(Part 2) Top products from r/samharris

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Top comments that mention products on r/samharris:

u/tinfoilblanket · 6 pointsr/samharris

This is an interesting question, and it's a question that I don't know the answer to.

I'll give you a brief outline though of what I know about the possibility of increasing one's IQ/intelligence (the relationship between IQ and intelligence is itself a complicated subject).

First lets deal with heritability of IQ. The most popular estimate of the heritability of IQ among adults seems to be 0.8 or 80%. This is the estimate I've read from the APA (American Psychological Association) and from reading other sources on IQ.

However a common misconception that many people believe is that an 80% heritability means that 80% of one's IQ is due to their genes, which is wrong. What 80% heritability actually means is that 80% of the variability in IQ within a population can be explained by genetic differences.

Here's a quote from a University website that explains it with an example


>Heritability and environmentability are population concepts. They tell us nothing about an individual. A heritability of .40 informs us that, on average, about 40% of the individual differences that we observe in, say, shyness may in some way be attributable to genetic individual difference. It does NOT mean that 40% of any person's shyness is due to his/her genes and the other 60% is due to his/her environment.

Next lets deal with the Flynn effect.The Flynn Effect is the observation that for the past few decades, there has been an increase in average IQ by 3 points every 10 years. The relevant question here however is, does this imply that people are getting more intelligent? I personally don't know the answer to that, and I'm not sure if there is a settled answer in the psychometric community. However I do know that Flynn himself has expressed doubt on the view that we are getting more intelligent. I will provide 3 supporting pieces here:

Flynn himself has written in an essay (that I unfortunately have lost and have been unable to find for a few months) that he does not believe that the Flynn Effect is caused by an increase in general intelligence/g/g factor (this is a technical term).


There is also empirical evidence from psychometric research that the rise in average IQ (I.E. the Flynn Effect) is correlated negatively with the g-loading of a test. In simple language, this just means that broadly speaking if an IQ subtest relies heavily on general intelligence, there has been a smaller increase in the average than on IQ subtests that don't rely heavily on general intelligence.


There is also the question of if an average IQ increase of 3 points does not mean we are getting more intelligent, than what does The Flynn Effect mean?

Flynn himself has a great TedTalk answering this question, since as I mentioned before Flynn himself does not believe that we have gotten more intelligent. A TLDR of his explanation is that he thinks The Flynn Effect is due to a huge shift in the way we are taught to think about things and how we view the world. In his words, he believes humans have developed more sophisticated "mental artillery."


Lastly if you've been bored by my blathering here and just want a straight forward "Yes" or "no" answer, like I said I don't know the answer. However I do know two experts who each express the opposite answer to the question.

In this book written by an intelligence expert, he claims that little can be done to increase one's IQ however over a person's lifetime their fluid IQ will peak in their mid/late twenties then slowly decline thereafter whereas people's crystallized IQ steadily increases throughout their life


Whereas I have emailed Flynn before about a question related to this question, and he told me that in his book (that I will link below) he explains why he thinks that it is possible to increase one's IQ through hard work.


u/Rope_Dragon · 3 pointsr/samharris

>And I don't pretend that I have anything more than a populist's understanding of these topics. I'm surely just scraping the surface of most topics, misunderstanding things, and I would never think I can be part of an academic conversation because I listen to a couple podcasts.

And I respect you understanding your own ignorance in a topic, because that shows intelligence. Philosophy, interestingly, is the subject that most makes me feel more stupid the more I've studied it, so you're definitely not alone! That being said, many people from the new atheist / "skeptic" community act like this gem

>Yeah, I just say "this is interesting, I'd even like to talk about it with strangers", but I acknowledge the second part of your sentence and am OK realizing my understanding is often limited and quite possibly wrong.

And I think you should use that understanding as motivation to maybe go directly to the sources that these podcasts engage with :) Philosophy is a subject with so many fantastic, but extremely accurate introductory books and I go back to them every now and then to refresh myself on the basics. My favorite example is Prof Simon Blackburn's - Think and another really good piece which goes into a lot of informal logic as well as the jargon: The Philosopher's Toolkit

I find both of those to give an excellent simplification of some of the bigger elements of philosophy without overstretching and misrepresenting their subject matter! :)

u/rarely_beagle · 1 pointr/samharris

Ben Thompson explored Facebook's effect on elections two years ago:

> This [engaging content rising to the top] is a big problem for the parties as described in The Party Decides. Remember, in Noel and company’s description party actors care more about their policy preferences than they do voter preferences, but in an aggregated world it is voters aka users who decide which issues get traction and which don’t. And, by extension, the most successful politicians in an aggregated world are not those who serve the party but rather those who tell voters what they most want to hear.

