Sam Harris goes totally bonkers


In a discussion Harris says:

“Given a choice between Noam Chomsky and Ben Carson, in terms of the totality of their understanding of what’s happening now in the world, I’d vote for Ben Carson every time,” Harris stated. “Ben Carson is a dangerously deluded religious imbecile, Ben Carson does not…the fact that he is a candidate for president is a scandal…but at the very least he can be counted on to sort of get this one right. He understands that jihadists are the enemy.”

So Harris has become so gripped by his fear of Muslims that he has become a caricature of the one-issue candidate and would vote for a “dangerously deluded religious imbecile” over a man who is one of the worlds leading intellectuals and a humane, eminently rational, and science-based thinker.

What is incredible is that I think that even other one-issue voters, like those for whom opposition to abortion is a non-negotiable requirement, would draw the line at voting for someone that they themselves considered to be a “dangerously deluded religious imbecile’.

But not Harris. He has no such qualms. If you are not a raging Islamophobe, he has no use for you, whatever your other merits. All I can do is quote the immortal words of Joseph Welch to senator Joe McCarthy, “Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?”

Comments

  1. Chiroptera says

    It’s too bad that there doesn’t seem to be many one issue voters whose important issue is to not vote for crazy or stupid people.

  2. jockmcdock says

    I have to wonder if this is related to te email “debate” Harris and Chomsky had earlier this year in which Chomsky basically handed Harris his (Harris’s) arse on a plate.

  3. laurentweppe says

    Harris would rather live in a Christian theocracy than a Muslim theocracy. As long as it’s the right people subjugating women and stoning gay men.

    Perhaps he believes that the uniformed bullies on a Christian theocracy’s payroll will remain properly deferential to rich white dudes like him instead of thinking “I want that Jew’s stuff/wife/daughters and I’m the guy with the guns and the government-issued badge, so I’ll take what I want

  4. says

    And Dawkins has done it again. This time he compared (but totes didn’t compare!) Ahmed Mohamed (or as he likes to call him, “Clock Hoax Kid”) to a child soldier in ISIS beheading a man.

  5. says

    I’m sure it’s got nothing to do with the fact that Noam Chomsky handed Sam Harris his own ass in a debate. I’m sure Harris would never hold a grudge; he’s all intellectual and stuff.

  6. says

    @#6 I didn’t read all the comments before I made mine; it’s funny – we even used the same wordings. 🙂

    Harris reminds me of a spoiled boy-god who’s mom told him too many times that he was the smartest boy ever and expected him to always succeed and … now he’s a massive wad of ego and insecurities. I’m sure that going up against Noam Chomsky was very painful for an overrated lightweight like Harris.

  7. laurentweppe says

    And Dawkins has done it again. This time he compared (but totes didn’t compare!) Ahmed Mohamed (or as he likes to call him, “Clock Hoax Kid”) to a child soldier in ISIS beheading a man.

    Frankly, I’m surprised that Dawkins and his ilk haven’t yet used the fact that one of the Paris killers had a fake Syrian Passport with Ahmad Almohammad written on it to link the kid to the terrorists. I mean, it’s not like they don’t enjoy digging themselves deeper in their own hole of self-satisfied bigotry.

  8. Reginald Selkirk says

    Why is anyone asking Sam Harris about foreign policy experience? He’s got almost as much of that as Ben Carson does.

  9. Joseph Mulroney says

    same harris would prefer ben carson over noam chomsky, but he labels his progressive opponents as “the regressive left”…

  10. Shank says

    “But not Harris. He has no such qualms. If you are not a raging Islamophobe, he has no use for you, whatever your other merits.”

    This is thoroughly dishonest. Harris specifies Jihadis. He says Jihadis are the enemy. Not all Muslims. The word ‘Jihadis’ is right there in the excerpt you quoted.

    Frankly, your choice to equate all Muslims with Jihadis is far, far more offensive than what Harris said. I had to re-read what you said to make sure it was as dishonest it first appeared. I think, if Harris, Carson, and Chomsky were around in the 60s and Harris said “Carson understands Stalin is our enemy”, your response would be “Sam Harris Slanders ALL Russians.”

