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← Ask Sam Harris Anything #1

Ask Sam Harris Anything #1 - Comments

derika's Avatar Comment 1 by derika

No way this is too awesome!

Thu, 30 Jun 2011 00:55:27 UTC | #844603

Neurotic's Avatar Comment 2 by Neurotic

Reddit is an impressive powerhouse for a website...

Thu, 30 Jun 2011 01:01:22 UTC | #844605

mikenco's Avatar Comment 3 by mikenco

I am happy with the fact that I am an almost insignificant spec of carbon in a Universe that is so massive, that my own existence is only significant to a few others of my kind. If our own galaxy vanished tomorrow, the universe would not even notice.

When the best minds of our planet speak out. The universe is not even capable of listening, let alone in a position to care. Over the incomprehensible span of time, as a species we have not even been here for one second.

So, I take my tiny window that I have on this existence and live with it. I'll carry on doing what I do, which is caring for everyone I can and continue being a good person.

As a child I was a Christian head-chorister. As an adult I was in the military. As a person now and a hunter, a meat eater, a charity worker, I know where we are as a species.

I left 'God' behind right about the time that I left the Tooth Fairy and Santa behind.

This life is not a dress rehearsal, do all you can to be a better person. When you are dead, to yourself it won't make any difference what you did in life (it is just 'lights off, game over'). But while you are alive, enjoy the feeling of doing right by others.

If you have a faith in a deity, then I hope it helps you to find peace and enables you to find your way in life.

Mike :) "sine deo"

Thu, 30 Jun 2011 01:27:25 UTC | #844609

Vicktor's Avatar Comment 4 by Vicktor

Comment 3 by mikenco

Beautiful. :)

Thu, 30 Jun 2011 01:38:52 UTC | #844613

Steve Hanson's Avatar Comment 5 by Steve Hanson

I wish I had known about this in the first place, because I would have submitted a question.

Thu, 30 Jun 2011 01:39:11 UTC | #844614

mikenco's Avatar Comment 6 by mikenco

Sam, I don't agree with your stance about the elitism of conscientiousness. We can choose to devour the protein of other species, but we can also choose to embrace the conscientiousness of other species, such as dogs, cats, primates and cetaceans.

Along side other top level predators, we are the only ones who are in a bubble (most of the time) in which we are protected against the effects of natural selection.

Would we bow down to a more 'intelligent' species, should it arise? Don't be silly.

Mike

Thu, 30 Jun 2011 01:53:35 UTC | #844620

Daz365's Avatar Comment 7 by Daz365

Too much meditation bullshit, it's called relaxing Sam, get over it.

BTW if you had any criticism of his book then you read it badly. WTF.

Thu, 30 Jun 2011 02:01:24 UTC | #844622

mmurray's Avatar Comment 8 by mmurray

Comment 7 by Daz365 :

Too much meditation bullshit, it's called relaxing Sam, get over it.

No it's different. You can see the effects are different from doing brain scans.

Michael

Thu, 30 Jun 2011 02:27:54 UTC | #844628

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 9 by Steve Zara

Comment 7 by Daz365

Too much meditation bullshit, it's called relaxing Sam, get over it.

Meditation is not the same at all. I have experienced it, and can vouch for this. It can be a way of dealing with some problems such as obsessive thinking. It's also very peaceful.

BTW if you had any criticism of his book then you read it badly. WTF.

Sam has had interesting discussions with some who have had criticisms of his book, such as the writer and philosopher Russell Blackford. I share Russell's criticisms of Sam's ideas.

Thu, 30 Jun 2011 02:32:28 UTC | #844629

Sam Salerno's Avatar Comment 10 by Sam Salerno

I think Mr. Harris should explain some these greater than awe experiences he claims people have over and beyond drug intake, love for family members or awe of natural beauty. He owe's this to the atheist community if he expects us to agree with him. Also if Mr. Harris thinks if a being is greater than us as we are greater than a pig, we should not eat it. Maybe he has not seen through the eyes of the pig.

Thu, 30 Jun 2011 02:55:15 UTC | #844634

mikenco's Avatar Comment 11 by mikenco

Relaxation is usually the key to clarity of thought. Arguing to how each individual achieves this is futile. Whether one achieves it at 100mph on a motorbike (as I do at times) or in deep slumber, is down to the individual.

