< 1 2 3 4 >  Last ›
 
   
 

Noam Chompsky calls Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens Frauds!

 
Ylle521
 
Avatar
 
 
Ylle521
Total Posts:  2
Joined  16-12-2006
 
 
 
29 September 2013 08:03
 

To those like Chomsky - serious lifelong leftists - atheism is like breathing.  His scientific and academic background contributes to this, also.  So to people like him it seems rather silly to get worked up over something you and everyone else in your sphere, and for that matter, most educated people, phlilosophically settled for themselves in their teens, if not earlier.  I’ve been atheist since my teens, via socialist thought.  I grant that there is a religious strain of socialism that has historically been acted upon by the Catholic Church, and groups like the Quakers have driven leftwing social justice work,  but in the case of the Church serious socialism was always practiced in defiance of Rome, not with it’s blessing.  In my experience most socialist & communist thought begins with atheism as a given. 

So, to leftists who have always been atheist,  it’s been interesting to see atheism being openly taken up by members of the US bourgeoisie for the first time.  Atheism is philosophically old hat to us…it’s like a prerequisite to being considered a person who thinks seriously.  But there’s also the recognition that atheism alone does not lead to positive social results.

I would point out one more thing here - the atheist claim that “atheists are the most distrusted minority in America”  is not true.  Try being an open socialist or communist!  Of course, some part of that does stem from the (usually correct) assumption that socialists & communists are atheist.  But not all.

 
thought_bubble
 
Avatar
 
 
thought_bubble
Total Posts:  4
Joined  19-12-2015
 
 
 
22 December 2015 19:56
 

What point was Chomsky trying to make in the quote cited by the OP?  That religious fundamentalists are hopelessly ignorant?  That is a viewpoint that Dawkins has repeatedly criticized as “condescending”.  There are many willfully ignorant Christians who insulate themselves in like-minded communities, but now with personal computers and the internet, individuals are much easier to reach.  If people like Dawkins, Hitchens, and Harris had not wasted their time with debates and lectures, the ripple effect may not have reached me and many others in our fundamentalist homes.

 
NL.
 
Avatar
 
 
NL.
Total Posts:  5657
Joined  09-11-2012
 
 
 
22 December 2015 21:20
 

Ironically, many of those same religious people look at him and think that of course no one could really mean that - he really knows, deep down in his heart, that God exists. Experience has taught me that Theory of Mind is one of those things that seems much more reliable than it is. It seems plausible to assume it was originally meant to function largely in a small, clannish in-group of like-minded people.

 
 
Poldano
 
Avatar
 
 
Poldano
Total Posts:  3184
Joined  26-01-2010
 
 
 
22 December 2015 22:38
 
SkepticX - 08 March 2013 05:44 AM
nimbus - 04 June 2010 12:33 PM

His ‘What’s the point?’ view of the current reason vs religious faith debate is sad to see as well as also being a commonplace sentiment among secular people.

Keep in mind the world from which it comes when you hear something like that. In Chomsky’s case he’s a celebrity academic, and that can be a pretty culturally isolated/sheltered existence—similar to Hollywood stars of damn near any degree of note. The tend to be surrounded by a shell of people who have marginal personalities of their own or who have some vested interest in the celebrity being free from too much concern over any disapproval from others.

 

nimbus - 04 June 2010 12:33 PM

For instance, I recently read an article in my local newspaper where a journalist was writing about the Global Atheist Convention in Melbourne said, An atheist convention does seem a bit pointless, a bit like holding a convention for meat-eaters. I’m bored with hearing non-believers blame religion for everything. (http://www.nzherald.co.nz/religion-and-beliefs/news/article.cfm?c_id=301&objectid=10633665).

Sounds pretty egocentric—narcissistic. Why would it even occur to someone to “support” a criticism by “arguing” he’s bored by something. To my mind that’s a critical thinking red flag—a credibility buster. And in fact that’s why a whole lot of what Chomsky says, I would argue, is really about nothing but his own emotional disposition, and outside of that little celebrity shell, I’m not sure why anyone should care about that in the slightest.

