« Making Sense with Sam Harris

#60 — An Evening with Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris (2)

2017-01-10 | 🔗

In this episode of the Making Sense podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Richard Dawkins at a live event in Los Angeles (second of two). They discuss Richard’s experience of having a stroke, the genetic future of humanity, the analogy between genes and memes, the “extended phenotype,” Islam and bigotry, the biology of race, how to find meaning without religion, and other topics.

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Please forgive me if I croak I just had a minor stroke Maybe so ganglion on the right makes me walk 'cause. If I'm tight, so here's my voice descends to squawking. SAM will have to do the talking. Thank you all for coming. This is I sold that house looks like when the cubs in the seventh game of the World Series there's a place in hell for those people bought tickets to the museum. This is an honor to be here in a real honor to be doing this with Richard, and I I get to do this twice. In one week. This is the second night I think you know and Richard and I were were- about this we're worried about this event, because we thought we would have a great
conversation last night and then we didn't want to an hour in front of you here trying to recapitulate that conversation so as a way of avoiding that fate Now to all of you, I think online asking for questions, and I got thousands of questions. I picked many, questions will track through tonight. Different from the ones we did last night, and this is all being videotaped and- and you can see what you missed last night once that video is available but I was actually planning to ask this, but I wanted to talk about your stroke as we haven't spoken about this, an I'm going to guess that the socks It is not evidence of your stroke. Well, they didn't last night that the recent skeptics conference in in LAS Vegas, we had a workshop on cold reading, which you know that system web, whereby you pretend to thought
In order then ready sizing on the passing out, and my partner was a young woman who said hi, seem to see there's something wrong with your eyes. Maybe color blind, she was looking at my. I am trying to make a point. I'm trying to spread the meaning of also Now this is not for the reason given in Stephen Potter's lifemanship and under womanship he recommends the odd socks ploy as a way of arousing the maternal instincts and then there's a footnote that says by our patent odd socks brand. But my point is different from that. It is that We should not be compelled to buy socks in pairs because, unlike shoes,
have genuine chirality. You can't switch a left shoe and a right shoe. Socks do not have this property and therefore it's it's ridic. Having to buy stocks in Penn. If you, if you lose one, so you have to throw the other one away. I want to make the point in this visit a fashion as possible when the carriage everybody to wear on. Tell us about the experience of having Well, it was a bit scary. I just suddenly became Yeah. That's right, my left hand wasn't working. I couldn't pick things up or if I manage to pick something up, I couldn't let go of it again, which is sort of kind of scary, and I was sort of staggering about and not able to stand up straight. I couldn't drop buttons.
I think I'm pretty much recovered now. I can both do up and undo buttons. This was in February. Yes, the only thing is, I can't sing I never could sing very well, but I could at least I could at least sing in tune and I can't come and my voice does tend to croak. So hence my introductory What was there? Any immediate, emotional or cognitive or perceptual component I was a just a a motor thing, the no no it was just it was just motor. I mean I'm in the office to scatter it it it it's in the basal ganglion as I as I said, which which doesn't affect cognitive functions and so on I'd I I have become the tonight. Well, we will see, if come out as a mormon at any point in the next hour, and he would take more than a
set to do that to me our first question that one of you may have asked if I had a time machine and could travel five hundred years into the future. What do you think you would find biologically, assuming are direct, descendants still exist and haven't uploaded themselves into the matrix. Will we be recognizable? Human five hundred years is too short of time to expect any genetic. Evolutionary change what about their own metal in, engineering that were that's clearly going to yes, I mean, I suppose, that that is a possibility if by then we've colonized Mars such that there's a barrier to gene flow between the parent planet, and and colony on Mars? Then then, it's possible that
the Mars color name might have diverged, but five hundred years is a short time, but how much of it appetite. Do you think we will have given what currently are to change ourselves, given the ability to do so in radical ways. Well, we've had the ability to change cows and horses and pigs and cabbages and dogs and roses for hundreds. Thousands of years and although we've changed all those species, almost beyond recognition, when you think that apica knees or a poodle or a pug or a bulldog, is a wolf still the world's worst Wolf and yet haven't done that to humans. So it looks as though we It seems to have had much of an appetite to do that with respect to the selection part of the darwinian equation, we're now just beginning, the possibility of going to the mutation part of the darwinian Equa.
Namely genetic engineering. But it's not obvious. If we didn't have the motivation to selectively breed humans, why we should have the motivation to the mutated humans related point. Your job is a very thanks for having introduced this concept of a meme. How serious Should we take the analogy to a gene with a meme it. Was intended as an analogy to a gene and The idea is that anyway, in the universe where self replicating coded information arises that could fair game for darwinian evolution for darwinian selection and I wanted to end the selfish gene I'm making that point, because the whole of the rest of the book had been extolling the gene as the unit of selection. So I wanted to make the point.
Doesn't have to be DNA, it could be anything which is self replicating. Well, one could speculate about life on other planets being mediated by a replicator other than DNA, but then I thought or a computer virus would have done the job as well, but I didn't know about them in one thousand, nine hundred and seventy six. So I thought well what about cultural inheritance? Anything where we have imitation is potentially analogous to genetic replication, so something like a craze at a school, something like crazy for a particular kind of toy. I introduced to my boarding school. A query
four origami paper folding to make a chinese junk and it spread like exactly like a measles epidemic through the school and then died away like a measles epidemic, interesting Lee? I had learned to do this from my father and he had learned it from an almost identical epidemic at the same school twenty six years earlier, so the epidemiology of mean spread, is very similar to gene spread. Is only interesting from a darwinian point of view. If the means that spread are the ones that are good at spreading, if there is some kind of selective effect and it's plausable, that it should be clothes fashion spread because people find them cool or something like a reverse baseball cap,
which, by the way now as the I Q five for ten point, that's probably the first remark that he's going to get in trouble for, but I think I think you can probably create religion. Memes. In the same way, I mean it's images ideas spread like a virus, so I called them parts of the mind so they either passed down. The generations like like DNA, does and, of course, obviously, religions passed down generations, but they also spread sideways in epidemics when you've got a particularly charismatic vector of the virus like Billy, Graham or one of those types. So I think it's a genuinely interesting question whether the
Successful religions like Roman Catholicism and Islam spread because the means have high spread ability in their own right, like jeans in Darwinism or whether they're spread by machiavellian priest to get together and work out what the boss, the best marketing strategy to spread them, and I'm inclined to think that that the only met expand its pros people, I'm I'm interested in that. I haven't really run very much with the meme idea. The people who have Dan Dennett the philosopher whose so in a very interesting way about memes in most of his recent books and um sue. And that was another one who wrote a book called in the machine there about sure there about twenty books, not with the with the. Let me in the title, which emphasize various aspects of it. The fact that memes Don't change truly randomly is that run?