As South China Morning Post points out, if your candidate selection process is hijacked, you only get the illusion of control.

Look at the recent Italian election. The recently formed Five Star Movement gained 31% of the votes earlier this month.

From Bloomberg:

> The five stars in its name represent the five issues it cares most about: public water, sustainable transport, sustainable development, the right to internet access and environmentalism.

Meanwhile, Americans traffic the conventional wisdom that a vote for the environmentalist or libertarian fringe candidate will have an adverse affect on that voter's preferences. Every American, like me, who was offered Bush vs Kerry AND Clinton vs Trump in their voting lifetime has an obligation to evangelize something like the alternatives offered in /r/endFPTP.

u/lolograde · 1 pointr/samharris

Since you appear to be sincere, I will do my best to reciprocate the sincerity.

It is important to distinguish the difference between direct democracy and representative democracy and why the latter is more generally what people mean when talking about "democracy". Direct democracy is where the voters directly vote for policies. A representative democracy is where voters elect someone else to make decisions on their behalf. Direct democracy in the US is somewhat rare because some issues are too complex to be boiled down to yes/no answers. For instance, how should our healthcare system function? That is not something that can be put on a ballot with a yes/no question. In addition, there are some policy issues that require technical or classified/sensitive knowledge that might preclude the general public from being able to vote on.

These issues have been well understood for hundreds of years which is why, when the US government was designed by its founders, the primary mode chosen was representative democracy. There are still direct democracy aspects in the form of referendums, though (mostly conducted at the state level).

A few last notes: beyond just being a representative democracy, the power of the US government is divided so that no one person or branch can have too much power. This is very important to think about when we're talking about how political change happens in the US. It is not as simple as a voter can vote and a thing changes. Another thing to keep in mind is that, beyond the three branches of government, there are other influences involved in what the actual policy outcomes are. Lobbyists (which can be a both good or bad influence) and bureaucrats both have influence over what the actual policies are. Some people in the public policy world called policymakers + lobbyists + bureaucrats the "iron triangle" of the policy making process.

(Note: I know a lot of people read "lobbyist" and immediately think icky-icky thoughts (I do, too, to an extent) but this word can also refer to think tanks and other groups who you might consider expert level authorities on whatever the policy issue may be. For instance, if you're a scientist working on a revolutionary new technology that will help solve climate change, you could hire yourself a "lobbyist" to go up to the hill and plead your case. These cases are not the majority but they should not be discounted in the policy making process.)

Now on to a few points you made:

>I feel like a democracy that legitimizes opinions from infantile and ignorant citizens is a large disservice to our civilization.

This is an ancient criticism of democracy (see Plato's Republic, for instance, in which Socrates calls democracy the worst of all possible governments). It is also an issue that is frequently studied by scholars of public policy, government studies, political science, etc.. "The Policy Making Process" by Charles Lindblom is a nice, very short primer on some of these dilemmas.

Two questions are immediately self-evident: 1) How big is the problem of uninformed electorate? and 2) what are the alternatives?

For 1), the problem is concerning but not staggering. But, more importantly, it can be addressed. It is why democratic countries should require history and civics as part of fundamental education. Good education is essential for a democratic society. In addition, a free and open press is also crucial for a democratic society (to ensure that good information is widely available and accessible). Generally speaking, more education translates to more civic engagement, lower crime rates, and higher lifetime satisfaction. So there's ample reasons why democratic countries should focus significant resources on educating their populations.

For 2), the alternatives are not better, especially in the long run. There are some compelling arguments for monarchies (Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes) or technocracies (The Republic by Plato) but there's very serious, much more concerning problems with these approaches. For monarchies, concentrating power in a single person can seem compelling when compared to ineffectual or slow moving governments. A monarch can snap his/her finger and, boom, issue solved. This, however, assumes a benevolent/good monarch. Suppose you end up a tyrannical monarch? Things go tits up real quick. For technocracies, everything depends on how you select your technocrats. How does one define "smart" and is it the only thing we're concerned with as a society?

