness of it of of our species? Is it that at this moment, one
six billion people have a greater or lesser degree of commitment to their identity as Muslims as opposed to any other identity on offer. I think if you could wave a magic wand and get all that to go away and doesn't make all those people humanist yeah, you have you have scored. You know that the possibility that will have a really highly developed humanist module. So one of one of the reasons that I pushed back on this is just direct personal experience. I I always find it somewhat terrifying to travel with an obviously jewish last name, and there was only I think, one time when I was in Cargill in the north of the cut in India in Kashmir, where ran across Anti semitic, posters in the streets was run on the line of control
in India, Pakistan having just crossed the Great Emmeline Range- and I was terrified- and I was with a you know- with with the muslim friends so by virtue of the fact that I have read- that experiment would not run that experiment now. I don't think that my children will run that experiment, but it did. I do think that you have to realise that we all have these different modules and the rig waited expression. Concept says that in general you can count on these people is having a very strong identification. Being good people, family people, finding commonalities, and I think it's really important also that we realise the different groups fawn hard times through different periods, so that you know the Greeks. Where are we flee kicking asked for a long time, and then they became prisoners to it. You know an ancestor worship called because
What modern Greek could compete an ancient, and I think that is really important for the rest of us to remind the slum. How much it is given to the rest of us end, this this instinct goes in an opposite direction, I think you probably analytically, correctly points out a lot of the opportunity costs that have been incurred by by the Mama world. But there is no shortage of things to talk about me. I would love to come back and talk about my ash and for food, music or another. The beauty of. Hebrew. Word paper mob. Marble in the in turkish culture, the history calligraphy to get around the restrictions are depiction. That
set, with the words actually form pictures. You know that there's no it's up to us to help. You know that Islam is in some sense falling on hard times and it's going through it and identity this is: why are these people running around in short, skirts or bikinis and taking drugs at having all kinds of wild game sex out competing us in our piety and our adherence to work to our work, in other words of our books. I think that you know it's important, that honour be understood because on our culture is different and that we work with what we have in part. I think that the whole concept of the Judy,
christian tradition, in the. U S, is one of these beautiful fictions. That in some sense, will become true by telling it enough times, and so I think it very important to think about theatre to think about fiction and its role within truth, and you know what you said before about faith. We haven't talked at all about my passion for mathematics and physics but the particular area, physics that I care most about. I use a faith module for intermediate steps in trying to figure out how to proceed and you know because our brains are may be constructed for thinking about people. Sometimes it helps to imagine nature as a creator and to be a conversation with the creator, and so the anthropomorphized of design constraints as a creator can be exe
worryingly, liberating allows you to wear hand wave into black box certain things that if you were in a sort of rigorous preparing framework, you be trapped on a local maximum and you could never crossed the adapt landscape- indeed app to valleys- to to borrow from the evolutionary theory of civil right not to insult my audience, but I feel, like you, probably lost a fair percentage of them in that last riff just hit so to go back over that ground a little first, let me just say that it is sounds to me like you're you're, making two cases simultaneously. And I'd like to differentiate and one is you're making a pragmatic case that we have to deal with the world as we find it right, so that it is just a fact that most of the people on earth or religion, and their religions are very important to them and their important, not merely because of the propositional claims to be found in any of their scripture, but because of all of the other.
Beauty and cultural richness that comes or at least deeply associated with the tradition and you answers what wander into any Suke and say all of this is bullshit. But you know I would still like some homeless riah me like that You need to interact in a respectful, tolerant way with. And the human beings who you made otherwise you're, just just engineering Nicholas conflict for yourself. So I agree with that and again, sir, and that's why I have always said that I don't think My unity, if you catch me in the moments when I am just drilling, down on all that's wrong with with religious faith. Or Islam in particular, that slice of Congress asian with me, is not the thing. This design for export to the muslim world to say. Do you here come join with us in this project of tearing down everything you care about, so there's that there's the pregnant case within. I hear you also making a
deeper more realistic case, not that maybe God exists, but that this way of thinking is in just a regrettable feature of the world as we find it. But it's something that is, as both been a day active and going for this, that there is good reason to believe that we want to maintain this. In some sense, we want to maintain the diversity of truth claims that come under the aegis of religion. I would certainly want to dispute that an I don't think, you're the example you just gave of mathematical and physical creativity. I dont think it really gives much impetus to that. Second, more realistic, more sympathetic clam because I wanna see you can in purely heuristic terms, you can talk about. Maybe this has all been intelligently designed or what How would I make the universe if I were setting it up and that may pay some real dividends for you as mathematician or as a physicist and there
their analogous moves. I can make in my own thinking about what's real, which are useful, but I would argue that those there's, never derange harpist homology those are heuristics desert or tools at their games their moves. We can make creatively which never and the day force us to make claims by the way the world is that are indefensible or send certainly nothing that would require to be motivated to behave badly on the basis of a conviction that doesn't make any sense you. I think that at some level. The way your pointing added. I would say that, through the atheist room in the house of my mind, especially special significance, or at least The reliable knowledge room has special sickness significance. Now its subject. Updating I mean I, I was told that all ulcers
came from stress yeah and to find out that they have different origin is It is shocking, also very interesting with my work in physics, sir. The most unpleasant thing I have to do is to question Einstein, because some level he got in on the ground floor of Hawaii think, and so it's very difficult intermediate him, because you sort of start your sentences presupposing something like a space time and if that's not in fact right is very difficult to to get in underneath it. But I believe that in some sense, some of the religious parts of my mind have extremely special significance and the atheist room is merely the first among equals, because I find that lets say the sceptic movement which is always tempting, The problem is that it often ends up as a sort of the copy editors of science. Preserving that which has been
shown to be reliable but being so eager to get rid of soft and squishy. Thinking that the crew- utility that we need to get ourselves from being trapped around killing but incomplete ideas in June, well requires a lot of squishy thinking, so whether you're thinking about coolly figuring at the store sure benzene by seeing a snake eating its tail in a dream to to do so, the ring structure or whether carry mollusca he now stoned and on acid in figuring out the poorest chain reaction. I think it's extremely we want to realise that, if the atheist, my which may maintain reliable view of the world, but is very often the faith modules which allow us to go against to fight one against the many
