« Making Sense with Sam Harris

Ask Me Anything #17

2021-08-08 | 🔗

In this episode of the podcast, Sam takes your questions. He begins by addressing the blowback that followed his previous podcast on “vaccine hesitancy” with Eric Topol. And then he answers the following questions:

How can I inoculate my biracial children against identity politics?

In what way is journalism broken, and how can we fix it?

Have you read the research suggesting that the effects of microdosing psychedelics are indistinguishable from taking placebos?

Can you comment on the degree to which Leftist political ideas have captured the Buddhist community?

What should Democrats do to prevent a resurgence of Trumpism?

What are the ingredients for a good life?

Is it ever ethical for governments to lie to their citizens?

If the present moment is all that matters, how can we plan for the future?

Learning how to train your mind is the single greatest investment you can make in life. That’s why Sam Harris created the Waking Up app. From rational mindfulness practice to lessons on some of life’s most important topics, join Sam as he demystifies the practice of meditation and explores the theory behind it.

This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
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what we're doing here. Please consider becoming one ok she's from within an addendum to the last pike ass on vaccines and vaccines, hesitancy with Eric topple some. The responses I receive too that have been astoundingly stupid, I guess it's not a total surprise. Philly deal with too many specifics. Hearing one criticism I do take to heart, if only because it came in one form from my wife is Despite my saying that I wanted to remain non judgmental and try to produce document that the vaccine averse could actually receive without feeling denigrated in anyway. I didn't
try hard enough and ass, only my guest Eric didn't try hard enough. I would have to say we are guilty- is charged and untrue that not even sure it's the right target and when there is something patronising about the claim that, in order to reach the vaccine, hesitant, you have to walk on a shelf so as to not make them feel judged. Nevertheless, I do see the depressing results of the last part cast all around me, those who were disposed to agree with me, absolutely loved it and were grateful and those who are worried about the covert vaccines and, taken in by what I have heard on bread, Weinstein's, podcast or Tucker Karlsson, or wherever the thought Eric, and I were totally clueless about the state of the conversation that's happening over there. I dont actually
the solution at her, because there is some people ass, joint, wanted to have bread on the podcast talk about all this. But I think that would be a bad idea, not because anything are adequate answers to the kinds of points he would raise, but, like so many debates on fairly fringe topics, your class, a conspiracy theories, religious fundamentalism Many points can't be addressed in real time. Many anomalies can't be fully explained right. Any can give a sense of uncertain That is truly unwarranted. So there are many case. Is where merely having the conversation can be misleading for many many people, and indeed case in the middle of a public health crisis. I think it is irresponsible to run this just asking questions routine
public. That's what it really is. My objection to what bread is doing, it's just too easy for even smart people to come away from a discussion on these topics confused and by default, to supposed to not do anything, which is to say, not get vaccinated There are so many things at play here: there's that fact that sticking a needle in your arm really seems like something intrusive right, people are afraid of needles. They find the whole thing unpleasant. They certainly find an unpleasant to have someone due to their kids right, and I think we can say how the debate here would be different if the vaccine were delivered as a achievable gummy
or as a nasal spray right. I think that would feel different too many people, but the default is to feel that getting vaccinated or getting your kids vaccinated is an active. Mission, which entails greater ethical concern and responsibility. Then an act of omission right, not doing something not doing something is who can fall to four just sitting on your hands or in this case you become part of a p. British potentially breeding new variants of this virus and you're a free rider on heard immunity if or ever achieved, and I think it is appropriate to judge people partake that position. It is not merely a choice. You're making for yourself even choosing not to wear a seatbelt, isn't merely a choice you're making for yourself there. You don't have the problem of epidemiology, but if you
are not wearing a seat belt and your thrown from your car in an accident and horribly injured. Society pays the costs of that. Your medical bills raise the cost of insurance for everyone, and if your uninsured society, berossus costs right his eyes bearing the costs of people who rural land an icy use with severe complications from covered why wasn't necessary at this point? I think it's totally appropriate to put the onus on me vaccine, hesitant here, unless, of course, they have really compelling reasons not to.
Want to get vaccinated and some people who do that at the very people who, for whom heard immunity, is such an important variable, the people who are immune compromised in various ways or who have terrible reactions to vaccines? There are people like this who can't vaccinated and those are precisely the people. One is thinking about when championing the virtues of heard immunity. So it's hard to get past sense that what is happening among the vaccine, hesitant, is given the state of our current information, a failed commitment to the common good, You are helping prolong a problem that need not be prolonged. We know these vaccines work and we know their safe enough at this point, certainly compared to the problem of getting covered without the benefit of getting back there. And if I didn't believe we knew this, then there might be something to debate, but just I'm not gonna happen,
I guess we're somewhat harangue in me about thermite and the melting point of steel. I'm not gonna have a debate about these vaccines in the absence of truly compelling items and give you a sense of how weak the evidence is out there. Maybe you just want when I saw a breadth response to my podcast one of the things he and his wife Heather did on thereupon gases single out her distinction a wonderful thread on twitter by someone named Alexandrovitch Marinos who dissected my podcast with Eric topple, minute by minute and in Britain Heather recommended that people study this thread as a demolition of that episode.
