And THIS Is Why I Do Not Trust “Philosophers”: Sam Harris, Ethics Villain

lf you are not familiar with Sam Harris, who has gained a fair amount of visibility (hear-ability?) as a result of his podcast, you might want to listen to the first 35 minute or so of the interview with him above, but the important part comes afterwards. As soon as your hear that, assuming you’re not Liz Cheney, Adam Schiff or George Conway, you will realize that you wasted your time, because the man is not worth taking seriously.

He is completely, thoroughly, through-and-through ruined by the hatred of Donald Trump, and so biased that his reasoning cannot be relied upon for anything. It doesn’t matter that he’s a neuroscientist, New York Times best-selling author, a genuine philosopher, and credentialed public intellectual. He’s useless. He’s a fraud. Trustworthy people simply don’t hold such opinions—not only hold them, but eagerly broadcast them. It’s a signature significance orgy!

The interview is outright scary, and should make people seek psychiatric attention when they sense they are nearing the point that Harris has, tragically, reached. Harris is honest and clear-eyed enough to recognize the (still running) 2016 Post Election Ethics Train Wreck for what it is [“Taking down the New York Post’s [laptop article]? That’s a Left-wing conspiracy to deny the presidency to Donald Trump. Absolutely it was. But I think it was warranted.”] but not ethical enough to realize that as an authority and scholar lesser mortals rely upon for enlightenment, he has an obligation not to sink into mob mentality just because he is surrounded by peers and friends who are consumed with unthinking fear, anger and hate.

After expressing his approval of Liz Cheney’s announced determination to use any means necessary to prevent Donald Trump from running for President, Harris is asked “You’re content with a conspiracy to prevent somebody being democratically elected President?” He responds with a flaming rationalization stew (and a terrible analogy) that belongs in the “Bias makes you stupid” Hall of Fame: “If there was an asteroid hurtling toward earth and we got in a room together with all of our friends and had a conversation of what we could do to deflect its course, is that a conspiracy?”

Ah! See, if Trump is the same as an extinction-threatening asteroid, so “Ethics is a luxury we can’t afford,” “It can’t make things any worse,” “It’s for a good cause,” “These are not ordinary times” and more rationalizations all apply. But Trump is just a politician and a human being, and even our politicized scientists cannot declare him an extinction event. Nor is planning a conspiracy: there are no laws declaring that blocking the path of an asteroid is wrongful. When someone as intelligent as Harris once was hears something that stupid leaping from his mouth, he must be able to recognize it, or something is seriously amiss.

Harris doesn’t. Instead, he “explains”: “We have a massive problem. We have an existential threat. Politically speaking, I consider Trump an existential threat to our democracy.”

But shattering institutions and democratic principles to prevent the legitimate election of someone the Left despises isn’t an “existential threat to our democracy,” apparently. If Harris ever had a brain, he’s in Oz’s Scarecrow territory now. When the interviewer, podcast host Konstantin Kisin, makes the obvious point, “But if you destroy democracy in the process of protecting democracy…,” Harris descends into Authentic Frontier Gibberish:

“Political opinion is already being just completely inundated with misinformation, biased takes, half truths, outright lies, or just the amplification of bad or misleading information based on, you know, the algorithm…It’s already just an abattoir of opinion. Right? And now the question is, you know, what can you do with your own biases  to get the outcome you think is better, not just for yourself, personally, but for the world?”

Brilliant! See, he used “abattoir of opinion”! Unfortunately it makes no sense, and has left ethics and reasoning far, far behind.

After hearing this from a heralded philosopher, it shouldn’t surprise you that your Facebook Friends and once respectably liberal relatives are sounding hysterical and brain washed. This is like an ethics zombie apocalypse.

19 thoughts on “And THIS Is Why I Do Not Trust “Philosophers”: Sam Harris, Ethics Villain

  1. I had no idea who Sam Harris was until you posted this. After watching that video I think Harris is a boring narcissist who likes to hear his own voice, who thinks everyone else is not as intelligent as he is and it’s damn hard for me to listen to his droning. He says so much nothing and yet he thinks it’s profound. His thoughts seem to meander, his opinions seem a bit scattered and it appears that he has a lack of being able to really focus.

    I don’t care one bit what Sam Harris thinks about anything.

  2. He’s one of the so-called “four hosemen” of new atheism. I knew I’d heard his name somewhere. Never had time for him before now, not going to have time for him going forward. I despise anti-theists, and that’s really what people like him are.

    • P.S. make that “four horsemen.” The four hosemen were an engine company in one or another of the fire departments around here in the 1970s.

  3. what can you do with your own biases to get the outcome you think is better, not just for yourself, personally, but for the world?

    Ask the Hitler’s, the Lenin’s, the Mao Zedongs, the Pol Pots of the world.

  4. “If there was an asteroid hurtling toward earth and we got in a room together with all of our friends and had a conversation of what we could do to deflect its course, is that a conspiracy?”

    Ann Althouse’s suggested response: “Is that an analogy?”

    • Interesting looking at the definitions of conspiracy. Mirriam Webster says conspiracy is “the act of conspiring together”. I like the Cambridge English dictionary, which has several definitions for some different applications (such as one in a business setting), but the main definition is “the activity of secretly planning with other people to do something bad or illegal”.