because fundamentally career suicide sounds like a self extinguishing strategy, but it's often People have faith who are willing to take those sorts of that. Sometimes that faith is religious, sometimes it's hunch, but getting in touch with that very different module. Second, just make the analogy. I think what you ve done in some sense, from both good and bad. Is you ve built a mines that I analogies to Philip Johnson's Glass house on these cozy and I think the bath from was opaque to the other rooms, but otherwise you could see the dining room from the bedroom What I'm worried about is. Do you want to see the bedroom from the dining at as a very interesting analogy? So so was it then take me into the faith and room in your house or the religion room in your house, because I am, I feel like you, using faith and religion here in ways that may be missed,
leading to one or both of us and that, if I, if I and enter that room or compared to the the similar room I have. I wouldn't find anything to objectives. Let me just images: we venture a guess about what is something that in that room is it? There is a kind of experience. Unfortunately, the kind of experience it many atheists don't tend to have that's why they're atheists, which perhaps you ve had, I certainly had in in various ways, weathers through meditation or psychedelic. There's there's that you can there's an experience of one's own, conscious life, which can certainly, if you have it in the context of a faith, tradition,
I can give motivation and credibility to many religious claims, experiences of of meaning an end, the sacredness of of one's conscious life in the present moment, feelings of profundity, which the moment they become attached. Anything in culture can imbue that with a kind of significance. You know even eight titanic. Significance which, if you have no other place to stand critically or intellectually within that culture, will then that's. What's real, that's what's in us of your Hindu and you're, looking at a Morty of Hahnemann feeling that well worshipping hot amount for the rest of your life is a totally rational. To do this is this. Is your anger to the most important experience. Have, and then you know why spend a lot of time, war, about whether Honnami the Monkey, God
really real and whether he really served rom and whether the Rami ANA is just literature or whether its of some in some sense dictated by the spiritual beans, thee and then science- and you know that the b the atheistic mind of science comes into all. That saying. Well, sorry, guys, but much of this is unfair, the ball, and certainly most of it is, is her has to be bullshit, and that experience you just had where we are in the process of resolving that all in terms of of Neuro, transmitters and that's, there seems to be a disconnect between the truth, jewel and the meaning re richness of experience module, but I dont think they're here to be, and so a night now I just as that is a preamble I just invite you to talk about what how your salary in these rooms in Europe in the gut the mansion of your own understanding of what's going on, but I suppose part of it has to do with some island.
Very unusual position of being a phd. Who did not really have an adviser and I think that I learned a lot of what I needed to learn from very old texts and relative to the speed at which people publish and so Einstein. In his writings, I found an incredible source of inspiration and I watch very carefully how he talked about the creator and the creator stood in if you will for order that he presumed to be present, but could not yet prove his. His debate
quantum about Quantum mechanics, wasn't that he didn't accepted, but he didn't accepted as bedrock. The way perhaps someone like Bore would have advanced to use it as a shibboleth, two separate those who could really do physics and those who just couldn't, except things being really really weird. I think you know you. We have a very desperate situation in physics at the moment which are not office. Swill will admit, which is that we have more or less three or four equation. That represent our top level bottom level, understanding the universe and, in some sense at least three of the four of them, seemed to be best possible in their category. So we're sort of feed, like what kind of at the end we. Nobody believes that we would be in this situation so to even work on this problem is kind of intellectual suicide,
you. Ve gone for almost forty years without an improvement validated by nature, coming fearing the standard model of physics and in general, lieutenant has sat more mostly inert, since it was put in relatively final form, ran nineteen fifty two fifteen into the into the early twenties. So, ok, why should you go that's, why should you traded career? You know in management consulting nor hedge funding, for almost certain do. I think it requires something of a religious spirit to play with the edit outcomes on the thick right tail. The power law of human distance were most most likely you're going to fail you're going to lose its the sort of maximum likelihood, but d at the thick right tell calls us and speaks to our ability to improve the species and to increase our understanding of the cosmos and
I would not be able to think about these things so easily. If I couldn't posit some version of the creator right, because I can't solve the, I can't solve the question of. Why is there something rather than nothing my attempt is to say assuming that there's calculus and linear algebra, nothing else. How close can I get too for dimensional space time with fur three generations of Fermi Anthony in the observed forces. Is there any way to get that out of emergence? That's a very tall order, and so it was almost certainly an insane thing to start a project like that for me, but in my
sperience, I would go into a closet in my mind, and I would attempt to speak to this thing. Could not speak Einstein Ass. This one question which moved me where she said: I don't care about the spectrum of this or that element, but really concerns me is whether the creator had any choice, and that was really my research problem which is is, is the creator not all powerful are all knowing, but in fact all constrained custodian, whose only job is to switch on them. On the light of reality. And trying to think about John Wheelers concept of the universe, examining itself that will. I view us in some sense, as the emergent artificial intelligence which will, animate the creator when we turn in the source code where the universe for that for the first time uses us as its artificial intelligence to contemplate its own reality, which has never been able to do. Presuming that data
not least in our little in our little neighborhood. So the question is: can you have a system itself contemplates and does that actually animate? The creator? Are we supposed to bring the creator to some sentient perspective? Now that sounds in saying. In some level it doesn't and of a piece with here's, the Le Grungy, and here the equations, dig this differential operator over here by or doesnt. If editors interrupter, doesn't sound and saying to me just sounds poetic. And euphemistic more then literal. I wanna hear use U, I hear you using terms like faith and creator in a way that I would argue, but for hearing you say more on this topic. Is it not analogous to what's happening in most of the time in religion? Principally, I wrote this. My first book is entitled the end of faith, but there are you
certain use of the word faith that are totally unobjectionable to me. So if you going to tell someone to have faith in themselves- or they have faith that this case even spending the rest of their working life doing theoretical physics, they have faith that that project is going to turn out. Well, that's just not an egregious waste of their time. That kind of faith is just, I would argue, a a it doesnt record it. Doesn't it hail, Annie overweening epistemological claims. It just entails a positive attitude in the face of uncertainty, and we we all get up in the morning, not knowin how the days gonna turn out. There is a certain faith, implicit in just getting dressed and not killing your. I miss you, you your ears, assuming that you know the Vikings, aren't, gonna, show up and kill everyone and there's a functioning infinite number of of terrifying thing that you are more or less ruling out by just not worrying about them and to have kids or do anything else in the context of
the reality that we are just on on Iraq hurtling through through avoid that could be bombarded at any moment by an asteroid or that we knew that this rock and be swept by the next global pandemic, to live as we do Bali more or less seeking to maximize Well being is from that point of view, just a mass of expenditure fate, you know, there's a giant faith project yellow is a dead, that's a different kind of faith. Then the explicit claim that the creator of the universe wrote one of our and here it is- and I am going to focus on its contents in a way that I will never focus on the on the content of any other book and that defy, in my life, in a way that your life, never be defined unless you by this cookbook and now, he knows. As liberals I want to be, I am going to be in some sense hostage to.