    It’s every bit as malicious and unfair.

  11. Shank says

    Tabby Lavalamp wrote:

    “Harris would rather live in a Christian theocracy than a Muslim theocracy. As long as it’s the right people subjugating women and stoning gay men.”

    Harris has written an entire book about the dangers of Christian fundamentalism, and he also devoted two chapters to it in End of Faith. You clearly aren’t familiar with his work and probably get everything you know about him from Salon.

  12. John Morales says

    Shank, I find your feeble flailing amusing.

    @17, your claim rests on the very specific wording of a particular quotation, and ignores the rest of Harris’ corpus.

    (Who wrote “We should profile Muslims, or anyone who looks like he or she could conceivably be Muslim, and we should be honest about it.”? 😉 )

    @18, you don’t even dispute the claim you quoted!

  13. Shank says

    “Shank, I find your feeble flailing amusing.

    @17, your claim rests on the very specific wording of a particular quotation, and ignores the rest of Harris’ corpus.”

    I find your wilful obfuscation to be equally amusing. Nothing you can say will change the fact that Harris’ preference for Carson over Chomsky is limited strictly to the question of which of the two is better equipped to identify Jihadists as an enemy of the United States and act accordingly. This is not to say that Carson would handle the Jihadi threat especially well. He might well handle it terribly. However, it’s almost impossible to imagine that he would handle it worse than Chomsky, who doesn’t even view them as enemies in the first place.

    “(Who wrote “We should profile Muslims, or anyone who looks like he or she could conceivably be Muslim, and we should be honest about it.”?)”

    Harris wrote that. What does it have to do with the question of whether Jihadis should be viewed as enemies (Carson) or as mere victims of U.S. foreign policy (Chomsky)?

    “@18, you don’t even dispute the claim you quoted!”

    I took @4 to be insinuating that Harris downplays the dangers of Christian theocracy. He hasn’t. If you include his essays and blog posts, he’s literally written hundreds of thousands of words about the dangers of Christian theocracy.

    That said, I’ve not seen any evidence that Harris would prefer to live under a Christian theocracy than a Muslim one. If you can quote him directly on that subject I’ll happily address the question in greater depth.

  14. John Morales says

    Shank:

    I find your wilful obfuscation to be equally amusing. Nothing you can say will change the fact that Harris’ preference for Carson over Chomsky is limited strictly to the question of which of the two is better equipped to identify Jihadists as an enemy of the United States and act accordingly.

    Well, Mano sure is not disputing that fact — in the words of the OP:
    “So Harris has become so gripped by his fear of Muslims that he has become a caricature of the one-issue candidate and would vote for a “dangerously deluded religious imbecile” over a man who is one of the worlds leading intellectuals and a humane, eminently rational, and science-based thinker.”

    Good to see you endorse Mano’s claim.

    Harris wrote that. What does it have to do with the question of whether Jihadis should be viewed as enemies (Carson) or as mere victims of U.S. foreign policy (Chomsky)?

    How quickly you forget what you yourself wrote:
    “Harris has written an entire book about the dangers of Christian fundamentalism, and he also devoted two chapters to it in End of Faith.”

    So… do you dispute that Harris thinks Christian fundamentalism is bad, but not so bad as being worth such blanket profiling, unlike Islamic fundamentalism?

    Besides, it has nothing to do with emnity nor victimhood, and everything to do with Tabby’s contention which you still don’t dispute, though you take the form of disputation.

    Heh.

    I took @4 to be insinuating that Harris downplays the dangers of Christian theocracy.

    Really. So, when you quoted Tabby claiming “Harris would rather live in a Christian theocracy than a Muslim theocracy”, you imagined that meant Tabby was insinuating that Harris downplays the dangers of Christian theocracy, rather than Tabby was explicitly claiming Harris considers Christianity the lesser of two evils.

    Glad to see you acknowledge you don’t dispute Tabby’s explicit claim.

    That said, I’ve not seen any evidence that Harris would prefer to live under a Christian theocracy than a Muslim one.

