#192- March 17, 2020 A Conversation with Paul Bloom

 
Nhoj Morley
 
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Nhoj Morley
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17 March 2020 16:54
 

In this episode of the podcast, Sam Harris and Paul Bloom speak about the psychology of adapting to the coronavirus pandemic, the disastrous analogy between coronavirus and flu, the political siloing of information, true and false concerns over “panic,” pressuring China to close down their live animal markets, the economic implications and possible silver linings of the pandemic, what our response suggests about our ability to deal with climate change, Biden vs Sanders, the ethics of praising one’s enemies, and other topics.

#192- March 17, 2020 A Conversation with Paul Bloom


This thread is for listeners’ comments.

 
 
John V. Linton
 
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John V. Linton
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17 March 2020 19:11
 

I get tired of how arrogant and blinkered Sam Harris is.

In any democracy, it takes a little time to persuade enough people that a crisis is upon us, yet he makes this totalitarian presumption throughout this chat that democracies of 330 million people are expected to turn on a dime and recognize coronavirus to be the threat it is within the same speed that his brain works.

Further, there is utterly ZERO sense in Harris that we’ve had a media that has been compulsively crying wolf for 3-4+ years now, claiming Armageddon at every moment because of some minor thing Trump did—and that somehow it’s rational for the public to immediately trust such a discredited media when they really have something to cry wolf about.  (Meaning, of course it’s rational in this case, but one can quite understand people’s impulse not to trust our media…)

Of course, ideally, we would/should have made all these preparations sooner.  But we have a media culture that is so fixated on Trump that even now NYT reporters are routinely lying about what Trump says about extending virus aid to states—i.e., our media is as full of venom and irrationality in its desire to tar the president as to fight the virus—or moreso—and that is driving a cultural sense of chaos and nihilism.

Bloom just sits there, yet another Harris analogue, agreeing with everything.

Of course this virus should galvanize a giant national fight—but there are still questions of what public policies would be “too much”—something Harris laughs at.  Were for example all interstate travel to be banned tomorrow, and all businesses in America shuttered (including supermarkets) in favor of home goods delivery—this might be surgically, clinically justified as the most laser-effective strike at the virus—but it would also be a totalitarian imposition that itself might destabilize our entire democracy.  Harris shows ABSOLUTELY NO awareness of the countervailing questions of citizens’ natural fears about politicians shutting down life, left and right, as if there is an infinite amount of shut down permitted—even here, not so.

Harris is finally deluded that things he doesn’t like—travel bans—though he accedes them some purchase—might have been far more effective than he thinks.  (At one point he acts (for all his intelligence) like the virus getting a foothold in America was a BINARY issue rather than a SPECTRUM issue.  Nobody remotely intelligent who is basing his thinking on rationality cannot see that the virus’s arrival was INEVITABLE.) 

Bloom is absurd about Trump using the virus to demagogue in some new insidious way when Trump won a mandate to build the wall back in 2016—and even that still hasn’t been delivered.  If an electoral mandate on the single issue that Trump ran on—a wall—and defeated 20 candidates of both parties on has not yet been built—people get a little tired of all the xenophobia projections, especially when perfectly quotidian and democratically ratified policies have not been fulfilled.

The real reason we’re at this impasse is because we have an elite media culture so given to “narrative journalism” and telling people Trump is Hitler that people understandably were slow to react when the media actually had something to say.

Trump made a bad mistake early on in underestimating this—and regards the testing—but his travel bans likely bought us more time than his mistakes cost us.  It is in fact very difficult to detect the rate of an exponential threat until it crosses a threshold—and highly intelligent people, versed in statistics, might make a bad call within a radius of a week or two on something this fast-moving.  Especially when it will require large-scale draconian impositions on civil liberties and the right of citizens to freely live their lives.

By any fair historical standard, America is moving at light speed, and no amount of haste will stop a global pathogen from wreaking a certain quantity of havoc in any free society on earth.

Harris takes a utopian view that a nation of 330 million people with a million access points can suddenly act with the precision of Lt. Commander Data in shutting down all ingress to a microscopic pathogen.  While that would be nice, there’s a strain of totalitarian population control underneath the hood that truly free societies will never fully abide.  (That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try, but Harris talks as if he doesnt even see this other problem that in democracies, who and how matter a lot…)

[ Edited: 17 March 2020 20:14 by John V. Linton]
 
John V. Linton
 
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18 March 2020 02:36
 

Good commentary on the lies and distortions of the media around Trump and the virus…

https://nypost.com/2020/03/16/even-during-coronavirus-crisis-liberal-media-cant-resist-spreading-lies/

 
Twissel
 
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18 March 2020 03:20
 

Quoting the NYP as an authority?
They are only slightly more reliable than Trump himself, who called the warnings by Democrats a Hoax for weeks.

