Results tagged “Sam Harris” from onegoodmove

Links With Your Coffee - Monday


Sam Harris: Science can answer moral questions

Questions of good and evil, right and wrong are commonly thought unanswerable by science. But Sam Harris argues that science can -- and should -- be an authority on moral issues, shaping human values and setting out what constitutes a good life.

YouTube link

Links With Your Coffee - Sunday


  • Language Log » Ellipses Elided

    George Bush demonstrates, once again, what an asshole he is at his core. Don't like what Jeffereson really said, just excise the part that doesn't fit your demented world view.

    Errors in punctuation sometimes result in misinterpretation, but they usually don't arouse the moral outrage that plagiarism does. Some should.

  • The Satirical Political Report - An Offbeat Look at the Hot-Button Issues of the Day » Liberals Ask Obama: Are We ‘Stuck in the Middle With You?’

  • Sam Harris: The Boundaries of Belief - On Faith at
    According to a recent Pew survey, 21 percent of atheists in the United States believe in “God or a universal spirit,” and 8 percent are “absolutely certain” that such a Being exists. One wonders if they were also “absolutely certain” they understood the meaning of the term “atheist.” Claiming to be an atheist who believes in God is like claiming to be a happily married bachelor. Rarely does one discover nonsense in such a pristine state. Still this hasn’t stopped many people from concluding that there is a schism in the atheist community.

  • McCain Battles a Nemesis, the Teleprompter -

  • The political establishment and telecom immunity -- why it matters - Glenn Greenwald -
    What all of this is really about -- the reason why political elites like Nancy Soderberg are so eager to defend it -- is because they really do believe that lawbreaking isn't wrong, that it doesn't deserve punishment, when engaged in by them rather than by commoners. People who defend telecom immunity or who say that it's not a big deal are, by logical necessity, adopting this view: "Our highest political officials and largest corporations shouldn't face consequences when they break our laws as long as they claim it was for our own good." That's the destructive premise that lies at the heart of this deeply corrupt measure, the reason it matters so much. Just like the pardon of Nixon, the protection of Iran-contra criminals, and the commutation of Lewis Libby's sentence, this bill is yet another step in cementing a two-tiered system of justice in America where our highest political officials and connected elite can break our laws with impunity.

  • Dick Cavett and his literary lions | Jacket Copy | Los Angeles Times

  • 'The Dumbest Generation' by Mark Bauerlein - Los Angeles Times

  • Philosophy Now - Saving Truth
    Truth has been having a rather hard time in recent decades. Insults have been hurled at it from left and right. Truth, we are endlessly told, is relative to perspective, to viewpoint, to ‘where you’re coming from’. The most popular versions of such relativism connect truth with power: what counts as true is the world according to those who have the greatest political or institutional clout. Even the truths of science are less about nature than about discourses that have become dominant for reasons other than their ability to uncover reality. Nietzsche’s famous riposte to the positivist claim that there are only facts – that “there are no such things as facts, only interpretations” – is a favourite among humanist intellectuals.

    Such assaults on the notion of objective truth appear to have a lot going for them, at least if you’re in a seminar room rather than, say, dealing with a medical emergency or running for a bus. Some political and historical truths do indeed seem to be spin-dependent. And in many other circumstances, the selection and even the construction of facts will be influenced by the interests of those who are offering them as ‘the truth about such-and-such’. Relativism discredits itself, however, when it is generalised to all putative truths. Ultimately, the assertion that there is no such thing as truly objective truth is self-refuting, if it means anything: for there is no reason why this meta-truth about truth should be immune from its own radical attack on all truths. Is it true?

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Links With Your Coffee - Friday

  • Who Will Rule? Citizens Movements Take On Corporate Power
    Corporate power lies behind nearly every major problem we face-from stagnant wages and unaffordable health care to overconsumption and global warming. In some cases, it is the cause of the problem; in other cases, corporate power is a barrier to system-wide solutions. This dominance of corporate power is so pervasive, it has come to seem inevitable. We take it so much for granted, we fail to see it. Yet it is preventing solutions to some of the most pressing problems of our time.
  • Doctor (Mark Fiore Animation)
  • Language Log: Memetic mutation and traumatic release
    In any case, I doubt that scalding and concussion ever actually increase mental abilities, but there's something intuitively plausible about such stories, perhaps because of the analogy to awakening from sleep.
  • Family Dinner: Tasteless: Reporting & Essays: The New Yorker
    I am a shoveller, a quantity man, and I like to keep going until I feel sick. It’s how a prisoner might eat, one arm maneuvering the fork and the other encircling the plate like a fence: head lowered close to my food, eyes darting this way and that; even if I don’t particularly like it, it’s mine, God damn it.
  • A Compelling Case for Impeachment (video ) A compilation of Rocky Anderson speeches on the topic of Impeachment
  • Sam Harris: OnFaith
    Teresa’s recently published letters reveal a mind riven by doubt (as it should have been). They also reveal a woman who was surely suffering from run-of-the-mill depression, though even secular commentators have begun to politely dress this fact in the colors of the saints and martyrs. Teresa’s response to her own bewilderment and hypocrisy (her term) reveals just how like quicksand religious faith can be. Her doubts about God’s existence were interpreted by her confessor as a sign that she was sharing Christ’s torment upon the cross; this exaltation of her wavering faith allowed Teresa “to love the darkness” she experienced in God’s apparent absence. Such is the genius of the unfalsifiable. We can see the same principle at work among her fellow Catholics: Teresa’s doubts have only enhanced her stature in the eyes of the Church, having been interpreted as a further evidence of God’s grace.