Some variant. Reading of this tax at that that's the project that is, is religious and your use of the word creator. I think, and certainly Einstein's, I think, is again medical and is in this sense. It is much more for God of Spain. I was at any rate, is surrogate for the laws of nature. There is order, there's beauty their simplicity behind all of this, this design constrain is going to take care of me. This is crazier than that. The saying that I'm going to accede thousand one odds. Ten thousand hundred thousand one odds that if I sail in this direction, I will hit land it is the willingness to take on likely existential risk for the possibility of pair What using a rational mind? What hitting land in this case, but for me would be unification in physics, but for somebody else it might be a solution to the remark. I passed the sister
he was NP or whether you could start an electric car company when nobody started a car companies successfully and solar company in Iraq accompanied are these things are stupid, but not that stupid stuff, extinguishing strategies are pretty scary and I think that the points almost nobody does this. This is a subset of people which are animated by an idea that, for some reason they will be able to cross that valley again, value of. It is not exclusive We realized in victory writer, if you, if you are going to be if you spend your life trying to solve for Mars. Last theorem, and you're, not Andrew Wiles and Andrew Wiles hasn't come along it. That is a given the hit three, a quixotic thing to do, but failure to do it if you
a working mathematician who also teaches classes who, who has a life as an academic? It's not animal with I just ruined my life or wasted it in its entirety, because I didn't saw from OZ last Durham and so would be with with Elan Euro started his company, some will fail. Some will succeed. Hill, moving in a good direction. There are not. He gets us to Mars right, of course, If you are Andrew Wiles, when you do succeed, will then then you know you got the last laugh and it was not quixotic. Just a heroic out you did it isn't that he did is as a Princeton professor. He had a plan for which is that he was going to you now accumulate a certain amount of work and then pushed out as if he was truly working on these smaller problems so that he could say the good graces of his community. I'm talking about some the more more violent, more quixotic, where you're talking about
destroying a marriage not being able to feed yourself doing really crazy, things, because you so believe that, for some reason that you cannot justify, you are called to this thing and the problem is- Is that if the only people who engage in that are not or irrational people than you get all of all of the buck and none of the bank. If somebody who's really nutty signs up to do that There is almost no way in which that person is going to be able to succeed. So I I think what I'm trying to say is that we maintain different populations of people and that those of us in my family, for example, with the people who were the most devout became the most ardent. Atheists when an uncle great uncle of mine was killed stupidly.
Firstly at the end of world WAR one and they decided whether can't be a God if Uncle Sasha, you know, was killed for no reason, and so in hard they die hard. Atheist perspective, the very religious perspective. These are very extreme states when I'm trying to say is that some of us are both rational. And filled with faith, and probably the origin of faith in its durability has to do with its utility, which is hard to see when it's coming up the works and making it impossible to have a conversation right. So I think that is a very interesting puzzle. As to what its doing here. Does it animate our rationality nor the great ironies will be as if my stuff ever work, Sir works out in his accepted. I would have to ask the question whether it will be defended by people who take
in extreme preparing an attitude of I'm not buying anything. Unless a tremendous amount of experiment has been shown not to be in contradiction with it So did I didn't actually wanted Wanna take us here, but I think that the problem is that there are many ways to see faith and I dont discount the importance of the very clean room in which reliable knowledge is the only thing that's privileged, but How do we get all this reliable knowledge in part by people flinging themselves? into the void when they had what would seem to be better options, and I I have to say that I think that some brains are more predisposed to transcendent states to ecstatic states too being willing to take rationality across These harrowing harrowing, no vote. Ways of death to to higher ground and
What I don't want to do, as I dont want a privilege that one room of atheists M is well, that's the real room and in the rest of the house, is kind of nonsense because really the dialectic between your capping and decamping constantly between these different modules, and that's that's that The hard part about hearing hearing this idea that I can't change my beliefs as I changed my clothes, because it really matters to me if I'm gonna go into a very deep state of thought. To think that I am in some sense concern the creator and that my job is to listen and to think that somehow, this is all going to work out, and I think that what I found his is that this is how a subset of people who are quite rational behave, and I think it's probably the origin
of a lot of religious faith as a is a tool for competing other groups that probably very healthy to have sceptics mistakes and this kind of the portfolio of diversity in trying to tackle really, important problems. All that's her interesting, I think, and certainly Most of it I agree with. I guess it's just doesn't some eight to thee counterpoint, I'm hearing least it sounds like you think, you're delivering took to my position against religion. Will you have experienced transcendence and you ve experienced these? You know what, when I first heard the story of the burning bush. I didn't appreciate it because for Moses to come upon this, spectacle sounded like nonsense and then, with the aid of chemicals, you can have experiences that work probably within your brains, capacity, the entire time but had no idea that as its owner unit,
was like buying a house and finding it has a panic room in the seventeen years into living. If something that is possible to experience and yet weight with a different significance is not it's not that it's any less significant really is just that it. It doesn't necessarily cause you to rewrite you're, pissed, homology or or add truth claims that you you wouldn't have the day before. I guess I'm still here during ate it seems like a metaphorically use of faith and changing of belief rather than what I would consider a real ones. I would agree that I have no doubt that entered caning. Certain models can be very useful, serves to take a non religious but still spooky one. I guess comes down to a kind of addiction between, was rational and what's reasonable in order or useful because because, as you said