I think you have nailed why Harris and Chomsky don’t get along. Chomsky is front and center of the liberal intellectual snobbery that he’s taking dead aim at, in some of his positions. That’s the attitude that what the rest of the world really believes and acts upon is of no concern to them, because they are right, and their rightness makes them superior to other opinions, and therefore immune to any negative consequences of inferior opinions. If worse comes to worst, they will look down their noses most severely at their social, cultural, and intellectual inferiors, withering them into inefficacy with scathing approbation.

Notably, this milieu really involves the same people as high finance. The corresponding and similar attitude in their financial roles is that they have nothing to fear from the world’s governments except incompetence, because governments absolutely depend on them for money to keep things running.

 
 
NL.
 
Avatar
 
 
NL.
Total Posts:  5657
Joined  09-11-2012
 
 
 
23 January 2016 05:49
 

Saw two new Harris quotes that made me think of this thread:

These people are part of what Maajid Nawaz has termed the “regressive Left”—pseudo-liberals who are so blinded by identity politics that they reliably take the side of a backward mob over one of its victims. Rather than protect individual women, apostates, intellectuals, cartoonists, novelists, and true liberals from the intolerance of religious imbeciles, they protect these theocrats from criticism.

‘When a Jihadist makes his final murder video and says this is why I am doing it. I am expecting to go to paradise. I see footage of him blowing himself up somewhere well then that proves to me that he did believe what he said he did. They’re talking about the caliphate, they’re talking about paradise, they’re talking infidels.

‘The irony is I am practising more empathy and giving them more credit than those who doubt what their reasons are. I am sympathetically listening to what they’re telling us ad nauseam what they care about and believing them,’ he said.


I find I am frustrated here because this highlights the details vs. paradigm issue once again. It seems to me that these are statements without specified referents. On the “regressive left”, Sam alludes to a couple of examples (that I consider quite questionable) involving people he is personally feuding with but that’s it - we are left to assume this group exists; on jihadism there is no mention of who he is sympathetically listening to - are we talking about a sampling of incidents in which he found X percentage mention religion as a sole or primary motivation? A specific group of people? If so, who are they, do they have names and what exactly did they say?


It seems to me that their needs to be a marriage of facts and values here. Chomsky, for all his data, seems rather averse to making positive statements about how the world should be structured; Harris has strong intuitions about those topics without the detail to see if they’re correct or simply personal intuitions. I would very much like to see both of them take another step here, into those realms. I believe Harris when he says his views are based on empathy and sympathy, but I think for those emotions to be usefully applied an understanding of detail (much as this chagrins me) is important.

 
 
icehorse
 
Avatar
 
 
icehorse
Total Posts:  6029
Joined  22-02-2014
 
 
 
24 January 2016 19:23
 
Niclynn - 23 January 2016 05:49 AM

Saw two new Harris quotes that made me think of this thread:

These people are part of what Maajid Nawaz has termed the “regressive Left”—pseudo-liberals who are so blinded by identity politics that they reliably take the side of a backward mob over one of its victims. Rather than protect individual women, apostates, intellectuals, cartoonists, novelists, and true liberals from the intolerance of religious imbeciles, they protect these theocrats from criticism.

‘When a Jihadist makes his final murder video and says this is why I am doing it. I am expecting to go to paradise. I see footage of him blowing himself up somewhere well then that proves to me that he did believe what he said he did. They’re talking about the caliphate, they’re talking about paradise, they’re talking infidels.

‘The irony is I am practising more empathy and giving them more credit than those who doubt what their reasons are. I am sympathetically listening to what they’re telling us ad nauseam what they care about and believing them,’ he said.


I find I am frustrated here because this highlights the details vs. paradigm issue once again. It seems to me that these are statements without specified referents. On the “regressive left”, Sam alludes to a couple of examples (that I consider quite questionable) involving people he is personally feuding with but that’s it - we are left to assume this group exists; on jihadism there is no mention of who he is sympathetically listening to - are we talking about a sampling of incidents in which he found X percentage mention religion as a sole or primary motivation? A specific group of people? If so, who are they, do they have names and what exactly did they say?


