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#164- Cause & Effect A Conversation with Judea Pearl

 
Nhoj Morley
 
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Nhoj Morley
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05 August 2019 07:34
 

In this episode of the podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Judea Pearl about his work on the mathematics of causality and artificial intelligence. They discuss how science has generally failed to understand causation, different levels of causal inference, counterfactuals, the foundations of knowledge, the nature of possibility, the illusion of free will, artificial intelligence, the nature of consciousness, and other topics.

#164- Cause & Effect A Conversation with Judea Pearl


This thread is for listeners’ comments.

 
 
DEGENERATEON
 
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DEGENERATEON
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06 August 2019 13:00
 

In the housekeeping portion of the podcast, Sam talks about the recent shootings and their relation to Trump’s comments.  Sam believes Trump is a racist, but warns the left to not find racism where it doesn’t clearly exist (one example is Trump’s comments on Omar “send her back”).  He also doesn’t believe Trump is dog-whistling and states something similar to “usually racists are very explicit in their racism”.

So my question is - what has Trump explicitly said that would lead Sam to believe he is a racist?  Has Trump made an explicit statement that would support that belief?

 
mapadofu
 
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mapadofu
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06 August 2019 14:29
 

What do you take Sam to mean in identifying Trump as racist (ala Archie Bunker)?  What would constitute good evidence for drawing that conclusion about someone?

 
DEGENERATEON
 
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DEGENERATEON
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06 August 2019 18:35
 

I think I get the essence of what an Archie Bunker racist is, and I don’t think that is what most mean when they say Trump is a racist.  And many would say Trump is a racist (with no modifiers) based on what he has said.
So the way I understand it, Sam is calling Trump a “racist light” while most won’t make a distinction.

 
mapadofu
 
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mapadofu
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06 August 2019 20:12
 

You can set your bar for what you consider to be racist without qualification relatively high and thereby minimize Trump’s degree of racism if you like.  I believe it is more accurate to consider Trump’s racism as run-of-the-mill, and thus not require any special modifiers.

You didn’t indicate what type of information would serve as a way to confirm Trump’s racism.

 
DEGENERATEON
 
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DEGENERATEON
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06 August 2019 21:23
 

It’s a tough question because I think there are different degrees of racism - and I think that’s the confusion I have with Sams comments.  Do you agree with him when he says that Trumps comments about the representatives “go back to where they came from” are not racist?

 
mapadofu
 
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mapadofu
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07 August 2019 05:32
 

I recall Sam saying that “send them back” is a bad example of Trump’s racism because it could have different meanings.  That is true if you take “send them back” as a statement in isolation.

Trump’s initial tweetstorm didn’t literally say that though, as you alluded to.

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.vox.com/platform/amp/2019/7/15/20694616/donald-trump-racist-tweets-omar-aoc-tlaib-pressley provides the three tweets in order.

Taking the three together it seems clear to me that the intended meaning is: Send those 4 nasty brown women back to their shithole countries.  Note how the first tweet specifically talks about other nations.  Of course this is idiotic since all of the people he’s talking about are Americans, but it’s not like intellectual coherence is of our president’s strong suits.

Even if you want to be against the odds and say that somehow Trump’s intent was honorable, innocent and pure, those comments have mutated in the public mind into “send them back” — a rallying cry that the racist portion of his supporters can really get behind.  So, in terms of how Trump’s actions have played out in the political arena, they are racist.

[ Edited: 07 August 2019 06:07 by mapadofu]
 
Twissel
 
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Twissel
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07 August 2019 06:58
 

Trump is a racist by any standard - he has a documented history of saying how superior his genes are; he also wanted to make a Apprentice season of Black Americans vs. as-blond-as-possible White Americans. Participants of The Apprentice also report that Trump would regularly use the N word. 
His history (like the Central Park Five or his dealings with African American Tenants or his entire Campaign) clearly indicates strong racial bias.
The fact that his bias for rich people of any color supersedes this doesn’t make him not racist.


Now to the actual Conversation:


I loved it, and might have found a kindred spirit in Pearl. I have to get his book and check out what else I can find from him.

[ Edited: 07 August 2019 07:13 by Twissel]
 
 
DEGENERATEON
 
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DEGENERATEON
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07 August 2019 07:21
 
mapadofu - 07 August 2019 05:32 AM

I recall Sam saying that “send them back” is a bad example of Trump’s racism because it could have different meanings.  That is true if you take “send them back” as a statement in isolation.

Trump’s initial tweetstorm didn’t literally say that though, as you alluded to.

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.vox.com/platform/amp/2019/7/15/20694616/donald-trump-racist-tweets-omar-aoc-tlaib-pressley provides the three tweets in order.

Taking the three together it seems clear to me that the intended meaning is: Send those 4 nasty brown women back to their shithole countries.  Note how the first tweet specifically talks about other nations.  Of course this is idiotic since all of the people he’s talking about are Americans, but it’s not like intellectual coherence is of our president’s strong suits.

Even if you want to be against the odds and say that somehow Trump’s intent was honorable, innocent and pure, those comments have mutated in the public mind into “send them back” — a rallying cry that the racist portion of his supporters can really get behind.  So, in terms of how Trump’s actions have played out in the political arena, they are racist.