roughshod over there. Not really matters um jeans, mutate randomly in the sense that they are not mutation is not directed towards improvement to the only improvement comes from from selection, but uhm The mutation of the lessons is induced by things like cosmic rays. Radio activity, there's mutagenic chemicals on the fact that means are introduced by human creativity doesn't detract from the idea that some means presidential office for today. If the second reason? So what do you think your most important contribution to science or culture at large has been or will be? I suppose the extended phenotype, which is the title of my second book, is the only book that I wrote with a professional audience in mind. I've
I could expand it, but this is supposed to be a conversation, not monologues and so I can I mean the questions for both of us, so I can answer it. You can say: well, ok, you do your answer. Faster I can say what I hope it Bii. What I said, I don't tend to think of these terms. This globally, but I think what I'm doing in most of the time and I've done in most of my books is attempt. Thank you for the unity of knowledge and to resist this ball. As a nation of our piston ology. By essentially what I view as as the dictates of university architecture, you know that the fact that they, there's the biology department over here where you study biology and then there's the psychology department over there. That seems to articulate two separate spheres of inquiry that, centers. They do have different methods, but there really are no boundaries between those disciplines, and I see that as proof or not just for
Nana Coal scientific disciplines but just fact based thinking about the nature of reality across the board and also the the distinction that people make between third person, faxing cut, classically physical facts and first person subjective facts. And some people make that think that distinction so hard and fast that they imagine there are no subjective facts that uh as a boundary that I am consciously? trying to a road, I think, questions about moral truth and the truth of possible human experience or the experience of conscious systems. Those those are questions that are every bit is grounded in reality. As any questions, we ask in physics or chemistry or to introspect introspection is a way of getting scientific data. Yeah I mean that's. Obviously there are you I have to issue certain caveats there. There are ways in which introspection
is a dead end. I mean, for instance, I can't tell even with my best efforts I can tell that. I have a brain. That's that's pretty big blind spot, but there are many things you can't get that you can introspect about which give you scientifically valid. Data and in fact you only mean if you're studying the mind. If you're studying what it's like to be a person at some, Your correlating third person quote objective methods with first person report. Somebody says you know I ask you what it's like to have a stroke or your your neurologist does, and he needs to know what your experiences I mean that it's it's not even with a stroke. It's it's the final analysis, seems to be looking at your brain at the you know, actually what has been physically affected, but the Cash value of those physical effects is always what is
going up in your experience and was showing up in your function. So if some canonical language area say it was affected, but you spoke and appreciated the language, fine and, and there was no turnable change in your language use. Well, then, that would be the definition. Of those being non, live with linguistic areas of the brain affected, no matter how close they are to. You know that the standard you know average ATLAS of offline, do so. We do will always link up with the subjective report to and and first person, performance and so yeah. I mean in term the contribution I want to make. I want to argue that there's a larger set of true claims. We want to make when we're reasoning about reality, and those include things that we will never know. I mean they include abstract things like mathematics, which the Physical Foundation of which is kind of hard to specify, and they include
and the example I always use. Is you know the question like what was JFK thinking the moment before he got shot well, we know we'll, never know this data will never get, but there's an infinite there- are things we know he wasn't thinking right so that it would be wrong to say he was thinking. I wonder what SAM errors and Richard Dawkins think about what I'm thinking right now before I get shot, there's an infinite number of things we could. We could assert about who the character Objectivity there, which we know, are wrong and we know that as as fully as we know anything in science, and there are things like that. Get like it like that the mystery or pseudo mystery of how to integrate free will Our experience of free will, with our scientific worldview, I think, can be totally resolved if you can interest backed with sufficient first,
today and noticed that you don't even have evidence for free will in you're the first person experience. I think that that's those are subjective data that are available so there there are ways to get access to interesting things through introspection, but they don't actually include the existence of your brain very hard to communicate. Other people yeah, but I mean that's true, any that we have. We don't begin to doubt I'm just imagine what it would be like only one percent of the population had vivid dreams at night. So most of us just sleep like animals, there's nothing that it's like to be us for eight hours a night, but then some percentage of the popular talk about traveling and meeting people and having all of these illogical encounters dreams would be much ranger and many people doubt their existence, but they would exist just as much as they can and we've got the the sanity of people who have them yeah yeah. But did you answer? Did you fully answer your question? It with the you want a more about the extended phenotype? Well I'll. Try
I mean what what is eighteen. Eighteen tell me: what type is the is? The the external not strike settled the manifestation of of of genetic effects, I'm from a doubling in front of you that didn't of the the the phenotypic effects by which a gene is selected, so there will be jeans that affect um wing size, eye color, hair, color intelligence? These are all phenotypic effects, conventionally phenotypic effects are confined to the body in which the gene six thirteen, that that can take a fax by influencing embryonic press, embryological processes and so the shape of the body. The color of the body, the behavior of the body, our own influenced by the jeans inside the body. That's conventional, Pena Type, extended phenotype is phenotypic effects of genes which which are outside the body in which the
gene sits and the easiest examples to think of artifacts things like Beaver dams, birds nests. These are quite Clearly phenotypes. They quite clearly influenced the survival of the jeans that make them so a birds nest is made by jeans in the same limited sense or matter not so limited sense as the birds tail and the birds eyes, and the birds wings and the nest, contributes to the survival of the jeans, which is what matters in the selfish gene view of life, just as surely as the winds and the tail of the bird contribute to the survival of the jeans that made them. So, although the nest is not a part of the birds body, it is a part of the phenotype by which the jeans lever themselves into the next generation. But if you buy that and you, I think you have to
