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

The Limits of Discourse

As Demonstrated by Sam Harris and Noam Chomsky

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.

–SH

(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 | Ethics | Martial Arts | Self-Defense | Violence | April 13, 2015

Fighting

A Conversation between Sam Harris and Jonathan Gottschall

Jean-Léon Gérôme, The Duel After the Masquerade

Jonathan Gottschall is a Distinguished Fellow in the English Department at Washington & Jefferson College. His research at the intersection of science and art has frequently been covered in outlets such as The New York Times Magazine, The New York Times, Scientific American, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Nature, Science, and NPR. His book The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human, was a New York Times Editor’s Choice Selection and a finalist for the LA Times Book Prize. His latest book is The Professor in the Cage: Why Men Fight and Why We Like to Watch.

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

A War Well Lost

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

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.

heaven's gate

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:

Economics | News | Politics | War | March 17, 2015

Crowdsourcing Freedom

An Interview with David Keyes

russia protest

David Keyes is the executive director of Advancing Human Rights and has been called a “pioneer in online activism” by The New York Times.  He is working to find new ways to spread political freedom globally, and he recently launched Movements.org as a crowdsourcing human rights platform. Movements gives people the ability to connect directly with activists on the front lines.

David and I spoke about tyranny, radicalism, and how we all can help defend the rights of vulnerable people elsewhere in the world.

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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