Author Topic: Waking Up With Sam Harris #73 - Forbidden Knowledge (with Charles Murray)  (Read 1107 times)

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Offline Vicarious

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Sam Harris talks to Charles Murray about the bell curve, race and intelligence, universal basic income, cognitive elite/meritocracy and other topics. Extremely interesting, and brave conversation by Sam Harris who really has nothing to gain by broaching the subject. He was spurred on by the events at Middlebury College that led him to actually read dr. Murrays work for the first time even though he has previously stated on multiple occations that he would never do so as "nothing good can come from such knowledge". However, having some first hand experience from being ostracized on false pretence himself, he started suspecting faul play, ideological thinking and moral outrage and that perhaps, dr. Murray was not a "nazi" after all.



This really shows that ideology, fear and group think can affect us all. Even a man dedicated to rationality such as Sam Harris is not immune. It also shows that its possible to overcome bias and evolve intellectually across ideological barriers. An important lesson, especially for a skeptic forum!

What did you think of the podcast?

Offline mjf905

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I'm impressed by Sam's intellectual honesty and courage. This was an excellent discussion. It's interesting that so many in the skeptic community deny or ignore the reality of group differences in IQ and other traits.

Online Andrew Clunn

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Two hours...  time to strap in indeed.
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Offline Vicarious

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I'm impressed by Sam's intellectual honesty and courage. This was an excellent discussion. It's interesting that so many in the skeptic community deny or ignore the reality of group differences in IQ and other traits.

I think its a very human reaction how motivated reasoning, backfire effect, ideology etc all mesh together to relieve cognitive dissonnance when your entire world view is threatened.

If you are on the right politically, you have a narrative that every man is in control of his own destiny. You fail and succeed by the hard labour, talents, morality, faith and grit that you possess.

On the left however, failure and success is systematic, its class warfare, its racism, sexism or any other -ism. You are not in control, but merely a brick in the machine that seeks to exploit you, and the powerful men that controls everything are without any merit. Only by uniting together can we ever become powerful enough to fight back, but we must sacrifice individuality and ambition.

It's no wonder then that people on the left readily accept any truth that dictates cooperation across humans like welfare/taxes/infrastructure/healthcare/government/global warming etc. Just as much as people on the right do not like it.

But no one seems to like the idea of determinism and genetic basis for performance physiologically or psychologically. The right because of the ethic of hard work, the left because the blank slate that governments could paint on will be ruined. These ideas may have been merited in the past, but due to the optimisation of the human environment, nurture now has but a marginal influence and nature becomes the dominant factor. 

The irony of it all, is that in their struggle to optimize equality of people through governance, the left has created a level playingfield and created a meritocracy based on genetic potential. Any effort to level the playingfield further, will exacerbate the problem. Only gender politics and racism is left to explain why the model failed.
We went from aristocracy to meritocracy, but which is more "fair"?

I do agree with the left of course, liberal humanism was the way to go, but now we have to use science and philosophy to solve this new problem. My guess is that the rich will genetically modify themselves at first, but it will become super cheap really soon and governments will implement it in everyone. By that time though, AI has made human intelligence obsolete and we will reach Wall-E stage;)

Online Andrew Clunn

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Hmmm, I found the notion of equating high IQ with luck to be off-putting.  Evolution is not luck.  It's not just random.  There's a selection process involved too, and the notion of only validating nurture, while assuming all of nature must be neutral (as far as values and morals go) is something I don't agree with.  Otherwise, great talk.
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Offline Vicarious

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It's not luck in the aggregate of course, but you being born with a high iq is simply luck. It's no different than people being born great athletes. It's through no virtue of their own.

Online Sawyer

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On the left however, failure and success is systematic, its class warfare, its racism, sexism or any other -ism. You are not in control, but merely a brick in the machine that seeks to exploit you, and the powerful men that controls everything are without any merit. Only by uniting together can we ever become powerful enough to fight back, but we must sacrifice individuality and ambition.

I've been ignoring this thread and nearly missed this wonderful gem of wisdom.

Please by all means keep inserting these random political non-sequiturs into your beloved race and intelligence threads (I think we're up to three of them at this point?).  I now have to go tell my so-called left-wing parents that they've had it all wrong for the last 32 years, and have betrayed their masters by teaching me about hard work and autonomy.

Offline Billzbub

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I used to have a rightish mentality where I thought that people should have to earn everything and get to keep what they earn, and that those who don't do it right don't deserve getting more.

I have since realized that all people are not equal with an equal potential to kick ass in the world.  Some people are just less capable and less healthy than others.  Now I'm trying to figure out where I stand on things.  I'm pretty sure that I don't value a person any more or less based on their capabilities, but I also think that some skills (think doctor) are more rare and valued than others (think janitor).  So while I think on one hand that if someone is busting their ass to their limit, they should be the rich ones, I think on the other that it is ridiculous and impossible to pay hard-working janitors a million dollars a year and lazy dentists minimum wage.

I'm also confused about health care.  I want poor, sick people to have access to the same kind of care a rich, healthy person has, but if I were the rich, healthy person, I wouldn't want to pay the poor, sick person's bills.

In both of these issues, there is a spectrum from right to left, and I don't really know where on the spectrum I come down anymore.  I think the further you are to the edges of the spectrum, the more you assume the people on the other side are as far on the other edge as you are on yours.  Moderate left and right people don't assume the other side are all crazies, but radical left and right people do.

