« Making Sense with Sam Harris

Ask Me Anything #18

2021-09-20 | 🔗

Questions answered:

Why won’t you discuss COVID vaccines and Ivermectin with Bret Weinstein on the podcast?

What do you think about the recent prosecution of a 100-year-old Nazi in Germany?

How can we understand voluntary behavior without free will?

Does aid to the developing world do more harm than good?

Have your views about the risk of artificial general intelligence changed in recent years?

What did you think of Simon Biles’s decision to drop out of the Olympics?

How should Facebook and other social media platforms deal with the tradeoff between misinformation and censorship?

Why are people so resistant to changing their beliefs?

SUBSCRIBE to listen to the rest of this episode and gain access to all full-length episodes of the podcast at samharris.org/subscribe.


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.
Looking to make your search This is SAM Harris just a note to say that if your hearing this year, currently honour subscriber feet. We here in the first part of this conversation in order to access full episodes of making sense, podcast you'll need to subscribe. Sand Harris DOT, Org there you'll find or private rss feed to add to your favorite pot catcher, along with others, subscriber only content. We don't run ads on the past and therefore its may possible entirely through the support of our subscribers. So if you enjoy What we're doing here, please consider becoming one. I've been thinking more about what we're doing here. about what I'm doing personally and about how that fits into the various trends were seen
In our intellectual and ethical and political lives circumstance we find ourselves in his increasingly strange. Don't you think it's half psychological experiment? and half policies game, what are we doing her? I generally think about six. Innovation is a machine for engineering and safeguarding certain experiences, and it seems to me that it is early started running in earnest Mohammed, two thousand years of real culture. A few hundred years of anything like scientific rationality and then merely a few decades of leveraging all this with information technology Maybe there's a hardware and software analogy here, perhaps civilization.
The hardware layer and culture is the software where the things we actually build, the roads and bridges and the hospitals, the factory the internet, and then we have the reasons why we built these things and the insights and ideas that make them possible and the stories we tell ourselves and our expectations of one another, our hopes for the future. The norms. We adhere to and demand that others that here too, whether we can consciously that's a fine. Those norms or not much of culture is implicit. We need to make it more and more explicit when things begin to break down when our efforts to coerce rate with one another or failing and failing at great cost to everyone involved. On one about a miracle that anything works at all and things
We do work to an impressive degree. Most plans do not crash rather when you call the police and a common path to prevent or resolve a crime and everyone's grateful and no one appears racist journalist soften put their biases assigning at their facts. tomorrow, some drug company will develop a new medication and, regulators will help to standardize its usage, and it will actually improve people's quality of life without imposing unacceptable costs elsewhere. It against a background of success and successes that we increasingly take for granted that are failures are so notice but I know not alone and feeling that we have had more than our fair share of failures of late and, of course, we can't get off the ride right, there's no break to pull. We are condemned to create and proliferate,
culture means upon means upon means. We bend white and sound for the purposes of entertainment. We re corporations and economic relationships that leverage mutual advantage and yet seem to presuppose endless growth, It is very hard to envision were all of this. Frantic activity is headed and clearly we have, navigate between a crisis of overpopulation where we suffer some kind of global collapse and famine and under population where we have multitudinous Knesset men and women wandering the street and diapers when no one to care for them, and we have expect technology to save us or to ruin everything. We are the robots coming to our rescue or they come into kill us. It's hard to know from here, in time, as we stagger around with our smartphones, the knee
for meaning is becoming more and more pressing. What should we be doing with our time on earth? Needless to say, the ancient answers to this question aren't working in fact their becoming incur recently dangerous. One answer to the crisis of meaning is tribalism, and tribalism has many forms from care just a little too much about soccer or college basketball to thee. fully weapon, ized hysteria and call fishes that has subsumed our politics All tribalism now tens toward theocracy, whether its religious or not. It develops a taste for the irrational, rather often you to profess to believe the unbelievable ass, a profession of in group loyalty. And then the ideologies proliferate and they erect taboos and blasphemy tests that are non negotiable
and then even otherwise, smart and decent people increasingly adopt the ethics of the crowd and a scapegoat I find fine rather like to watch a human sacrifice. Whether real or metaphorical before We now see this dynamic in the form of identity, politics everywhere, there's not even a pretence of an argument that the world can be made better, for everyone in the media and academia and other institutions have been captured by all this clamour, and these new norms of intolerance in the name of tolerance are making honest com station more more difficult and even dangerous, because if you say anything the this modern catechism into question. If, for instance, you wonder whether system Racism is really as bad as advertised by those who might be shrieking abounded in Portland in front of a vacant. Storefront
