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Noam Chompsky calls Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens Frauds!

 
After_The_Jump
 
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After_The_Jump
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01 February 2016 16:10
 

@ niclynn

First, thanks for continuing to articulate your thoughts here - I can’t speak for anyone else, but I find the conversation helpful.

Anyhow:

You actually lost me right off the bat here because the quote about sympathy is from Harris, so not sure if you didn’t read where I said this is his quote; or if you’re disagreeing with him on his own quote. In light of that confusion, not sure how to interpret the rest of your paragraph because I’m missing that info and it takes on a bit of a different meaning depending on what you meant


Fair enough. My point was that Harris’ “sympathetically listening” is an act of acknowledging the person is being honest about their motivations for their behavior, not that Harris himself is also sympathetic to the behavior. If you weren’t implying the latter, then I’m happy to move on.

It doesn’t matter how much data there is. It doesn’t matter if you could fill oceans and galaxies with the data, my point was that the data in question does not apply to the quote I referenced…. where he references listening to the statements of jihadists who have actually committed murder. That is a very specific statement, without a lot of room for interpretation


You still haven’t explained though how opinion polling of 38,000 Muslims as it relates to their thoughts about religious motivations for murder doesn’t apply to jihadists who’ve actually committed murder and cited their religion as their motivation. You really see no relevant link there? None at all? On the quantitative side, we have statistically significant samples of Muslims openly acknowledging belief that being an apostate (or infidel) is grounds for death. On the qualitative side, we have testimony from Muslims who’ve killed people for apostasy (or being an infidel). The ‘application’ seems quite clear, no?

This seems like an elongated way of saying he misspoke slightly, but ok, if that’s the case then that might make sense. I like the idea of charitable interpretation but I feel like it’s tricky to get into hypothesizing about what people really meant, though.


I’m not hypothesizing about what Harris really meant; I’m simply noting his actual words. Harris has, repeatedly, cited both (a) quantitative data which outlines what large majorities of Muslims worldwide believe, and (b) qualitative feedback from specific Muslims who practice said beliefs specifically. Providing anecdotal contextual examples that represent the general landscape of aggregate data isn’t an acknowledgment of having “misspoke”; quite the opposite actually. 

but it still seems like a stretch to me to say that because a guy who Harris is feuding with ignored one of his statements in a debate, that a giant group known as “The Regressive Left” exists

Yeah, it would be a stretch if it was just that one guy that one time…. but, as has been stated and shown repeatedly, it isn’t just “one guy”. And to be clear: Hedges didn’t “ignore one of Harris’ statements”; rather, he ignored a massive independent poll that was acutely relevant to the very topic Hedges himself was speaking about.

It might also mean that Hedges was being a bit of a douche and ignored Harris in a debate, not that hordes of people agree with some idea that is supposedly implied but never stated by him not responding

Intentional or not, this interpretation seems extremely obtuse. Hedges spent more than an hour explicitly stating the idea he agreed with; so it wasn’t “supposedly implied but never stated”. The position he agreed with - the one Harris disagrees with - is the general position that Islamic belief is not a primary driving motivation for a lot of people and regimes that commit human rights atrocities across the world.

If you want to claim there aren’t a lot of Liberals who treat Islam with kid gloves on this issue, go ahead. But, when you make such a claim and then immediately say you actually agree more with the right wing position on the issue of radical Islam, it seems you’re engaging in the quintessential example of doublespeak. And you left no confusion on the point when you said that the idea of religion as a motivation for evil behavior wasn’t a “promising academic hypothesis”. What Nawaaz called the “regressive left” are Liberals who believe exactly that thing regarding Islam and jihad, martyrdom, oppression of women, etc. You keep questioning the existence of such a group, while simultaneously exhibiting exactly the behavior of the group.

The idea of religion as a sort of inexplicable fairytale that makes people do evil things for no particular sociocultural reason was never altogether that promising as an academic hypothesis

To be consistent with Harris’ view, I think you’d need to remove the “for no particular sociocultural reason” from the comment (it appears Harris is saying religion IS the “sociocultural reason”). But, I can stipulate to the definition in general for the sake of discussion.

What I find most interesting about this particular line of reasoning though is that (a) people who espouse it seem to have no problem identifying virtually any other factor as a legitimate motivation for one’s behavior, and (b) people who espouse it often times won’t apply the exact same reasoning to religion when it’s stated as a motivation for objectively good behavior.

Specific to point (a): What data would you use to determine any other factor as motivating a person’s behavior that you couldn’t also use to determine a given religious belief motivating it? For example, Timothy McVeigh says he blew up a Federal building because he embraced a worldview of anti-Government, and Liberals unanimously acknowledge the connection between his beliefs and his behavior. For a more recent example, a group of self identifying ranchers say they are going to illegally occupy a Federal building because they embrace an anti-Government worldview, and Liberals unanimously acknowledge the connection between the ranchers’ stated beliefs and their behaviors. A Jihadist blows up infidels because he says he embraces a worldview of fundamental Islam, and some Liberals say ‘religious belief as a motivating factor for behavior really isn’t a promising academic hypothesis’. Really? How many cartoonists do you think would have been murdered in the last 13 months if there weren’t tenets in the Hadith explicitly prohibiting the creation of visual depictions of Muhammad?