Over the long run, in non-democratic societies, the ruling class may have very different views/aims/goals than those of the general population and there is no mechanism to keep these two in alignment. The more "generations" of leadership there are, where the ruling class (who holds all the power, may veer further and further away from the general interests of society and more concentrated on their own interests (like staying in power, making sure they live comfortable/luxurious life, etc.) while the general population suffers. This is one reason why democratic societies are, despite their failings, better than non-democratic societies.

>We have to remember that the IQ distribution of humans follows a binomial model meaning that half of the damn planet is below a 100 IQ. Now of course IQ is not a perfect metric for one's competence in determining suitable figures to run our state - but generally, I would think yes.
>But despite this huge ethical violation, it would almost always result in a more equipped entity to run the state, which in turn betters our future.

I agree IQ is not perfect (far from it, imo) and actually misleading about how "smart" a person is or can be. Or whether being "IQ smart" even be useful for running a government. I therefore absolutely disagree with it being a basis for who gets selected for public office.

I can think a litany of issues with selecting public officials by IQ: 1) There are lots of IQ tests available online (old MENSA tests, newer tests, etc.) where, given sufficient time to study/understand, most folks can do quite well on these tests. 2) How well you perform on these tests can vary dramatically from day to day, hour to hour. Consider: how well would you do on an IQ test after waking up or shortly before bed? How can we be confident that the IQ test is administered at someone's moment of peak performance? 3) The abstract questions asked on IQ tests may simply not apply to the requirements of a public official. I think this is a problem with IQ's general validity as a measure of intelligence. 4) There is a very well known relationship between IQ and health and nutrition. It therefore is not just a measure of intelligence alone. 5) It would ultimately give whoever writes/grades these IQ tests enormous political power. These would be the gatekeepers for political power which would be a very corrupting situation to be in.

u/[deleted] · 2 pointsr/samharris


> engage in good faith discourse with intellectual humility, academic rigor and charitable attitudes towards others’ views

You mean this good faith discourse?


You mean these charitable attitudes?


I’m unsure why if you’re actually interested in the above you’d want to hitch your wagon to IDW.

They’re a fairly homogenous group who pontificate about subjects which, by virtue of their positions in life, are rarely exposed to the reality of their subject matter. They have easy conversations about difficult subjects amongst themselves. They’re an echo chamber in leather chairs.

The only thing new IDW has brought to the table is their unironic self-congratulatory way they have conversations about having conversations.

Sorry to shit on your thread. Maybe go down the Hitchens route and find a good debating club.

u/ImaMojoMan · 4 pointsr/samharris

I haven't read it yet, but Robert Wrights book [Why Buddhism is True: The Science and Philosophy of Meditation and Enlightenment] (https://www.amazon.com/Why-Buddhism-True-Philosophy-Enlightenment/dp/1439195455) might be right up your alley. He also appeared on the podcast #102 Is Buddhism True?

Sam's recommended reading list might be a good resource to sort through too. Good luck!

u/walterdunst · 10 pointsr/samharris

Sarcasm and scientific articles are a terrible mix. It supercharges whatever biases the author already has, while making them take more hard-line stances on claims than they often should.

I get that this article is really entertainment, but if anyone wants a fair criticism (that is still effective at shutting down some of Peterson's arguments) take a look at Sense & Nonsense by Laland & Brown.

<300 page book that is pretty accessible and summarizes the current state of knowledge on what parts of human behaviour are evolved vs dependent on environment.

TBH I wish everyone who wants to discuss this topic would read it, as some science is bunk, but some is definitely not. And the topic is very controversial, so there are TONs of hit/smear pieces out there on both sides.

u/Aurolak · 7 pointsr/samharris

>By the way the only one of those categories that is a challenge to capitalism is the bleeding heart liberal.


Fact. The real threats to capitalism are the bleeding heart liberals, such as comrade Bono, Robert "Red scare" Redford, and Paul "little Gulag" Mcartney.


>The far left will get her hair dye at Walmart or Amazon


I recognize this rhetorical rapier well. You must be a pupil of the Shapiro method of Leftist Destruction, unquestionably. Former practitioner of the art, I am. I once found myself debating a female and I was like listen you tainted whore, you claim you are a leftist, and yet I see you are wearing shoes that where made by CAPITALISM. Heroic victory.

u/lunastar1 · 0 pointsr/samharris

Wait that isn't an accurate view. The Black Panthers were a movement that harmed civilians.

Also, your argument doesn't hold up to the statistics. It's a fact that most Muslims in the Middle East want a democracy, just with Islamic precepts mixed into them. Similar to how Western societies were mixed with Christian beliefs throughout the beginning of their democracies.