then effects that parasites have on has. There are numerous examples, fascinating, rather lurid examples of parasites which affect the behavior or the morphology of that of the host in such a way as to improve the survival of the parasite. Well, that means the parasites. Genes are influencing host, behavior and host morphology in the same kind of way as any gene influences phenotype so when an animal is induced by There's a thing called a brain worm, for example, which is which is a worm that gets into a fluke or snail. There. Things like like that and causes the the intermediate has the snail or the flu
to snail causes a snail to be eaten by a sheep. To access are the the the brain. One is a few good. It gets into the into the snail because of this name to the more likely to be even sheep and it does so by moving into the eyes of the this snail and making the eyes pulsating as sort of rather frightening way I'm calling the attention of a of an animal like. Is she for a cow to eating the snail which means that the parasite, the fruit that gets into the next part of its life cycle of the flute genes, are influencing the behavior of the snail the eyes of the of of the snail this? This is. The change in the snail is part of the phenotype of fluke. Jeez extended phenotype, if you buy that which is a sort of
further step, then something like um Birdsong, said male birdsong song, which say influences female birds actually physically causes the ovaries of the female. To swell this. This does happen. The swelling of the ovaries of a female bird is extended. Phenotype. Of jeans in the mail which make the mail sing the song, which has this effect so the extended phenotype then becomes a way of looking at the whole of animal communication where one hundred more influences the behavior of another. I have not done justice to the extended feel So what are the
that religion or something like it, is part of our extended phenotype. Yes, I don't think I want say that I imagine you wouldn't well it in order to qualify is extended to the anti that would be necessary. That jeans, well is say you took to two preachers um, one of whom was a very good preacher, who recruited lots and lots of people into his church, another whom wasn't that could be extended the inside, but only if there was a genetic difference between these two preachers which cause one of them to be an effective, recruit, the other one not that would be, but I don't think that's very likely to be true wait, wait a minute, there's just to quite literally play devil's advocate here. If there's a gene for religious enthusiasm or
out of jeans for Sept ability to that range of experience and a fundamental back of intellectual honesty or lack of concern that with it, whether your what you're saying is true, so eight, eight, eight eight increased capacity for self deception and therefore deception of others, say I mean that seems to me yeah. I thought so, but I think that's a very effective preacher, who's filled with the of being absolutely sure about what he's saying and enter eyes by in his passion for the whole, that's true or not, and I I think it probably is true that there are those that are genetic, when using a gene for something or whoever mean, is a genetic difference that causes a phenotypic difference so the best way to show that would be twin studies if you couldn't show that with that identical twins, monozygotic twins, if one of them is,
religious mania, other one probably will be as well. If that's true, and if that's not so true of fraternal twins dies, I got idk Then then, you've you've shown that there is a genetic effect on on religiosity and- and that's probably true- and I think that says something to be extended. Phenotype. I think you want to say: that jeans engineer their own survival, I'm passing on into the next generation. Bye uh making their victim's religious and, I suppose, well: maybe they didn't mess, maybe that works actually so clear, life's work is undone.
Go there. What do you think are the most misunderstood topics in science by otherwise smart and educated people What's one that you think is is often misunderstood. That evolution is is is especially in this in this country is, what what I think we even many people in this room who obviously are well educated and interested in the topic to even be here. What do you think Many people here may be confused about Oregon be wrong about and not know it that's of consequence in science. Do you have I mean certainly there are no creationists in this audience. You were screened at the door right with that one. Ok, I suppose
there may be people I mean I would say it was a misconception to come. To believe that the majority of evolutionary change as we observe it is non selective and there are people who believe that natural selection is relatively trivial compared to random random genetic effects. Now that's a genuine scientific controversy and there may be people here who subscribe to that and it's true. If you stick to molecular genetic changes, but if you're talking about actual externally visible phenotypic changes, then I don't think it is true and I think that's a confusion which I would expect to find in this sophistic
it audience service, so Justin traverse that one more time the believe that much of what we notice about ourselves was not selected for this kind of came along for the ride. Yes, you think that's very likely untrue, yes, but you have to be sophisticated about it. Becaus you may be looking at the wrong thing. I we talked about this last night. I wrapped it doesn't matter doing it again, um there. Many people think that quite a lot of characteristics are trivial sort of frivolous that I mentioned eyebrows last night as being something which nobody could seriously think that eyebrows are doing anything useful. How could I browse possibly been naturally selected for? Well, I think that's a mistake. It's a very it's a very tempting mistake, but something that seems trivial is almost certainly not trivial, Becaus. The
is that make it have so many opportunities to be selected. That is represented in thousands of individuals and over lots of generations, and this is been what top mathematically as well, so that that is a very common misconception. I think that very slight effects are two criminal, and that was election to care about, and I think that is wrong. I think that his election actually does care about. Even what looked to us, like very tiny Tribune effect two, I make a disconcertingly lateral move here. How can we publicly challenge change the more dangerous tenants of Islam without further inspiring bigotry against Muslims and you- and I have both both unlike many scientists, we have we sounded off on this. It's it's been for as long as
I've been an atheist. It's been deeply unfashionable amongst atheists, even atheist, who are who think it's legitimate. To criticize religion. It's been unfashionable to criticize any one religion more than any other I actually one anymore, yeah go to town on Mormonism or Scientology buttom, it's Christiana T actually mean the default assumption. Is that if you're against religion or You think that the evidentiary claims upon which all these revealed regions are founded are unjustifiable Well, then, they're all on all fours together and you don't really need to wait your concern, but it's just see it has seemed obvious, at least since September 11th, two thousand and one that one of these religions is producing.