You want more out of life than just true beliefs, rights of if it's not that were constantly in the process Inventorying are propositional now, of the world and unjust running a kind of an anti virus? program on on these statements and then going to sleep at night, convinced that we don't believe any bullshit. That's not the totality of our project or even most of it, but as he take something like Nietzsche's doctrine of eternal recurrence. Is that likely the idea that that everything, your ex you're insane you experience over and over again you live this life. You know an infinite number of times now in a multi. Verse may be in fact that's true and some weird way, but let's just say that it's a claim about you as a single subject, really living for eternity in this condition where you have every choice you make
you have to let you make it again and again and again and again so, is there any? Is it ever reasonable to entertain that idea? Well, I think it does have a If you, if you entertain in whatever way you can without claiming to be sure true right, you can say well. If I'm going to use that as a filter through which to look at all of my choices right so again. If I knew that, I to have any given conversation. An infinite number of times like this is this would be part the indelible record of my my a line in the cosmos, and it's gonna happen again and again and again and again, would I choose to do do this exactly as I'm doing it now? Would I do what I want to be petty in the way that I just was petty again and again and again again, and it has a kind of ethically clarifying result. We think in those
How that you are, why not use your time as productively and as beautifully as possible? Given that is going to repeat again and again again? Well, I guess you could have the same effect if you just take the the atheist considerations. Have you get one shot at that's right? This is that it is the only way you are went to live this Monday because, as Monday never coming back right use it wisely, though you know, that's probably something you could claim to believe, and it might have the same effect. But I'm just saying that there are filters you can put on your car have an emotional life which you can hold have instrument away, you know it's not it's not the same thing as saying no, no. I believe that nature was right about this. I think that this is. This is what I think is true and if you gave may await a wager money on it. I would wager money on right if you ask
I'm one who really believes in the nine eleven truth. Conspiracy. Theory right that we have that Bush brought down the World Trade Center, and you ask them to have a conversation about it and they give you all them. The rigmarole about the melting point of steel, oh, and building Seven and people would have you know people rigged the billions to explore. You ask them how they got all that that might into the buildings and they did in the dead of night and how many conspirators were involved and there's an endless, energy to talk about these things and in that way these really are propositional claims about what happened when no one was looking and the. I think that people who believe this stuff- really do believe that, and this is very much analogous to what happens in religion. This is this is analogous to Christian saying: no, no, you don't understand. I really think that Jesus was resurrected. I think he was nailed up on the cross. He was a human being, the tomb was empty and he has said
dead and what? What do you think ascension as well? I think it's actually be notes. It's going up, you know against gravity physically and when the rapture happens, I'm going to be pulled up there and, if you're, in a seven hundred and forty seven at that moment, you're going to see me up in the stratosphere. Minis are whether they on they are that explicit. If you get people talking, believe something concrete. What can I you're not metaphorical moves that? Can they can they then decamp rights of you had told me, for example, that there was a soup secret organization inside of the FBI that tried to induce Martin Luther king to kill himself that tried to get dead, Jean Cyborg, who is the star of good darts breathless to kill herself by claiming that she'd been impregnated with black panthers seed, even though she was married to a white man store and Fred Hampton invent The rainbow coalition would be murdered in his bed by orders,
a shadowy organization and Dick agree would be handed over to the because in Austria, France, for them to do with him what what they would. I would call you in saying that turn things turned out to be co, Intel Pro and was discovered because somebody have faith enough to break into a an FBI office in Media Pennsylvania. One thousand nine hundred and seventy one and through freedom of information, we learned that this crazy conspiracy theory turned out to be true. Now my claim, as I wouldn't have wanted to be the person designing that operation? So let me get this straight. We're gonna break into a federal office, we're gonna take some files were, read them and we're gonna try to make for freedom of information requests.
To discover a multi year, conspiracy theory with hundreds and thousands of FBI agents, somehow mysteriously able to keep quiet, while in the church, Commission was tat, the easy part they were able to say. Yet we did. We did that and them today, if I say Did you know there was something called the one section of the reserve index for people to be rounded up in times of national emergencies, including professionals, professors, news, the independently wealthy tablets and printing? Is that the problem with these things is that lots of things that sound nutty have to be explored in it?
if based context. Now, the question is: can you camp and became so? Does that nine eleven truth or have the ability to soak it? So this is what I think happened now. Let me put on a different hat and try to steal man. The counter argument about plausibility- and we just had this with you Know- with Hillary Clinton and the claim that the the Bernie Sanders people were crazy. For thinking that the Dnc it picked a candidate early, but immediately when these emails were released immediately? Was the Russians didn't write so the question about who gets to say what's crazy and who gets to camp and decamp? We have had so many conspiracies that have been uncovered. I always find it really interesting to me say me you're, not a conspiracy, there asked are you and you know I had a tweet it while back, which was after I'm, ok I'll turn.
