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Noam Chompsky calls Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens Frauds!

 
After_The_Jump
 
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31 January 2016 15:49
 

@ Icehorse

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?

Yes, and it would seem to me a somewhat analogous comparison would be the way Liberals often times label the Republican Party or “Conservatives” in general as being “ill-liberal” on a number of fronts: women’s rights, gay and lesbian rights, stem cell research, contraception, and climate change to name a few. Obviously, not *every single Conservative* believes an illiberal position on these issues. But, enough of them do that we can reasonably attribute the position to the ‘ideology’ in general without constantly having to include the disclaimer “not every Conservative believes in illiberal positions”. And how we do know large swaths of Republicans and/or Conservatives believe certain things about certain topics? A collective review of (a) opinion polling within the group, and (b) the qualitative statements from individuals proclaiming “Republican” or “Conservative” allegiance. This is - seemingly - the same way one would determine what can logically be attributed to a given religious ideology as well.

To that end: when I hear Sam Harris speak on these issues, it seems to me one of his primary points is that we should have the same set of social rules for discussions about religion/religious ideology as we do about any other domain of discussion. But, as Liberals tend to demonstrate as it relates to ‘labeling’ something like “Conservative beliefs” versus “Islamic beliefs”, there does seem to be a different set of social rules (i.e. expectations).

Consider by way of example the response you got to your question - specifically, this: “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 often do we hear Liberals hedge their answers about the illiberal positions of “Conservatism” in the same way? Generally, most Liberals don’t seem to have a problem identifying “Conservatism” as being illiberal; as opposed to saying “certain and specific parts of Conservatism are illiberal where/when they occur”. Rather, it’s generally assumed the Liberal user of such language understands that not all Conservatives believe in illiberal principles, and thus the user isn’t expected to endlessly and incessantly offer the disclaimer “not all Conservatives are extremists” before they begin speaking generally about what most self identifying Conservatives believe.

Of course, at this point one could note the difference between a political ideology and a religious one. But that doesn’t really crack the nut here. Principally because it doesn’t appear most Liberals have a problem generalizing Christianity in this way either. For instance, most Liberals don’t seem to have a problem saying or hearing something like “Christianity (or “Christians”) are opposed to homosexuality”. Again, Liberals generally don’t require the disclaimer of “not all Christians are opposed to homosexuality” because it’s taken as a given that some Christians indeed don’t oppose homosexuality. For Harris’s part, you’d have to do some deep digging to find a Liberal criticizing Harris’s “Letter to a Christian Nation” as being “racist” and/or “Christianaphobic” because of the way Harris talks about “Christians” and “Christianity” generally. Yet, when it comes to Harris making similar statements about the ideas of Islam, it seems we can’t go a week without hearing a prominent Liberal leveling such a claim of racism toward Harris.

So, the million dollar question: why do some Liberals often demand this distinction as it relates to Islam, and often times demand it to the point of paralyzing any further conversation on the topic? Personally, I think a primary reason is because many of the adherents of Islam have brown skin. Liberals, in general, tend to be hyper-vigilant toward any potential mistreatment of non-Caucasian people, and for good reason - our nation (and our world) has a rather ugly past (and in many instances, present) as it relates to treatment of non-Caucasian people. Such hyper-vigilance is no doubt often a good thing. Racism toward non-Caucasian people was so commonplace in America for so long that constantly keeping an eye on treatment of non-Caucasian populations is necessary and important.

Such social justice hyper-vigilance becomes counterproductive though when it’s taken to the point of stifling any objective conversation about any topic which may disproportionately impact non-Caucasian people. Yes, we need to be clear about what we’re talking about. And yes, we need to be careful not to unfairly judge and stereotype. And yes, we need to be especially careful not to unfairly judge and stereotype as it relates to topics which disproportionately impact non-Caucasian people. But once we’ve taken those steps to map out the landscape and thus the parameters of the discussion, the conversation still needs to happen. This is often times where things fall apart on this particular issue: there so often is no deeper discussion because the label of “racist” is thrown at anyone who tries to engage and thus makes the discourse untenable. Add in the people on the far right end of the political spectrum who actually are being racist/prejudice, and now we’ve got what golfers tend to refer to as a two-way miss. 

