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Making Sense with Sam Harris
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Making Sense with Sam Harris

Author: Sam Harris

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Join neuroscientist, philosopher, and best-selling author Sam Harris as he explores important and controversial questions about the human mind, society, and current events.

Sam Harris is the author of five New York Times bestsellers. His books include The End of Faith, Letter to a Christian Nation, The Moral Landscape, Free Will, Lying, Waking Up, and Islam and the Future of Tolerance (with Maajid Nawaz). The End of Faith won the 2005 PEN Award for Nonfiction. His writing and public lectures cover a wide range of topics—neuroscience, moral philosophy, religion, meditation practice, human violence, rationality—but generally focus on how a growing understanding of ourselves and the world is changing our sense of how we should live.

Harris's work has been published in more than 20 languages and has been discussed in The New York Times, Time, Scientific American, Nature, Newsweek, Rolling Stone, and many other journals. He has written for The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Economist, The Times (London), The Boston Globe, The Atlantic, The Annals of Neurology, and elsewhere.

Sam Harris received a degree in philosophy from Stanford University and a Ph.D. in neuroscience from UCLA.
183 Episodes
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#175 — Leaving the Faith

#175 — Leaving the Faith

2019-11-1101:20:4660

In this episode of the Making Sense podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Yasmine Mohammed about her book "Unveiled: How Western Liberals Empower Radical Islam." They discuss her family background and indoctrination into conservative Islam, the double standard that Western liberals use when thinking about women in the Muslim community, the state of feminism in general, honor violence, the validity of criticizing other cultures, and many other topics. You can support the Making Sense Podcast and receive subscriber-only content at samharris.org/subscribe.
#174 — Life & Mind

#174 — Life & Mind

2019-11-0401:53:3053

In this episode of the Making Sense podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Richard Dawkins. They discuss the strangeness of the “gene’s-eye view" of the world, the limits of Darwinian thinking when applied to human life, the concept of the extended phenotype, ideologies as meme complexes, whether consciousness might be an epiphenomenon, psychedelics, meditation, and other topics. You can support the Making Sense Podcast and receive subscriber-only content at samharris.org/subscribe.
In this episode of the Making Sense podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Bari Weiss about her book “How to Fight anti-Semitism.” They discuss the three different strands of anti-Semitism (rightwing, leftwing, and Islamic), the Tree of Life shooting in Pittsburgh, the difference between anti-Semitism and other forms of racism, “Great Replacement Theory,” the populist response to globalization, the history of anti-Semitism in the U.S., criticisms of Israel, the fate of Jews in Western Europe, and other topics. You can support the Making Sense Podcast and receive subscriber-only content at samharris.org/subscribe.
#172 — Among the Deplorables

#172 — Among the Deplorables

2019-10-2102:01:3446

In this episode of the Making Sense podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Andrew Marantz about his book “Antisocial: Online Extremists, Techno-Utopians, and the Hijacking of the American Conversation." They discuss the effect of social media on politics, the distinction between publishers and platforms, the problem of guilt by association, getting too close to interview subjects, the confusing nature of troll culture, the notion of “dog whistles,” how to respond to the current reality of racism, and other topics. You can support the Making Sense Podcast and receive subscriber-only content at samharris.org/subscribe.
In this episode of the podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Megan Phelps-Roper about her book "Unfollow: A Memoir of Loving and Leaving the Westboro Baptist Church." You can support the Making Sense Podcast and receive subscriber-only content at samharris.org/subscribe.
#170 — The Great Uncoupling

#170 — The Great Uncoupling

2019-10-0201:35:3877

In this episode of the Making Sense podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Andrew McAfee about the history of human progress and the modern uncoupling of our prosperity from resource consumption. They discuss the pitfalls and hidden virtues of capitalism, technological progress, environmental policy, the future of the developing world, and other topics. You can support the Making Sense Podcast and receive subscriber-only content at samharris.org/subscribe.
#169 — Omens of a Race War

#169 — Omens of a Race War

2019-09-2001:32:2451

In this episode of the Making Sense podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Kathleen Belew about the white power movement in the United States. They discuss white supremacy, white nationalism, white separatism, the militia movement, “The Turner Diaries,” the connection between the white power movement and war, the significance of Ruby Ridge and Waco, the Christian Identity movement, the significance of “leaderless resistance,” the failures of the justice system in prosecuting white power crimes, and other topics. You can support the Making Sense Podcast and receive subscriber-only content at samharris.org/subscribe.
#168 — Mind, Space, & Motion