Specific to point (b): someone says their faith in Jesus Christ motivates them to go to mass every Saturday at 4PM, pray every morning and night for 30 minutes, and spend 30 minutes a day reading the Bible. Is the idea of religion as a motivation for their behavior not a “promising academic hypothesis”? A person reads the Bible and prays everyday, and says their faith motivates them to spend years at a time on mission trips to third world countries helping the poor.  Is the idea of religion as a motivation for their behavior not a “promising academic hypothesis”?

I’ve watched him dig his heels in deeper and deeper with all of the political implications that come from treating large groups of people in foreign countries as if they are functionally insane

Sam Harris regularly speaks at length about the exact opposite; that a great many people who commit atrocities in the name of religion aren’t insane. Rather, they are simply convinced that their religion (and thus, their interpretation of it) is correct. A rather succinct example of Harris saying this can be found here:

The fact that otherwise normal people can be infected by destructive religious beliefs is crucial to understand—because beliefs spread.

You’ll find Harris saying the same thing in both the debates I referenced you to, as well as in most of his books, and in most of his interviews where he speaks more than 2 minutes. It’s a very salient point in my opinion. Beliefs matter - in fact, they are the deciding factor as it relates to virtually every decision we make, and thus most of the behaviors we display. Harris’ point is simple: people all over the world regularly cite religion as the most important belief in their lives. Why then, would we not acknowledge religion’s capacity to motivate one’s behaviors?

[ Edited: 01 February 2016 16:22 by After_The_Jump]
 
sojourner
 
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01 February 2016 17:12
 
After_The_Jump - 01 February 2016 04:10 PM

You still haven’t explained though how opinion polling of 38,000 Muslims as it relates to their thoughts about religious motivations for murder doesn’t apply to jihadists who’ve actually committed murder and cited their religion as their motivation. You really see no relevant link there? None at all? On the quantitative side, we have statistically significant samples of Muslims openly acknowledging belief that being an apostate (or infidel) is grounds for death. On the qualitative side, we have testimony from Muslims who’ve killed people for apostasy (or being an infidel). The ‘application’ seems quite clear, no?


What? I posted two quotes. One was about the regressive left, the other was Harris saying:

‘When a Jihadist makes his final murder video and says this is why I am doing it. I am expecting to go to paradise. I see footage of him blowing himself up somewhere well then that proves to me that he did believe what he said he did. They’re talking about the caliphate, they’re talking about paradise, they’re talking infidels.

‘The irony is I am practising more empathy and giving them more credit than those who doubt what their reasons are. I am sympathetically listening to what they’re telling us ad nauseam what they care about and believing them,’ he said.


So no, if I told you “As a research project, I interviewed a group of serial killers, and listened attentively to what they said about why they kill” and you said “Oh? What did they say?!” and I said “Here’s some data about factors that people say put them in a violent mood in America”, and you said “But what about the interview” and I said “This is the interview, duh! Why is that so unclear!” - would you say “Great interview!” or “WTF are you talking about?”.

I’m not hypothesizing about what Harris really meant; I’m simply noting his actual words. Harris has, repeatedly, cited both (a) quantitative data which outlines what large majorities of Muslims worldwide believe, and (b) qualitative feedback from specific Muslims who practice said beliefs specifically. Providing anecdotal contextual examples that represent the general landscape of aggregate data isn’t an acknowledgment of having “misspoke”; quite the opposite actually.


Same point as above.

Yeah, it would be a stretch if it was just that one guy that one time…. but, as has been stated and shown repeatedly, it isn’t just “one guy”. And to be clear: Hedges didn’t “ignore one of Harris’ statements”; rather, he ignored a massive independent poll that was acutely relevant to the very topic Hedges himself was speaking about.

 

I learned the word “presupposition” the other day, and I have to say it’s unveiled a lot of sources of miscommunications for me. Whatever referent you have in your head, I don’t have access to it, other than, as I’ve already mentioned, Harris getting into some Twitter wars with people.

It might also mean that Hedges was being a bit of a douche and ignored Harris in a debate, not that hordes of people agree with some idea that is supposedly implied but never stated by him not responding

Intentional or not, this interpretation seems extremely obtuse.


You are the disembodied spirit of Noam Chomsky again, aren’t you? I knew it. You’re back. There’s always a sequel in these situations. You have such advanced mental capacities that your psyche leaves your body and roams the internet making words appear, and in this case you are embodying my foibles to teach me about the value of detail and backing up claims with data. Well forget it disembodied Noam Chomsky!!! I hate details! I HATE THEM!!!! (runs around screaming).


Sorry. I’m kidding, of course. If Noam Chomsky was disembodied, I don’t have the hubris to think he’d actually wander around teaching A Christmas Carol style lessons to Harris fans, but that scenario still made me laugh so I typed it.

If you want to claim there aren’t a lot of Liberals who treat Islam with kid gloves on this issue, go ahead. But, when you make such a claim and then immediately say you actually agree more with the right wing position on the issue of radical Islam, it seems you’re engaging in the quintessential example of doublespeak.


In what way? Are you going by what I actually stated, or some stereotype you have in your mind of what “right wing” must necessarily entail?

And you left no confusion on the point when you said that the idea of religion as a motivation for evil behavior wasn’t a “promising academic hypothesis”. What Nawaaz called the “regressive left” are Liberals who believe exactly that thing regarding Islam and jihad, martyrdom, oppression of women, etc. You keep questioning the existence of such a group, while simultaneously exhibiting exactly the behavior of the group.


What?! Now I am “the regressive left” because of this exchange? Well that solidifies my suspicion that the concept is pretty much a paranoid fever dream that makes McCarthyism look like a hippie drum circle.

