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Sam And Noam

 
NL.
 
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02 May 2015 21:59
 

Sam and Noam talk.

To me, it’s an interesting study in two non-compatible world views arguing as if they existed in the same paradigm, therefore reaching negative conclusions about one another.


I like Noam, in that his name aloud is gnome, which always makes me picture him wearing a funny hat, and also he’s elderly and I once read that he was incredibly devoted to his wife for many years before she passed away, which combines in my mind to inspire a vague fondness for him. That said, I find most of his political views ultimately rely on the same basic engineering process - strip everything of context and intention and then go “Look! OMG, look at what this looks like without context and intention factored in!”. This is a fun and creative sort of mental game when one wants to take it to extremes - how would a surgeon look devoid of context? We could compare him to a psycho serial killer who cuts people up and mucks around with their internal organs. Police officers who arrest people are random men who wander the streets looking for people to drag off and put in cages. The roadway system is a dystopian universe concoction wherein we send a given number of citizens out in metal boxes every day so that a couple million of them can be injured in accidents each year.


That’s not to say that Noam’s points are equivalent to the scenarios above, just that, when you broaden the playing field that much, it’s difficult to say much of anything about them. Or, alternately, you can say anything you want with them.


On the other side, I think Sam relies a bit blindly on the idea that “intentions matter”, because if there is one thing that is actually more subjective than playing “What does this data mean without context?” it’s “I decide the context”. I do not fault Harris much for this because I think he has a brain that was made for engineering, and he seems genuinely unaware - at a felt, visceral, predictive level - of what it would be like to view the world from a foreign perspective. That’s ok because Theory of Mind of that nature no doubt requires a certain allocation of cognitive resources, and if everyone was focused on that we wouldn’t have engineers, which would suck. Even so, it’s pretty much a fact of life that everyone judges themselves to be “the good guy” - and actually, people who are more stereotypical ‘good’ guys probably judge themselves more harshly while sociopaths are perpetual wronged victims - so that information is almost ethically meaningless at a large scale.


I think that what many religious, philosophical, and spiritual systems posit as “goodness” is often a process where an individual must engage in a process of mental and emotional expansion. Otherwise you end up with either a top-down imposed utilitarianism, or free-for-all Hobbesian relativism. Noam, ironically, couldn’t be doing all of his free-wheeling radical criticism unless other people were structuring, maintaining, and defending a safe and stable space for that to happen. Sam seems a bit confounded by the idea that other people don’t view Western actions the way that westerners do (he more or less says he would be equally understanding if the roles were reversed and he was living in the ‘east’, but some part of me doubts that prediction is correct). Both important points on a spectrum, and again, interesting exchange.

 
 
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03 May 2015 07:02
 

Both did not get out of this exchange smelling of roses - tbh, I’m not sure what Sam wanted to show by posting it.

Chomsky is fully aware that he is living in a society that allows him to be critical - but if such a society is truly free, it should not expect him (or anyone) to pull his punches out of a sense of gratitude; neither should Sam.
Both Sam and Noam attempt to be as honest about the action of their ‘target troublemakers’, and neither has to put their assessments to some absolute moral standards: Chomsky does not consider various US administrations to be ‘just as bad as ISIS’ - he just says that they are far worse than they should be and pretend to be. In a way, Chomsky is more honest than Sam, since he criticizes his own country, not other countries and religions.

If the two just went their separate ways about content, but instead exchanged ideas about methods (for example how perpetrators use ideologies to further their aim and hide their true intentions), there might be lot they could gain from one another.

 
 
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03 May 2015 12:12
 
NicLynn, on Noam's socio-political SOP - 02 May 2015 07:59 PM

. . . That said, I find most of his political views ultimately rely on the same basic engineering process - strip everything of context and intention and then go “Look! OMG, look at what this looks like without context and intention factored in!”. . . .

