In case you’ve been wondering how Sam Harris and Matt Dillahunty dealt with the absence of their compadre, Lawrence Krauss, at their talk last week, we have a partial recording. They spent 15 minutes explaining that they weren’t going to talk about it, and saying how important the #metoo movement is while doing their damnedest to imply that we have to watch out because bitches lie.
I’ve been sitting on it for a while because when Harris babbles out that bullshit about how people are equating Weinstein and Ansari in “literally the same sentence” my brain became congested with boiling blood and rendered me unable to act. Fortunately, Thomas Smith says exactly what I think of the whole shambles. Go listen to that.
Thomas is so excellent with these types of episodes, a real breath of fresh air in a movement that has become completely disconnected from any humanistic ideals.
My favorite part:
You see what he did there, right? He goes from, “Yeah, sure Matt, I totally agree that we should do everything we can to empower victims,” directly to “But, I’ll just go ahead and out-of-hand dismiss Buzzfeed without a single legitimate reason, which defacto means there are no victims, which means we don’t have to do a damn thing.”
Sam Harris, the Slipperiest Atheist Alive, which is really saying something.
Porivil Sorrens says
No heroes, etc.
Matt’s already annoying enough with his constant lionizing of Harris/Pinker and his refusal to speak out against deplorables without “Both-sides”-ing and Harris is an islamiphobic idiot so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.
Never had any time for Sam Harris, but I have watched a bunch of Krauss’s content, especially the Origins Project stuff, and I’ve been an off-and-on viewer of the ACA show here in Austin for many years, where Matt is clearly one of the best hosts they have. So it’s doubly disappointing to see all this unfolding.
I also get that it’s hard to disassociate yourself from someone who’s been a friend and colleague (especially given the boost to your own public profile that association has meant), but really, Matt’s personal relationship with the accused is turning him into a blithering idiot. If it had been any other person, he would have been perfectly happy to condemn their behavior, given the scale and nature of the allegations.
Mind you, it’s not the first time he’s helped defend the indefensible for a friend. I recall a joint event with Richard Dawkins where Dawkins was defending one of his outrageous tweets (I forget which one) and Matt played the loyal wing man there too.
UnknownEric the Apostate says
Of course, how else is he going to get famous in the atheoskeptical sphere without loyally kissing the asses of the “leaders?”
Porivil Sorrens says
Matt has a history of waffling whenever he’s in the presence of one of the “Thought Leaders”, like when he gave a really half-assed non-refutation when Dawkins was off ranting about how safe spaces are evil sjw echo chambers.
Leo Buzalsky says
I am tending to agree with tacitus about Dillahunty. I saw him on post on Twitter complaining about how a Buzzfeed reporter (perhaps the one who wrote the article on Krauss?) kept texting him after he told her “No comment” and claimed this was unethical journalism. Matt should be smart enough to know that journalism would be pretty damn ineffectual if reporters simply said, “Oh, OK,” when someone tells them “No comment.” Of course journalists are going to be pushy! Worse, he said she “threatened” to keep texting him until he gave her an email to contact him at. Yet, the screenshots he posted really just showed her texting that she could send an email instead if that would work better. Matt seemed to have taken his personal annoyance with being bothered by a reporter and twisted it into some grave ethical violation that it clearly was not.
FossilFishy (NOBODY, and proud of it!) says
In the years I’ve been listening to Matt I don’t remember anything that caused me to wonder if he was a misogynist. But his inability to recognise his own motivated reasoning when it comes to the likes of Dawkins, Harris, and Krauss. makes me wonder if as a het, cis, dude I missed some tells. And it’s really disappointing because he’s demonstrated the ability to spot that shit in others over and over again.
The amount of people blaming #MeToo. Christ on a stick, how the hell is it womens fault some bloke can’t keep his hands to himself? It how people treat #BLM movement too. And yes Matthew, its’ good to be skeptical, but not when you have XX amount of reports and xx amounts of witnesses pointing to the same. That’s not being skeptical, that’s denying the evidence.
No one is or should be attacking Krauss’s work. Yes, it’s embarrassing, shocking and a blow to the paid Atheists groups. No doubt religious groups will have a field day with it, but he did that himself. There’s no one else to blame for it, if his career is ruined (which personally I think will depend on what his response will be) that’s on him. Women have been putting up with this shit for thousands of years, the fact the are not putting up with it, one little bit, any more, isn’t something bad or wrong. They’ve just had a gut full and not having one more spoonful of shit, not matter how small. I hope one day everyone will think the same of religion.
He could eat humble pie, apologise to the women personally, ask them and others what he can do to make a change for the positive and to make amends. Or he can come out and blame everyone else but himself for his actions. It’s up to him. He could, with hard work set a standard on what the right action is after being caught doing such things. Obviously rape is a prison sentence, but being a sexual douche bag is something that can be redeemable.
Porivil Sorrens says
Oof, his last Atheist Experience also features him denying that the US engages in imperialist political actions, so like, lol, cis white dude has a hot take about women and US foreign aggression.
Your animus towards real (and vastly accomplished) liberals like Steve Pinker and and Sam Harris is disappointing.
Matt G says
I used to respect Pinker and Harris. I even have books of theirs. Then I started paying close attention to the things they were saying, often in unscripted moments. My respect for Harris tanked several years ago, while tanking only in the last year for Pinker. They may call themselves liberals, rationalists, skeptics, etc., but they have betrayed that they are nowhere near as liberal/rational/skeptical as they imagine. They simply rationalize their biases, thinking themselves too smart to be wrong. Hey, that’s what the religious do!
Azkyroth, B*Cos[F(u)]==Y says
….. I was promised waffles :'(
I’m perfectly willing to accept that Matt Dillahunty isn’t a misogynist. I find it implausible that he’s been keeping some underlying hostility and prejudice against women hidden for all the years he’s been in the public eye. Of course, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have any blind spots — we all have those to a lesser and greater degree.
But I think it’s more what I said in my previous comment. Krauss is a friend and colleague. He is also a charismatic personality who is no doubt a lot of fun to be around. It’s also very likely that he never saw Krauss be anything but respectful to the women while in Matt’s company, and probably never raised any red-flags during their private conversations either. If he wasn’t smart about his predation, his career as a public speaker and celebrity atheist would have been over years ago.
So, I can empathize with how difficult it would be to suddenly be presented with a completely different picture of a man he respected and thought he knew. That doesn’t excuse his inability to weigh the evidence objectively and come to the right conclusion, but makes it understandable.
Porivil Sorrens says
Given that I’m not a liberal, and am generally in the group that considers “liberal” an insult, why would I care if they’re ~real liberals~?
So nice to hear two people give measured and rational responses. Not really surprised by the massive amounts of mind reading and strawmen in the comments.
chigau (違う) says
14 comments is a bit small to find ness.
Count down to Sam Harris and Matt Dillahunty sexual shenanigans revelations. I was going to revelation singular, but there’s always more than one.
Can’t you guess? Paxoll is a completely reliable apologist for the likes of Harris and Pinker.
Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk- says
Always funny when people are trying to insult you, but just confirm your opinion that “real liberals” are useless at best and in bed with fascists at worst.
This actually prompted me to check the Weinstein allegations … wow I had no idea of the extent, the one’s I’d heard of were mostly sexual harassment, shit that is terrible. That said, Sam’s description of Ansari’s behaviour as “a bad date” is still shitty.
1. Open the lid.
2. Throw in Sam Harris and Matt Dillahunty.
As far as I’m concerned, I had animus towards Sam Harris from the moment I read his defence of torture in The End of Faith. An animus that has only grown as he has advocated for racial profiling and bigotry towards Muslims.
I’m curious as to what his supposed ‘accomplishments’ in regards to Liberalism even are?
Sam Harris is not a liberal. He is a moderate conservative.
Regarding the issue of “distinction deniers”, as Bill Maher calls them (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N1MZRowhMtc), the response Smith gives in his podcast is basically that there are just some crazies on twitter who have this distinction-denying problem, and that’s all there is. I don’t think that answers the problem.
For instance Senator Gillibrand said, “I think when we start having to talk about the differences between sexual assault and sexual harassment and unwanted groping you are having the wrong conversation.” That’s what Maher (in the video) and others are concerned about.