To be consistent with Harris’ view, I think you’d need to remove the “for no particular sociocultural reason” from the comment (it appears Harris is saying religion IS the “sociocultural reason”). But, I can stipulate to the definition in general for the sake of discussion.

What I find most interesting about this particular line of reasoning though is that (a) people who espouse it seem to have no problem identifying virtually any other factor as a legitimate motivation for one’s behavior, and (b) people who espouse it often times won’t apply the exact same reasoning to religion when it’s stated as a motivation for objectively good behavior.


On this I can see how you’d be confused, I have been round and round with this argument so many times on this board that I didn’t post my thoughts here, but you’re new. My sense is that religion is more or less a necessary evil, as evidenced by the relative uniformity of behavior as societies progress from tribalism to more inclusive communities. Funnily, this is probably an area where Harris and Greenwald could find some common ground in that they would both disagree on this point, as it’s essentially a Hobbesian-style manner of thinking. This is the area, however, where I think we have the least data and I am most agnostic in my views.

Sam Harris regularly speaks at length about the exact opposite; that a great many people who commit atrocities in the name of religion aren’t insane. Rather, they are simply convinced that their religion (and thus, their interpretation of it) is correct. A rather succinct example of Harris saying this can be found here


I don’t see what distinction you’re making between thinking people are insane and delusional - I did say functionally insane - but fine, let’s replace that word with severely delusional. Kind of the same difference though, I would think.

[ Edited: 01 February 2016 17:17 by sojourner]
 
 
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01 February 2016 18:12
 

@ Niclynn

Please notice the following - when you say:

So no, if I told you “As a research project, I interviewed a group of serial killers, and listened attentively to what they said about why they kill” and you said “Oh? What did they say?!” and I said “Here’s some data about factors that people say put them in a violent mood in America”,

Right here (the bolded portion), you’ve deviated from the Harris quote you claim to be taking issue with. Specifically, this part of the quote where Harris said:

When a Jihadist makes his final murder video and says this is why I am doing it. I am expecting to go to paradise.

And this:

They’re talking about the caliphate, they’re talking about paradise, they’re talking infidels.

That is the answer to the question “What did they say?”. No poll needs to be cited as ‘evidence’ for what any one particular Jihadist who created a video said, because the video is the evidence of that.

Rather, the Pew polls are generally cited to illustrate how widespread those kinds of beliefs likely are. But again, identifying such widespread belief isn’t a substitute to answer the question of “what did they say?” as it relates to any particular Jihadist, and I’m not sure why you keep acting as if Harris tries to substitute one for the other because he doesn’t. Rather, he notes what they say specifically (he regularly links directly to such videos on his blog).

So, again, I’m confused by what part of the Harris quote as it relates to interviews with Jihadists that you take issue with? Do you not believe Jihadists post videos of themselves talking about their motivations before they kill somebody/themselves? Is that actually something that’s being disputed? And if they do indeed post such videos, and Harris regularly cites and quotes from such videos, then why do you keep offering analogies that act is if he doesn’t?

Whatever referent you have in your head, I don’t have access to it,

So far, I’ve cited: the debate with Hedges, the debate with Reza Aslan, the incident with Ben Affleck and Nicholas Kristof, many of the articles written in response to that incident with Ben Affleck, Harris’ discussion with Cenk Ungar, Harris’ dialogue with Noam Chomsky, virtually every article ever written about Sam Harris on Salon. You haven’t really attempted to comment on any of them specifically, other than to dismiss the Hedges debate while admittedly having not watched it. Those are just a few of the referents, but they aren’t just in my head, they’ve been cited for you specifically.

In what way? Are you going by what I actually stated, or some stereotype you have in your mind of what “right wing” must necessarily entail?

I’m going by what you actually stated, damn near verbatim actually: “The thing is, I find I like the conservative right far better on the topic of extremist terrorism because there is no dancing around in circles of self-justification”. Those are your words, are they not?


What?! Now I am “the regressive left” because of this exchange?

I would hope you can see that I’m not attacking you personally; I’m simply offering tangible examples of what Nawaaz and Harris are referring to when they say the ‘regressive left’. Like I said, they use it as a suitcase term to describe people who dismiss the notion that Islam motivates people to behave in certain destructive ways. You keep acting as if there is no such group, yet you yourself have articulated the premise: “The idea of religion as a sort of inexplicable fairytale that makes people do evil things for no particular sociocultural reason was never altogether that promising as an academic hypothesis”. If you take issue with the term ‘regressive left’, fair enough. But, it seems clear there is indeed a contingent of Liberals who dismiss the notion that Islam motivates people to do destructive things. Your feelings about whether or not ‘regressive left’ is a fair label for the group doesn’t diminish the fact of the existence of the group, right?

 

 

[ Edited: 01 February 2016 18:39 by After_The_Jump]
 
sojourner
 
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01 February 2016 18:37
 
After_The_Jump - 01 February 2016 06:12 PM

@ Niclynn

Please notice the following - when you say:

So no, if I told you “As a research project, I interviewed a group of serial killers, and listened attentively to what they said about why they kill” and you said “Oh? What did they say?!” and I said “Here’s some data about factors that people say put them in a violent mood in America”,

Right here (the bolded portion), you’ve deviated from the Harris quote you claim to be taking issue with. Specifically, this part of the quote where Harris said:

When a Jihadist makes his final murder video and says this is why I am doing it. I am expecting to go to paradise.

