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#109- Biology and Culture A Conversation with Bret Weinstein

 
Nhoj Morley
 
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Nhoj Morley
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18 December 2017 19:52
 

In this episode of the Waking Up podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Bret Weinstein about the moral panic at Evergreen State College, the concept of race, genetic differences between human populations, intersectionality, sex and gender, “metaphorical truth,” religion and “group selection,” equality, and other topics.

#109- Biology and Culture A Conversation with Bret Weinstein

This thread is for listeners’ comments.

 
slither2k
 
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19 December 2017 09:45
 

When Weinstein says that he thinks that all human beings have equal intelligence (or potential for intelligence - I forgot exactly how he put it) at birth, is that one of those “metaphorical truths” that he discussed a bit earlier which he believes are useful to believe but not actually factually accurate?

Because I can’t fathom that someone as intelligent and wise as Weinstein obviously is could believe in the literal truth of that statement, contradicting as it does all psychometric research and all anecdotal experience of anyone who has ever interacted with babies, children, and adolescents.  Even siblings in the same family display different intelligence capacities from a very early age.

 
MAS
 
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19 December 2017 16:25
 

I enjoyed the podcast, sadly I found only a few of the questions interesting. I wish there were a way to ensure that people accessing the mics actually have a question, as opposed to giving statements, and that the questions are not delivered by people who are obviously unstable.

 
HyperboleJoe
 
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19 December 2017 20:24
 

MAS, it sounds like you could use a little satori. I have achieved such a state three times.

But really, I agree. Being this was the first live recording, I imagine they’ll learn from that and have a better system in place going forward.

 
Celina
 
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19 December 2017 20:35
 

Great Interview from Both Bret and Sam. Two Comments to add, first is that as a farmer I think the discussion about the morality of meat is misinformed and stereotyped especially when talking about industrial meat production. PETA was way too effective at ruining the reputation of a nearly trillion dollar industry. As a Temple Granden fan, i recently spoke with her about the industry today, and in so many ways it is an efficient and humane system for bringing Animals to market that uses almost every ounce of them.  Temple’s designs to lead animals peacefully to the harvest lines have been adopted by ninety percent of the industry. USDA inspectors are present 100% of the time. At my local slaughter line one shot was missed and an animal was killed in a sloppy manner and the line was closed for two weeks. Believe me it’s hard to achieve this efficiency on a small farm.

Second when referring to the PC authoritarian policies like those that are bringing down Evergreen, Sam eluded that there were well known cases at evergreen and Yale but they are not the Norm.
in my experience, they are being under reported and spread all over Washington State. Our local school system adopted an Equity Policy that demands equal outcomes for students of color even though seven percent of them are learning english as a second language. The policy declares that resources will be “differentially Allocated” according to racial groups needs. Our school board elections had sponsors from the national group SURJ (please look this group up for your selves, and read the “about us” page). The shocking part of this new Policy was that it was drafted from a Washington State public/Private organization called Puget Sound Educational Service District (please look up) that has seven offices around the state. The policy supports the idea that all whites are inherently racist and privileged and therefore enabling a white supremacist system.  for me this trend has unsettling echoes of the “Protocols from the elders of Zion”

[ Edited: 19 December 2017 22:49 by Celina]
 
MAS
 
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19 December 2017 20:35
 

grinwink

 
HyperboleJoe
 
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19 December 2017 20:46
 
slither2k - 19 December 2017 09:45 AM

When Weinstein says that he thinks that all human beings have equal intelligence (or potential for intelligence - I forgot exactly how he put it) at birth, is that one of those “metaphorical truths” that he discussed a bit earlier which he believes are useful to believe but not actually factually accurate?

Because I can’t fathom that someone as intelligent and wise as Weinstein obviously is could believe in the literal truth of that statement, contradicting as it does all psychometric research and all anecdotal experience of anyone who has ever interacted with babies, children, and adolescents.  Even siblings in the same family display different intelligence capacities from a very early age.

I think he might view this as possible truth, an unproven hypothesis, rather than a lesser metaphorical truth. I imagine he is, without saying so, excluding obviously damaged individuals from that thought. The capacity for intelligence is different from the capability of maximizing/utilizing that intelligence. Every person receives different inputs based on their outputs, and different outputs based on their inputs, even siblings.

Every person goes through separate and different experiences and process those experiences differently due to maturity at the time of the experience. If you have three siblings going to the museum one 10, one 7, and 3 and they never go back to the museum, they will each have different outcomes based on that experience as they were able to process and retain different aspect of that experience. Everyone is surrounded by different people. Caretakers provide different care. We are all capable of equivalent intelligence, but we end up with different outcomes because we live different lives.

 
yamishogun
 
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19 December 2017 22:20
 
slither2k - 19 December 2017 09:45 AM

When Weinstein says that he thinks that all human beings have equal intelligence (or potential for intelligence - I forgot exactly how he put it) at birth, is that one of those “metaphorical truths” that he discussed a bit earlier which he believes are useful to believe but not actually factually accurate?.....Even siblings in the same family display different intelligence capacities from a very early age.