Here’s Noam’s most essential response to Sam’s central question about the ins and outs of intention v. psychopathic nastiness:

As for intentions, there is nothing at all to say in general.  There is a lot to say about specific cases, like the al-Shifa bombing, or Japanese fascists in China (who you should absolve, on your grounds, since there’s every reason to suppose that their intention to bring an “earthly paradise” was quite real), and other cases I’ve discussed, including Hitler and high Stalinist officials.  So your puzzlement about my attitude towards intentions generally is quite understandable.  There can be no general answer.  Accordingly, you give none.  Nor do I.

I have a feeling that Noam is far more skeptical about human nature than Sam is, as far as how our intentions typically get constructed. I guess that would make Sam somewhat of an idealist in contrast to Noam’s cynicism/skepticism.

 
 
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03 May 2015 13:13
 
envy me - 03 May 2015 10:12 AM

I have a feeling that Noam is far more skeptical about human nature than Sam is, as far as how our intentions typically get constructed. I guess that would make Sam somewhat of an idealist in contrast to Noam’s cynicism/skepticism.


Just cynicism in his case, man. I wouldn’t say that sound skepticism (critical thinking) would get you to Chomsky’s conclusions.

 
 
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03 May 2015 13:43
 

He was pretty grumpy, too. Maybe it’s his age.

 
 
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03 May 2015 14:13
 
Twissell - 03 May 2015 05:02 AM

Both did not get out of this exchange smelling of roses - tbh, I’m not sure what Sam wanted to show by posting it.


Much as I have expressed my disagreement with Sam for similar thinking in the past, he is clearly the underdog in this particular fight so I feel some need to defend him. For one thing, Chomsky is a linguist and he uses language to his advantage. It’s a pretty easy formula - infer that you’ve won to a degree that is almost tiresome to explain and let people’s consensus-based thinking do the rest. If done improperly that will annoy the shit out of people, of course, but if done subtly and with a decent argument to back it up it will influence people’s thinking without them ever knowing it. So I did think his insertion of “As you know” and other such flourishes were unfair, and part of the reason people are going “OMG he got totally hammered in that exchange!” - some of that is just people agreeing with the tone Noam set. (Some of it is just people backing up the most conventional leftist truths as gospel, but then, Sam has benefited so much from that same impulse - “Religion bad, secular good!” - that it’s probably a wash for him overall.)

Chomsky is fully aware that he is living in a society that allows him to be critical - but if such a society is truly free, it should not expect him (or anyone) to pull his punches out of a sense of gratitude; neither should Sam.


Out of gratitude, no, out of logically consistency, possibly. If I were standing on a ladder and went on and on about how horrible ladders are and how they need to go, you might raise an eyebrow. Of course there’s a ton of wiggle room in there between thinking a society can change and still perform all the functions that you are enjoying, and suggesting changes that will make it non-functional. My point is that this idea in general is probably one that should be considered when you are enjoying the fruits of the very thing you are criticizing. Perhaps Chomsky has spoken about this, though.

Both Sam and Noam attempt to be as honest about the action of their ‘target troublemakers’, and neither has to put their assessments to some absolute moral standards: Chomsky does not consider various US administrations to be ‘just as bad as ISIS’ - he just says that they are far worse than they should be and pretend to be. In a way, Chomsky is more honest than Sam, since he criticizes his own country, not other countries and religions.

If the two just went their separate ways about content, but instead exchanged ideas about methods (for example how perpetrators use ideologies to further their aim and hide their true intentions), there might be lot they could gain from one another.


That’s possible. I suspect their metrics (numbers vs. intentions) are so different that they are just going to view one another differently. Remember when Dawkins said he wouldn’t debate WLC because he sees him as a genocide apologist? That seems to be the spirit in which Chomsky entered this debate. Neither is willing to accept the other as they see themselves in their own framework - Sam maybe does at a personal level, but not in regard to the terms of debate.