    Ask yourself, when even the doubts of experts are thought to confirm a doctrine, what could possibly disconfirm it?

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links for 2007-06-27

Links With Your Coffee - Wednesday


Listen to Stephen Fry and Christopher Hitchens debating blasphemy at last year's Guardian Hay Festival. I found it a very entertaining way to spend an hour. (tip to Mark) or if you prefer there is the Sam Harris, Chris Hedges Truth Dig debate on Religion, Politics and the End of the World

Audio 18.9 MB : 01:20:00
Quicktime 7 required
This file is available for download here.
Ctrl-Click and 'Download Linked File' (Mac)
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Links With Your Coffee - Thursday

Rick Warren vs Sam Harris

Rick Warren the author of "The Purpose-Driven Life" and Sam Harris square off in debate. Nothing unexpected, but an excellent debate nevertheless.

Introductory Essay: "Is God Real?", by Jon Meacham

The Debate: Rick Warren v. Sam Harris

Links With Your Coffee 2007-03-21


God's Dupes
Moderate believers give cover to religious fanatics -- and are every bit as delusional.

Many have attempted to explain the problem with "moderate believers," Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins and others. Sam's explanation here is in my opinion the best to date. The point is, you don't get to carve out your own little "miracles" and then deny others theirs. You cannot say without hypocrisy that X, a proposition that violates physical laws is true but proposition Y that suffers the same flaw is nuts. You cede the moral and intellectual high ground, an indulgence that leads to and has led to chaos.

Of course, no religion is monolithic. Within every faith one can see people arranged along a spectrum of belief. Picture concentric circles of diminishing reasonableness: At the center, one finds the truest of true believers — the Muslim jihadis, for instance, who not only support suicidal terrorism but who are the first to turn themselves into bombs; or the Dominionist Christians, who openly call for homosexuals and blasphemers to be put to death.

Outside this sphere of maniacs, one finds millions more who share their views but lack their zeal. Beyond them, one encounters pious multitudes who respect the beliefs of their more deranged brethren but who disagree with them on small points of doctrine — of course the world is going to end in glory and Jesus will appear in the sky like a superhero, but we can't be sure it will happen in our lifetime.

Out further still, one meets religious moderates and liberals of diverse hues — people who remain supportive of the basic scheme that has balkanized our world into Christians, Muslims and Jews, but who are less willing to profess certainty about any article of faith. Is Jesus really the son of God? Will we all meet our grannies again in heaven? Moderates and liberals are none too sure.

Those on this spectrum view the people further toward the center as too rigid, dogmatic and hostile to doubt, and they generally view those outside as corrupted by sin, weak-willed or unchurched.

The problem is that wherever one stands on this continuum, one inadvertently shelters those who are more fanatical than oneself from criticism. Ordinary fundamentalist Christians, by maintaining that the Bible is the perfect word of God, inadvertently support the Dominionists — men and women who, by the millions, are quietly working to turn our country into a totalitarian theocracy reminiscent of John Calvin's Geneva. Christian moderates, by their lingering attachment to the unique divinity of Jesus, protect the faith of fundamentalists from public scorn. Christian liberals — who aren't sure what they believe but just love the experience of going to church occasionally — deny the moderates a proper collision with scientific rationality. And in this way centuries have come and gone without an honest word being spoken about God in our society.

Sam Harris / Reza Aslan Debate

Book TV - Debate on Religion and Reason with Sam Harris, "Letter to a Christian Nation," and Reza Aslan, "No god but God" from February 4, 2007 Does the Bible provide timeless prescriptions for our daily lives? Or does its inclusion of practices such as slavery preclude its ability to act as such a guide? Are Osama bin Laden's grievances with the United States purely theological, or also social and political? Reza Aslan, author of "No god but God," and Sam Harris, author of "Letter to a Christian Nation," take up these questions in this debate at the Los Angeles Public Library. The event also includes discussion on contemporary trends in Islam - including whether or not Muslims are unique in their religious fervor - and debate over the concept of the Koran as a perfect and immutable document. The debate is moderated by Jonathan Kirsch, author of "A History of the End of the World."

Audio 10.8 MB : 1'30'10
Quicktime 7 required
This file is available for download here.
Ctrl-Click and 'Download Linked File' (Mac)
or Rt-Click and 'Save Target As' (PC) the link above.

There is video available at

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