Operation, paperclip and Co Intel Pro. All smart people are conspiracies. There are still do I look stupid so the question is: do you have enough you myself off ship of of your own mind to explore things that might be naughty and then to do the editing to see whether Not you achieve something in the nutty state, and can you go back and forth? I'm just not sure they words are retaining their meanings here, because it's not so since there is no question that people sometimes spire right. I already have ay a room. In this honest, We manage our imagine that that is completely rash, automate open that door right, I'm not forsaking, my any principal rationality, Tis to say this be among the conspiracies I haven't heard about. Who is it becomes irrational it light in the case of nine, the truth for me when I see that one
centres or not alive in the way they should be too. The number of conspirators is so vast as to make any effective secrecy implausible. Ray the kind of reasoning that I notice people doing in order to defend. The anomalies, their becomes is so obviously post hawk and based on confirmation by us a host of other cognitive errors that it just the defences are not plausible, but did if you change of that and use- and you give me an allegation, an agreed just conspiracy. That is more well behaved: wars Nina you, you don't have real, require five thousand conspirators and you don't answer is not all pieced together after the fact and the incentives make some sense
well then then I have a category for that, which is yes that sometimes there really are. You know mustache twirling conspirators who have access to information, that we don't have an ape operate in darkness and we find out thirty years later and yes, it's true for me to spend any time entertaining that in a condition where it's not yet plausible were not yet popular they are. That is a kind of faith based use of my time say what is it This is worth doing, or am I gonna look crazy to my peers. You taking an advance on your rationale right, so what would my claim is. Is that, for example, lets them imagine, you're a biologist who believes in selection. And believe that random mutation is the engine a variation that power selection. My claim is. That could be very tough position for you to hold. But if you happen to be the belief that it somehow intelligent
design. You may be much more willing to take serious career risk to examine something that is too high to handle for almost anyone else, the ETA would go to I grant you that right, and so the idea is that lets. Imagine something really wrong with the near darwinian hypothesis, which I may not just be about random reputation- want to create a strong man there, but it might Be that at some point it is the religious. Believe in a wrong idea who be willing to take the heat, who would get sustenance from an alternate source of funding? Who would best in that, and that may be in fact the source of this crazy. So, dear temporary, suspension of rationality needed to achieve something. And so what I'm trying to suggest is not that religion is usually it
torsion, but that it is often instrumental in the architecture for taking the risks needed to it, reliable knowledge and rationality, and so I would be surprised if people We are willing to make giant leap of faith. They again is usually when people dont camping camp, those people- don't don't solve problems right, because it is this this tension between these modules. In the mind that is the most productive, and so I dont want to suggest that term faith based people who just believe in every conspiracy theories are doing, but the really hard and lifting, but is a subset of people who maintain tensions between these things. I think who are often
less productive- and this is why in some sense, your discussion of spirituality and psychedelic, which goes beyond some of the places that I think some of your you're, a fellow travellers and in the new atheist movement, are willing to go you so interesting, because it is Evidence is an awareness of tensions that their people there's something instincts rule about your body of work where, when most people are in the shallow and the you swim to the deep end, to explore territory that other people in a world where we're angels future fear to tread. I often find you hard at work. I wanted to read something which changed my life a great deal and it's an essay by Arthur Cutler, which is too long after the podcast, but it's called on disbelieving atrocity and the most interesting thing about it is that it carries a publication date in the New York Times of nineteen forty four,
when it is a discussion of is the Holocaust. Just before the world is ready to hear that it is going on, and there is in particular a paragraph talks about what it is like to hold. This position in a hostile universe doesn't wished to believe this because of various state interests before area that I say there's one thought I d just occurred to me tat. I could I love the phrase you used taken in advance on your rationality and I I totally agree that we want. We want acknowledge that there's there's an essential role played by people who can do this. The quixotic project is sometimes the only the only project that will save
in the end and the the person, the another journalist who will spend half a career, sleuth Aigner out some conspiracy that in out to be in fact, be a real conspiracy. That is consequential. We're incredibly grateful for that effort. And so it's that is a feature of our society that we want to encourage, and we want the walls of orthodoxy to be more permeable or less tall than they. They often are, but I just don't see how, that necessarily links up with religion and summit examples you put forward of people who do this and take risks to do it obviously people who are not driven by religion. The misery you ve been in one example, you gave me say: he's he's taken this huge risks and they are bearing fruit or not. But at the back of that is not anything
like a religious motive, it is just a us very sense that this is the direction I wanna go in and I'm not too troubled by the lack of a guarantee that is going to work out myths. Somebody going. I have to go in this direction. Eventually- and I want why not be that somebody, so he wants to be- presumably, Adam of Adam and Eve, to colonise an entire planet. He wants to save humanity from its dependence on fossil fuels. Rescuing humanity, I'm in IRAN, Hubbard dreamed up stuff seems cavities rebuilding rockets. At El Ron, hundreds rocket was a Boeing, seven, thirty seven that was pilot by aliens. I know they but dropped Romeo Athenians into a volcano. I think that our Hubbard dough was interested in doing other terrestrial things. Any law is actually interested in playing it religion, but you're just the way
you guys have made this very interesting point that the great atheist governmental experiments that ended in so many deaths in the twentieth century were actually religions. I'm way, which I think is an interesting point. I dont quite get the same good feeling from that that you do, but it certainly needs to be an entertained. I think that term there is something religious about this kind of fate. I dont know him I've. Never him, but I do think that it is emblematic of the mindset I would say you would have a faith, would be permeable faith than the speed with which picked up on a I and the same sort of artificial gentle intelligence apocalypse. You know, suggest that that mind, minors is also permeable, two things that are at least in the general neighbourhood of faith, because
the idea of building a gallon that could, in fact, do not destroy you. There's a very religious aspect to this singular active, violent creation here, there. Their may take us far farther afield. We want to go, but there I would actually just disagree. That is much more a matter of seeing the implications of just progress in that area. Second, I get a bit more for me that we need to take the eye case. Actually just gave a TED talk on this, which is now yet get online, but will be, I think in a few weeks is just a very straightforward extrapolation based on three propositions of meet. If intelligence is just a matter of information processing and we continue to improve systems that process
