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Atheism | Debates | Politics | Religion | Islam | Self-Defense | Terrorism | September 28, 2015

Never Stop Lying

How to Pass as a 'Moderate Muslim' in the Media

If you have ten minutes to spare, I recommend watching the above video, because it encapsulates better than most how difficult it is to even discuss the threat of political Islam.

Announcements | Book News | Politics | Religion | Christianity | War | September 28, 2015

Rethinking ‘Hitler’s Pope’

A Q&A With Mark Riebling


Mark Riebling has been an architect of post-9/11 “intelligence-driven policing,” co-founding and serving as research director for the Center for Policing Terrorism. He received his degree in philosophy from the University of California at Berkeley and is the author of Wedge: The Secret War Between the FBI and CIA. His latest book is Church of Spies: The Pope’s Secret War Against Hitler.

*  *  *

Harris: Previously, you’ve written about problems of intelligence, law enforcement, and counterterrorism. What inspired you to write about the papacy in the Second World War?

Riebling: Well, I was raised Catholic, and one of the things I learned before I left the faith was that nuns could nail me if I said something heterodox, because they had an awesome system of informants! So I didn’t find it implausible, or uninteresting, when I later heard from one retired spy that the Vatican ran the world’s oldest and perhaps best intelligence service. Or when another retired spy told me that the Church was so skilled in clandestine operations that the NSA couldn’t crack the pope’s codes. And I like the challenge of writing secret histories of powerful institutions—maybe because my academic training is in philosophy, and I’m interested in how our background theories come to bear when the data are severely limited but the stakes are high. I’d like to think I write about these things as exercises in mindfulness, not unlike what philosophers from Epictetus to Foucault have recommended—a self-check of my own intellectual hygiene. Less abstractly, I just thought that much of what had been written about the wartime Church was crap!

Harris: There’s a large literature implicating the Catholic Church generally, and Pope Pius XII specifically, in Nazi atrocities. You argue that this literature needs adjustment, because the wartime pope actually conspired, you say, to remove Hitler and the Nazis. On what evidence do you rest your case, and how did you uncover it?


In this episode of the Waking Up podcast, Sam Harris responds to misrepresentations of his views (again).

This panel discussion was held at Harvard’s Kennedy Forum on September 14, 2015.

Sam Harris
Neuroscientist; Co-founder and Chief Executive, Project Reason; Author, The End of Faith, Letter to a Christian Nation, among others

Maajid Nawaz
Author, Radical; Founding Chairman, Quilliam

Juliette Kayyem (moderator)
Lecturer in Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School; Former Assistant Secretary for Intergovernmental Affairs, US Department of Homeland Security


The Daily Beast

By Maajid Nawaz and Sam Harris

It’s time to confront Islamism head on—without cries of Islamophobia. Holding Islam up to scrutiny, rationally and ethically, must not be confused with anti-Muslim bigotry.

Ours was an inauspicious first meeting. Nawaz a former Muslim extremist turned liberal reformer, had just participated in a public debate about the nature of Islam. Though he had spent five years in an Egyptian prison for attempting to restore a medieval “caliphate,” Nawaz argued in favor of the motion that night, affirming that Islam is, indeed, “a religion of peace.” Harris, a well-known atheist and strident critic of Islam, had been in the audience. At a dinner later that evening, Harris was asked to comment on the event. He addressed his remarks directly to Nawaz:

Harris: Maajid, it seems to me that you have a problem. You need to convince the world—especially the Muslim world—that Islam is a religion of peace that has been hijacked by extremists. But the problem is that Islam isn’t a religion of peace, and the so-called extremists are seeking to implement what is arguably the most honest reading of the faith’s actual doctrine. So the path of reform appears to be one of pretense: You seem obliged to pretend that the doctrine is something other than it is—for instance, you must pretend that jihad is just an inner spiritual struggle, whereas it’s primarily a doctrine of holy war. Here, in this room, can’t you just be honest with us? Is the path forward for Islam a matter of pretending certain things are true long enough and hard enough so as to make them true?

Nawaz: Are you calling me a liar?

Harris: What?

Nawaz: Are you calling me a liar?

Read the rest at The Daily Beast…

Sam Harris talks to Dave Rubin about free speech, religion, foreign policy, and other topics.

Ethics | Meditation | Podcast | Religion | Self | Spirituality | August 11, 2015

Questions Along the Path

Further Reflections on the Practice of Meditation with Joseph Goldstein


(Photo via Lorenzoclick)

Joseph Goldstein has been leading meditation retreats worldwide since 1974. He is a cofounder of the Insight Meditation Society, the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies, and the Forest Refuge. Since 1967, he has practiced different forms of Buddhist meditation under eminent teachers from India, Burma, and Tibet. His books include The Experience of Insight, A Heart Full of Peace, One Dharma, and Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Awakening.

In this episode of the Waking Up podcast, Sam and Joseph discuss the practice of meditation and answer questions that came from listeners in response to their first conversation, The Path and the Goal.