It seems to me that their needs to be a marriage of facts and values here. Chomsky, for all his data, seems rather averse to making positive statements about how the world should be structured; Harris has strong intuitions about those topics without the detail to see if they’re correct or simply personal intuitions. I would very much like to see both of them take another step here, into those realms. I believe Harris when he says his views are based on empathy and sympathy, but I think for those emotions to be usefully applied an understanding of detail (much as this chagrins me) is important.

Can you find a mainstream “liberal” house of journalism that ever says that Islamic values are counter to secular values? You might be able to find a handful, but the vast majority of liberal “journalists” will never make that claim. And it’s a claim that easy to defend.

 
 
NL.
 
Avatar
 
 
NL.
Total Posts:  5657
Joined  09-11-2012
 
 
 
25 January 2016 06:24
 
icehorse - 24 January 2016 07:23 PM

Can you find a mainstream “liberal” house of journalism that ever says that Islamic values are counter to secular values? You might be able to find a handful, but the vast majority of liberal “journalists” will never make that claim. And it’s a claim that easy to defend.


I guess we’d need a Pew poll to resolve this. Personally I have actually never met or read a self-identified liberal who endorsed FGM, honor killings, homophobia, etc., in the name of religious pluralism (where many liberals tend to differ is on what constitutes and effective approach to engaging with these issues, and I do think there’s a lot of room for debate there.) It’s possible they exist, this is just one of those situations where I can only speak from my experience, and I have personally never encountered such a person. So in answer to your question, yes, pretty much every mainstream liberal I’ve encountered has taken issue with specific illiberal religious practices where / when they occur.

 
 
icehorse
 
Avatar
 
 
icehorse
Total Posts:  6029
Joined  22-02-2014
 
 
 
30 January 2016 12:00
 
Niclynn - 25 January 2016 06:24 AM
icehorse - 24 January 2016 07:23 PM

Can you find a mainstream “liberal” house of journalism that ever says that Islamic values are counter to secular values? You might be able to find a handful, but the vast majority of liberal “journalists” will never make that claim. And it’s a claim that easy to defend.


I guess we’d need a Pew poll to resolve this. Personally I have actually never met or read a self-identified liberal who endorsed FGM, honor killings, homophobia, etc., in the name of religious pluralism (where many liberals tend to differ is on what constitutes and effective approach to engaging with these issues, and I do think there’s a lot of room for debate there.) It’s possible they exist, this is just one of those situations where I can only speak from my experience, and I have personally never encountered such a person. So in answer to your question, yes, pretty much every mainstream liberal I’ve encountered has taken issue with specific illiberal religious practices where / when they occur.

How many specific ill-liberal religious practices does an ideology have to have before we can summarize the ideology as ill-liberal?

It seems to me that if any ideology:

- seeks to curtail free speech
- seeks to curtail freedom of and from from religion
- seeks to treat women as second class
- seeks to promote homophobia
- seeks to promote anti-semitism
- seeks to undo secularism

We ought to be able to say that the whole danged ideology is ill-liberal, no?

 
 
kwa
 
Avatar
 
 
kwa
Total Posts:  1
Joined  30-01-2016
 
 
 
30 January 2016 15:11
 

Chomsky’s e-mail exchange with Harris confirmed my negative impression of him (Chomsky).

When first encountered, Chomsky appears to be a serious thinker who curiously has virtually no influence on policy makers. After a little bit of experience, however, it becomes clear why he has no influence. His approach is to history and politics is to examine the evidence, draw conclusions and then proceed as if his conclusions are the absolute and inerrant truth. If one assumes that they are, then his arguments are often logical and compelling. Unfortunately, his conclusions are often based on questionable evidence and in some cases are flatly wrong. When others have the temerity to point this out, he reacts with vitriol, as if he has been personally attacked. He seems unable to even conceive of the possibility that his knowledge may be imperfect.

Rather than viewing discussion and debate as an opportunity to broaden his understanding by listening to other views, perhaps from people with a better understanding of certain issues than he has, Chomsky seems to view them as a form of combat. It appears that his only goal is to win, and even if he believes in his own mind that he always wins, I suspect the outcomes are less clear-cut to his more informed and inquisitive readers. It’s no surprise that policy makers don’t take him seriously. In my view, if anyone amongst Harris, Hitchens and Chomsky is a fraud, it’s Chomsky.