And this:

They’re talking about the caliphate, they’re talking about paradise, they’re talking infidels.

That is the answer to the question “What did they say?”. . No poll needs to be cited as ‘evidence’ for what any one particular Jihadist who created a video said, because the video is the evidence of that.


Yes, and to the bolded above, I asked for a specific referent - who did he listen to and what exactly did they say? What person or persons is being referred to here? That’s all. I think perhaps you’re reading too much into this.

Rather, the Pew polls are generally cited to illustrate how widespread those kinds of beliefs likely are. But again, identifying such widespread belief isn’t a substitute to answer the question of “what did they say?” as it relates to any particular Jihadist, and I’m not sure why you keep acting as if Harris tries to substitute one for the other because he doesn’t. Rather, he notes what they say specifically (he regularly links directly to such videos on his blog).

So, again, I’m confused by what part of the Harris quote as it relates to interviews with Jihadists that you take issue with? Do you not believe Jihadists post videos of themselves talking about their motivations before they kill somebody/themselves? Is that actually something that’s being disputed? And if they do indeed post such videos, and Harris regularly cites and quotes from such videos, then why do you keep offering analogies that act is if he doesn’t?


Ok, look, I am not talking about what Harris said somewhere else in some video, and I am not asking some hypothetical question about whether people do or don’t post things on Youtube. I was talking about a quote, which wasn’t particularly ambiguous, it referenced a very specific group. But honestly I think you misread my original post, as it seemed like you missed that the quote was from Harris, and now you don’t want to back down over a point that I don’t consider all that important. I was referencing a very specific quote. You thought I was referencing Harris’s entire body of work. It’s not a big deal, and it seems silly to spend another dozen or so paragraphs on it.

So far, I’ve cited: the debate with Hedges, the debate with Reza Aslan, the incident with Ben Affleck and Nicholas Kristof, many of the articles written in response to that incident with Ben Affleck, Harris’ discussion with Cenk Ungar, Harris’ dialogue with Noam Chomsky, virtually every article ever written about Sam Harris on Salon. You haven’t really attempted to comment on any of them specifically, other than to dismiss the Hedges debate while admittedly having not watched it. Those are just a few of the referents, but they aren’t just in my head, they’ve been cited for you specifically.


The specifics of those articles would be lot to parse in this thread so I’m not going to attempt it here, other than to say that no, I do not consider that evidence of regressive leftism, I consider it evidence of Harris having critics. Maybe his critics are unfair sometimes. That really sucks, for him and for a lot of public figures. It does not equal a national movement. You’re free to disagree, again, we’ve spent many paragraphs on two quotes so I can’t imagine how long it would take us to discuss those articles.

I’m going by what you actually stated, damn near verbatim actually: “The thing is, I find I like the conservative right far better on the topic of extremist terrorism because there is no dancing around in circles of self-justification”. Those are your words, are they not?


Yes. And how is that “doublespeak?” (I later included a description of what I meant by that, btw, since, to be fair, you couldn’t know from the above quote unless you assumed something like “every thing any person who identifies as conservative has ever said about terrorism”.)

What?! Now I am “the regressive left” because of this exchange?

I would hope you can see that I’m not attacking you personally; I’m simply offering tangible examples of what Nawaaz and Harris are referring to when they say the ‘regressive left’. Like I said, they use it as a suitcase term to describe people who dismiss the notion that Islam motivates people to behave in certain destructive ways. You keep acting as if there is no such group, yet you yourself have articulated the premise: “The idea of religion as a sort of inexplicable fairytale that makes people do evil things for no particular sociocultural reason was never altogether that promising as an academic hypothesis”. If you take issue with the term ‘regressive left’, fair enough. But, it seems clear there is indeed a contingent of Liberals who dismiss the notion that Islam motivates people to do destructive things. Your feelings about whether or not ‘regressive left’ is a fair label for the group doesn’t diminish the fact of the existence of the group, right?


Ok, so, if “the regressive left” means “people who see religion as a complex sociocultural phenomenon which may well have evolutionary benefits for society and, btw, are actually moderate conservatives in many areas politically”, I guess that means I’m in the regressive left, but that seems like a really unenlightening definition. What’s the point of even having it, if it’s going to be that broad? Other than “now I have a name to call people who disagree with me?”.

[ Edited: 01 February 2016 18:42 by sojourner]
 
 
After_The_Jump
 
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01 February 2016 19:01
 

@ Niclynn

Yes, and to the bolded above, I asked for a specific referent - who did he listen to and what exactly did they say? What person or persons is being referred to here? That’s all. I think perhaps you’re reading too much into this.

I want to make sure I’m clear: you posted the Harris quote(s) on this forum on January 23rd, 2016, with no context, and no link to the source for the actual quote, and then proceeded to complain because Harris didn’t - in just the exert you pulled - state specifically which Jihadists he was referring to? That’s a rather shallow complaint, no? Especially since no rational person can deny the existence of any number of Jihadist final murder videos where they say all the things Harris said they say.

If you’re saying it’s no big deal, fine. But, it seems a strange act to pluck a few sentences from what was likely a much larger conversation, provide no link to the source or the full content, and then proceed to take issue with what isn’t said in just the few sentences you plucked.

