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← Ask Sam Harris Anything #1

Noble Savage's Avatar Jump to comment 27 by Noble Savage

Comment 18 by All About Meme :

Selected quotes from Sam Harris:

(42:20) It's true that with almost any complex question, we can't know at the end of the day what all the consequences are going to be. The consequences could be extremely good or extremely bad, in unforeseen ways. All we can do is make our best effort to navigate in the space of possible experience, based on what we think is likely to occur.

(51:46) ...Let's say on the desirability of raising or lowering taxes, you get the sense that there is nothing they [Democrats and Republicans] could say to one another... there is no panel of economists, marshalled on either side or in-between, that could get the two camps to persuade one another. And there HAVE to be right or wrong answers in this space, about the questions of what to do vis-a-vis taxes.

I could be high on MDMA, but it seems Dr. Harris may be contradicting himself in these two passages. How to best stimulate the economy, and more specifically whether to raise or lower taxes certainly have to rank as some of the most complex questions facing us today. In his first comment above, Sam asserts that all we can do in complex cases like these is to "make our best effort" to navigate based on "what we think is likely to occur." In his second comment, with seemingly a touch of exasperation, Harris then asserts that there must in fact be right or wrong answers to these political matters, and is apparently prepared to spend his own foundation's cash to shed neurological light on why America's two political camps can't just sit down at the meeting table one blissful afternoon, and come to some kind of agreement on taxes and the economy.

Am I misreading him? I think I also heard my hero Dr. Harris express a smattering of sympathy for the stances of people like Chris Mooney. (Sympathy is not agreement however, so I'll let him slide on this one.)

In all other respects, I loved this video!

You're misreading him. He's saying that there are right answers to these questions, but whether or not we can know these answers is another question altogether. There are better and worse ways of navigating this landscape of options, but there may be no guarantee of making the right decision.

Thu, 30 Jun 2011 08:05:37 UTC | #844714