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Jessica wrote

I'd say it's because he promotes "scientific racism" in a dishonest way. He frames it as forbidden knowledge because the discussion of genetics, IQ, and race, is often shut down. He thinks it's because it's taboo, but the real reason is that it is impossible to meaningfully discuss it without its racist implications and historical context. Ezra Klein's reply piece was brilliant.


robottroymacclure wrote

for what its worth, Ezra klein is scheduled to be the next guest on Sam Harris' podcast so tune in if your interested in this topic.


quadrungle wrote

I'd agree that Sam frames it as taboo and that Sam takes a clear anti-taboo stance intellectually. In that same sense, Sam opposes laws against Holocaust Denial. But that doesn't mean he's supportive in the slightest of any Holocaust Denial.

Sam has clearly screwed up on many occasions in failing to adequately present the historical context for intellectual topics. I know Sam himself is aware of Rapoport's Rules (per Dan Dennett) that emphasize expressing others' views so well that the others say "yes, I couldn't have said it better". Sam knows conceptually about that idea, but he's done a bad job of it in many cases.

Still, I don't think Sam promotes, supports, or anything like that for "scientific racism". I think he's just failing to take all the necessary steps to avoid that interpretation from others when he wades into controversial subjects.

A good example is that he seems to be truly concerned about humanizing everyone and opposing the injustice of civilian deaths in military conflicts. But for whatever reason, Sam keeps using the term "collatoral damage" and then pissing off others because of that, and he doesn't express a real understanding of why others object to that term. Sam wants to keep using the term and just make it clear that he agrees completely with the awfulness of the reality it refers to. Why stick to the term? My guess is that Sam just lacks a certain level of patience and sympathy with the significance of the power of political language. Sam wants to talk about ideas and science and such and even politics, but just naively wishes the historic connotations and implications of language wouldn't get in the way (but of course they always will, so we'd better just deal with the language issues).