Sam Harris answers reader questions in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris.
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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Well. This is an ask me anything. Podcast have now received hundreds of questions on twitter and in other formats, I'll try to several of them, but many have converged a single topic which will come as no surprise. The recent atrocities in Paris the murders of the Charlie Hebdo Cartoon, as in the murders in the jewish market and also many of you are concerned about the subsequent self censorship, which has really been quite amazing, to witness it's just astonishing that the media could not do the one thing that could do to keep it and everyone else safe, and I can't do the one thing that would have kept the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists say, which is published on mass all of these cartoons and present to you now did front against this creeping theocracy. So I'll try to say a few things on this topic. I haven't commented on it publicly it, and yet I can circulate in the the interviews done by friends and colleagues like Majied, Nawaz and Ayaan Hirsi, Ali and Douglas Murray. All of them have been excellent
I've been declining interviews myself and I'm not quite sure why I've been doing that. I think the main reasons that's just become toxic for me to say over and over again that which should really go without saying and then be vilified for it. It really. Is no fun dealing with this topic, although I am writing a short book with Majida, what's the working title of which is Islam in the future of tolerance, and I'm very happy about that. Majeed is, is doing amazing, work and he's really just indispensable and we're having a very good conversation and that will be published in June at the latest. I hope by Harvard University press and beyond everything we may or may not agree about. I think we've produced an example of a fundamentally different conversation on this problem of at this moment and if you don't know who Majied is you should google him he's a former Islamist to obviously knows exactly.
Why is llamas do what they do, but now he's a reformer, an he's quite articulate on the topic of how to move Islam forward, and while I'm sceptical of that project and increasingly worried that it might be hopeless. He and I managed to have a very good conversation, so I will alert you all to the birth of that book when it occurs. But perhaps I can say a few things about recent events in the meantime. Well, the first thing to say is that the response of liberals and again it is so depressing to have to use the term liberal in a project Give way in this context, but liberalism has completely lost its moorings on the topic of Islam. Needless to say, we have all the usual suspects, Glenn Greenwald and raise our salon and Chris Hedges and Karen Armstrong, and as unreadable as these people have become, you can't help but notice the stupid things. They say
about Islam, even in the immediate aftermath of an atrocity like this, as will come as no surprise, they will tell you that this has nothing to do with Islam. It has nothing to do with heart felt real This convictions know it has everything to do with capitalism and the oppression of minorities and the races. Of white people in Europe and the the racism of cartoonists at magazine like Charlie Hebdo. That is the cause of this behavior. What causes someone to grab an a k: forty, seven murder, twelve cartoonist and then scream Allahu, Akbar in the streets. It is a completely insane analysis or even if you grant everything, that's wrong with capitalism and history of colonialism, you should not be able to deny that these religious maniacs are motivated by concerns about blasphemy and the depiction of the prophet Muhammad, and can
for their behavior, entirely ethical in light of specific religious doctrines and it's a kind of masochism and moral cowardice and lack of intelligence. Frankly, at this point, that is allowing people to deny this fact, and then we have the practice of self censorship, which is completely understandable and entirely based on fear and the quite understandable that this fear is actually quite rational if you were the only person or news organization, printing pictures of the prophet Muhammad and that's why, Every newspaper and magazine and news outlet on earth should have agreed to print the latest Charlie will cover immediately. On the same day and spread the risk, we're here everywhere about this false trade off between freedom of speech and freedom of religion. As though there was some kind of balance to be struck here, there is no balance to be struck. Freedom of speech never infringes on freedom of religion, there's nothing I could say,
podcast about religion generally or about Islam in particular. That would infringe upon someone else's freedom to practice his or her religion. If your freedom of religion and tails that you forced those who do not share it to conform to it will and that's our freedom of religion that we have a word for that. That's the ocracy, this respect that we are all honored to show for quote religious sensitivity, It's actually a demand that the blasphemy laws of Islam be followed by non Muslims and secular liberals in the West are defending this thuggish ultimatum and putting the lives of cartoonist and journalists, and freethinkers and public intellectuals in jeopardy day after day, so we're harming ourselves when we practice censorship. On this point, the muslim world simply has to get used to free, speech winning? And we should make no apologies for this, but there are several:
