If you think I’m too mean to Sam Harris…

You should listen to this podcast by NiceMangos in which she tears into multiple episodes of his blog, in particular a joint appearance by Harris and Eric Weinstein. Yikes. The amount of cringe those two generate is not helping with Minnesota’s squish problem.

There’s also this article on NYMag.

I’m very late to the ass-kicking party. My excuse is that I have a serious aversion to Harris.


  1. says

    From the NYMag article:

    Over the course of an hour, Harris laid out his views on Israel and why its present war with Hamas must be understood as a battle between “savagery and civilization.”

    Isn’t this exactly what Ayn Rand said? Israel is modern and civilized, Arabs are swarthy heathen savages who need to be fought back, tamed, restrained, walled off from polite society, at least until they agreed to give up their savage ways; therefore we (meaning civilized white Westerners) must always support Israel because Israel is always right.

  2. raven says

    My excuse is that I have a serious aversion to Harris.

    He earned it.

    I’d never heard of Sam Harris when I read his book, The End of Faith.

    I got halfway through the book, said, “This is garbage”, and put it down.
    I can’t even remember the last time I didn’t finish a book.

    It was mostly Islamophobic anti-Muslim ranting and raving.
    I can’t even say it was all that wrong.
    But it had nothing to do with us in the USA.
    Muslims aren’t our problem!!!

    We have our own Muslims.
    We call them fundie xians and they are every bit as scary as the Muslim extremists they resemble.
    However, our Muslim equivalent isn’t Over There wrecking their societies, they are Over Here, wrecking our society, the one I live in.
    They are our problem.

    I’ve never seen anything since that says that Sam Harris isn’t an idiot and garden variety hate merchant.

    His other claim to fame is coming up with unrealistic scenarios to try and rationalize his hate and bigotry. It’s just plain cuckoo.

    You have a gun in your hand pointed at a kitten.
    If you don’t kill the kitten, a Muslim will drop an atomic bomb on New York City and kill 3 million people.
    What do you do, one dead innocent kitten or 3 million dead Americans.

    What you do is pet the kitten and give it some food.
    There is no gun, no Muslim, and no atomic bomb.
    This is all a sick product of Sam Harris’s sick mind.

  3. says

    Oh yeah, I totally forgot about Sam Harris’s brilliant “thought experiments”…why they were almost as ingenious as those “wizard and nuke” “thought experiments” we heard from rape apologists… [eyeroll]

  4. Hemidactylus says

    I suffered through the Triggernometry episode, especially Weinstein’s part. I haven’t listened to podcasts for a bit and lost track of Eiynah. I recall her critical arc on Sam Harris.

    Harris pissed me off with The Moral Landscape. He tries to come across as super profound, but he’s not. The ASMR quality of his voice has too many freethinkers mesmerized into his thought cult.

  5. Hemidactylus says

    From PZ’s OP this opinion piece by Eric Levitz:

    There may be comfort in imagining that human beings who gleefully burn people alive cannot possibly be motivated by any legitimate, terrestrial grievance. To suggest otherwise can feel like apologetics for butchery. But this is a fallacy. To explain the causes of an atrocity is not to justify it. And blinding oneself to a subset of such causes can foreclose potential paths toward peace.

    Sounds somewhat familiar. Hmmm…oh yeah. While invoking West Side Story friend of the blog Steven Pinker in an essay “The Fear of Determinism” found in the book Are we free? : psychology and free will (by John Baer, James C. Kaufman, Roy F. Baumeister) quoted it:

    Dear kindly Sergeant Krupke, You gotta understand, It’s just our bringing up-ke, That gets us out of hand. Our mothers all are junkies, Our fathers all are drunks. Golly Moses, naturally we’re punks!

    Pinker laments:

    Something has gone terribly wrong. It is a confusion of explanation with exculpation. Contrary to what is implied by critics of biological and environmental theories of the causes of behavior, to explain behavior is not to exonerate the behaver.

    That’s gotta go over well elsewhere…see below…

    Returning to the critique of Sam Harris PZ linked by Eric Levitz:

    In the specific case of October 7, meanwhile, insisting that Palestinian terrorism is wholly unrelated to “Israel’s behavior” abets the most reactionary elements within Israeli politics. If Palestinian jihadist groups and their many sympathizers are principally motivated by a desire to slaughter their way to eternal paradise — rather than to achieve self-government and security here on earth — then Israel might be wiser to expel the Palestinians than honor their rights under international law. And many Israeli officials have entertained the idea of ethnically cleansing the Gaza Strip in recent weeks.

    To which I would ask anyone interested to keyword search the comments section on another blog for very interesting asides on ethnic cleansing:


    Yeah. Seems to be in the air so to speak. Not any discernible official push back so maybe that’s acceptable discourse there? Yet PZ gets dragged there often enough.

  6. says

    Sam Harris on “why do you never criticize Israel” my line by line dissection at [stderr]

    Harris is a sloppy thinker, who equates all Palestinian resistance with Hamas, in spite of the fact that Hamas did not exist until relatively recently, and Israel’s territorial expansion significantly pre-dates it.

    It is literally chock full of bullshit, like this tidbit:

    Sam Harris: There are something like 15 million Jews on Earth at this moment. There are something like 100 times as many Muslims.

    My interpretation is that Harris is an ignorant hack, who has absorbed the perception that Israel dates from post-WWII, when, in fact, it does not at all. The reality of the creation of Israel is much, much more complicated than Harris appears to believe, which one supposes allows him to adopt simplistic and convenient attitudes.