More Creepy Behavior from Sam Harris

Omer Aziz wrote an essay critical of Sam Harris, so Harris decided to use his podcast to cross-examine Aziz. Aziz agreed and subjected himself to a 4 hour scolding. Then, Harris decided he wasn’t going to post the podcast.

So I accepted his offer and every onerous condition that came with it. Once again, all the terms were set by him: I would have to read the essay word for word, he could stop me whenever he wanted, I could not record the talk, and Harris reserved the right not to air it if it was “boring”—a standard to be defined only by him, and only after the fact.

[…]

A few weeks later, I was surprised then to find the following email in my inbox:

I just listened to our recorded conversation, and I’m sorry to say that I can’t release it as a podcast. Even if I took the time to edit it, I wouldn’t be doing either of us any favors putting it out there. The conversation fails in every way — but, most crucially, it fails to be interesting.

Better luck next time…

Sam

The self-righteous salutation at the end was the richest part of this otherwise self-serving note. Exactly who was Sam Harris protecting in this flagrant and sanctimonious act of expurgation? Certainly not me. Certainly not his listeners. He was protecting himself, because what he said in those four hours was as extreme and belligerent and ignorant as anything he has ever written.

You can read the rest HERE.

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27 Responses to More Creepy Behavior from Sam Harris

  1. tildeb says:

    That’s because Aziz is so wrong he’s not even wrong. He’s written a hit piece absolutely typical of the very thesis – the regressive Left – that Harris and Nawaz expose as being a major hindrance to Islamic reform. Aziz’s ‘argument’ needs to be exposed line by line for the regressive tripe it is – a misguided creation of Aziz and then smeared against Harris wholesale. And doing so is excruciatingly boring.

  2. Michael says:

    Perhaps.

    But what strikes me as most interesting about this all is Harris’s self-obsession. Here’s how it looks. The “hit piece” so infuriated Harris that he felt the need to “call him out.” Harris sets up conditions such that the podcast looks like it is supposed to be punitive. But Harris probably did not count on the guy agreeing to be cross-examined. So he had to go through with it. They then have a four hour exchange and only afterwards, does Harris figure out it is too “boring” to be made public. My guess is that it wasn’t the slam-dunk Harris needed it to be.

    All of this makes sense if Harris’s emotions took control of him as he felt the need to “defend his brand.” And his brand is his self.

    All of this from a guy who meditates daily and teaches there is no self.

    Ironically, when Harris wrote his hit piece on Francis Collins, Collins did not become obsessed with defending himself.

  3. Jeffrey S. says:

    I think no one comes out of this looking good — you are right that Harris seems obsessed with his image (to the detriment of his arguments) but I also think “tildeb” is right. When you read the entire Salon piece it is clear that his critic is a typical left-wing nut-job who wouldn’t know I crazed Islamic terrorist if they (God forbid) shot him up in a terror attack while shouting “Allah Akbar!”

    They can have each other as far as I’m concerned.

  4. tildeb says:

    Listen for yourself here (about 2:15 – 15:00). Harris offers compelling evidence that Omer is has (once again using the microphone of Salon.com) used his malicious beliefs to represent reality… beliefs that are factually wrong. Harris demonstrates this and offers us the reasons why he decided not to post the entire podcast with Omer. Omer is exactly the kind of person championed by the Regressive Left who doesn’t care about what’s true, who will not be intellectually honest, but simply needs to smear, misrepresent, and practice dishonesty at the expense of others to achieve his aims: to vilify Harris.

    Michael, this is what you’ve swallowed hook, line, and sinker and are just as culpable.

  5. Doug says:

    @tildeb,
    Get over yourself. Michael wrote three sentences. Only one contained anything but a factual representation of the matter. The rest of the O/P was a quote. Hardly “swallowed hook, line, and sinker” — at least by any reasonable assessment.
    But the most “compelling evidence” would simply be to publish the podcast, don’t you think?

  6. tildeb says:

    @ Doug

    First sentence: “cross examination”. Wrong. Misrepresentation.
    Second sentence, “scolding”. Wrong. Gross distortion.
    Third sentence: “then”. Wrong. Incorrect attribution.

    Following this wonderful if fact-vacuous introduction, Michael then posts only Omer’s deceitful response as if this ‘proves’ his point. It doesn’t. It demonstrates yet again that he has already decided to believe everything Omer says (his first paragraph is best described as ‘lying’ it’s so distorted from the reality it supposedly describes).

    This kind of misrepresentation is what Michael does. He doesn’t care about what is the case or he would have tried to find out what was the case before swallowing everything Omer wrote as if true! And it was true in Michael’s mind not because it was but because Michael <i.wants it to be true.

    Doug, can you grasp how this has nothing to do with me? All I’m doing is pointing out the utter lack of intellectual integrity needed to vilify someone this way, to believe whatever casts Harris is a negative light and refuse to accommodate his malicious opinion with anything that stands contrary to it. That’s the Regressive Left in action, demonstrating an intolerance to dissent. Michael is wrong over and over again and does not ever correct himself, his misrepresentations, or reform his malicious opinion of Harris when he is given compelling evidence to do so.

