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💬 "Sam Harris | Club Random with Bill Maher"

Club Random

Table of Contents

Host: Bill Maher
Guest: Sam Harris | Neuroscientist & Philosopher
Category: 💬 Opinion | Human Mind
Original: 1 hr 28 min | Time Saved: 1 hr 25 min

Podcast’s Essential Bites:

On Media:

[2:33] SH: "I don't know that we have to issue any caveats or footnotes as we cover [...] topics [like criticizing religions], but it's amazing how confused people are. [...] People cannot differentiate criticizing a system of ideas from hating people for indelible characteristics of birth."

[13:01] SH: "The problem is, there are a couple of bright shiny objects that have completely entranced people in what I would call the alternative media space. [...] People have this notion that [...] everything should be talked about at great length, because we're just asking questions, and [...] sunlight on everything at all times is always the best approach, even if you're dealing with a public health emergency or the threat of nuclear war. Everyone just has an opinion, they're entitled to their opinion, and we should be as a default distrustful of institutions, whether it's the government or the media, or science or academia. I'm not saying that our institutions haven't embarrassed themselves over the last few years, of course they have. But the idea that the contrarian view is always or even mostly likely to be true, is not just not true."

On Science & COVID:

[15:48] SH: "I think that there are many different time points in the last three years, where a different [COVID] response was warranted. And so what was appropriate in May of 2020, was slightly different than what was appropriate in December of 2020, and we're in a different moment now. [...] What we're dealing with now is such distrust of institutions, that I worry that we just can't effectively message anything of consequence without it just getting obliterated by conspiracy thinking and partisan politics."

[17:58] SH: "If COVID had been like monkeypox, where you just get covered in pustules, I think the attitude toward the vaccine would have been quite different. COVID was still an abstraction for many people. But I think there's a few things going on that are complicating this issue. One is, science is messy and non-scientists are bad consumers of science. When we view changes of scientific opinion and scientific controversy and [...] people are changing their minds and having debates and and there's just basic uncertainty, from the outside that looks like a failure of science."

[21:04] SH: "On the one hand, you have the frank politicization of science. [...] The most egregious instance of this was when the epidemiologists by something like 1,000 or more signed a letter saying, [..] we just told you that all of these right wing demonstrations were awful and dangerous and likely to get people killed. But now that we have Black Lives Matter demonstrations, that's fine, because racism is even a greater public health emergency than COVID. That was absolutely discrediting institutional science. [...] But on the other hand, it's always possible to find an MD or a PhD, who will say we didn't land on the moon. [...] And that was happening in the first month of the pandemic. You have people [with PhDs] who are saying that millions of people are dying from the vaccines."

On Status & Intention:

[38:59] SH: "There have been a bunch of books published recently on status. And status is not a variable I've thought about very much. Status encompasses [...] wealth, power, fame [...] and status is this ever shifting object where, depending on the context, you can have more or less status, depending on the variables that are salient. [...] It's very interesting that once you think about status as what people are gravitating toward, however unconsciously, you start to see it in the world in a way that is fascinating. It is kind of the grand attractor."

[50:19] SH: "It's the most interesting thing to not care about people's actual intentions. There are people who essentially have become human sacrifices, where even the people who are hurling them from the rooftops, know they're not actually guilty of the thing that they're accused of, whether it's racism, or Me Too. [...] So, we're just going to destroy this person, because it's all for a good cause. And that's where it really becomes toxic."

On Free Will & Behavior:

[1:11:34] SH: "There are topics that I think science should have decided long ago that people think are still kind of hot topics of debate in the wider culture. And that the one that I have hit pretty hard personally is the issue of free will. Many people think they have free will, [...] it's important to them that they have it. And it is the framework through which they view the moral economy and the moral universe. And it affects everything. It affects the justice system, or it affects your intuitions about good and evil. And free will makes no sense scientifically to grow. And people don't want to admit it, because even some very smart people don't want to admit it, because they feel they have it. It's a powerful illusion."

[1:15:14] SH: "I think there's an important distinction between the system level view of human behavior and the individual level view. What we want are systems that allow even mediocre or selfish people to do the right thing. You don't want a system where you have to be a moral hero to do the right thing. [...] You want a system where good behavior is incentivized and the negative externalities of certain things are canceled."

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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🗓️ 11/20/2022