Thus the last thing I’ll add - along with Liberal hyper-vigilance against mistreatment of non-Caucasian people, it seems classic in-group out-group thinking happens such that some Liberals don’t want to support any position on Islam which may partially overlap with the positions of the aforementioned far right wing racists. Again, understandable on some levels, but ultimately misguided. One can be concerned with the large swaths of adherents to Islam that express support for various anti-human rights positions without their concern being due to racism. When one begins worrying primarily about lining up where-ever their perceived opposition isn’t, objectivity has been sacrificed.

[ Edited: 31 January 2016 15:56 by After_The_Jump]
 
icehorse
 
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31 January 2016 15:51
 
Niclynn - 31 January 2016 03:36 PM
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.

Me claiming that you’re an apologist isn’t name calling.

So again, 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?

Then you said that we’d need a Pew poll…

Niclynn, over the course of many months, a lot of data has been presented here. Given a body of data, it’s probably common that the apologist will conclude “not enough data”, and on the opposite end the alarmist will say “we have more than enough data to be concerned”. So we have a difference of opinion about whether there is enough data to be worried about yellow journalists, Islamists, Jihadis, regressive leftists and so on. For you the jury is still out, for me there is enough data to be concerned.

So my stance is to continue to cite new data when it comes up, and to continue to explicitly disagree with you when you claim there isn’t enough data. This thread is a case in point. You claimed “not enough data” and I responded. So yes, it will come up again and again.

Perhaps you could point to a social ill for which you believe there IS enough data to be concerned, and what the nature of that satisfactory data is? I can’t promise to be able to match the level of data you’d consider meaningful, but at least I’d have a target.

 

 
 
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31 January 2016 15:54
 

after-the-jump (ATJ) - nice first post, welcome to the forum!

 
 
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31 January 2016 17:02
 
icehorse - 31 January 2016 03:51 PM

Me claiming that you’re an apologist isn’t name calling.

So again, 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?

Then you said that we’d need a Pew poll…

Niclynn, over the course of many months, a lot of data has been presented here. Given a body of data, it’s probably common that the apologist will conclude “not enough data”, and on the opposite end the alarmist will say “we have more than enough data to be concerned”. So we have a difference of opinion about whether there is enough data to be worried about yellow journalists, Islamists, Jihadis, regressive leftists and so on. For you the jury is still out, for me there is enough data to be concerned.

So my stance is to continue to cite new data when it comes up, and to continue to explicitly disagree with you when you claim there isn’t enough data. This thread is a case in point. You claimed “not enough data” and I responded. So yes, it will come up again and again.

Perhaps you could point to a social ill for which you believe there IS enough data to be concerned, and what the nature of that satisfactory data is? I can’t promise to be able to match the level of data you’d consider meaningful, but at least I’d have a target.


Ok, so, my point is that Sam should have backed up his argument with data, and your response is that I am an apologist for even suggesting such a thing because of some unspecified data in some unspecified post made at some unspecified time, and then you talk about Sharia, which does not at all relate to what I was talking about (i.e., whether or not these supposed hordes of “regressive leftists” actually exist and who Sam is referencing in his quote)? This all sounds a little faith based. Are there fully enlightened ones out there who have actually experienced this alleged data, or do you see it after you die, or is it more something that’s just beyond words… wink

 
 
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31 January 2016 17:18
 
Niclynn - 31 January 2016 05:02 PM
icehorse - 31 January 2016 03:51 PM

Me claiming that you’re an apologist isn’t name calling.

So again, 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?

Then you said that we’d need a Pew poll…

Niclynn, over the course of many months, a lot of data has been presented here. Given a body of data, it’s probably common that the apologist will conclude “not enough data”, and on the opposite end the alarmist will say “we have more than enough data to be concerned”. So we have a difference of opinion about whether there is enough data to be worried about yellow journalists, Islamists, Jihadis, regressive leftists and so on. For you the jury is still out, for me there is enough data to be concerned.

So my stance is to continue to cite new data when it comes up, and to continue to explicitly disagree with you when you claim there isn’t enough data. This thread is a case in point. You claimed “not enough data” and I responded. So yes, it will come up again and again.

Perhaps you could point to a social ill for which you believe there IS enough data to be concerned, and what the nature of that satisfactory data is? I can’t promise to be able to match the level of data you’d consider meaningful, but at least I’d have a target.