Also mentioned by Maher is the large backlash Matt Damon received for saying there is a spectrum of behavior: “there’s a difference between, you know, patting someone on the butt and rape or child molestation, right? Both of those behaviors need to be confronted and eradicated without question, but they shouldn’t be conflated.”
Damon was not only denounced by Minnie Driver and Alyssa Milano; the fire came from all over, as you can see by googling. Damon received so much criticism that he eventually apologized. Yet what Damon said is completely true. That’s the problem.
What’s “moderate” about advocating torture and racial profiling?
Something can be true, and yet a harmful andor hurtful distraction – for example, suppose someone tells you they hsave been diagnosed with a serious medical condition, and you reply: “But there’s a distinction between having your condition, and being dead”. But maybe Matt Damon is too stupid to realise that. Maher is just an arsehole.
That’s moderate conservatism for you. He is a moderate conservative because he is not a batshit crazy Trump supporter.
They were only discussing the issues of sexual assault and conveniently ignored conduct towards women in a workplace or academic setting. Here Krauss’s comments were witnessed and clearly demonstrate that he views women as sexual objects first and people second. While they said they believed women, it was again in the context of sexual assault allegations, not that they believe women have the same capacity for academic and professional excellence as themselves. So in the entire conversation, they were doing the same thing, by only talking about women as troublesome sexual objects.
And how exactly those comments qualify as “distinction denying”? Where is your evidence genius? A refusal to change the topic of conversation does not mean anything one way or another.
Let me highlight the important part for you:
“You are having the wrong conversation” does not mean you are wrong. It means you are trying to distract.
Essentially you have a side A who wants to talk about all forms of sexual harassment and sexual assault. Then you have a side B who wants to distract by talking about “distinctions”, trivial distinctions that are not in dispute and they have never been in dispute. But side B just wants to keep bringing it up. Over and over and over again. Side B also wants to bring up the argument that sometimes accusations are false and that they are bad when they are false. But side A does not disagree that false accusations are bad or that there are distinctions. Side A simply does not want to talk about those trivial points and focus on the more important conversation.
So what side B do? Side B says “Aha! Since you don’t want to talk about my pet topics, I just accuse you of thinking that all forms of sexual assault are the same and that false accusations are fine!” That is just pathetic.
Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk- says
Yes exactly, that’s the problem. What Damon said is obviously completely true. It is also completely obvious. No-fucking-body was making the claim that “an inappropriate comment to your coworker or catcalling a woman on the street is exactly the same as gang raping a five year old.”
No-fucking-body was conflating those things so why did Damon have the very important urge to publicly talk about it? What did it add to the conversation?
Nothing. It only distracted, tried to create a hirarchy of “real victims” and “not so real victims” and tried to distract from the conversation about men’s behaviour by telling women with authority that obviously they don’t know that there’S a difference.
Believe me, we do. I never thought that the guy who groped my butt on a public street raped me. I never confused catcalls with a knife to my throat.
Why do you think we do?
Matt Damon’s asinine remark was intended to distract from women speaking out. We’ve seen this already with the “all lives matter” thing: just say an obviously true, uncontroversial thing to detract from the true important matter at hand. Of course all lives matter, but why are you saying it now right after somebody said black lives matter? Similarly with Damon… why are you saying that in response to women’s accusations? Are women accusing people who sexually harassed them of rape? It’s essentially a strawman type technique.
Maybe everyone should just get past this “holier than thou” attitude.
The radio host has a sort of “holier than thou” attitude towards Matt Dillahunty. But it’s completely impossible for Matt Dilahunty to have said everything completely correctly and to everyone’s liking. Even the radio host doesn’t get it completely right. He fails to distinguish when Dillahunty is speaking about Lawrence Krauss specifically and when he is speaking about sexual harassment generally. Some of his anger is a direct result of him failing to make this distinction. So no one is perfect.
All that is happening is that you’re making enemies of of people who are essentially your friends. The only winners are your actual enemies.
“Matt Damon’s asinine remark was intended to distract from women speaking out”
How do you know this was his intention?
All the evidence is that he inadvertently distracted from the conversation.
He apologised after all. So give the guy a break. He is not your enemy.
(It is, of course, true that there are gradations and that some in the blogosphere are conflating them all, but they are a minority and that’s why it was a distraction)
This was Minnie Driver’s response to the Matt Damon interview: “No. You don’t get to be hierarchical with abuse. And you don’t get to tell women that because some guy only showed them their penis their pain isnt as great as a woman who was raped.” (https://twitter.com/driverminnie/status/941905518284566528)
Do you believe that is reasonable? Driver was widely praised for her response, as were others who made similar comments. The issue is that Maher and others don’t see this as a reasonable approach to dealing with sexual misconduct.
Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk- says
Because what Driver said was not “exhibitionism is the same as rape”
She said, emphasis mine:
Pain is a very individual thing. People aren’t just chemical reactions where A+B will always be C. One woman may cope better with rape than another woman does with a guy showing her his dick. That in general the latter group does better than the former does not negate this and neither you nor Matt Damon are qualified to tell any woman how great her pain actually is and to how much of it she is entitled.
Let me be perfectly clear here: If a person is traumatized by somebody’s actions it isn’t their fault. They are not weak or unworthy of care and sympathy just because the particular event would not cause trauma to the majority of people.
He obviously thought that what he had to say was much more important than what the women had to say. Attention is a limited thing and he claimed some of it.
This is fucking rich, you know? Because it wasn’t Saad or me or lotharloo who brought up Damon, but hks, yet you’re chastising us. Let me tell you something: We would probably have forgotten about it already.
Porivil Sorrens says
Matt the waffling idiot could leave the atheist community today and we wouldn’t lose anything of value.
Oh no, one less person to, idk, swear at people over phones and get in debates with low-hanging-fruit creationist morons.
Dawkins is a moron too, but at least he had something of value in the form of his scientific work. Matt is just irrelevant.
Porivil Sorrens says
Lmao, and he’s apparently on to denouncing BLM now! White dude sure has a lot of hot takes!
Massive in severity of offense, although giving the post a few hours has collected a great many more examples as well.
A fine example of the dishonesty in the people here. Lie, and when your lie is caught, conflate your lies with something else.
Author’s note: Given their tone thus far, this is where I would assume the worst and just mock paxoll with a superboost of sneering sarcasm and a small side of irrational, unfair, and hyperbolic contempt, but I am genuinely curious, so …
paxoll @15 and @37, in light of the overwhelming amount of evidence, the sheer number of people interviewed, and the damning corroboration of a slew of unconnected victims and witnesses cited in the article, can you elaborate on what you view as being rational and measured about their responses? Since I am clearly not seeing it, what specifically did they say that you believe was rational and measured? Is it simply that they were careful to note that nothing Krauss did can measure up to Weinstein-level offenses — is that what you mean by “severity of offenses” — or is there something else? Maybe you heard something I didn’t?
Like Thomas, I really want to give Matt the benefit of the doubt; I have trusted his approach to a lot of things for a lot of years. So, I would really appreciate if you are willing to share actual perspective beyond the “all the people here with whom I disagree are fucking liars” messages you’ve shared here so far. Thanks.
Giliell, well the preceding text which frames the part you quoted is: “No. You don’t get to be hierarchical with abuse.” And I think many or most people would respond to that with something like, “No, there is a hierarchy to abuse. Rape near the top. Flashing near the bottom.”
> One woman may cope better with rape than another woman does with a guy showing her his dick.
I’d say that probably isn’t true. But supposing one could find such a case (or, more likely, invent one as a thought experiment), it would be such a contrived and extreme situation that would only end up being the exception which proves the rule.
Porivil Sorrens says
So, the hypothetical “many or most” people you imagine agree with you totally count, but the people Giliell talks about are either purely part of a thought experiment or “so rare that they’re the exception that proves the rule”?
@Tony, You obviously did not bother with context while quote mining me as “severity of offense” had absolutely nothing to do with Matt, Harris, OR Krauss. The conversation was a total of 3 sentences out of 5, if you can’t follow that I don’t know how much more I can do for you.
First the rational and reasoned response is to NOT respond. Which is what they did. The very first thing they said, is that they were not going to address the specific allegations in the article. What they DID do is outline their own personal beliefs and how they respond to the general topic of sexual harassment. Which is significantly better then what people here are doing. I have yet to see someone including PZ, identify a problem, demonstrate that it is a problem, and then give a rational solution to fix the problem. All I do see is people screaming “x is a harasser”, “y is a x apologist” or “y is a (insert ad hominem here)” Do you need me to quote the examples of everything I said or can you scroll up and find them yourself? As for calling KG a liar, its pretty simple to shop through the few blog posts here on Harris and Pinker and see what I’ve said about them.