#168 — Mind, Space, & Motion

2019-09-1101:27:4263

In this episode of the Making Sense podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Barbara Tversky about how our senses of space and motion underlie our capacity for thought. They discuss the evolution of mind prior to language, the importance of imitation and gesture, the sensory and motor homunculi, the information communicated by motion, the role of “mirror neurons,” sense of direction, natural and unnatural categories, cognitive trade-offs, and other topics. You can support the Making Sense Podcast and receive subscriber-only content at samharris.org/subscribe.
In this episode of the Making Sense podcast, Sam Harris addresses listener concerns that he uses a "double standard" to evaluate the relative threats of white supremacy and jihadism. You can support the Making Sense Podcast and receive subscriber-only content at samharris.org/subscribe.
#166 — The Plague Years

#166 — The Plague Years

2019-08-2101:04:0054

In this episode of the Making Sense podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Matt McCarthy about his book "Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic." They discuss the problem of drug resistant bacteria, fungi, parasites, and viruses, and the failure of the pharmaceutical industry to keep pace with evolution. You can support the Making Sense Podcast and receive subscriber-only content at samharris.org/subscribe.
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Comments (1339)

Bas Vegt

a little bit concerning the way she talks about sleep in medicine professionals

Nov 20th
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Mister Martin

Interview started off well with interesting discussion. Sam was obviously itching to talk about drugs and meditation, odd combination. In the end we and Dawkins were subjected to a Rain Man monologue on both with a clumsily inserted mindfulness session. Dawkins response was priceless. There's something tragically ironic about the fact that Dawkins politely endured this while Sam was completely unaware that no conversation was taking place. When Dawkins is unconvinced Sam terminates the interview with a glib moral about people needing drugs if they don't get meditation. Rudeness and arrogance. I'm a great advocate of science and meditation but this was textbook ramming it down your throat.

Nov 19th
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Patrick Mateus

The best episode in a long time.

Nov 17th
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Bas Vegt

I am mostly with Sam on this, although I understand how the intro might have been very tedious for his guest to sit through.

Nov 15th
Reply (1)

Brian J Burke

Great podcast, thanks. Keep telling the truth Yasmine

Nov 14th
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Aaron Bean

was really excited to see how Dawkins reacted to the meditation... disappointed with how much Sam was talking during. couldn't have allowed Richard to have a really transformative meditative experience

Nov 14th
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Daniel Rivero Padilla

This sold me the waking up app, it was very enjoyable the small meditation moment they had in the podcast, I have been very interested in mindfulness but didn't really understand how to think it through.

Nov 12th
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Pete S.

this podcast episode was very eye opening. Everyone needs to review the consequences of oppression.

Nov 12th
Reply (1)

Casey Wollberg

it must be recognized that the woke left itself is a religious cult. it has infiltrated and hijacked the Democratic party just as surely as the Christian cult infiltrated and hijacked the Republican party...and just like the cult of Feminism hijacked and infiltrated the New Atheist movement in its infancy. This is how cults operate, like cancerous tumors on ready made populations of disaffected misfits. they treat people as carriers of delusions. any resistance must be canceled, because delusional beleifs cant stand on their own merits.

Nov 11th
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Casey Wollberg

white people don't register on the progressive stack, so they can't use religion as an excuse for their bad behavior. It's the racism of the left and it's just as harmful as any other racism because it leads to the policy that oppression is good enough for brown people.

Nov 11th
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rahlow jenkins

squirrel

Nov 11th
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Ricardo Mota

Sam really went out of his way to give the benefit of the doubt to people who don't deserve the effort.

Nov 6th
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Jesse Hoffner ☭

Just checking in to see how many nazis Sam would have in the comments of this one lol Bari Weiss talking about antisemitism? Come on now.

Nov 6th
Reply (1)

Adam Cook

Dawkins was there when I needed him five to ten years ago. But he really does present now as a generational fogey. Undoubtedly his is a worthy mind that the world appears to have absorbed and passed rather ungratefully. That said, I now feel like the dialogue that I want to engage with runs more broadly and deeply than Dawkins' approach could ever hope to adequately describe. It's all a bit 101 rehashed at this point.

Nov 5th
Reply (1)

Sean Aaron

Dawkins is one of those people that's so smart that he's stupid.

