The Affleck Redemption: Sam Harris isn’t Reasonable; He’s Obtuse

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Maybe the best part of going on a platform as large as a Joe Rogan Experience is that you get to send up a flare into the world and find loads of people in the world who think like you. Only in the last six months have I learned that if someone gets what I’m saying, then I should talk to them because it means we’re on a parallel journey and that they have things to teach me.

I’ve now done four podcasts since the Joe Rogan Experience: The Renegade Report in South Africa, The Coolest Humans in Ohio, The Dead Centre Politics Podcast in Australia and The Ripple Podcast in Ludlow, MA. None of these have a big audience currently but all of them were hosted by guys more interested in figuring things out than in self-promoting. In short, they were coming from very much the same place as Bryan Callen, Katie, me and all the people I enjoy spending time with. It was a treat. However, what was particularly interesting was that they helped give words to what I’d long felt about Fundamentalists and clarify the patterns. In particular, they helped me figure out the issue with the trickiest of all the Fundamentalists I’ve called out so far: Sam Harris.

Dylan and Jasper told me about growing up in Australian, white, suburbia and having been fed a steady diet of New Atheism. They described it as selling a feeling of smug complacency. And that was spot on. So much of what has done well in the early days of social media is the selling of feelings. Donald Trump, Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson sold a feeling to the industrial workers in their country that they had been screwed over and blamed those problems on globalization and foreign migrants. To anyone who read widely, the story didn’t track. Jobs were disappearing because of automation and with driverless trucks already on the road a lot of jobs are soon going to be gone. Here is a map of the number one job in every state:

Trump is great at weaving narratives. He focuses the public’s attention on keeping jobs from the Carrier A/C factory to create the feeling that now every American will have a job. In the end though, reality bites. A massive change in culture is needed to help millions of Americans shift from an Industrial Age culture to an Information Age culture. For now, Trump has millions of people fooled and either he changes tack or he becomes increasingly manipulative in order to keep people fooled. In the end though, Trump is the perfect example of what Abraham Lincoln meant when he said, “You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.”

Sam Harris has fooled some of the people all the time but when a group of people whom he didn’t fool get together and compare notes they figure him out in just a couple of weeks. After talking to the Australian folks at the Dead Centre Podcast, I decided to reenact one of my favorite scenes from Crocodile Dundee II. I went dynamite fishing in Atheist Fundamentalist waters.

Having triggered the Atheist Trigglypuffs so many times already, I knew I would need something really big to bring them out in force and bring out their best vitriol. And that’s when I remembered Sam Harris’ big fight with Ben Affleck on Bill Maher:

And so, Bunny did something very naughty. He reached out to @benaffleck on Twitter and offered him all the science he needed to unmask Sam Harris as a fraud. Ben Affleck didn’t respond. However, as predicted, within seconds huge numbers of Sam’s Flying Butt Monkeys came out in full force with their usual self-righteous certainty.

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There were also some other interesting responses:

Austin’s point is the sort of point you hear on the other side of the science-religion debate. People like Tom Woods and the folks at Oaks Christian focus on the Godless government regimes of the 20th Century to justify their narrative that a lack of religion leads to violence. However, the most interesting conversation was with Ro’ee Orland. Ro’ee was one of the very first listeners to The Bryan Callen Show and we’ve talked extensively. However, he really believed that Sam was committed to reason. He felt that while Dawkins was a fundamentalist that Sam Harris was different and that I should patiently wait for an opportunity to engage Sam Harris in a debate. However, when you’re a tutor, you learn to ignore what people say and focus very closely on what they’re doing. You learn to read between the lines and quickly parse out what the psychology is that’s driving people’s behavior. I’ve been reaching out to Sam Harris for months with no response. This is fascinating. I’ve reached out to people A LOT more respected than Sam and been able to get almost all of them on The Bryan Callen Show. Sometimes, it has taken really persistence but even when people were impossibly busy none of them outright ignored me after repeated requests. We’ve managed to book perhaps 90% of the eminent scientists, Pulitzer-Prize winning authors and foreign policy experts we’ve tried to get on the show. Jared Diamond, Paul Ekman and John Nagl (the guy who literally wrote the Army’s manual on how to handle counter-insurgency) have time for us but Sam Harris is too coooooool to even respond? And then there are the facial expressions he favors:

As a tutor, you learn that reading facial expressions will often tell you much more about what’s up with something than what their words say:

Sam says we’re all created equal but is that how he feeeeeeeeels? Is that how he acts? Well, even Ro’ee doesn’t feel that way about him anymore:

And, of course, Ro’ee’s appeal for reasonableness was merely bait for everyone’s favorite Costa Rican hit and run drunk driver, Gerry Wallington. Yes, like a moth to the flame, Gerry Wallington waded in and attacked Ro’ee…for trying to convince me to try and engage Sam in reasonable conversation:

The last comment is really revealing and has been a recurring pattern in both Gerry and the other Atheist Trigglypuff’s attacks on me and reasonable people like Ro’ee. In the end, Gerry managed to alienate even Gerry:

In the end, it became clear to Ro’ee that Sam’s followers are insane. We talked it out and he gets it. What’s interesting though is why it was so hard for Ro’ee to “see” Sam for what he was.