    Here’s a datum of evidence to which you already have access: Harris advocates the blanket profiling of Muslims and those who could conceivably be Muslim, but does not likewise advocate for Christians’ profiling.

  15. Shank says

    “Well, Mano sure is not disputing that fact — in the words of the OP:

    ‘So Harris has become so gripped by his fear of Muslims that he has become a caricature of the one-issue candidate and would vote for a “dangerously deluded religious imbecile” over a man who is one of the worlds leading intellectuals and a humane, eminently rational, and science-based thinker.’

    Good to see you endorse Mano’s claim.”

    .

    Mano’s claim is that Harris is Islamophobic because he thinks Carson would do a better job of protecting America from Jihadists than Chomsky. This is a total non-sequitur which relies on a false conflation of Jihadists with all Muslims. It’s right there in black and white. Harris says Carson “Understands that Jihadists are the enemy” and Mano interprets this (somehow) as evidence that Harris is “gripped by a fear of Muslims”. There’s only one honest way to take this: Mano believes that Harris thinks all Muslims are jihadists. This is manifestly untrue, and Mano almost certainly knows it.
    .

    Here’s a datum of evidence to which you already have access: Harris advocates the blanket profiling of Muslims and those who could conceivably be Muslim, but does not likewise advocate for Christians’ profiling.

    .
    Christians don’t have a track record of blowing up aeroplanes. If people were required to go through numerous security checkpoints to enter Planned Parenthood, it would make more sense to profile Christians than Muslims for the exact same reasons Harris gives in his profiling essay.
    .

    So… do you dispute that Harris thinks Christian fundamentalism is bad, but not so bad as being worth such blanket profiling, unlike Islamic fundamentalism?

    .
    At airports? Yeah, that is his position. When was the last time a fundamentalist Christian tried to blow himself up on an aeroplane?
    .

    Really. So, when you quoted Tabby claiming “Harris would rather live in a Christian theocracy than a Muslim theocracy”, you imagined that meant Tabby was insinuating that Harris downplays the dangers of Christian theocracy, rather than Tabby was explicitly claiming Harris considers Christianity the lesser of two evils.

    .
    Yes. That’s how I took Tabby’s comment.
    .

    Glad to see you acknowledge you don’t dispute Tabby’s explicit claim.

    .
    Okay, fine. Tabby’s claim is false. It isn’t substantiated by evidence. Until it is, until I see a direct quote from Harris saying “I would rather live under the harshest Christian theocracy than the harshest Muslim theocracy” I will persist in that opinion, noting as I do so that Harris’ opinions on airport profiling have nothing to do with that particular question.

  16. John Morales says

    Shank:

    Mano’s claim is that Harris is Islamophobic because he thinks Carson would do a better job of protecting America from Jihadists than Chomsky. This is a total non-sequitur which relies on a false conflation of Jihadists with all Muslims.

    Leaving aside that if such a conflation exists, then by virtue of its very existence it’s a true conflation, Mano’s stated basis is that Harris claimed he would vote for Carson over Chomsky because Carson had greater understanding of Jihadists even if Carson is a (in Harris’ own words) dangerously deluded religious imbecile.

    If you want to hold that it’s not Islamophobic for someone to prefer giving Presidential power to a dangerously deluded religious imbecile rather than Chomsky purely on the basis that the imbecile’s views on Jihadists are closer to Harris’ than to Chomsky’s, fine.

    Harris says Carson “Understands that Jihadists are the enemy” and Mano interprets this (somehow) as evidence that Harris is “gripped by a fear of Muslims”. There’s only one honest way to take this: Mano believes that Harris thinks all Muslims are jihadists. This is manifestly untrue, and Mano almost certainly knows it.

    Is the concept of consilience unknown to you?

    BTW, if you want to be rigorous, Mano’s actual imputation is that Harris thinks all Muslims are potential jihadists, and should be feared.

    Christians don’t have a track record of blowing up aeroplanes. If people were required to go through numerous security checkpoints to enter Planned Parenthood, it would make more sense to profile Christians than Muslims for the exact same reasons Harris gives in his profiling essay.