The specifics of those articles would be lot to parse in this thread so I’m not going to attempt it here, other than to say that no, I do not consider that evidence of regressive leftism, I consider it evidence of Harris having critics

Which is understandable in general terms, but this kind of arbitrary dismissiveness seems to fundamentally undermine your regular demands for more proof. Specifically, you demand proof for what Nawaaz and Harris call ‘regressive leftism’, then when it’s provided to you you say it’d take too long to review and discuss. Yet, you still continue claiming there’s no such thing as what Nawaaz and Harris claim. Can you see how this becomes a really convenient kind of circular logic? It starts with “There’s not enough evidence - show me the evidence” and it ends with “it’ll take too long to review all of that evidence to determine if it actually is evidence”.

Ok, so, if “the regressive left” means “people who see religion as a complex sociocultural phenomenon which may well have evolutionary benefits for society and, btw, are actually moderate conservatives in many areas politically”,

That’s certainly not the definition I gave. And, that definition isn’t consistent with what you originally called a “not every promising academic hypothesis”.

Thus, for perhaps a simpler touchstone, I’ll reference back to the examples I already gave that you didn’t respond to - namely, these:

Timothy McVeigh says he blew up a Federal building because he embraced a worldview of anti-Government, and Liberals unanimously acknowledge the connection between his beliefs and his behavior. For a more recent example, a group of self identifying ranchers say they are going to illegally occupy a Federal building because they embrace an anti-Government worldview, and Liberals unanimously acknowledge the connection between the ranchers’ stated beliefs and their behaviors. A Jihadist blows up infidels because he says he embraces a worldview of fundamental Islam, and some Liberals say ‘religious belief as a motivating factor for behavior really isn’t a promising academic hypothesis’. Really? How many cartoonists do you think would have been murdered in the last 13 months if there weren’t tenets in the Hadith explicitly prohibiting the creation of visual depictions of Muhammad?

As Nawaaz and Harris have explained it, Liberals who stake out the above positions could be described as ‘regressive leftists’, because their principles regarding the connection between beliefs and behaviors seem to vanish - or, ‘regress’ - as it relates to Islam and violence/mistreatment of people.

 

[ Edited: 01 February 2016 19:07 by After_The_Jump]
 
sojourner
 
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01 February 2016 19:24
 
After_The_Jump - 01 February 2016 07:01 PM

I want to make sure I’m clear: you posted the Harris quote(s) on this forum on January 23rd, 2016, with no context, and no link to the source for the actual quote, and then proceeded to complain because Harris didn’t - in just the exert you pulled - state specifically which Jihadists he was referring to? That’s a rather shallow complaint, no? Especially since no rational person can deny the existence of any number of Jihadist final murder videos where they say all the things Harris said they say.

If you’re saying it’s no big deal, fine. But, it seems a strange act to pluck a few sentences from what was likely a much larger conversation, provide no link to the source or the full content, and then proceed to take issue with what isn’t said in just the few sentences you plucked.


I meant your making a mistake isn’t a big deal. Do I think we should make vague statements about “Everybody Knows!!” without specific referents? No, I don’t, even as much as Ioathe detail. I get the allure, research is goddamned boring. But when it involves the lives of other human beings, it’s only fair. So no, I do not think we should refer to some faceless Jihadist That I Think Exists On Youtube vs. specific people - imagine what the news would be like if journalists reported on stories that way?


Now, if Harris has talked about these specific people elsewhere, cool, link to where. It’s possible I just missed it.

The specifics of those articles would be lot to parse in this thread so I’m not going to attempt it here, other than to say that no, I do not consider that evidence of regressive leftism, I consider it evidence of Harris having critics

Which is understandable in general terms, but this kind of arbitrary dismissiveness seems to fundamentally undermine your regular demands for more proof.


Hmm. I am between a rock and a hard place between kindness and truth here. Ok, I mostly didn’t feel like it would be productive to discuss it with you specifically, as you seem to be knee-jerk defensive about Harris and it takes many paragraphs of stating a point over and over to get through various appeals and justifications. I can only imagine what that process would look like for multiple articles by people who are not sympathetic to his views. So, apologies for sounding like a jerk, I just meant I have a life and job and I think it would be logistically unfeasible here.

Ok, so, if “the regressive left” means “people who see religion as a complex sociocultural phenomenon which may well have evolutionary benefits for society and, btw, are actually moderate conservatives in many areas politically”,

That’s certainly not the definition I gave. And, that definition isn’t consistent with what you originally called a “not every promising academic hypothesis”.


Right, and I explained what I meant by that - that I think religion may have very real harmful effects, but it may be a net utilitarian benefit. That is not the same thing as saying I don’t believe people do things for religious reasons.

As Nawaaz and Harris have explained it, Liberals who stake out the above positions could be described as ‘regressive leftists’, because their principles regarding the connection between beliefs and behaviors seem to vanish - or, ‘regress’ - as it relates to Islam and violence/mistreatment of people.


See, this is the problem with generalizing without specifics. If I am sympathetic to religion, it’s because I kinda like religion overall, even with all its flaws and problems, and I do more or less believe in some religious ideas, like the idea that there is possibly or probably some sort of afterlife. Hey, Ramakrishna talked to Muhammad and Jesus and maybe Buddha, he thought they were all just super. If you want to speak in stereotypes, I’m more prototypically to the “right” on that particular issue. I don’t have any special fondness of Islam but I tend to see something good in religion in general.

 
 
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01 February 2016 19:45
 

Do I think we should make vague statements about “Everybody Knows!!” without specific referents? No, I don’t, even as much as Ioathe detail.