For those interested in practicing mindfulness, Joseph and Dan Harris have developed a short meditation course as an app, 10% Happier: Meditation for Skeptics. You can begin the course for free, and if you choose to purchase the full course, you will receive a 20 percent discount by using the code: WAKINGUP (all caps required).

Atheism | Cults | Podcast | Religion | Christianity | July 3, 2015

Leaving the Church

A Conversation with Megan Phelps-Roper


In this episode, Sam Harris speaks with Megan Phelps-Roper, granddaughter of Fred Phelps of the infamous Westboro Baptist Church.

Ethics | Podcast | Politics | Religion | Islam | Terrorism | Violence | War | June 27, 2015

Shouldering the Burden of History

A Crosscast with Dan Carlin


In this episode of the Waking Up podcast, Sam Harris and Dan Carlin (host of the Hardcore History and Common Sense podcasts) discuss American interventionism, the war on terror, and related topics.


Atheism | Book News | Free Will | Podcast | Religion | Science | May 19, 2015

Faith vs. Fact

An Interview with Jerry Coyne

Jerry A. Coyne is a Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Chicago. He received a B.S. in Biology from the College of William and Mary and a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology at Harvard University. After a postdoctoral fellowship at The University of California at Davis, he took his first academic position as assistant professor in the Department of Zoology at The University of Maryland. In 1996 he joined the faculty of The University of Chicago and has been there ever since. Coyne’s work has been largely concerned with the genetics of species differences, aimed at understanding the evolutionary processes that produce new species. He has written 115 scientific papers and more than 130 popular articles, book reviews, and columns, as well as a scholarly book about his research area—Speciation, co-authored with H. Allen Orr—and a trade book about the evidence for evolution—Why Evolution is True, which was a New York Times bestseller. His most recent book is Faith vs. Fact: Why Science and Religion are Incompatible. Coyne is a contributor The New York Times, The New Republic, The Times Literary Supplement, The Guardian, The Nation, USA Today, and other popular periodicals.

Debates | Ethics | Philosophy | Politics | Religion | Terrorism | Violence | War | May 1, 2015

The Limits of Discourse

As Demonstrated by Sam Harris and Noam Chomsky


(Photo via Axel Naud)

For decades, Noam Chomsky has been one of the most prominent critics of U.S. foreign policy, and the further left one travels along the political spectrum, the more one feels his influence. Although I agree with much of what Chomsky has said about the misuses of state power, I have long maintained that his political views, where the threat of global jihadism is concerned, produce dangerous delusions. In response, I have been much criticized by those who believe that I haven’t given the great man his due.

Last week, I did my best to engineer a public conversation with Chomsky about the ethics of war, terrorism, state surveillance, and related topics. As readers of the following email exchange will discover, I failed. I’ve decided to publish this private correspondence, with Chomsky’s permission, as a cautionary tale. Clearly, he and I have drawn different lessons from what was, unfortunately, an unpleasant and fruitless encounter. I will let readers draw lessons of their own.



(Photo via TexasEagle)

In this episode of the Waking Up Podcast, Sam Harris talks about atheism, artificial intelligence, rape, public speaking, meditation, consciousness, free will, intellectual honesty, and other topics.

Book News | Economics | Ethics | Health | Politics | Religion | April 7, 2015

A War Well Lost

Sam Harris and Johann Hari discuss the “war on drugs”


(Photo via Pete Zarria)

Johann Hari is a British journalist who has written for many of the world’s leading newspapers and magazines, including The New York Times, Le Monde, The Guardian, The Los Angeles Times, The New Republic, The Nation, Slate, El Mundo, and The Sydney Morning Herald. He was an op-ed columnist for The Independent for nine years. He graduated from King’s College, Cambridge with a double first in social and political sciences in 2001.

Hari was twice named “National Newspaper Journalist of the Year” by Amnesty International. He was named “Environmental Commentator of the Year” at the Editorial Intelligence Awards, and “Gay Journalist of the Year” at the Stonewall Awards. He has also won the Martha Gellhorn Prize for political writing.

Hari’s latest book is the New York Times best seller Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs. You can follow him on Twitter @johannhari101.


In this episode of the Waking Up podcast, Sam Harris discusses the Heaven’s Gate suicide cult and argues that we all have something important to learn from them about the power of belief.

The following videos are discussed:

The 16-minute video posted above is well worth studying. It features Asim Qureshi, the research director for CAGE, an Islamist front group that has until very recently managed to pass itself off as a human rights organization in the UK. When “Jihadi John” was finally identified as Mohammed Emwazi, with a degree in information systems and business management from the University of Westminster, CAGE argued that his gruesome career as an executioner and propagandist for the Islamic State was just a natural by-product of the humiliation and abuse that innocent Muslims suffer each day at the hands of the British government. Having never seen an allegation of this sort that he didn’t fancy, Glenn Greenwald circulated CAGE’s ludicrous press release at once:

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