information, eventually we're at really at any rate of progress. We will find ourselves in the presence of superintelligence unless we destroy ourselves some other way along along the way, and we stopped making that progress. So just progress in definite progress lands us in the presence of something that is like asses happened. Yes and just happened, forego something that is cognitive, we better than us just across the board and the moment you Imagine Mitt allowing it to make improvements to his own source code, because this now the best mind to do the job. Then something like an intelligence explosion is worth worrying about as strange and ideas. It seems I just don't see any natural stopping point between here and there is very much ay in some centres as simple as the truth of exponential patient, and you tell me that the two
times too is for and unite, keep raising it to a further powers, and then you say well, you know. The implication here is that if you could fall the piece of paper a hundred times and you just you, do you just take two two hundred power and multiply that by the thickness of the paper, which you guys There's not. What's your intuition tells you, which is something the size of a cinder block, its actually bigger than the known universe right, that's totally counter intuitive. Yet I believe that just based on seen how the arithmetic runs move from intuitive arithmetic in two times too, it was four to follow this paper a hundred times and its years across that move. For me as not it's just day its irrational extrapolation. Based on what I can cut intuitively confirm it's not the same kind of faith claim and its two in in the presence of
deeper insight and better judgment so, for instance, if you came to me so unless normal mathematician and dear, not and theirs Now there's a conversation happen in mathematics is incredibly fruitful that you know nothing about which suggests that a risk take breaks down in ways that are counter intuitive and actually explanation breaks down, and we have just discovered that there's reason to believe that you know once you raised two too to the eightieth power, things begin to look a little different. Then you suppose base on there let you learned well, I dont know enough about math to immediately rule that out, as all you have all your mathematicians are wrong, so there is a kind of faith place in move on my side, which I just for lack of bandwidth and lack of expertise. I just have to
indulge which, as you know, it runs on some level. I'm just waiting for the mathematicians to tell me what math is right, because I'm not doing the math myself. The difference is one gesture is constantly revising based on further com, stations, whereas the other is anchored to the book that can ever be wrong right and its end if it's revival is only realisable within they far stricter Parameter of we have to find some a massage this, the spirit of the tax versus the letter of the text. In order to get more? What more of what we want out of life, but still not migrate too far from the tradition So that's a meal. I, where you want to place the difference. I don't really care, but it seems to me there really is a big difference between having truly open ended cognitive future in which we just
entertained new evidence and new arguments, no matter where they come from ultimately and being cut hostage to eight a seventh century converse stationary first century conversational earlier, but based on on religious tradition, so that is a very interesting problem. I know you had some interaction with Elliot Sir you'd Caskey yeah right so Elliot I dont know that he has a degree in in much of anything, he doesn't even have a high school to great yeah, poor guy super bright cigar, interesting and the thing that he has as he's got some sort of a decision tree to walk you through to try to figure out why you're not spending all your time worried about the problem of steering potentially hostile ay, I as the leading existential threat, so you didn't see jihadism as the thing be working on. He doesn't understand why you're wasting your energy and that when in in fact humanity should able to go on as long as
the small number of humans to repopulating, so it the reason that the a I steering problem has become A shibboleth are really the iq test for the rationality community to see who can cut it? Who can't is because you are, we have to keep a fairly large tree in your mind of. Do you believe this or that- and you know it's like a drake equation in some sense, where you have to multiply a lot of things together to see that this is actually the problem to work on, and I think that in some sense to have so many uncertain things lined up and then to say actually the lot. The logic is does so good that it merits almost all of our attention that this is a very quixotic endeavour now he may be right. You may absolutely be right is eight an interesting thing. Would you get there by faith? Would you get there by reason
then say you know it's like white to move and maiden seventeen, but somehow you think you see the combination and there's no way to escape the your fate. I think that it's a really interest the problem as to what's going on in that community and I'm not discounting what they're doing. I think that they may in fact be right. Am I having them try to work on me so that I figure out that I drop. What I'm doing and volunteer my time to go help them, but I do feel that that there is an interplay that even if you're doing something reasonable that feels into intuitively wrong. We often supplement with faith, and so this no idea about taking in advance, as is a very strong, belief, structure. For me, I I I believe that the best advice to the people, as is not under promise and over deliver its over promise and over deliver and
in general? That's very tough, because your constantly stealing from the till, the big of the day in assuming that you make enough money to pay it back by the end. I distinguish very strongly, for example, between impostors and frauds. To me, a fraud is some. Who takes money out of the till. It has no idea that they're going to ever replace it there. They sign up to do a brain surgery because it it pays and they don't have any idea that they can actually pull it off because they ve no credential impostors. Somebody might take it, take it on, but has the idea that somehow between now and the brain surgery they're going to figure out how to do this and not only pull it off, but in a bit there. So I think that the willingness to take. These advances varies very strongly between people and in part
if you ve, ever, had a faith based exploration which was really some sort of incomplete rationality. We couldn't fill in all the steps, but you just add a gut feeling system, one. I'm gonna go for it that thing once its rewarded, a couple of times builds up a sort of crazy faith in oneself and- and you often see people play one too many times and not not pull it off so I do think that there is a very interesting interplay between rationality and faith between truth and fiction. I think, once I remember hearing somebody asked John Updike, why is it that you write fiction? Why don't you write about the truth? And he said you know something like my good man. What is it you think great fiction? Is it to him hyper truth yeah. So I think that really all in pushing for is a recognition that a small subset of human beings,
this is a lot of this architecture really unusual way with third unlikely things, things that have no empirical basis that we'd never created in Asia. I therefore most people don't worry about something that has never happened before the way they don't worry. I'm, of course men will never fly. People have been trying to do that for a long time. But why didn't they start thinking about this problem? in the year one hundred eighty, because they, they might have said you no sooner or later we're going to have some kind of mechanical computational. You know we have abacus, sir. We need all the time it can get to solve the steering problem. So it's kind of interesting that this only erupted recently. It seems to have come out of a very small number of people and it has particular characteristics that are tied to the rationality committed. So I wanted to read too
graphs from this most important message. That seems to have been largely forgotten now up and a link to the s ay, whereas bed this on my blog terrific, that we could do no better service together. So this is Arthur, Cutler, nothing, nineteen, forty, four! As to this country, I have been lecturing now for three years: the troops and their attitude is the same. They don't believe in concentration camps. They don't believe in the starved children of Greece and the shot hostages of France and the Mass graves of Poland. They ve never heard of Liddy's, Treblinka or bells EC. You can convince them for an hour, then they shake themselves there. Until self defense begins to work? In a week, the shrug of incredulity has returned like a reflex temporarily weakened by a shock, clearly, all this is becoming a mania with me and my like. Clearly, we must suffer from some morbid obsession whereas the others are healthy and normal. But the characteristic symptom of maniacs is that they will contact with reality and live in a fantasy world so perhaps, is the other way round. Perhaps it is we, the screamers who