Again, there's no reason to go into the details here, but so much of this was so obviously missing the point and silly I'll just flag. One thing that should alert Bret and Heather to how far into the precincts of paranoia they've wondered at one point Alexandros references. My claim that we can take the worst fear is that the vaccine hesitant at face value, and it would still be rational to get back connected. The worst fear is being that the various databases reporting real numbers deaths, associate with the vaccine, suggesting that as many as twelve thousand people may have died outright from it. Now, Andrews admonishes me to be more careful than that, because
firstly, because of the u I and you acts concerned this database. People fear that the problem may be tenfold greater than reported so now being asked to imagine that a hundred and twenty thousand people in the? U S. have died outright, but plebeian vaccinated, no one died in the clinical trials, but a hundred twenty thousand people may have died in the last few months. and no one is really noticing. Apparently, right, what's what's happening here, our icy use, filling up with people who were just vaccinated is that one amassed a believer these people dying in their homes and no one what about it? There is absolutely no reason to believe anything like that gets. You are in a social context where those fears simple
possible to you? You have been lured into some kind of information back water. That is not good for your mind and it's certainly not good for our collective. Well being I could have another thread. That's even more to the point which bread also singled out is really indispensable for understanding of what's going on among the vaccine, hesitant- and this comes from someone named constant and kissing the very long thread, but the first we re your struggling to understand why some people are vaccine, hesitant, Lila help you mega thread imagine your normal person, the years twenty. Sixteen rightly or wrongly, you believe. Most of what you see in the media, you believe poles are broadly reflective of public opinion. You believe doctors and scientists are trustworthy and independent
Your decent reasonable person who follows the rules and trusts authority, and then he goes through all of the insults to this naive way of thinking that have occurred in the last five years or so he talks about breaks it action of Trump and the claim that Russians were involved in getting him elected the steel last year, the Jesse Small that hoax, the Covington Catholic High school affair, the capitulation of various institutions, medical and otherwise, to welcome all the buddy me ology us who shrieked about covered when people on the far right were protesting, but the moment the protest for George Floyd erected. They not only didn't, judge the protesters but asserted that protest was itself a contribution to public health. All of these insults to reasonableness and insight.
His of public hypocrisy and adjust the full Whitney here. So he runs through all of this as an explanation why the vaccine hesitant now no longer trust authority of any kind. The government scientists, scientific journals, public health officials, as though this explains at all old quibble with a couple of things Constantine said in his litany of abuse, but the general shape of it is something I totally accept. Yes, there has been an impressive breakdown in our institutions, and, in particular, the media and the way in which politics as to range our public conversation more or less on every topic. But the one thing that this analysis does not explain is the thinking of those of us who have still followed the plot. Those of us who experienced
all of these insult to our intelligence and yet still managed to understand that I'm really was a threat to our democracy at the sight of a U S, presence not committing to a peaceful transfer power. Doesnt convince you on that point. Nothing will and in the case of covert- despite all of the failures of clear thinking and clear public health messaging, many of us still understand that the vaccines are incredibly effective and all things considered far wiser to be vaccinated at this point, then, to be running the risk of getting covert without having been vaccinated, it's possible to keep the big picture in view. Here's the big picture, the failings of our
Tatoosh need not lead to a total breakdown of trust in our institutions, but it is possible to exaggerate how much our institution have failed, and that is what is most objectionable and so dysfunctional about what bread is doing with his podcast. This just asking questions routine is corrosive of public trust at a time where the failure of trust translates into disease and death An unnecessary risk of disease and death, for others were in the middle of a pandemic. There is Oh compelling reason at this point to be worried about these vaccines. There is compelling reason to be worried about just letting this pandemic.
Burn through the UN vaccinated population which should be spreading these vaccines to the entire world at this point and we need institutions right, we need to repair our institutions. We need to criticise them for their failures, but the I'd, here that we can navigate a global public health emergency by podcast, and some stack newsletter is patently ridiculous. We need a functioning CDC and FDA an who we need: medical journals that are credible and it's his breakdown and legitimacy or perceived legitimacy that is proving so dysfunctional. So my issue with what bread is doing is that he's doing it in public fine? If you are uncomfortable getting vaccinated, do you want to make that private decision for yourself and your family will find? I don't agree with it, but that is very different than making it a public off.
to convince as many people as possible that they should be worried about these vaccines? There is no compelling reason at this moment to be worried about these vaccines, and yet you are devoting podcast after Pon cast to spread that fear again in the middle of a pandemic. That's the part that doesn't make any sense. That's the part that seems unethical and irresponsible, of course, is possible to worry about the long term safety implications of these vaccines or of any other new medical intervention for which long Term safety data are unavailable. I'm not is crazy to worry about these things, I'm saying All things considered is not reasonable and is not reasonable to stoke those fears in millions of people. We have a force choice. You can get exposed