Thu, 30 Jun 2011 02:55:43 UTC | #844635

mikenco's Avatar Comment 12 by mikenco

Good point by Sambricky.

Thu, 30 Jun 2011 02:57:11 UTC | #844637

Michael Austin's Avatar Comment 13 by Michael Austin

Does Richard plan on making another of these in the near future? I don't visit reddit normally,so it means I always miss these opportunities.

Thu, 30 Jun 2011 03:47:55 UTC | #844651

zengardener's Avatar Comment 14 by zengardener

The last question is by far the most interesting to me.

Why do people change their minds? How can one be influenced? How should we structure a conversation to allow evidence and reason to have a positive effect?

What is the reasonable way to promote reason?

Thu, 30 Jun 2011 03:50:56 UTC | #844652

Vicktor's Avatar Comment 15 by Vicktor

I found Harris' explanation on the meditation experience intriguing. I don't suppose you can master it by forcing yourself to pray 5 times a day, though.

Thu, 30 Jun 2011 03:51:37 UTC | #844653

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 16 by Steve Zara

I have just been doing a bit of research on foodstuffs, and I now have a challenge for Sam.

He said that if we developed a protein source that was a substitute for meat we would be ethically compelled to eat it. We do have that protein source. It has been around for a while. It is called Quorn. It's amino-acid content and density is reasonably close to beef. I have been eating it for years and it comes in a range of products of increasingly good quality, especially the mince varieties.

There are other delicious high-protein sources that can be eaten to make a change: Seitan, or concentrated gluten protein, can be truly delicious. There is also Tempeh, a fungus/soybean combination.

So, Sam. There is no excuse now. I wait for your declaration conversion to vegetarianism!

Thu, 30 Jun 2011 04:41:28 UTC | #844659

Martin_C's Avatar Comment 17 by Martin_C

I always considered the fact that if we didn't eat domestic cows or pigs then those animals would never have existed in the first place. They are entire populations which exist only because we intend to eat them eventually. So is it relevant that it is the very fact that they will be slaughtered and consumed that grants these animals some experience of life and a chance at it at all?

My solution to guilt free carnivory!

Thu, 30 Jun 2011 06:04:23 UTC | #844670

All About Meme's Avatar 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!

Thu, 30 Jun 2011 06:16:33 UTC | #844674

Martin_C's Avatar Comment 19 by Martin_C

Also, perhaps eating meat is not morally right. Fine, there's no argument to say that it's a morally right. HOWEVER, I can still choose to act immorally and have steak dinner, and I will! You see, I think that I don't really care so much if something can be argued to be immoral - as long as I don't feel guilt.

Sure, something that I've done for a long time without much thought could be shown to me to be immoral due to its consequences on other conscious beings. That realisation should then have the effect of causing me to feel guilt when doing it in the future. Somehow I don't get that from eating meat, no guilt whatsoever. In fact, quite the opposite.

In regards to the Sam's argument about creatures with a richer experience than our own- It might be argued that there are reasons why those creatures might be considered more important than us, but moral or not I think that most human's urges and instincts would be towards empathy with our own species.

I think that acting out of empathy for our own species as opposed to empathy with a species of "higher" beings, if they existed, is what would result in the most well being FOR US. Surely thats what matters TO US.

Thu, 30 Jun 2011 06:24:38 UTC | #844679

vbaculum's Avatar Comment 20 by vbaculum

It's always mystifying to hear people say that they don't feel good physically when they don't eating meat. I don't eat any animal products and I've never felt different physically when I gave them up.

People usually say vegetarian diets lack protein and they think this is the reason they don't feel good on vegetarian diets. If you take reasonable measures to get enough protein (like eat beans, rice, tofu, etc...) you will get all the essential amino acids in adequate quantities. When I worked out, I was able to ingest about 200 grams of protein a day which is about 4 times the amount needed by someone who doesn't work out.

Maybe it's a lack of iron but green vegetable like spinach are really high in iron.

I suspect the feeling of discontent that some people feel with vegetarian diets is the fact that they are low in fat and people naturally crave fat because it is high in calories (twice as much as protein or carbohydrates). The body responds positively to fat because its chief dietary concern is making you want energy.