Yet, when given ‘specific referents’, you claim you don’t have time to review the material. Or, you’ve now claimed I’m potentially too dumb or reactionary to have the discussion with. Either way, it ends with you claiming there’s not enough evidence, or you saying you’re not going to take the time to review evidence.

And I find it a bit peculiar that you are so acutely focused on ‘specific referents’ when you still haven’t provided citation to the source of the Harris quote(s) you posted here.

Jihadist That I Think Exists On Youtube vs. specific people - imagine what the news would be like if journalists reported on stories that way?

There’s no “I think” about it. I cited the Hamas charter, I provided multiple links to Harris blogs and articles where he’s cited specific Jihadist “referents”. It’s there, it’s been cited. Review it, or don’t.

Ok, I mostly didn’t feel like it would be productive to discuss it with you specifically, as you seem to be knee-jerk defensive about Harris and it takes many paragraphs of stating a point over and over to get through various appeals and justifications.

I’ve taken the time to respond to your various points, even when I feel like I’m having to “take many paragraphs of stating a point over and over to get through various appeals and justifications”. Between the two of us, it appears I’ve spent substantially more time actually reviewing the material we’re discussing. Call my approach “knee-jerk” if you’d like, but I’m not the one calling for more evidence but then refusing to review it when it’s presented to me…. while still taking definitive positions on the topics anyway.

Right, and I explained what I meant by that - that I think religion may have very real harmful effects, but it may be a net utilitarian benefit.

And not all religions are the same because not all Holy Books espouse the same tenets. So, while some may - on balance - elicit ‘net utilitarian benefit’; some may not. The discussion about which may not seems quite salient right now. Do you think many Muslim majority countries/territories excluding half their population (women) from the workforce has a ‘net utilitarian benefit’ on the country/territory? Do you think forcing women to live in clothe bags has ‘net utilitarian benefit’?  Do you think severe punishment for apostasy has ‘net utilitarian benefit’? How many of those glaring holes have to exist before we can acknowledge that ‘net utilitarian benefit’ is quite the arbitrary assumption?

And that leads to the bigger point - perhaps the most important point: is it possible to achieve the same positive benefits that some organized religion can sometimes elicit without taking as a necessary collateral damage the ugly and destructive factors that are often tied to various religions? I think it is possible, but we have to quit lying to ourselves about the alleged benefits of believing in something on insufficient evidence before we can have the fully informed conversation.

 

 

[ Edited: 01 February 2016 19:52 by After_The_Jump]
 
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01 February 2016 20:28
 
After_The_Jump - 01 February 2016 07:45 PM

Do I think we should make vague statements about “Everybody Knows!!” without specific referents? No, I don’t, even as much as Ioathe detail.

Yet, when given ‘specific referents’, you claim you don’t have time to review the material.


Except that you haven’t given me specific referents for the quote we’re talking about, you gave me a list of 5-10 people who disagree with Sam Harris, which has nothing to do with the jihadists he referenced in his quote.

And I find it a bit peculiar that you are so acutely focused on ‘specific referents’ when you still haven’t provided citation to the source of the Harris quote(s) you posted here


Here and here.

Jihadist That I Think Exists On Youtube vs. specific people - imagine what the news would be like if journalists reported on stories that way?

There’s no “I think” about it. I cited the Hamas charter, I provided multiple links to Harris blogs and articles where he’s cited specific Jihadist “referents”. It’s there, it’s been cited. Review it, or don’t.


I didn’t see a reference to / quotes from specific people who killed others talking about their intentions in that mix, but if I missed it, let me know.

Right, and I explained what I meant by that - that I think religion may have very real harmful effects, but it may be a net utilitarian benefit.

And not all religions are the same because not all Holy Books espouse the same tenets. So, while some may - on balance - elicit ‘net utilitarian benefit’; some may not. The discussion about which may not seems quite salient right now. Do you think many Muslim majority countries/territories excluding half their population (women) from the workforce has a ‘net utilitarian benefit’ on the country/territory? Do you think forcing women to live in clothe bags has ‘net utilitarian benefit’?  Do you think severe punishment for apostasy has ‘net utilitarian benefit’? How many of those glaring holes have to exist before we can acknowledge that ‘net utilitarian benefit’ is quite the arbitrary assumption?

And that leads to the bigger point - perhaps the most important point: is it possible to achieve the same positive benefits that some organized religion can sometimes elicit without taking as a necessary collateral damage the ugly and destructive factors that are often tied to various religions? I think it is possible, but we have to quit lying to ourselves about the alleged benefits of believing in something on insufficient evidence before we can have the fully informed conversation.


Ok, you’re welcome to think that. I was responding to your claim that I’m a “regressive leftist” and why making assumptions about people isn’t always a good idea.

 
 
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02 February 2016 07:02
 

@ Niclynn

Except that you haven’t given me specific referents for the quote we’re talking about,

You haven’t given a source conversation for the quote itself, so there’s no way to check whether or not Harris gave an “specific referents” to the quote you plucked. And the Sky News article you just cited doesn’t do that either. That’s the one I found too when searching for the source conversation of the quote, and I’m guessing you may have noticed that Sky News article doesn’t provide a link or reference to the source conversation either.

Thus, is it an accurate assumption that you haven’t actually heard/read the full conversation that contained the quote you offered here? If that is an accurate assumption, then it would appear you don’t know if Harris gave a ‘specific referent’ for the quote you plucked, correct? Rather, you’re simply assuming he didn’t.

you gave me a list of 5-10 people who disagree with Sam Harris, which has nothing to do with the jihadists he referenced in his quote.