the cops, her really killing disproportion numbers of young black men at this moment in history, or whether Islam, really as peaceful and compatible with maternity as Methodism is safe? or whether there is an element of social contagion behind the increase in Trans. Andrews among teenagers, specifically teenage girls or if the perverse serve social inequality we see in our society has any to do with certain cultural norms. Actually, being better than others or more terrifying, still, whether their genetic differences among individuals or even between groups that might be involved here. Well, if you even entered, pain. Any of those ideas will then you're a Nazi fit only to be destroyed, and this increasing it meant to moralising and politicizing, everything is because
in a thorough terran. It is stifling. Dissent is punishing thought crime and it has provoked an exodus of smart people from mainstream institutions, and so we now have palm casts and sub stacked newsletters proliferating by the hour But, as I have said several times of late, the shattering of institutions is increasingly dysfunctional. Not everything in our society can be accomplished by outsiders and iconic ass may imagine if we no longer trusted mainstream sources of airplane parts.
pilot was left of their own initiative to find spare engine parts from non traditional sources. That would be madness. You're going to get your spare plane parts on Etsy, but something analogous is happening in information space when people are deciding what to believe actually trying to figure out what is factually true. about covert, for instance, or China or climate change. People no longer trust the mainstream, media or academia, or the government deliver anything like the unvarnished truth, and this largely due to how captured these institutions are by left wing social justice hysteria and to make There is even more confusing there or Nazis in our society and there are people who are not see adjacent and some of these. will have had an inordinate influence over right wing politics.
Undermining our basic commitment to democracy there Many people on the right who, by tendency or design, seem to want to know or terrorism of their own, so are being pushed and pulled by turns to some kind of precipice. No question is: how can we stepped back reality? Doesn't care about the color of your skin your biological sex or the gender with which you identify. If I, religion into which you were born, or the cult toward which you are lured from some shopping mall, and if we play our cards right, the future won't care about those things either. But the question is: how do we get to that future? her with our world intact meat. When will we realised that were all on the same team and it we ve been celebrating one own goal after the next how will we realise it? What is it
mechanism that will force us to converge on a car and picture a reality and a common set of primary values anyway. Trying to figure this stuff out remains the purpose of this podcast and as always, the privilege to have anyone listening at all and now for today's questions I sam my name is Corrie. I live in, or Clare was guns in my question, for you is more of a vote, then a question. I really love to hear you discuss the Eric Topol podcast with brat wine seen on a future podcast. I know that you have considered that in
can rule it out at this point, but love for you to reconsider. My sense is that there is a lot more common ground to land on then disagreement and each of you, I think, could actually learn from the other about their own sense of reality surrounding the covid issues. I think we're all a bit confused and we would all learn from the two of you learning from each other. Thank you, hey Cory. Thanks for the question yeah, this is some. This is a hard one for me actually, and I I get that it seems crazy not to just flip on the microphone and talk to the guy. I talked to him and Heather who's also been his partner
I'm it's hard to put this in a way that doesn't sound like a personal attack. But the reason why I don't want to do a podcast with bread and Heather is the same Why wouldn't do upon cast with eight nine eleven truth, conspiracy, theorist or Alex Jones or end one in that world, because it there's a basic asymmetry which is very hard to overcome so much easier to make a mess then to clean it up it. So, vizier to light several small fires and put them out It's like a ten to one advantage to put it that way. Like my concern is not losing debate and that's absolutely not my concern if you're gonna view this is a debate its one almost immediately, but I worry about what people take from the encounter,
and I just don't want to do additional harm to our public conversation about what is in fact an important public health. CERN Andy growing power article. One first Asymmetry there is whether such an asymmetry here is that it is just impossible to debunk, mostly in real time and even if the point being made, is in fact spurious, it won't seem spurious to ninety nine percent of an audience right. So the person on the conspiracy theory side of things can say well what about the fourteen CDC officials who resigned last week and wouldn't give reason when asked what do you make of that right? Now, there's probably nothing to be made of that right. I didn't even hear about it and the truth is I just made that up.