Its the chairs. How can you make sense from the bottom of one of those ?
Then you haven’t been reading here very long.
There’s a long history of discussion on this topic that addresses all of your points. To give a summary:
1. There is a problem with harassment, especially sexual harassment, in the organized skeptical and atheist communities. See (various reports of documented incidents).
2. This is a problem because (a) harassing people is just plain shitty to do (see basic principles of morality); and, much less importantly, (b) it drives people away from the movement, see (documented examples of people leaving or diminishing their involvement).
3. Although we can never eliminate the problem completely, it can be rationally addressed by (a) having written public policies against harassment; (b) enforcing those policies consistently and fairly; and (c) yes, even against Big Name Famous Speakers.
If any of the above is news to you, and/or you don’t know where to find the specific details, then you must be very new not just to this blog, but to the entire topic and community. I’ll leave the research to you, because I don’t really think you’re arguing in good faith here.
@ hkns, #39
The reason we don’t make “hierarchy of abuse” is because everybody reacts differently to different stimuli.
Using myself as an example:
My parents were physically and emotionally abusive. Now, if you ask most people they’d probably say that it’s worse to beat your children than it is to tell them they have to earn/compete with the dog for your affection, but it’s not the times when my mom and dad hit me that most damaged me.
I’m not particularly afraid of actual physical violence, and those times when people have taken a swing at me haven’t perturbed me much. Angry shouting, on the other hand, will still make me cringe (to borrow a phrase from my parents) “like a whipped dog” at age 33. I might even cry, despite the fact that I’m considerably larger than most people.
There are other, much subtler things that people can do to cut me even deeper, but my point is that emotional abuse is far harder for me to tolerate than physical (in most circumstances). The opposite may be the case for other people.
This is why it’s wrong to rank types of abuse for other people; everyone reacts differently, and everyone has their own, unique history that informs their reactions. You don’t get to tell me which of my experiences harmed me the most. I’m the only person who can do that. I don’t get to tell people that my experiences are worse than theirs, either, because I cannot know.
Don’t try to rank other people’s experiences for them. You don’t have the expertise, and neither does Matt Damon. No one does.
The actual video, in their own fucking words during a 15-minute piece of them apparently not responding:
Repeating paxoll @41:
The minute he mentioned that article is the minute it should have been obvious to you that he was talking specifically about this case, because, well, fucking duh. This was his attempt to wave away the entirety of the case against Krauss while acting as though he wasn’t commenting at all. If you contend that slippery asshat wasn’t talking specifically about this case then you are lying, you are dense, and/or you are desperate to buy his horse shit.
I’m with screechmonkey. You are not arguing in good faith. This is just another demonstration of it.
To add insult to injury, if you are correct that the rational and reasoned response is to not respond — assertion much? — your hero reacted neither rationally nor reasonably. Big surprise.
A. Noyd says
For fuck’s sake. Here’s the objection to focusing on a sexual misconduct hierarchy: figuring out whether X does more harm than Y is beside the fucking point.
The problem—the point—is that, while offenses vary in severity, they are all fundamentally caused by the same thing: a disregard for the humanity of others (particularly, but not exclusively, women) for the sake of one’s own gratification.
So what many are arguing is that, when we’re talking about what to do about sexual misconduct, the main focus should be on addressing the fundamental cause. In other words, changing culture to value everyone equally and discourage disregard (and not just in perpetrators but in third parties as well).
Insisting that the focus should be on hierarchies of harm and obsessing over matching the punishment to the crime is a diversion from and, often, a denial of the fundamental problem. It devolves into splitting hairs—demanding a piecemeal, case-by-case approach to dealing with misconduct. And that gets into what Minnie Driver was objecting to: the idea that we can objectively assess and quantify harm suffered by an individual.
There are a lot of problems where triage makes sense—where we should devote more resources to the worst cases first. But, ultimately? This isn’t one of them. This is a problem where there is a root cause. This is a hair that needs to be plucked at that root, not split. If you can’t wrap your head around that, then get out of the fucking conversation.
“He obviously thought that what he had to say was much more important than what the women had to say”
How is that “obvious”?
And how do you know that he thought what he had to say was “much more important” than what women had to say?
And, even if he did think so at the time, he must have thought better of it later to pretty well unreservedly apologise. Again, pick your enemies, because you need all the friends you can get in this struggle.
“This is fucking rich, you know? Because it wasn’t Saad or me or lotharloo who brought up Damon, but hks, yet you’re chastising us”
I only chastised Saad.
And I only chastised him for saying what Damon “intended” to do what he did, when Saad could not possibly know that Damon “intended” to do that. It could very well have been inadvertent. That’s the more charitable interpretation at least, and consistent with his subsequent unreserved apology (which others have actually criticised him for).
“Let me tell you something: We would probably have forgotten about it already.”
Okay, so let’s move on.
Like a lot of things that get extensively dissected, it’s a distraction from the main game.
“Harris is an islamiphobic idiot so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised”
In the strict sense, he IS islamophobic.
In the strict sense that he fears the Islamic religion.
Specifically, he fears what extremist or fundamentalist Islamists are capable of. Suicide bombings, martyrdom, and those 72 virgins for instance. He may be overstating his case, but he is not wrong that, at the present time, Islamist extremist are to be feared more than, say, fundamentalist Christians. It is also true – as Sam Harris says – that Muslims are the main victims of these extremists.
On the other hand, it is not correct to call him an anti-Muslim bigot or a Muslimophobe.
I need to watch the video. Depending on what was said, I’m not ready to write off Matt entirely. IMO, he’s still a useful ally, and contrary to others here, I think he does good work and gives good lectures at places like Skepticon, and I still don’t require anything particularly damning that he’s ever said or done, unlike Harris, etc. Still, if as described, this is a most unfortunate occurrence, and I hope Matt apologizes and improves. ~starts video~
“I had animus towards Sam Harris from the moment I read his defence of torture in The End of Faith”
I have read The End of Faith also, but have a very different recollection.
He does not defend torture.
He gave a very circumscribed hypothetical situation, with all sorts of caveats, in which he thought torture could be justified. This is not the same as “defending torture”.
Suppose you have someone imprisoned who has information that could save a hundred lives. Suppose the evidence that he has this information is overwhelming. Suppose, after trying everything else, the prisoner refuses to reveal this information or even admit he has this information. Would you resort torture in order to extract this information? If not, what about if these hundred people included members of your own family? Or if was a thousand people. If your answer is still “no”, are there any circumstances under which you would you resort to torture?
Of course, you may object that he could give you false information or you wouldn’t know whether the information is true or not. Perhaps you could threaten him with unspeakable torture (not that you would actually carry it out) if those hundred people die as a result of him giving you false information.
So, this is thinking up an extreme hypothetical scenario in which you might reasonably resort to torture. It is not a defense of torture per se.
Harris might be criticised for bringing up similar implausible scenarios and thereby inadvertently offering support to those who do defend torture. Fine. But he is not “defending torture”. He has clarified this many times, but to no avail it seems.
In other places, Sam Harris has made it clear that his hypotheticals are not mere hypotheticals. He has named actual people by name who were tortured, and he defends that torture as moral.
Sam Harris is sometimes a slippery asshole who doesn’t actually clearly state his actual positions, and instead hides – IMO dishonestly – behind needless hypotheticals.
Reading those exact quotes is the exact moment that I lost all respect for Sam Harris.
Correction. The exact moment that I actually lost all respect for him was when I read the following, same source:
This is myopic in the extreme. Sam Harris cannot think of a good reason to arrest or kill this person except for what he believes? How about conspiracy, money laundering, arms trafficking, etc.? It’s obscene that Sam Harris cannot think of another reason to capture or kill this person, and it’s absolutely obscene that Sam Harris says that it’s ok to kill someone for what they believe. It’s made unambiguous that this is not a mere hypothetical because he names someone! This is what he wants policy to be! Fuck him.
Porivil Sorrens says
Nah, Sam actually is an anti-muslim bigot, thank you very much. You don’t get to spread anti-muslim sentiment and literally defend torturing and profiling muslims without being called a bigot.