Ok, so, my point is that Sam should have backed up his argument with data, and your response is that I am an apologist for even suggesting such a thing because of some unspecified data in some unspecified post made at some unspecified time, and then you talk about Sharia, which does not at all relate to what I was talking about (i.e., whether or not these supposed hordes of “regressive leftists” actually exist and who Sam is referencing in his quote)? This all sounds a little faith based. Are there fully enlightened ones out there who have actually experienced this alleged data, or do you see it after you die, or is it more something that’s just beyond words… wink

As ATJ mentioned, there comes a point when we shouldn’t have to constantly restate our context and restate our data points. Niclynn, if this had been our first exchange, I’d see validity in your response here. But this is like our 300th exchange, and I’m talking about a long running pattern. Sam has - over the years - cited reams of data. Sam’s books have extensive citations (at least the one’s I’ve seen). When speaking, he frequently cites studies, polls, stats, and so on. The idea that the data is not to be seen is preposterous.

I can tell you that I have personally cited polls over and over again on this forum. For the record, here we go again:

Pew: Muslims

When Harris is interviewed and discusses someone like Greenwald, he comes armed with many specific examples of Greenwald’s behavior.

Niclynn, to cry “lack of data” at this stage comes across as purely evasive.

 
 
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31 January 2016 18:00
 
icehorse - 31 January 2016 05:18 PM

Niclynn, to cry “lack of data” at this stage comes across as purely evasive.


I’m talking about data that applies to the point I was making in this thread. I don’t see how your post applies to the existence or nonexistence of a supposed regressive left. At any rate, you seem hell bent on picking a fight, and I still have the post-retreat voice of my meditation teachers looking over my shoulder like the little “good angel” figures from cartoons of yore, which leaves me in a difficult situation. I honestly have no idea how to help you out here, so instead of going around in another circle I will link to a Jack Kornfield piece that makes me happy.

 
 
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31 January 2016 18:11
 

PS…

icehorse - 31 January 2016 05:18 PM

When Harris is interviewed and discusses someone like Greenwald, he comes armed with many specific examples of Greenwald’s behavior.


Aw, I love seeing that bunny’s name in print! He’s so friggin’ cute. He also hangs out over my shoulder and he yells at the meditation teachers sometimes, but they think he’s cute too so they get along ok. But the thing is, yes, Greenwald is incredibly rude sometimes, but he’s taught me a lot about the value of empiricism. I don’t necessarily agree with the narratives he creates but he does understand the idea of tying facts to logic, and, perhaps more importantly he recognizes when others do the same. He might hate their conclusions but he acknowledges them as factual if they’re factual, and in some ways that’s a rare quality.

 
 
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31 January 2016 18:34
 

@ Niclynn

I’m talking about data that applies to the point I was making in this thread. I don’t see how your post applies to the existence or nonexistence of a supposed regressive left

I realize I’m coming in well after halftime of this game, but:

I think some of the confusion stems from having rolled two topics into one. Specifically, back to this quote:

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?

That quote requests data not just for the existence of a ‘regressive left’, but also requests data regarding Jihadists who have reported religion as a primary motivation for their behavior.

I believe IceHorse’s reference to “reams of data” is specifically in regard to the second point - the one about the role of religious motivations as it relates to jihadists/Islamists/Fundamentalists. Harris has indeed went to painstaking lengths to outline said data, going so far as to specify down to a percentage the number of adherents to Islam he believes fit into the ‘Jihadist’ category, the ‘Islamist’ category, and the ‘nominal’ category. He’s cited in part the rather massive Pew poll(s) done on beliefs of Muslims worldwide to support his thoughts about the ‘concentric circles’ of Islam adherents. Additionally, when Harris pens a blog article about the topic, he regularly cites (and links to) videos of people expressing their stated motivations for their actions (the last video in the link is the most salient one). If you don’t want to search his blog though, just read the Hamas charter. In it, you’ll find explicitly religious motivation for killing infidels. You’ll find similar kind of language in just about anything ISIS, the Taliban, or Al Qaeda puts out as well.

