Sam Harris mashup

December 1, 2013 • 11:26 am

I usually don’t like mash-ups but this one appeals to me.  About three weeks ago, Sam Harris made two audio excepts of his talks available to his readers who wanted to mix them into videos.  volunteers to remix one of his audio clips into a video.

The first one has just appeared, and I’ll post it for your delectation.  It’s on the immorality of God.

Sam is, as always, eloquent; I wish I could speak so well off the cuff!

h/t: Brian

47 thoughts on “Sam Harris mashup

  1. Don’t underestimate yourself, Jerry. That radio interview a couple of weeks back sounded pretty fluent and effective to me.


    1. Yes, beautifully produced. The frames of Gollum and the Indian girl ‘on stage’ with Sam were really well done, seamless. (And I did like the Life of Brian clips, and Ricky Gervais waving a Bible…)

  2. A few thoughts.

    First, yes, of course — Sam is fantastic, and lays mercilessly bare the profound evil of Christianity.

    Next…he’s not speaking off the cuff; he’s at least working from the notes he has on his laptop that he takes with him at the end as he leaves the podium.

    And, Jerry, I’ve not only heard you be as eloquent, you don’t have Sam’s annoying verbal tic of constantly saying, “okay”!

    I really do think you should expand more into non-written mass communication. Debates, sure — but I wasn’t kidding about that suggestion that you should do something for popular TV in the style of Sagan and Attenborough on Why Evolution is True.

    Brian Dalton, if you’re reading this, please make Jerry an offer he can’t refuse!



      1. Ben’s right about a WEIT on telly; imagine the BBC Natural History Unit doing a proper well-funded job on it. Hasn’t Prof. Dawkins got some contacts? BBC4 material, then onto BBC2. That’s what we pay our licence fee for.

        Couldn’t Matthew Cobb tip Brian Cox the wink on his light-hearted but rigorous Radio 4 science show for some way in to the BBC?

        You’re a great communicator, you write well, you’re funny and you know your stuff. It’s a question of contacts, Jerry. I’d watch it and so would a lot of others.


  3. “Sam is, as always, eloquent; I wish I could speak so well off the cuff!”

    While I love listening to Sam Harris, he does come across as emotionally flat. You project a much warmer presence.

    1. A warmer presence?

      I’m certainly not left wanting when I hear Sam talk. Sometimes I don’t agree with him (re: guns, for example) but I don’t think his arguments would be improved by weeping or gnashing teeth or other methods to convince by emotional appeal.

      1. “weeping or gnashing teeth”

        False dichotomy.

        People are more likely to buy one’s arguments if they like the person giving them. Sam isn’t very likeable.

        1. I like Harris. A lot. Ergo, he’s likeable to me. Now that Daniel Dennett, he’s just way too emotional, out of control, and not very likeable, And don’t get me started on Dawkins: Emotional, not likeable and, and… strident.

          1. All this discussion just goes to show why we want all the voices in the choir, not just our own favored ones.


            I don’t think I’d pick a favorite (or least favorite) out of the bunch. All have a great deal going for them, even if they’re also human with their own foibles. They’re all doing great stuff to build a more rational society, and each is doing so in a way more likely to appeal to certain individuals, even as they might well turn off others.

            Who’m’I to dictate to people whether they should prefer chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, or a swirl?

            I might, of course, be inclined to pick one over another for a specific discussion. Jerry and Richard individually or collaboratively would mop the floor with any Creationist or the ilk. Sam, with his neuroscience background and extensive personal experiences with meditation and mind-altering substances, is the perfect foil to Chopra and his ilk. Dan knows exactly the flavor of philosophical bafflegab any theologian or philosopher might try to offer up, and can gently eviscerate it with perfect clarity. Sean Carroll makes mincemeat of cosmological special pleadings, and Lawrence Krauss de-woos quantum mechanics better than anybody else I can think of — with Sean being second on the quantum front and Lawrence following Sean on the cosmological front, making for an unbeatable tag team.

            So, bring ’em all on, is what I say! The more the merrier.



            1. Exactly. And Hitch was so good at discussing literature, politics, history, and was a brilliant debateur. His point of God passively watching humans die for 98,000 years before mustering an intervention is pure gold.

              I love them all and eagerly await even more voices and faces for the cause of humanism and science.

          2. “I like Harris.”

            I like Harris in the abstract, but I don’t think I’d want to go have a beer with the guy. I get the impression that his fellow Horsemen feel the same way. I could see hanging out with Dennett, Dawkins, and Hitchens.

            1. I’ve had a beer with the guy (actually beers and a steak), and it was fun. He’s by no means distant, aloof, or cold. Of course I can’t compare him to Hitch, who would have been the nonpareil drinking buddy. But in both cases you have to be on your intellectual game!