Porivil Sorrens says
Harrisites are all the fucking same, lmao. JAQing off about how it would be totally fine and cool to torture TEH EVIL MUSLIMS (but only in certain situations -wink-) is ghastly bigoted bullshit and I’m glad that most non-regressives have rejected Harris’ bullshit.
I’d rather have a progressive muslim on my team than a ~skeptic~ like Harris, that’s for damn sure.
MattP (must mock his crappy brain) says
Torture has been shown to be worse than useless. At no point did the US torture program actually produce any useful information about organization structures or future attacks. Torture does nothing but get the victim to tell you what they think you want to hear to stop the pain, which makes it highly counterproductive in addition to being morally repugnant. Anyone denying this has their head tucked firmly up their own ass to insulate them from reality.
And Christian terrorists are a far, far greater threat to the US and the entire world than Islamic terrorists. It is Christian terrorists that routinely cause far more death and destruction in the US, both as part of government institutions and as guv’mint hating gunmen/bombers.
Sam Harris does not spread anti-muslim sentiment. He spreads anti-Islamist sentiment, an Islamist being a person who, through the literal interpretation of the Koran, is an extremist fundamentalist prepared to kill apostates, heretics, homosexuals, and “disobeying” women. Their main victims are actually ordinary Muslims.
Sam Harris also does not defend torture, let alone specifically torturing Muslims. In his scenarios he is asking questions and suggesting what answers to those questions imply about what your reaction might or should be to other atrocities such as collateral damage (including the killing of innocent women and children) in warfare.
Sam Harris does believe in profiling Muslims. He thinks this is logical from the point of view that you cannot possibly check every single person (lack of time and manpower), so you have target your profiling. It’s not so much about “profiling Muslims” as spending limited resources. Of course, there are other considerations that would convince you that such profiling has too many unintended consequences to be justified in implementing.
I’m arguing in bad faith?!?!
Wow….taking that out of context a bit, why didn’t you include the rest of what he had to say? So, he is speaking about social media and journalism in the context of the #metoo movement.
and the video cuts out. So you and so many other people here are reading his mind, when it sounds like him criticizing how things are being reported. Like the Ansari Article. There was no investigation into the event, no presenting his perspective of what happened, AND both Matt and Sam already said their natural inclination is to believe what was said, or at least believe the person is honestly reporting how they perceived the event. You are straight up calling them liars based on your mind reading capabilities, so thanks for proving me right in my first post.
Porivil Sorrens says
A significant portion of his work is anti-muslim sentiment. But lol JAQing off about how it’d be ever so necessary to nuke muslim countries is totally just a thought experiment!11!
Aka he shrouds his bigotry by framing it as thought experiments and JAQing off about torture. Piss off.
And therefore, he’s an anti-muslim bigot. QED.
Ok. I watched the 14 min video. I fully expect some pushback, but this is still honestly how I feel.
I saw way more waffling from Sam than Matt. However, as much as I despise Sam, I still think he’s honest. Any dog whistles here, and there seem to be a lot, are from ignorance, and not malice.
Like others, I suspect that Matt loses a little bit of critical thinking when around other famous atheists. I also think that Matt purposefully makes it his shtick to try to fairly address all sides of an issue when discussing it, which can easily lead to the false impression “both sides have equal merit”.
To Matt’s credit, he still did give explicitly-unconditional support for MeToo, and said that we have to learn how to deal with the negative consequences, and he doesn’t have all the answers. Did Matt phrase this in a way that is easily misinterpreted? Yes. He should be better.
Matt did share a stage with Sam, in a conversational context instead of a confrontational context, and that is a negative.
I think Matt did a relatively fine job, with the exceptions and provisos above. I wish he would improve. However, I think he’s still a useful ally, with a large audience, whose mistakes are out of ignorance and not malice, and we should still try to take Matt as an ally instead of banish him.
Maybe Sam is maliciously ignorant / deluded on this topic, but I haven’t seen enough to indicate that, and I sincerely doubt that Matt is maliciously ignorant / deluded.
More broadly, sometimes we reach too quickly for a scorched earth policy. We should try firm education and reach-out. However again, scorched earth policy is totally the right approach for Sam – not for this video, but instead for many other reasons.
EnlightenmentLiberal at #51,
Maybe you should read pages 192-199 of his book “The End of Faith”.
He definitely does not defend torture.
Sam Harris here is questioning the moral ethics of abhorring the torture of a terrorist while accepting that warfare will inevitably cause “collateral damage” to innocent women and children. Many accept the inevitable collateral damage of warfare while abhorring the torture of a terrorist. He questions the ethics of that position. He is actually saying that if you abhor the torture of a terrorist, you should, by a considerably larger margin, abhor the collateral damage of warfare. He explains it as the difference between the subjective close-up and personal nature of torture and the objective “removed from view” nature of collateral damage. It’s like the difference between throwing a man off a bridge to save 5 children and throwing a switch to kill one man rather than five children.
I admit that it is easy to misunderstand what Sam Harris is saying, especially if you read some of the out-of-context quotes you see in the blogosphere.
What I quoted was written by Sam, after he wrote the book. I assume that later works are more correct than earlier works. Read my quotes. Read the entire blog post that linked-to. Sam Harris wants to torture Muslim terrorists, and names several by name. He also says that we should kill them too because they believe dangerous things entirely apart from any crimes that they may have committed.
Sadly this is wrong. Nothing he said is easily misinterpreted, the fact that so many here choose to misinterpret it is a condemnation on their willful dishonesty. Saad admits it when talking about Damon
the only way to twist what Matt says is to mind read his intentions as being anything other then what he has said.
Isn’t what Bill Maher doing a fallacy of relative privation? Also known as a “Dear Muslima”.
Who cares what either of these guys intended? They have their noses so far up each others asses that they just spent a lecture that is missing a serial rapey buddy, mansplaining about how we just can’t go around believeing women. collapse of civilation,etc… I am unshocked that billyjoe and paxoll are here to drown out all objections to these misogynist mental lightweights with a chorus of ‘whatdaboutdamenzzzzzz!’.
“Sam Harris says that it’s ok to kill someone for what they believe”
Sam Harris says it could be justified to kill someone for behaviour resulting from what they believe, not simply for what they beleive. And the proviso is that they cannot be persuaded not to act on their beliefs, and cannot be captured. And he is talking about belief that results in behaviour such as extraordinary acts of violence against others.
Here is his exact words:
“Sam Harris has made it clear that his hypotheticals are not mere hypotheticals”
But he he is talking about extraordinary situations, with lots of caveats and conditions, before this would even be considered. A sort of last resort in extraordinary circumstances.
Thou shalt not kill. Fine. But can you apply this to every situation in which you might possibly find yourself? What if it’s in self defense where it is very clear that your assailant is determined to kill you?
These are the sort of situations that he is talking about.
deepak shetty says
I wonder why this hierarchy comes up in discussions about when women should shut up or not complain too much – and does not come up for e.g. when Atheists complain about ten commandment monuments or teaching intelligent design in school orhaving in God we trust on currency or belief in big foot when clearly Atheists getting beheaded in Saudi Arabia is right near the top etc (not to forget about those poor starving children in Africa of course).
Okay, so to recap: Sam says he won’t respond. You hail him as some beneficent and great rational thinker because that’s what rational people do, not respond.
But a simple review shows that he responds to the article that contains all the allegations he said he wouldn’t respond to, which I quote.
You whine that I didn’t quote enough (hold on: shouldn’t you at least acknowledge that you lied when you said he didn’t respond?) so you add more of his comments to my quote (thankyouverymuch) which are still about the very article that contains all the allegations which he said he wouldn’t respond to.
Not having any evidence or counter-claims to any one of the allegations they reported on, he just generically criticizes the article without presenting any evidence that there’s anything wrong with the reporting about the allegations.
I point out the clearly fucking obvious, which is that casting doubts on the article would appear to be an attempt to cast doubts on the allegations.
You appear to think that proves something about mind reading and then fall on the fainting couch because, oh dear, I deigned to make it sound as though I don’t believe him? (What, calling him a slippery asshat wasn’t a giveaway about how much I trust this guy?)
What the ever-loving hell is happening?
But, more importantly, why? If he’s not trying to undermine the allegations in that article, why use that specific article as some vague example of pseudo-journalism? If he can’t cite specific examples of there being anything wrong with the reporting on the allegations against Krauss, why the fuck does he claim the article has tells of bad faith? To what end?