As an aside, I admire Chomsky’s intellect, although I connect far more with people that he has inspired vs. him directly. Paul Farmer and Glenn Greenwald types that have a certain - I dunno, ‘heartfulness’, for want of a better word? (I think Sam has a measure of that as well.) When I read Chomsky I am a bit surprised that he is so adamant about not bombing people, because quite frankly he seems to view most of them as severely annoying. Reading Farmer, on the other hand, changed my worldview on global wealth distribution a good bit. I was at a baby shower this week and kept thinking back to his descriptions of Haiti, then doing these little mental calculations in my head. How much has this unborn child already had spent on its well-being and comfort compared to what a poor Haitian child will during his or her childhood? How much did the decorations, which are going to get thrown away, cost and what would that amount of money have meant to a severely impoverished person? Hell, for that matter, what about the clothing and makeup I was wearing, how much did that cost? The degree of investment in some humans over others that seems so ‘average’ when you don’t examine it is really profound when you explore it at a deeper level.


Anyways, I think we need people who invest their whole being and mental resources to hard facts and figures, so I appreciate his work, but in some way that is not the ‘whole’ picture.

 
 
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03 May 2015 14:16
 
envy me - 03 May 2015 10:12 AM

I have a feeling that Noam is far more skeptical about human nature than Sam is, as far as how our intentions typically get constructed. I guess that would make Sam somewhat of an idealist in contrast to Noam’s cynicism/skepticism.


To a degree - I think Sam is incredibly cynical about the Muslim world, though. When it comes to Islam in general, he seems to see adherents as somewhat immune to the usual human influences via their particular ideology, in a way that I don’t always think is fair. Almost all humans have an ideology, almost all ideologies have certain fundamentalist features at their core, and yet people respond as people everywhere. It may be fair to say that some ideologies are more insulating than others but not, I think, to the degree he implies.

 
 
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03 May 2015 14:46
 

IMO:

Sam on Islam: they simply don’t know better, so talking to them makes no sense.

Noam on US administrations: they do know better, but do the cheap/easy/popular thing just to win votes/donations/power - talking to them makes no sense.

I think a public debate would be terrible (either boring or painful to watch), but they might want to exchange notes on action&motivations; of ‘wrongdoers’.

 
 
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03 May 2015 15:19
 
NicLynn - 03 May 2015 12:16 PM

To a degree - I think Sam is incredibly cynical about the Muslim world, though. When it comes to Islam in general, he seems to see adherents as somewhat immune to the usual human influences via their particular ideology, in a way that I don’t always think is fair.


I think that’s an impression largely derived from his focus and the problem of readers not maintaining awareness of that specified context. Maintaining context awareness seems to be an ability or a capacity that’s lately suffered quite severely, apparently due significantly to modern media consumption methods and standards.

[ Edited: 03 May 2015 23:21 by SkepticX]
 
 
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03 May 2015 17:00
 
Twissell - 03 May 2015 12:46 PM

Sam on Islam: they simply don’t know better, so talking to them makes no sense.


I think his explicit stance is the exact opposite of that, although maybe that’s something you’ve inferred he’s implicitly saying?

 

SkepticX - 03 May 2015 01:19 PM
NicLynn - 03 May 2015 12:16 PM

To a degree - I think Sam is incredibly cynical about the Muslim world, though. When it comes to Islam in general, he seems to see adherents as somewhat immune to the usual human influences via their particular ideology, in a way that I don’t always think is fair.


I think that’s an impression largely derived from his focus and the problem of readers not maintaining awareness of that specified context. Maintaining context awareness seems to be an ability or a capacity that’s lately suffered quite severely, apparently due significantly to modern media consumption methods and standards.


Maybe, but then, that can easily turn into a “no true Scotsman” or “it’s not working because your faith is not strong enough” thinking (i.e., saying the conclusion must simply be due to a problem on the reader’s part, not a valid conclusion, without giving further evidence as to why this is the case).

 
 
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03 May 2015 22:20
 

I just started a similar thread before I saw this one.
I think Harris committed intellectual suicide by cop. Harris has a chip on his shoulder so he invites an argument with Chomsky and then get petulant and upset when he turns out to be way out of his depth. A kind of intellectual short guy syndrome. Harris couldn’t even stay on the topic that he started the “debate” with.