    <snicker>

    So, you and Harris hold that Muslims are currently more dangerous than Christians because their respective fundamentalists are evidentially more dangerous, yet that is not in fact evidence that Harris would prefer a Christian theocracy to an Islamic one?

    (I thought you thought Harris was rational!)

    So… do you dispute that Harris thinks Christian fundamentalism is bad, but not so bad as being worth such blanket profiling, unlike Islamic fundamentalism?

    At airports? Yeah, that is his position. When was the last time a fundamentalist Christian tried to blow himself up on an aeroplane?

    There you go: you do not dispute that.

    I do like your caveat, though; are you trying to suggest that Harris thinks otherwise outside the context of airports?

    Okay, fine. Tabby’s claim is false. It isn’t substantiated by evidence.

    LOL.

    Leaving aside your acumen, I put it to you that since you think that Tabby’s claim is false, it necessarily means that you think the claim that “Harris would rather live in a Christian theocracy than a Muslim theocracy” is false.

    So, do you think he’d prefer the Muslim theocracy, or that he merely wouldn’t give a damn? 🙂

  17. Shank says

    Leaving aside that if such a conflation exists, then by virtue of its very existence it’s a true conflation,

    .
    I’ll happily leave that aside because it’s incredibly pedantic.
    .

    Mano’s stated basis is that Harris claimed he would vote for Carson over Chomsky because Carson had greater understanding of Jihadists even if Carson is a (in Harris’ own words) dangerously deluded religious imbecile.

    If you want to hold that it’s not Islamophobic for someone to prefer giving Presidential power to a dangerously deluded religious imbecile rather than Chomsky purely on the basis that the imbecile’s views on Jihadists are closer to Harris’ than to Chomsky’s, fine.

    .
    Thanks for granting that. Sincerely. As it happens, I don’t think it’s in any way Islamophobic to prefer Carson to Chomsky on the basis of his views on Jihadists. Why would it be? Only a tiny percentage of Muslims are Jihadists, after all. You could fairly say that Harris is perhaps too concerned about the threat Jihadists pose to the U.S. – and there’s definitely room for honest disagreement on that point – but you can’t say his preference for Carson proves that he’s Islamophobic.
    .

    Is the concept of consilience unknown to you?

    BTW, if you want to be rigorous, Mano’s actual imputation is that Harris thinks all Muslims are potential jihadists, and should be feared.

    .
    No amount of consilience can prove Harris thinks all Muslims are Jihadists. As for Mano’s actual implication…well, I’m a left-wing, British atheist, but who knows what I’ll be in five years? I’m a potential Jihadist. You’re a potential Jihadist. EVERYONE is a potential Jihadist. A Jihadist is simply a person who ascribes to certain religious, political, and metaphysical ideas, and is prepared to act violently on them. I’m sure nobody who knew John Walker Lindh as a teenager would have predicted how he’d turn out. Furthermore, even Mano’s implication is unsupported by the excerpt he quoted.
    .

    So, you and Harris hold that Muslims are currently more dangerous than Christians because their respective fundamentalists are evidentially more dangerous, yet that is not in fact evidence that Harris would prefer a Christian theocracy to an Islamic one?

    .
    Muslim fundamentalists are more dangerous at this time, yes. Roll back the clock 500 years and the reverse was true. The fact that Harris devotes an entire chapter of End of Faith to the horrors of medieval Christendom proves that he knows this. Also, while Harris believes that Muslim fundamentalists are more dangerous to the world at large (because of their eagerness to die), that doesn’t say anything about which type of theocracy he thinks it would be more dangerous to live under.
    .

    I do like your caveat, though; are you trying to suggest that Harris thinks otherwise outside the context of airports?

    .
    Of course he does! Harris has said repeatedly that there is no solid Islamic basis for opposition to stem cell research or first trimester abortion, and that virtually all the violent religious opposition to these things has been Christian. Therefore, if you change the context from an airport to a Planned Parenthood clinic, Christians become more dangerous. For someone who likes to lecture others about consilience, you really do seem to be quite uninformed about the totality of Harris’ views.
    .

