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Go to: Q&A: Sam Harris

kantastisk's Avatar Jump to comment 44 by kantastisk

Comment 42 by Schrodinger's Cat :

I think Harris holds much the same stance that I do.........that one canot just ignore data merely because it doesn't fit the current paradigm.

In the case of reincarnation, I personally think there's a damn good logical case that as a phenomenon it is an impossibility. But should one just dismiss all reincarnation claims with derision ? No.....I think that science must investigate such claims, because the only way one can assertively show a phenomenon is bogus is to have done the science. I think that is the position Harris holds. He's not 'supporting' psychic phenomenon, etc.......he's supporting the most rigorous investigation science can muster, that produces a definitive answer, rather than a casual dismissal that doesn't.

But Herbs (comment #28) just quoted Harris as saying

I have not spent any time attempting to authenticate the data put forward in books like Dean Radin’s The Conscious Universe or Ian Stevenson’s 20 Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation. The fact that I have not spent any time on this should suggest how worthy of my time I think such a project would be.

This seems to point in the exact opposite direction. Why would Harris first blame "mainstream science" for not investigating claims, he later deems to be not worthy of investigating?

I'm leaning towards the simple answer: Harris has learned to keep these notions of reincarnation and "psychic phenomena" to himself.

Fri, 01 Jun 2012 19:10:13 UTC | #945048

Go to: Q&A: Sam Harris

kantastisk's Avatar Jump to comment 37 by kantastisk

Comment 28 by Herbs :

I think Sam Harris’ openness to the idea of reincarnation has been overstated a little in this thread. From his website:

I have not spent any time attempting to authenticate the data put forward in books like Dean Radin’s The Conscious Universe or Ian Stevenson’s 20 Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation. The fact that I have not spent any time on this should suggest how worthy of my time I think such a project would be.

And yet, in The End of Faith, he cites both works as references to "a body of data attesting to the reality of psychic phenomena, much of which has been ignored by mainstream science". How do you put a spin on that?

Fri, 01 Jun 2012 13:26:04 UTC | #944963

Go to: How to tell if you’re an atheist

kantastisk's Avatar Jump to comment 8 by kantastisk

Despite their negative reputations among many Americans, atheists tend to be very ethical and high-achieving

besides humble and modest, of course.

Thu, 31 May 2012 14:56:36 UTC | #944757

Go to: Q&A: Sam Harris

kantastisk's Avatar Jump to comment 24 by kantastisk

Comment 22 by Andres Heredia :

wow I've lost a bit of respect for Dr. Harris here. And also for those of you who didn't know, that magazine is an extremely right-wing Jewish magazine, just like the interviewer.

Well I thought of it as an excellent interview. The interviewer had obvious bias, but I think it brought out the best in Harris.

Comment 10 by Jos Gibbons :

Actually, Harris is noted for repeatedly refusing to explicitly claim he knows death is the end.

If only that - Harris openly flirts with the idea of reincarnation. I remember my jaw dropping when I read this passage in The End of Faith, p. 41:

There also seems to be a body of data attesting to the reality of psychic phenomena, much of which has been ignored by mainstream science

accompanied by these references:

See, e.g., D. Radin, The Conscious Universe: The Scientific Truth of Psychic Phenomena (New York: HarperCollins, 1997), R. Sheldrake, The Sense of Being Stared At: And Other Aspects of the Extended Mind (New York: Crown, 2003), and R. S. Bobrow, "Paranormal Phenomena in the Medical Literature Sufficient Smoke to Warrant a Search for Fire," Medical Hypotheses 60 (2003): 864-68. There may even be some credible evidence for reincarnation. See I. Stevenson, Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation (Charlottesville: Univ. Press of Virginia, 1974), Unlearned Language: New Studies in Xenoglossy (Charlottesville: Univ. Press of Virginia, 1984), and Where Reincarnation and Biology Intersect (Westport, Conn.: Praeger, 1997).

Just unbelievable. There's another one of those jaw-droppers after his speech at Beyond Belief in 2006 (which is online at thesciencenetwork.com) where he is questioned about reincarnation specifically - I forget the exact moment, but anyone interested should look there.

For some time I suspected Harris of being a very clever Buddhist, hitching a ride on the atheist movement. It's just that he talks so much delicious sense 99,9 % of the time.

Thu, 31 May 2012 13:54:15 UTC | #944746

Go to: The Case for Naturalism

kantastisk's Avatar Jump to comment 35 by kantastisk

...there is only one realm of reality, the material world, which obeys natural laws...

I'm all for naturalism but defining "the realm of reality" as "the material world" still lends credit to a dualistic world view. To a naturalist the very concept of the "immaterial" should equate to "unreal", but using the descriptor "material world" implies that there could potentially exist a world which isn't "material".

This is problematic because many people think that a "material" world view somehow denies the existence of things that people traditionally regard as belonging to the "immaterial" world (things like emotions).

It's also problematic because "The Material World" contains many phenomena which are not very "material" in any traditional sense of the word.

How about if we simply define "the realm of reality" as that which can, in principle, be discovered through science and mathematics?

Tue, 08 May 2012 13:52:00 UTC | #940535

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