More than its fair share of conflict and depression. So the back to the question: how do you that you and I both think it's legitimate to focus on the most harmful instance. The religion, as we see it, How do you avoid energizing those voices who are actually animated? hi, bigotry and xenophobia, and yes, well, I think, we've we both have this this problem, I suppose man, I listen to one of your pot costs about about. Is Islam and arguing against the point of view which says that the the the terrorists which which we all know now back to the Middle EAST on to motivated by religion. They are motivated by anything but religion as a kind of desperate desire to blame anything but religion.
What is going on hum? This was the podcast where that issue of ISIS is Maggie. In Dabiq, where they just spelled out They were as fed up with this as I was, and they just wrote all of the reasons for killing infidels. It was amazing. It was I felt like I was in a lucid dream that it's true uh to listen to what what's the call center. I forget what it's called, but you'll find it it's it's it sometime. Last ten podcast! No, I think what hi what what? What? What do you? How does really think and that's why we hate you and why we fight you yeah and it's absolutely I mean some could have written the script. It's just completely uhm. We hate you because so, not muslim it amounts nothing more than that and we fight you for the same reason-
but so what do you do? Actually I had a podcast I just is today where I was interviewing our mutual Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and I asked her a related question yeah. Thank you. This is the true feminist hero who was just declared anti muslim extremist by the southern Poverty LAW center, absolutely unbelievable but since I asked her and as being disinvited by at least several campuses in this, in including brand so I asked her more to the point of of seriously. Thinking on the right, so so it's often it is in fact that Islamists and jihadists are scheming to their views and you both by the sword and otherwise throughout open. Settings and they're using
the norms and institutions of our open societies against ourselves, a cynical and calculated way and it's, not even a conspiracy, as I on pointed out, it's it's just there in the open. This is an agenda that that is a must, have open about it totally honest, yet yeah, but the the issue is, you can take this. The the ones ones concern about but this in truly paranoid direction. So I hear from people who think ion is a stealth, islamist or jihadist. I hear from people Could Maajid, who I wrote? Islam in the future of tolerance with, is a stealth, islamist and jihadist, there's no there's no obvious signage on the way to complete insanity that where you're told that you are now too fearful and too concerned about things that actually are was with real in a real reasons for concern, so stay on to help, where is the boundary?
What how do we differentiate a reasonable we're about genuinely scheming people and right wing paranoia in this case, and she just said facts just all. One word is that I gave you your either talking about facts or not, and when you're talking about facts you, you can't go wrong in this space and that's I thought that was a great answer. I think one point to make is that the the the main victims of these awful people, actually Muslims themselves, yeah But what about the attack from the left, which in liberal, people left circles in America and Britain, where Islam gets a free pass on all sorts of little things like misogyny, which no liberal would actually sanction and yet if a Muslim behaved in horrifically misogynistic? Somehow that's ignored
Is there some knowledgeable? Oh it's part of their culture, so they're allowed to do that must say I despise that kind of thing, some things and I think, was an anthropologist. Who's quote this I'm about to butcher. But it's it's a great point. He said we when one person grabs little girl and cuts off her clitoris with a septic blade. He is a dangerous lunatic. Like when a million people do this, it's a culture and we need to respect it and that's that's the little crystal of moral confusion. That's just at the center yeah, the liberal worldview that we need to. I did suggest that there's too much respect,
world. Well hold on to. That is the cons. Have race biologically valid or is it merely a social construct? Oh gosh, an end. What do you think about taboo topics in science, for instance, racial differences in IQ? Are these taboos justified? Are there
things we shouldn't study little first uh? I can't imagine any good reason for wanting to study racial differences in IQ, but as for the purely scientific question of, is race a valid biological thing, or is it a social construct? Yes, it is biologically valid. Valid distinction, there's a widespread belief that it's purely a social construct. This has been abetted by very distinguished geneticists, Richard learned in who made the point that great majority of Welfare Festival made the point that the human species is astonishingly on variable compared to many other species. We are
I think we have a uniform species, despite what we look like and the great majority of variation can be found across races, not at the sorry, not not not between not between races but within within them. Never the less the geneticist. He we can distinguish notices to Awf Edwards pointed out what he called learn tins. Fallacy, which is the Although there may be relatively little variation between between geographical peoples, nevertheless, it is correlated, so I'm a simple operational distinction if you were to take people from Uganda, an Alaska into it from the Congo Forest from India, from China
and ask anybody in the world to guess where they problem, given a list of countries where they might have come from everybody's, going to get it right, you can tell where somebody comes from- is that if they, if the assets of lived in a certain area for a long time, is very easy to tell it's not difficult it's it's that some people that really are geographical differences between between peoples, what is deeply wicked is to base any kind of discrimination on those things you should never ever discriminate against somebody, the cause of their skin color or anything else that that's wicked, but to deny that
our differences seems to me to be perverse. Well, it was take that you can you can retract those applause after I say what I'm going to say so, but the implication of natural selection here is that if you have isolated populations, populations that are sufficiently isolated so as to give rise to phenotypes that differ Sophitia. So that we noticed we're in the presence of what we're now calling to different races an absolute miracle if everything about us that we care about that is selected for was identically tuned across those different races? I mean intelligence, good, psychological characteristics, generosity,
conscientiousness aggression, so undoubtedly we will find differences that we can generalize about. If we look for them and it's the fee Fear of what that means. The implications of that that I think make a terrible you can probably find them. But what would be? What would be we could would be to say. I will not give this person a job, because he belongs to this category of people and there's some kind of statistical tendency for that. For that category, a past to be different from that from that category treat them as individuals street. Look at the qualifications of this individual and forget about the group race. What are the what to call it to which he belongs? That's where Lou intends. Point about variance is relevant because, given the given that the variance there there's enough variance within a population for all these characteristics that it would be irrational,