As it relates to the first point you made in the comment I exerted (the point about being ‘left to assume’ the group known as ‘regressive left’ exists): Harris has mentioned several individuals he considers part of the ‘regressive left’ (as Harris mentioned in the exert you used, the term itself was coined by Majad Nawaaz); people like Glenn Greenwald, Cenk Ungar, Chris Hedges, Noam Chomsky, Fareed Zakaria, Ben Affleck, virtually every writer at the Salon, etc. This point seems less important to me than the first point, because the term ‘regressive left’ appears to be a suitcase term to succinctly reference self identifying Liberals who try to casually explain away the information regarding the second point (data linking Islamic belief to anti-humanistic behavior - specifically, jihad) or who simply ignore the existence of it altogether and offer no explanation at all.

I don’t mean this to be an attack on you, but that’s basically what you did here when you said: “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?” That kind of sentiment essentially dismisses the data that Harris has cited, and that’s exactly the kind of mentality Nawaaz and Harris are describing as the ‘regressive left’ -because it’s a mentality which keeps begging a question that they’ve already provided an answer to, both quantitatively and qualitatively. Quantitatively, there’s readily information available like this:

But in South Asia and the Middle East and North Africa, medians of more than half (of Muslims) back both severe criminal punishments and the death penalty for Muslims who renounce their faith.

Qualitatively, there’s the biographies of people like the 19 hijackers who flew into the Twin Towers on 9/11, or the seemingly never ending stream of Youtube videos of Jihadists talking about their faith, or the Hamas Covenant. 

So, when you asked, as it relates to the existence of the ‘regressive left, “Are there fully enlightened ones out there who have actually experienced this alleged data”: within the definition Harris and Nawaaz have offered, it seems we’re experiencing it here on this thread.

Again, I don’t mean that to be disrespectful; rather I think it provides a very clear answer to your question.

 

 

[ Edited: 31 January 2016 18:52 by After_The_Jump]
 
icehorse
 
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31 January 2016 19:23
 
Niclynn - 31 January 2016 06:00 PM
icehorse - 31 January 2016 05:18 PM

Niclynn, to cry “lack of data” at this stage comes across as purely evasive.

I’m talking about data that applies to the point I was making in this thread. I don’t see how your post applies to the existence or nonexistence of a supposed regressive left. At any rate, you seem hell bent on picking a fight, and I still have the post-retreat voice of my meditation teachers looking over my shoulder like the little “good angel” figures from cartoons of yore, which leaves me in a difficult situation. I honestly have no idea how to help you out here, so instead of going around in another circle I will link to a Jack Kornfield piece that makes me happy.

I’m not hell bent on picking a fight. That said, I will often react to statements that seem over the line to me. So if you say something that seems preposterous to me, and I happen to catch it, I’m likely to respond. This is not me trying to pick a fight, this is me reacting to what I see as spin.

After that, what the eloquent ATF said.

 
 
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31 January 2016 19:42
 
icehorse - 31 January 2016 07:23 PM
Niclynn - 31 January 2016 06:00 PM
icehorse - 31 January 2016 05:18 PM

Niclynn, to cry “lack of data” at this stage comes across as purely evasive.

I’m talking about data that applies to the point I was making in this thread. I don’t see how your post applies to the existence or nonexistence of a supposed regressive left. At any rate, you seem hell bent on picking a fight, and I still have the post-retreat voice of my meditation teachers looking over my shoulder like the little “good angel” figures from cartoons of yore, which leaves me in a difficult situation. I honestly have no idea how to help you out here, so instead of going around in another circle I will link to a Jack Kornfield piece that makes me happy.

I’m not hell bent on picking a fight. That said, I will often react to statements that seem over the line to me. So if you say something that seems preposterous to me, and I happen to catch it, I’m likely to respond. This is not me trying to pick a fight, this is me reacting to what I see as spin.

After that, what the eloquent ATF said.


Look, your views seem preposterous (and xenophobic) to me too, and they go against things that I value. But it is very important to me to: 1) State my general values, so that I’m not a passive observer when I see something I think is wrong being said 2) Value all humans, regardless of their views. So it’s the second point I was trying to highlight here. Anyways, I’ve said what I have to say on this topic so I’m done responding to it in this thread, let’s return to the OP.

 
 
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31 January 2016 20:18
 
After_The_Jump - 31 January 2016 06:34 PM

@ Niclynn

I’m talking about data that applies to the point I was making in this thread. I don’t see how your post applies to the existence or nonexistence of a supposed regressive left

I realize I’m coming in well after halftime of this game, but:

I think some of the confusion stems from having rolled two topics into one. Specifically, back to this quote:

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?

