Making Sense

Conversations on Consciousness, Morality, and the Future of Humanity

Sam Harris

May, 2020

Cover of the book showing two microphones with the cables wrapped around them

“Everything from the maintenance of civilization to the moral progress of our species depends on a series of successful conversations.”—Sam Harris

Since 2014, Sam Harris—neuroscientist, philosopher, and best-selling author—has been exploring some of the most important questions about the human mind, society, and current events on his podcast, Making Sense. With more than one hundred million downloads, these discussions have clearly hit a nerve, frequently walking a tightrope where either host or guest—and sometimes both—lose their footing, but always in the quest of a greater understanding of the world we live in. For Harris, honest and frank conversation, no matter how difficult, is the only path beyond scientific ignorance, political tribalism, and personal delusion.

This book includes a dozen of the best conversations from Making Sense, on topics that range from the nature of consciousness and free will to politics and extremism, existential risk, and the far future of humanity. Together they shine a light on what it means to “make sense” in the modern world.

Bill Maher

“There’s only one podcast I never miss, and it’s the one that has the most appropriate title in all of broadcasting. Does anyone simply make more sense than Sam Harris?”

Richard Dawkins

Author of The Selfish Gene

“Sam Harris is the most intellectually courageous man I know, not afraid to speak truths out in the open where others keep those very same thoughts buried, fearful of the modish thought police. His literate intelligence and fluency with words has transferred from the written to the spoken medium, and in his podcast he brings out the best in his guests, including those with whom he disagrees.”

Ian Bremmer

Author of Us vs. Them: The Failure of Globalism

“One of the most consistently intelligent and thought-provoking shows out there, and not just in the podcast space. Sam’s is a much-needed voice during these unprecedented times.”

Ricky Gervais

“Even in casual discussion, Sam is intelligent, educated, honest, considered and brave. He’s really not cut out for the Internet.”

Andrew Yang

“Sam Harris is a genius and his podcast explores many of the important issues of our time. (Yes it’s as good as that sounds.) Sam is a voice of reason and science in an era that needs both more than ever. The Making Sense podcast essentially launched my presidential campaign.”

Stephen Fry

“I don’t have many can’t miss podcasts, but Making Sense is right at the top of that short list. Sam Harris and his varied and fascinating guests generate light but not heat. The choir is neither preached to nor pointlessly provoked. I have never finished a single episode without having learned something and being given pause for real thought.”

Neil deGrasse Tyson

Astrophysicist, American Museum of Natural History

“I’ve been an avid listener to Sam’s podcast from the beginning and not one episode goes by without me learning something new about life, culture, politics, religion, history, and especially the human mind. Sam is an enlightened, rational voice in a world that needs it now, perhaps more than ever, especially if we are to survive, or thrive, in spite of the collective weaknesses that make us human.”

Siddhartha Mukherjee

Author of The Emperor of All Maladies and The Gene: An Intimate History

“Making Sense is one of the most thought-provoking podcasts that I’ve come across. Sam Harris does an incredible job probing—and finding answers to—some of the most important questions of our times.”

Lawrence Wright

Author of The Looming Tower

“To the raging controversies of the day, Sam Harris adds a voice of civility and reason.”

Peter Singer

Author of Animal Liberation

“It’s no wonder that Sam attracts a huge audience. He is a thinker with his own ideas, so his interviews are some of the most interesting conversations you are ever likely to hear.”

Adam Grant

New York Times bestselling Author of Originals and Give and Take, and host of the TED podcast WorkLife

“Sam Harris is a true public intellectual: he thinks deeply about a wide range of issues and engages fearlessly with controversial topics and unpopular opinions. You don’t have to agree with him to learn from him – I always come away from his show with new insights and new questions.”

Cass Sunstein

Author of Can It Happen Here?: Authoritarianism in America

“Sam Harris is tremendous at his job; sharp, skeptical in just the best sense, and full of curiosity and openness. He’s a terrific questioner, and he greatly enlivens and improves public discourse.”

Jared Diamond

Author of Guns, Germs, and Steel

“In the huge world of interviewers, Sam Harris stands out at the top for his probing questions, and for his own thoughtful views.”

Andrew Sullivan

Author of The Conservative Soul

“There is no podcast that approaches the intellectual rigor and open mindedness of Sam Harris’ Making Sense podcast. It’s a regular dose of sane, patient reason and dialogue. In a tribalized world, it reveres the individual, inquisitive mind. And Sam has some balls to talk honestly where so many others won’t.”

Derren Brown

Author of Happy: Why More or Less Everything is Absolutely Fine

“Sam has given us one of the greatest podcasts in the world for clear thinking. We are better equipped to face the perils and uncertainties of life with it in the air. It’s a stand-out leader in a cluttered field and being Sam’s guest on it was a career highlight.”

Douglas Rushkoff

Author of Present Shock

“Making Sense brings the power and patience of contemplation to the art of conversation. Sam Harris models not only how to articulate complex ideas, but also how to truly hear the ideas of others. This is cognitive jazz at its best.”

Anne Applebaum

Author of Gulag

“Do yourself a favor, broaden your perspectives and listen to the Making Sense podcast. Whatever your politics, you will find ideas and points of views you’ve never considered before, in fields you don’t know, from neuroscience to computer science to culture.”

Andrew McAfee

Author of More from Less and coauthor of The Second Machine Age

“This podcast is perfectly named. Sam makes sense of important, difficult, and often controversial topics with deep preparation, sharp questions, and intellectual fearlessness. More, please!”

Douglas Murray

Author of The Strange Death of Europe and The Madness of Crowds

“Of all the podcasts available, the one nobody should miss is Making Sense. Every episode is stimulating. In an era when everyone seems to have lost their reason, here is one of the few places where reason remains safe.”

Thomas Chatterton Williams

Contributing Writer, The New York Times Magazine, author of Self-Portrait in Black and White

“There are precious few spaces in the media landscape where difficult, rigorous and respectful conversations can play out at substantial length, without agenda. Sam Harris created the model for such illuminating exchange, and the Making Sense podcast is a treasure trove of discussions with many of the most compelling and fascinating minds of our era.”

Graeme Wood

Staff writer at The Atlantic and the author of The Way of the Strangers: Encounters With the Islamic State

“Making Sense is a refueling station for the mind, and I visit it regularly. As an interviewer, Sam is both rigorous and generous. His podcast is completely devoid of the cheap shots and tribal bickering that characterize so much of podcasting. Making Sense is joyful play of the mind, without a trace of the partisan cretinism that disfigures the vast majority of our discourse these days.”

Niall Ferguson

Author of The Square and the Tower

“In the rapidly expanding universe of podcasts, Sam Harris’s Making Sense is a firmly established galaxy of brilliant minds orbiting Sam’s shrewd but solar intelligence. I am frequently late for work because I start listening while shaving and can’t bring myself to hit pause.”