It was a ridiculous anti science statement, and I’m not surprised since Weinstein was at Evergreen, not exactly a meca of superior academics. What surprised me is that Harris said nothing in response. But as I said, Harris isn’t really a science guy, which is unfortunate.

 
abdymok
 
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20 December 2017 02:40
 

did not understand the ‘metaphorical truth’ part of the conversation ... does that mean conforming your views to what you imagine, want to be verifiably true? alchemy is to chemistry as ‘metaphorical truth’ is to verifiable facts? i understand ‘metaphorical truth’ plays a role in human cultural evolution, but shouldn’t we keep that to a minimum?

 
Gamril
 
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20 December 2017 05:26
 
yamishogun - 19 December 2017 10:20 PM
slither2k - 19 December 2017 09:45 AM

When Weinstein says that he thinks that all human beings have equal intelligence (or potential for intelligence - I forgot exactly how he put it) at birth, is that one of those “metaphorical truths” that he discussed a bit earlier which he believes are useful to believe but not actually factually accurate?.....Even siblings in the same family display different intelligence capacities from a very early age.

It was a ridiculous anti science statement, and I’m not surprised since Weinstein was at Evergreen, not exactly a meca of superior academics. What surprised me is that Harris said nothing in response. But as I said, Harris isn’t really a science guy, which is unfortunate.

Huh?!?!  He is a science guy…  Its pretty clear to me that this is one of the rare instances when Sam held back and was probably dying to respond.  But I don’t think the statement is as ridiculous as you think it is.  HyperboleJoe seems to have put it together nicely.

 
yamishogun
 
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20 December 2017 06:09
 
Gamril - 20 December 2017 05:26 AM

Huh?!?!  He is a science guy…  Its pretty clear to me that this is one of the rare instances when Sam held back and was probably dying to respond.  But I don’t think the statement is as ridiculous as you think it is.  HyperboleJoe seems to have put it together nicely.

HyperbolicJoe is incorrect as well. I thought after I posted that Sam probably didn’t say anything there because he really liked talking to the guest. Remember that Weinstein also added he was “aware” of “what are called hertiable differences” which puts him as a nurture over nature extremist where those who study intelligence put the influences at around 70%  nature and 30% environment, plus or minus 10%.

Weinstein made another unfounded statement that Sam kept silent on:

  “We are already suffering from the harm from runaway A.I,  but we don’t recognize it because it’s not robots but algorithms.  We were expecting robots, and its algorithms! So we’ve done it to oureslves once—maybe its not to late to get a hold of those algorithms in the 2.0 version, but we shouldn’t do it to ourselve with respect to CRISPR CAS9.”

Which “runaway A.I. algorithms”? What is the unstated harm? How do we reign in version 2.0 if they are “runaway” A.I? More silence from Sam.
Harris is usually excellent when qustioning guests so these two especially stood out but Weinstein makes other extreme statements about hallucinagetics as well.

 
Gamril
 
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Gamril
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20 December 2017 06:43
 
yamishogun - 20 December 2017 06:09 AM
Gamril - 20 December 2017 05:26 AM

Huh?!?!  He is a science guy…  Its pretty clear to me that this is one of the rare instances when Sam held back and was probably dying to respond.  But I don’t think the statement is as ridiculous as you think it is.  HyperboleJoe seems to have put it together nicely.

HyperbolicJoe is incorrect as well. I thought after I posted that Sam probably didn’t say anything there because he really liked talking to the guest. Remember that Weinstein also added he was “aware” of “what are called hertiable differences” which puts him as a nurture over nature extremist where those who study intelligence put the influences at around 70%  nature and 30% environment, plus or minus 10%.

Weinstein made another unfounded statement that Sam kept silent on:

  “We are already suffering from the harm from runaway A.I,  but we don’t recognize it because it’s not robots but algorithms.  We were expecting robots, and its algorithms! So we’ve done it to oureslves once—maybe its not to late to get a hold of those algorithms in the 2.0 version, but we shouldn’t do it to ourselve with respect to CRISPR CAS9.”

Which “runaway A.I. algorithms”? What is the unstated harm? How do we reign in version 2.0 if they are “runaway” A.I? More silence from Sam.
Harris is usually excellent when qustioning guests so these two especially stood out but Weinstein makes other extreme statements about hallucinagetics as well.

I noticed that too.  In addition, to the comment about wanting to hash out some possible disagreement about free will.  I think it would make for a worthwhile podcast with several areas they can go back and forth on.

 
ubique13
 
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20 December 2017 06:43
 
HyperboleJoe - 19 December 2017 08:24 PM

MAS, it sounds like you could use a little satori. I have achieved such a state three times.