Why wouldn’t he just say it?  “Send those 4 nasty brown women back to their shithole countries.”? 

The article states:
“Arguments about race and racism do the reverse — most American voters are white, and for that reason, Democrats have traditionally tried to reduce the salience of racial conflict in American politics.

Much of Trump’s politics is essentially dedicated to making that kind of deracialization strategy untenable, with actions and rhetoric that are so inflammatory that they inescapably push racial conflict to the top of the agenda.”

Well if Trump’s strategy to to put racial conflict to the top of the agenda, why wouldn’t he make more explicitly racist statements?  If he’s already a racist, then why not double down on his strategy?  Does it seem like a sound strategy?  Most will vote along party lines.  If you alienate the small portion of minorities that would vote Republican, then you have lost votes.  And you would have to assume that the white voters who vote Republican mostly approve of obviously racist comments. 

In short, does Trump focusing on racial conflict make sense as a political strategy?

 

 
Twissel
 
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Twissel
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07 August 2019 08:46
 

Yes it does.

 
 
mapadofu
 
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mapadofu
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07 August 2019 10:08
 

So we’re back to you setting impossibly high standards for what constitutes racist behavior; I thought we had gotten past this in post 3.  If you want to use very restrictive and idiosyncratic criteria to capture the meaning of racism, in effect defining it out of existence, I’m not going to argue semantics with you.  It’s clear enough to me that Trump exhibits racist behavior, so Sam’s claims of the same seem reasonable.


In short, pressing the envelope on the amount and explicitness of racism he exhibits has worked for him politically so far.

[ Edited: 07 August 2019 10:53 by mapadofu]
 
DEGENERATEON
 
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DEGENERATEON
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07 August 2019 11:46
 
mapadofu - 07 August 2019 10:08 AM

So we’re back to you setting impossibly high standards for what constitutes racist behavior; I thought we had gotten past this in post 3.  If you want to use very restrictive and idiosyncratic criteria to capture the meaning of racism, in effect defining it out of existence, I’m not going to argue semantics with you.  It’s clear enough to me that Trump exhibits racist behavior, so Sam’s claims of the same seem reasonable.


In short, pressing the envelope on the amount and explicitness of racism he exhibits has worked for him politically so far.

I don’t think I’m trying to set impossibly high standards, or at least that isn’t my intent.  The intent of the post was to point out how Sam said the tweets about the representatives didn’t necessarily display racism.  You say he is taking the comment “send her back” alone, but that doesn’t seem to be what Sam is saying.  Most people would point to those tweets and say “there’s all the proof you need”.  Sam isn’t doing that.  He’s saying Trump is a racist, but those tweets are not an example of this.  So that’s my main question (and maybe only one Sam could answer) - in what other utterance does trump pass the racist test? 

I’m not saying Sam is correct.  But if he has set the bar at something above those tweets, then what clears that bar?

 
Randybess
 
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Randybess
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07 August 2019 13:03
 

I am not sure whether he is a racist or not.  I think what is important is whether he thinks some of his base are racist?  If that is the case, his condemnation tweets look canned and his off the cuff tweets (the kind that have misspellings and seem to have no filters) are not very condemning.  So are you a racist if it is more important to not alienate some of your racist base for political gain?  Maybe that is where Sam is coming from?

 
DEGENERATEON
 
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DEGENERATEON
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07 August 2019 14:22
 
Randybess - 07 August 2019 01:03 PM

I am not sure whether he is a racist or not.  I think what is important is whether he thinks some of his base are racist?  If that is the case, his condemnation tweets look canned and his off the cuff tweets (the kind that have misspellings and seem to have no filters) are not very condemning.  So are you a racist if it is more important to not alienate some of your racist base for political gain?  Maybe that is where Sam is coming from?

That could be - or at least part of where Sam is coming from.  Why not just say it?  Has he said it on any of his podcasts?  Is there any point where he says something along the lines of “Trump is an obvious racist - and here are the reasons why”?  I’m listening to the episode with Scott Adams right now, about halfway through and no mention of Trumps racism.

 
Randybess
 
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07 August 2019 14:29
 

You would have to ask Sam unless the posts are more to make the point that YOU don’t think he is racist.  I know that the podcast I have listened to indicate that he does not think Trump is a moral person, that he lies, is a misogynist, etc. etc.  He also doesn’t understand why others don’t see it, but he knows they think differently. Maybe, he thinks it is so obvious, he doesn’t need to devote time to it. Why beat a dead horse?

[ Edited: 07 August 2019 14:55 by Randybess]
 
DEGENERATEON
 
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07 August 2019 16:15
 
Randybess - 07 August 2019 02:29 PM

You would have to ask Sam unless the posts are more to make the point that YOU don’t think he is racist.  I know that the podcast I have listened to indicate that he does not think Trump is a moral person, that he lies, is a misogynist, etc. etc.  He also doesn’t understand why others don’t see it, but he knows they think differently. Maybe, he thinks it is so obvious, he doesn’t need to devote time to it. Why beat a dead horse?

I think he falls somewhere on the racist spectrum.  I don’t think he’s a full blown racist and I don’t think he’s “the least racist person ever”.
Sam hasn’t been shy about his criticism- so I’m just looking for a clear explanation from him on this topic.

 
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