But even though you lose badly, just having a fight with a big guy wins you admiration in some quarters. But then Harris is always surprised that so many otherwise very intelligent and knowledgeable and well informed rational people come to view him as just another wacko neocon. If he weren’t an atheist, he could appear on fox news more and get a wider audience. Harris has even used his “intentions” argument to exonerate Dick Cheney.

NicLynn - 02 May 2015 07:59 PM

I find most of his political views ultimately rely on the same basic engineering process - strip everything of context and intention and then go “Look! OMG, look at what this looks like without context and intention factored in!”.

No, just the opposite. I think that Noam does “factored in” include the context and the intent where Harris just plays word games to ignore and avoid some pretty simple points. Also, as an engineer, I think that your take on engineering is also exactly wrong. Engineering and reverse engineering are all about identifying the precise context by which events occurs. Especially irrespective of what one’s beliefs regarding those events may be. Chomsky is being scientific in his analysis and is willing to accept the results of his research where Harris only looks for data to support his preconceived conclusions.

NicLynn - 02 May 2015 07:59 PM

This is a fun and creative sort of mental game when one wants to take it to extremes - how would a surgeon look devoid of context? We could compare him to a psycho serial killer who cuts people up and mucks around with their internal organs. Police officers who arrest people are random men who wander the streets looking for people to drag off and put in cages. The roadway system is a dystopian universe concoction wherein we send a given number of citizens out in metal boxes every day so that a couple million of them can be injured in accidents each year.

That’s not to say that Noam’s points are equivalent to the scenarios above, just that, when you broaden the playing field that much, it’s difficult to say much of anything about them. Or, alternately, you can say anything you want with them.

I think this is way off the mark. In the case of the bombing of the pharmaceutical plant, the actual context shows that Clinton’s actual intent was the punishment of innocents in retaliation for an embassy bombing and his apparent disregard and blindness to the human consequences of his actions made him more morally culpable compared with someone who at least grant human status to the victims of their crimes.

NicLynn - 02 May 2015 07:59 PM

On the other side, I think Sam relies a bit blindly on the idea that “intentions matter”, because if there is one thing that is actually more subjective than playing “What does this data mean without context?” it’s “I decide the context”.

Well, that’s Sam Harris all over. It’s not even so much that he decides, he famously refuses to listen to research the thoughts of knowledgeable others. He doesn’t even bother to examine the real context and intents behind real and current events. That would take him away from cheering on his Judeo-Christian tribesmen while he flogs his favorite (islamic) horse.

NicLynn - 02 May 2015 07:59 PM

I do not fault Harris much for this because I think he has a brain that was made for engineering,

I think that what you are saying here is that Harris has a brain for a callous disregard for the victims of the crimes of his Judeo-Christian tribesmen…. please lets leave the engineers out of this.

NicLynn - 02 May 2015 07:59 PM

and he seems genuinely unaware - at a felt, visceral, predictive level - of what it would be like to view the world from a foreign perspective.

That’s for sure. Full on blind spot. Harris stumbles into this same blind spot again and again.

NicLynn - 02 May 2015 07:59 PM

That’s ok because Theory of Mind of that nature no doubt requires a certain allocation of cognitive resources, and if everyone was focused on that we wouldn’t have engineers, which would suck.

I don’t understand this but I don’t think it’s ok for Harris to fail to recognize the extent to which he simply rationalizes rather than adequately describe.

NicLynn - 02 May 2015 07:59 PM

Even so, it’s pretty much a fact of life that everyone judges themselves to be “the good guy” - and actually, people who are more stereotypical ‘good’ guys probably judge themselves more harshly while sociopaths are perpetual wronged victims - so that information is almost ethically meaningless at a large scale.

Chomsky’s point was that everyone thinks they intend the right thing, and like Sam Harris are completely convinced of the rightnesss of their and their tribesmen’s intentions -  especially the dangerous sociopaths.

NicLynn - 02 May 2015 07:59 PM

Noam, ironically, couldn’t be doing all of his free-wheeling radical criticism unless other people were structuring, maintaining, and defending a safe and stable space for that to happen.