but when delivered in the context of a quote debate about these things with someone who who's hole angle is theirs conspiracy everywhere, it can see my all you didn't know about that. Well, that's your problem! You should look into that. What about the paper that came out of Micronesia that showed I him was a hundred per cent effective. I didn't see that paper out of Micronesia, you didn't work, I usually do your homework is possible. The just scatter a lot of dust in the eyes and ears of the audience and make it seem like there are so many anomalies out there are there so many things that need to be explained and if you can explain those things, you're not gonna connect. This particular pattern of dots will then you're. Just not doing the work and in that need not necessarily be done in bad faith. Of course it can be right, it gets a tactic, but
That's not what I'm alleging bread and Heather would do. I have to say that the way they think now it's such a scatter shop. approach to this there's so little quality control around kind of information there putting forward and it takes such an effort to chase it all down and debunking, and anything that shows up. That's new in the conversation can't be tracked down in real time. So I don't have much hope at a conversation would wander producing a document that would be good for the world. the truth is I'm not the best person to have the conversation either. It would be good to have an immune, ology story virologist or someone who is much closer to this type of research Who could really get into the weeds with them more than Is there obviously the wrong people to be doing what they are doing and it shows, but as an obvious to their audience? It apparently is not obvious to me
So I would welcome an encounter between them Somebody who's, truly professional. qualified to talk about all the details, and perhaps that will happen in fact reached at Joe Rogan telling him when I thought of his latest podcast. Would Breton Heather. And recommended that he figure out how to unring that bell. maybe he will bring bread and Heather on with someone like air, topical or somebody even closer to the topic at hand. That could be useful, but even then I think that in Run of Reagan's audience its questionable, whether that will actually work for the reasons already given is just so easy to be misleading and again, I M not suggesting
Bad faith on their part, I am, I think they probably really believe everything there saying, but there is just an asymmetry here in how difficult it is to close every loophole to conspiracy and the influx of the incredible. As they get opened in the conversation. I will give you one example of the kind of thing I found implausible in Britain Heather's last appearance which Oregon and is the kind of thing that they too should find implausible that the moment these words escape their mouths and it still mysterious to me why this isn't happening but, for instance, they were talking about the evolutionary logic of immune escape right. So we give vaccines and the moment.
Tens of millions of people start getting vaccinated that begins to select for variants that can evade the vaccine right. So it's it's a fool's errand to be thinking that you're going to get out of this pandemic by vaccinating everyone, because you just gotta, create more transmissible and possibly even more dangerous variants? Had it alot wrong with this from a public health point of view and from an evolutionary point of view, from an evolutionary point of view, He's just half the story right. Yes, the immunity conferred through vaccination can select for variants that can defeat the vaccine, but the immunity conferred by having caught covered and recovered also select for variance that can escape that immunity Rights of vaccination is on all fours with natural immunity, their think of
worried we need to be about a variant that can defeat natural immunity. Also, that's an argument against all vaccination recognises no vaccines. To my knowledge are a hundred per cent effective regardless of exposure regardless of possible genetic. changes in a virus right, and I believe that the morning vaccines for covered are among the most effective vaccines. We have. We're just in the middle of a pandemic, which is an extreme circumstance not quite sure how our measles vaccines would be performing if we were in the middle of a measles pandemic. If everywhere you when you were confronted by somebody had measles, I don't how often measles mutates but tat, they would probably find that there are some breakthrough infection. So, if you follow.
His argument, you seem to land and a true anti backs position right, don't vaccinating as anything because you're selecting for dangerous variants again ignore during the fact that natural immunity is also doing that has cured the bread and Heather, or not seeing that because again they run everything through the logic of evolution is another glaring error here you know to suggest that our current problem, with variance, has anything to do with axes. Asian seems a little bonkers, because the big problem. The delta variant emerged in India and became prevalent there under conditions where exactly no one was vaccinated. We know that the emergence of delta nothing to do with our vaccination regime. The whole thrust of their comments. There is confused right and once again, they subtext to everything there saying
no matter how reasonable and attentive to caveats they can seem and ran through. They can seem incredibly reasonable. They do not seem like Alex Jones, and this is why what they're doing so insidious, but the basic message, the basic implication of everything they say, and the apparent reason behind everything there saying is the belief These covered vaccines are dangerous and you should be worried about them. You should be profoundly hesitant to take them. These are not normal vaccines and, in fact the pushing of these vaccines on the public is colossal early on ethical. That is what they are messaging