Oh, but I can’t speculate on why he might be doing that because that would be mind reading, right? Though him speculating that the reporters are acting in bad faith is not mind reading, right?
I concede. I honestly can’t keep up. The lengths Harris devotees will go to provide cover for his cloudy, dishonest, slippery thinking is beyond my capabilities. Run along now. I see you’ve completely ignored screechmonkey’s comments @43. Maybe you can wear screech down next?
“A significant portion of his work is anti-muslim sentiment”
He is not anti-Muslim.
He is an anti-Islamist.
Let me quote him directly:
“But lol JAQing off about how it’d be ever so necessary to nuke muslim countries is totally just a thought experiment!”
It IS a thought experiment.
He is hypothesising about a situation (which does not exist at the present time) in which an ISIS, Al Qaeda, or the Taliban obtain nuclear strike capability. The Cold War was successful because neither nation wanted to die. This does not work if one side is willing to die because of their religion.
A direct quote from Sam Harris:
Please note all the qualifiers and provisos and caveats in his quote as highlighted in bold.
“I am unshocked that billyjoe and paxoll are here to drown out all objections to these misogynist mental lightweights with a chorus of ‘whatdaboutdamenzzzzzz!’.”
That’s a very unkind mischaracterisation of my position.
Porivil Sorrens says
Nah, he is.
IE, JAQing off about how cool it would be to have a justification to nuke muslim countries.
John Morales says
If and if and if and if, then if and if then maybe perhaps possibly if, then existential threat.
(Ever hear the expression “Hard cases make bad law”?)
It’s a pretty accurate basis for every false concern you have listed so far. Just because you can’t hear the sexist and racist dogwhistling doesn’t mean it’s not there. It is far more likely that you are deaf to it, judging by your extended defense of these clueless idiots asinine discussion
I’m going to go ahead and guess that billy failed history. Dick waving dudes not annihilating the planet is not an achievement.
Azkyroth, B*Cos[F(u)]==Y says
Sorry if we’re too COMPLEX for you, hero-fellater.
chigau (違う) says
A conveniently vague accusation. What lie do you claim to have caught me (or possibly someone else) in? If it was supposedly me, it can’t have been in this thread, since #16 was my first comment. If you can identify a deliberate, or careless, untruth on my part, I will apologise.
Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk- says
The question is, according to Harris’ own logic, why isn’t the reasonable course to kill the US president and annihilate the USA? After all you’re ruled by somebody who has repeatedly threatened to obliterate North Korea and you have a history of nuclear attacks against civilian targets and invading, murdering, torturing and raping whatever nation you have currently deemed the supreme evil.
Sure, it would be some unthinkable evil and I’m sorry for y’all, but from, say, Iran’s perspective it’s perfectly reasonable. Sam Harris says so.
Sure, he just says we should treat all muslims like islamist terrorists (how do you look “conceivably muslim” anyway? ), but that in no way adds to prejudices against muslims, oh no sir.
You seem to have missed the part where Sam Harris said that his hypothetical scenario does not exist in the real world at the present time. So the USA does not qualify. It would take quite an extraordinary set of circumstances for his conditions to be satisfied. If Iran were to launch a nuclear first strike against the USA, I think you have to hold Iran responsible. ;)
“he just says we should treat all muslims like islamist terrorists…but that in no way adds to prejudices against muslims, oh no sir.”
He approaches this question from the view of practicality. It is not possible to check everyone, so it makes practical sense to target your checking. That is his opinion. It is not my opinion. I think it would not be practical and the side-effect of making Muslims feel victimised and the ramifications of all that would make it not be worth while. But that’s just my opinion and I’m no expert on airport security. All I’m pointing out is that Sam Harris’ opinion is not based on anti-Muslim bigotry but practicality.
“I’m going to go ahead and guess that billy failed history. Dick waving dudes not annihilating the planet is not an achievement”
There is no doubt that the world went through a period when the population at large had a quite legitimate fear of possible nuclear annihilation of the planet. This was averted. If you don’t think that was an achievement…well, let’s just say that if they didn’t achieve that we wouldn’t be here to talk about it.
“Ever hear the expression “Hard cases make bad law”?”
Sam Harris never described it as a law. He described an extraordinary set of circumstances (all those qualifiers!) – which do not exist at the present time – under which the USA might consider the possibility of breaking any actual law against a nuclear first strike as a form of self defense.
I’m fairly sure Harris knows that security experts do not consider profiling to be a useful strategy. Which undermines the “practicality” of his position.
He also attempted to defend the bombing of the Sudanese pharmaceutical factory in his exchange with Chomsky on the basis that the US good intentions made it okay.
Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk- says
Wow, being a Harris fanboi sure does make people bad at arguing.
1. Harris’ argument is a few years old now. Trump’s presidency isn’t. Trump is an unhinged simpleton who just declared that trade wars are good and easy to win.
2. Just because Harris said something doesn’t make it true. It’s Harris’ (and others, Pinker comes to mind) bigotry and western supremacy that lets them constantly ignore the pain and death that the west and especially the USA are spreading across the globe while pretending to be the good guys.
His opinion is bullshit. It is not grounded in practicality but in ugly racist stereotypes. It has been debunked by Bruce Schneier a long time ago. It does nothing but discriminate against people from a particular ethnic background* and reinforces prejudices by saying “we must check these people because they are likely terrorists”.
*Funny how the same people will howl “Islam isn’t a race” when their thinly veiled racism is pointed out. There are 1.5 billion muslims. Only a small part comes from the Middle East. Indonesia is majority muslim. Many African countries have large muslim populations. The muslim I personally know best is from Lithuania. In summer she wears less fabric on her body than some of my muslim students on their head. Yet this very smart man Sam Harris bases his opinion on an ugly stereotype and you people still believe him.
Torture also doesn’t produce intelligence, but that has never stopped Sam Harris from fantasising about doping horrible things to brown people.
Can you actually have an honest discussion or is quote mining such an integral part of your psyche you have no choice? What I said was
So obviously outlining their beliefs and how to respond to the topic in general is what the rational and reasoned response is.
It is clearly evident from what he said that he addressing the Buzzfeed article was using the article as an example to criticize
To claim your ridiculous interpretation would require more information then what is given in this clip. Do you have extraneous information from another source? This is why I stated that their response is rational and reasonable because you and all the others here are being clearly irrational in your ASSumptions. If you want to know why he uses the Buzzfeed article as his example is also rational and reasonable. He can safely assume that anyone who knows what brought the topic up, (Krauss is not here tonight) knows the article in question. Does it make ANY sense for him to mention any other article that people in the audience may more may not know about? Does it?
@KG yes, I countered your ad hominem baseless assertion with my own, because I agree with the premise “that which is asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence”. But you don’t need any evidence because you are preaching to the choir. Which in my opinion is about the lowest form of human garbage, that puts you right up there with Sean Hannity on Fox News.
Rob Grigjanis says
billyjoe @69: It’s funny that you highlight exactly why Harris should not be taken seriously on any topic.
“Needless to say, this would be an unthinkable crime”.
“an unconscionable act of self-defense”.
Even divorced from his obscene fantasies, these constructions make me want to kick Harris in the nuts. Not that I would ever actually do such a thing. That would be, er, unthinkable and unconscionable.
Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says
And where is YOUR evidence? You are just an op-ed type blatherer, all air, no substance.
“Harris’ argument is a few years old now. Trump’s presidency isn’t.”
His conditions still don’t apply to the USA. Nor to Trump. Those heavily qualified conditions would apply in only extraordinary circumstances.
“Just because Harris said something doesn’t make it true.”
The point In dispute is what Harris said, not whether or not it is true. Or whether or not I agree with him. I’m hoping that now that you have read what he actually said in extensive detail, you won’t misrepresent his view next time. (I know that’s a big ask)
“His opinion is bullshit”
I didn’t say it wasn’t.
I’m just correcting your misconception about what he is saying.
“It is not grounded in practicality but in ugly racist stereotypes”
I agree it is very likely not practical.
However “ugly racist stereotypes” is often in the eye of the beholder. Sam Harris is not bigoted against Muslims. In fact, his most recent book was co-authored with a Muslim.
“It has been debunked by Bruce Schneier a long time ago”
Yes, Sam Harris asked him to write an article about profiling and he has it on his blog.
