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Talk:Sam Harris

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This Atheism related article has been awarded BRONZE status for quality. It's getting there, but could be better with improvement. See RationalWiki:Article rating for more information.

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Added a brief section to clearly explain that Harris is a very vocal Trump opponent. This is important context because there are certain sections of the article which, if read uncharitably, could imply that Harris supports Trump, or is at the very least ambivalent to his Presidency. This couldn't be further from the truth. — Unsigned, by: / talk / contribs

Everyone and their mother, and their mother's mother, knows Sam hates Trump. He bloviates about Trump for hours on his podcast...possibly even days — Unsigned, by: / talk

Blatant lack of neutrality[edit]

The entire "Defense of the right wing" section reads like a poorly written emotional hit piece that comes nowhere near meeting the neutrality guidelines.

Examples: "Milo's infamous anti-trans diatribes" - infamous according to whom? Article is not about Milo. "notorious racist Donald Trump" - notorious according to whom? Stamement of opinion presented as fact. Article is not about Donald Trump. "Let us repeat:" - who is "us"? Blatant opinion. Article is not about "you".

That's just the first paragraph. The rest of the section reads similarly and provides nothing but unsubstantiated opinions presented as facts. Has no academic value whatsoever therefore I am deleting it.— Unsigned, by: / talk

We don't have a neutral point of view (NPOV) here. We have SPOV. Part of that includes blatantly calling out bullshit. —Kazitor, pending 10:52, 28 December 2017 (UTC)

Sorry I came here from, in retrospect, a poorly worded google search and thought I was on the regular wikipedia. That's why I was stunned at the low quality of the article about such a prominent individual. Now I realize my mistake. Obviously you can follow whatever rules you wish on your resource, but in all honestly I would have expected much higher standards from a place called "rationalwiki". To "call out bullshit" it's not sufficient to say that I and "everyone" else disagree therefore bullshit. And word such as infamous, notorious, etc. have no place in a rational, skeptical conversation. But I digress.— Unsigned, by: / talk

Must... resist urge... to transclude... RATIONALwiki... regardless, your concerns are valid and I will admit that not all of our articles are excellent. This one only gets bronze on our rating scale. Don't feel discouraged from making suggestions on how to improve the article, if you wish. —Kazitor, pending 11:29, 28 December 2017 (UTC)
Something to add: most of our efforts are spent on debunking nonsense/other "crank" beliefs, so articles like this aren't shining examples of what our content is like. —Kazitor, pending 11:34, 28 December 2017 (UTC)
It appears loads of people think this article is bad so it probably is, try improving it instead of just blanking it though. Christopher (talk) 11:36, 28 December 2017 (UTC)
The article is fine. If anything, it probably is too light on this fraud and intellectual dilettante. Would you like to see it replaced with an article that heaps praise on Harris and dismisses all his critics as "regressive leftists"? Impreza (talk) 07:31, 31 December 2017 (UTC)
People who criticise or acknowledge problems in an article don't necessarily want it to be a hagiography. Assume good faith. CowHouse (talk) 11:35, 31 December 2017 (UTC)

Hagiography: The ultimate word - Sincerely, a concerned citizen — Unsigned, by: / talk

/r/samharris is... somewhat pleased?[edit] αδελφός ΓυζζγςατΡοτατο (talk/stalk) 20:02, 20 February 2018 (UTC)

Discussion of Sam Harris' views on 'The Bell Curve'[edit]

Noticed a distinct lack of discussion of Sam Harris' defense of 'The Bell Curve', the heavily debunked racial intelligence book from 1994, wherein Harris accused anyone who dare question it of being "The PC Police" despite the fact that the major sources for The Bell Curve include Richard Lynn and his studies funded by Mankind Quarterly and grants by The Pioneer Fund, known White Supremacy supporters (through the ideal of Race Realism) — Unsigned, by: CommieGIR / talk / contribs, Alex Nichols retweeted "I stand for the flag, I kneel for the cross." Another interesting one is "rip barbara bush. whoever told her it was safe to go down an escalator in a wheelchair should be criminally charged." What a wonderful fellow. Ariel31459 (talk) 13:30, 19 April 2018 (UTC)
I think there's a decent reason for that - The Bell Curve wasn't "debunked" in any scientific sense, since 3 of the 4 key arguments of the book are fully supported by the available data:
  1. - IQ is a valid, informative psychometric
  2. - Current IQ tests do a pretty good job of measuring it
  3. - Different ethnicities have different statistical averages in their IQ scores
The only part of Murray's argument that's really in dispute, scientifically speaking, is #4, which is: If you control for all known environmental factors, there's still a remaining difference that's logically attributable to genetics
1-3 are about as controversial, in terms of the hard data, as the shape of the Earth. Charles Murray claims to have built into his analysis sufficient safeguards to ensure that all environmental impacts on IQ have been fully controlled for (eg. comparing IQs between old-money black kids to old-money white kids, to control for the impact of growing up in poverty), and on that basis argues that #4 is true, i.e. that the ethnic differences he's identified are genetic in origin. He then uses this finding as an argument to cut welfare, restrict immigration, and a bunch of other standard items off the GOP to-do list.
Sam Harris' interest is really not on the political implications, but on whether Murray is factually correct about the underlying data. Sam's worry is that Murray's analysis checks out, but is being suppressed for political reasons, as a sort of left-wing "noble lie".Milesmcstylez (talk) 07:08, 19 April 2018 (UTC)