That quote requests data not just for the existence of a ‘regressive left’, but also requests data regarding Jihadists who have reported religion as a primary motivation for their behavior.

I believe IceHorse’s reference to “reams of data” is specifically in regard to the second point - the one about the role of religious motivations as it relates to jihadists/Islamists/Fundamentalists. Harris has indeed went to painstaking lengths to outline said data, going so far as to specify down to a percentage the number of adherents to Islam he believes fit into the ‘Jihadist’ category, the ‘Islamist’ category, and the ‘nominal’ category. He’s cited in part the rather massive Pew poll(s) done on beliefs of Muslims worldwide to support his thoughts about the ‘concentric circles’ of Islam adherents. Additionally, when Harris pens a blog article about the topic, he regularly cites (and links to) videos of people expressing their stated motivations for their actions (the last video in the link is the most salient one). If you don’t want to search his blog though, just read the Hamas charter. In it, you’ll find explicitly religious motivation for killing infidels. You’ll find similar kind of language in just about anything ISIS, the Taliban, or Al Qaeda puts out as well.

As it relates to the first point you made in the comment I exerted (the point about being ‘left to assume’ the group known as ‘regressive left’ exists): Harris has mentioned several individuals he considers part of the ‘regressive left’ (as Harris mentioned in the exert you used, the term itself was coined by Majad Nawaaz); people like Glenn Greenwald, Cenk Ungar, Chris Hedges, Noam Chomsky, Fareed Zakaria, Ben Affleck, virtually every writer at the Salon, etc. This point seems less important to me than the first point, because the term ‘regressive left’ appears to be a suitcase term to succinctly reference self identifying Liberals who try to casually explain away the information regarding the second point (data linking Islamic belief to anti-humanistic behavior - specifically, jihad) or who simply ignore the existence of it altogether and offer no explanation at all.

I don’t mean this to be an attack on you, but that’s basically what you did here when you said: “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?” That kind of sentiment essentially dismisses the data that Harris has cited, and that’s exactly the kind of mentality Nawaaz and Harris are describing as the ‘regressive left’ -because it’s a mentality which keeps begging a question that they’ve already provided an answer to, both quantitatively and qualitatively. Quantitatively, there’s readily information available like this:

But in South Asia and the Middle East and North Africa, medians of more than half (of Muslims) back both severe criminal punishments and the death penalty for Muslims who renounce their faith.

Qualitatively, there’s the biographies of people like the 19 hijackers who flew into the Twin Towers on 9/11, or the seemingly never ending stream of Youtube videos of Jihadists talking about their faith, or the Hamas Covenant. 

So, when you asked, as it relates to the existence of the ‘regressive left, “Are there fully enlightened ones out there who have actually experienced this alleged data”: within the definition Harris and Nawaaz have offered, it seems we’re experiencing it here on this thread.

Again, I don’t mean that to be disrespectful; rather I think it provides a very clear answer to your question.


For the sake of simplicity, bullet points:


- The data you cite does not answer the point I raised, where Harris claimed to be showing empathy for / sympathetically listening to jihadists who “makes his final murder video and says this is why I am doing it”. If you poll Americans, they also say many crazy and frightening things, like we shouldn’t worry about global warming because the rapture is coming in a few years. Worrisome? Yes. But it would make no sense to cross data and take a specific case of a Westerner attacking a Muslim civilian and infer their motives by looking at polls of “how many Americans think killing civilians in Islamic majority nations is justified for national security”. The data for the actual people Harris says he is listening to is not present, so far as I can tell. Ironically, I noticed this because Greenwald is much more consistent with pulling actual statements from these people - only when it suits his purposes, no doubt, but he does tend to include actual quotes and give specific instances.