double standards that are quite harmful on this point, for instance, it is illegal in France and Germany and a few other countries in Western Europe to deny the Holocaust. That's a bad law. A person should be absolutely free to deny the Holocaust, which is to say he should be free to destroy his reputation and other should be free to ridicule him and a boycott his business. There shouldn't be a law against this kind of idiocy and make in this category of speech. Illegal is a terrible mistake and Islam as send and liberals are using this mistake as a basis to condemn the so called hypocrisy of all the people who are defending Charlie Hebdo. At this moment, whatever you think about the content of the Charlie Hebdo cartoons and as many people have pointed out, this content has been misunderstood outside of France, cartoons that appear races to a non french speaker to someone who's ignorant of French
politics or anything but racist when you, when you understand the context, but even if you granted that most of these cartoons were racist and therefore offensive, you have to concede that protecting this speech becomes important. When you have one group of people quote radical Muslims who are responding to this offense with credible threats of murder. In every country on earth we can't give in to this so here's one sign that a person whether he's on the left or the right politically has completely lost the plot here, the moment He begins to ask what was in those cartoons? Were those cartoons racist was any negative portrayal of Muhammad to ask such questions is obscene. People have been murdered over cartoons, end of moral analysis and we're seeing a
total capitulation on the part of news organizations in the face of this terror. The fact that the New York Times will not print the current cover of Charlie Hebdo, even though it is apps loosely news newsworthy and even though they're writing articles about it is shocking. You should notice how euphemism is preventing honest conversation on this topic We use words like extremist and extremism. What do these words mean? Well, extremism generally suggests an expression of a certain set of ideas has become an exaggeration or distortion of those ideas. But when we're talking about muslim extremists,
have they really exaggerated or distorted the core teachings of Islam? No muslim extremists are motivated by the most literal and straightforward and comprehensive resort to the ideas expressed in the Qur'An and hadith. What is ISIS doing that Muhammad didn't do what didn't advocate somewhere in scripture? Good luck, finding something important and that's a fact that we just have to absorb that is a body blow to political Is that just has to land an land hard, but happily, someone like Magina was is prepared to talk about this and he's prepared to take the other side in a conversation with me, in this case, and he can do it without lying about the connection between what people believe and their behavior in the world and he should be distinguished in your mind from someone like Raisa Aslan, who is a fount of lies and misdirection on. This topic raises one of these people, who
in recent days, at the murder of cartoonists and Jews in Paris was due to the failure of integration of Muslims in France and the racism that has been directed at them. Is leveraging a very common intuition, there must be two sides to every conflict right, so there's two. Size to this story. On the one hand, you have the racism of Charlie Hebdo and its readers, and on the other side, you have the poor, migrants who are struggling to assimilate into hostile society. That's what causes people to slaughter cartoonists, while shouting we have avenged the profit. This politically correct analysis is morally insane and news organizations and readership lose their patience for it. But to focus on the content of the cartoons as people like a salon and Greenwald, done as though it were somehow morally relevant is a disgrace, and the moment that someone does it. He is tipped his hand. It is a perfect litmus test, I get the sense that people still don't understand. What we're dealing with here have you seen
these recent interviews with captured ISIS fighters? Religion is the whole story. They're totaly fixated on getting into paradise. In fact, the Kurds have put female soldiers into the field, and this tariff as members of ISIS because they believe that they won't go to Paradise if they get killed by a woman They literally run away from these female soldiers. Ok, it's like a culture of psychotic and psychopathic children and just consider the attitude they show Tord real children. Of course, they've been murdering Sheehan and Christian and noisy children, I'm alive and crucifying them, but they seem happy to inflict needless horror, on their own children, and you may have read, a recently about a street magician in Rock Syria, who'd been entertaining children for years. Isis team activities on Islamic and cut his head off. Just imagine what it is like to be a child in this context
Imagine this sort of men and women that such a childhood will produce. The crucial thing to understand is that stories like that do not represent an excessive use of force by a few deranged individuals, all of this butchery the murder of journalists and aid workers. The torture of women who get caught. Breast feeding in public is a central to the project of jihadism, as an opening of a new Starbucks is for us. This is what they think is best about themselves. This is what they used to advertise their project to the rest of the world: video footage of an aid worker, an aid worker getting his head get off is part of their recruiting materials. These horrible stories coming out of Syria and Iraq. This is now There are many massacre. This is what they unabashedly stand for. This is an expression of a worldview, and this worldview is contagious.
