Sam Harris is just an ordinary thinker
I guess you’d have to say that Sam Harris is a man that I love to hate. I listen to all of his podcasts and hate most of them, which makes one wonder why I listen at all. And I don’t know why. It’s unusual. I don’t have a history of having difficulty turning off podcasts, or listening to someone once and never listening again. But with Sam I always listen. And with about 75% of them I am disgusted, disappointed, frustrated or angry…or all of the above.
I usually find Sam Harris to be a blathering, and sometimes blithering idiot. He just won’t shut up. When two words will do fine, he’ll use 20. He’s proud of his vocabulary and like Steve Perry from Journey, turns on the pipes at every turn in every song, ruining every song. Steve probably had a huge and fragile ego too. When Sam is frustrated, when his brain seems to be in cognitive dissonance, he will spill out some of the most impressive word salads you are ever likely to hear and when you try deciphering all of that prattle you end of with literally nothing…a word salad.
Sam is frequently dumb. Uninspired, uninsightful and seriously deluded. For a guy who is supposed to be an ego-less Buddhist, he’s got the biggest ego I’ve ever seen. He is also defensive.
But his intro to his death and dying podcast left me literally sobbing in my car as I was listening to it. It’s the best thing he’s ever done and it has changed my life for the better. So thank you Sam. I still hate you, but you made my life better.
As far as brains goes, though, he’s low average, maybe.
Sometimes people surprise you in a good way, and they end up being much smarter than you possibly could have imagined based on your previously superficial exposure. Dan Carlin comes to mind. When you dive deep you realize just how smart Dan is.
For some reason Sam has a reputation for being smart. But when you start listening to his podcasts you realize how just ordinary he is. I’m glad he takes drugs. I’m glad he meditates. I’m glad he does some things out of the mainstream and out of the ordinary for a “thinker”.
But his thinking is seriously marred, and he is just so confident that he is right, and generally, I have found when I dive deep with Sam that I come up with pretty thin gruel indeed. It’s telling that even when he gets a lightweight poser of a thinker like Fareed Zakaria on his podcast, he gets his ass kicked. Let alone someone with some genuine firepower like Scott Adams or Dan Carlin.
He’s got some spectrum qualities that give the illusion of brilliance, but unpacked (to use one of his overused terms) those qualities don’t translate into intelligence, mostly they’re just an on-demand, quick access large vocabulary.
The election of Donald Trump didn’t help. Sam could not possibly approve of anything Donald Trump said or did because of the long history of racist accusations made against Harris himself, and his ongoing feud with the Southern Poverty Law Center. He has to hate everything Trump stands for, every utterance he makes. He has to hate Trump more than anyone has ever hated Trump. He has to be the greatest Trump hater and disapprover in the United States. If he didn’t carry on with this farce, he would carry his own racist label forever.
Unfortunately for a “thinker” and a self-described “radical truth” practitioner, this puts him into conflict with thinking and truth almost every day. So Sam had to choose between thinking and truth, clarity of thought, no matter what the consequences and carrying the “Racist” label indelibly stamped on his forehead forever, or convincing himself Trump is everything that a Buddhist cannot believe in. Because approval of Trump on any level or about anything would result in his critics saying, “see we were right, he supports the biggest racist in the country”. So Sam chose untruth, unclarity of thought, denseness, UN-Buddhist judgemental-ism and his writings, podcasts and utterances have suffered ever since.
I’m not saying he didn’t make the right decision. The racist label on Sam Harris was a terrible albatross and was and is just ludicrous. Sam has to be in the lowest 2% of racist people in the United States. And Sam no doubt has and would have suffered mightily with such an unfair such a career killing charge. But Sam got the label for doing exactly what he refuses to do now, acknowledging Truth, and the right to speak truth no matter the consequences.