Thank you know a lot about a person, whatever mathematical ability based on their race, even if there were a population difference between two populations today, right, yes, but can you see so I recently did a podcast where this topic came up and I got a lot of pushback from my position, which is very much like yours, where I just I don't see the point of doing this research or what good is going to come of scaling intelligence in many different populations, but because there is no guarantee that there isn't something study in there. That would be able to do just that. Just understanding human and tell a in General- and the jeans maximize it, we may just stump when two these differences and and point of categorizing them. Despite ourselves, I see no, no objection to studying whether that, on genetic differences across the whole human population, in intelligence of musical ability, all mathematical ability, when anything else,
I want to I would object to, I think, is- is categorizing. Somebody's belong to this race, all that race and that, for assuming that he is always not good at mathematics, will be able to that final assumption? Obviously you you you would never want to make of it. Just would make no sense to make out but yeah it is I've been in this kind of science. If we ever had these results in hand, would lend itself so clearly to invidia comparisons between people. That would be a political liability, but that's again, that's assumption that we know we're going to going to find negative comparisons in a way that would be disadvantageous to. Certain minority groups. We want to protect, but maybe many cases it may be the other way around. You know it may be that I mean, There was this great result. I think it still has stood up that White Europe
and these are the only ones walking around who are part neanderthal right. Aren't we well not not like him? I mean non african, I have so, but it's also it's also asian. Yes, so so people. Africans are the only true one hundred percent Homosapien. It could be Europeans that could be right, like I'm, proud to have, in the end but I don't see I don't see. Anything wrong with a doing twin studies on on intelligence. I don't see anything wrong with with saying: let's, let's look and see if there is a genetic component to intelligence, almost got to be a genetic component to intelligence, because if you think that intelligence has involved binoculars selection over the past couple of million
yes and you we've got presumably where more intelligent than Lucy was that must have come about through natural selection. We must therefore have been genetic differences in intelligence to have been natural. Selected. It seems to me that if you're going to go to the mat for eyebrows, you can't really draw the line, and you know exactly exactly so. It is sort of the phone, almost religious aversion to talking about genetic differences in intelligence, irrational- and I suppose does come from the fear that it might be applied to groups of people rather than to individual yeah yeah. I think those taboos makes sends I just wouldn't want to believe we'll talk honestly about the the intellectual real estate. But given a functionally infinite number of things to study that are interesting,
I would question a real zeal for studying ratio. Differences along the line, and it is a hand and it's easy to see why one would question that, and yet there are, I think, totally honest and ethical people who are still doing at work on, say a in some sense. I I come in I'm I. If, if I were on the National Science Foundation ground the committee, I I've, I wouldn't give a grant to study that I'd quit, because I did see what's interesting, okay, yeah. I bet I guess my concern is that it seems to prejudge in advance that nothing general utility would come out of it. So it's, I think okay. I don't know, I don't know where we wound up on that, but we're both in trouble with somebody Any thoughts about how well will be distributed as society grows more and more automated and human labor becomes less and less valuable. Depending on how we deal with this issue.
What kind of utopian or dystopian scenarios do you envision. The future gets a question for you really isn't it. Why I have an opinion on it? It's painted to meet economists who or people who think they're economists So I think there is some law of economics that rules this out as a possibility. So many people who have looked at the history of economics think that there's some rule here that, where technology never fatal Ekans rules any area of human labor or human labor in principle, people just move on to the next jobs that have been opened up by these breakthroughs. So it used to be that some, significant percentage of Americans till the land, but once we got machines to do that that has now diminished to a tiny percentage of the population, but those just move on to do other presumably
gratifying work and there's this idea that's going to happen just going to continue indefinitely, but when you, when you extrapolate from the kinds of games where now making with intelligent machines and automation, this just it seems obvious to me- and I really have not heard a good argument against this- that at some point we will be building machines that are capable not only of manual work but intellectual work and so capable of it that there is no, her a space any longer for a person to occupy to do that work. So we can do self driving cars as it is. A great example is something like nine percent of men in this country drive for a living, it's, I think it's the actual, most common form of employment for men, it might just be white men, but it's once we self driving cars and just imagine this, and it would bring down the the
fatality rate from thirty five thousand people a year to five hundred say so that it just becomes an absolute at least Arkan. Undeniable choice between the slaughter of 10s of thousands of people or not do to ape driven cars. We will. We will not allow the apes to drive. Cars seems to me that in the limit, almost everything is like that, then what you're left with is this call Utopia really where we have just cancelled the need for human drudgery and we've opened case where everyone should be need to do what they find most gratifying and so-
you can be as creative as you want you can. You can be as lazy as you want. You can have as much fun as you want, but the thing you have to break in order to make that possible is this ethical connection or pseudo ethical? and that many people feel in their bones, especially in America, between working and having a right to exist right. So it's like, if you have to the political and an ethical wherewithal to spread this wealth, and so what worry about is, I think we would ultimately get there if we don't annihilate cells with ai in the meantime, but I think that there will be this transitional? If you imagine, the perfect development of technology, there still will be this. This transitional kind of bottleneck where we won't have the ethical and economic and political pieces in place and you'll get some ghastly level of wealth inequality that is just of a sort we can't
really imagine, certainly in the developed world and those spasms in a politically we could be very difficult to absorb. I hadn't thought about that and again, it extends not just to menial or physical. It's we, the best biologist at some point will be a computer. It's not not it's! Nowhere, written that! It's only chess that gets conquered by the machine This is a very common question. It's a it's a question for which I'm sure we don't have. Totally satisfying answer, but this is, if anything, this is the center of the bullseye. With respect to the life horizon of atheism and the the future of religion. How to please find meaning in life. Can there be a sense of the sacred in a truly rational context: But how does anything matter if there's no heaven to go to that final?