    Harris addresses why he didn’t post the interview in its entirety. Just go listen to the bile Omer spews, listen to his refusal to retract, rephrase, or mitigate the intentional lies he states about Harris, listen to how he first misrepresents and then builds an argument on this fiction. That’s what his article does, what his rebuttal does. It’s dishonest from start to finish and that’s what people like Michael swallow in its entirety. It’s so wrong it isn’t even wrong. It’s a hit piece. And you’ve bought into it, too, for no other reason than you want it to be true. That’s not on me, Doug, not a reflection of my intellectual integrity and reading comprehension. That’s on you and your willingness to be fooled.

  7. Michael says:

    First sentence: “cross examination”. Wrong. Misrepresentation.
    Second sentence, “scolding”. Wrong. Gross distortion.

    It’s “wrong” from tildeb’s perception, which makes sense since he is a follower of Harris and doesn’t like to see him criticized. From my perception, the description seems on target.

    These are the undisputed facts:

    Once again, all the terms were set by him: I would have to read the essay word for word, he could stop me whenever he wanted, I could not record the talk, and Harris reserved the right not to air it if it was “boring”—a standard to be defined only by him, and only after the fact.

    That set-up has all the makings of a cross-examination and scolding (even to the point of not allowing Aziz to make his own tape). And it looks like I was right given the 3 small excerpts that Harris released: Harris takes up over 80% of the conversation.

    tildeb thinks that because we don’t see exactly like, it MUST be me who is misrepresenting and distorting.

    Third sentence: “then”. Wrong. Incorrect attribution.

    Huh?

    Doug, can you grasp how this has nothing to do with me?

    Please. Tildeb the internet new atheist activist is obviously invested in Sam Harris, a New Atheist leader, As such, tildeb takes criticisms of Sam Harris personally. This is common behavior in cults.

    Look, here’s what I think happened.

    Harris doesn’t take criticism very well. When he read Aziz’s article, it angered him greatly. From this state of anger, Harris wanted to get some payback. Perhaps he even wanted to make an example of Aziz to discourage future salon.com articles about him. So he thought he would invite Aziz into his lair. At some point, the anger faded and Harris did not count on Aziz agreeing to these conditions. So he went through with the interview. But since it wasn’t a slam-dunk, and he didn’t want to give Aziz more publicity, he decided to move on. I don’t think he factored that Aziz would write yet another article about this and Harris’s twitter enemies would use it against him.

  8. Doug says:

    @tildeb,
    Your religious devotion to Harris is a delightful source of entertainment to us all: particularly when you accuse us of having been “fooled”.

  9. tildeb says:

    See? You did it again. You used Omer’s words as if proof of Harris’ ‘cross-examination’, Omer’s words as if proof of Harris’ “scolding”. You’re still wrong on both accounts BECAUSE Omer’s words Are. Not. True.

    Yes, Harris need to go over the essay line by line – like Allalt does to reveal your gross distortions that are so many that each line must be compared and contrasted with what is true – because it’s so wrong it isn’t even wrong. It is a fiction from start to finish… based on what Omer believes is the case when it so patently is not.

    That’s why you reveal the paucity of your approach when you state, “Here are the indisputable facts…” Michael, they are not only disputable, they have been shown to be factually incorrect.

    I point out the ‘then’ to show the readership that you are basing the rest of your commentary on this FICTION. And here you’ve done it again. You just don;t learn because you already think you know that your beliefs, your perspective, is indistinguishable from what is true. That is your mistake, and I keep pointing it out to no avail.

    I have skin in this game you are playing, other than to point out where YOU are going wrong, where YOU are misrepresenting Harris. You are not doing what your blog advertises you are doing, namely trying to understand New Atheism. All you’re doing is trying to vilify and you are doing it dishonestly.

  10. tildeb says:

    @ Doug

    I’m sorry to say, Doug, but you seem determined to say the most idiotic things which, I’m beginning to believe, is an honest indication of your actual mental faculties.

  11. Michael says:

    See? You did it again. You used Omer’s words as if proof of Harris’ ‘cross-examination’, Omer’s words as if proof of Harris’ “scolding”. You’re still wrong on both accounts BECAUSE Omer’s words Are. Not. True.

    In your zeal to defend your leader, you have become divorced from reality. Let’s consider Omer’s words:

    I would have to read the essay word for word, he could stop me whenever he wanted,

    Harris confirms that in the first podcast excerpt that he posted and his email.

    I could not record the talk,

    Harris has not disputed this.

    and Harris reserved the right not to air it if it was “boring”—a standard to be defined only by him, and only after the fact.

    Harris confirmed this in the first podcast excerpt he posted and his email.