It doesn't matter of a person's had direct contact with Al Queda or ISIS. Whether he's quote a lone wolf right, we're talking about the spread of ideas, again, ideas about martyrdom and jihad and Paradise and the rights of women and blast the point we cannot ignore. The point that should never be obfuscated is that we are at war with a global phenomenon of G and there can be no compromise with this death cult, and these fake liberals is fellow travelers with the r see these people who, in the name of liberalism, protect only political correctness and masochism. They are absolutely part of the problem, they are preventing us from demanding that the muslim community worldwide get its act together, and this is why expressions of horror and rejection or insufficient in the muslim community, of course, you're horrified by this behavior
you're a decent human being and have even a tenuous connection to civil society in the 21st century, but that's not enough Muslim. Honestly grapple with the band doctrines in their faith they can Just say that Islam is a religion of peace. They can- your lie about the doctrines that relate to martyrdom and jihad and apostasy and the rights of women. Muslims have to a civil war of ideas or a civil war against jihadism and Islamism generally. That's has to happen. It's not a matter. Blaming all Muslims for the actions of a few. It's a man, demanding, a reformation within Islam that only Muslims can accomplish the civil world is waiting for. This to happen and people continue to die until it does, and, of course, most of the people dying are Muslims. As I said, the conversation I'm having with Magina walls is directly on this point. Images doing extremely important The foundation and I encourage you all to look him up if you're, not aware of who he is.
Well moving on to a very different topic, about which I've also received several questions, I released a video of a lecture I gave in the fall on the subject of my book. Waking up and that's available on my website that I received complaints from several readers: I was selling it and not offering it for free. Now I knew this was coming in. This is actually a a difficult thing for me to talk about, but I think it's important, we won't be gone to expect everything online for free. And I include myself in this- I want to read articles and watch videos and I want to pay anything for them. If someone sends me link to an article in the Wall Street Journal and I hit their pay wall. I'm not going to read it, You know I don't want to subscribe to another newspaper or magazine, certainly not for a single article and and money aside, it's just too much of a hassle but, of course everything
can't be free on line or no one will be able to make a living producing quality work. We have yet to find an elegant solution to this problem, but the problem runs deeper than this, because people actually make a significant effort to find content for free rather than by it. I've heard several people, ostensibly fans who are just waiting to find my waking up, video for free on a file sharing site that is illegally pirated. These are people who express a totally positive orientation toward my. Work, but they just don't want to spend four hundred and ninety nine on a video and in fact, I've heard from people who bought the video and really enjoyed it, but regret that they had purchased it before. They realized that it was available on a file sharing site for free and, of course it available on a file sharing site because somebody
Hum fan of mine. I suspect I actually don't think this was malicious, but some fan bought the video and then uploaded it, because he felt that he is a better judge of whether it should be offered for free. Then I am so. This is an interesting problem, because I completely understand the expectation that information should be free again. Feel it myself online paywalls suck. We need to find a more elegant solution, then repeatedly asking people to input their credit card information, but we're all variance in a race to the bottom now, where it's becoming harder and harder to charge for content online and therefore to have a career as a writer or musician or photographer, filmmaker or journalist. Jaron Lanier wrote a very interesting book entitled who owns the future. The focus is squarely on this topic creators are all in competition with one another, of course, for our time and money, but they're also in competition with free versions of themselves. For instance, I wrote a book lion of a very short
and it was initially published. I think for two hundred and ninety nine. As an e book and I received comply, from people who notice that they could read. Eight thousand or ten thousand word articles on my blog for free, and they were now wondering why they should be expected to pay anything even just two. Ninety nine for an essay. We have similar length as an ebook, so it's interesting to see what's happening here. I'm losing a competition with a free version of myself. I was being panel for having written blog articles that were so long and fulfilling apparently did they seem to undermine any justification for charging for something of similar length in the future. This is a weird situation to be in, for instance, talk about a book that Magid Nawaz and I are riding. Of similar length and format, to some of the longest conversations I've had on my blog and the question will be asked. Why not just released this on your blog for free? Well, there