Request of source directly contradicting the notion in this page that Sam Harris defends Lawrence Krauss[edit]

Here is the video discussing Sam's actual take on the matter where he actually condemns Lawrence Krauss and accepts the allegations against him, in contrast to the notion currently displayed on this page, which borders on slander and is using dubious sources.

I will request if not taken down altogether, at least add this additional information to it: — Unsigned, by: / talk

Looking at the tweet and the video references it does not appear that Harris is trying to claim Krauss has been falsely accused. He does claim the article is unclear as to some of its accusations, though he says some are "if true, very serious.". What seems to be causing a spurious problem is his use of "assault" as a synonym for verbal attack. Ariel31459 (talk) 19:58, 19 November 2018 (UTC)

Sam Harris seems like a reactionary[edit]

I thought I'd see some criticisms of Sam's ridiculous beliefs on RW, odd that he's called a "philosopher" on the first line.

Good takedown here:

If you look up philosopher you'll see one doesn't have to be good at it. Also, "reddit" is not a very academic source. Ariel31459 (talk) 20:43, 24 May 2019 (UTC)

I think as more atheists have flirted with reactionary politics, the news cycles has accelerated and RW has somewhat fallen behind. So I had to update Harris's page to add his latest agnosticism about whether you can know if various alt-righters are racists. It now covers the things Harris has said about Sargon, Stefan Molyneux, and his jaw-dropping comments about how Trump's comments about how Ilhan Omar should go back to her own country wasn't necessarily racist. With this there will be less obfuscation and obscuration. --Hitchensiniraq (talk) 02:55, 8 September 2019 (UTC)


I think it is wrong to classify Sam Harris as Islamophobia.

He has never made false-truth-based Islamic criticism like alt-lite figures, nor does he look like Ben Shapiro to make a clever argument to ostracize Islam. Moreover, it is not the same argument as Richard Dawkins does for cutting Islam unconditionally.

He is looking critically at Islam from a scientific skepticism point of view, but only leaving room for improvement. Of course, some people may disagree with Sam's view, and neither do I fully agree with Sam Harris's view. But I don't think he's Islamo"phobia". Never

The alt-rights denigrating non-Western areas are fuck. But I am not sure if there is any need for special political consideration in the non-Western region.(I am speaking as a person who actually lives in Asia.) What I'd like to say is that Muslims are minority and persecuted in the Western world, but not in every region they are minority. RationalWiki is a wiki that is known "internationally" to some extent, not only white or Western.

The bottom line is that Sam Harris believes that simply grouping into the category "Criticism of Islam" is enough. Using the category "Islamophobia" for it is subjective and controversial.--BluePink (talk) 13:34, 22 November 2019 (UTC)