            2. How can you make such a pronouncement?

              Not only do you not know what it’s like to hang out with Harris, but you don’t know what types of people others do like to hang out with.

              All you can say is that he leaves you wanting something. And that’s fine. But don’t arrogate for yourself the formulation of others’ opinions about his delivery.

              (I happen to think he’s one of the best live communicators. Esp in debate. He almost always says exactly what needs to be said in a rebuttal. IMO.)

              1. “How can you make such a pronouncement?”

                Because I am the official personality evaluator of the secular movement. I’m sorry, but you weren’t on the distribution list of the memo.

              2. <ahem />

                Writing in my official capacity as the EAC Memographer, I can unambiguously and unequivocally state that no such memo was ever distributed by or with the authorization of the EAC.



    2. I think he’s just serene. I had a whole hypothesis that he used botox and to find out we would have to pop a balloon near him. Then I was afraid he’d kill me because he is schooled in martial arts.

      So, I just concluded that he is less animated than others.

      1. Sam has admitted that he isn’t very outgoing and had to really work at the public speaking thing. He’s probably an introvert by nature.

        He writes more clearly than anyone else in our stable, but his stage presence is correspondingly weaker.

        1. I like his style, however. I think I’ve only heard him say “um” once and he is always so calm. I thought it was funny in his debate with Deepak at Cal State when he told him to dial it back a bit. It was like he was Deepak’s dad. 🙂

          1. Sam does a good job at avoiding the “um”s, but he really needs to clean up the “okays.”

            But, yeah. The way he handled Chopra was classic. And the fact that it was the spiritualist who was so angry and upset and strident whilst the rationalist was the chill dude patiently pleading for peace and harmony just put the icing on the cake….


          2. “I like his style, however. ”

            So do I, but I try to keep in mind how they might be perceived by the non-atheist audience. Atheists already have the stereotype of being cold and emotionless, so the more we can show that we’re human, the easier our job will be.

            1. I think the stereotype many people have of atheists isn’t cool and aloof, but angry and disrespectful. I watched Harris’ debates back when I was a fundamentalist Christian, and he really surprised me. He came across as thoughtful, and in his calmness was actually able to make very sharp points that I probably would have just disregarded as “angry” if said with a lot more emotion. I enjoyed Hitchens’ debates too(and especially so now listening to them as an atheist), but I think Harris impressed me more when I was a Christian.

            2. I have very little patience for tone-criticism. It usually says more about the commenter than the commented-on.

          3. I think Sam Harris is an excellent speaker. Makes all his points clearly and calmly, I find him a pleasure to listen to.

    3. Sam Harris’ low key style while presenting devastating facts is just the opposite, and needed antidote, to the raving snake tossers and aisle rollers of all religions.
      Christianity and Islam are the dangerous religions because they both believe they have an obligation to proselytize all the others; Harris is right to pull their curtain down.
      But if you hope to have more of the world’s peoples begin to grow up from the infantilism of religions, it takes a calm teacher.

    1. I published it prematurely, by hitting “publish” instead of “save changes”. I trashed it, so it isn’t on the site but will have gone out by email or whatever people get when they subscribe.

      It’ll be up tomorrow or Tuesday, and of course comments will be welcome then.

      1. Thx:-)
        I realize that Steve is a neighbo(u)r of ours. We had 5 foxes behind our fence last May as well ( mother and 4 kits) but did not get nearly as wonderful photos.

  4. Thanks for posting this, Jerry! Intense imagery. By the way, I love your book; it did a lot better than mine: Why Evolution Works (and Creationism Fails), by Matt Young and Paul K. Strode

  5. The audio for this clip comes from the debate between Sam Harris and William Lane Craig at Notre Dame University in 2011. I found a complete transcript of both sides of the debate on Craig’s website.

    For the curious, this excerpt is from Harris’ first rebuttal, so I think he may have been largely extemporizing it, and not reading it off his laptop.

    Whoever did the transcription accurately rendered every one of Harris’ stammers and “okay”s. I took the text of Harris’ opening statement and first rebuttal, copied it into a word processor document and cleaned it up, in order to send to a humanist group in a federal prison which I try to support. If anybody would like a copy, just get in touch with me through my website by clicking on my name, above.

  6. And, for those who might be curious… the background music is Eric Serra’s “Noon” from the film “Leon – The Professional” with Jean Reno and Natalie Portman.

  7. Sam is very much likeable, look at the Indian Cutie who tried to nudge him but was disappointed at the end.

    Keep good work Sam, now that Hitch is gone, you and Dawkins must double up your efforts. Somemore good men hopefully will join you.

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