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#123- Identity & Honesty A Conversation with Ezra Klein

 
Nhoj Morley
 
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Nhoj Morley
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09 April 2018 06:46
 

In this episode of the Waking Up podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Ezra Klein, Editor-at-Large for Vox Media, about racism, identity politics, intellectual honesty, and the controversy over his podcast with Charles Murray (Waking Up #73).

Ezra Klein is the editor-at-large and founder of Vox. Before that, he was columnist and editor at the Washington Post, a policy analyst at MSNBC, and a contributor to Bloomberg.

#123- Identity & Honesty A Conversation with Ezra Klein


This thread is for listeners’ comments.

 
 
LordranBound
 
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09 April 2018 07:26
 

Ezra sounds like the poster boy for the Daily Show generation:  everyday they were told how dumb or evil the other side is and so they can’t even conceive that they themselves might be incorrect about a strongly held view.  They impute motives constantly as a way to dismiss arguments.

I’m a 45 year old guy who works with a bunch of late twenty and early thirty somethings in a very liberal place.  They’re all very intelligent.  They show the exact same tendencies.  I hope it isn’t representative of their generation but I fear I’m wrong.

 
Gamril
 
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09 April 2018 07:46
 

Well that was a waste of time…  relatively cordial but didn’t see either side really coming out ahead just restating positions over and over.  It would be more interesting to get some scientists on to talk about the data.

[ Edited: 09 April 2018 08:13 by Gamril]
 
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09 April 2018 07:52
 

What a frustrating experience. I had to force myself to stay with it.  Another example of how difficult it is to think clearly. Klein thinks he does, but….Talking past each other is right. What a travesty that Sam, Maajid, and Ayan are on the SPLC list.  It’s finally happened: our minds are open so far that our brains have slid out.

 
Gamril
 
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09 April 2018 08:20
 

Actually Ezra was hitting on something with Sam’s “blind spots” and inability to see his own biases but he couldn’t articulate it well.  I don’t think Sam’s bias is against identity politics and because he has a legitimate reason to critique identity politics.  Sam’s issue is more to do with self critique I believe, inability to adjust to his audience/interviewee and sometimes a bit too technical and not seeing the overall picture.  Here, though he is completely right that the science can be separated from the history just for the sake of argument at least.  Too bad, they never agreed to have that type of discussion.

[ Edited: 09 April 2018 08:43 by Gamril]
 
Thoughtsandactions
 
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09 April 2018 08:39
 

Well that was interesting.  Ezra is as evasive as Ben Shapiro, whenever he can’t answer a question he just changes the subject or gives an answer to a different question.

 
Ola
 
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09 April 2018 08:45
 
carcajou - 09 April 2018 07:52 AM

What a frustrating experience. I had to force myself to stay with it.  Another example of how difficult it is to think clearly. Klein thinks he does, but….Talking past each other is right. What a travesty that Sam, Maajid, and Ayan are on the SPLC list.  It’s finally happened: our minds are open so far that our brains have slid out.

(Disclaimer: I haven’t yet listened to this podcast.)


Sam Harris is NOT on a SPLC list.


The SPLC website contains a link to that Vox article though, under the “Hatewatch Headlines” section. Perhaps that goes somewhere to explain why Sam has every right, and obligation, to demand precision and right-to-reply from Klein et al.

 
tik
 
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09 April 2018 08:47
 

It seemed that Ezra kept saying something like: “no no, you don’t in fact think what you’re saying you think - let me explain to you what you think.” You think you’re arguing for one idea but in fact you’re argument is motivated by your intellectual tribalism - as opposed to a commitment to the reason, honest debate, and progress.

To Erza’s point - I’m a 25 year old white guy. But what if I was black and the science was in? Just as a thought experiment, that, yes genetics is a hard indicator of intelligence and as such - there is now a measurable increase of racism towards black people. That my future kids will now experience more racism. And it will be genetically motivated.

The answer isn’t that we can pretend it’s not true. We can’t just.. not talk about it. Or pretend the science is biased. It’s going to come up whether we like it or not. This is what Sam was trying to tell Erza.

 
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09 April 2018 08:56
 
tik - 09 April 2018 08:47 AM

It seemed that Ezra kept saying something like: “no no, you don’t in fact think what you’re saying you think - let me explain to you what you think.” You think you’re arguing for one idea but in fact you’re argument is motivated by your intellectual tribalism .

Uh they both were saying that…  Your tribalism/bias will cause you think that only one side is doing it because you agree with that side.  But they were both doing the exact same thing which is why the podcast was so frustrating.

 
czrpb
 
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09 April 2018 09:02
 

I enjoyed this very much! I have a lot of affinity for what Ezra said, specifically the part where the discussion on IQ data can or cant be divorced from the social aspect.