covered without having been vaccinated or after having been vaccinated. That's the choice, of course, bread thinks there's a third choice. You can be exposed, while taking Iver Makin prophylactically, but he admitted I met in, is not widely available that most people can get their hands on it. So this isn't an option for his audience for the most part, even if he could justify it for himself, which again I don't think he can really do so. This really is the crux of the matter, which I had put directly to bread. What public good is being served by spreading, fear of the covert vaccines to millions of people who have no rational alternative really, but to be vaccinated.
We have every reason to believe that the long term implications of getting covert without having been vaccinated or worse, take the concerns about election fraud, better and endemic on the political right at the moment now. Is it completely insane to be concerned about election fraud? Non election fraud is certainly a possibility that we should be worried about. We should guard against. It were absolutely right to want to be confident in the results of our elections, and if this new technology that we introduce it turns out to be hack a bowling. All of that is a concern. I know it's not you not crazy to be thinking about election intact and happily many smart people on both sides of the Isle have thought a lot about it. It turns out that there is no significant evidence of election fraud, but should we be on guard against this
worse, but what we have among Republicans at the moment is the utter. Lee Delusional claim that the twenty twenty election was stolen, and this has become a crystal of doubt around which an insane personality cult has formed. So the merely asking questions routine is in bad faith or it's totally, oblivious to the corrosive affair. of asking certain questions again and again: I'm not gonna. Have someone on the podcast talk about the twenty twenty election who's gonna say: will what about the four thousand back in Phoenix that went missing when it's impossible to respond to a claim like that. You platform acclaim like that that you can't possibly respond to. I don't know if it's made up, I don't know,
how many journalists it would take to track down. But I know that in the general picture of things, the incentives are such that the claim is guaranteed to be barriers we're talking about an election which, in the relevant case, was governed by republican election officials, and there were republican judges who heard these challenges and threw them out. Right. The incentives we're never there to produce a massive fraud. All of this is virtually guaranteed to people should now. Is it conceivable that some facts will come to light so that I'll have to recount the statement? Sure it's conceivable and is conceivable That in some years will discover that a morning vaccines were more dangerous than we thought, and I were makin is a far more potent prophylactic against covered. Then we have any right to believe now, but the question is what is it rational to believe and do now? Given the information we have
anyway. As I said, I don't actually think there's much to say on this topic. I do think it is quite straightforward. We have enough information to know what happened to people generally speaking when they get these vaccines. the differential outcomes for the vaccinated and non vaccinated who get covered that part, really isn't debatable anymore. So if we want to get society back, If something like normal globally speaking, I think,
and ethical obligation to help get the world vaccinated against this disease as worth considering what the world will look like if we get a variant that is far more deadly than those currently circulating, how will the just asking questions routine? Look in the case of something this killing five or ten or fifteen, or twenty per cent of those it infects awfully, will never experience such a thing, but under those conditions to get a vaccine that works and not to use it and argue against its use should be unthinkable and I'm not so sure it is
this point and I think we're in the presence of something like a religious or pseudo religious phenomenon. People are just not thinking clearly and mirror. Contrary cynicism is becoming part of their identities and there's something pornographic about all this. This reflexive distrust of institutional authority is like the pornography of doubt. People are infatuated with this stuff and there's a there's a zealotry around it, and the quality of the thinking is so bad in so many cases. Given my experience on other time it's impossible to shake the feeling of familiarity here. This is what it's like to argue about religion,
or the nine eleven truth, conspiracy and those front. I've learned to pick my battles because getting into the trenches is so unrewarded Covid aside, we have a much larger problem on our hands, but we have to figure out how to solve this riddle of how do we improve our institutions and trust them when we should all the while recognizing to become less worthy of that trust said we have to repair an airplane as its wine and not do anything so stupid or iconoclastic that it just falls out of the sky and that's what I perceive Brett and his audience to be doing we're just asking questions. We're just doubting everything we're just being sign
acceptance. Show us the data are believe it when you show it to me, oh, but what about this little wrinkle over here you're, the jet fuel and burns of fifteen hundred degrees, Fahrenheit and the melting point of steel is twenty five hundred Greece Fahrenheit, and you mean to tell me that those plans brought down those buildings. Have we heard a thermite over ninety page masters thesis? I want you to read on the thermite hypothesis. He said it s, I'd for them. That's where we are, and it matters that people like bread for choosing to contribute to that side of the conversation. Ok and now get in to your questions. I sam my name is Walt Doll, cash and I live in Dublin, Ireland. My question for you is: how can I inoculate my by racial children against the identity, politics ideology? They are bound to encounter at school and university.
Ok: well what this was a question on the minds of many of us If you like to continue listening to this conversation, you'll need to subscribe SAM Herriston work once you do, you'll get access to, Full length episode of making sense podcast, along with other subscriber only content, including bonus episodes and Amy. yes and the conversations I've been having on the waking up at the makings has podcast his ad free and released Thailand listener support, and you can subscribe now at San Harris Network,
Transcript generated on 2021-08-08.