Making Sense with Sam Harris

Making Sense with Sam Harris

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.

Episodes

April 30, 2021 38 min

In this episode of the podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Michele Gelfand about the difference between tight and loose cultures. They discuss the primacy of cultural norms in governing human behavior, the trade-offs between order and freedom, conservatism vs liberalism, sensitivity to threat, scarcity, the COVID pandemic, the Jeffrey Toobin affair, political polarization, the problem of extreme stereotypes, and other topics.

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In this nearly 4-hour SPECIAL EPISODE, Rob Reid delivers a 100-minute monologue (broken up into 4 segments, and interleaved with discussions with Sam) about the looming danger of a man-made pandemic, caused by an artificially-modified pathogen. The risk of this occurring is far higher and nearer-term than almost anyone realizes. 

Rob explains the science and motivations that could produce such a catastrophe and explores the steps t...

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April 22, 2021 67 min

In this episode of the podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Lisa Feldman Barrett about the origins and function of the human brain. They discuss how brains evolved, the myth of the “triune brain,” the brain’s network organization, the predictive nature of perception and action, the construction of emotion, concepts as prescriptions for action, culture as an operating system, and other topics.

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In this episode of the podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Rener Gracie about police procedure and about the special relevance of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for safely controlling resisting suspects.

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In this episode of the podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Peter Singer, Francesca Minerva, and Jeff McMahan about the newly launched Journal of Controversial Ideas. They discuss the ethics of discussing dangerous ideas, the possibility of having a market in vaccines, the taboo around the topic of race and IQ, the relationship between activism and academia, the shallow-pond argument for doing good, and other topics.

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In this episode of the podcast Sam Harris speaks with Bruce Friedrich and Liz Specht from the Good Food Institute about the way the problems of climate change and pandemic risk are directly connected to animal agriculture. The Good Food Institute is an international nonprofit reimagining protein production.

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March 28, 2021 9 min

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March 23, 2021 63 min

In this episode of the podcast, Sam Harris speaks with James Fadiman about the psychedelic experience. They discuss who should and shouldn’t take psychedelics, set and setting, the role of a guide, the effects of microdosing, the difference between MDMA and true psychedelics, “good” and “bad” trips, the power of thought, the fiction of a unified self, changing states of self, compassion, and other topics.

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March 12, 2021 43 min

In this episode of the podcast, Sam Harris presents his full argument on the illusoriness of free will—and explores its ethical and psychological implications.

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March 7, 2021 43 min

In this episode of the podcast, Sam speaks with poet David Whyte about his new and on-going series for the Waking Up app, based on his book, Consolations: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words.

With the imagery of a poet and the reflection of a philosopher, David turns his attention to ordinary words, each a doorway into the underlying currents of human life.

They discuss 4 tracks from the first installme...

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Ricky Gervais calls Sam to ask if AI will replace comedians. They also discuss the implications of not having free will and if a chimp has ever asked, "what does it all mean?" They agree that bears are dangerous.

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February 23, 2021 59 min

In this episode of the podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Frank Wilczek about the fundamental nature of reality. They discuss the difference between science and non-science, the role of intuition in science, the nature of time, the prospect that possibility is an illusion, the current limits of quantum mechanics, the uncertainty principle, space-time as a substance, the “unreasonable effectiveness” of mathematics in science, the possi...

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February 16, 2021 42 min

Ricky Gervais calls to discuss Sam's monster joke from their last conversation and then other things happen...

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February 11, 2021 48 min

In this episode of the podcast, Sam Harris speaks with mayoral candidate, Andrew Yang, about the future of New York City.

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February 10, 2021 29 min

Ricky Gervais calls Sam to ask why we dream? They discuss why puns are terrible and breakdown some of the mechanics of comedy.

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February 5, 2021 54 min

In this episode of the podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Iain McGilchrist about the differences between the right and left hemispheres of the human brain. They discuss the evolutionary history of the divided brain, research on surgically divided brains, popular misconceptions about the differences between the hemispheres, the left hemisphere's propensity for confabulation, the prospect that consciousness might be partitioned in a...

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February 2, 2021 50 min

In this episode of the podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Zeynep Tufekci about the problem of misinformation and group-think. They discuss the Covid-19 pandemic, the early failures of journalists and public health professionals to make sense of it, the sociology of mask wearing, the problem of correcting institutional errors, Covid as a dress rehearsal for something far worse, asymmetric information warfare, failures of messaging abou...

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January 27, 2021 41 min

In this episode of the podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Jack Goldstone about the rise in social inequality and political instability in the United States. They discuss how wealth is deployed, the loss of social mobility, comparative judgments of well-being, cosmopolitanism and the isolation of the rich, decreased life expectancy, taxation, the need for government to solve problems, success and social obligation, the causes of revolu...

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January 17, 2021 74 min

In this episode of the podcast, Sam Harris speaks with General Stanley McChrystal and Chris Fussell about the radicalization of the far Right under Trump. They discuss the events of January 6, 2021, the behavior of the Capitol police, the history of white supremacy in the US, the effect of banning extremists from social media, the logic of insurgency, the consequence of public lies, what should happen to Trump and his enablers, and...

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January 11, 2021 41 min

In this episode of the podcast, Sam Harris discusses two dangerous misconceptions about the siege of the Capitol.

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