Friday, February 25, 2011

Sam Harris dubunked

Which isn't hard to do.  Simple common sense derails most modern neo-atheists.  But over at the MoralMindfield, a PhD student has done a better job than many.  The best, and most obvious problem with Harris - to anyone who's read his works - is that he appeals to reason as the ultimate source of truth, and then plays on pure emotion, bigotry, anger, and other knee jerk feelings in his books to make the point.  The PhD student sums this problem up nicely:
"Emotional, arrogant, glib rhetoric.  Harris’s approach to writing is to make it amusing, readable, and emotional.  Harris almost always appeals to emotion, not reason, despite how much he doth protest.  He knows reason isn’t how people work.  People want something to hate and something to love.  All he has to do is find the loves that the reader already has, and then link them to his own point, and he has made his case.  Then he just links reader hatreds to his opposing positions and voila, he has made his case again.  And because we share a common cultural background he already knows what most people love and hate.  All he has to do is name-call over and over and produce anecdotes of bad religion and he has drawn the reader to his side.  After all, who wants to be on the same side as a bunch of irrational perverts?  Exactly.  This is in-group/out-group politics.  By setting himself up as the crusader against evil, Harris automatically attracts followers.  It is pathetic, in the classical Greek sense of evoking emotion, and certainly not rational.  It is a form of rhetorical persuasion to create political unity, not philosophy or science.  I will point out more of these as we go."
Read it all.  This fellow has done his homework.  And he makes sense despite his being one of those religious types that Harris and company so readily mock.

Meanwhile, things are beginning to slow down on the home front, and get back into some semblance of order.  That means there are only about a thousand things we have to worry about.  Of course, we will ever and always worry about my Dad, but that is something we have to live with at this point.  Hopefully, next week, I'll be back.  I hope folks will come back again.  Remember, add yourself to the Follower tab to the Left of the screen.  Tell others, invite them back, hijack a bus.  Do whatever.  I'll be back soon, and then we'll get things going again.  TTFN


  1. What an awful article.

  2. I'm glad you liked the post! I hope to have part two up soon.
    I wonder if anonymous would like to say more?

  3. Brian,

    I know, don't worry, it could have been my post he was aiming at (he has about a week to return, or I'll delete it, not a big fan of drive by digs like that). Glad to hear you'll be doing more! Looking forward to it.

  4. I for one thought both of your articles were interesting and would love to hear more of your thoughts.

  5. Just thought you might like to know I posted part 2 of my review. I hope you like it. And please feel free to leave a comment if you have any.


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