Nov 4th
Reply (1)

McIntosh Woodruff

This whole episode was one big confirmation bias sandwich. Sam I like you, but you need to get out of your IDW bubble. You should be able to discuss anti-Semitism without making constant, unwarranted comparisons to Islamaphobia. This is getting a bit ridiculous.

Nov 4th
Reply (1)

Jonah Woodward

Surely the very fact that we realise that consciousness occurs disproves the idea that it is simply an epiphenomenon? If a conscious state is realised by the brain to have occurred, then that conscious state has just changed that brain's neurochemistry - consciousness has acted as a cause, not just existed as an effect. But if it was simply a byproduct (ie an epiphenomenon) of brain activity, that brain could never notice consciousness was being produced. The fact of the matter is that there is dialgoue between consciousness and brain activity, and that they affect one another. Put it this way - if consciousness was an epiphenomenon, we would not be able to discuss it at all because we would not know that it existed - it would be 'unnoticeable'. There would be no books on conscious, or for that matter, epiphenomenalism. A universe without consciousness and a universe with consciousness as an epiphenomenon would appear identical. Does that make any sense at all?

Nov 4th
Reply (4)

Pankaj Anand

Just registering a couple of thoughts that came to my mind after listening to this very interesting discussion. 1) Respect for Rebecca for being so persistent and clearly articulating her points. 2) I kind of agreed with her for the last part where she supports the voices of objection of the less powerful over the perceived or real suffering of the more powerful people in the society. I take the point made by Sam that this kind of mobbing up can actually harm (on varying degrees depending on their aggressions) genuine individuals who want to have an open discussion about complex issues such as what happened with Matt Damon (although no harm came to him but that might not always be the case) but if you think on balance--not discouraging voices of objection is far more important than the opposite since as Rebecca points out that is the only thing less powerful people can do. This no doubt could lead to problems for innocent people who may get wrongly accused by someone with a personal vendetta but I am sure powerful people will always find ways (especially if they are genuine) to defend themselves and maintain their standing in society--instances of which were mentioned by Rebecca where even rightly accused powerful people were not completely destroyed and in case of Matt he was hardly affected. I think if Sam wanted to argue against this then he should have had an example of a person where the harm was more than the aggressor's action. 3) I think Metoo movement is just catching up on all the lost time and opportunities that women could not take to grow and in that sense I think there is an implicit approval amongst folk that some innocents are going to be troubled but that's the price they don't want to take into account. This is a classic case where something is good for say 75% of the population but not so good for 25% who end up being harmed for no reason. But again I think those 25% should be especially careful when making public comments within which they don't discuss both sides of the coin i. e. In Matt Damon's case too he only expressed concern for the distinction being missed by the Metoo movement without also mentioning something around how not discouraging these voices of objection were equally important. If you are a public personality with all the traits of a powerful person then you should be more balanced in your comment addressing all nuances. The funny thing is that Matt's comment was highlighting how Metoo was flattening the blames but he himself flattened the issue by only mentioning one side. 4) I think I am 100% with Sam on not confusing the power issue with race. I think he did explain it quite clearly by suggesting how if there is a variable that can independently explain say 80% of the problem then we could park the 20% for now since it would only mess things up when discussing the issue. No argument from Rebecca stood up against this point. She tried pretty hard but if u listen clearly her arguments only strengthened Sam's point. Address power imbalance and solve 80% of the problem and then get to race and gender to solve the remnants. Think about it Power is the consistent and constant variable across all case of abuse of any kind known to man and yes you can argue that other variables such as gender, race, etc. add to it but they come second. A good example for this is to imagine a white male working for a colored powerful female. Who do you think will face discrimination of any sort at any point if it were to be the case...and even if you argue that it is still going to be the female then think about how hard or easy for her would be to sustain the incident and loose opportunities. The greater likelihood is that she would not only sail through beautifully but also crush the white guy as much as possible. Sorry for a long write up. I didn't intend to write this much but these issues are so complex that you can't be stingy with words otherwise you could end up being misunderstood.

Nov 1st
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Bas Vegt

maybe I'm jist extraordinarily naive or blind to myself and others, because I don't recognise this at all.

Oct 31st
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Casey Wollberg

This poor normie can't tell who's trolling and who isn't so he just said "fuck it, they're all racists and nazis." Also he never defined what he meant by "racist", but I'm pretty sure I know what he meant. Sam is right...he woke af, triggered that Sam doesn't share his religious views.

Oct 29th
Reply (1)
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