That final line is so the first, the first two sentences seem really kind of double headed to the religious mind. This final question is just as pressing as the first two this is where my intuition is sort of. Fail. I've never understood this idea that without eternity, nothing matters, it seems to me you all just as well run at the other way if, in light of eternity, certainly whatever happens, here, doesn't matter and mean we have an eternity to make up for this catastrophe. So, if anything like- becomes. Each moment of life becomes more precious, given the fact that there's no promise of eternity
is having a big on the stage with SAM. As I agree with everything he says I mean, I completely agree with the idea Anybody could think that there is no point in life: if there's no eterniti to go to, we want to pathetically inadequate that must be you have to make your own meaning in life, and and we do that- I mean we love each other- listen to music or write music. We we do science, we're spellbound by the beauty of nature by the beauty of the universe by the beauty of the Grand Canyon, where I just just be uhm This gives you meaning in life,
meaning in life. The next book you want to write the next. Baseball match you want to win so that way, inclined um baseball that's just apologies for this comparison, but that that is the moment that should have ended. Donald Trump's careers, at least with the Christians when he stood up and pretended to be this. This devout Christian and said my fave book of the Bible Corinthians two. But nothing was riding on that happily, and your reputation is intact don't. You worry, though, the juicy things in life that religious people are afraid to lose our if not hard to capture by a piece meal.
Secularism they're not captured in a way where we can just point them to the replacements. So this this community that people have, by virtue of gathering every Sunday to worship the off the shelf also when it comes time to get married or bury a loved one. They have language that is ready made to do. This doesn't strike you as it is a problem. That accounts for why it's it's. We haven't just change people's mind. Does it? I think, if I didn't think it occurs to you really doesn't mean, It occurs to me in the sense that it's a religious people continue advertise the inadequacy of a worldview that doesn't have these things, but I actually have expiry The problem I mean, if I imagine someone in my dying suddenly I would have more work to do to figure out how to
honor that occasion we do that. Then we I mean I I I I I've organized several funerals you you may have done I haven't, but but it but still you're you're you're in there you're kind of your reinventing civilization for yourself. Well, I measure right, but if you think about funerals, you've been to I've been a miniature funerals where there is also a unit two eulogies, where the is perhaps music played by a string quartet, as I have to my father's funeral and the bits that you feel moved by the bits that you feel are worthy of the memory of the dead pass and then have the Praz whenever the bits that the the Vica in turns him just the standard foreman of the
ritualistic formula deep, cries out for everybody there when somebody is stands up, who really knew the person and reminisces about the person and moves you perhaps to tears. Thinking about the person, the music, the favorite music, of the dead of the dead person, the. Look for the dead person loved. This is what's moving about funerals I've organized field with my father, for the great evolution by which is W D Hamilton. I organized his funeral in New College of the chapel, and I I had about four different people talking about his achievements. I found out that there had been an anthem composed for dial in funeral in Westminster, Abbey specially for the occasion, and I think it's never been played since. But I went to the british museum.
Library dog out. The manuscript copy of this of his anthem gave it to the climb master of New College Oxford and he pressed the Clave son this never been since Owens Funeral for possibly greatest twenty century? So I know I'm not really very impressed by people who say that religion gives you rituals that you can't replace you can replace them, and you can replace the best parts of them and ignore the worst parts of them. Did you feel that there's a I need to systematize that so that not up on everyone's shoulders to do this for themselves? Well, I think it's, it's uh
most in obligation to try to do something for a loved one who dies or for a for a marriage or you could imagine other coming of age ceremony. You could you could you could imagine by the way for my funeral. I want to have Verde is um elephant march Do you know what I'm doing another? The trumpeters it's triumphal? If I hadn't had my stroke like you, please talk about the primacy of free speech for maintaining the standards of education and the openness of the society WHI in a contest between freedom of speech. An religious sensitivity must free speech win It's amazing that this is not this really is not obvious to most people, I mean it's. To hear freedom of
religion. An freedom of speech talked about it in this society, as though there had to be a balance struck between them, as though there were some use of speech was itself an infringement upon someone else's freedom to practice their religion, which is obviously Never the case, there's absolutely nothing. Say about religion right now that is so disparaging of the project that that would cancel someone else's ability to practice their religion right, so it it's just. There is a trade off between free speech. I totally agree, and I'm distressed at the at the disparagement of free speech, which is which is creeping into universities, both in Britain and America. I was in Berkeley in the 1960s Burke's at the home of the free speech movement and is immensely distressing to me. That Berkeley today has DIS, invited people
because, because of the fear that that's because my hurt the feelings of some religious people on the because what a bit trail, the people at Berkeley and in London, London Square, the economics and there's other places. I think last year, at Birmingham should hang their heads in shame for destroying the the the the fundamental principle of Water University should step for university of stand for not just free speech, free freedom of full divinity to be challenged. The ability to to be to be exposed to views that you find distasteful
you couldn't evaluate them not be protected from them. kittens and puppies safe spaces well, right now. We are open to your questions, their microphones, coming to you. This question is directed to both Mr Dawkins is to harass
This is a question only around my mind about the authenticity of what our callous as a follower of a specific from brother religions say: Christianity is I've. Business sections of some people as to that subject is on, for instance, is interested in as a matter of as an individual, who is a catholic Christian is a move from Christian. What constitutes a real muscle, a someone who's more liberal someone who's in this when this was real a for someone who falls for for interviews with people all over the US information religion. What's your view on how an individual is a quota and authentic full report, which is giving you guys a little seven across a vast amount of,
time and space in their origin, from the point of origin scheme have evolved to include liberals, take interpretations and the what we would consider more fundamentalist, and this is one reason why I'm a fan of zeroing in on specific beliefs and their consequences. So it is not trying to find and the quote, authentic, muslim or authentic Christian is a, I don't think it's a project. Anyone needs to ever be engaged in it. Just need to know what someone believes on points that matter. So we know how do you think gays should be treated and how do you think women should be treated? What do you think happens after you die? Do you think is a paradise that martyrs go to I mean these are all these are all crucial questions which you're any inherent of well, any one of those states will use
in their own mind as a litmus test to judge whether or not someone is developed enough or following or interpreting the scripture of the way. They're doing but I don't think we ever really need to know. I mean it's just there's just radical. It has a range of commitments that we never really have to. We never have to and in any any now I agree with that except that uhm. Petitions may This arises in Britain, particularly we're. Actually, in the every ten years we have a census and people are invited to tick a box as to which religion they belong to and and and quite a large number of people in the two thousand and one sensor- stick the Christian Box. It dropped from seventy two percent about fifty four percent in the twenty eleven census.