But can you prove it scientifically? LOL

I want some of what that guy is smoking…

 
 
HyperboleJoe
 
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20 December 2017 06:44
 
yamishogun - 19 December 2017 10:20 PM
slither2k - 19 December 2017 09:45 AM

It was a ridiculous anti science statement, and I’m not surprised since Weinstein was at Evergreen, not exactly a meca of superior academics. What surprised me is that Harris said nothing in response. But as I said, Harris isn’t really a science guy, which is unfortunate.

I disagree. It is absolutely pro science to make such a hypothesis. Science is about asking questions, whether they are true or accurate, or even on their face seemingly stupid, is a different matter. I also don’t think it’s true as there are a lot of obvious examples where it isn’t the case, but those examples are all based on a fetus, baby, or child experiencing something in their environment that diminished their ability. That could be parental figures diminishing the importance of study, a traumatic experience that affects the child or baby’s ability to learn, etc. Every child goes through a different process of development…perhaps what he means is that at conception the capacity for intelligence is the same, but through environmental factors over time that capacity is changed or focus is changed away from reaching that intelligence capacity. That is quite a different argument, and perhaps one that doesn’t make sense to make.

I’ll give a couple anecdotal examples. My niece whined and whined that she wasn’t able to do algebra. My sister reinforced that attitude by claiming she just doesn’t get it. I spent 15 minutes with her and just told her I believed in her, showed her how to do some problems, asked her to try, when she got stuck, asked her to try again, and in literally fifteen minutes she got her homework, worked through it and finished it without too much further trouble. That is an environmental factor that is diminishing her actual capability.

My brother is a very intelligent guy, but you wouldn’t know it talking to him because he bounces from thought to thought every fifteen seconds. He has no ability to focus and expand upon his thinking. He seems like an idiot, especially with some of the choices he makes that are counter intuitive and harmful to himself. But, he’s not making those choices through lack of intelligence, he’s making those choices because he knows negative choices bring specific consequences and those consequences generate an excuse for him to use drugs. Environmental factors have corrupted his ability to utilize his mind to maximize his intelligence.

 
yamishogun
 
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20 December 2017 06:57
 
HyperboleJoe - 20 December 2017 06:44 AM

I disagree. It is absolutely pro science to make such a hypothesis. Science is about asking questions, whether they are true or accurate, or even on their face seemingly stupid, is a different matter. I also don’t think it’s true as there are a lot of obvious examples where it isn’t the case, but those examples are all based on a fetus, baby, or child experiencing something in their environment that diminished their ability. That could be parental figures diminishing the importance of study, a traumatic experience that affects the child or baby’s ability to learn, etc.

Of course it is important to make the hypothesis and thought that was obvious so didn’t include it in what I wrote. That particular hypothesis had been asked over a century ago (more informally back to the Greeks) and in the intervening decades has been answered. There are those like Weinstein out there who say they are “aware” of the genetic argument but still cling to “essentially all environment” argument.

At least Sam did say prior to Weinstein’s statement that “We don’t literally think equality from birth is true” or something close. I was just surprised he let Weinstein off the hook at least twice and really three times if you include his extremist statement not backed with evidence that hallucinagetics must have played a crucial, positive roll in human evolution. An interesting hypothesis but how about spending at least 30 seconds backing it up?

 
Gamril
 
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20 December 2017 07:15
 
yamishogun - 20 December 2017 06:57 AM
HyperboleJoe - 20 December 2017 06:44 AM

I disagree. It is absolutely pro science to make such a hypothesis. Science is about asking questions, whether they are true or accurate, or even on their face seemingly stupid, is a different matter. I also don’t think it’s true as there are a lot of obvious examples where it isn’t the case, but those examples are all based on a fetus, baby, or child experiencing something in their environment that diminished their ability. That could be parental figures diminishing the importance of study, a traumatic experience that affects the child or baby’s ability to learn, etc.

Of course it is important to make the hypothesis and thought that was obvious so didn’t include it in what I wrote. That particular hypothesis had been asked over a century ago (more informally back to the Greeks) and in the intervening decades has been answered. There are those like Weinstein out there who say they are “aware” of the genetic argument but still cling to “essentially all environment” argument.

At least Sam did say prior to Weinstein’s statement that “We don’t literally think equality from birth is true” or something close. I was just surprised he let Weinstein off the hook at least twice and really three times if you include his extremist statement not backed with evidence that hallucinagetics must have played a crucial, positive roll in human evolution. An interesting hypothesis but how about spending at least 30 seconds backing it up?

I think that saying we all are equal at birth is a little strong.  But I don’t think we can really know yet whether or not we can have equal outcomes.

 

 
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