    Leaving aside your acumen, I put it to you that since you think that Tabby’s claim is false, it necessarily means that you think the claim that “Harris would rather live in a Christian theocracy than a Muslim theocracy” is false.

    .
    Tabby made the claim, it up to him/her to prove it. Until I see proof, I’ll continue to reject the claim. As Hitchens said, what can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence.

  18. John Morales says

    Shank:

    I’ll happily leave that aside because it’s incredibly pedantic.

    Heh. Actually, what you mean is that it’s credibly pedantic.

    (I’ve spared you many other examples of such solecisms)

    As it happens, I don’t think it’s in any way Islamophobic to prefer Carson to Chomsky on the basis of his views on Jihadists. Why would it be?

    Yes, I can see it’s a mystery to you, O purblind one.

    No amount of consilience can prove Harris thinks all Muslims are Jihadists.

    True; but the claim that “Harris thinks all Muslims are Jihadists” is yours.

    I’m a potential Jihadist. You’re a potential Jihadist. EVERYONE is a potential Jihadist.

    Nah. I’m not even slightly a potential Jihadist, being irreligious to the bone. You? Maybe.

    Also, while Harris believes that Muslim fundamentalists are more dangerous to the world at large (because of their eagerness to die), that doesn’t say anything about which type of theocracy he thinks it would be more dangerous to live under.

    I need but to quote Harris: “Islam remains the most retrograde and ill-behaved religion on earth.”

    (Yes, I know… you have made it most clear that this is not to you evidence that Harris might prefer not to live under the most retrograde and ill-behaved religion)

    I do like your caveat, though; are you trying to suggest that Harris thinks otherwise outside the context of airports?

    Of course he does!

    So you assert that Harris does not think seaports, bus stations, train stations etc don’t merit such profiling. Only airports.

    Heh.

    Tabby made the claim, it up to him/her to prove it. Until I see proof, I’ll continue to reject the claim.

    … and back to square one. I gotta love your stance: “Tabby’s claim is false. It isn’t substantiated by evidence.”

    (You might care to educate yourself on basic epistemology and logic, so that you cease to imagine that nothing is true unless “substantiated by evidence”.)

    BTW, seeing as you picked-up on blockquotes, I offer you this: there no need to put full stops as spacers. There’s a bug in the comment preview implementation on this platform, but paragraphs separate just fine.

    (Or, if you like, you can just use non-breaking spaces (&nbsp;) to achieve extra spacing.

     

     

    Like this.)

  19. Shank says

    (I’ve spared you many other examples of such solecisms)

    Thanks.

    True; but the claim that “Harris thinks all Muslims are Jihadists” is yours.

    If that’s true, then why did Mano take Harris’s statement “Ben Carson is a dangerously deluded religious imbecile, Ben Carson does not…the fact that he is a candidate for president is a scandal…but at the very least he can be counted on to sort of get this one right. He understands that jihadists are the enemy.”

    And then immediately follow it up with “So Harris has become so gripped by his fear of Muslims that he has become a caricature of the one-issue candidate and would vote for a “dangerously deluded religious imbecile” over a man who is one of the worlds leading intellectuals and a humane, eminently rational, and science-based thinker.”?

    Either Mano is conflating Jihadists with all Muslims (very unlikely) or he thinks Harris is (more likely). If I was being extremely charitable, I might concede that this was just an example of terribly sloppy phrasing on Mano’s part. However, that wouldn’t change the fact that, given the words he actually used, it’s perfectly fair to conclude from Mano’s OP that he thinks Harris believes all Muslims are Jihadists.

    I need but to quote Harris: “Islam remains the most retrograde and ill-behaved religion on earth.”
    (Yes, I know… you have made it most clear that this is not to you evidence that Harris might prefer not to live under the most retrograde and ill-behaved religion)

    It is, at this time. The fact of the matter is that in 2015 there are no Christian theocracies which are anywhere near as evil as ISIS. As I said in my last post, 500 years ago Christianity was the most “retrograde and ill-behaved religion on Earth” and Harris knows this because he spent about 50 pages in The End of Faith saying exactly that. Therefore, you can’t conclude from that statement that Harris would rather live under the worst type of Islamic theocracy than the worst type of Christian theocracy if both existed today.

