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Sam Harris Flirts With Race Realism

Started by Recusant, May 19, 2017, 12:17:06 AM

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While I have occasionally found things that Harris says that I agree with, more and more I've come to think that many of his his ideas are thoughtful, well presented bullshit. I read the story below about Harris's interview with Charles Murray, co-author of The Bell Curve, and my respect for him went down another couple of notches or so.

"Charles Murray is once again peddling junk science about race and IQ: Podcaster and author Sam Harris is the latest to fall for it." | Vox

QuoteHarris is not a neutral presence in the interview. "For better or worse, these are all facts," he tells his listeners. "In fact, there is almost nothing in psychological science for which there is more evidence than for these claims." Harris belies his self-presentation as a tough-minded skeptic by failing to ask Murray a single challenging question. Instead, during their lengthy conversation, he passively follows Murray to the dangerous and unwarranted conclusion that black and Hispanic people in the US are almost certainly genetically disposed to have lower IQ scores on average than whites or Asians — and that the IQ difference also explains differences in life outcomes between different ethnic and racial groups.

[. . .]

Finally, let us consider Sam Harris and his willingness to endorse Murray's claims — his decision to suspend the skepticism and tough-mindedness we have come to expect from him. There is a fairly widespread intellectual movement among center-right social theorists and pundits to argue that strong adherence to the scientific method commits us to following human science wherever it goes — and they mean something very specific in this context. They say we must move from hard-nosed science of intelligence and genetics all the way — only if that's the direction data and logical, unbiased interpretation lead, naturally — to genetically based differences in behavior among races.

Moreover, a reflexive defense of free academic inquiry has prompted some to think it a mark of scientific objectivity to look at cognitive differences in the eye without blinking. To deny the possibility of a biological basis of group differences, they suggest, is to allow "moral panic," as Harris puts it, to block objective scientific judgment. But passively allowing oneself to be led into unfounded genetic conclusions about race and IQ is hardly a mark of rational tough-mindedness. The fact is, there is no evidence for any such genetic hypothesis — about complex human behavior of any kind. Anyone who speaks as if there were is spouting junk science.

Yes, Charles Murray has been treated badly on some college campuses. Harris calls Murray "one of the canaries in the coal mine" — his treatment a sign of liberal intolerance. But Harris's inclination to turn Murray into a martyr may be what leads him to pay insufficient attention to the leaps Murray makes from reasonable scientific findings to poorly founded contentions about genetics, race, and social policy.

[Continues . . .]
"Religion is fundamentally opposed to everything I hold in veneration — courage, clear thinking, honesty, fairness, and above all, love of the truth."
— H. L. Mencken

No one

There is only ONE race of people on this planet! The human one. Why is this so difficult to comprehend?

Now there are two types of people, cools ones, and assholes, simple as that!


What's the expression for this kind of thing? Can of worms? :notsure: Harris gives off the vibe of someone who is fishing for controversy at times -- no such thing as bad publicity! I just can't take such a person seriously, even if what he's saying is a serious subject matter.

It seems like the two (Harris and Murray) are suffering from a bad case of In-group bias. Hopefully such a condition is curable. I will pray for them. 
I am what survives if it's slain - Zack Hemsey

Sandra Craft

I've heard the term "race realism" several times lately, and had to Google it.  In my opinion if you have to preface a term with "not to be confused with racism", it's racist.  It's the same old crap I heard growing up from substandard individuals eager to establish superiority any way they could.


"Life is short, and it is up to you to make it sweet."  Sarah Louise Delany

Pasta Chick

Science has always been used to justify -isms. I'm feeling rather pessimistic about its ability to change after several recent "scientific" confrontations with extremely sexist atheists.


If the author of the article is correct in their assessment it sounds as though Harris has gone from flirting to a full embrace. Which, sadly, sounds like something he would do.

"Amazing what chimney sweeping can teach us, no? Keep your fire hot and
your flue clean."  - Ecurb Noselrub

"I'd be incensed by your impudence were I not so impressed by your memory." - Siz


I've like a few things from Harris. From all the things I've read from him, this is not unexpected. It's not the first time or subject where he seems to lose his skepticism that one would expect from both how he talks about himself and his reputation.
Always question all authorities because the authority you don't question is the most dangerous... except me, never question me.


Quote from: BooksCatsEtc on May 19, 2017, 02:17:23 AMIn my opinion if you have to preface a term with "not to be confused with racism", it's racist.

I don't mind using the "clever" terms which various people come up with to differentiate and distance themselves from other asshats, though. I agree that it really all comes down to "I'm not a racist, I'm a race realist/believer in HBD (human biodiversity)/racial biologist/whatever malarkey I can use to avoid admitting my ideas are prejudiced crap." Practically nobody who bothers to check what these terms refer to (as you did) is fooled, and I think using them in a context like this helps expose their duplicity.
"Religion is fundamentally opposed to everything I hold in veneration — courage, clear thinking, honesty, fairness, and above all, love of the truth."
— H. L. Mencken