For those of you that do think separate discussions are possible, I have 2 thoughts/questions:

1.  What would the point of having discussion of just the data be? I agree that there are population difference on every human characteristic. Ok, now what? Any issues will come when you use that data to justify action. This is where I would become concerned. Again, I agree that there are a host of population differences for all sorts of things including IQ and populations can be defined to be race, and also sex. I just dont understand what you plan on doing with that data? I think Ezra’s point is that Murray isnt going to do things that help, and historically such data is NOT used to everyone’s betterment. Sam basically agrees when he says he doesnt care about this topic, but this seems to me to lead to my 2nd question:

2.  Is it possible for a human mind to separate the data and the policy on IQ? I would assume Sam would agree that just isnt how humans (human psychology) are designed. This is where I have the most problem with Sam in this discussion: As far as I can tell, he definitely thinks this is possible. Now, just in case this is a strawman, let me try to steelman his argument: Because it is not possible to separate the data and the judgement or justification, we need discussion on this data to ensure we dont in fact use it harmfully. If this would be his point I just wish he would have said it, and since I am giving him all possible charity, this is in fact what I think he would say and believe. I think it would help if he said it.

Thoughts? Can anyone help me out?

 
Syd99
 
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09 April 2018 09:21
 

I couldn’t really follow most of Klein’s thoughts, unfortunately, though I tried hard. I might have been helped by direct responses to direct questions posed by Harris but few simple questions were posed. Perhaps it would have been more pertinent to hear a discussion more specifically on the statistical data if, indeed, Klein had a problem with Murray’s conclusions. The upshot I got was that Klein believes Murray’s conclusions based on the data were false but I only glimpsed this among other discussions and may be wrong. Alternative possibilities I formed were that Klein is unable to accept that scientific conclusions may be unbiased or that conclusions and scientific investigation or mathematical analysis are permitted, even if not obviously ‘useful’ at the time. I have found this with others who have no scientific background. I guess it would then be only natural to think that everything any person writes or says is subjective, has a bias and, perhaps, has intent, rather than to think that, thankfully, this is exceptional as is the case with peer reviewed science. Of course complexities are often simplified and sometimes conclusions are found later to be wrong for a number of reasons. Methods can also be questionable and may very well have an accidental bias. And, yes, sometimes conclusions are corrupt but, if corruption is suspected, the conclusions can and should be challenged using rational argument. The suggestion that a possible conclusion should not be mentioned is in itself a corruption of scientific procedure. That someone must not discuss data because it may not concern them, or because what they conclude may cause insult is absurd. That is simply not science.

Harris: A = B + C
Klein: A = f(k)*B + f(m)*C
where f(k) and f(m) are functions dependent on who is writing down the equation, having personal bias elements k and m.

[ Edited: 09 April 2018 10:07 by Syd99]
 
czrpb
 
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09 April 2018 09:32
 
Syd99 - 09 April 2018 09:21 AM

I couldn’t really follow most of Klein’s thoughts, unfortunately, though I tried hard. I might have been helped by direct responses to direct questions posed by Harris but few simple questions were posed. Perhaps it would have been more pertinent to hear a discussion more specifically on the statistical data if, indeed, Klein had a problem with Murray’s conclusions. The upshot I got was that Klein believes Murray’s conclusions based on the data were false but I only glimpsed this among other discussions and may be wrong. An alternative possibility I formed was that Klein is unable to accept that scientific conclusions may be unbiased or that such are permitted, even if not directly ‘useful’. I have found this with others who have no scientific background. I guess it would then be only natural to think that everything any person writes or says is subjective, has a bias and, perhaps, has intent, rather than to think that, thankfully, this is exceptional as is the case with peer reviewed science. Of course complexities are often simplified and sometimes conclusions are found later to be wrong for a number of reasons. Methods can also be questionable and may very well have an accidental bias. And, yes, sometimes conclusions are corrupt but, if corruption is suspected, the conclusions can and should be challenged using rational argument. The suggestion that a possible conclusion should not be mentioned is in itself a corruption of scientific procedure. That someone must not discuss data because it may not concern them, or because what they conclude may cause insult is absurd. That is simply not science.

Harris: A = B + C
Klein: A = f(k)*B + f(m)*C
where f(k) and f(m) are functions dependent on who is writing down the equation, having personal bias elements k and m.

I do like much/most of what you say! Excellent! I would add, as perhaps a small disagreement, that I think your Klein equation is more accurate, everything in 1 human mind is jumbled together. This is why the PROCESS of science is sooooo important, it helps to correct these deficiencies.