- I say this as someone who likes Harris a lot. And this is a really blunt criticism, so I’m sorry. But. He comes across as positively cloistered when interacting with his critics, with the knee jerk accusation of all foreign points of view representing dishonest liars and being sort of dramatically terrible - as he said with Chomsky “a horror show”. A horror show is when a child is murdered, not when Noam Chomsky, who is a dick to almost everybody, is also a dick to you. This speaks to me of someone who never had a low paid (or many low paid) jobs as a teen where, the first few hundred times you thought a crazy customer was unfair to you, your boss patiently listened to your absolutely unbelieving self righteous outrage, and then at some point you were like “Oh, the rest of the world is happening” and you learned to shrug it off a little or even grit your teeth and try to think about where the berserk mother of four screaming at you about not being able to buy an Egg McMuffin at 10:31 might be coming from. So no, I do not think the fact that a group of people have criticized him means there is a nationwide phenomenon known as “The Regressive Left” going on, I think it means a small group of people pissed him off. That’s the only thing that term means, so far as I can tell, and yet I have seen it used to imply that there are some huge percentage of liberals who think things like honor killings should be smiled on as “a cultural difference’. Or your description is: “the term ‘regressive left’ appears to be a suitcase term to succinctly reference self identifying Liberals who try to casually explain away the information regarding the second point (data linking Islamic belief to anti-humanistic behavior - specifically, jihad) or who simply ignore the existence of it altogether and offer no explanation at all.” - again, I see no specific examples of this, just many references to “Well everybody knows that…” And I would like to highlight that if “not agreeing with my hypothesis” (i.e., a Robert Pape or Scott Atran) is what you call “explaining away”, then I think that’s just anti-scientific.


The thing is, I find I like the conservative right far better on the topic of extremist terrorism because there is no dancing around in circles of self-justification. The justification is, come after me and I’ll come after you, period. My impression is that the left shares this general self preservation instinct but has never been able to come to terms with it, and so there are all these unnecessarily convoluted justifications that don’t stand up to scrutiny.

 
 
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31 January 2016 23:21
 
Niclynn - 31 January 2016 07:42 PM
icehorse - 31 January 2016 07:23 PM
Niclynn - 31 January 2016 06:00 PM
icehorse - 31 January 2016 05:18 PM

Niclynn, to cry “lack of data” at this stage comes across as purely evasive.

I’m talking about data that applies to the point I was making in this thread. I don’t see how your post applies to the existence or nonexistence of a supposed regressive left. At any rate, you seem hell bent on picking a fight, and I still have the post-retreat voice of my meditation teachers looking over my shoulder like the little “good angel” figures from cartoons of yore, which leaves me in a difficult situation. I honestly have no idea how to help you out here, so instead of going around in another circle I will link to a Jack Kornfield piece that makes me happy.

I’m not hell bent on picking a fight. That said, I will often react to statements that seem over the line to me. So if you say something that seems preposterous to me, and I happen to catch it, I’m likely to respond. This is not me trying to pick a fight, this is me reacting to what I see as spin.

After that, what the eloquent ATF said.

Look, your views seem preposterous (and xenophobic) to me too, and they go against things that I value. But it is very important to me to: 1) State my general values, so that I’m not a passive observer when I see something I think is wrong being said 2) Value all humans, regardless of their views. So it’s the second point I was trying to highlight here. Anyways, I’ve said what I have to say on this topic so I’m done responding to it in this thread, let’s return to the OP.

If my views seem xenophobic to you that’s an indication that you’re not reading my posts. As far as valuing all humans, hey! something we can agree on!

 
 
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01 February 2016 07:34
 
icehorse - 31 January 2016 11:21 PM

As far as valuing all humans, hey! something we can agree on!


Well, cheers to that.

 
 
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01 February 2016 09:43
 

@ Niclynn

The data you cite does not answer the point I raised, where Harris claimed to be showing empathy for / sympathetically listening to jihadists who “makes his final murder video and says this is why I am doing it”.

First, Harris clearly isn’t “showing empathy/sympathy”. Rather, he’s simply noting exactly what the perpetrator is saying. What you’re doing here is similar to something Reza Aslan does to atheists all the time - he claims atheists interpret Holy Books ‘just like Bin Laden does’. That’s clearly a fallacious statement: a person acknowledging that a great many people take a given faith literally is not the same thing as the same said person themselves also taking said faith literally. This is a rather easy point to illustrate. For example, I can say the KKK worldview is racist without also being guilty of showing “sympathy” for their worldview. In other words, my acknowledging their view doesn’t simultaneously mean I also believe their view or endorse their view.