 
NL.
 
Avatar
 
 
NL.
Total Posts:  5657
Joined  09-11-2012
 
 
 
30 January 2016 21:03
 
icehorse - 30 January 2016 12:00 PM

How many specific ill-liberal religious practices does an ideology have to have before we can summarize the ideology as ill-liberal?

It seems to me that if any ideology:

- seeks to curtail free speech
- seeks to curtail freedom of and from from religion
- seeks to treat women as second class
- seeks to promote homophobia
- seeks to promote anti-semitism
- seeks to undo secularism

We ought to be able to say that the whole danged ideology is ill-liberal, no?


Icehorse, you bring this up in literally almost every thread you participate in, whether it has anything to do with the topic or not. I’ve given you my answer - yes, almost all religions, including Christianity, Judaism, forms of Hinduism, etc. contain extremely illiberal ideas. This is not surprising when one views history, where authoritarian hierarchies ruled the day for tens of thousands of years and liberal democracies are barely in their infancy. I personally think that: 1.) There is a spiritual element within religion that is important in all times and places and 2.) When it comes to the “worldly” elements of religion, I suspect the fact that they are rather uniform across cultures tells us something (not everything, but something) about what is needed for communities to stabilize and develop in perilous and resource-poor environments. Maybe I’m wrong and “(Most) religion is poison!”, but there’s no way for us to resolve that question on a message board, so I don’t see the point in repeating the same conversation for the 100th time.

 
 
NL.
 
Avatar
 
 
NL.
Total Posts:  5657
Joined  09-11-2012
 
 
 
30 January 2016 21:08
 
kwa - 30 January 2016 03:11 PM

Chomsky’s e-mail exchange with Harris confirmed my negative impression of him (Chomsky).

When first encountered, Chomsky appears to be a serious thinker who curiously has virtually no influence on policy makers. After a little bit of experience, however, it becomes clear why he has no influence. His approach is to history and politics is to examine the evidence, draw conclusions and then proceed as if his conclusions are the absolute and inerrant truth. If one assumes that they are, then his arguments are often logical and compelling. Unfortunately, his conclusions are often based on questionable evidence and in some cases are flatly wrong. When others have the temerity to point this out, he reacts with vitriol, as if he has been personally attacked. He seems unable to even conceive of the possibility that his knowledge may be imperfect.

Rather than viewing discussion and debate as an opportunity to broaden his understanding by listening to other views, perhaps from people with a better understanding of certain issues than he has, Chomsky seems to view them as a form of combat. It appears that his only goal is to win, and even if he believes in his own mind that he always wins, I suspect the outcomes are less clear-cut to his more informed and inquisitive readers. It’s no surprise that policy makers don’t take him seriously. In my view, if anyone amongst Harris, Hitchens and Chomsky is a fraud, it’s Chomsky.


This is extremely general and vague, can you give an example of what you’re referencing?

 
 
icehorse
 
Avatar
 
 
icehorse
Total Posts:  6029
Joined  22-02-2014
 
 
 
30 January 2016 21:45
 
Niclynn - 30 January 2016 09:03 PM
icehorse - 30 January 2016 12:00 PM

How many specific ill-liberal religious practices does an ideology have to have before we can summarize the ideology as ill-liberal?

It seems to me that if any ideology:

- seeks to curtail free speech
- seeks to curtail freedom of and from from religion
- seeks to treat women as second class
- seeks to promote homophobia
- seeks to promote anti-semitism
- seeks to undo secularism

We ought to be able to say that the whole danged ideology is ill-liberal, no?