This is the “protecting our freedom” canard used by the right wingers. There is nothing about punishment bombings or illegal wars that serve to “protect our freedom”.

NicLynn - 02 May 2015 07:59 PM

Sam seems a bit confounded by the idea that other people don’t view Western actions the way that westerners do (he more or less says he would be equally understanding if the roles were reversed and he was living in the ‘east’, but some part of me doubts that prediction is correct). Both important points on a spectrum, and again, interesting exchange.

Sam is completely blind to how “other people”, (you mean like our victims?) view Wesern actions. He’s painted himself into a corner indulging so strongly in his own self confirmation bias. Again you note Harris’s blind spot.
Finally, I don’t see these as views on a spectrum as Harris’s views are so simply vacuous and uninformed. I do wish he would stop advertising himself as an atheist. It make the rest of us look dumb.

 
 
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03 May 2015 23:28
 
NicLynn - 03 May 2015 03:00 PM

Maybe, but then, that can easily turn into a “no true Scotsman” or “it’s not working because your faith is not strong enough” thinking (i.e., saying the conclusion must simply be due to a problem on the reader’s part, not a valid conclusion, without giving further evidence as to why this is the case).


Except that we can check the material for context. The true Scotsman fallacy is about creating a standard that’s detached from the real world in order to protect an ideal and imposing it upon critics. Context is about a body of material that’s available for examination (including a source who can be asked for clarifications), which may include assessments of reasonable doubt and equitable interpretation, but aren’t in the same category as the true Scotsman fallacy.

 
 
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03 May 2015 23:53
 
SkepticX - 03 May 2015 01:19 PM
NicLynn - 03 May 2015 12:16 PM

To a degree - I think Sam is incredibly cynical about the Muslim world, though. When it comes to Islam in general, he seems to see adherents as somewhat immune to the usual human influences via their particular ideology, in a way that I don’t always think is fair.

SkepticX - 03 May 2015 01:19 PM

I think that’s an impression largely derived from his focus and the problem of readers not maintaining awareness of that specified context.


His “focus” is narrow, ill conceived, uninformed and unfounded. He’s not just “cynical” about the Muslim world, he lives in fear of it and thinks everyone else should too. Much like the neocons on fox news and the Christian crazies. I’ve thought that he’s into xenophobic tribalism. After awhile, smart readers recognize his “focus” as a single minded obsession it is and grow weary of it.

SkepticX - 03 May 2015 01:19 PM

Maintaining context awareness seems to be an ability or a capacity that’s lately suffered quite severely, apparently due significantly to modern media consumption methods and standards.

He’s certainly not talking over Chomsky’s head. Did you read the exchange? With respect to Al Shifa Harris wanted no part of a discussion regarding reality or nuanced context even though he brought it up as a criticism of Chomsky.

[ Edited: 03 May 2015 23:57 by eucaryote]
 
 
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04 May 2015 01:10
 
SkepticX - 03 May 2015 09:28 PM

Except that we can check the material for context. The true Scotsman fallacy is about creating a standard that’s detached from the real world in order to protect an ideal and imposing it upon critics. Context is about a body of material that’s available for examination (including a source who can be asked for clarifications), which may include assessments of reasonable doubt and equitable interpretation, but aren’t in the same category as the true Scotsman fallacy.


Well, yes and no. For example, if I said “Cite what your previous comment is based on”, I think that would be difficult, because you’re talking about how one approaches an entire body of work. But maybe I’m wrong on that. If I said “cite what, specifically, in Harris’s work, your previous comment is based on”, for example, what would your response be?

eucaryote - 03 May 2015 08:20 PM

I just started a similar thread before I saw this one.
I think Harris committed intellectual suicide by cop. Harris has a chip on his shoulder so he invites an argument with Chomsky and then get petulant and upset when he turns out to be way out of his depth. A kind of intellectual short guy syndrome. Harris couldn’t even stay on the topic that he started the “debate” with.


I still think that this comes down to understanding another person’s framework and debating within that framework vs. one’s own. But more on that below.