several reasons, but the main one is that it takes a lot of time to do this well, and I asked a lot of majied's time to get this book written and is just unsustainable to spend this kind of time again and again and again and again, for free yeah in most of the writing. I do is for free and most of the speaking I've done has been for free, but it has to be subsidized by war, that is financially viable. If you like, my blog articles. Are you like listening to podcast seen videos of me online for free. The only way to support this work is to buy the thing I'm selling when I'm selling it and in the case of this waking up so. I was actually trying to do something unusual. I produced a video that is obviously of higher quality than anything, that's likely to happen on its own. When I get invited to give a lecture and then someone records it and put it online, and it turns out that it's very expensive to do this, it's expensive to merely acquire the footage. I recorded three separate talks in three separate cities and
all done professionally with a five camera crew in each city. There really should be no mystery about why I would need to charge for a video like this. It cost over one thousand dollars to make so the question of whether it makes sense for me to produce a video of high quality is a question that can only be an Sir affirmatively, by your willingness to pay for it. So I am running an experiment here and the only way to support it, I'm afraid, is to buy the video and not download the pirated version now. Concern is that this is all sounding more mercenary than it is It is an immense privilege to do the work that I do. I actually get paid, sometimes to do work that I would do anyway for free, I'm not working in a coal mine, but the general picture here that you should all be aware of is that it is increasingly difficult to figure out how to get paid for doing
work with this kind, I'm in a privileged position to absorb this difficulty in many other writers and podcasters aren't. So if there's a podcast, you love and you've, been listening to it for free for months and there's some to support it. They have an Amazon affiliate link on their website or they have a donate button. I would encourage you to support it, because Trying to find some way to cross over into this digital future of media and free he is the enemy free has made it almost impossible for musicians to get paid for their music. Now that forced to tour endlessly in order to make up the difference there, for writers in particular, is that touring is generally not an option. Many are not people who can make money speaking to me that they were writers. After all, unless we can figure out how to subsidize the creation of quality
with something more than banner ads. The entire world is going to become the Huffington Post. No, unfortunately, I don't know what the solution is, but personally, for the moment at least, I intend to occasionally charge for something that took a lot of work to create and then do the rest of what I do for free and so, for instance, before I got on this topic, I spent about fifteen minutes or so talking about the problem of global jihad. Why did I do well, because I think it's very important problem, obviously, but I wasn't getting paid to do that and I'm incurring a nontrivial security risk for doing it. So so think of this. In light of my forthcoming book with my Gina was, which also could be offered for free on my blue.
But I actually feel that, given the amount of time were put into it and given the obvious benefit of having Harvard University Press help us launch it, it makes sense to publish it as a book, and so if you are behind the project of speaking honestly about the problem of Islamism and global Jihad- and you think I'm contributing something useful to that conversation or mjy. Does then, when we published this book. The only way to cast your vote not just about the book but about podcast like this, is to buy it and read it and talk about it and not wait for some pirated version of it to be scanned and put on line to the you can read it for free all right. So now that I have Browbeat knew all sufficiently and we can move on to other topics. So I have several other questions here and I will be briefer. Do you think social progress can never go backward, for example, a return to slavery or public executions? Yes, I do, I don't think there's anything about.
Moral progress that is guaranteed how we conquer ground and we can lose that ground and the bad people can certainly win so all the more reason to fight evil and lunacy, where every encounter it. How careful? If at all, should liberal critics of Islam be that their criticisms don't give cover for illiberal, well. I yeah I really again. I think this is a non issue. I think that if you're saying, relates to ideas and their consequences and actually not promulgating racism, which is to say not concerned about the colour of people skin or their ethnicity. You're. Just talking about ideas. Well, then, we're going to use your clear thinking for some nefarious purpose that is outside of your control. There obviously are racists who are going to need to be racist and on any specific point their animate stored brown, skin people or Arabs or immigrants
male line with a totally rational concern about specific ideas or social policies, but that's not something you can correct for by not criticizing bad ideas or specific power So I really think it is a non issue. I think we should disparage race. Them wherever we encounter it, and we should talk candidly about specific ideas in this case within Islam, like a believe in martyrdom for g hot. So I I don't see any contradiction there between being committed to clear thinking about dangerous ideas and being committed to treating people as people fairly across the board. How can we convince apologist that religious people really do believe what they say? They believe and they're gonna is not metaphorical. Well. This is actually very. No problem. I think that many apologists know that their line, so there are dishonest apology, there are people who know that religious MAX or motivated by their fanaticism and that it's not politics.
