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Thoughts on the Sam Harris/Ezra Klein Skirmish?

Fairly open to discussion here, but I felt they struggled to get each other's underlying thesis. Agree/disagree?

deepsouthsci 2 Apr 11

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My thoughts are that Harris often interrupts Klein and Klein rarely interrupt Harris.

That Klein does his best to strictly abides by quotes and data while Harris is comfortable relying on interpretation and personal recollection.

I think Harris is uncomfortable with science when science goes against his beliefs while Ezra is merely promoting that we should be comfortable with science regardless of our personal belief.

I personally thought Klein came off as the calmer, more focused, more accurate, more erudite of the two but (full disclosure) I've never had any love for Harris's ideologies, especially his views on tribalism which I find misguided so I came into this not knowing of Klein but already biased against Harris.


I found myself agreeing with each one at certain points. I think Sam does think the worst when it comes to reasons why he's being "attacked" but I also don't like a lot of the deplatforming of people whose ideas you disagree with. You don't win the battle of ideas by shutting down the other person's ideas. You have and promote better ideas.

I agree......
within limits. The difference in power has to be accounted for in some way. To use an Australian example (as this is the place with which I'm most familiar) Andrew Bolt, columnist, tv presenter, radio talk show host, and multi millionaire uses his many media platforms to defame people he does not like. Specifically Australian Aborigines in this instance.
Now our defamation laws are decidedly slanted in favour of the rich and well lawyered. How does old mate in the street make the better arguments heard? Certainly the advocates among those he is defaming do not have the resources to even argue with him. They can rage on social media but they'd be competing with a man who has platforms which eventually reach every member of our nation.
As the platforms are increasingly controlled by a single individual, broadcast media platforms are not, or rarely available to opposing views, and certainly not on a daily, scheduled basis.
Then there is Karl Popper's view that democracies do not have to tolerate voices which use democratic institutions and tolerance to destroy those institutions and that tolerance. I'm in two minds about this. First up I would hope that robust argument would answer, but these hopes are being disappointed and rest, in any case, on the assumption that my interlocutors will argue in good faith. This is clearly not the case as they are trying to destroy the basis for good faith argument.
This leaves two perhaps three options.

  1. State interference. Let's save that for the iminent outbreak of civil war.
    2)No platforming. Limited effectiveness, gives the bad faith actor more propaganda material, and risks silencing legitimate voices of enquiry whose conclusions may be correct, and so need hearing, or may be incorrect and so need debunking or further enquiry to establish the basis for an observed phenomenon.
  2. Allowing the speech but demanding equal, prepared (questions and speech on notice) rebuttal. This risks being tarred as "no platforming" by bad faith actors.
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