But you you you might say well, who cares whether they really Christian who cast and it's up to them, whether they they they really believe? Jesus was the son of God or Jesus, your Lord and Savior, upon a virgin things, but it doesn't matter When politicians who, after all commission the sensors, make use of the figure seventy two percent Christian, so they write Britain as a christian country. Therefore, We need to pass legislation in accordance with christian beliefs and say about abortion or something of that sort, and this actually did happen So when my british Foundation, the the British brought to the Richard Dawkins Foundation for reason and science We actually commissioned a poll in Britain on the day in the week after the twenty eleven sensors to ask people who take the Christian Box what do you really believe, because we suspected that, although they take the Christian Box, though
I didn't really believe in many of the tenants by the way, it's ten, it's not ten ounce. As with of of of of crystal and the reason we thought it mattered was precisely that politicians have used the figure. Seventy two percent. In the two thousand and one census census, legislation in accordance with what they I thought were the beliefs of the british people, so I do think that to some extent does matter why the the polling organization often does a religious religion serve and ask specific questions? They don't ask, as many as I would want them to ask. But they ask questions that tease out the gradations of belief. How old do you think universes do and by the way,
The result about our poll was that the people who took the Christian Box very very few of them actually held the sorts of beliefs. You might think we're christian beliefs like Jesus is my Lord and Savior Virgin. Birth Bible is true. That kind of thing questions for SAM I'm curious: what are your views on medical marijuana for the use of children, an elderly as far as Parkinson and epilepsy? why I hadn't heard of its utility there. It's useful. I have no problem with it. Uh I think it's it's a drug It has a range of of effects and some of good, and so if the question seems to presuppose a a reason to stigmatize marijuana over any other pharmaceutical someone might be given? I don't really see that hi, I'm curious.
Talking about measuring or studying intelligence across different races. What specifically mentioned IQ? What specifically would be the measurement of intelligence. You know considering that people are interested in different types, intelligence like emotional intelligence and how we determine what is the proper way. This is standard for the. You know the the universal standard for intelligence? I guess that the IQ test or yeah, I think I think, both both of us. If we specifically did not wish to measure intelligence across more emphatic than I was on. That point is a valid one. With respect to measuring intelligence, which I would be in favor of there are lots of different ways. Racist intelligence. As you say, lots of different kinds of intelligence and IQ tests themselves are very controversial. They measure different things,
whatever you measure, you can measure it, and then you could look at Jeanette differences in it? It doesn't matter, but you may you may find different genetic effects in this kind of intelligence or that kind of intelligence. When, when I said that human intelligence must have increased during the last two million years, I will bothering to differentiate whether uhm. That was this test of iq or that test of iq. It doesn't matter, I mean any of them, you could. You could runs about something you can measure, then you can look at differences in that something. I think one aspect of the question is whether I he was valid, and I think the research suggests that there is such a thing is general intelligence, an that iq is a pretty good measure of it is a pretty generalizable result and it's correlate. With the things you would think. General intelligence would be correlated with
but yeah, I'm also a fan of the multiple intelligence description of the human mind. Iq, obviously, doesn't measure everything about us that we care about that produces creativity and certain forms of genius, and so it's not the whole measure, but it is something and you'll meet many people. It certainly politically correct to say that IQ is a fiction or the tests are invalid or that there Culturali, biased and my understanding of the research at this point is that that's not true hi. My name is mark. Thank you both for coming here tonight. I really creepy
see you here, I agree with so much of what you said and I felt in a cutie doubling feeling like. I know you didn't want me to think of something that kind of challenge. You then come up with just this Richard tonight, and you mentioned that as people we make up our own meaning flipping, convenient and SAM you mentioned tonight, and the previously released had consequences now, considering the reality that most people across the world are not as well read as you and don't really think and ponder so much as a lot of us do about the medium, our beliefs in the media things. I know this question for you under version, so many people drag ages, picture man,
He lives his life. He makes his cleaning based on the religion, he's been presented from young person and he finds peace in that and a lot of the dogmas and beliefs of the religion he presented. He may not really subscribe to you. He doesn't read all the texts and think about it. That much but translation? And so my question, for you is, what's the harm nobody's, had impact and beliefs have consequences. So my question for you is, what's the harm of, individual or so many people throughout the ages then they're, not access to finding peace, having religion, live and die and believe that they do okay There is something that
familiar to many of the things were saying at this point, which is the problem with dogmatism is that you actually can never be sure what the harms will be and they can be, astonishingly, bad all of a sudden, and the state of being dogmatic the state of believing things strongly, despite an absence of evidence or even in the face of counter evidence. That is the state of having no error correcting mechanisms in your worldview you're simply not available to reality. So you are just going to continually bump into hard objects wherever you go, and so You take my favorite example of this. I I just I should have said this several times, but it's just worth pond you can have a dog my which, on its face, is the most benign and life affirming dogma. There is so the dogma that life starts at the moment,
exception and all human life is sacred right, all of it is sacred. We just cannot. We just have to privilege just the human being from the moment of conception as being as an entity that is that has to be treated as an end in itself is an and never as a means. Now what harm is going to come from that, that is the most life affirming and most careful disposition you could possibly have. But then we get something like embryonic stem cell research, or then we have the family planning needs of. Women and girls who get raped right and then we all of a sudden the people who are sure based on pure dogmatism that eight and that is that a soul. All that, if you can hold it in your hand, would be invisible to you if you could hold one thousand in your hand, they'd be invisible to you, though, Souls in those fertilized ovum are just as important as the souls in this room right, that's a dog
that's responsible for an immense amount of harm, and yet you wouldn't have foreseen it, and so the problem is, to have a way of thinking about the world that doesn't allow you to reliably navigate You are not basing your worldview on evidence and argument that that's that's the problem and it's by the way, around a good ways to tease people who think the soul enter the body, just problem with monozygotic twins, um which twin has the soul. Stop music.
