New Atheist PZ Myers recently took New Atheist Sam Harris to the woodshed over Harris’s embarassing exchange with Noam Chomsky:
Harris replies with evasions and a hypothetical. He’s flailing wildly!…….Sam, STOP PUNCHING YOURSELF!……..IT’S A KNOCKOUT. THIS FIGHT IS OVER. WE HAVE ACHIEVED PEAK HARRIS. No, really, that is pathetically petulant. Harris is making a tone argument: Chomsky is not being collegial enough, isn’t accepting his word games, is seeing right through his pretense. He seems to seriously believe he’s winning this debate – I’m worried that he’s suffering from a concussion, except that this seems to be Harris’s default mode…..I am not a reader of Harris, which perhaps explains why I am not disappointed at all. Harris exhibited his usual woefully oblivious moral ineptitude, and Chomsky slapped him down hard. I am most amazed by the fact that Harris then promoted this as a personal victory.
Myers atheistic fans were just as, if not more, brutal:
I read this exchange this morning and almost regurgitated milk from of my nose .. and I wasn’t even drinking milk. :—) Then I looked for a PZ Myers comment, and was not disappointed. Classic SH, from the cloying neediness to be taken seriously as an intellectual, to the moving of the goal posts with dubiously tangential “thought-experiments”, to the tone/civility gambit … all of his moves are there for everyone to see, including the losing of his ass conclusion. It was a little bit like watching a nature show framed in an intellectual battle. You know that the wounded springbok’s demise is inevitable … hmm, maybe it was more like a car crash. Not sure…
Sam Harris’ moral compass reminds me less of a real compass and more of the one from Pirates of the Caribbean, pointing not to true north but rather to whatever his heart desires
I find Sam Harris annoying, not because I disagree with him, but because I often do agree with his bottom line but he does such a horrible job advocating for it. There are good arguments for the positions he takes, but those are not the arguments he makes. He’s a crappy debater, he thinks everything is about him, and he seems more interested in self-aggrandizement than in intellectual conversation.
I’ve never understood Harris’s rise to gnu-atheist superstardom. I took The End of Faith back to Barnes & Noble for a refund the minute I read that bit suggesting there may be credible evidence for reincarnation. And IIRC, that was only like two chapters in.
I saw this last night, and it was a microcosm of why I’m glad I never bothered reading Harris (and why I’m sad I bought two of his books nonetheless). The strawmanning in his cited chapter was bad enough, but then Chomsky shows that Harris didn’t even bother to research Chomsky’s position beyond one source? Or the delicious moment when Harris realizes/admits his beef with Chomsky is about something Chomsky said about Hitchens? For someone with such a reputation as a serious academic, Harris doesn’t seem to care much about thorough or accurate research.
Harris starts the whole fucking thing advising Prof. Noam Chomsky, who is, apart from somebody who writes about ethics, probably THE most influential linguist of our times, likely the most influential linguist since fucking de Saussure, to write like this was going to be published, coming off like a tutor who’S advising a college freshman and you call Chomsky condescending?
Just for the record: It’s Harris who desperately wanted some of Chomsky’s time. It’s Harris who bombards Chomsky with delirious thought experiments and avoids the actual question raised.
I, at least, don’t loathe Sam Harris.
He is just an idiot. Dumb.
I would though stay far away from him. He is so clumsy and mentally fogged up that he could accidently kill someone.
It’s a good thing Harris is trying to tap into the New Age market with his latest book, as a growing number of atheists have begun to realize he not quite the brilliant thinker his PR machine promotes him as.