You have to understand, Harris really does have an ignorant view of the world. He doesn't understand that people are people; including instances when the stupid of society drag the rest down with them. He's stated that Muslims today are like 14th century Christians - which is a profoundly idiotic statement, if nothing else. They have highly conservative beliefs but they aren't anything like the 14th century religious fanatics.

Also, Harris is making it a problem for atheists in the Muslim world, who do exist. His arguments for not letting them live in their own democracies doesn't make sense.

I extrapolate more in my book:


This has been a wonderful conversation but I have some personal things to attend to now. Please read my book! I've written it for people with your views and who share your views. I hope you and others enjoy it, if you choose to read it. Again, it's free for anyone who has Kindle Unlimited and you can read the free sample if you're wary about it. The "first look" option doesn't show the correct spacing. The actual book is spaced correctly.

I've laid out criticisms because honestly, New Atheism is only angering people with insulting billboard signs and events like attempts to ban the cross on the 9/11 memorial. That isn't building an inclusive future and I worry that there'll be laws passed against us soon. Religious prayers have already been given the greenlight in public ceremonies thanks to recent Supreme Court decisions. That doesn't bode well.

u/YourFurryFriend1 · 10 pointsr/samharris

> Atheism now has a strong foothold in western society.

Blatantly false, unless you consider approximately 3-7% of the population explicitly identifying as atheist as a "strong foothold":

  • In Canada: "Christians, representing 67.3% of the population, are followed by people having no religion with 23.9% of the total population." Those explicitly identifying as "atheist" were a tiny fraction of the 23.9% identifying as having no religion, which can be found in the statscan data.
  • In the United States: "According to the Pew Research Center, in 2014, 22.8% of the American population does not identify with a religion, including atheists (3.1%)".
  • In Europe, numbers are slightly larger: "According to another poll about religiosity in the European Union from 2012 by Eurobarometer, 16% are Non believer/Agnostic, and 7% are Atheist".


    > (Peterson on Belief) It’s not in dispute that human beings are a biological product of an evolutionary history.

    Although Peterson incorporates evolutionary arguments in his work, he also clearly has pretensions to a dualist position on the nature of being and consciousness: From an interview with Peterson https://youtu.be/07Ys4tQPRis?t=814

    > You can say consciousness is an epiphenomenon of the material world, and you can make a perfectly coherent set of tools out of those presuppositions, but those set of tools do not cover everything that you need, and it's no more viable as an explanation than the explanation that, no, consciousness is somehow fundamental to being, and of course being is different than material reality.


    > The new atheists, the four horsemen (Harris, Hitch, Dawkins, Dennett) that think the belief in god is false, and religion corrupt and outdated.

    Although they all share the common belief that God does not exist, there are some actual differences in their positions. Dennett, for example, argues we should teach religion in schools, but he wants it presented as objectively as possible. That is, by providing the facts about all religions without any spin or bias to any one particular religion. https://youtu.be/DTepA-WV_oE?t=233 . Also see is book Breaking The Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon
u/ChadworthPuffington · 1 pointr/samharris

I think the onus is not on me - but on the person preaching the "Green Deal" to the rest of the nation. If you are going to preach - it is up to you to do everything in your power to be as pure as you possibly can be.

So I am ready to scrutinize the preacher and to nail him and her on any possible point of hypocrisy.

And yes it matters to me - because I believe that progressives are generally phonies who value virtue signalling and group solidarity above anything else.

If the word went out that global cooling was the real enemy - progressives would do a 180 turn and start preaching about that.

Wait a minute - that's actually what in fact DID happen. Global cooling was the disaster du jour in the 1970s through maybe the mid-80s.

And yes - I do consider myself a strong environmentalist.
And finally, you need to tell your fellow progressives that their support of illegal immigration is severely impacting all environmental issues in the USA, including greenhouse gases.