Second: your general point is one that I find perplexing. Your claim seems to be that Harris doesn’t cite aggregate quantitative polls which specifically include the testimony from the qualitative feedback of the people he cites. Again, imagine this kind of criticism in any other domain of discourse. Imagine, for example, the following: Harris cites random sample studies showing a correlation between smoking and lung cancer, and then cites testimony from someone who smoked his whole life and developed lung cancer at age 50. What difference would it make if the case of the 50 year old with lung cancer wasn’t specifically included in the study? The aggregate data is still the aggregate data.

It seems to me Harris using a specific qualitative anecdote is simply a way to contextualize the statistical aggregate data. In other words, aggregate data tells us a lot of Muslims in various countries think people who leave the faith should be killed. Qualitatively, Harris cites what one such person may sound like. Again, this is quite a common practice as it relates to presenting statistical data (because one couldn’t feasibly present every.single.qualitative.response from all the people who responded a certain way - the Pew poll included responses from 38,000 people after all). If it’s confusing, then I’d suggest simply ignoring the qualitative example - because the aggregate data still stands either way.

I see no specific examples of this

You not seeing them doesn’t mean they didn’t (and don’t) happen. Here’s a perfect microcosm of such a example - notice how when Harris brings up the Pew polling on this issue, the moderator tries to explain it away by blatantly lying about the nature of the Pew poll questions, and Chris Hedges just completely ignores it entirely. Hedges spent more than an hour claiming to know what Muslim people thought based on his having spent time in the Middle East as a New York Times journalist, and when Harris refuted Hedges with actual data, Hedges acted like it never happened. There, we’ve got examples of both of the things I cited: Liberals either (a) explaining away the relevant data as if it’s not relevant, or (b) Liberals ignoring the data completely.

This isn’t something that happens in isolation. Chris Hedges isn’t just some guy; he’s got a following of millions of Liberals. When Sam Harris presented the same kind of data to Ben Affleck on Real Time with Bill Maher, we saw Affleck (Liberal) and Nicholas Kristof (Liberal) utterly ignore it, and continue claiming any kind of criticism like that is tantamount to racism against Muslims.

Regarding Harris coming across as simply whining because people disagree with him: I can see that, especially if someone hasn’t followed this dialogue for the past 10 or so years. While it’s time consuming, I’d encourage to go back and watch Harris’s debate with Reza Aslan from 2007.. Then, watch Harris’s debate with Chris Hedges from 2011 (the one I already linked). Literally, for a decade, Harris attempted to genuinely engage these individuals. And for 10 years, he was called a racist, a genocidal maniac who wanted to launch a pre-emptive nuclear strike against the Middle East, etc. I have definitely noticed a change in Harris in the last year or so specifically as it relates to this topic, and yes he is much, much more petulant on this issue now than ever before. But, I have also watched him display herculean efforts of patience interacting with people of different opinions than his while said individuals routinely tarred and feathered him as a racist. Harris is indeed now calling people names too, and he’s quite directly acknowledged how anyone who hasn’t been following this from the outset probably sees him as pouting.

The thing is, I find I like the conservative right far better on the topic of extremist terrorism because there is no dancing around in circles of self-justification. The justification is, come after me and I’ll come after you, period. My impression is that the left shares this general self preservation instinct but has never been able to come to terms with it, and so there are all these unnecessarily convoluted justifications that don’t stand up to scrutiny.

This comment definitely confuses me, because what you’ve stated here is exactly what Harris states over and over again. In fact, he recently took heat for saying he’d vote for Ben Carson over Noam Chomsky as it related to how we should respond to Islamic extremism. Harris said, unequivocally, Carson is a ‘religious demagogue’ who gets almost nothing right, and what he does get right on the issue of Islamic terrorism he gets right by accident, but he’s still closer to a realistic position on Islamic extremism than Noam Chomsky is.

Thus, the “unnecessarily convoluted justifications that don’t stand up to scrutiny” are generally coming from Liberals on this issue, and that’s what Sam Harris is pointing out. You make the same point, yet you seem to take issue with Harris when he makes it?

[ Edited: 01 February 2016 09:53 by After_The_Jump]
 
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01 February 2016 11:11
 

ATJ, for the sake of brevity (I feel like it’s hard to read posts when there’s tons of quoted material) I’m just going to quote the first sentence of the passage I’m responding to in some places, with the idea that people can look above at your post for details:

After_The_Jump - 01 February 2016 09:43 AM

First, Harris clearly isn’t “showing empathy/sympathy”.


