Welcome to Humanity’s #IntellectualThunderdome!

1000 years ago a Muslim polymath named Ibn Haytham studied a wide range of subjects, including Aristotle, Galen, and Ptolemy of whom Westerners have heard much. He was also influenced by the Banū Mūsā and Thābit ibn Qurra who helped found statistics of whom Westerners have heard little. Because Ibn Haytham was a Mixed Mental Artist he drew from this vast knowledge to help found what today we would “consider modern scientific methodology, due to his emphasis on experimental data and reproducibility of its results.”

Yes, ladies and gents, science was invented by a Muslim.

You may have thought science was invented by the West because that was the story told by the West. We are told lots of stories that seem true or reasonable if you don’t have all the relevant information. W.E.I.R.D. Science’s view of itself is a lot like DJ Khaled’s.

Ibn Haytham saw further because he had the wisdom to appreciate the cumulative contributions of many individuals from around the world.

Mixed Mental Arts aims to encourage that spirit. How far can 7.5 billion humans see empowered with technology that allows everyone a voice in a massive exchange of ideas? Further than ever before.

Ibn Haytham’s great insight was that ideas should be tested and retested against reality. Those that describe reality well live. Those that don’t…die. And from that death the possibility for new and better ideas is born.

Mixed Mental Arts is working to get everyone’s ideas out in the open so we can test them against reality and against the available evidence. The internet is our #IntellectualThunderdome.

The first official battle in the #IntellectualThunderdome is about the story of the I.Q. Test, courtesy of our friend Sam Harris.

On the Joe Rogan Experience, Sam shared his annoyance at Hunter Maats for repeatedly challenging Sam’s beliefs about neuroscience. He specifically claimed that Hunter Maats doesn’t understand “half the relevant biology.”

Then Sam interviewed Charles Murray, author of The Bell Curve, in which among other things they concluded that the I.Q. Test is the best predictor of employment success and that there are undeniable racial differences in intelligence.

We couldn’t be more excited!!! This is a very clear, testable hypothesis. Now, we can hold Sam Harris intellectually accountable on what he believes. Hunter Maats has pieced together seven fields of neuroscience and psychology into The Straight-A Conspiracy, has interviewed over 200 experts, and can explain what he understands of the relevant biology. We can see which story—the one presented by Sam Harris or the one presented by Hunter Maats—best fits reality.

We’re calling this first #IntellectualThunderdome a “Walk Off” because Sam Harris bears an uncanny resemblance to Derek Zoolander, and because we are not out to destroy Sam Harris the person. It’s not personal; we only want to replace his problematic story with an updated one. But we also think science should be fun.

So get out the popcorn and settle in. The #IntellectualThunderdome is about to begin and you are the judges. Let’s resolve the debate about I.Q. once and for all.

Two ideas enter. One idea leaves. Just the way Ibn Haytham would have wanted it.

Oh, and Derek Zoolander, you can Dere-lick my balls. Joe is right. You said Candyman.

Right after being born in Saudi Arabia, I was taken to the Callen house. Since then, Bryan and I have travelled the world with our Citibank fathers and somehow ended up in LA together. There we'd run into each other at family gatherings and do something that no one else in LA seemed to be doing: we talked about books. Since Bryan was kind of a big deal, Hunter and Bryan hatched a scheme to use his podcast to get on their favorite authors and professors. Out of that evolved Mixed Mental Arts and this tribe. For me, the marriage of entertainment and education is a return to how things used to be before our culture split story into two separate things. It's exciting to be able to build on the work Katie O'Brien and I did for The Straight-A Conspiracy and expand it out to every area of life. While I play a series of roles in the Mixed Mental Arts community (including Shitty Dutch Uncle and Bryan's #1 fan) my favorite role is as Toto who pulls back the curtain and let's the world see that there are no wizards...only men and women who try and puff themselves up to seem important.


  1. Dale Chambless Reply

    Test the ideas and let us know the results. This one sided personal beef you have with Sam Harris is just sad and detracts from your greater message.

    1. Cate Fogarty Reply

      Sam publicly complained that Hunter doesn’t understand “half the relevant biology.” Isn’t that the definition of “two-sided”? 😉 The goal of this #IntellectualThunderdome is to present the relevant biology clearly to you so you can decide on your own and let us know what you think. Sam’s feelings on this subject have gotten a lot of airplay, but they are by no means the most updated info. But by the end of the series we’d love to know what you think! And we’re trying to have some fun with it. We tease to keep it light, not because it’s personal.

      1. Dale Chambless Reply

        How long has Hunter been publicly defaming Sam? At some point, nonsense must be called out. Is science really a subject where people should, “decide on [their] own”? In my experience, biology is not nearly as subjective as you suggest.

        1. Cate Fogarty Reply

          Hunter and I definitely feeeel strongly about the damage we believe Sam has done to various populations whether it’s Muslims or minority groups who have been subjected to misuse of the I.Q. Test so we would counter that Sam does plenty of defaming of his own. And maybe you don’t like our tactics or our sense of humor and that’s fair. That definitely is subjective and we’re open to your ideas on how we can improve in the future. BUT I wasn’t implying that science is subjective. I do believe that it’s possible to present evidence clearly enough that a majority of people can draw an informed conclusion. We believe in the wisdom of crowds and we’re doing our best to make the crowd wise. But we definitely need help! So that’s why I would love to hear what you think at the end of the series. Did we present the evidence clearly enough? And don’t worry, it’s not going to be a bunch of Sam-bashing! Well, maybe one or two jokes toward the end 😉 We would love to get Sam on our side the same way Zoolander and Hansel team up.

          1. Hunter "Toto" Maats Post author

            And yep! The goal is to get Sam to change his mind in light of evidence so we can work together. It’s now clear he hadn’t even SEEN the relevant biology or he and Murray would have known WHY the Flynn Effect was happening. That’s covered in Joe Henrich’s The Secret of Our Success one of the books I called him on not being responsive to. Turns out he hadn’t even read it. WHOOPS! How embarrassing.

        2. Hunter "Toto" Maats Post author Reply

          I’d agree, Dave. The biology is not that subjective. But Sam has power and misrepresents the biology. Humans tend to decide based on what socially powerful people say. And so, the New Atheists have had the chance to misrepresent the biology for a long time. If you’re interested, this whole strategy of #intellectualterrorism comes out of understanding the biology. Conflict (social drama) is required to overcome people’s obliviousness and draw them into the ideas. In fact, this is the basis of Sam’s own success. He provokes people and then when they get pissed he keeps his cool and people think he won. It’s incredibly effective. The difference is that while Sam uses it to get people to blindly follow him our intent is to use it to draw people into engaging with the ideas.

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