Obviously, I am rambling, but I don't really want to do work right now and forum mafia is going way to slow.

Online Andrew Clunn

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I don't value a person any more or less based on their capabilities

 :(
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Offline Soldier of FORTRAN

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if I were the rich, healthy person, I wouldn't want to pay the poor, sick person's bills.

They come out ahead, too.  Efficiency in healthcare lowers costs and improves the societies/economies they keep their stuff in and invest their money in.  The only loser would be insurance company execs who can't exploit demand inelasticity to price gouge to literally everyone else's detriment. 

And I suppose people with high levels of spite and miserliness.  They're always willing to hurt themselves to hurt others. 

Edit: Plus, the healthy inevitably become unhealthy* and will benefit from the infrastructure being in place before they get there.
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Offline Billzbub

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I don't value a person any more or less based on their capabilities

 :(

Let me see if I can go into a bit more detail to see if we really disagree.  Let's say Steve is a really bad Everquest 2 player no matter how much we try to teach him and how hard he tries, and Larry is a really good player with little effort and no help.  When it comes to playing Everquest 2, I'd rather play with Larry than Steve, but that doesn't mean I value Larry more as a person than I value Steve.

Now maybe Steve is a natural at fixing cars, and Larry just can't grasp mechanical workings no matter how hard he tries.  I'd pay Steve to fix my car, but not Larry, even if he was in the car fixing business.  Again, I wouldn't hold it against Larry that he's bad at his job, I just wouldn't use him to fix my car and wouldn't recommend him to my friends.  I'd still feel just as bad for him if he got a cold, though.  As people, they are still both equal.

Some people suck at things and some people are good at them, but I don't hold their ability against them when it comes to whether I'd hold the elevator for them or buy them a beer.  I may hold their work ethic against them, though.  I don't like it when people don't try their best, especially when it affect me directly.

Are you still sad-faced?

Online Andrew Clunn

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I don't value a person any more or less based on their capabilities

 :(

Let me see if I can go into a bit more detail to see if we really disagree.  Let's say Steve is a really bad Everquest 2 player no matter how much we try to teach him and how hard he tries, and Larry is a really good player with little effort and no help.  When it comes to playing Everquest 2, I'd rather play with Larry than Steve, but that doesn't mean I value Larry more as a person than I value Steve.

Now maybe Steve is a natural at fixing cars, and Larry just can't grasp mechanical workings no matter how hard he tries.  I'd pay Steve to fix my car, but not Larry, even if he was in the car fixing business.  Again, I wouldn't hold it against Larry that he's bad at his job, I just wouldn't use him to fix my car and wouldn't recommend him to my friends.  I'd still feel just as bad for him if he got a cold, though.  As people, they are still both equal.

Some people suck at things and some people are good at them, but I don't hold their ability against them when it comes to whether I'd hold the elevator for them or buy them a beer.  I may hold their work ethic against them, though.  I don't like it when people don't try their best, especially when it affect me directly.

Are you still sad-faced?

It's not that I don't want to answer.  I just don't want to completely derail this thread, when this was a very interesting podcast that I wouldn't want to dissuade people from listening to.
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Offline Vicarious

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On the left however, failure and success is systematic, its class warfare, its racism, sexism or any other -ism. You are not in control, but merely a brick in the machine that seeks to exploit you, and the powerful men that controls everything are without any merit. Only by uniting together can we ever become powerful enough to fight back, but we must sacrifice individuality and ambition.

I've been ignoring this thread and nearly missed this wonderful gem of wisdom.

Please by all means keep inserting these random political non-sequiturs into your beloved race and intelligence threads (I think we're up to three of them at this point?).  I now have to go tell my so-called left-wing parents that they've had it all wrong for the last 32 years, and have betrayed their masters by teaching me about hard work and autonomy.

It was hyperbole of the more radical marxist ideologies.

Yeah, theres been a couple of intelligence/race/gender/sex posts now and I think the forum is better for it. Now theres almost allways threads discussing these topics when I check in once every two months or so, which was definitly not the case when I first started lurking here. The discussion is also more dipassionate with less vitreol and more sciece based, so I really feel like overtons window is opening quite a bit:)

The reason why I only bring these topics up is because I feel the skeptics movement is pretty spot on on most other subjects, so I really couldnt add much besides IQ/race/heritability of traits etc (insert obvious joke about nothing valuable was added:p)

Online Pdb88

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The skeptical community seems to be progressively minded in general - any endeavour that destroys ignorance and spreads knowledge must in some ways be progressive.

The problem with issues of heredity is the obvious connection with horrific eugenics movements of the 20th century and a general movement against the idea of "you can be whatever you want" - I actually see a direct line between the trans movement and other non-biological ideas (perhaps in an even grander scale this relates to people with interest in science fiction - what is more science fiction than to change your identity?).

Heredity exists for almost every single trait, including IQ - there are also traits that are more common in certain races. The progressive response has been to deny race, IQ and heredity of complex behaviour - sometimes one and sometimes denial of all of them.

Charles Murray has only become relevant over the last 30 years.
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Online Andrew Clunn

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It's not a battle worth fighting ideologically.  When gene therapy becomes viable for embryos (well it already is...) those people willing and believing in genetic advantages will clearly out compete those who forgo this step.  We'll see exactly how deep the "We're all equal!" ideology of the progressives is then.  My guess, nothing more than lip service by most.
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