Anyway, Sam says he thinks it is hard to be an intelligent, active and fit vegetarian. I'm sure if that were generally true I would have run into scientific evidence of those claim by now. Maybe someone on this board can point me to a creditable, peer reviewed study that supports any of these assumptions.

An least Sam says meat consumption is morally unjustifiable instead of pretending it is. I would rather hear that than some one like Temple Grandin who, because she is allergic to soy beans concludes that meat eating is justifiable (I'm abbreviating her reasoning a little but not by very much).

Thu, 30 Jun 2011 07:00:16 UTC | #844689

Anonymous's Avatar Comment 21 by Anonymous

Comment Removed by Moderator

Thu, 30 Jun 2011 07:01:28 UTC | #844690

Polesch's Avatar Comment 22 by Polesch

People like Deepak Chopra is worse than any religious nutcase, these popular creationists honestly reject the claims of science, but Deepak takes these claims and twist them around into some (f...) up (s..t). And then claim it to be true.

Deepak, go away.

Thu, 30 Jun 2011 07:23:05 UTC | #844698

Anaximander's Avatar Comment 23 by Anaximander

All About Meme: Am I misreading him?

There are situations where it is possible to mathematically show that there has to be a solution. Like there has to be a star A such that there is, in the observable universe, no other star that is more massive than A. But it could also be that it is extremely difficult to find it, because there are so many stars. (And the mass of a star changes with time and we have to ask in what coordinates we measure the time and so on.)

Maybe the tax problem is of that type.

Thu, 30 Jun 2011 07:44:57 UTC | #844704

Noble Savage's Avatar Comment 24 by Noble Savage

Comment 7 by Daz365 :

Too much meditation bullshit, it's called relaxing Sam, get over it. BTW if you had any criticism of his book then you read it badly. WTF.

It's not called relaxing. That's like saying there's no need to distinguish between having sex and sleeping because both activities are performed in bed (sometimes).

Anyone should be able to see that meditating is not simply relaxing. Brain scans give us good information on this.

Thu, 30 Jun 2011 07:49:13 UTC | #844706

Noble Savage's Avatar Comment 25 by Noble Savage

Comment 10 by sambricky :

I think Mr. Harris should explain some these greater than awe experiences he claims people have over and beyond drug intake, love for family members or awe of natural beauty. He owe's this to the atheist community if he expects us to agree with him. Also if Mr. Harris thinks if a being is greater than us as we are greater than a pig, we should not eat it. Maybe he has not seen through the eyes of the pig.

How the heck does he owe that to the atheist community? If you want to know how reality works, then do the work yourself. Sam's giving you good information here and you should be happy you're getting that much.

About the pig thing: We're talking about consciousness and the ability to suffer or experience well-being. If that's what matters to us, then a pig is more important than a fly, a human is more important than a pig, and an alien may be more important than a human. It's not hard to understand.

Thu, 30 Jun 2011 07:58:44 UTC | #844711

Noble Savage's Avatar Comment 26 by Noble Savage

Comment 17 by Martin_C :

I always considered the fact that if we didn't eat domestic cows or pigs then those animals would never have existed in the first place. They are entire populations which exist only because we intend to eat them eventually. So is it relevant that it is the very fact that they will be slaughtered and consumed that grants these animals some experience of life and a chance at it at all? My solution to guilt free carnivory!

I suggest you find a girlfriend, make a baby, slaughter the child and eat it. It seems like it's your right to do so, since without you and your building hunger, the child would never have had the experience of life at all.

Also, a mindset like this totally justifies YAHWEH using you as a plaything.

Thu, 30 Jun 2011 08:02:23 UTC | #844712

Noble Savage's Avatar 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

bendigeidfran's Avatar Comment 28 by bendigeidfran

He meditates to make himself think clearly.

Thu, 30 Jun 2011 08:18:41 UTC | #844716

All About Meme's Avatar Comment 29 by All About Meme

Comment 27 by Noble Savage

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.

I think you are right... yet the question remains why Dr. Harris would expect a gaggle of quacking politicians to agree upon the "right" course of action (with respect to taxation), when there is no "guarantee" or way of knowing that it is in fact right.

Thu, 30 Jun 2011 08:26:10 UTC | #844720

Anonymous's Avatar Comment 30 by Anonymous

Comment Removed by Moderator

Thu, 30 Jun 2011 08:44:45 UTC | #844723