No he doesn't. He popularized a bunch of Islamophobic tropes, and has flat out been told by experts that he's talking out of his ass on subjects he doesn't understand. ☭Comrade GC☭Ministry of Praise 17:47, 22 November 2019 (UTC)
This is utter bullshit. Pointing out that Islam has bad beliefs that other religions simply do not have isn’t Islamophobic. It’s a fact. And as for those “experts”? Well, they have their critics, too. And those critics are also experts. So you can’t use the fact that some “experts” disagree with Harris to hand wave away his valid arguments. (talk) 14:48, 28 November 2020 (UTC)
Could an expert link you to a critique of Sam Harris? I'm going to put that part on Korean wiki.--BluePink (talk) 22:23, 22 November 2019 (UTC)
Islamophobia is a proper category for the idiot, I think you aren't getting the full context here, Blue. Oxyaena Harass 20:12, 22 November 2019 (UTC)
Oh.... Sam Harris, was he an jack-asshole? There are a lot of Sam followers on the Korean Internet. Can you tell me specifically what Islamophobic arguments you made? Of course, it won't clear the category of "Islamophobia." I'm sorry..--BluePink (talk) 22:12, 22 November 2019 (UTC)
Correct errors. I will no longer delete the category 'Islamophobia' from the document.--BluePink (talk) 00:31, 23 November 2019 (UTC)
He's a bigot that knows nothing of politics. ☭Comrade GC☭Ministry of Praise 23:20, 22 November 2019 (UTC)
CJ Werelman is a hack fraud plagiarist. Some “expert”.
That article is by C.J.Werleman. One of our own articles calls Werelman "regressive." He is said to equate Osama bin Laden with Daniel Dennett. I feel a headache coming on.Ariel31459 (talk) 00:19, 23 November 2019 (UTC)

Removed paragraph because of whataboutism?[edit]

Concerning , I don't see how this paragraph is whataboutism. Whataboutism usually says that you cannot criticize X if you don't criticize all the Y. This paragraph says nowhere that Harris cannot criticize restriction of freedom of speech in Western countries because he does not criticize problems in Russia or China, it says if we apply to Harris the same rule he applies to feminism, then .... This whole section is arguing that Harris' argument is stupid, so obviously it is not saying that Harris is right when he is saying that you cannot criticize X if you don't criticize all the Y. It's more like a reductio ad absurdum: to verify if his own rule is making sense, we try to apply his own rule consistently everywhere, and we see that it leads to contradiction, so his own rule is not working. I think it's worth mentioning (because it shows Harris is not really rational, attacking people for not doing something he does not even do himself). Maybe it can be rephrased: "This argument is a whataboutism fallacy and it is easy to demonstrate its absurdity: if his argument was valid, surely, Harris would be as guilty for spending more time complaining about restrictions of freedom of speech in Western countries than actually pushing for freedom of speech abroad, even though free speech is far more restricted in autocratic countries like Russia and China, or many Muslim countries whom he criticizes. It also shows that Harris does not seem to hold himself to the same standards that he holds others" (talk) 23:52, 25 July 2020 (UTC)

Why do I have to take my edit to the talk page?[edit]

Sam Harris is legitimately scum. This article needs a rewrite anyways. Oxyaena Harass 15:37, 22 December 2020 (UTC)

@IveBeenFrank @Twodots Why is my edit so bad that it needs to be reverted? There are other parts of the article with scathing criticisms of him. Oxyaena Harass 15:53, 22 December 2020 (UTC)
There, hostile rhetoric removed. Y'all happy now? Oxyaena Harass 15:56, 22 December 2020 (UTC)
Yeah, seems fine now. Carry on doing whatever it is you do! Twodots (talk) 19:07, 22 December 2020 (UTC)

Technically A Neuroscientist[edit]

I've always been skeeved out by Sam Harris, I'll admit, even when I was first introduced to him through a math teacher. So I'll try to keep that in mind. And I find a lot of his moral/ethical/etc. frameworks to be repugnant. Regard;ess, I feel like there are some pretty damning things out there about Sam Harris's research in particular. He is, frankly, from what I have read, a neuroscientist only in name. He had other people do research for him on things he didn't really understand and recieved a PhD. I'd have to go digging for sources, but I recollect reading that Sam Harris had pretty much instructed the scientists working under him to fudge the numbers to validate his beliefs. (I remember being pretty gobsmacked by this piece.) Monochroma (talk) 12:04, 28 December 2020 (UTC)

Sounds like fun.

Other threads on view in the rhizzone:

  • Good news: More blacks identify as conservative than liberal
  • Reminder to Amerikans: Your Government Wants You to Die.
  • I Come to Bury Liberalism, Not to Praise It
All righty then DocYankemPrevent Truth Decay!00:04, 20 February 2021 (UTC)

Gaffe or bigotry?[edit]

Hey RW community quick question Would Harris leanings towards considering racialist science(the bell curve) and obvious disdain for groups such as Black lives matter be considered an inverse stopped clock moment or geniune bigotry? I ask because I have only heard a few interviews of him speaking on these subjects and it just seems to me that he is uneducated in what groups like BLM stands for and that he has some negative biases in regards to black people. I want to clarify that I do not believe he is a racist but rather just a little privilege blind toward African-American struggles in my opinion. SensaurC-137 (talk) 23:08, 19 February 2021 (UTC)

