Project Reason

So I was looking through Sam Harris’s “Project Reason.” Harris writes:

Project Reason seeks to encourage critical thinking and wise public policy through a variety of interrelated projects. The foundation will convene conferences, produce films, sponsor scientific studies and opinion polls, publish original research, award grants to other charitable organizations, and offer material support to religious dissidents and public intellectuals — all with the purpose of eroding the influence of dogmatism, superstition, and bigotry in our world.

I’d say it’s fairly narcissistic to think your web page is going to erode “the influence of dogmatism, superstition, and bigotry in our world.”  After all, I doubt Harris can accomplish the more meager feat of convincing his fellow Gnus about his views on guns.  And what’s more, while I admit I am not very knowledgeable about the revolutionary and groundbreaking work of Project Reason, I don’t see much out there in terms of convening conferences, producing films, sponsoring scientific studies and opinion polls, publishing original research, and awarding grants to other charitable organizations.

Of course, Project Reason seems to have a rather impressive “Advisory Board.”   Although, you have to wonder if this is mostly for show.  Does this Advisory Board actually do anything?  Given that Christopher Hitchens is still on it, that might be difficult.  Then again, given Harris’s fascination with mysticism, maybe Hitchens weighs in during the semi-annual séances.

As for the trustees, there is Harris, his wife, and Jai Lakshman.  Jai Lakshman?  Who in the world is that? According to the web page, he “has served as an Executive Director, Program Manager, Board Member and Strategic Consultant for non-profit and business organizations focusing on international public health, community & economic development, Native arts and culture, the environment, and youth education.”  My, my.  That’s a little….eccentric, shall we say?  So I google this trustee and this image comes up:




And the source says:  “with Ram Dass and Jai Lakshman at Omega.”

Okay, the guy in the middle, the one between the bongo player and the guru, looks like the trustee of Project Reason.  What do you think?

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3 Responses to Project Reason

  1. Tim Lambert says:

    Whenever I read a gnu talk about the evils of dogmatism it reminds me of a Chesterton quote:

    “In truth, there are only two kinds of people; those who accept dogma and know it, and those who accept dogma and don’t know it.”

  2. Tim Lambert says:

    “Award grants to charitable organizations”…. just not the most charitable organizations, right?

    I live in Milwaukee, a pretty big city, and when it comes to helping the poor and destitute (charitable work) it’s still the various Christian Church denominations. Those churches even send people out in the blistering cold to find the homeless, pick them up, and bring them to their church to stay warm and give them something to eat.

    Oh, but this charitable drive is just a basic desire of all humans, unfettered to the dogma of the Divine.

  3. Larry Olson says:

    “Given that Christopher Hitchens is still on it, that might be difficult. ”
    Nice insult toward the dead. Are you sure your Faith is okay with people making fun of dead people? this reminds me when Richard Stallman said he was glad when Steve Jobs died (he didn’t use those exact words). Possibly they left Hitchens on the board because they jokingly believe he will be reincarnated, if Time Travel is ever possible.

    Or possibly they left him on because of respect for the dead. Or possibly they made a mistake, like christians do – maybe they didn’t update their website, similar to how say, Oh I don’t know, Microsoft sometimes leaves old web pages active regarding Windows 95. You’ve really got them here though – by grasping at straws and criticizing the fact that Hitchens is dead now, I think you’ve made your argument much stronger and convinced more people that Project Reason is doomed to fail. That is after all why, Sam Harris has failed to sell thousands of copies of his books. Doesn’t look like it is working at all.

    Since he lives in a capitalist society called USA, the next thing you’ll be criticizing is that he should really not be making any money from his books or the project to I don’t know, say, further the cause, by educating himself and other people.. because Sam Harris as an Antitheist must be a communist against making money, right? How can he make money on such a subject like atheism or antitheism, it’s pure evil to make money on such a subject. Instead of getting the funding from project reason to further his and other people’s education, he should ask mommy an daddy for $15,000 for one month or years tuition, or invoke the tooth fairy maybe (after all the tooth fairy magically comes up with money and puts it under your pillow).

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