You actually lost me right off the bat here because the quote about sympathy is from Harris, so not sure if you didn’t read where I said this is his quote; or if you’re disagreeing with him on his own quote. In light of that confusion, not sure how to interpret the rest of your paragraph because I’m missing that info and it takes on a bit of a different meaning depending on what you meant.

Second: your general point is one that I find perplexing. Your claim seems to be that Harris doesn’t cite aggregate quantitative polls which specifically include the testimony from the qualitative feedback of the people he cites. Again, imagine this kind of criticism in any other domain of discourse. Imagine, for example, the following: Harris cites random sample studies showing a correlation between smoking and lung cancer, and then cites testimony from someone who smoked his whole life and developed lung cancer at age 50. What difference would it make if the case of the 50 year old with lung cancer wasn’t specifically included in the study? The aggregate data is still the aggregate data.


(Has flashbacks to working with some - some, not all - behavioral therapists, who seem to think that you can make any point by having reams of data in general). It doesn’t matter how much data there is. It doesn’t matter if you could fill oceans and galaxies with the data, my point was that the data in question does not apply to the quote I referenced (which, if you did miss the quote, that would actually explain the misunderstanding here,) where he references listening to the statements of jihadists who have actually committed murder. That is a very specific statement, without a lot of room for interpretation. If I told you that your mom told me you’re adopted, and then said “No, actually what I meant is that I looked at an aggregate of adoptive mothers and many of them have brown hair like your mother”, that would make no sense - the quote I was talking about had a very specific referent.

It seems to me Harris using a specific qualitative anecdote is simply a way to contextualize the statistical aggregate data.


This seems like an elongated way of saying he misspoke slightly, but ok, if that’s the case then that might make sense. I like the idea of charitable interpretation but I feel like it’s tricky to get into hypothesizing about what people really meant, though.

You not seeing them doesn’t mean they didn’t (and don’t) happen. Here’s a perfect microcosm of such a example - notice how when Harris brings up the Pew polling on this issue, the moderator tries to explain it away by blatantly lying about the nature of the Pew poll questions, and Chris Hedges just completely ignores it entirely.


Ok, I can’t watch the video now because I’m on low-speed WiFi, but it still seems like a stretch to me to say that because a guy who Harris is feuding with ignored one of his statements in a debate, that a giant group known as “The Regressive Left” exists. It might also mean that Hedges was being a bit of a douche and ignored Harris in a debate, not that hordes of people agree with some idea that is supposedly implied but never stated by him not responding. Again, seems like a pretty big stretch to me.

Regarding Harris coming across as simply whining because people disagree with him: I can see that, especially if someone hasn’t followed this dialogue for the past 10 or so years.


Look, I like Harris a lot, even though, if he ever reads these boards, he probably doesn’t like me very much right now. If I had my druthers I’d like to see him focus largely on meditation, because that is the area where I originally connected with his work and still feel a good bit of connection with him. That said, I’m sorry, but I think he is going through a long and torturous process of losing an argument and losing it badly. The idea of religion as a sort of inexplicable fairytale that makes people do evil things for no particular sociocultural reason was never altogether that promising as an academic hypothesis, and I’ve watched him dig his heels in deeper and deeper with all of the political implications that come from treating large groups of people in foreign countries as if they are functionally insane. He’s a very smart guy and pretty insightful, and he’s used to being right, I think, so being wrong in an incredibly public and messy (in terms of his current investments) way was not on his life’s To Do list, I have no doubt. So yes, I am irritated by the prolonged bitter process he seems to be engaged in, but my interest in people is not ultimately about whether they are right or wrong. However it works out for him, this is clearly an important part of his path in life, and whether he’s right or not isn’t ultimately the important thing.

This comment definitely confuses me, because what you’ve stated here is exactly what Harris states over and over again.


You can have a conflict with someone and just say “Yeah, we’re having a conflict, and there is real danger right now, so we should address that, and when the conflict is over, it’s over”, without turning it into a big story about how we have to go in and save billions of people from this terrible warlike religion and… to me, the latter POV might be more ‘feel good’ in the short term but it actually escalates conflicts and keeps them going, vs. seeing it in starker terms.

 
 
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