I don’t know that he exactly debunked profiling, but he certainly gave his expert opinion. I haven’t read Sam Harris’ response yet.
“It does nothing but discriminate against people from a particular ethnic background”
No, profiling targets people of a certain religion.
The vast majority of suicide bombings are perpetrated by people of this religion, so it makes no sense to search elderly women or young boys in plaster casts (see YouTube).
With profiling, everyone – including people of this religion – gets through these airport checks faster because there are less people to check.
That is Sam Harris’ argument.
It is very clear that Sam Harris does not suggest profiling because he is bigoted against people of this religion. In fact, he thinks he himself would probably be searched because his appearance fits the so-called stereotype.
“The muslim I personally know best is from Lithuania. In summer she wears less fabric on her body than some of my muslim students on their head.”
Your point evades me, but my daughter-in-law is a Muslim from Albania. Her clothing is indistinguishable from my daughters’.
“Yet this very smart man Sam Harris bases his opinion on an ugly stereotype and you people still believe him.”
What do you mean by “you people”? I thought it was me speaking to you, not “you people” speaking to you. I hope you don’t have me….stereotyped!
And “ugly stereotype” is your phrase, and it seems Sam Harris feels he fits this “ugly stereotype” as you call it.
And I don’t “believe” him, I’m just telling you that what he said is somewhat different from what you think he said.
“It’s funny that you highlight exactly why Harris should not be taken seriously on any topic.”
Why is that funny. All I am doing is correcting what people think he said. That’s all. I’m hoping you’ll take him at least seriously enough to read and understand what he is actually saying before you start blasting away.
Regarding everything Sam Harris,
I was a former fan of Harris. Unfortunately, he is full of shit regarding almost everything remotely related to politics and social sciences. He should have never waded into those areas.
I first noticed his heavy use of hypotheticals when he tried to engage Chomsky. Back then I was still his fan and I even defended him because I thought Chomsky did not really try to engage him. But I was surprised that Sam also avoided analyzing the real-world events Chomsky was pointing to and instead insisted on his-as Chomsky pointed out back then- “outlandish” hypotheticals. From that point, he quickly went downhill and right now he is not a serious thinker at all in my view. I am sorry, but he has become a joke.
Part of the reason I liked Krauss was that he did not seem to be as superficial as Sam on these issues. He also proved to be a disappointment, but for very different reasons. Sam’s ideas about geopolitical issues are just abhorrent. I hope he realizes this someday, though I seriously doubt it.
Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk- says
As I said, damn bad at arguing.
So how the fuck do you target muslims, because I say:
and you even say:
So who gets targeted for for profiling? How does airport security decide who is muslim?
Answer that question and then come back and tell me that this is not about ugly racist stereotypes.
Also, learn how to blockquote
So you admit you were lying when you accused me of lying. Hilariously, you do it in a comment where you demonstrate once again that you are indeed what I called you – a reliable apologist for the likes of Sam Harris. It is, BTW, an honour to be insulted by such as you.
Elderly women and young boys in plaster casts can’t be Muslim? Is that in the Quran?
He probably lets them use his bathroom, even.
WTF is a “so-called stereotype”? What is the qualifier “so-called” doing there? Harris’s proposal relies absolutely on the stereotype. And for that matter, on its accuracy. Which is part of its crass stupidity. Does he really think terrorists (whether Islamist or not) would be unable to find individuals who do not fit the stereotype?
FossilFishy (NOBODY, and proud of it!) says
Harris ignored the actual security expert who pointed out that using a stereotype is the worse thing you could do. By doing so you’re telling the terrorists how to evade being searched.
Apparently the best system is to go truely random. Yup, your granny and your infant niece will occasionally get searched but the value of unpredictability outweighs the time lost on such low probability passengers.
Harris is the poster child for academic Dunning-Kruger victims.
Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk- says
Now, you’ve got to understand that when Harris says we should profile muslims and then explains that by muslim he means “people who look like what people think that folks of Middle Eastern origin look like” then he somehow magically still proposes to profile by religion and not by racist stereotypes.
I taught young people, mostly men mostly from Syria, but also Afghanistan and Iraq. Sure, most of them were swarthy with dark hair. And some of them were blond and some had blue eyes (or green) and actually I fit into the group quite well…
Thanks for your response. And I sympathise. As I have pointed out several times, I do not agree with Sam Harris’ view defending profiling. But I am also not an expert. I have previously read some of Bruce Schneier’s articles on this topic and I have re-read some of these recently to refresh my memory. Ironically, I first became aware of him through Sam Harris’ blog. After writing his articles in support of profiling, Sam Harris Invited Bruce Schneier to write a post arguing against profiling. In that post Bruce Schneier provides many links to other articles he has written arguing against profiling.
I think it is safe to say that Bruce Schneier knows a great deal more about profiling and related topics than Sam Harris. His articles show him to be a clear and critical thinker with a nuanced approach to the topics he writes about. His consclusions are far more convincing than Sam Harris’ quite superficial coverage of a topic. Sam Harris later acknowledged that he is not an expert on profiling. In retrospect, he feels that, although an article in support of profiling should have been written, he should not have been the person to write it.
So, I am not here to support Sam Harris’ view in support of profiling. I am here to show that the claim that Sam Harris is a anti-Muslim bigot is not only unjustified but false. The claim was based largely on a single sentence extracted from his article defending profiling and ignoring his numerous other writings about Islam and anti-muslim sentiment. A more complete reading of his output shows the exact opposite. He has written in defense of Muslims and Muslim immigration. He has written a book co-authored with a Muslim. Can you really imagine an anti-Muslim bigot spending all the time required to write an entire book with a Muslim?
I have not followed his exchanges with Noam Chomski, but Sam Harris’ hypotheticals are meant to be outlandish. It is actually their purpose. Thou shalt not kill is an excellent rule to live by, but there are possible extraordinary circumstances – that most of us will never encounter – where we would all make exceptions to that rule. That is Sam Harris’ point regarding the three topics: Killing (certain individuals), Nuclear First Strike, and Torture. He fully agrees there should be a rule excluding all three, but with a exemption for extraordinary circumstances (his hypotheticals). In other words, he is not pro torture as some have stated.
In summary: There is plenty to disagree with regarding Sam Harris without making false claims about him.
Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says
That will never happen. We know better. As long as you think Harris isn’t a bigot, liar, and bullshitter, you won’t get anywhere. Too many years of such public bigotry without hearing the proper words, “I’m sorry, I am bigot and my ideas won’t work, I apologize, and will change my attitude” is why nobody is agreeing, and won’t agree, with you.
Time to fade into the bandwidth.
It only seems so because you are not reading what I actually write.
Ironically, you seem to have the same problem with Sam Harris.
Don’t ask me. Ask Sam Harris. I’m just reporting what he said and what his opinion is. I have said several times that I do not support his view. Even more so after re-reading Bruce Scheier’s articles arguing against profiling of any description. Sam Harris would say that people with certain surnames, certain facial appearances, and wearing certain items of clothing are more likely to be Muslim than non-Muslim. That is true. Bruce Scheier explains why this is irrelevant. I assume you have read his articles?
How is it about “ugly stereotypes”. I don’t even get what you mean by “ugly stereotype”. Is the description of a typical Australian as a blond haired, blue eyed, suntanned person an “ugly stereotype”. If I added “loud, rude, beer drinking bogan” that might be regarded as an “ugly stereotype”, but is that what’s been done in profiling Muslims? I don’t think so.
Strangely enough the things that Harris fans term ‘outlandish hypotheticals’ are also these things called ‘false premises’ which lead one to make disingenous arguments aka lying. Chomsky’s exchange with harris is a thing of beauty for people with a firm grasp of logic and an ability to spot weasle words.
No, it’s just extremely unlikely. In case it wasn’t clear, I was referring to the links in Sam Harris’ blog post to an elderly woman and a young lad in plaster. Both are so extremely unlikely to be either Muslim or terrorists that it could not be worth the time and effort to search them. In the opinion of Bruce Scheier, it is not even worthwhile to profile anyone, because the chance of finding a terrorist is, for all intents and purposes, zero.
I was referring to what some called the “ugly stereotype”. I can’t find anything in what Sam Harris’ has written that could be characterised as an “ugly stereotype”
That is one of the points made by Bruce Scheier. You forget that I am not defending Sam Harris’ opinion in support of profiling. I am defending him against the claim that he is an anti-Muslim bigot.