But that is racism. Granted it's a more passive form of racism, but it's still racism. ☭Comrade GC☭Ministry of Praise 23:12, 19 February 2021 (UTC)
He’s not racist, he just has some negative biases in regards to black people. Christopher (talk) 23:14, 19 February 2021 (UTC)
I agree. I don't know of any strictly racist ideas, i,e., white supremicist ideas, that Harris would agree with. The stopped clock and ISC categories are often excuses for including the odd or surprising fact, and not generally taken as serious commentary, at least not by me. Ariel31459 (talk) 23:50, 19 February 2021 (UTC)
Ok just wanted some feedback on this, I just felt that his views fell more along the line of being a bigot(which I know sometimes can be used interchangeably with racist depending on the context) rather than a straight up racist(along the lines of Jared Taylor and other white nationalist and alt right figures) The article doesn’t state very clearly what side of the fence he is on in regards to that, which is why I put it in the discussion. Also, I know he is still highly respected throughout the atheist community despite it so i was wondering whether it would just be an ISC moment or whether it could be considered problematic SensaurC-137 (talk) 01:09, 20 February 2021 (UTC)
Using "racist" as a standin for "white supremacist" is misleading. A racist is someone who espouses racist views, policies, etc. A white supremacist is um... Way fucking more than that. And a Neo-Nazi is a bit more than just a white supremacist. Etc, etc, etc. I reject your dichotomy and viewed it as fundamentally flawed. ☭Comrade GC☭Ministry of Praise 01:50, 20 February 2021 (UTC)
Ok well u got a fair point there. I guess im just so used to hearing white nationalist/Racialist bullshit that I consider it my version of what racist is. Thanks for the clarification SensaurC-137 (talk) 02:32, 20 February 2021 (UTC)

Right, the refs on this thing[edit]

So I'm dressing up the bare URLs and whatnot, but I don't actually follow this guy so I'll post requests for a bit of help here. Maybe some of you are his regular listeners/readers? If so:

  1. I presume the full episodes of his podcast used to be on SoundCloud for free in the past, but now you have to be a subscriber of his to get full episodes? This link is dead. I replaced it with this, which appears to be only a sample of the full thing? Are the relevant segments we are referencing present in this partial episode? The thing is an hour long, I'm a bit too busy to be listening to all of it, but maybe his more regular listeners would know if it's good enough?
  2. His long ass response to controversy... I see that the date is April 4, 2013, but it was last edited July 29, 2019? Is this thing like continually edited by him? If so, is the present version a suitable reference for our article, or is there some older revision available on the Wayback Machine which would be better? Like, is the present version drastically different from the old ones? I don't know which revision was the one being referenced when this article was being written.

I'll add to this thread later as I come across stuff. If you have better refs hidden up your sleeve, let us know!

Ciao. - Rairyu75 (Talk) 22:24, 27 February 2021 (UTC)

Sam's podcast used to be free and supported by donations until about a year ago when he paywalled half of them, and retroactively limited the episodes so you can only listen to the first half unless you help him pay for his mansion. Yes, he keeps updating the response to controversy (see Internet Archive) seemingly whenever it has been criticized by mainstream publications, probably to make them look dishonest, because he's that slimy. The older version is the one that was most criticized by secondary sources before he tried to sanitize it years later and call his critics dishonest after they had direct quoted him, and you should link to the original and more controversial version. He also has in the past edited his podcasts to remove clips of things he has said, and made no note of what he has changed like when he shared an Andy Ngo video and then called BLM violent psychopaths (at the start of episode ""#162 - Medical Intelligence."), but then removed the most inaccurate section from that episode without ever acknowledging that Andy Ngo was a lying propagandist for the Alt-right and his story had been wrong. It's hard to even share the original clip from the podcast because he controls the copyright, but I have compared the two clips side by side and heard what he removed. In another instance he also removed an extended clip when one of his guests, Christian Picciolini, which criticized the white supremacist Stefan Molyneux,) and then predictably called Picciolini dishonest, as opposed to the white supremacist who has been banned from Twitter and Youtube. (Who Sam still is officially agnostic about. )
This is the level of dishonesty you're dealing with so always save the receipts, because you never know when Sam Harris will delete his own record to protect himself from criticism or to make his racist allies look more reasonable. He always needs to "put himself in context" by changing the record so he can still win the debate game. - (talk) 18:51, 28 April 2021 (UTC)

The disputed section[edit]

