On a recent episode of JRE, New Atheist Sam Harris complained to Joe Rogan that Hunter has been teasing him on twitter and hurting his feelings. He also claimed that Hunter got “half of the relevant biology wrong.” Although he didn’t specify which half we’re pretty sure Sam believes he’s a Vulcan.
The basic gist of the conversation was that Sam is important and right, and Hunter is an internet troll who “doesn’t have his shit together.”
Sam said he wasn’t trippin’, but Joe called bullshit.
“You fucked up…you said ‘Candyman’ five times and now you got a problem.”—Joe Rogan
Honestly, Sam should be worried. #Candyman is the boogeyman who destroys comfortable echo chambers and shreds confirmation bias. You think you’re in a safe space? We dare you to say his name five times.
Our hero Joe Rogan has had to play the role of #Candyman. He heard that Carlos Mencia was stealing jokes from other comedians and as a member of the comedy community he felt it was his duty to publicly call out “Menstealia”. Guys like Mancow came to Mencia’s defense with a whole bunch of justifications for their friend. “Maybe he absorbed it from the ether.” “He’s a nice guy.” Blah, blah, blah.
Some people didn’t like Joe’s tactics, thought he was mean and juvenile. But again Joe cut through the bullshit, exposing the truth.
Isn’t this the same situation?
Sam is wrong about science and refuses to admit it, which undermines the important work of people like Jonathan Haidt. Sam uses his outdated beliefs of how the human brain works as a weapon against people he thinks of as lesser, whether they’re Muslims or non-WEIRDS. If he were really up on the science he’d recognize that one of the reasons he does this is #TheDunbarNumber.
To those outside the scientific community it might not seem like a big deal. But when someone with as much clout as Sam Harris or Richard Dawkins refuses to update their beliefs in light of the evidence that holds us all back. They’ve essentially created their own flat earth society.
And no, you can’t believe both ideas about the human brain any more than you can believe that sometimes the earth is flat. Either you accept #DescartesError and believe humans are intuitive as Haidt does or you don’t. And if you don’t then you got some ‘splainin’ to do about what happened to “Elliot”.
Hunter didn’t set out to be #Candyman. He and Bryan Callen had over 200 polite conversations with academics about the abysmal state of scientific culture and the lack of accountability within the community. Everyone complained about the problem, but all were too formal and too polite to do shit. Even Haidt, who has been very critical of Sam Harris, let him off the hook in their conversation by agreeing to disagree about fundamental functions of the brain. But we aren’t havin’ it.
If NDGT had politely given BoB a pass for believing the earth is flat people would have lost their fucking minds. So why is everyone giving Sam Harris a pass? Once you understand the “relevant biology” high-reason view seems as ridiculous as flat earth beliefs.
The real difference between Joe Rogan’s and Hunter’s #Candyman is the culture of their respective communities. Comedians are allowed and expected to razz each other mercilessly, while academics are supposed to be super serious and handle each other with frilly white gloves.
After 200 polite discussions Hunter realized that the culture of formality was preventing science from progressing as quickly as needed and he decided to pull a page from Joe Rogan’s playbook. It’s been uncomfortable for people because they aren’t used to academics taking the gloves off and being so bulldoggish. And while he may not be as charismatic as Joe Rogan, Hunter isn’t “on the spectrum”, he’s just Dutch.
None of this was about Hunter any more than calling out Carlos Mencia was about Joe Rogan. It’s not even about having a debate with Sam.
Mixed Mental Arts’ only goal is to spread the innovative ideas like those of Jonathan Haidt, Joe Henrich, David Sloan Wilson, and the other academics interviewed on the Bryan Callen Show. They might not be as “famous” as Sam, but we don’t think that makes them less valid.
Everyone can rest assured that #Candyman is gone for now. We can’t promise he won’t come back because sometimes safe spaces need smashin’ and all of us need to be #Candyman every once in awhile.
Ready to tackle more?