  12. tildeb says:

    Wow. You’re in full defensive mode here, studiously avoiding the easy and quite incorrect descriptors you flung in Harris’ direction assuming they would stick. Go back to the podcast and listen this time. There is a very clear explanation why this format is going to be attempted. Omer’s primary concern is that it will “descend into a Talmudic parsing of, you know, single sentences and words”. Harris clarifies even more: that because there is a huge bridge between Omer’s review of the book and what the book actually says (which is obvious to anyone who has read the book and then read Omer’s hatchet job), it’s vital that the review be read word for word so that the tremendous cynicism Omer presents can be exposed. Remember, Omer agreed to these restrictions and then lied in his Salon.cm ‘rebuttal’ (again, obvious to anyone who listens to the podcast).

    Now you continue to advocate that Harris is my ‘leader’ in an attempt to avoid the criticism that you are doing exactly what Harris and Nawaz decried in their book, namely, vilifying those of us with whom you disagree on highly dubious grounds rather than those who would kill you outright for your apostasy. Your choice of allies in this matter reveal you for what you are: a duplicitous religious apologist out to vilify New Atheists for daring to criticize what you don’t have the intellectual courage to do. That’s why you attack using whatever means you find convenient and it has nothing to do with what’s true and everything to do with maintaining your beliefs.

  13. Dhay says:

    Omer Aziz > In his reply, Harris reduced these people to “collateral damage,” and he went off on a tangent about the utility of this term, and the puritan motives of Western policymakers.

    There are uncanny echoes here of the recent Sam Harris / Noam Chomsky debate, where Chomsky went after Harris’ throat for his defence of the US bombing of a pharmaceuticals plant some years back, on inadequate and inaccurate intelligence, Harris’ callous indifference to the thousands of deaths of civilians from lack of medicines, and Harris’ rather naive defence of Carter as having had good motives. I don’t know what Aziz went on to say, but I think we can take Aziz’s point as having been already established by Chomsky.

    *

    I find it odd, and also revealing, that Aziz’s editor should have added:

    [Editor’s note: When asked to confirm the wording, Harris said, “That’s a euphemism. Everyone in the war-making business uses it. It’s the jargon term they use.” He insisted that his choice of words did not indicate a lack of care for the victims’ lives.]

    There’s the obvious need to avoid an action for libel by checking wording, and I guess that by including this Note the readers get confirmation that the Aziz’s account is factually correct. I read a little more than that into this, though; it’s a confirmation to readers that, believe it or not, incredible as it may sound, Harris really does understand what “collateral damage” is.

    *

    tildeb, who declares he has read nearly everything Harris has written, will confirm that there’s actually a whole section (Pp 142-7) in The End of Faith on “Perfect Weapons and the Ethics of “Collateral Damage””. It’s bottom line is that it’s OK to kill good guys, women and children — and with imperfect weaponry that’s inevitable — as long as we had good intentions in doing so; the good intentions being, simply, to kill some bad guys:

    We are now living in a world that can no longer tolerate wellarmed, malevolent regimes. Without perfect weapons, collateral damage—the maiming and killing of innocent people—is unavoidable. Similar suffering will be imposed on still more innocent people because of our lack of perfect automobiles, airplanes, antibiotics, surgical procedures, and window glass. If we want to draw conclusions about ethics—as well as make predictions about what a given person or society will do in the future—we cannot ignore human intentions. Where ethics are concerned, intentions are everything.

    Let’s try a Harris-style thought-experiment. In, say, the systematic and repeated rape of Bosnian women by their Serb captors, the aim was to humiliate them, and especially their menfolk, so they wouldn’t try warring against the Serbs again. Ah, yes, that would save lives, wouldn’t it, would keep the peace after the war? That’s good intentions, surely. So that’s all right, then.

    I note in that passage the evil banality of Harris comparing the maiming and killing of innocent people by deliberate and aggressive use of weaponry with the “similar” suffering caused by imperfect (breakable?) window glass.

    *

    Sam Harris is no stranger to long podcasts, and quite prepared to “bore” his listeners when he chooses to:

    Many who listened to my last podcast are demanding their 2 hours back. I am now attempting to build a time machine. Just sit tight…

    https://twitter.com/SamHarrisOrg/status/702965502512013312

    This referred to Harris’ 2:07:19 long “Open The Gates” podcast. Harris “speaks with Maryam Namazie about friendly fire among secularists, profiling, the immigration crisis in Europe, and other topics” and writes that “Maryam Namazie is an Iranian-born atheist, a secularist, and a human rights activist. She is a spokesperson for a variety of organizations, including Fitnah (a movement for women’s liberation), Equal Rights Now, One Law for All (against Sharia Law in Britain), and the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain.”

    Namazie sounds like someone Harris should get on with very well, and she thinks she and Harris are “on the same side, but we disagree on some points”, but while she pulls back from characterising Harris himself as a bigot, she characterises Harris as promoting a far-right narrative of bigotry. (She does this near the beginning of the podcast, and again about 27 minutes in.) This, of course, has put Harris’ back up, so he has invited her for a, er, refutation.

    Listening, I find that Namazie uses “you know” a lot, but is interesting, well-informed, informative, and not at all boring. So, that “demanding their 2 hours back” comment with its very strong implication of “deadly boring” is a snide Harris put-down of Namazie, meaning nothing except to indicate that Harris is publicly sneering at her.