[ Edited: 18 March 2020 04:05 by Twissel]
 
 
John V. Linton
 
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18 March 2020 05:06
 
Twissel - 18 March 2020 03:20 AM

Quoting the NYP as an authority?
They are only slightly more reliable than Trump himself, who called the warnings by Democrats a Hoax for weeks.

I believe Trump called the Democrats imputing the virus to his failures a hoax, which is quite different.

 
John V. Linton
 
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18 March 2020 05:41
 

https://www.statnews.com/2020/03/17/a-fiasco-in-the-making-as-the-coronavirus-pandemic-takes-hold-we-are-making-decisions-without-reliable-data/

This is a very thoughtful statistical review of the situation that challenges (implicitly) some of Harris’s hysteria…

Left unmentioned by Harris and Bloom is any concept of herd immunity and the possibility that keeping kids in school is the most efficient way to develop it.

Meanwhile having kids at home may in fact risk exposing them more to their elders than otherwise would be the case, particularly as sitters etc…

[ Edited: 18 March 2020 05:59 by John V. Linton]
 
Twissel
 
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18 March 2020 07:47
 
John V. Linton - 18 March 2020 05:06 AM
Twissel - 18 March 2020 03:20 AM

Quoting the NYP as an authority?
They are only slightly more reliable than Trump himself, who called the warnings by Democrats a Hoax for weeks.

I believe Trump called the Democrats imputing the virus to his failures a hoax, which is quite different.

If you believe that, you are wrong.

Trump clearly claimed that Democrats are overstating the risk to “Impeach him again”.
Just keep in mind that Trump was still asking for a slash to the CDC budget as late as February.

 
 
GAD
 
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18 March 2020 09:44
 
John V. Linton - 18 March 2020 05:41 AM

https://www.statnews.com/2020/03/17/a-fiasco-in-the-making-as-the-coronavirus-pandemic-takes-hold-we-are-making-decisions-without-reliable-data/

This is a very thoughtful statistical review of the situation that challenges (implicitly) some of Harris’s hysteria…

Left unmentioned by Harris and Bloom is any concept of herd immunity and the possibility that keeping kids in school is the most efficient way to develop it.

Meanwhile having kids at home may in fact risk exposing them more to their elders than otherwise would be the case, particularly as sitters etc…

Fair enough article, but it just says that we don’t know what we don’t know.

 
 
Jb8989
 
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19 March 2020 14:49
 

I guess there’s no utilitarianistic value to a reckless disregard for a slightly deadly pandemic. Some psychological value, I’d imagine, for those who struggle separating fear and panic. I wonder how many novel pray-ors are following the novel virus.

Anyone else catch that Trump’s initial corona failure was a deluded default to cheerleading?

And on a lighter note: What if one day there’s a virus like this but we don’t find out before it’s too late that it’s targeting objectively ugly people? I bet borderline ugly people would be sooo nervous…

 
 
MARTIN_UK
 
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20 March 2020 00:13
 
Jb8989 - 19 March 2020 02:49 PM

And on a lighter note: What if one day there’s a virus like this but we don’t find out before it’s too late that it’s targeting objectively ugly people? I bet borderline ugly people would be sooo nervous…

Silly arse.

 
Jb8989
 
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21 March 2020 18:32
 
MARTIN_UK - 20 March 2020 12:13 AM
Jb8989 - 19 March 2020 02:49 PM

And on a lighter note: What if one day there’s a virus like this but we don’t find out before it’s too late that it’s targeting objectively ugly people? I bet borderline ugly people would be sooo nervous…

Silly arse.

My man! How’s life, Mart?

 
 
MARTIN_UK
 
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22 March 2020 02:56
 
Jb8989 - 21 March 2020 06:32 PM
MARTIN_UK - 20 March 2020 12:13 AM
Jb8989 - 19 March 2020 02:49 PM

And on a lighter note: What if one day there’s a virus like this but we don’t find out before it’s too late that it’s targeting objectively ugly people? I bet borderline ugly people would be sooo nervous…

Silly arse.

My man! How’s life, Mart?

I’m good my brother, as someone said to me the other day, and it made me smile, I’m still “buggering on” as best I can.
Are you buggering effectively?