In this lengthy interview with the president Obama (that I received from a friend and colleague Chris), Bill Maher asks him, among other things, about socialism, atheism, and science, topics that got little or no attention during this campaign.
The socialism part begins at the 1:50 mark. Obama agrees that there are some things that should be considered the common good and that we should all pitch in to pay for it and that the prison system should not be for profit. Health care is one such system and that if we were starting from scratch, a single-payer health care system would be the best but that we have a legacy system of employer-based health care that is not easy to change. This is something that Hillary Clinton has also said. This acknowledgment that a single-payer system is the best is something that we can thank Bernie Sanders for bringing into the mainstream.
The section on atheism and science starts at the 11:00 mark. In his reply about science, Obama says that the problem is that people tend to view the views of everyone equally, irrespective of the credibility of the source, and that we need to be able to teach people to be able to figure out what is true and what is false, what is contestable and what is incontestable. As he spoke, I said to myself, hey, he’s talking about what my forthcoming book The Paradox of Science is about! Maybe I should send him a copy when it’s done.
His statements towards the end about American exceptionalism and virtue had a triumphalist flavor that was jarring but all in all it was a more thoughtful interview than you will see in most places, mainly because Maher did not keep interrupting the way that a lot of interviewers do.