    In tildeb’s first response in the next thread there’s:

    Harris isn’t helping to fund 24 hour security for Ayaan Hirsi Ali against stereotypes, because he wants to criticize a straw man, because he’s the one trying to fear monger. You’ve got it exactly backwards. He does so because he’s trying to accomplish what you do not have the intellectual courage to do: face real problems in real life caused by pernicious religious ideas in the public domain with real solutions. And religious bullying accomplished by threats and intimidation by violent means is a very real pernicious problem to real people in real life caused by such religious ideas in its many formats.

    When Namazie claims that Harris is promoting a far-right narrative of bigotry, and his support for Ali demonstrates this very nicely: in 2009, in an interview with the Reason website, she talks of the need to “defeat” Islam, not radical Islam, but “Islam, period”, Q: “We have to crush the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims under our boot?”, A:”I think that we are at war with Islam. And there’s no middle ground in wars”, and “There comes a moment when you crush your enemy.”
    (See several paragraphs near the bottom at https://reason.com/archives/2007/10/10/the-trouble-is-the-west/1)

    So Ali spouts the far-right narrative of bigotry; and Harris supports her and her narrative of bigotry, as Namazie has claimed.

    *

    Let’s try a Harris-style thought-experiment: Ali publicly proclaims: “I think that we are at war with Islam. And there’s no middle ground in wars”, and “There comes a moment when you crush your enemy.” A Muslim decides to stop this advocate for enmity and war, and shoots her dead. But that might well save many Muslim lives, so that’s good intentions (and a local peak on the moral landscape, too); so, by the “Where ethics are concerned, intentions are everything” criterion that Harris advocates — well, that’s good intentions, surely; so that’s all right, then.

  14. Michael says:

    tildeb: Wow. You’re in full defensive mode here,

    As a devotee of Sam Harris, you are clearly projecting your own attitude.

    studiously avoiding the easy and quite incorrect descriptors you flung in Harris’ direction assuming they would stick.

    The empirical evidence is clear. Harris wanted Aziz to read his essay word for word, Harris did not allow Aziz to tape the conversation (confirmed in the latest release of their emails), and Harris reserved the right not to air the debate if he deemed it “boring.” That set-up had all the makings of a cross-examination and scolding (even to the point of not allowing Aziz to make his own tape). And it looks like I was right given the 3 small excerpts that Harris cherry picked: Harris takes up over 80% of the conversation.

    Go back to the podcast and listen this time.

    I listened to it twice. From 5:23 to 11:50, Harris takes up 5.2 minutes of the 6.4 minutes to repeatedly scold Aziz with a flurry of accusations while trying to make it look like he is just calmly trying to make things clear.

    There is a very clear explanation why this format is going to be attempted.

    Yes, the rationalization was clear.

    Omer’s primary concern is that it will “descend into a Talmudic parsing of, you know, single sentences and words”. Harris clarifies even more: that because there is a huge bridge between Omer’s review of the book and what the book actually says (which is obvious to anyone who has read the book and then read Omer’s hatchet job), it’s vital that the review be read word for word so that the tremendous cynicism Omer presents can be exposed.

    Thar she blows. “be exposed.” I.e., cross-examination. It turns out that my impression that this was to be a cross-examination and scolding is supported by the empirical evdience.

    Remember, Omer agreed to these restrictions and then lied in his Salon.cm ‘rebuttal’ (again, obvious to anyone who listens to the podcast).

    Omer had to agree given, given Harris’ implicit threat:

    You took the time to write it, and nearly every sentence exemplifies what is wrong with our public conversation on these topics. Is the fact that you appear reluctant to stand behind your work “highly revealing”? I’ll let you decide.

    In other words, Harris was going to start publicly accusing Aziz of being afraid to stand behind his own work had Aziz backed out.

    Now you continue to advocate that Harris is my ‘leader’

    That’s the impression you give, as you come across as someone who is deeply invested in Harris and his public image.

    in an attempt to avoid the criticism that you are doing exactly what Harris and Nawaz decried in their book, namely, vilifying those of us with whom you disagree on highly dubious grounds rather than those who would kill you outright for your apostasy.

    Thar she blows again! “Vilifying those of us.” The blog entry focuses on one man – Sam Harris. And you take it personally. That you take criticisms of Harris so personally is evidence that you view him as one of your leaders. Wht try to deny it?

    As for vilifying, this is the thin-skinned New Atheism crybaby routine. I’m simply amused that Harris would try to impose such an oddball set-up for his “debate” and then back out and not even post it.

    Your choice of allies in this matter reveal you for what you are: a duplicitous religious apologist out to vilify New Atheists for daring to criticize what you don’t have the intellectual courage to do.