The details are laid out in the book "How Many Is Too Many?: The Progressive Argument for Reducing Immigration"

u/saintmuse · 5 pointsr/samharris

> He frequently quotes Indian culture and instruments

I'm sure it helps that his wife (of Indian heritage),
Pia N. Malaney
, has written on The Quality of Life in Rural Asia.

u/ignamv · 1 pointr/samharris

Also check out The Mind Illuminated ( /r/TheMindIlluminated ). It emphasizes finding joy in the practice and is supposedly more stabilizing than the dry insight Ingram used to advocate.

u/Darkeyescry22 · 1 pointr/samharris

Have you ever read Yuval Harari's book, Sapiens? This isn't really an answer to your question, but based on this post, I think you would like it.

u/Jon_S111 · 1 pointr/samharris

It is called split brain syndrome. Here's one book that talks about it.

u/startgonow · 4 pointsr/samharris

One Article


She got Asylum in the Netherlands (1992)by falsely claiming that she was being forced into a marriage in Somalia. (Her family was middle class and lived in Kenya). She was able to get Asylum because she said she was fleeing directly from Somalia. She rode her story to Dutch Parliment in 2003. She was outed in 2006. She fled to the United States where she took up a post at the AEI (The American Enterprise Institue, YES THE SAME NEO CONSERVATIVE think tank that paid Murray to write the Bell Curve. I couldn’t make this shit up if I tried, and I have an active imagination.)

TIL thanks u/bloodsvscrips

This part has drama written all over it (lots of edits to the wikipedia page so fair warning it’s contentious). link

Wikipedia has this book listed as the source for the comments about her family life being amicable. It’s written by a Harvard professor.

She admitted to lieing about her name, date of birth, and the way in which she got to the neatherlands but denies other accusations. She resigned from Dutch Parliment shortly before it began proceedings to remove her.

Former Vice President AL Gore wrote a letter on her behalf when an honorary diploma from Brandeis University was rescinded for some of her previous speech. He defended her right to condemn Islam Wholesale.

My Hot take: Islam is shit... we all know that. There is a good chance that she lied to attain fame in the wake of 9/11.

Edit: The video shows her Muslim school and her brothers Christian school that they went to. That puts serious doubt on the family being radical. That appears to be a fact. Zembla the TV series looks legit.

u/Dark21 · 2 pointsr/samharris

>For more on what else New Atheism simply gets wrong on topics such as Islam, Feminism, and expert opinions on such issues:

Isn't that just the book you wrote yourself?

u/HistoryRelated · 2 pointsr/samharris

> The 'Death' is clearly inflammatory but not meant to represent 'White replacement' or anything, just the gradual shift of European 'culture' in the face of immigration.

The title of Murray’s book is a reference to ‘The Strange Death of Liberal England’ by George Dangerfield. Plenty of other authors have referenced it in titles.

Dangerfield’s book is one of the most famous political books written in/ about the U.K. during twentieth century. The ‘death’ in Murray’s title, therefore, isn’t to be taken as literally and wouldn’t have been intended to inflame.

u/ivantowerz · 1 pointr/samharris

Ok, for one, most of psychology has been debunked. This guy touches on it https://www.ted.com/talks/ben_ambridge_10_myths_about_psychology_debunked

Ink blots are bogus, behavioral psychology can not accurately predict much other than the extremely obvious. Gayness was once considered a mental disorder even though now they've found gay genes. And much of Freud was wrong about everything and up until neuroscience, psychology has been more of an art than science. When you look back at history, you see people making an initial down payment on a behavior they find to be separate and run with it until you have whole books written on initial false assumptions. Kind of like if you believe in the afterlife, that leads to believing in God and that leads to believing much of the bible and that leads to extreme irrational beliefs. A snow ball of falseness with just one initial belief.

And then there is the documented history of racists, homophones, and sexist psychologists. In this book, they show just how strange and barbaric the beliefs of most of psychology was, not only as it was study but as a practice. https://www.amazon.com/Imbeciles-Supreme-American-Eugenics-Sterilization/dp/0143109995

In fact, you find the most racist "rats" in the science of psychology, because psychological findings are so easy to manipulate, unlike chemical reactions or physics, there is more room for eugenics and supremacist to fudge numbers or be extremely bias in their findings.


Talks about one of the most influential psychologists that turned out to be a pseudoscience eugenicists.


He talks about the Pioneer fund, that happens to of funded Murray for the Bell Curve, and that is the guy that Sam had on.

Only recently has psychology been refined to the point that it produces some legit studies of significance, that can be replicated and of value, but if you look closer at the not so distant past, it was pretty much a breeding ground for racist elites. Murray is just continuing the tradition. OR that is at least the counter argument at the moment. I am open to Murray being correct, but I will not swallow this bitter pill, as easily as Sam. Now you can see that this is not at all like simple Climate change deniers of science. This is challengers to a very questionable book.