According to Bruce Scheier, this is also a waste of time and money. The chances of picking up a suicide bomber attempting to board a plane is, for all intents and purposes, zero.
Nerd of Redhead,
All you have done is simply re-stated your opinion in the face of all the evidence that I have provided against that opinion, without either offering any evidence of your own or showing how the evidence I have provided is faulty.
John Morales says
Excluded, except when not excluded. Genius!
He’s not against it, either.
Sure, he’s not claiming it should be used routinely. Only in special circumstances.
(And we all know torture elicits truth, not merely compliance)
John Morales says
Heh. He’s not, except when he is (notably, the example at hand is… Muslim profiling). Exemptions, you know.
(You mentioned irony, earlier? ;) )
Please explain what you mean.
I assume you live by the rule “do not kill”. I also assume, you would apply exceptions to that rule in some extremely unlikely but possible extraordinary circumstances. These are Harris’ hypotheticals.
Where are the false premises?
Where is he lying?
Do you have a link, otherwise I will see if Google can locate the exchange for me.
The fuck? Neither of those characteristics makes one less likely to be a Muslim; there are a lot of Muslim old women in the world – around 4 million just in Pakistan, for example http://countrymeters.info/en/Pakistan#population_2016
They do make one less likely to be a terrorist, but the fact that those two are not the same is kind of the point.
Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says
What evidence? I know quotes of of his work, which are bigotted.
Your opinion of what is evidence is bullshit. I don’t take your WORD for anything other than bullshit.
Want to convince me? Show me the apology…..
You need to read what I write before you respond.
I specifically said I was referring to the elderly woman and the young lad in plaster featured in Sam Harris’ blog post. And the point was that they extraordinarily unlikely to be suicide bombers and that, therefore, it makes no sense to search them.
And, as I said, Bruce Scheier believes this to be true for everyone and that, therefore, profiling of any type is a waste of time and resources.
Nerd of Redhead,
You asked “What evidence?” Okay, I won’t demand that you read all my above posts where this evidence is provided, provided that you then don’t say I did not provide this evidence.
And you don’t “know quotes of of his work which are bigoted”, you know selected extracts from his large volume of work which sound like to you that he might be bigoted, but which is contradicted by a full appraisal of his entire writings on the subject.
And you say you will be convinced if Sam Harris apologises for being a anti-Muslim bigot. Well then, I will be convinced you are a good parent if you tell when did you stopped beating your children.
For one example: The long quote from Sam Harris regarding Nuclear First Strike
You have not even responded to the evidence
…ignore the last three lines. They are not relevant to your comment.
I have one. What if the Taliban found the way to clone a famous American celebrity, kidnap the real celebrity and replace their own version who is by the way a very proficient nuclear scientist with the real one. She takes control of one missile with the goal of launching it towards North Korea trying to start a global war. We arrive right before she presses the button. Should we torture her?
I mean, Sam Harris can address such very deep and important questions all he wants. But he uses these outlandish examples to supposedly convey his ideas about how foreign policy should be conducted. The results are usually abhorrent. For example, in his own defense that he does not advocate a nuclear first strike against the Arab world, he writes:
See what he is doing? First he creates an outlandish and crazy antecedent and then innocently declares that he advocates total annihilation of a people only as a consequence of that antecedent!
He has never ever tried to seriously analyze a geopolitical situation. This is his only modus operandi. He is sadly out of his depth in these areas and he doesn’t even understand how ridiculous he has become when he says things like this. And worse, he doesn’t stop saying them. For example, he said a while ago, that he understands why some people may hate refugees! He understands and sympathizes with racists and anti-immigrant hard liners. But asking him to please not use these outlandish examples to justify total annihilation of a people, makes him go all over the place shouting he has been misquoted!
I assume you mean that he should not even raise the issue of nuclear first strike if he could only justify this in extraordinary situations which are unlikely ever to occur. If so, I would sympathise with you. He is making an argument against absolutist positions that probably don’t need making.
What’s wrong with understanding why some people may hate refugees. Surely you need to understand people with whom you disagree. You say it like it’s a bad thing to understand people with bad ideas.
But I’d have to see the actual quote and context where you say he sympathises with racists and anti-immigration hardliners, because I very much doubt he would say that. He has been critical of Trump for his anti-immigration policies before Trump was even elected.
So why do you say that instead of what he actually did which was to give an example of an extraordinary situation with numerous conditions, modifiers, and caveats, where nuclear first strike could be an option to consider. In other words, why not attack what he actually said rather than your own paraphrasing of what he said.
Not quite. He can raise whatever he wants. But context matters. He can’t claim that he is conveying a truth about a real-world issue by talking about a trolley-problem like situation. The geopolitical issues in the real world are not trolley problems. They are very very far from that kind of mental exercise.
The first and foremost thing to do when one wants to give a serious opinion about a geopolitical issue is to actually go and read up the history of the conflict. Sam has never done that. He reduces everything to a purely mental exercise. From this false and misleading context, he begins to reason and the result is usually him advocating positions that have serious practical implications for people around the world (banning immigration, nuking places, torture, rampant military intervention, etc)
He is applying his expertise in a wrong way and it is no surprise the results are so insanely monstrous.
Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk- says
No, I’m asking you, since you are denying the obvious conclusion.
Which is exactly what a stereotype is, and since we’re talking about a group that us being demonized in the west, it is an ugly one.
We have established that you cannot reliably identify Muslims. We have established that we can predict with a certain probability that Hassan AlMahedi is a Muslim. Couls of course also be an ex muslim, but who cares, certainly not Harris.
His whole scenario fosters ugly stereotypes because it equates some swarthy guy with the name Hassa Al Mahedi with a potential terrorist. It says “you must be specially careful about swarthy guys called Hassan Al Mahedi because he is miore likely to kill you than a guy called Timothy Mc Veigh”.
You are completely right. Because “loud and beer drinking” are nowhere the same as “terrorist”.
Rules that say “we should not do that except…” are not actually rules that say something shouldn’t be done. They are rules that say that something is ok to do under certain circumstances and now we’re only debating the circumstances. This means that Harris is moving the overtone window.
It is also quite telling how precise his hypotheticals are. It’s always those evil Muslims. Those things may only be done if the factor “Muslim” is present.
That’s why he only wrote a text called “In defense of torture”
And the Republican Party is neither racist nor misogynist because of Ben Carson and Ivanka Trump.
Ooops, looks like someone has already mixed up “Muslim” and “potential terrorist”, but don’t talk about anti muslim bigotry here.
“He gave a very circumscribed hypothetical situation, with all sorts of caveats, in which he thought torture could be justified.”
Which he’s since shown as the start of a slippery slope he’s happy to bobsled down.
” This is not the same as “defending torture”.”
Yes it is. It’s defending it a specific circumstance, but it is defending torture.
Just stop right there, we can all invent comic-book scenarios where virtually any atrocity can be justified, but that still doesn’t make torture an effective tool of information gathering. If we assume that we have limited resources, then sending our assets off an a wild goose chase after information obtained from torture is taking assets out of the field where they could be conducting investigations to find the real information.
And that’s the problem, Sam Harris is inventing a situation where we’re talking about Doctor Doom planting a bomb, and then extrapolating from there to justify waterboarding and other forms of torture (As Harris himself readily admits in ‘Why I’d Rather Not Speak About Torture’
“…Nevertheless, I believe that there are extreme situations in which practices like “water-boarding” may not only be ethically justifiable, but ethically necessary—especially where getting information from a known terrorist seems likely to save the lives of thousands (or even millions) of innocent people.”)
The whole point of bringing up torture in The End of Faith is a discussion surrounding Collateral Damage and how ‘we’ are apparently prepared to accept it, even though it’s bad. It was a poor argument then, and everything I’ve heard from Harris since has made me distrust him as a ‘liberal’ skeptic even more.
Further, he says:
“especially where getting information from a known terrorist seems likely to save the lives of thousands (or even millions) of innocent people”
Well, that’s three orders of magnitude of severity right there. Using this justification, why, ethically, stop at a thousand people? Could torture b justified if there were 999 people in trouble? 100? 1? Could it be justified if the potential harm is a step removed, where nobody will die directly from the supposed threat, but from its byproducts? This isn’t a trivial point.