No, just the opposite. I think that Noam does “factored in” include the context and the intent where Harris just plays word games to ignore and avoid some pretty simple points. Also, as an engineer, I think that your take on engineering is also exactly wrong. Engineering and reverse engineering are all about identifying the precise context by which events occurs. Especially irrespective of what one’s beliefs regarding those events may be. Chomsky is being scientific in his analysis and is willing to accept the results of his research where Harris only looks for data to support his preconceived conclusions.


Sorry, on the engineering thing, I’m probably lapsing into therapist-reasoning without realizing it. Children of engineers (as shown in studies, not my personal opinion) have higher rates of autism, and it’s a relatively well-accepted theory that the ‘engineering’ (or mathematician, physicist) mind is a normal-range variant of some of the factors that contribute to autism, which is associated with increased difficulties in Theory of Mind. I’m not talking about Asperger’s Syndrome, I’m talking about totally normal personalities, just with certain information-processing predispositions. Within a certain range, however, this is a good thing, as we of course need a certain number of people with an ‘engineering’ style mind.


I disagree that engineering is all about context - that is true to an extent, but my observation is that engineers tend to get extremely good at working within one deductive framework, and assume that the skills that have served them so well in most of their endeavors apply elsewhere. In the sense that the ‘context’ is static they are probably extremely good at working within it, but swapping out whole frameworks is, to my mind, a distinctly different skill. I’m not talking about specifics within a framework, I’m talking about entire metrics.


Regarding Noam - it’s not like I’ve read his body of work, so I’ll accept that I may be making inaccurate assumptions about him. My general impression is that he wants to use numbers as a more authoritative metric - this country killed X number of people, this country killed Y number, let’s compare. That’s fine but there is an ethereal subjective component in there that has to be accounted for in some way. How many people are injured in automobile accidents every year? How many are injured due to drug abuse? If the number for automobile accidents is higher, should we conclude that driving is morally worse than cocaine? And if you say ‘no’, how do you account for that if not subjectively?


Again, though, if he has a particular argument for this, other than Hobbesian Relativism (which I’m not knocking as inaccurate, just saying that this is my impression of his views), then apologies and please let me know what it is, I’m genuinely curious.

 

I think this is way off the mark. In the case of the bombing of the pharmaceutical plant, the actual context shows that Clinton’s actual intent was the punishment of innocents in retaliation for an embassy bombing and his apparent disregard and blindness to the human consequences of his actions made him more morally culpable compared with someone who at least grant human status to the victims of their crimes.


Can you explain what you mean by the bolded above, evidence-wise? That’s not a challenge, just not sure what you’re thinking of when you make this statement so not sure how to respond.

Chomsky’s point was that everyone thinks they intend the right thing, and like Sam Harris are completely convinced of the rightnesss of their and their tribesmen’s intentions -  especially the dangerous sociopaths.


Yes, but like so many things in this yin-yang world of ours, I think this is one endpoint. Swinging to the other extreme - nothing means anything - doesn’t help. I know you feel this is not what Chomsky does so on that, see my comments above.

This is the “protecting our freedom” canard used by the right wingers.


I’m sorry, but one of my major mental criticisms of the far left is that the basic framework seems to be: 1. Pretend that humans would live in a beautiful utopia without any of the ugly hierarchies, authority, or ‘means’ that we all, understandably, do not like. 2. Pretend not to notice that the empirical world does not support this. 3. Reap the benefits of people doing unpleasant work while playing the part of saints who are so above it all.


Sorry, that was not directed at you, just a pet peeve in general. To my mind, no one knows exactly what degree of means are required to achieve what ends. Without progressives, we might never take a risk in the direction of “fewer means”, which would be horrible. We should always be trending in that direction to the degree possible. (Or to a greater degree, if you believe that for personal, spiritual, religious or philosophical reasons - but be realistic about what you’re talking about - self-sacrifice, not a utopia for all.) But I dislike the idea that this has to be based on a sort of mutual blindness on both sides, with far left as utopianists and far right as hawkish. Maybe that’s just the way it has to be, but I like to think otherwise. 