right. They ve said as much explicitly on their own part cast. I think bread called it the greatest crime of the century or something insane like that. I should get the actual language her hold on. Ok, now I've taken a few minutes and found the transcript of brats confabulation on this topic is talking about the absolute scandal of firm, the suppression of the life saving knowledge of ivory actin and they pushing the vaccines on his own podcast words, into a doctor. Corey. The podcast itself is titled the crime of the century and are going back and forth about how nefarious the machinations must be to have produced this policy. Doktor choruses, all the pipeline molecules stuff is coming that they want to bring to market, are also there right, then, and in Britain,
which have had a tremendous investment made in them. The thing I think we're almost certain to get wrong is that as outside, yours. We have no idea what these conversations sound like on the inside There's a temptation to imagine that people are somehow sitting around comfortable with the fact that their behaviour is going to cause hundreds of thousands possibly millions of deaths, the domestic humanity, with a relationship with a pathogen there will not be able to shake because will prevent us from taking the appropriate action until it's too late We met in the people are saying these things out loud what I am sure that there are some sociopath and the system or probably capable of having those discussions, but there aren't enough sociopaths to account for this behaviour. There is some way that people who are doing harm great enough I've called the crime of the century- and I realized a century of young, but this is going to be hard to top, is going to be hard to top. There are some way that people who are engaged, something worthy of a claim like the crime of the century are comfortable with what
doing or worse are convinced is the right thing that somehow the greater good as being served we'll get outta here. You have it in fairly crystal inform the conspiratorial thinking the outrageous claims about death and destruction due to these vaccine and the suppression of ivory acting for purely mercenary reasons. The problem, of course, is that no reason to think this is true right. There is no reason to think that I have remarked in is a surrogate forgetting vaccinated and there's no reason to think that people should be terrified of getting these vaccines and
is the message of bread is spreading hour by hour by hour, whereas the truth is, we have a head to head comparison between three cohorts of people, tens of millions, hundreds of millions in some cases, those who have been vaccinated, those who have called covert without being vaccinated, Those who have caught covered having been vaccinated- and we know the outcomes, we know them well enough to know that you're far better being vaccinated and eventually catching covered, as you will then catching it without having been vaccinated catching covered is not a strategy. for becoming immune to covet. It's just catch uncovered and those who survive will have some natural immunity The jury is no longer out on that score. Now. It may be true that in certain populations
It is rational to worry that the potential side effects of vaccination are greater than the risk of covert. First, as I believe there are some data about tat, age boys having a higher risk of Maya, Cardenas. Then teenage girls, certainly because a tenfold differ, and the risk may be high enough and it is in fact greater than their risk of become. In severely ill with covered the date I saw suggested it was kind of a coin toys there, but slightly in favour of not getting vaccine if those data hold up with any ice, it may be rational to decide that twelve year old boys shouldn't be vaccinated. But the general picture here is fairly well established. We know catching covered is worse in almost every case. That has thus far been tried, then
in vaccinated for covered and from what I've seen recently, the data in favour of IRA Makin seems increasingly dubious, so parsing. All this should be left to the professionals right, and can I come back to my basic mystification around what Breton Heather doing I do this publicly you're gonna make the personal choice not to get vaccinated based on your scrutiny of the data great make that choice, but why Spain, and the better part of a year convincing people that they shouldn't get vaccinated you say: that's not what you're doing, but that is in fact what you're doing and that's what seems so irresponsible, the? U S is now one of the least vaccinated countries in the developed world. We got these lifesaving vaccines
for everyone and now, where the thirty seventh most vaccinated country. behind the USA and Portugal and Singapore and Spain and Denmark and Europe. Why Chalais, Belgium, Ireland, Canada, Bahrain the UK. Mongolia were behind Mongolia, Norway, ITALY, France, the Netherlands, Germany for behind Mauritius and Cyprus. But were also behind Cambodia, Lithuania, Malaysia, the Czech Republic, Greece, it makes no sense right as because of missing formation and the weight interacting with our hyper partisan political landscape. That's why we're here- and there is no question that
three hours of the Breton Heather Show on Joe Rogan is having an effect in that'll sounded censorious as it does. I just think it irresponsible and I'm not quite sure how to grab hold of this increasingly unbalanced object, so to set it right, but perhaps Rogan will do something to on ring the bell. Ok, next question: I have money and I was in Paris, Bulgaria. My question for you. If you like to continue listening to this conversation, you'll need to subscribe and SAM Aristotle 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 aims eyes and the conversations I've been having on the waking up at the makings has podcast his ad free and relies
Thailand listeners important, and you can subscribe now at SAM Harris DOT, Org
Transcript generated on 2021-09-20.