It's poorly written, rambles, and is excessively hyperbolic. As most regulars of the site know, I'm not opposed to articles picking a side in a debate, but also prefer they be grounded in reality and utilize decent sourcing. Apparently some people find such a low bar too much bother. My opponent can respond if they want. ☭Comrade GC☭Ministry of Praise 18:16, 28 April 2021 (UTC)

The source is in the second sentence, "episode 207," have you even listened to it yet? It's an accurate reflection of Harris's views if you know anything about him and his aggression. It's easy to include a URL to the podcast instead of deleting an entire paragraph and simply claiming, "poor grammar," which anyone can say while not talking about the arguments. The sections that call out his support for military and police funding should also be reflected somewhere in the article and not omitted. I don't care about the exact words used. I do think its excessive how you reacted to a new edit that added a new sentence by removing the existing section. If you didn't like the sentence about how Fox News endorsed that episode then you should have just undone that, I admit it was tacked on at the end. (talk) 18:35, 28 April 2021 (UTC)
Of course you don't care for the finer details of actually writing the damned article. As for the latest edit, that's what brought the section to my attention, whereupon I read entire section from start to finish, realized there was fuck all to salvage without a complete rewrite, and then acted accordingly. If you think the section had a point buried under that hyperbole (it did, I fully acknowledged that even as I deleted it), then rewrite the damned thing. But don't whine at me like a child and accuse me of wanting to delete the entire page (I don't) or accusing me of being upset by the section (only in the sense that the writing was poor). As for the accuracy of the section, it conflates Liberalism with leftism, had only one source, minus timestamps, before the latest round of hyperbole, includes the jaw-droppingly cartoonish lines "He is a master of dog-whistling and passing off his love of authoritarianism as just an impartial exploration of the ideas as long as he speaks in a calm voice and uses the right SAT words." and "Many liberals have been persuaded by his soft-spoken voice that resembles a Buddhist monk into thinking he is more enlightened than most" and was (again) overall rambling and hyperbolic. ☭Comrade GC☭Ministry of Praise 18:52, 28 April 2021 (UTC)
I’m with GrammarCommie on this one. There could be a section written about his views on the police, but this isn’t it. Christopher (talk) 18:56, 28 April 2021 (UTC)
" it conflates Liberalism with leftism,"
The point is that Sam Harris calls himself a liberal (in the American sense where he is from,) but takes conservative/reactionary positions. Sure, you can easily argue a lot of liberals oppose BLM and want law and order, and aren't really left, but I think you can tell by looking at the evidence that Harris isn't even actually a liberal. "He is a master of dog-whistling and passing off his love of authoritarianism as just an impartial exploration of the ideas as long as he speaks in a calm voice and uses the right SAT words." But do you honestly think he doesn't do? Again, have you not listened to the episode which was praised on Fox News and heard how he spent most of it defending the cops and calling for more funding while calming attacking BLM, and the left, and denying that systemic racism still exists? Do you disagree with any of this? This man defends Charles Murray, but have you listened to his episode on BLM and not thought he made any dog-whistles to the far-right?
I don't mind rewriting some parts for brevity, but I don't think I should rewrite everything that you are pointing out, and don't think the lines you object to are hyperbole once you understand how the man operates. I'm not even sure if that's his natural voice, and not something he cultivated after being impressed by the hypnotic tones of the meditation gurus who use tricks to convince students they're holding the secrets of the universe. There should be a new section also on how meditation hasn't worked for him, and has seemingly only made him more conceded and incapable of changing his mind, which he is poor at doing even when he was offered $10,000 to change his mind on at least one thing. (talk) 19:24, 28 April 2021 (UTC)
Look at this section. Notice the phrasing, wikilinks, tone, sourcing for all assertions involving the article's focus, and the fact that you can clearly follow the writer's line of thinking. Notice also that it doesn't alternate between "this person is ignorant" and "this person is dishonest". Now, compare it to the disputed section as well as your own comments. Firstly, in the linked example multiple sources were used, and where possible, the subjects own words were used to prove they said what they said. Wikilinks are used to steer the reader towards subjects that would have required massive asides to explain. There's clear linearity, and the narrative is easily checked by using the sources provided. Personal attacks are avoided, and instead the best faith effort is made to steel man all parties. If the primary author had linked video sources, its likely said author would have included timestamps to make sure the reader can follow along, while also making sure said author can (again) be fact checked if needed. In short, The author tries to adhere to Rapoport's Rules and similar criteria as much as possible. The disputed section does none of these things. ☭Comrade GC☭Ministry of Praise 19:48, 28 April 2021 (UTC)