Sam is completely blind to how “other people”, (you mean like our victims?) view Wesern actions. He’s painted himself into a corner indulging so strongly in his own self confirmation bias. Again you note Harris’s blind spot.
Finally, I don’t see these as views on a spectrum as Harris’s views are so simply vacuous and uninformed. I do wish he would stop advertising himself as an atheist. It make the rest of us look dumb.


I dunno, I’m a therapist. I accept other frameworks to a large degree. Heck, if a kid breaks something in my room and shouts “It’s your fault because you made me mad!”, I’m not going to tell him he’s Empirically Wrong - I accept the world as it looks to him, but I also understand that has to be part of a bigger picture - without being unkind or punitive about it. To the degree that our perspective is limited, none of us asked for it to be limited, or chose that. Yes, I think there are some areas where Harris has some difficulty with perspective-taking, but I don’t think that says anything about his intent to help others or moral character.

[ Edited: 04 May 2015 01:14 by NL.]
 
 
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04 May 2015 01:18
 

I’m largely in agreement with eucaryote here, I think SH embarrassed himself (Sorry NicLynn, didn’t see your latest post until I wrote this). Here’s my take on the first five emails in the exchange:

1. SH opens with an aggressive claim that NC has insulted him.
2. NC replies with the stipulation that the discussion be rooted in facts, with sources.
3. SH replies with a long passage from his book that had to be read in order to continue the discussion.
4. NC replies with the passage from his book that SH was referring to, but didn’t quote in the book. Then he goes on to say that he addressed the very question SH is asking in a 2003 book.
5. SH makes two errors here. First, he should have said something like, “You say you made this point in your 2003 book, could you point out the most relevant sections, I’ll read it and get back to you in a few days to discuss this further.” Instead, he doesn’t extend NC the same courtesy he demanded of NC. The second is similar: he doesn’t draw on sources with the Al-Shifa pharmaceutical bombing. He should have said something like, “I’ll do some research, make some calls, and get back with you about whether I think you’re inaccurately portraying the US’s actions and intentions.” Instead he thought he could counter with a made-up scenario, and it is at this point that NC, understandably imo, loses patience. NC had specified he wanted only a serious exchange, and he felt SH was not being serious.

Look at the dates. Most of this happened in two days. Then there was a gap of a few days and SH wrote saying he thought NC was being petulant. Someone should have slowed this exchange down.

 
 
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04 May 2015 01:49
 
NicLynn - 03 May 2015 11:10 PM

Sorry, on the engineering thing, I’m probably lapsing into therapist-reasoning without realizing it. (as shown in studies, not my personal opinion) have higher rates of autism, and it’s a relatively well-accepted theory that the ‘engineering’ (or mathematician, physicist) mind is a normal-range variant of some of the factors that contribute to autism, which is associated with increased difficulties in Theory of Mind. I’m not talking about Asperger’s Syndrome, I’m talking about totally normal personalities, just with certain information-processing predispositions. Within a certain range, however, this is a good thing, as we of course need a certain number of people with an ‘engineering’ style mind.

NicLynn,

I’m rather stunned by what you wrote. I have to interrupt this discussion to ask you to document these “studies” that show “Children of engineers.. have higher rates of autism, and it’s a relatively well-accepted theory that the ‘engineering’ (or mathematician, physicist) mind is a normal-range variant of some of the factors that contribute to autism, which is associated with increased difficulties in Theory of Mind.” That’s ridiculous.

In addition to practicing mechanical design and engineering for 35 years, I have an undergraduate degree in molecular biology. My son holds a phd from Yale in particle physics and has been working as a post doc at CERN in Switzerland on the Super Collider for the last 4 years. Yes, I am proud to say he credits me with rubbing his nose in science and critical thinking.

I had no idea that I was putting him at risk for autism. That’s just pure woo. From my biology background, are you familiar with Lamarckism? This is the deep woo that you’ve run afoul of. This is just pure nonsense.

[ Edited: 04 May 2015 02:01 by eucaryote]
 
 
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