    My allies? Aziz strikes me as a pseudo-intellectual who is eager to blame America for Islamic terrorism. I hardly consider him some ally. As for your whining about being vilified, I find that hilariously ironic. The whole goal of New Atheism is to vilify religion and anyone who dares to criticize the ham-handed approach of the Gnus is vilified by the Gnus. Ask atheists Michael Ruse or Massimo Pigliucci. Sorry tildeb, but when you are part of a militant, extremist movement you should not expect others to refrain from criticizing your leaders.

    That’s why you attack using whatever means you find convenient and it has nothing to do with what’s true and everything to do with maintaining your beliefs.

    The empirical evidence shows that Aziz was correct when he wrote:

    Once again, all the terms were set by him: I would have to read the essay word for word, he could stop me whenever he wanted, I could not record the talk, and Harris reserved the right not to air it if it was “boring”—a standard to be defined only by him, and only after the fact.

    Your attempt to deny this “BECAUSE Omer’s words Are. Not. True.” tells us you don’t care about the empirical evidence.

    As noted, this set-up has all the makings of a cross-examination and scolding (even to the point of not allowing Aziz to make his own tape).

    And it looks like I was right.

    In the 3 small excerpts that Harris released, Harris takes up over 80% of the conversation and comes across as scolding Aziz.

    And even you admit that the purpose of having Aziz read his essay to Harris was “so that the tremendous cynicism Omer presents can be exposed.” Cross-examination.

    Let’s be clear. You are not interested in what’s true. You are trying to find some ways to defend your leader. As a militant atheist who thinks religion is evil and is on a crusade to rid the world of religion, you find it necessary to obfuscate the truth and vilify anyone who is not part of your crusade.

    What remains at the end of the day is the simple fact that Sam Harris had a four hour debate with an opponent he challenged while stacking the deck with his stringent rules, refuses to release the debate into the public arena because of some ridiculous, flimsy excuse, and instead cherry picks from the debate in an attempt to score his culture war points. It sure looks like Harris is trying to hide what happened in that debate.

  15. Kevin says:

    A central point has been ignored here. This blog exists for the purposes of pointing out the gaping flaws of the New Atheist movement, and how most of their rhetoric and talking points are proven to be nothing but posturing.

    One might try to claim that Michael is obsessed with Sam Harris, except that doesn’t work. Harris is the one who tried to vilify all religious beliefs. And although anyone who can spot fallacies and bad reasoning will be left with a migraine after reading a Sam Harris writing, it’s still possible that his eloquent writing style might convince someone that he is right about God and Christianity. This blog, I presume, is here so that a Christian (or anyone really, since New Atheists will also attack atheists who don’t attack religion) who encounters a New Atheist argument will be better equipped to recognize the glaring holes in it.

    Basixally, since Harris fired the opening Salvo against Christians, we have a right to point out why he is a joke. The fact that anyone not named Sam Harris would feel the need to respond to criticism of Sam Harris so vociferously indicates, at the very least, an unhealthy level of hero worship or groupthink – both of which fly in the face of reason.

  16. Dhay says:

    tildeb > Just go listen to the bile Omer spews …

    I couldn’t spot those bile-spewings either time I listened, despite specifically listening for them second time through. Would you therefore please identify the relevant sections with start and finish times, and a quote, however short.

    Are you by any chance lying?

  17. Dhay says:

    tildeb > Just go listen to the bile Omer spews …

    What bile does Sam Harris himself spew? According to Harris, Omer Aziz is: “smug”, “petty”, “paranoid”, “incapable of having an honest conversation on any topic”, “belligerent”, “doesn’t make sense”, “dishonest review” … These are presented as fact, though what Harris really presents is his own ability and readiness to sneer, patronise, and spew insults. To me he comes across as an upset, sulking child.

    Harris’ self-defence that the interview was very long and boring is dissimulation: it was inevitably going to be very long because of Harris’ pre-condition that it was to be primarily about Aziz’s uncomplimentary review article. That it was to be primarily about the review, a laborious line by line examination (or cross-examination), was emphasised pointedly at about 6:05, when Harris said, we can “talk about anything under the sun, but will talk about the review first, and pretty systematically.” No, of course it was always going to be long, very long indeed under those rules; and the cynic in me tells me that having hopefully given the dressing-down he wanted to give, Harris would have chopped off the, er, digressive “anything under the sun” which followed as making it too long and as being off that main topic of the review.

    In practice, Harris quickly lost concentration and focus, and (Aziz) “What was fascinating about this experiment was how quickly we departed from the rules and had a free-flowing exchange.”

    At 7:45 Aziz takes Harris to task for claiming in a previous podcast that Aziz has said that he really hates Maajid Nawaz and really hates Harris, and Aziz makes the correction that although he finds their ideas really repugnant, he doesn’t hate either, nor does he call him a bigot, call him a racist, or call him any names, he was merely responding and contending with the ideas in the book. So Aziz was careful to try to avoid the discussion descending into personal attacks.

    Though I think it has arguably now become very personal on both sides.

