I just heard your podcast with Omer. I think you are too hard on that podcast, sardonic title included. I also think you might be a bit too hard on Omer. Yes, he does have a habit of replying with non sequitur. I think that’s in large measure a question of youth. He sounded very often like an overeager graduate seminar student, who wasn’t really listening to the professor but just wanted to debate him.
In the debates that you had with Omer, I come down mostly on your side. But I think you derailed the conversation—in the sense that it didn’t go like a “normal” interview—when you got stuck on disproving his point that publishing an Islam reformation book is an easy way to get “rich.” You clearly proved him wrong with your greater knowledge and experience of the publishing industry. He had to downgrade his claim that it was an easy way to get “rich” to proving that you and Maajid had literally made at least a dollar with your book.
However, the problem as I see it laid in your insistence that Omer change his mind. I find your believe that people should change their minds in real time baffling in light of what we know about free will and how reason works, not to mention how people safeguard their reputations. Rarely will a human being change his or her mind in real time. More often, it seems in my experience, people change their minds through argumentation, time, and experiences. That is, when they do change their minds.
I believe if you put aside your insistence that human beings go around changing their minds in real time, your already enlightening and successful podcast series can further thrive. I think it would become more feasible then for you to have interesting, intelligent, and “normal” interviews with people you fundamentally disagree with. You should have the confidence in yourself and in your core audience to allow a point to rest on its own after a while and move on, leaving your listeners to decide who was right. Otherwise, you put yourself in the odd position of trying to convince others that you have an objective connection to the truth in a debate in which you are participating.
I can well understand Sam’s frustration. This is a person who dishonestly misrepresented Sam’s motives and his entire book to thousands of readers, needlessly adding to Sam’s reputational problems and security fears. Furthermore, when confronted with the facts, he refused to admit he was wrong, and consistently changed the topic. This shows a complete disregard for the truth. A person who values truth will change their mind in an instant when confronted with evidence demonstrating that they were wrong. It is horrendously irritating to debate someone who has an arrogant disregard for evidence combined with an inability to follow even the simplest logical reasoning. I have encountered quite a number of such people in my life, and most, if not all of them were religious. In my opinion, Sam exhibited great patience.
if you want an actual conversation, you have to establish some common base of reference. If one party doesn’t even agree to the most obvious facts, what could possibly be gained from further discussion?
Yes, Harris could have seen much earlier that the talk was getting nowhere and pulled the plug.
But that was all he could have done better.