It's not economics, and that there's a straight line. Between belief and behavior, and I'm convinced that many Just know this, and their about it for reasons that are generally inscrutable. But there are people who are simply confused. They they don't know what it's like to believe in God, and for that reason they they doubt that anyone really does, and this is a difficult problem to get around there seems to be no manifestation of religious fanaticism. That is so unequivocal convince people that really must have been born of religious ideology rather than some other motive. Curiously, they don't tend to feel this about other kinds of religious behave so people who go to church on Sundays and they eat the communion host at the mass and they say the rosary and when you people. Why Catholics in this case would behave this way? Well, they will admit that it's on the basis of their catholic beliefs, but when you talk- that behavior that causes immense harm in the world. Then they describe this behavior to some other motive. Even the
case of a suicide bomber. Who's left, a video testimony as to his expectation of getting into Paradise, So there is no evidence that would be sufficient for many of these people and they have. Whatever reason rig the game, this way either rig their own mind or they've rigged, the public conversation and there's nothing to do, but keep talking past them. Hope of reaching other people during mindfulness. How do you know when you're experiencing consciousness without the ego? Well, it's a little bit like asking. How do you know when you're no longer lost in thought? It's it's something you can be wrong about just as you can be thinking without knowing that you're thinking, you can be thinking about the illusory nacev of the self and not be aware that that's all you're doing just thinking okay, so you can have an undercurrent of thought present that is on inspected see, is you can have a clear moment of seen the selfishness of conscious
and then get lost in thought again in the next moment and not say that that's occurred and the character that thought could just be seen in to extend this intuition about the selflessness of consciousness. So you could thinking about how there is no self and about how consciousness is vast and open and spacious, etc. So it is possible to be confused on this topic, but there is an experience of clarity that you can keep repeating again. It does have a very long half life for most people, just a second or two, but its duration can extend the more you practice and it's a clear dropping out of any sense of there being a center to the field of Business again in the midst of what could otherwise be a totally ordinary experience of conscious awareness, so it's like anything else like it can be repeated again and again and inspect it again and again, until you achieve some kind of clarity and confidence that this is in fact, what Concha
This is like, and it's and it's like this whenever you remember to look so it's the repeatability of it. That is significant, so it's important realize that the selflessness I'm talking about is not a peak that you have and then lose and then number for the rest of your life and think about and hope to get back to know. It is a capacity to notice something about the nature of consciousness, every present moment the moment you remember to look the Don't you remember there there's no alternative to being lost in thought, which is to say in a moment of mindfulness, so you can either locate this quality of consciousness in this moment or you can't and if you can well, then it's always there to be inspected. So if you think yourself up into a position of doubt this and you wonder what? Maybe there really is a self- and maybe I'm just fooling myself. Well then, you Look again in this moment, and if you actually have this capacity to look well, then this feeling of self
again drop away, then it's absence will become obvious, so it is self authenticating. In that sense, it's a direct insight that is repeatable. So again, it's not a question of whether you are remembering this thing correctly. You know, maybe the You thought happened to you really didn't happen to you and there's no way to go back and check. Ok, no! This is in every present moment something that can be recognized about the nature of consciousness. Why people keep claiming incorrectly that Hitler, Stalin, MAO and pull pot where atheists well, it's incorrect, The claim is that they were motivated by atheism that the idea there is, no, God was the reason they created all the suffering and mayhem that they did the probably were atheist. I certainly think that Stalin and MAO and POL pot where atheists Hitler seems to have Leave the fair amount of religious nonsense, as you know, an famously referred to Jesus throughout his speeches,
whether he was actually a christian or not. I don't know, but the crucial point is that the behavior of someone like stalin- creating gulags and sending intellectuals there and the presiding over the starvation of his people etc was not an expression of atheism is a set of ideas. Where is when people are murdered for blasphemy or apostasy in a muslim society? This is a direct expression of a religious ideology. Hitler gave speech after speech detailing how his rejection of God and his certainty that there was no heaven or hell, is leading him to behave in the way that he did it. He kept saying I'm going kill the Jews, because I hate them as a source of abrahamic religion and I'm an atheist, opposed to all religion. If that was the content of his conversation well then, yes, we could draw a line between his beliefs and his behave, and we might wonder whether there's a necessary connection between a rejection of God and this kind of behavior, but at the very least,