I have another answer to this very, very well thought out question, which is that I'm not sure that I really care whether it does harm or not. I care about whether it's true even more probably didn't that I care that children are brought up, deny it access to the very, very beautiful truths, we are. Uncovering science in particular, is uncovering over the centuries. We live up in a a wonderful privilege century. From this point of view, every time we're not everything is known, but in in once a month is the and it's one of the it's a great privilege. Those who live, who are born in this century too, to be So what we do know about the world
about the universe, about life, about how we come to be here- and always makes you weep to think of children who are being deprived of this by ignorant bigoted parents who teaching them nonsense. Because it's I don't know, because it's comforting a because it comes down through the families that traditions in that it's in the holy book, in that what a crash a day for the children concerned to live their lives, deprived of the wonder of knowledge.
I looks on this- is a difficult million over, but and and how do you feel the need for someone else? It is the change in the amount of one hundred. And generally, I'm not saying anything how much destiny do yesterday. To what degree are you really? did and determined you know in life based on just your genetics. Well, the yeah, turn to this question is that
really everything you care about. This seems to be half genetic, I mean the the the the balance the boundary between nature and and and nurture, is is just kind of a convenient and misleading fiction. I mean everything that is a matter of nurture is affecting you by virtue of regulating the function of means an Msa. So if you're going to remember anything about what I say now, it's because jeans have been transcribing in your brain and you've been laying down new connections and and changing receptor density is, and it's just. There's there's a physical mechanism and it's related to your genetics at every point, and that is that is how your environment affects you. So there is no clear boundary there, but a fifty percent is is ballpark figure for almost everything like intelligence or strong personality traits. There are obviously genetic, which is to say that identical twins, reared apart will be,
importantly, similar correlated to fifty percent in those respects. And there's some disturbing research that suggests that the other fifty percent is really not a matter of what the parents do it's more I mean the nurture is coming from. Friends is coming from the culture it's coming from happenstance, it's not Similarity of let's say, medically unrelated people raised in the same home is very small and in some cases nonexistent. So that is very depressing for parents or
liberating. If you screwed up it is it is it is it is you can you can measure heritability, which is the contribution to variants of various factors? The genes that other factors I'm inside is is a good way of doing it, comparing fraternal twins with with identical twins and for some characteristics. It's it's more than fifty percent of the characters to have less than fifty percent in a sort of leverage. So I thought is interesting what to do, and and
Ronson fascinating twins that is, that have been done, often exploding the the the the rather rat cases. We have full reasons of from from unfortunate accident. Identical twins have been read a prompt, it does happen not very often, but there are a few dozen cases which have been studied and, in some cases, identical twins reared apart on kind of a similar into into some country.
Six in in in all the characteristics and not, and you can use fraternal twins, both read together and separately as controls says quite a neat. So there's nothing that experimental design is not deliberately engineered, but it's question the design for measuring heritability, which is this fun. This constant, which is the proportion of of of variance which contribute to genetic variation and my residence for Richard Donna and a woman and really so. I always say whether the US I always had like sit down or is it like a white think about human species in the long term, and one of the laws. I see is
It is in the field of medicine that these pharmaceutical companies like to develop customers. The jurors and recently then spent especially in technology in space. Travel were talking about going to Mars and colonizing another planet, but I feel as though this has to be addressed first, the question: do you think? The medicine industry will blossom into the type of industry that is actually trying to help the human species rather than create clientele. And here, I I mean I didn't want to be cynical about this, and I I'm aware that there are people who are very cynical about the pharmaceutical industry, and I I don't. I think I know enough about it. Uhm. I am
I admire the medical profession. I like doctors, I'm I'm glad to live in a society that has doctors in Hospitals- and I I suppose probably is crew that that you could, really accused pharmaceutical companies are being manifested by commercial interests and not exclusively concerned for human welfare, but uhm I dreaded I know too little about it. I feel like they have been impressively hobbled by the now requirement that they put all the it effects in their television ads? Have you seen some of these ads who who is asking their doctors to prescribe these drugs the litany of side effects are far worse. Disease
terrifying ads with a smiling woman, who's talking about anal leakage and it's a horror film so. We cannot end on anal leakage, my face, like I said this question is running around talking with conversational terrorism if there was a common quality and and quality standards really throughout the entire world. Terrorism would be good at it. No, no, no is, is there a correlation between economic inequality and terrorism? And, if inequality, went down with terrorism, go down Well, the only data that exist and then I'm aware of show the opposite correlation. In fact, it's not the
most of the poor who are terrorists or most supportive of terrorism, and to speak specifically of the jihadist variety of terrorism and in fact, when you will see the Ographie is that the people who are most involved in these organisms- turns you see engineers and you even see doctors, and these are not. These are not peasants who graduate from being the cleaners of latrines. Two members of Al Qaeda or ISIS and as you for literacy in the muslim world. Support for suicide Terrorism in defense of the faith goes up, so it's just not this little liberal dream and I'm sorry to is the word liberal, in as a pinch but it this is an instance of the Duluth liberal dream that, if you could just spread more opportunity and more education around. That would, by definition, nullify these. The scariest
variance of religion, that's just there's, no, No sign of that being true, and you can see this is an endless number of examples where it's not the case that the issue we have to grapple with is it some ideas are so captivating that people even with people with a lot to live for who are psychologically, saying you have lots of opportunity who may already have families and young children. They think it is worth. Killing other people in defense of these ideas and and dying in the process. And it's the examples of There are endless and that's that's the the fact that we need to to grapple with one of my favorite quotes from Sammys these people really believe what they say. They believe and how difficult it is for us who don't believe anything very much.
To understand how powerful that can be, which part if you find this podcast Bible. 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 social media with your friends. You can blog about it or discuss it on your own podcast or you can support it directly and you can do this by subscribing through my website at Samharris, DOT, org and there you'll find subscriber only content, which includes my ask me anything episodes you also get access to advance tickets to my live events as well as streaming video of some of these events.
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Transcript generated on 2019-10-31.