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Eclecticist: Cenk Uygur Interviews Sam Harris

Show Notes & Research


Topic Overview

Off Topic

Talking Points

Wrap Up

From the Show

Notes from the Interview

Broadcast: 25th April, 2015

Last update: 15th May, 2015


Topic Overview

An analysis of the conversation between Cenk Uygur and Sam Harris and a wider discussion of the reflexive Harris bashing (and bashing of anyone) in certain liberal circles being critical of Islam. Is it fair to be marginalized for making similar noises to right wing bigots? Hitler may have been right regarding certain tenets of evolution by natural selection, but for the most part, intelligent people don’t reject that evolution is a fact. What’s with this double standard? Also, How big a part does ‘white guilt’ play into this? Criticising islam is tantamount to criticizing a race of dark skinned people. Harris and others often preface their comments with reminding us that Islam is a collection of ideas and that any criticism leveled at it applies just as much to white converts. It just so happens that the vast majority of Muslims aren't white so you just can’t say these things, honkey. Wait, Ayaan Hirsi Ali isn’t white and she gets a heck of a lot of pushback, particularly from Uygur who’s thrown a fair few barbs in her direction. Uygur says a lot of nasty ass stuff about Pat Robertson and Ken Ham and many other Christian lunatics with no restraint or sensitivity but stops short of going too heavy on any particular Muslim. What is going on here?

Off Topic

What we’re not talking about

Talking Points

Wrap Up

From the Show

Notes, corrections and further references

Webpage discussing results from polling UK Muslims

Video of the debate (YouTube): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WVl3BJoEoAU

Cenk’s subsequent comments and Sam’s reaction: From theDailyBanter.com

From Sam Harris’s blog: http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/the-young-turks-interview

Reza Aslan’s Wiki page

Email exchange between Sam Harris and C. J. Werleman: http://www.samharris.org/site/full_text/email-exchange-between-sam-harris-and-c.j.-werleman

CJ Werleman (Wiki) tweeted “Sam Harris is the Pat Robertson (Wiki) of atheism” to his 10,000 followers and linked to a libelous article entitled “Sam Harris Slurs Malala” (I had actually written that Malala deserved the Nobel Peace Prize and that she was the best thing to come out of the Muslim world in a thousand years). From Harris’s blog post

If you really believe that death leads to eternal bliss, then why are you wearing a seatbelt? - Doug Stanhope

Current populations by worldview (Wiki)

Christianity                        2.2 billion

Islam                                1.6 billion

Secular                        1.1 billion

Hinduism                        1 billion

Chinese traditional                394 million

Notes from the Interview

Time-stamped notes when listening to the interview (Youtube)

1:38 Both agree they're 'against religions'

2:00 Both agree that religion is not required for spirituality

Sam's perception of the context of the interview: cleaning up defamation from previous TYT interviews.

Sam takes issue with how journalism works e.g. 'hit pieces' that are designed to goad defensive responses from their targets for the purpose of generating content— preferably from the target.

8:45 Cenk confuses criticism with intentional defamation and misrepresentation.

11:40 Cenk gives an example of due diligence in fact checking where TYT added an annotation to a video.

12:00 Cenk states that TYT provides a platform for people to air their views.

13:15 Sam states his interest in the cognitive commitment to the range of belief i.e. non-believers to those who would 'bet their life'. Dangerous doctrines and who believes them.

15:00 Sam: “I'm interested in what people believe and how much they believe it and the link between belief and action.”

16:00 Sam posits that there are public figures who believe all religions are the same and to specify any for criticism is racist/taboo.

18:20 Cenk refers to a quote from Sam along the lines of ‘Mormonism is slightly more absurd than Christianity’ and thinks that’s like the difference between 2+2=5 and 2+2=6. His point is that to attempt to measure the distance between absurdities is unnecessary. A square circle and a banana made from the colour blue have both crossed the line of credibility and therefore, no further comparative calculation is required or of value.

18:45 Sam makes the probabilistic argument: you can measure the level of absurdity, at least relatively. Jesus returning is one order of improbability, returning to Missouri is another (greater).

42:15 Sam: People don't believe people believe

44.15 Cenk brings up: No compulsion in religion as the Islamic equivalent to '..Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's.'

49:00 Cenk plays the numbers game and repeatedly states that there has been more violence in the name of Christianity. Sam tries to explain the difference between violence inspired by religious doctrine 'direct line to the doctrine' and that perpetrated by members of a religion without such a clear motivation.

54:00 Cenk: plenty of scope in most religions for excuses for violence. 'Geopolitical reasons' mentioned.

56:00 Cenk believes that all religions have enough anti-social material that should other factors favour it, the text could be used to justify violence.

58:00 Sam: There is no statement of division between God’s law and Man’s law in the Koran.

1:39 Family at the airport who you can bet your life aren’t Jihadis. Sam doesn’t specify their race here. Would that make a difference?

2:10 Cenk: A country that is doing economically better is less likely to produce a culture steeped in Jihad, that is why culture and geopolitics matter more than religion.

2:17 Cenk states that he would never perpetrate a ‘first strike’ no matter the circumstances.

2:30 “Fundamentalism is only a problem if the fundamentals are a problem”. Good one by Sam.

2:49 Cenk doesn’t agree that collateral damage is worse than torture.