Nit: That sort of moral decisionmaking is an unavoidable consequence of living in society. For example, this comes up when setting the burden of proof in criminal court. The saying goes that it’s better to let 100 guilty people go free than let 1 innocent person go to jail. However, I think it’s better to let 1 innocent person go to jail (accidentally, with due process) than let a million guilty people not go to jail (with due process). The answer to this sort of question is vital to deciding where we draw the line for the burden of proof in criminal court. I don’t have a firm number offhand, but ultimately any question about where the line of burden of proof should be drawn is a question about this single moral question (plus lots of questions about material scientific facts).
I don’t object to torture in every case because of that sort of “slippery slope” argument. Instead, I object to torture in every case because as far as I can tell, every possible official policy that would permit torture in some situations will be abused far more than it would help. As soon as you give permission to use torture in a subset of cases, as contrived as Sam wants to make them, it sets a cultural standard which can easily be used to expand the scope of official torture, and to provide cover for torture that is against the rules. It’s a a “slippery slope” argument. For example, just look at how often the police abuse their power. It’s like they’re not even on a leash at all.
Informing me in this decision is the fact that torture is useless in almost every case, if not every case. I don’t need to make the absolute claim here, and I don’t bother myself with all of the arcane, obscure, and unrealistic scenarios that Sam Harris can contrive. I try to focus on scenarios that actually happen in the real world.
Okay, I get what you’re saying about Sam Harris.
But, I’ve never really thought about him in that way.
In fact, I don’t think he pretends it’s anything other than a mental exercise. Basically he thinks up worse case scenarios to try to convince his readers not to have absolutist positions on topics such as: torture; killing certain individuals; nuclear first strike. Do you think he pretends otherwise? I don’t think he is saying that his worse case scenarios actually exist in the real world, only that they could conceivably exist at some time in the future, and that we should build exceptions into laws such as “no torture” and “no assassinations” and “no first nuclear strike” (all of which he actually endorses in the broad scheme of things). In his book I think it is pretty clear what he is doing. By posing extreme hypothetical situations, he tries to show why absolutist positions on all these topics are unsustainable.
You support the law “do not torture” as a matter of principle but, if you manage to get your hands on the person who has abducted your daughter, I think you wouldn’t hesitate to torture him in an attempt to pursuade him to tell you where he has hidden her.
(Someone above said that torture never works, but this is demonstrably untrue).
Also, can we blame Sam Harris if some one else uses what he says to promote ideas that he himself does not hold? Eugenecists misuse evolutionary theory to promote genocide. Should Charles Darwin be blamed for that?
chigau (違う) says
I’d hop on my dragon, take the nuke Between, and leave it there.
Well, I disagree. If your stereotype is not an ugly one, then just because other people in the west demonise the people you are stereotyping doesn’t make your stereotype an ugly one. Sam Harris says that his own appearance would fit the stereotype. And, of course, his co-author fits the stereotype exactly. Therefore, I think, his stereotype is at least not intended to be ugly. He can’t be blamed for what others make of the stereotype.
No, from Sam Harris’ point of view, it doesn’t matter if Muslims can be reliably identified. Only that some individuals are very likely to be Muslim. And other Individuals are very unlikely to be Muslims. Therefore profiling would reduce the time and effort of those checking people at airports, and everyone will be less inconvenienced, including Muslims (i.e. less waiting time). Of course, Bruce Scheier believes even random searches are a waste of time and money which is better spent on intelligence gathering and investigation.
Okay, it might foster ugly stereotypes by others, but this is clearly not what Sam Harris himself is doing. So maybe put the blame where it belongs. You wouldn’t blame Charles Darwin for the misuse of this theory by Eugenecists.
But, yes, a Muslim is far more likely to blow up the aircraft in which you are traveling than a Timothy Mc Veigh. The vast majority of suicide bombers are Muslims. And that is not anti-Muslim bigotry, it’s a simply statement of fact.
If there is a law that says “do not torture” Sam Harris says he would support it. And then he would argue that exceptions should be either built into the law or reserved by those in power, to cover extraordinary situations which, though extremely unlikely, are not impossible. For example, I assume you would resort to torture if the person who abducted your daughter could not be pursuaded by any other means to reveal where he has hidden her?
Because it’s vastly more like that a suicide bomber is a Muslim than a person of any other religion. Sam Harris has said that, if suicide bombers were vastly more likely to be members of the Ku Klux Klan, his stereotype would be more like “white middle aged male”. But, at present, suicide bombers are very unlikely to be members of the KKK.
He wrote an article titled “In defense of profiling”. I don’t think he wrote an article called “In defense of torture”. But, again, it is a misrepresentation to say “Sam Harris defends torture” when, in actual fact, he defends torture only in extraordinary circumstances. He definitely doesn’t defend what occurred in Abu Ghraib (?spelling). He has actually condemned it.
The topic was profiling of people about to board aircraft. Profiling at airports attempts to pick out potential suicide bombers. Suidcide bombers are nearly all Muslim. That’s not anti-Muslim bigotry. That is a fact.
MattP (must mock his crappy brain) says
It is a fact that the US torture program did not once provide useful information that prevented any attacks, and several times led to a large amount of resources wasted on bogus information.
Well, I would need a direct quote and a link to examine the context in which he has indicated that he is happy to extend his scenario to less extraordinary circumstances or to “bobsled down” the “slippery slope” as you put it.
No, it is not defending torture.
Yes, it is defending torture in extraordinary circumstances.
Specifically he thinks torture could be justified if it would stop a nuclear attack.
I don’t think Sam Harris would disagree.
Because he does not defend torture, he defends torture in extraordinary circumstances .
He is not “extrapolating from there to justify waterboarding”. That is part of his scenario: Intelligence gathering says there is a high probability that this person we have in custody has knowledge of an imminent nuclear attack. We will attempt to prevent the nuclear attack by obtaining this information. If all other means fail, we will torture him in the hope of obtaining this information.
No slippery slope that he’s bobsledding down.
Honestly, I think you have misread what he says in the article you mentioned, even though Sam Harris tries to put it as clearly as possible.
Yes, Sam Harris feels collateral damage is worse than torturing a prisoner for information about an imminent nuclear attack. Collateral damage is the killing, and burning, and maiming innocent civilians, including women and children. He says this is worse than torturing a prisoner in an attempt to prevent an imminent nuclear attack which will kill, and burn, and maim innocent women and children.
How despicable of him.
He is talking about a scenario that involves an imminent nuclear attack. Therefore, yes, he is talking about thousands or even millions of lives. And why not stop at a thousand? 100? 1? For a start, that is a different scenario. He is talking specifically about a nuclear attack. To say that torturing a prisoner in an attempt to prevent a nuclear attack, is not justified because you cannot justify it to save 1000? 100? 1?, is just a bad argument. It’s like saying that you can’t imprison someone for stealing a million dollars because you wouldnt imprison someone for stealing a 1000 dollars…or 100 dollars…or 1 dollar.
No, it’s just a bad argument.
That may well be so.
It doesn’t, however, justify mischaracterising what Sam Harris actually said.
Then there is this case mentioned by Sam Harris:
An isolated case, and there was only the threat of torture, and the victim was unfortunately already dead. But, of course, if it was actual torture and if the victim was still alive, that would have been even more likely to produce the information.
“I’d hop on my dragon, take the nuke Between, and leave it there”
If that’s an argument, I’d rather stop using blockquote tags :)
chigau (違う) says
Bless your heart.
Have a nice day.
He did: https://samharris.org/in-defense-of-torture/
I could have checked but this page has a habit of reloading and losing all you’ve written whenever you come back to it.
I’ve been referring to the original version of his argument in his book “The end of Faith” which is substantially no different from his original blogpost or the updated version linked to at the end of his original blog post.
Interestingly, as Sam Harris mentions in his updated blog post, the Stanford Encyclopedia essentially agrees with his ethical/moral argument. It’s a long read but perhaps an essential one for anyone who is going to continue to criticise Sam Harris’ view on torture.
I’m not sure what I’ve done to deserve that pleasantry, but thanks :)
What more do you need to convince you that you’re wrong? He defended the specific torture by the United States by name. This is not a mere thought experiment. This has moved to a discussion of current policy.
chigau (違う) says
Sorry. I didn’t mean to mislead you.
Both statements are archaic Pharyngulaese for “Go fuck yourself.”
And I thought I’d made a friend :(