be able to say that the conscious adoption of atheism in this context was leading him to behave this way. But, of course that was not the character of his conversation at all and his hatred. Choose was a rather direct inheritance from two thousand years of christian demagoguery and everything else. He was committed to this whole motion of the purity of german blood and everything else mounted to a quasi religious mythology, all of the other trappings of nazism- that the personality cult of the third Reich had many of the features of a rule. Shin asked did life under Stalin or POL pot and is in the same is true of North Korea. Now these are quasi religious mass movements. These are political religions. The problem is not that there is too much skepticism or too much of a commitment to empirical reality. As I've said before on this topic, and I think it it really does cover. It
There is no society in human history that ever suffered because it's people became too reasonable, two committed to evidence and argue and that's all you need to know to put this canard to rest. How do you stay so cool all the time. I don't think see you raise your voice in an argument. Well, I'm not a yeller, but I'm certainly not cool all the time in my latest book I give a few examples where I've lost my cool, but in public debate it's important to remain strictly rational and honest and getting pistol is generally not an asset. At least it's not one for Maine I I should say, however, that I think outrage is sometimes warranted and can be very useful to express a of the the way hitch often did- and many counters I've, I've had where it would have been great to have traded places with hitch and just have swapped him in tag team style for a
h deserved application of fire and brimstone. But I think hitch probably did this to a fault. I think it made him seem like a less reliable interlocutor than than he. In fact, close on many topics, but in many cases I do think is application. It was spot on and- and I wish it was a gear I had that I could shift into I just if I have it I haven't found. Because I am working in a different mode in conversations of this kind, trying to get out of the way and track. What is true, but that's to say that I never get angry and it just doesn't tend to happen in face to face. Counters about ideas. But behind the keyboard more than it will happen behind the MIKE and part of this is there is something about face face encounters that make it difficult to demon this one's opponent and I think that's a good thing, I'm very aware that when one is colliding with some odious person online it purely through the vehicle of text it
possible to be arguing with someone who only exists in your imagination and, needless to say, I've been on the receiving end of this kind of thing, and it's incredibly annoying. You know when you're, just behind the keyboard you don't get any of the social cues that would allow you to empathize, with your opponent or or at a minimum, go halfway, tordue understanding his position, so you can manufacturing an enemy and attacking him for views that he doesn't actually hold and what you say in that context or or right will not because- rain, but whatever he would have said in real time, to correct your distortion of his views, and this is why which debate online is just totally unproductive, is your primary motive in criticizing religion to uphold the truth and sure that no harm comes or something else entirely. Well, it's it's both of the first two things. I certainly want to believe things that are true, that is to have my beliefs track reality and so far as we can understand
and I also want to minimize the specific harms that would otherwise be unthinkable, but for the crazy things that people believe in the name of religion and in fact, the most important things that anyone is ever gotten out of religion, the experience of self transcendence or unconditional love. These states of consciousness exists or not an can be experienced or not. Based on a very direct empirical explorace. Of our own mental life in such inquiry does not require belief in anything other than that would be worth exploring consciousness directly to see what it's like, and there are methods for doing this, and then they simply do not depend upon faith. So it's my sense that that religion has poisoned and obscured the only resource that ever had in the first place, the contemplative life. That also makes me eager to criticize it can comment on your spat with Noam Chomsky. Your initial critique of him in the end of faith, you stand by it. I'm a big fan, but I just don't get this wow,
I'm not aware of having a spat with him, he's actually taking a few shots at me online and but we've never met and I'm not aware of him. Having read the end of faith or having noticed what I've said about his politics, so to some degree we could just be talking on parallel channels here. But I just think there is a kind of moral confusion expressed in his political writing which ignores intention as a basis appan which to evaluate certain human behavior. At the end of the day, he simply wants to body count as the only metric to discuss the moral stature of two sides in the conflict. So if we