As I’ve already stated, you asked for two different pieces of supporting data - one for the Jihadist quote, and one for the ‘regressive left’ quote. The “5 or 10 people who disagree with Sam Harris” were in regard to the request for ‘evidence’ of the ‘regressive left’.  If you’ll recall, when I cited those “5-10 people”, you initially responded by saying you didn’t know “what referents were in my head”, and when I reminded you I’d already told you ‘what referents were in my head’, you responded by saying you didn’t have the time/desire to actually review/discuss them. So, you went from claiming they didn’t exist other than in my head, to claiming you weren’t going to take the time to review them if they did, to now implying the “5-10” referents still wouldn’t be enough evidence even if you did review them.

Ok, you’re welcome to think that. I was responding to your claim that I’m a “regressive leftist” and why making assumptions about people isn’t always a good idea.

And yet, you’re entire premise here is based on assuming Harris didn’t give any specific referents for the quote you’ve plucked. You don’t appear to know whether or not he did, you’re just assuming he did because that information isn’t contained in the few sentences you exerted. That’s correct, right?

So, Harris could have very well cited videos like (UPDATE: I tried to link videos here the kind of which Harris referenced, but the site won’t let me because the videos are blacklisted). But since the few sentences you focused on don’t contain specific references, you’re not only claiming you can’t/won’t discuss the concept of Harris’s quote, but you can’t/won’t discuss the topic generally until such time that you get the exact ‘referent’ you’re looking for (but, appear to have made next to no effort to actually find).

Fair enough - if you’re that insistent on not discussing something, I can’t imagine I’m going to be able to persuade you otherwise.

[ Edited: 02 February 2016 07:07 by After_The_Jump]
 
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02 February 2016 08:10
 
After_The_Jump - 02 February 2016 07:02 AM

You haven’t given a source conversation for the quote itself, so there’s no way to check whether or not Harris gave an “specific referents” to the quote you plucked. And the Sky News article you just cited doesn’t do that either. That’s the one I found too when searching for the source conversation of the quote, and I’m guessing you may have noticed that Sky News article doesn’t provide a link or reference to the source conversation either.

Thus, is it an accurate assumption that you haven’t actually heard/read the full conversation that contained the quote you offered here? If that is an accurate assumption, then it would appear you don’t know if Harris gave a ‘specific referent’ for the quote you plucked, correct? Rather, you’re simply assuming he didn’t.


Huh. So in your paradigm or worldview, taking a specific quote from a specific news article is equivalent to vaguely referring to some random “jihadists that I listened to”, in terms of precision and accuracy, because neither involve first person evidence? I have a feeling you don’t apply this standard uniformly in life, but if you genuinely do, I guess that’s your prerogative - I see a distinct difference between those situations, personally, but I guess we’re down to axiomatic differences here in terms of standards. If that’s how you see it that’s how you see it.

 

you gave me a list of 5-10 people who disagree with Sam Harris, which has nothing to do with the jihadists he referenced in his quote.

As I’ve already stated, you asked for two different pieces of supporting data - one for the Jihadist quote, and one for the ‘regressive left’ quote. The “5 or 10 people who disagree with Sam Harris” were in regard to the request for ‘evidence’ of the ‘regressive left’.  If you’ll recall, when I cited those “5-10 people”, you initially responded by saying you didn’t know “what referents were in my head”, and when I reminded you I’d already told you ‘what referents were in my head’, you responded by saying you didn’t have the time/desire to actually review/discuss them. So, you went from claiming they didn’t exist other than in my head, to claiming you weren’t going to take the time to review them if they did, to now implying the “5-10” referents still wouldn’t be enough evidence even if you did review them.


Ok, so there are 5-10 people in the world you personally consider regressive leftists - I’ll be sure to cross the street if I see any of them headed in my direction wink (and I didn’t say I hadn’t looked at those interviews, etc., because I have - I said I’m summarizing as “I don’t think that’s compelling evidence” but not going to discuss point-by-point because I think possibly this thread would extend to the end of time-space if we did that).


However, in the context of this thread, we were discussing the other quote, for which I still don’t see a reference.

 

Ok, you’re welcome to think that. I was responding to your claim that I’m a “regressive leftist” and why making assumptions about people isn’t always a good idea.

And yet, you’re entire premise here is based on assuming Harris didn’t give any specific referents for the quote you’ve plucked. You don’t appear to know whether or not he did, you’re just assuming he did because that information isn’t contained in the few sentences you exerted. That’s correct, right?

So, Harris could have very well cited videos like (UPDATE: I tried to link videos here the kind of which Harris referenced, but the site won’t let me because the videos are blacklisted). But since the few sentences you focused on don’t contain specific references, you’re not only claiming you can’t/won’t discuss the concept of Harris’s quote, but you can’t/won’t discuss the topic generally until such time that you get the exact ‘referent’ you’re looking for (but, appear to have made next to no effort to actually find).


Ok, I don’t know what to say here - I’m not averse to the idea that he has in fact referenced these specific people and their specific stories somewhere, I’m just stating a simple fact - I haven’t seen it (and I have followed his work relatively closely).