    For all I know, you may well be right. My point, however, is that your contention hasn’t been proven. Tell you what, I’ll e-mail Harris tomorrow and ask him outright. If I get a response (which, to be fair, is pretty unlikely), I’ll post it right here and if he says he’d rather live under ISIS than Medieval Christendom with its pogroms and witch burnings, I’ll recant the point.

    Nah. I’m not even slightly a potential Jihadist, being irreligious to the bone. You? Maybe.

    With all due respect, you’re not a fortune teller. You can’t possibly know what you’ll believe in ten years time. Atheists ‘get’ religion all the time, and vice versa. I’ll happily grant that it’s incredibly unlikely that either of us will ever become Jihadists, but you can’t say that the potential is definitely not there. I refer you again to the example of John Walker Lindh. Born in California to Catholic parents (who, as far as I’m aware, didn’t really take their religion seriously) he is, on paper, one of the least likely candidates for martyrdom imaginable, but that didn’t stop him. I repeat, we are all potential Jihadists and you are no exception, no matter how unlikely that may seem in the present moment. For that matter, all Jihadists are potential atheists as well. It all depends on what we believe.

    So you assert that Harris does not think seaports, bus stations, train stations etc don’t merit such profiling. Only airports.

    I didn’t say only airports. I was merely arguing that context matters. Again, I refer you to the example of Planned Parenthood. There have been (as far as I’m aware) nearly half a dozen terrorist attacks on Planned Parenthood clinics in the last year. Every single one has been committed by a Christian. Furthermore, there is no solid basis in Islamic scripture for opposition to stem-cell research or first trimester abortion. Therefore, if we take the logic of Harris’s profiling argument and apply it to Planned Parenthood, suddenly it’s Christians who would end up being profiled. I can ask him about that too, if you like.

    … and back to square one. I gotta love your stance: “Tabby’s claim is false. It isn’t substantiated by evidence.”
    (You might care to educate yourself on basic epistemology and logic, so that you cease to imagine that nothing is true unless “substantiated by evidence”.)

    Coming from someone who purports to be “irreligious to the bone”, this seems like rather an odd thing to say. Without evidence, Tabby’s claim is a faith claim, just like any other, and should be given a similar amount of weight.

    BTW, seeing as you picked-up on blockquotes, I offer you this: there no need to put full stops as spacers. There’s a bug in the comment preview implementation on this platform, but paragraphs separate just fine.

    Much obliged. Thanks.

  20. John Morales says

    Shank, there’s no point rehashing the same things over and over. We’ve both had our says.

    So… what’s left? Nothing much on the post topic.

    With all due respect, you’re not a fortune teller. You can’t possibly know what you’ll believe in ten years time. Atheists ‘get’ religion all the time, and vice versa. I’ll happily grant that it’s incredibly unlikely that either of us will ever become Jihadists, but you can’t say that the potential is definitely not there.

    I see no respect whatsoever in your denial of my own perception and self-knowledge. I didn’t claim to know what I’ll believe in ten years’ time; I claimed to know what I shan’t believe thence. Also, I didn’t merely tell you I was an atheist; I told you I was irreligious — a far more encompassing claim*.

    BTW, you’d to well to stop using antonyms as intensifiers when conversing with me.

    (You know what the Jesuits claim about small children? I am an existence proof that their claim is W R O N G 😉 )

    Coming from someone who purports to be “irreligious to the bone”, this seems like rather an odd thing to say.

    It seems odd because you are an ignoramus when it comes to logic and epistemology, so that you deny that unknown truths can exist, as in (for example) imagining that something which cannot (to your personal satisfaction) be shown true must perforce be false.

    I deem you smart enough to educate yourself, but it’s entirely up to you whether you care to essay that task.

    * though strictly, it is possible to be theistic and not religious. But I’m neither.

  21. scoobie says

    Thanks for highlighting Harris’s podcast – it was great to listen to two talented free-thinkers expounding their views and I learned a lot.

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