 

 
LordranBound
 
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09 April 2018 09:35
 
czrpb - 09 April 2018 09:02 AM

I enjoyed this very much! I have a lot of affinity for what Ezra said, specifically the part where the discussion on IQ data can or cant be divorced from the social aspect.

For those of you that do think separate discussions are possible, I have 2 thoughts/questions:

1.  What would the point of having discussion of just the data be? I agree that there are population difference on every human characteristic. Ok, now what? Any issues will come when you use that data to justify action. This is where I would become concerned. Again, I agree that there are a host of population differences for all sorts of things including IQ and populations can be defined to be race, and also sex. I just dont understand what you plan on doing with that data? I think Ezra’s point is that Murray isnt going to do things that help, and historically such data is NOT used to everyone’s betterment. Sam basically agrees when he says he doesnt care about this topic, but this seems to me to lead to my 2nd question:

2.  Is it possible for a human mind to separate the data and the policy on IQ? I would assume Sam would agree that just isnt how humans (human psychology) are designed. This is where I have the most problem with Sam in this discussion: As far as I can tell, he definitely thinks this is possible. Now, just in case this is a strawman, let me try to steelman his argument: Because it is not possible to separate the data and the judgement or justification, we need discussion on this data to ensure we dont in fact use it harmfully. If this would be his point I just wish he would have said it, and since I am giving him all possible charity, this is in fact what I think he would say and believe. I think it would help if he said it.

Thoughts? Can anyone help me out?

If you are correct what do you propose we do about it?  Suppressing speech and/or thought, or shaming people for speaking about truth (assuming that it is just that) tends to have the opposite effect of what I assume you want.

 
czrpb
 
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09 April 2018 09:39
 

Anyone know of a transcript? The only one I know of at this time is on Ezra’s site:

https://www.vox.com/2018/4/9/17210248/sam-harris-ezra-klein-charles-murray-transcript-podcast

I hope it is accurate; I havent reviewed much of it yet but would like to use it as a reference.

 
czrpb
 
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09 April 2018 09:49
 
LordranBound - 09 April 2018 09:35 AM
czrpb - 09 April 2018 09:02 AM

I enjoyed this very much! I have a lot of affinity for what Ezra said, specifically the part where the discussion on IQ data can or cant be divorced from the social aspect.

For those of you that do think separate discussions are possible, I have 2 thoughts/questions:

1.  What would the point of having discussion of just the data be? I agree that there are population difference on every human characteristic. Ok, now what? Any issues will come when you use that data to justify action. This is where I would become concerned. Again, I agree that there are a host of population differences for all sorts of things including IQ and populations can be defined to be race, and also sex. I just dont understand what you plan on doing with that data? I think Ezra’s point is that Murray isnt going to do things that help, and historically such data is NOT used to everyone’s betterment. Sam basically agrees when he says he doesnt care about this topic, but this seems to me to lead to my 2nd question:

2.  Is it possible for a human mind to separate the data and the policy on IQ? I would assume Sam would agree that just isnt how humans (human psychology) are designed. This is where I have the most problem with Sam in this discussion: As far as I can tell, he definitely thinks this is possible. Now, just in case this is a strawman, let me try to steelman his argument: Because it is not possible to separate the data and the judgement or justification, we need discussion on this data to ensure we dont in fact use it harmfully. If this would be his point I just wish he would have said it, and since I am giving him all possible charity, this is in fact what I think he would say and believe. I think it would help if he said it.

Thoughts? Can anyone help me out?

If you are correct what do you propose we do about it?  Suppressing speech and/or thought, or shaming people for speaking about truth (assuming that it is just that) tends to have the opposite effect of what I assume you want.

Excellent, thx! I think both of those would suck.

Basically here is what I would do in such a discussion: I would simply assert/agree to the existence of population differences in IQ. The discussion would be over in about 1min.

But, I would then ask: Now what do you want to do with that data? If I were to have a long discussion on this topic, this is where I would want to have it.

Any of that make sense?

 
LordranBound
 
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09 April 2018 10:03
 
czrpb - 09 April 2018 09:49 AM

If you are correct what do you propose we do about it?  Suppressing speech and/or thought, or shaming people for speaking about truth (assuming that it is just that) tends to have the opposite effect of what I assume you want.

Excellent, thx! I think both of those would suck.

Basically here is what I would do in such a discussion: I would simply assert/agree to the existence of population differences in IQ. The discussion would be over in about 1min.

But, I would then ask: Now what do you want to do with that data? If I were to have a long discussion on this topic, this is where I would want to have it.

Any of that make sense?

That would be great!  But I don’t think most people feel that way.  Ezra certainly seems not to.  The reason Sam had Murray on his podcast wasn’t to talk about race and IQ, it was to talk about how he was treated for discussing it.

 
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