Look, ATJ, I feel bad about this conversation because I realize I have a hard time dropping things when I think I’m right. But at this point I think this is just creating needless heel-digging and animosity - both of us rephrasing the same points over and over. So if there’s anything new you’d like to add, cool, if we’re still on the same points, though, I think we’ve both said just about everything we have to say about them, so I’m going to leave it be now. In summary, I feel that:


1) There is not really sufficient evidence for the claims made.


2) There is evidence that kinda relates to it (i.e., Pew polls about people’s views in general, but not the people in question), and evidence that I - personally, subjective opinion here - don’t find compelling (about 5-10 Harris critics as evidence of “the regressive left”). You think this is sufficient, I don’t. Difference of opinion. That is what it is.


3) In terms of why I bothered mentioning this at all - I think the idea of listening to people’s specific stories, views, explanations, etc. - in some reasonable degree of totality - vs. thinking of them as aggregate data, is, in this case, probably quite salient and important to understanding (and hopefully solving) the issue. But again, this is a subjective opinion, I’m not insisting you agree - just sharing my point of view with you. And you’ve shared yours - you think Harris’s approach is sufficiently comprehensive to back up the claims he makes. I disagree. Thanks for the talk, hopefully we’ll chat in another thread soon.

 
 
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02 February 2016 08:55
 

@ Niclynn

So in your paradigm or worldview, taking a specific quote from a specific news article is equivalent to vaguely referring to some random “jihadists that I listened to”, in terms of precision and accuracy, because neither involve first person evidence?

My point is quite simple: you’re saying you’re not going to engage in dialogue about Harris’s point until someone provides you with the specific referent for the quote you cited, but you have to this point not provided the source conversation for the quote you used, so there’s really no way for anyone to give what you want.

And, you won’t look up the readily available videos of Jihadists saying exactly what Harris says they say, for a reason that you haven’t been entirely clear on. Can no discussion about the link between a Jihadist’s religious beliefs and his behaviors be had unless you’ve got a reference to exactly who Harris may have been referring to in the quote you plucked? Of course we could have a discussion about the topic in general, and of course there’s plenty of available information to do so, but you’ve drawn several arbitrary lines which act as a justification for why you can’t/won’t do that. Okay, that’s your desire. But, as I’ve said, it seems like a lot of work to go through to not discuss something.

and I didn’t say I hadn’t looked at those interviews, etc.,

You definitely said that about the debate with Hedges - you said your wifi wasn’t good enough to watch the video. That didn’t stop you from putting forth the possibility that Hedges was ‘just being a dick’, a possibility you then used to claim Hedges being a dick didn’t prove anything. If you take a similar approach to the other points I referenced, then yeah, it probably won’t do much good to discuss them.

As far as time goes: you’ve put in plenty of time here explaining all the reasons you won’t discuss something. But, if you’re insistent on not using that time to actually discuss the articles/debates referenced, okey dokey.

Ok, I don’t know what to say here - I’m not averse to the idea that he has in fact referenced these specific people and their specific stories somewhere, I’m just stating a simple fact - I haven’t seen it (and I have followed his work relatively closely).

I understand what you’re saying. Again, it simply sounds like rather shallow reasons not to have the conversation. There’s no reason the topic can’t be discussed generally - acting as if someone has to give you Harris’s specific referent before you can move forward at all seems logically indefensible. Again, there’s more than enough readily available evidence to support his general point, even if you can’t provide the source conversation so that one can check to see if Harris did indeed cite any of that said information too.

Look, ATJ, I feel bad about this conversation because I realize I have a hard time dropping things when I think I’m right. But at this point I think this is just creating needless heel-digging and animosity - both of us rephrasing the same points over and over.

I see no reason to feel bad. I don’t feel any animosity - it’s simply conversation. You *may* be taking it personally - that I can’t know. I know I’m not though.

Thanks for the talk, hopefully we’ll chat in another thread soon.

Same to you~

 
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02 February 2016 09:16
 
After_The_Jump - 02 February 2016 08:55 AM

I see no reason to feel bad. I don’t feel any animosity - it’s simply conversation. You *may* be taking it personally - that I can’t know. I know I’m not though.


There’s a fine line between irritating and tangential armchair psychoanalysis and being cruel and unresponsive. My sense is that you are upset. If I’m misreading that, ok, apologies. If not, just want to say, whatever it is about this conversation that is hard for you - I’m sorry, but I think it’ll be ok, really.

 
 
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02 February 2016 11:23
 

My sense is that you are upset. If I’m misreading that, ok, apologies.

While I didn’t request an apology nor did I desire one, I accept your apology for misreading that.

 

[ Edited: 02 February 2016 11:26 by After_The_Jump]
 
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02 February 2016 13:14
 
After_The_Jump - 02 February 2016 11:23 AM

My sense is that you are upset. If I’m misreading that, ok, apologies.

While I didn’t request an apology nor did I desire one, I accept your apology for misreading that.


I go for charitable interpretations when I can. I have no idea why else you would engage in thousands of words of Orwell-speak to tell me that not having a reference is the same thing as having a reference, then claim I’m avoiding the topic when I am - I would think understandably - confused by this. But I have learned to enjoy the Wonder-landian aspects of life as a human being to some degree, so whatevs. I shall think of you as another charming if inexplicable Lewis Carroll character in my life. Peace out and tell the caterpillar I said hey!

 
 
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02 February 2016 13:27
 

I have no idea why else you would engage in thousands of words of Orwell-speak to tell me that not having a reference is the same thing as having a reference,

Noted - thanks!~

 

[ Edited: 02 February 2016 13:34 by After_The_Jump]
 
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