ACT in a sounded healthy, wait. The reality which surrounds us, whereas you are the neurotics who taught her about in a screen fantasy world, because you lack the faculty to face the facts. Were it not so this war would have been avoided, and those murdered within sight of your daydreaming eyes would still be alive now, and this is what it means to know that the Holocaust is going on and to know that funding really what you are trying to say is being resisted universally, and that is a tiny group who is actually seeing the world correctly miss portrayed by the masses as if they had lost their mind or that they were afflicted with some moral affliction, so the real reason that I'm down here is because I see you in something of this role and I see that the number of people, particularly coming from what might be termed a left wing
background who are holding these positions that are so difficult to hold, are so few in number, and I think it's imperative is that we restart indifferent conversation between the most articulate and clear thinking on the right and the more certain will and clear thinking on the left, where we are in fact capable of filtering out the incredible pressure not to talk about race in open terms, not to talk about immigration or trade or terror, and- I think what what happens is that you ve taken a massive advance on your future vindication, and I really want don't want to get to the point where we're looking at the vindication. As coming from an empirical situation where terrible things have to happen before people shake themselves loose and so think about yourself in nineteen forty four year, you listening to me
person who describes his group as the screamers trying to tell you about something that will dominate our are picture of what happened during World WAR two, but it so. Late in the war, the evidence is abundant evidence ever heard of the name and probably in a mist pronounce it with the told Polanski. No now, wouldn't it be strange if there were a pie, fish Non Jew, who dressed up as a Jew in order to be taken Auschwitz collect information, organise something of the resistance and then try to escape, smuggle it out, Can you imagine the Jews would have an entire month dedicate? this year and being here, if only really true, if only they were a movie about it. So I think that part of the problem is that we have had our euros deliberately removed. We dont know these name. The average person doesn't know the name Dick Gregory, although he still alive
as you know, Martin Luther's kings right hand, man in many ways, because for some reason, these most important stories animate a belief in Heroism I think that one of the things that we learned at a governmental level- that when Limburg minted his credibility and received his stick. Your tape parade kids and became a national hero. He was almost single handedly able to keep the? U S out of work. When, when Roosevelt very much wanted to get us in World war, two- and I think it's it's her It's a real question. Where are living heroes? We ve always had them, but there are very few that we can point to who are capable of using some self minted credibility to correct governmental. Action when, when Einstein stood up to Mccarthy hearings, on behalf of the a physicist who was not have great rep reputation but was being hauled in front of my car.
He lent his name and in fact, the U S when on a little campaign, to discredit Einstein in anything area other than physics, claiming he was too naive. So I think it's really important to understand, tat. We ve been here repeatedly and at least since limber we ve had a voice hard time with a few exceptions. Finding anyone who admit their own credibility and stand in opposition to these really large institutions, and I think that this is really what you're doing, and so one of the things I try to talk about. In terms of leadership is that we always talk about leadership, but not follow ship, and one of the things that I try to do is a relatively wrong voice this to lend my voiced in the support of others, because I think that if we don't teach people that there's no in following others, who are doing noble work, have leaders, but no followers and nothing much gets done, and so, even though I think you know, as you heard, I am critical of some of the things that you ve said and done, I think
It's important to realise that there is a really heroic aspect to this project and one does not need to sign up for all aspects of it to see that the decent. And the attempted clarity and fairness is unmistakable and so to all of these people have gone after you. I was really interested in Genk workers world view for a long time now, Glenn, Green Walden, respect, I've talked and Chomsky when I lived in Cambridge and thought highly if his ability to hold independent opinions, we are witnessing something very, very strange and it's important that we check ourselves and try to figure out. Are these real conflict or these conflicts that have been scripted for us, because we ve been given very small postage stamps of safe land, which to stand intellectually, and I think that there is a coming together. That is absolutely necessary, because I dont want a conversation conducted by Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. I have no use for either of these people
the conversation that we have to have in it's a different generation. It's a different worldview and it's a different intellectual anti that has to be put up to talk about these most difficult topics there's humility, requires and willingness to learn to Camp decamped too change one's mine and revise, and I think that that's really what your core messages and I'm very angry at those who have hijacked it cynically, because there is no question that as someone with these skill and grace of Orissa Reza Aslan could easily see your point if you only, he were striving to see it, but the fact of the matter is that there are two things that were fighting one is were fighting this narrow if that, wherever there smoke, there's always fire and if you know anything about cooking oil, there's a smoke point this flashpoint and there's a flame point, and they are not the same so you can eat
we have smoke without fire. That's where you and I think stand there is a lot of smoke and there's no fire. The other thing is, I don't find. My inclusion in the group of European Americans a particularly interesting group? I think that funding, only this idea that we are entitled to tar people because of group membership with some sort of unit The responsibility where the individual's conduct themselves very differently is the second part of this, and I think that the Third hard, as is that you're not allowed to hold opinions that are adjacent to very dangerous opinions, so maybe the most difficult thing I'm gonna have to say is that a lot of weird truth that was misused in the twentieth century became the proper. Of wing, that's where only the wing nuts are able to say certain things that sound like eugenics. That sound like curve knowledge that sound like restriction, ISM,
I am on immigration I could go on and on, and so the important thing to realise is that there is a lot of stigmatized truth that needs to be reclaimed, and I think that this is a lot of where you were finding your difficulties and its portent. That people realise that there is no way of attacking any one of us individually. We are finding each other. We are building a collector voice. We are not all the same, but we recognise civility committee in the important, of building a shared intellectual tradition, which is really the multiculturalism which has the greatest future and some super exe added to be here to lend my voice to do that. Whether or not I agree with the next podcast you do or not. I have great faith in the inn in the process and I think that's one of the things that you guys have pointed out, which is this the group that can say you know what I made a mistake. I learn something new I changed my mind and these are the hallmarks.