The answer it turns out comes down to Sam having wrapped himself in a mantle of reasonableness. He maintains that calm, cool, machine-like voice and so he seeeeeems like the most reasonable person alive. Sam’s recent interview with Jordan Peterson reveals that something is rotten in Denmark. However, all credit for revealing exactly what it is goes to Ricardo Varandas at The Ripple Podcast. Ricardo pointed me to the interview between Dan Carlin and Sam Harris. As Ricardo explained, Dan Carlin raises objection after objection to what Sam is thinking and Sam never takes a single one in. He just squirms away. Sam Harris isn’t reasonable. He’s sounds reasonable. In actuality, he’s evasive and obtuse.

Like Warden Norton in The Shawshank Redemption, Sam Harris has a financial incentive to be obtuse. Sam’s whole business and personality cult rests on him seeming like he has it all figured out. He sells the feeling of certainty. This actually casts Sam Harris’ conversation with Ben Affleck in a whole new light. Ben Affleck lost not because he was wrong, but because he lost his cool. Andy DuFresne also lost his cool with Warden Norton. Sam Harris and Warden Norton know that as long as you act cool and remain obtuse that you can get away with the worst kinds of behavior.

This is an amazing demonstration of humanity’s high social intelligence and low causal intelligence.

People have gotten upset with Ben Affleck and with me for getting upset with Sam Harris. And a lot of people have gotten upset with me for getting upset with Thomas Woods, Peter Schiff and Richard Dawkins. However, this experience has taught me the value of aggression. In trying to figure out how to defeat them intellectually, I have had to get much, much more creativity. I have had to figure out how to find the holes in their mental game and why they succeed in selling their intellectual snake oil to millions. They pretend like they’re debating but they never take a punch. Dan Carlin raises reasonable objection after reasonable objection and Sam Harris never takes one in. Western Fundamentalists are obtuse. And if you want more evidence of that listen to my interview with Peter Schiff.

Sam Harris is a Trustafarian from Brentwood. He was once exactly the kind of kid I’ve been tutoring for the last thirteen years. Except, I never got to tutor him. And so, he’s still acting smart and trying to impress the grown-ups at the cocktail party. This is actually something I see all the time. These kids want to be smart and so they fake a certain kind of voice, they compliment the adults (see Dan Carlin interview), they schmooze their way into certain social circles even though they don’t have the credentials (see the Four Horseman of Atheism) and they get into fancy schools that give out expensive pieces of paper without really giving an education. And in that sense, The Tutor of Death has an unfair advantage in spotting what’s up with him. Getting people like Sam Harris to stop acting smart and to work on becoming smart is my bread and butter.

If Sam was living a quiet Trustafarian life going to Café Luxxe and participating in meditation retreats and quietly saying dumb-assed shit about Muslims in the house his mommy and daddy’s money bought him, then I wouldn’t have beef with him. However, he’s not. He lends the aura of intellectual credibility to unproductive and divisive attitudes just as Richard Dawkins lends the aura of intellectual credibility to the idea that successful companies are about relentless internal competition. Actually, relentless internal competition destroys companies. Successful companies are teams based on relentlessly internal cooperation so that they can relentlessly compete against other companies.

It takes a while to figure someone’s deal out and Sam Harris has been the most difficult because he seems so reasonable. However, with the help of people all over the world the pattern is now pretty clear to me. Four groups of podcasters, Ro’ee, Gerry Wallington, the rest of Sam Harris’ flying butt monkeys, a lot of reading and reflecting and decades of tutoring Brentwood kids all helped me figure it out. And the Shawshank Redemption summed it all up in one word: obtuse. The Affleck-Harris debate is here right now:

But the movie isn’t over. And though Ben Affleck will have to climb through a river of shit to get there, I’d love to see him teach that obtuse summabitch Sam Harris a lesson:

Nothing gets people riled up like finding out they’ve been duped and that someone has abused their power and privilege for their own personal profit and power. The flying butt monkeys may be focused on me but oh how quickly they can turn.

I triggered Joe Rogan when I criticized his boy Sam Harris.

It was a scary thing. Joe’s a much bigger man than I am. I’d hate to see him really angry at me.

Donald Trump and Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins have played with fire. The Arabs, the Sicilians, the Scotch-Irish (Rednecks)…they’re all honor cultures. Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Jackson were also from that culture. So are my Aunts, Uncles and Cousins in Kansas. And I’ll tell you something, there are two things honor cultures hate: being insulted and being duped. I’m really not sure which they hate more.

Stories turn all the time. And I think this one is about to turn against the folks who done been selling intellectual snake oil to folks this whole time. Oh, sure. Sam Harris done packaged up his message really nice. But when you listen to the Dan Carlin-Harris interview, you’re gonna realize Sam Harris is full of fine hundred dollar words but what he says don’t amount to a whole hill of beans.

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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.

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