    There’s a moment of comedy at about ten minutes in, when Harris claims to know the motives of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi better by randomly ascribing motives to al-Baghdadi, or else by throwing the I Ching (to divine his motives), than Aziz understands the motives of their book — classic over-the-top Harris — after which Aziz points out that their book reveals huge gaps in their understanding of the political and social conditions underlying al-Baghdadi’s and his organisation’s rise, ie Harris probably can have very little understanding of al-Baghdadi’s motives.

    At about 14:20 there’s an excerpt dealing with profits from anti-Islamic books, which Harris claims is rubbish because (“let me educate you” — the use of which phrase Aziz rightly stamps on straight away, if you let someone patronise you, they’ll carry on doing it) it’s hard to get thin books published, publishers much prefer more profitable thicker books. (Harris drones on and on and on about this.)

    Aziz doesn’t pick him up on this (or that got cut out), but it’s a short book not because of the absence of the profit motive but because it’s a podcast transcript, and its protagonists decided to see whether someone might publish that transcript; obviously the book did actually get published, and its authors are actually drawing royalties — the book is indeed profitable for Harris and Nawaz, rather than the “there’s no profits in it” story Harris is peddling; also, they are basking in the publicity which they both need to raise their public profiles and the desirability and price of any articles etc they produce in future — and in Harris’ case to attract the speaking engagements he charges (last I knew) very large sums for.

    Then there’s “collateral damage”: at about 23 minutes in, Harris claims that “nobody has focused more on how bad “collateral damage” is than I have”.

    Well, he did write six pages on it in The End of Faith — see my long response, above — but “nobody”? I think we can take it as certain that Noam Chomsky “has focused more on how bad “collateral damage” is than” Harris has — much, much, much more; young Aziz probably has already done so; thousands of anti-war protesters have focused more its horrible consequences than Harris has: it is on incidentally maiming and killing being OK, when done with whatever “good intentions” are, that Harris focuses.

    I would say that Harris’ “nobody has focused more on how bad “collateral damage” is than I have” is so obviously contrary to what must be obvious even to himself — I’d say Harris must be lying.

  18. Dhay says:

    Omer Aziz has now published at Huffpost Media a follow-up article entitled “Free Speech and Fanatics: A Final Rejoinder to Sam Harris”:

    It’s a longish and varied article, but this passage struck my eye:

    Continuing this analogy, if the Times refuses to publish a debate that took place on the Times’ turf, in which one of its writers participated and which was advertised to the public in advance, the editors have certainly committed the sin of censorship and ought to be fired. Journalistic ethics on this matter are very strict: Even altering an article that has already been published requires appending an editorial note informing readers of the changes. Removing an article in its entirety for whatever reason is another clear violation of writerly ethics that currently assume the status of unwritten rules. These are rules of transparency and they help ensure that the custodians of information and knowledge do not defraud citizens of the truth–and the truth is an embattled prisoner in today’s world, where falsifications and fabrications are published and spread every second.
    [My emboldening.]

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/omer-aziz/free-speech-and-fanatics-_b_9425620.html

    According to Aziz, Harris has behaved contrary to established journalistic ethics.

  19. tildeb says:

    @ Michael

    Your moderation policy is increasingly annoying, biased,tedious, and manipulative.

    Why do you continue to moderate each and every one of my comments, approving some quickly, some slowly, and some not at all? Either shit or get off the pot.

  20. Michael says:

    tildeb: Your moderation policy is increasingly annoying, biased,tedious, and manipulative.

    Why do you continue to moderate each and every one of my comments, approving some quickly, some slowly, and some not at all? Either shit or get off the pot.

    I already informed you that I would place your comments in the moderation queue. Apparently, you didn’t bother to read that, which is not surprising given your history of ignoring the points that people actually make.’

    I put you in the moderation queue because you a) don’t read what you criticize; b) don’t engage the actual arguments/points that are laid on the table; c) are trying to monopolize the comments sections with what you want to talk about, which usually involves the vilification of me or another commenter.
    The moderation policy here is simple – I allow more dissent than the New Atheist blogs of Jerry Coyne, PZ Myers, and Sam Harris. Since you have posted over 50 comments already, I have more than satisfied that rule.

    If anyone doubts my decisions, I have released one of tildebs comments that I wasn’t going to approve. See here. If anyone wants to explain why I should have released that comment, feel free to explain.

  21. tildeb says:

    Fine. Your blog, your rules. Goodbye.

  22. Dhay says:

    tildeb > Yes, Harris need[s] to go over the essay line by line …

    There’s nothing to stop Sam Harris writing a line-by-line rebuttal to Omer Aziz’s essay and posting it on his own website; it’s the same place as his podcasts appear, and will reach the same number of people.

    Presumably there’s nothing to stop him doing so, even now, and if he would like to give Aziz a right to reply, and to exchange comments on each others’ views that way, I expect Aziz will not only not refuse but will give as good as he gets.