a dozen children unintentionally? Well, that's every bit as bad as doing it intentionally. That, I think, is a bad way to look at human conflict. I think the people who are intending to kill children are different than the people who are intending to kill the people who are killing children and are accidentally killing children in the process. It's a huge difference. You have to Ask yourself: what kind of world does any group or society want to create? How do they want the world to be a? What would they do if they had all the power? And when you ask that question, you get very different answers for specific group no matter how much misery and death is happening on both sides of a conflict. And when you look at world war, two, it was just a horrific wastage of human life. But the difference between the allies and the Nazis was absolutely categorical. What sort of world that the third Reich want to create
ok and what did we want to create on our side, we did horrible things: the firebombing of Dresden, the atomic bombings, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, absolutely grotesque acts of violence where hundreds of thousands of millions of people over the course of the war died sort of world where we trying to build and what were our intentions with respect to the Germans and the Japanese? Really well, you saw our intentions good after the war, we did not murder everyone, we helped rebuild their societies, so we're not perfect, but we were different from the Nazis. So you can't just look the body count merely to judge the rightness or wrongness of behavior and Chomsky seems to discount intentions across the board and only look at body count and if you do that in any given instance, you come away with a perverse description of what's happening in the world and you we believe believing the kinds of things that people influenced by Chomsky tend to
leave a weather's, Glenn, Greenwald or any other person who's drunk this cool aid, and you can end up saying things like the United States is the greatest terrorist state in human history right or some other such nonsense. There is a different between the Dick Cheney's of the world and the Al Baghdadi's is of the world, and it is crucial that people on the left understand that, and as far as I can tell, Chomsky It has been a source of pure moral confusion on this point. What is your big regret and why well- actually spent a lot of time regretting things, it doesn't make a lot of psychological sense to Maine. You know if you get me focused on a specific thing. I did in past. Where the outcome wasn't good. Well, then, I can certainly wish that I had made a decision or that my life had taken a different turn there, but everything that has had and everything that I did or didn't do his conspired to produce precisely this moment, and it seems the only reasonable use of my attention now to figure
how to navigate forward from here toward some desirable end. But yeah the. There are things in my past, which I certainly think optimal and I wish I had done differently. You are the first thing that comes to mind. Drop out of college as an undergraduate eleven years off between my sophomore and junior year at Stanford and Stanford is one of the only schools. I think where you can actually do This is allowed me to do many things. I certainly don't regret in that were incredibly valuable for me and I spent about here is on silent retreat in my twenties, and I read hundreds of good books. I spent a fair amount of time writing, so it's not that I wasted all that time, but I didn't appreciate the difference between dropping out as an undergraduate and taking time off between college and graduate school with magically. It seems to me. The difference is huge and I remember spending one hundred three years more,
dimly realizing that I wanted to go back to school and wanted to go to graduate school and feeling just unable to do it, because I just felt too old to go back and finish my undergraduate degree. It was just- Iracing to be that old as an undergraduate and sort of certain point I just realized. I had to do it and I was I was thirty at the time and, At that point, I really wished. I had realized this at twenty five or still, I wished. I had taken the break between college and graduate school, So when people write me, they are asking me advice about their academic careers and they, wondering about whether to drop out of school and they're, trying to trying to use career as an example about how to plot their course I'm really adamant on this point me? You can basically do anything you want and still finish school. You can, if you want to sit three months a year, treat you can do that in your summers and
point on, then you can decide how you want to further your education and whether there's career open to you that doesn't require more school, but dropping out, I think, is a bad idea because not in a position to know how hard it's going to be psychologically to go back and finish and this was something I was blindsided by, because I I felt for a very long time that I was playing catch up in a way that was stressful and and it's not something I would. I would wish on any of you so stay in school and with that I conclude another podcast if you find podcast valuable. There are many ways you can support it. Review it on Itunes or Stitcher or wherever you happen to listen to it? You can share on social media with your friends, you can blog about it discuss it on your own podcast or you can support it directly and you can do this I subscribe in through my website at Samharris, DOT, org and there
find subscriber only content, which includes my ask anything episodes. You also get access to advance tickets to my live events as well as streaming video of some of these events, and you also get to hear the bonus questions from any of these interviews- all of these things in more you'll find on my website at SAM Harris.
Transcript generated on 2019-11-05.