      Vocabulary.com shows ‘confederacy’ as a synonym — that’s kind of scary but seems to be an outlier.

      So unless you define an asteroid as a person (hopefully I’m not giving anyone ideas there), or unless there is a law against saving the earth from an asteroid impact, then no that is not a conspiracy.

      On the gripping hand, secrecy appears to be one of the key elements of conspiracy. If you held a public town hall meeting to plan the overthrow of the government, apparently that’s not a conspiracy because it is not secret (lawyers can chime in here). It is possible there are other laws that might be violated in that instance, though.

      OK, he’s had his 15 minutes of attention from me. He can now crawl back under the rock he came from and conspire amongst himself.

      • Haha, no. Supposedly Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, and Daniel Dennett are the other three. Frankly I have no use for the first two, although at least Christopher Hitchens took Scottish jerk and anti-Semite George Galloway apart before his smoking and drinking sent him down for the dirt nap. Richard Dawkins is brilliant when it comes to scientists, but basically just an anti-theist ranter otherwise, not to mention an enabler of pedophilia. Daniel Dennett I knew nothing about until I looked him up today. Dawkins and Dennett are both of VERY advanced age and not long for this world. I’ve got no use for them, as I already said. I’ve said again and again that others’ unbelief does not bother me. I’m sure most atheists just go about their lives the same as the rest of us. Others’ nonobservance doesn’t bother me, that’s between them and whatever authority they do or don’t believe in. I am not at all interested in hearing about anyone’s journey from faith to unbelief, and wouldn’t watch a podcast or read a book about it. Most of the time it boils down to either wanting to sleep in on Sunday or shtupp your latest squeeze and not feel guilty about it. I really have a problem with those who attacck those who do believe or try to interfere with their ability to express their faith. I think they got a pretty good smackdown in the Bladensburg cross case and it was long overdue. If you want to be some frustrated, small-minded, hateful little man spewing hatred and bitterness into cyberspace because your parents divorced, or your brother got killed in a car accident, or because no woman will even give you the time of day, that’s ok, but I’m not interested in anything you have to say, and if you poke fun at me, you just may get a poke back that you won’t like.

        • That’s odd; the journeys from faith to unbelief that I usually come across involve abuse, emotional or otherwise, or a willingness to exclude people for asking reasonable questions. There are probably a lot of shallow atheists walking around, but I successfully avoid their stories.

          The stories I come across about how people find faith usually involve existential angst, and occasionally a tragedy, whether self-inflicted or from outside events.

          I guess it depends on how one responds to the phrase, “I agree, that was horrible, but don’t worry: everything’s under control.”

  5. “And now the question is, you know, what can you do with your own biases to get the outcome you think is better, not just for yourself, personally, but for the world?”

    As an atheist and a philosopher, I sneer at Sam Harris, because with this sentence, taken in context, he has declared that if people do not agree with you, deceive them, and if you can’t deceive them, turn everyone else against them. He has renounced the idea of listening to people’s concerns and addressing them. He has abandoned the idea of honesty, honor, and trustworthiness as things that make society stronger rather than weaker. He has embraced hubris over humility.

    All we need to do is demonstrate that the things he has abandoned are assets rather than liabilities, that we are more effective with them than without them. All he can do with his current outlook is create more dysfunction.

  6. Here’s the question we should be asking: If people like Sam Harris were willing to excuse what Twitter did to the New York Post, what else would they be willing to accept to stop Trump?

    Furthermore, does this not, in conjunction with Time’s article about the “well-funded cabal” (https://archive.ph/CRSYG), again seem like a reason for Republicans to worry they will be cheated, assurances from the likes of Liz Cheney aside? Does this not give Trump more ammunition for his claims?

    It’s about to the point where I can say Biden won the 2020 election, but that election was NOT a fair election, and that some serious guardrails need to be put up.

    In addition, any company not transparent with state legislatures and/or election officials should be disqualified from being near the process of administering an election.

    • Harris has come out with a sort of excuse for his blathering: it doesn’t help. “There is a podcast clip circulating that seems to be confusing many people about my views on Trump (which is understandable because I wasn’t speaking very clearly). So, for what it’s worth, here is what I was trying to say I was essentially arguing for a principle of self-defense (where there’s a continuum of proportionate force that is appropriate and necessary to use). I’ve always viewed Trump as a very dangerous person to elect as president of a fake university let alone the US, and when he became a sitting president who would not commit to a peaceful transfer of power, I viewed him as more dangerous still. (However, I’ve never been under any illusion that he is Orange Hitler.)Nothing I said on that podcast was meant to suggest that the Democrats would have been right to commit election fraud or take other illegal measures to deny Trump the presidency (nor do I think they did that).

      So this “philosopher” thinks that as long as cheating and deceiving the public takes forms that are not illegal, they are acceptable ways to defeat a candidate”in self-defense.”

      Got it. This is an idiot.

      • Uh, Sam, when did anyone in the political establishment “commit to a peaceful transfer of power” after the 2016 election? They’re all still trying to overturn the results.

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