    *

    I see that your own blog contains a 1 November 2011 post entitled “Why is John Haught an intellectual coward?”, a post severely critical of theologian John Haught’s decision to refuse to publish the videotapes of his debate with Jerry Coyne. You said:

    It is perfectly understandable for someone not to want to advertise a debate in which they have done so poorly. But to change one’s mind after the fact and censor the publication of the videotape is intellectual cowardice …

    https://questionablemotives.wordpress.com/2011/11/01/why-is-john-haught-an-intellectual-coward/

    Both Coyne and Aziz expected their respective debates to be published; their debates being published was why each of them took part, indeed Aziz can have had no other motive for debating than that the debate be published, there being in his case (unlike Coyne’s) no live audience.

    You held Haught to one standard, and accused him of intellectual cowardice, while Harris remains on a pedestal for you. I judge that intellectual honesty requires you to accuse Harris, too, of intellectual cowardice.

    *

    tildeb > Why do you continue to moderate each and every one of my comments, approving some quickly, some slowly, and some not at all? Either shit or get off the pot.

    Since you have supplied the metaphor, I will supply the obvious answer using that same metaphor: you seem to be constantly on said pot, and splattering it with diarrhoea.

    What do I mean (in politer language)? Firstly, there’s your ‘Gish Gallop’ tactics, your flinging so many ideas into a few lines of response that an adequate response to them and refutation of them would take an amount of time and effort utterly disproportionate to your apparently minimal effort in pushing the crap out.

    In your first response in the next thread (which I started a reply to, then gave up on) you fling out as one issue that of “Anglican clergy privileged to hold government seats in England”: well, sort of, just about; if the claim or implication is that Anglican clergy have any real influence on British (not English, please) political policies, or any hold on power, this is severely undercut by those Bishops being 3.5% of the House of Lords hence easily swamped by the other 96.5%, by their having full-time roles as senior Bishops, by their attending on an ad-hoc basis if and when matters of interest arise, and by the House of Lords being essentially a ‘check the legislation for errors of drafting or intention before issue’ body; theocracy it ain’t; not even vaguely. That’s the short answer: the full answer is much longer, with researched links.

    And all that raises the question of whether you intended to imply something so strongly absurd, or whether you meant to imply something else; what did you mean; you don’t say; we have to guess at it.

    And that’s another problem: so far as I know, the infamous Duane Gish flung out pseudo-facts left, right and centre, but what he was alleging was (though apparently usually false) at least clear: you paint your arguments like an impressionist painter paints their canvas, so that the closer one looks at your arguments, the more they seem to be amorphous blobs; it works for paintings because our intuitive System 1 works well with distant blobs which form impressionistic patterns, but impressionistic rationality is something of an oxymoron because our rational System 2, which analyses down to details, doesn’t.

    What point is made (or meant to be implied) by each of the many individual elements in the following Gallop?

    There is no difference in principle between exporting the Catholic Church’s dogma into public policy (or the Anglican clergy privileged to hold government seats in England, the Southern Baptists and Born Agains in positions of public authority over science funding and education, Orthodox Jews on gender discrimination, and so on) and the global movement exporting Sharia into public law.

    The “Anglican clergy” bit is bollocks based on ignorance, as outlined above; the “Southern Baptists” bit is — well, just what is it, are you going so far as to advocate job discrimination based on religious affiliation, I simply cannot tell from something so impressionistic; Michael has guessed that “Born Agains …” possibly refers to Francis Collins, though he shouldn’t be in the position of having to guess at what is your responsibility (if you want to be understood and answered) to make clear; “and education” — ??; and so on.

    And this seems to be the first part of an overall argument about NOMA. Which deals with science, religion and their alleged relationship but has nothing whatsoever to do with religion overlapping or not overlapping into public life. There’s hardly any point my struggling to understand your first part, and to laboriously criticise and correct what I am merely guessing you might mean, when the pseudo-NOMA argument it is part of is arrant bollocks — as you should already know it is.

    In summary, responding to one of your posts is difficult, because they are difficult to understand — or so “wonky” they escape understanding entirely; is frustrating — what does tildeb possibly mean here — which of the alternatives is the intended alternative — have I guessed right — was there any point anyway in answering the detail of an argument that is based on what’s apparently clueless ignorance; — responding to one of your posts is difficult, time-consuming, tedious, and sometimes pointless to boot.

  23. Dhay says:

    Ah, especially pointless, I see. Goodbye tildeb.

  24. Dhay says:

    RationalWiki > “Even some of Harris’s fans feel his obsession with Muslims has taken him to some pretty bad places.

    Sam Harris gets massively criticised, and in detail, at that site.

    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Sam_Harris

    About RationalWiki
    Our purpose here at RationalWiki includes:

    Analyzing and refuting pseudoscience and the anti-science movement.
    Documenting the full range of crank ideas.
    Explorations of authoritarianism and fundamentalism.
    Analysis and criticism of how these subjects are handled in the media.

    We welcome contributors, and encourage those who disagree with us to register and engage in constructive dialogue

    I wonder where, and within how many of their four stated purposes, they think Harris falls.