Icehorse, you bring this up in literally almost every thread you participate in, whether it has anything to do with the topic or not. I’ve given you my answer - yes, almost all religions, including Christianity, Judaism, forms of Hinduism, etc. contain extremely illiberal ideas. This is not surprising when one views history, where authoritarian hierarchies ruled the day for tens of thousands of years and liberal democracies are barely in their infancy. I personally think that: 1.) There is a spiritual element within religion that is important in all times and places and 2.) When it comes to the “worldly” elements of religion, I suspect the fact that they are rather uniform across cultures tells us something (not everything, but something) about what is needed for communities to stabilize and develop in perilous and resource-poor environments. Maybe I’m wrong and “(Most) religion is poison!”, but there’s no way for us to resolve that question on a message board, so I don’t see the point in repeating the same conversation for the 100th time.

I believe I responded to your lead in this case. So I’m going to push back against your waffling, hide-the-ball apologetics whenever I happen to spot them.

 
 
NL.
 
Avatar
 
 
NL.
Total Posts:  5657
Joined  09-11-2012
 
 
 
31 January 2016 05:41
 
icehorse - 30 January 2016 09:45 PM

I believe I responded to your lead in this case. So I’m going to push back against your waffling, hide-the-ball apologetics whenever I happen to spot them.


I’m sorry if you feel that way, but the topic of this thread is Noam Chomsky’s interaction with Harris and Hitchens.

 
 
icehorse
 
Avatar
 
 
icehorse
Total Posts:  6029
Joined  22-02-2014
 
 
 
31 January 2016 12:11
 
Niclynn - 31 January 2016 05:41 AM
icehorse - 30 January 2016 09:45 PM

I believe I responded to your lead in this case. So I’m going to push back against your waffling, hide-the-ball apologetics whenever I happen to spot them.

I’m sorry if you feel that way, but the topic of this thread is Noam Chomsky’s interaction with Harris and Hitchens.

I believe I’m simply responding to an avenue that you brought up when - in response to Harris’s quotes about the regressive left - you said:

I find I am frustrated here because this highlights the details vs. paradigm issue once again. It seems to me that these are statements without specified referents. On the “regressive left”, Sam alludes to a couple of examples (that I consider quite questionable) involving people he is personally feuding with but that’s it - we are left to assume this group exists; on jihadism there is no mention of who he is sympathetically listening to - are we talking about a sampling of incidents in which he found X percentage mention religion as a sole or primary motivation? A specific group of people? If so, who are they, do they have names and what exactly did they say?

I can imagine a continuum with apologist on one end and alarmist on the other. And an individual can move left and right on that continuum depending on the situation. So when the smoke detector goes off at 3am, we’re more apt to be alarmists. My sense is that you’re more frequently on the apologist end of the spectrum than I am. To me the stakes are high and the downside of offending some folks is fairly low. In addition, I’m not at all convinced that it’s inhumane to - for example - call bulls#it on the Greenwald’s of the world when they engage in yellow journalism. It’s not inhumane to acknowledge that a high percentage of Muslims think that the world should be ruled by Sharia. In fact, it’s dangerous NOT to say those things.

So Niclynn, whether you intend to or not, when it seems to me that you’re taking the apologist position, I’m often going to fight back. And it’s probably true that this will come up over and over again.

 
 
NL.
 
Avatar
 
 
NL.
Total Posts:  5657
Joined  09-11-2012
 
 
 
31 January 2016 15:36
 
icehorse - 31 January 2016 12:11 PM

I can imagine a continuum with apologist on one end and alarmist on the other. And an individual can move left and right on that continuum depending on the situation. So when the smoke detector goes off at 3am, we’re more apt to be alarmists. My sense is that you’re more frequently on the apologist end of the spectrum than I am. To me the stakes are high and the downside of offending some folks is fairly low. In addition, I’m not at all convinced that it’s inhumane to - for example - call bulls#it on the Greenwald’s of the world when they engage in yellow journalism. It’s not inhumane to acknowledge that a high percentage of Muslims think that the world should be ruled by Sharia. In fact, it’s dangerous NOT to say those things.


Outside of the name calling, I’m not sure what point you’re making or how it at all relates to my post. What does Sharia law have to do with what I just said? And what is a specific example of how I have acted like an ‘apologist’? I feel like we’re reaching the point where I’m being overly tolerant of you simply spewing insults at me, Icehorse, so if this continues I’m no longer responding.

 
 
 < 1 2 3 4 >  Last ›