With steel Manning in some of the things you talk about under wraps reports, rules that should be the same opponent of mature discussion, and I think that is very important that either you get a referee for your podcast, so that you're not having to call people out or that you stop them as soon as you, ve tried two or three times, and the misrepresentation too severe interesting at all, great and by turns very flattering to hear amaze, is greater, is great to have your voice on the Pike S great too Have you thinking out loud about how we can end you engineer this conversation and get it? the scale and and make it more durable and I'm I'm very happy to continue the conversation with you. In whatever venues or formats, we figure out and forward just a tie down one of the last things you said to yet another general principle, that should be recalled that one thing as
I hear operating here or experience operating here, is peoples, and this is off what you said about dangerous ideas or adjacent Lee, dangerous ideas that need to be reclaimed. There are many scary ideas: semi mentioned mute, eugenics or, is not area as one which are not obviously falls, but which many people find deeply scary offensive. Unnerving and people have to recognise this. The principle of intellectual honesty that we have to we have to plant a flag here and always be able to point back to the flag and keep the conquered ground. People have to recognise that merely being offended were worried, isn't a counter argument. It isn't a deep reason not to think about something or or discover whether not something is true or useful, so ones offend
is not an argument and that something that not knowing allows people to just stigmatize views they don't like, out ever feeling the need internally on their side to produce a counter argument or produce counter evidence. They just don't like the way something sounds, or they have mistaken it for some adjacent thing that is superficially similar to it that they also don't like and against which they, they probably also don't, have a good argument and there's a difference between something false and being dangerous and there in the sum of the damned entered his often speculated about in public and and I think I agree with him and he could probably true believes that we don't want to have one please we don't want to make two explicit or we don't want to spend much time on veiling, because they would be dead. First, a believer they would be they were, they would block. Many other pathways forward, though we actually want to explore the simplest example.
This kind of thing is: there's no reason to publish the recipe for weapon eyes in smallpox online and for all to see in and tinker with, because you know, though its it maybe factually true, it doesn't. Do us any good to to make that knowledge? it and there may be many other things like that, and there may be something in areas. Far more intimate to our sense of ourselves in the old that are like that. I'm a damned at it thinks that much of what I have said about free will sort of falls into that category weathers. There are truths that are best left. Not lingering on or at least need to be repackaged for export into people's minds so as to get people to the haven way. We want them to behave, and I think that's. We just need a category for that that area of true, so that that it's it's there are truths, either need to be avoided or need to be just put back on the shelf because they're not worth dwelling on. But we can
navigate all of these controversial conversations without deliberately misrepresent in the views of our opponents or shirking burden of providing a counter argument to ideas that we don't like an eye- and I see you as someone who is very much of like mind on that topic and that such great to have have met you- I think that the that? What it really requires, as some an inventory of who can play with fundamental decency, is the first requirement and you are very often the people who are most fright, traded to open a topic have a fear that the topic is gonna go south, whose simple example would be that I think a lot of people were afraid about the issue of race and intelligence. One must frightening issues. Yeah secretly fear that they're going to find something there, disturbing and that those of us who actually have an idea that there will be multivariate forms of intelligence and that dumb
what is going to be too far out of the running are much more willing to say you know we should probably look the scientifically. So I give him the example repeatedly that African Americans in this country are not well they're, often excel, and choose sports and mental sports in which we, I'm improvisation. Is it premium so whether its playing the dozens and insulting people in real time or head cunning contests and jasper, blues or speed chest than regular chess, you, my belief, is that if we directed intelligence tests around open contests. The way, let's say the bebop musicians tried to demonstrate intellectuals, Priority admittance play us in Harlem by saying anybody, white black green, Blue, doesn't matter if you can take the stage and you can play a sixteen and thirty second notes. As fast as we can. You welcome to show the stage. I think that in a people who hold that,
sort of the prospective say you know I don't know what we're going to find, but it's gonna be interesting, is not going to be so damning and so very often it's the tell that to those were going after us when we try to actually investigate these things are actually harbouring deep fears that we don't have, and I think you know I was very very touched me. That was very gracious. I think what we do need to do is to have a fun first of all, fundamental commitment to decency and, second of all, commitment to this kind of intellectual honesty in one slash three of faith: the Simpsons everything's going to work out if we just think rigorously and kindly enough. So thanks for having me I will say that that last point, though, brings me to a question that I had forgotten. I wanted to ask you, which I have asked several very smart guess at this point and this for the last question, but who is your vote for the smartest person, inhuman, history. If we had to put one mind up in dialogue with the aliens
would you nominated could be someone alive or dead? Who you ve met or not in the standard answer might be Newton. I have a particular reverence for Iraq and Einstein, but term you know. I fear that that contains a bent on that Privileges, the analytic so I'll, say the safe answer Newton, but I fear that it might actually be somebody much more in the squishy literary philosophical era area, and I just don't. I dont know that person's name but I'll, say Newton at you can't go too far wrong Newton and he's also an existence proof of the fact that you can be among the smartest people who ever lived a proper asshole as well in here, you have used about a great many that he has spent half your time on, alchemy and theology so anyway,
that there and has really been great to have you here, and I hope we do this again at some point. So next time if you find this pancakes There are many ways you can support it. You can review. Itunes or or wherever you happen to listen to it. You can share and on social with your friends, you can blog about her, discuss it on your own, podcast or or even supported directly, and you can do this by subscribing through my website at SAM Herriston. Org and there you'll find subscriber only content which includes my ask me anything episodes. He also get access to advance tickets to my live events as well streaming, video of some of these events- and you also get to hear the bonus questions
Transcript generated on 2020-03-24.