  25. Dhay says:

    I see that like John Haught — see response above at https://shadowtolight.wordpress.com/2016/03/08/more-creepy-behavior-from-sam-harris/#comment-11852 — Sam Harris has finally been shamed into releasing the Omer Aziz podcast.

    https://www.samharris.org/podcast/item/the-best-podcast-ever

  26. Dhay says:

    Sam Harris’ obsession with how “collateral damage” is OK if inflicted with “good intentions” is an old one; it appears in The End of Faith, at the end of his section on “Perfect Weapons and the Ethics of “Collateral Damage””, after he’s finished criticising what I’ll paraphrase as Noam Chomsky’s “appalling consequences” position; Harris writes, “Where ethics are concerned, intentions are everything.”

    This is a zero-sum claim, rigorously excluding its alternatives: if “intentions are everything” “where ethics are concerned”, then plainly consequences are nothing, consequences simply don’t count. Not for Harris. At. All.

    He’s not always been this extreme, and in his The Moral Landscape, in Chapter 2, “Good and Evil”, in the sub-section entitled “Moral Paradox”, he writes as if it is consequences only which matter: to be sure, some of those consequences are the consequences of intentions, but it is the consequences which seem to matter, in this passage, not the intentions.

    Placing only consequences in our moral balance also leads to indelicate questions. For instance, do we have a moral obligation to come to the aid of wealthy, healthy, and intelligent hostages before poor, sickly, and slow-witted ones? After all, the former are more likely to make a positive contribution to society upon their release. And what about remaining partial to one’s friends and family? Is it wrong for me to save the life of my only child if, in the process, I neglect to save a stranger’s brood of eight? Wrestling with such questions has convinced many people that morality does not obey the simple laws of arithmetic.

    However, such puzzles merely suggest that certain moral questions could be difficult or impossible to answer in practice; they do not suggest that morality depends upon something other than the consequences of our actions and intentions. This is a frequent source of confusion: consequentialism is less a method of answering moral questions than it is a claim about the status of moral truth. Our assessment of consequences in the moral domain must proceed as it does in all others: under the shadow of uncertainty, guided by theory, data, and honest conversation. The fact that it may often be difficult, or even impossible, to know what the consequences of our thoughts and actions will be does not mean that there is some other basis for human values that is worth worrying about.

    Quantum Harris? Saying one thing in one place, another in another; all things to all men, and everything plausibly deniable because he’s also said something quite different.

    Then, in his recent exchange with Chomsky, and in his conversations with Maryam Namazie and Omer Aziz, Harris rows back to that original good-intentions-excuse-all-consequences-inflicted “Where ethics are concerned, intentions are everything” attitude which is so characteristic of Harris — and so uncharacteristic of many or most other people, especially Harris’ many vocal critics.

    *

    I observe that, sheer malice excepting, everybody acts with ‘good intentions’ — including the 18th Century woman who stole a loaf of bread, the witness who raised the hue and cry, the judge who pronounced the death sentence, and the hangman who executed it and her; well, she won’t do that again, and in the interests of a lawful and ordered society, in the interests of us all, it is important to dissuade others from stealing That is, ‘good intentions’ are all too easily synonymous with whatever rationale we can, and do, come up with, synonymous with doing what we damn well want to do, and were going to do anyway.

    Also see my other examples of, er, ‘good intentions’ in the responses above.

    I’m sure the person buying a negro slave had ‘good intentions’, albeit they were probably to do with profit; ‘good intentions’ is a highly elastic term, and highly ambiguous.

  27. Dhay says:

    Marek Sullivan, the originator of the “quantum Harris” idea — that Sam Harris makes many contradictory statements, so that should you try to pin him down to holding one view, he (and fans) are able to point to where he’s said something quite different, that’s what he really thinks and advocates for — has criticised Harris’ good-intentions-excuse-all-consequences-inflicted from a Buddhist viewpoint; which is appropriate because:

    Despite his general anti-religiosity, Harris has made his Buddhist favouritism clear:

    the esoteric teachings of Buddhism offer the most complete methodology we have for discovering the intrinsic freedom of consciousness, unencumbered by any dogma …. Though there is much in Buddhism that I do not pretend to understand—as well as much that seems deeply implausible—it would be intellectually dishonest not to acknowledge its preeminence as a system of spiritual instruction. (The End of Faith, 214-5)

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/americanbuddhist/2015/05/all-good-intentions-but-does-sam-harris-have-what-it-takes-to-be-buddhist.html

    The article’s long, too long to summarise succinctly, but well worth a read:

    The assumption here is that Harris’s neuroscience-cum-spirituality can—and should—be clearly distinguished from his politics, a convenient assumption, but one that should be challenged … By examining Buddhist approaches to intention, and a third aspect of Harris’s ethics (his extrapolations from the Buddhist/neuroscientific theory of “no-self”) this article shows that it is Buddhism, not Harris, that holds the higher moral ground.

    So although Bodhisattva Sam Harris is an enthusiast for Buddhist teachings and has the typically Buddhist focus on the primary importance of good intentions, Harris doesn’t understand or apply Buddhist approaches appropriately; that is, Sam Harris is not a good Buddhist or a good Buddhist look-alike.

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